Bulls fail to do the little things in loss to Cavs

Chicago found its offensive touch. They shot 9/21 from the three point line and 50% from the field overall. Numbers that would surely equal a win for a Bulls team, especially one playing an Cavs team without Kyrie Irving that would appear rather offensively inept. However, the Bulls failed in focus and effort to lose the game.

This has to be Tom Thibodeau's nightmare game. I wouldn't want to be a Bulls player today at practice.

Chicago gave up too many offensive rebounds, couldn't control their turnovers, and lost the game out of a combination of sloppiness and effort. The Cavs weren't bigger or stronger, but they played harder and smarter. That's the least acceptable type of loss to this coaching staff.

Chicago certainly missed Taj Gibson and played small a good chunk of the time though they weren't appreciably hurt when going small with Noah in the game, but when Boozer was the lone big man the Cavs went straight at the basket repeatedly for easy scores.

I'm not the biggest Rip Hamilton fan, and I like Marco Belinelli, but Marco has never captured the play he had when he started with the Bulls coming off the bench. You either need to start Marco to see if it kick starts his play again or you need to start bringing Hamilton back into games at points when Marco is killing you.

Rip hasn't been great, but he's been consistently better than bench Marco. I'd like a look at starting Marco again, but bench Marco isn't getting it done and doesn't deserve to be on the floor at the end of games. This was especially true last night when the Cavs seemed mesmerized by Rip Hamilton running around in circles and gave up play after play to other players because they were focused on chasing Rip.

Derrick Rose nearing return?

There's at least a couple rumors floating around that Rose may return this Thursday. Feels like a long shot to me since I think there'd probably be a bit more notice about when Rose returns, but there's a consistent message that 'soon' is on the table being leaked out everywhere. It will be interesting to see what Rose can bring to the table when he's back.

I got to the game right when the gates opened and Rose was warming up for nearly an hour out there before tip off and had a good sweat on his back by the time he was finished. I wasn't watching particularly closely the whole hour, but I didn't notice any more dunk attempts. Rose worked mainly on step back jumpers and three pointers. His shot looked consistent and smooth, but he was obviously going at half speed and not going for full elevation on either move.

Since Rose was only going half speed, there's really not much useful to say about how explosive he looked or whether he could do anything at full speed, but it was still nice to see him out there for so long.

Losing streak coming?

If the Bulls fail to beat Philadelphia on Thursday, they could run into by far their longest losing streak in the Tom Thibodeau era.

They face the Nets followed by road games against Indiana and San Antonio. Without Taj Gibson in the lineup, it's difficult to see the Bulls winning any of those three games which would give them a six game skid if the fall to Philly. Granted, the Bulls have made a habit of winning games I didn't expect them to win this year, but the team looks very out of sync right now.

They haven't been able to execute defensively in a long time, and offensively they only executed last night because the Cavaliers defense was horrific. The Bulls aren't playing at a level right now that gives them even a remote chance of beating a quality team. Hopefully they can get it together.

Mission stay ahead of Milwaukee

However, if they can't, all they really need to do is stay ahead of Milwaukee. If the Bulls finish in sixth or seventh it's generally irrelevant. Their playoff match up won't be appreciably harder than if they finish 4th or 5th. Only climbing to 3rd would really give them an easier time in the first round and that seems like a long climb at this point.

Staying ahead of the Bucks should present little problem as they've got a 3.5 game lead on them already and Milwaukee isn't likely to set fire to the rest of the season and make a run.


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  • I'd like Derrick to return Saturday as I've got tickets, I think 20 games is the limit.. I can't see him coming back with less than that

  • They're just out of gas at this point. Good insight on Beli, he provided a big lift earlier in the year but has faded along with the rest of the team.

  • Lets cut to the chase, lets start the Miami - San Antonio series now.

    Bulls are playing now like how the Bears play in December.....

    That Teague guy can't play "D".....

    Bulls GM has one more shot with this team on rebuilding......Free agency signing, our draft picks, Bobcats pick, and that guy we have over in Europe should be our new team to build around Rose......

    I know we will never have another player like MJ...but I settle for a Pippen type of player in the draft.

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    The problem is that Rose is really a Pippen, but he needs to be this teams Jordan. In fact, right now I would say that Rose is not as good as Pippen was at his peak. Hopefully, Rose's peak is still to come over the next 5-6 years.

    As for this season, what's the best that we can hope for, that Rose doesn't get injured again?

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Eh, I'd take Rose over Pippen, but it's certainly clear that the Bulls need another star or need Miami to lose a star.

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    You have the two Finals teams correct, and don't be shocked if SAS beats MIA too.

    We've gone past blaming the 3rd string PG and blaming the 4th string now? Haha.

    Bulls GM will never get fired because they do what Reinsdorf wants...get grinders and hard workers who can overachieve enough to give the fans the false belief we're contenders, and we'll all go see them.

  • It ALL goes back to horrendous planning after Derrick's ACL. Every thinking person knew or should have known that this 2012-13 season was lost without Derrick. Why pretend otherwise and foolishly hope for Derrick's early return at less than 100%? Now that is obviously folly - it should have been obvious in May, 2012! Instead of facing reality and working to improve the roster for 2013-14 and beyond, GarPaxDorf greatly worsened the Bulls' future by failing to trade Deng on draft night, then losing Asik for nothing and signing Hinrich for two years.

    Trade Deng for a high pick and bad contract. Would have drafted Harrison Barnes or Damian Lillard. If they draft Lillard and Teague, the next week they could have still released CJ Watson. If they draft Barnes and Teague, next week keep CJ. And for 2012-13 if you miss the playoffs by playing 2 rookies and Jimmy Butler, SO WHAT? You will have a better 2013 draft pick and be built for the future when Derrick is full strength for the 2014 playoffs.

    I'm not dumping on Hinrich, but how can he help this team in 2014 and beyond when Derrick is full strength? He's too old, not good enough, and has no future at a championship level. Should have kept CJ Watson for the one-year option instead, following season CJ's gone.

    Asik was young, a valuable big with a future that could perform on a championship team. There was one bad year on his contract - match it and bite the bullet in 2014-15. Years of scouting and 3 draft picks were used on Asik. Asik was a once/twice-in-a-decade second round acquisition and GarPaxDorf lose him for NOTHING?!?

    Bulls did this solely for FINANCIAL REASONS. They would have had an unavoidably horrible financial year in 2014-15 with Asik's $15mil balloon and the amnesty of Boozer's $16mil which would be unavoidable. After years of NBA leading profits, by avoiding one bad financial year Rein$dorf worsened the foreseeable future of the Bulls and Derrick's career. Is this what the Rose Camp (Reggie) was really complaining about?

    Bulls current 2014 Plan? Get ready for the big free agent signing of 2014 - LUOL DENG.

  • In reply to Edward:

    I think your argument would be much stronger if you focused on 1-2 specific issues. Instead you first argue they should have unloaded talent and payroll (Deng), then complain about mismanagement (Hinrich), then complain about not spending (Asik) and lump them all together as being financial, when really only the Asik part was purely financial. It's very easy, convenient, and with respect, lazy to blame everything on Reinsdorf's cheapness because beating up on the owner is the rallying cry of [b]every frustrated fan[/b] of [b]every non-championship team[/b] in [b]every city[/b]. I think you could make a good case that they're incompetent but that's not the same as cheapness.

  • In reply to Roman F:

    My focus is on one single issue. Re-read my first sentence and paragraph. How did GarPaxDorf plan and act after Derrick's ACL? That is the single issue in my post.

    Rein$dorf's singular focus on profit in the post-1998 lockout luxury tax era and GarPax's (as well as Jerry Krause's) poor basketball moves are not separate issues as you incorrectly attempt to argue. They are inexorably intertwined. Rein$dorf hires YesMen who follow orders, who will make and/or accept poor basketball decisions for the sake of finance and not complain about it.

    If you yourself are not too lazy, you would do well to compare Jerry Krause's performance pre and post 1998 lockout/CBA. The disparity cannot be conveniently explained away. Rein$dorf has demanded the Bulls operate like a small market team ever since the 1998-99 lockout/CBA.

    Ponder these questions. Going forward, would any truly talented GM willingly submit to such an owner? And the related question, why isn't Rein$dorf looking for change in his front office?

  • In reply to Edward:

    I can't understand why Roman F is such a big supporter of the FO in trying to have an excuse for everything the owner and GarPax does and lies about. This team isbad man meaning not good. The long season and iinjuries are taking its toll on this team and I personally don't see things getting any better even if Rose returns this year. Ok Roman, you can defend them now even tho a lot of Bulls fans know there's no defending this team.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    And my fault sir I read your other comment after I read this one.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    I don't know why either, or anybody else for that matter. I guess you're only 'cheap' if you sell off all your best players and draft picks every year. And in that case, there are no cheap owners.

    I love how the supporters' argument is, look they have the 9th bigget payroll at $73mil, that's not cheap. But then you look closer at the numbers and you see they're the 3rd biggest market and have been the most profitable team the last 5 years (and probably most ever).

  • In reply to Reese1:

    I'd respond but no matter how much sense I try to make, you'll just say I'm a blind kool-aid drinker who can't think for himself.

  • In reply to Roman F:

    Roman, you're a blind kool-aid drinker who can't think for himself. lol

  • In reply to Edward:

    They weren't going to draft Lillard that's crazy with Rose on the roster. Barnes doesn't look special, odds are if they do what you want that they're even farther away than they are now.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    How special did Deng look his first couple years or EVER? Deng refused a reasonable extension offer and held the Bulls over a barrell (along with Gordon). So now at $13-14mil and two fake all-star appearances how do you think Deng and his agent will handle his next contract extension which negotiations will begin this fall? Deng will not accept a paycut, he will walk to another team unless he gets $12mil+. You think Deng is worth that? He's not which is why both he and Boozer have no place on a championship roster. That big $ can only go to another stud scorer.

    If they had traded Deng, yes they would be worse this season, BUT SO WHAT? Rose will never be 100% this season so its always been a wash. Next season is when things begin to matter again and they would have developed younger players and have a better draft pick in 2013. PLUS getting value for Deng instead of
    - letting Deng walk for nothing.
    - resigning Deng for for too much $.
    which are the only two outcomes if Deng stays on the roster.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    at this point, how much farther away(from a championship) can you get than Deng.

    I have always contended that it was generous to call him a third banana, I think in reality he is no better than a fourth on a championship team, is he even better than Toni Kukoc.

    Never mind the Bulls repeat championship teams, would either Deng or the BozoHole have been starters for Dick Motta's early 70's Bulls teams that started Chet Walker and Bob Love at forward, I don't think so.

  • In reply to Edward:

    GarPax monster have a long history of hesitating and or just flat out failing to make the big move when it was time. Granted their lack of cohonies landed us Rose but thats not happening twice. I really don't see them making any big moves which is why I am back on the Fire GarPax bandwagon. Sure they do a solid job drafting. But really that is mostly it. If you want a good team of grinders than these are your guys but who wants to just be good but never great?

    Paxson has a miserable track record of Free Agent signings. Yet he is treated like some genius by the media because he puts teams together built only for regular season success. Why? This team is capped not by a cheap owner but a clueless FO that loves to throw money at role players whenever they get the chance. I am sure Paxson's 2014 plan is to yet again overpay Loul Deng and probably Captain Klank.

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    Lets face it - the Bulls look more and more like a team that wont make the playoffs - I place my bets on they wont - they have nothing and are falling real fast. PAX has had over a decade to build a team - he has failed miserably even Klause was better. As long as Pax is in the mix the bulls will not be

  • In reply to Richard Gasiorowski:

    If they miss the playoffs, Reinsdorf loses the money and the Bulls get a higher pick, but you say it like it's a bad thing.

    Pax either needs to starting taking risks or he needs to be replaced with someone who will.

    Krause was better than most of the GM's to ever hold the job.

  • In reply to Roman F:

    Now that's a common sense answer, as I said before please stop defending the FO and owner Roman cause this team has some serious issues that's not the players or coaches fault.

  • In reply to Richard Gasiorowski:

    I will gladly take that bet. The Bulls are playing poorly now, but they played poorly earlier too. They have injury concerns now and will get healthier/better.

    It's silly to say the Bulls have failed miserably when they led the league in wins the past two years. Maybe he failed to get a title (so far) but he's hardly failed to build an exceptionally high quality team.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Doug, you're clearly a blind kool-aid drinking fan :)

  • Two things that may be (hopefully are) unrelated bother me:

    1). During the Bulls recent woes, they're getting outworked. Losing to a team like the Heat or Thunder is one thing...they just don't have the horses for that type of race. But to the Cavs, missing their two best players???? Say what you will about being undermanned, but that is no excuse for not boxing out for the first half of a game when you were coming off a days rest.

    2). Thibs has noticeably changed his tune from 'we have more than enough to win' to 'we're obviously playing shorthanded'. Since last night, he swapped Taj for Hinrich on the unable to play list, he really wasn't that worse off than he has been for the last few weeks, from a pure # of players standpoint (not having good big depth is an entirely different point).

    Maybe I'm reading too much into this, but I can't help but wonder/worry if the tune-out/burn-out several people feared with Thibs is starting to occur. Lack of effort over a given period of time + a kind of CYA statement doesn't make me feel warm and fuzzy.

  • In reply to Salvamini:

    I agree with you overall.. Thibs is certainly singing a different tune but in his defense they are shorthanded. I mean almost no one on their team is healthy.. Their ENTIRE starting line up has missed significant time this season.. But I'm not even going to make excuses.. Last night they were just outworked, plain and simple. Every loose ball was going Cleveland's way. And to your point I do believe the guys have burnt out.. I still think they are listening to Thibs though. I mean without him at coach the bulls probably have 10 less wins. I.e The sixers, that's a team that has stopped listening to their coach. If you watched the bulls game last night once Thibs called a timeout the team instantly responded so I believe he still has their ear and they want to win its just recently they've played with no fluidity and have no one to create their own shot. Seriously I've never seen a team where no one on the entire team can create a shot for themselves. I still think the bulls end up with 46/47 wins which was my prediction all along

  • In reply to Salvamini:

    Lets be honest...this team right now (w/o Rose) is built around defense (Noah, Deng, Taj).

    So the reason why they're playing like they are is because hose guys are tired and injured.

    And it's so funny people like The ESPN Chicago radio guys have all said minutes don't matter, They're professional athletes, etc, but are NOW contributing a lot of the blame of the recent skid to the 'distraction' of Reggie's comments...basically mental wear and tear. Haha

  • In reply to Salvamini:

    I definitely agree that effort has been lacking. Defense was very poor against the Cavs, and that's a huge issue.

    I do think they're playing short handed, and it's silly to keep saying they have enough to win. I hadn't taken those things to come up with the Bulls tuning out Thibs, but it's an interesting theory.

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    Hey Doug, for a few weeks now the RSS feed for your blog, which I subscribe to, has been broken. It used to display a short summary of the article and a link to the full version but now it only shows the headline. Any chance of getting this fixed? Love the blog and podcast by the way.

    Regarding the topic at hand, I completely agree that a losing streak could be in the works. All of that slave driving by Thibs is finally catching up with them. Only Derrick can potentially solve this problem, but I'm not sure if it's worth risking (yet!).

  • In reply to José Marrón:

    I don't think Rose is the answer this year, this team has problems beyond Rose returning.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    yep, the Bulls have to get some of that magic they had over the last several years along with trying to get the number 2 star player. I would start by drafting a Larry Sanders type backup to Noah, somebody that is a shotblocking, rebounding energy player. I would then dangle Deng in trade talks for a better scorer like Eric Gordon. With Deng gone, I would try to get back either Korver or Brewer to split the minutes with Butler. The Bulls need a shakeup of roster and for me only Noah+Rose is the building block, everyone else should be available for trade talks. Getting rid of Boozer shouldn't be priority number one if the Bulls are honest about the amnesty after next year.

  • In reply to Defense-Rebound13:

    I don't think drafting a good prospect big to backup Noah is the answer and here's why...

    Thibs doesn't play his young guys, it took Sanders 3 years to develop into what he is now (so he won't help us now), and by the time he is ready, he'll be up for a contract they won't match (assuming he is that good).

    But I agree, we need to dump Boozer, but we'll need to package the CHA pick (JR isn't amnestying Boozer) and Deng needs to be traded for that 2nd playmaker.

  • In reply to YouBlewwIt:

    Agreed Rein$dorf has no intention of amnestying Boozer. And this is likely why they didn't match on Asik (who also took 3 years to blossom like Sanders).

    Matching Asik would have required Boozer's last season $16mil be amnestied, but still paid, along with Asik's $15mil balloon.

    Because Rein$dorf was unwilling to NOT lead the NBA in profits for a single season (2014-15), non-basketball decisions were made that harmed this roster for years to come. And that's years of Derrick Rose's and Noah's careers they won't ever get back.

  • In reply to Edward:

    Not amnestitizing BozoHole will cost more in taxes than keeping Asik and amnestitizing Bozo would have.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    True! and even truer is:
    There never was an answer for this season!

    After Derrick tore his ACL, all efforts should have immediately shifted to 2013-14 and beyond. GarPaxDorf attempted to apply a patch when major surgery was/is required. I fear they lost their chance. Some bad moves you can't easily recover from:
    - turning down the Deng trade
    - not matching on Asik
    - signing Hinrich for 2 years instead of CJ Watson for 1 year.

    All those related bad decisions occurred in just a few weeks!

  • In reply to José Marrón:

    I will send your email to the support staff, unfortunately, I don' thave any control of it :(

  • Is it too much to ask for rose to let the bulls know whether he's coming back This week or weekend. I mean seriously this drama has gone on for WAY to long. Stories every damn day with the same "updates" either he's coming back or he isn't. It's really that black and white. I hate to be "this guy" but IMO he's ready. Physically that is I believe he's ready. It's all mental at this point. He's saying he's 80%.. Well that's great because it's March and most players in the league are around there. He's got to play to get to 100%.. I seriously don't want or need Drose updates all fucking summer. Either come back or let the team know so everyone can move on and you can go away until 2014

  • It bothers me a little bit that fans have been so negative over the last week or so about the state of the team. Did we not know that the team desperately needed an above average ball-handler and dynamic scorer who could create a little bit two years ago? The organization went with Rip Hamilton, who they've spent the two years since trying to trade. Did we not know that the organization refused to trade Asik for asset(s) and then refused to extend him? Letting him walk away with nothing to show for it. Did we not witness the organization rip apart the bench over the offseason?

    My problem essentially is that if the Bulls went on a win streak, all these questions would be swept under the rug once again. The time to hold the organization accountable for this season has already passed. I hope these sentiments don't die out when the Bulls inevitably have a better week or month, but I know from experience they will. Then the organization will do what it's always done with everyone looking away while they pocket more record profits.

  • In reply to Hunter:

    Hunter I've probably been the only Bulls fan that has always complaimed about the Bulls offense. Even the past couple year when the Bulls had the best record in the league I've always said that the Bulls as a team with Rose offense stinks. I have always stated to Doug and a bunch of other Bulls fans that if Rose ever gets injured for a long period of time that the team would be in a lot of trouble and mediocre at best. And looks like thats the case with this Bulls team.

  • In reply to Hunter:

    +1 Completely Agree!
    GarPaxDorf could have done so much more with this team and failed to do so.

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