Bulls run out of gas against Pacers, referees

Carlos Boozer returned for the Bulls, but Chicago couldn't find enough defense to slow the Pacers down and ran out of gas offensively. In a game closer than the score due to Chicago keeping up the fouling game well past when it had a chance to work, Chicago fell to Indiana in one of the more home-cooked refereed games I've seen in awhile.

I don't typically complain too much about the refs, nor do I think the refs ever consciously try and pick one side to win a game vs the other. Every once in awhile you run into a game where everything goes your way. The Bulls have had games like that in their favor this year, and this was the exact opposite of that.

Starting early in the first quarter, the Bulls were called for touch fouls repeatedly while Roy Hibbert was allowed to use enough body contact inside the circle to knock people to the ground over and over while not getting called. The disparity was ridiculous, an even whistle and Hibbert would have fouled out in that first quarter (of course he would have actually been sent to the bench with two fouls, but you know what I mean).

The situation culminated when the refs gave the ball to the Pacers and refused to review the play when it was clearly Chicago basketball with 90 seconds left in the game, and the Bulls down four. Paul George knocked down a three and ended the Bulls chances to win, and if we play fantasy land where the Bulls are awarded possession instead and score, it's potentially a five point swing that hinged on that one call.

The call itself was so incredibly obvious that I can't believe they missed it in the first place, this wasn't a situation where the ball barely tipped of someone, Marco Belinelli grabbed the ball (while clearly in bounds) and whipped off Hibbert's chest and it came no where near touching anyone else. The fact that they missed it in the first place was ridiculous, the fact they wouldn't review it was mind boggling.

At any rate, that's the way the cookie crumbles, in an evenly reffed game, the Bulls may have prevailed or maybe not, but they've won games in the past due to some bad officiating, and I believe these things tend to balance over the long haul.

As for the game itself, Paul George showed Bulls fans whom may not have checked him out in awhile why he's a potential star player. He's a defensive beast with an emerging offensive game. He kept Luol Deng in check all night long, and while he didn't have a huge offensive game, he seemed to hit a clutch shot whenever the Pacers needed one.

So maybe getting Boozer back wasn't so great

Prior to his injury Carlos Boozer was playing at a very high level. In his return, he struggled badly on both ends of the floor. David West simply stole his lunch money and repeatedly beat him down the floor to get uncontested dunks/layups. It may simply be the case that Carlos's hamstring is still an issue, or it may simply be the case that he's still a lousy defender.

I'm not the biggest Boozer supporter, but I'll suggest at least some of the slowness getting back was due to recovery from the injury because even Boozer isn't typically this bad. That said, when not letting West beat him down the court, Carlos gave him way too much room on the perimeter allowing relatively uncontested 18 footers which West had no problem burying all night long.

When the Bulls tried smaller defenders on him, West simply bullied them inside. In short, David West had a monster game and was the primary difference maker for the Pacers.

Marco and Nate kept the Bulls going

The Bulls had an impressive seven players in double figures and after a slow start where they looked helpless for four minutes really were able to score at will against the Pacers. They were led by Marco Belinelli who shot 9/13 after coming off of a 1/8 night the previous game. He was injured early in the game while fouled on a three [which he still sunk] but returned afterwards and kept on scoring for Chicago.

Nate Robinson also played a fine all around game with 19 points and nine assists vs no turnovers and with consistent burn, the Bulls are seeing good Nate far more often than bad Nate lately. the fact that the players around him are higher caliber and playing at a higher level has helped as well as his assists are way up due to guys making shots and turnovers down due to get better looks quicker and earlier in the offense and not being pressed into desperation time as much at the end of the shot clock.

All in all, there are few complaints about the Bulls offensive performance. Deng and Boozer both struggled but the rest of the Bulls fared well against the Pacers.

Noah back Thursday?

Joakim Noah said he'd like to return from plantar fasciitis Thursday and if he's ready then by all means bring him back. However, this is one of those times where the Bulls and Joakim should make sure he's really ready. The Bulls play just four more games before the all-star break, and if Joakim misses those four more games then he can effectively have 18 days of rest from when he first sat out.

That's a nice good stretch to heal up, and it's not going to be the end of the world if the Bulls are missing Noah for four more games even if they dropped all four [which I doubt they would]. In short, the upside to playing is relatively small here if he's not healed, especially with an injury that can easily become recurrent like plantar fasciitis.

If he's good, that's fine, but it's not the time to play hero and get back on the court otherwise.


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  • I wish they could get rid of Hamilton and get a bigman. Start Marco because he plays better as a starter and keep butler coming off the bench. Heard the Nets were looking to trade Andre blatche for a pick?!! Would bulls be interested if rumor is true??

  • Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't it real important that the Bulls beat out the Pacers? Otherwise, they end up the #4 seed and likely in Miami's half of the bracket.

  • In reply to RichG:

    unless the slip to 6-7, or the Knicks collapse.

  • In reply to RichG:

    Assuming Miami hangs on to the #1, yes, but I'm not worried about it. If Rose comes back healthy, the Bulls should beat out the Pacers, if not, it won't really matter.

    Ultimately, to win a championship the Bulls have to go through Miami eventually, so the only real difference it makes if they lose to them in the ECF vs 2nd round is money earned and how good we feel about ourselves by being able to say "we made the ECF".

  • Have trade scenario that benefits all teams involved. I did not included draft picks. Lets just say draft picks are including fairly..

    Bulls --Kevin Love, Brandon Roy
    Raptors--Carlos Boozer, Rip Ham
    Lakers--A. Bargnani, L. Fields
    Twolves--Pau Gau & Picks

  • In reply to bullzfan:

    Raptors hang up first and/or challenge someone to a fight!

  • In reply to nolebron:

    Boozer has been playing very well before his injury. And raptors wants to trade bargnani. The only way raptors will get good players is through trades. No one is going there as free agent. Only negative is rip Hamilton in this trade.

  • In reply to bullzfan:

    Better throw in the rights to Nikola 'I know your 2014 plans revolve around me, but I'm not coming over until at least 2017, if at all' Mirotic if you want Toronto (they love them some Euros) to take that seriously.

  • In reply to bullzfan:

    No he(Bozo) hasn't, check my numbers below. The mirage ended 6 games ago on January 21st. Since then 12 & 6 @39.5%.

    The only team that does that deal is the Bulls, and stupidly maybe even they hesitate with Love likely out for the year. Taking on Love does eliminate the 2014 plan, is he good enough for that.

    By the way Bozo's numbers for the entire month of January were still only 19.5 & 10 @49% shooting, good but no where near good enough when you factor in that he is the worst defensive big in the entire league.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    U are so annoying!! Will u stop calling him bozo. You act like the guy is a bum. Who would u realistically trade boozer for?? We all know as of now bulls can't get another star. You act like we can just dump boozer and insert anyone at the power forward spot. You put boozers numbers up against most power forwards in the league and they're right there. Chris bosh David west josh smith,Kevin Garnett Tim Duncan, Randolph, Millsap gasol..who can we realistically get?!!! That would make bulls better. Jeez

  • In reply to bullzfan:

    How about Taj Gibson, or anyone who isn't the worst defensive big man in the history of the NBA and a clownish slug to boot.

  • In reply to bullzfan:

    Come on, any deal where the Bulls give up Carlos Boozer and get Kevin Love back is ridiculous.

    To start with the Lakers would rather just trade for Kevin Love straight up than take back Bargnani, and the Timberwolves wouldn't give up Love for Gasol.

    Even if this trade sort of worked it makes more sense for every team in it if the Bulls aren't involved.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    I kno Doug just playing around with trade

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    Dude, first of all, let me state that I love your column, is the first one I go to for a recap of the games. That said, let me tell you is ridiculous that during all of Boozer's great double double run you never singled him out to praise him, but in his first horrid game from injury you do. The whole Boozer hate is ridiculous.

  • In reply to Sergio Iván:

    If you think that last night was his first bad game, you haven't been watching, again 12 & 6 @39.5% shooting over his last 6 games. At $15 million per, I would call that horrid, especially for a guy who is a statue on defense. If you are going to be a box score fan, at least check the box score before you comment.

    By the way, I think that Doug and everyone else gave him plenty(way too much) of credit for his little double double run.

  • In reply to Sergio Iván:

    Not true, I did praise Boozer several times after big games. Part of the problem is that his 'big games' should be status quo for a player making his salary though. These types of games should be aberrations that occur only a couple times a year.

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    If this is the first place you come for Bulls info, you should know that Doug absolutely did give Boozer props during his recent tear. The Boozer hate IS ridiculous, but Doug has been fair.

  • I knew the Bulls would lose this one mostly because of the refs. This is Indiana we are talking about here, the refs pretty much protect every sports team in Indiana with bad officiating I would say 80% of the time. This has been going on for years with bad officiating in high school, college and pro sports in the state of Indiana. Having family and friends that live there, I have been going to sporting events in the hoosier state for years and have witnessed some really bad games because of the officials, I guess its something about the corn fields down there or something but its just bad a lot of the times when it come to sports in Indiana. Not trying to offend anyone but it is what it is and its the truth, I am a witness to that.

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    A bigger factor was probably that the Bulls played the entire game without inserting a center onto the floor.

    Hibbert and David West are all-star level talents. Even Hansborough was having his way with easy offensive rebounds and tip-ins. It's pretty difficult to win a game in the NBA without a center, let alone against a team that's two-deep at every position and has a particularly strong frontcourt. Mismatches playing Taj/Boozer at center and Deng/Butler at PF made it really difficult for the Bulls; they gave up way more points than normal and there was really nothing they could do about it.

    Just chalk this one up to injuries; the Bulls played hard and showed a lot of heart out there.

  • In reply to Stoops Noh:

    Where is Asik when you need him.

  • In reply to Stoops Noh:

    Hibbert's not playing anywhere close to an allstar level this year. He's playing like someone who got his max contract, and then decided to mail it in.

  • Lou Amundson

  • Obviously, I am a bit harder on boozer than you are, but he did not play great the last 5 games before he got hurt.

    In those 5 games, he only had one double double, and in that game he shot 7-21 from the floor and had 5 turnovers.

    Including last night he has scored a total of 74 points and grabbed a total of 36 rebounds in his last 6 games that he has played, 5 coming before the injury. That is an average of 12 & 6. During that time he is 34-86 from the floor or 39.5%. Those are not all star numbers and certainly not those of a $15 million per player. Then again, neither are 15.7 & 9.6 @47% from the field.

    I guess that it is time to leave Senile Sam Smith and Aggrey Sam alone on that bandwagon, especially since last night, he was a absolute statue on defense.

    In other words, after giving us what should be his average performance for about 3 weeks(20&10), he has returned to the piece of crap that we all know and hate.

    Last night he played 23 minutes and the Bulls lost the game by a point per minute for everyone of those minutes that he played. The rest of the time, the Bulls were either overcoming double digit deficits or actually leading the game.
    I still think that Indy would have beaten us even if the Statue had not played, but that is not what showed on the floor last night.

    As I have said a million times before, you cannot have 3-4 guys killing themselves with effort and one guy jogging around like he just had a lobotomy. The last few games have definitively proved how much harder and better the Bulls play without Mr. Lobotomy.

    The Bulls managed to keep their defense at their season averages without Noah, Hinrich and Bozo, the minute that he comes back they give up 111 to one of the statistically worst offensive teams in the league. Coincidence, I think not.

    I really thought that these games without Noah and Hinrich were going to be unwatchable. They have been amazingly competitive if not things of beauty. I doubt that the Bulls can keep it up for an extended period of time, but I agree with Doug, they should keep Noah out for the remaining 4 games prior to the all star game, unless they are certain that his PF has passed.

    By the way, we never get on Deng's case anymore, and it is harder to do so, because he is almost always busting his butt, and he is playing 40+ minutes per night, but he is shooting only 35% from the field over his last 10 games, and only 43% for the season which would be his second worst career number after last seasons 41%. If that trend continues into next season, you have to trade him, or just let him walk as a free agent.

    The only Major take away from last nights game, is that we desperately need more size upfront, a legitimate 4rth bigman, whether that is Mozgov or Dalembert I don't know, but we simply cannot go into the playoffs with the bigs that we currently have on our bench. Even that guy Mahinmi would look good as the Bulls 4rth big. I know the Pacers gave up Collison for him, I think.

    Rip, Nazi, Vladrad, $1 million and a 2nd to the Bucks for Dalembert and his $6.7 million expiring contract. Lets do it.

    Who do you like better Mosgov or Dalembert? Mosgov might be more of a Thibs/Bulls player, Dalembert probably has more talent, especially offensively.

  • Hey, not a comment but a question - is there anywhere to find reprints of articles from the Chicago Tribune that are for paid subscribers only? I'd appreciate the guidance... thanks in advance, PeterT23

  • In reply to petert23:

    They used to have an archive section that you could pay some nominal fee for and search their whole history of articles, but I don't know if they still do. It was probably 8 years ago that I subscribed to it looking for articles from the 90s.

  • Thanks for the response, Doug. I live in Oakland so there's little benefit for me in subscribing to the Trib... it's this new "digital plus" thing, most of their interesting looking sports stories are behind this firewall now... oh well, they suck anyway! I'd rather come to the blogs for news anyway... keep it up!

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