I don't know what Tom Thibodeau's half time speech is. Maybe he made a bunch of defensive adjustments to a defense that gave up 37 points in the first half to allow 60 in the second. Maybe the team was too tired after playing its second game in five days compared to Indiana who was playing off a back to back. Maybe this is 07-08 redux and Chicago will leap to the #1 spot on the draft and win titles with Rose paired with Andrew Wiggins.
Whatever it is the Bulls sure as hell aren't a second half team this year.
Sadly, this was Rose's best game of the season
Yes, that 6/15, four turnover, one rebound, two assist game? Probably his best of the year. It was the first time he scored more points than shots taken on the year and 40% was his highest FG% this season by a good margin. He raises his season PER from 1.7 to 2.9 with this epic performance.
We still haven't seen a game where he has more assists than turnovers, but in fairness no one he passes the ball to can throw the ball in the ocean.
What's kind of sad is that after the first few minutes it looked like Derrick was en route to a monster performance. He knocked down his first three shots, a three and a pair of mid-range jumpers, his first of the season.
A shade over three minutes in and Derrick is 3-3 from the field, and it feels like the Bulls are finally on track.
Then we saw the Rose we've seen most of the season so far. The one that turned the ball over too much, had trouble defending, and could barely throw the ball in the ocean [3/12 the rest of the night]. He didn't even have to contend with George Hill on the evening as the Pacers started C.J. Watson at PG.
The rest of the starters weren't much better
Joakim Noah's still looking for his first good game. He scored just four points and while he mostly kept Hibbert in check and picked up some assists early, he didn't have a great impact on the game.
Carlos Boozer whom had carried the Bulls on offense fell flat with just a 3-10 performance and that's the problem with Boozer. If he's not bringing you offense then he's just bringing you down.
Luol Deng continued his pedestrian shooting ways, and Jimmy Butler still doesn't look confident enough to get up enough quality shots.
As a unit, the Bulls starters shot 33% and Rose's 40% was the high water mark for the team. Three point shooting continues to be a big issue in the staring lineup where the starters were just 2/11 while the bench knocked down three of four to give the Bulls a remotely respectable 5/15 on the night.
In the end, the starting lineup was crushed and that was the game. I'm sure someone will complain about Dunleavy again or how the bench is too weak, but the Bulls problems still largely come from the fact their best players have stunk up the court.
Bench play was somewhat of a silver lining, sort of
Kirk Hinrich, Taj Gibson, and Mike Dunleavy played really well in the first half and were the core reason the Bulls took a lead into half time. They weren't able to reproduce the magic in the second half but weren't nearly as atrocious as the starters.
Taj Gibson's minutes are still too low
Thibs needs to figure out a better way to divvy up his minutes to his big men. There are 96 minutes to split between the three quality big men on this roster. That's 36 minutes a piece if we're keeping track at home. Noah and Boozer are both playing well under 36 minutes a piece which means there's still 45 or so minutes left to fill.
How is Taj Gibson only filling 24 of those per game when he's possibly been the best big man on the floor for Chicago this season and the other big men options are god awful?
Simply put, the rotational shifts need to be made however necessary to get Gibson more court time. The Bulls will be vastly better for it, especially since the small ball players the Bulls have frequently used instead aren't playing well.
There are several times this season where the phrase "We need Gibson for his offense" would have fit in naturally and that's on top of the great defense. Given the Bulls offensive woes lately, it might be interesting to get a Rose, Hinrich, Dunleavy, Gibson, Boozer lineup out there to try and give the Bulls a better shot of scoring.
That lineup has four players who can play off of Rose rather than this motion offense which seems to jam the paint with our own players as much as it does defenders.
The Bulls are about to head out of town for the circus trip, but the schedule is still generally easing up on them. Their next two games are home against Utah/Cleveland followed by a road trip to Toronto.
If the Bulls can't stabilize against this group then it's time to get officially worried. After that they get a rematch against Indiana, this time in Chicago. Hopefully by then they'll have worked out the kins of the offense, Derrick Rose will have thrown off some rust, and the team will remember that the ball is supposed to go through the hoop sitting 10 feet off the ground and not just make contact with the red circle.
Beating up the poor teams shouldn't be a big challenge, nor would it indicate things are turning for Chicago. Our aim this year isn't to knock out all the crap teams of the league, but to compete with the good ones. The Bulls may find themselves against these teams, but they'll need to prove they can bring it against the best afterwards.
Filed under: Game Threads