Rusty, out of sync, deplorable, or pathetic. Take your pick of words to describe the Bulls offense right now depending on just how pessimistic you want to be. Chicago really can't get anything done on offense and has big problems that even the Knicks pedestrian defense couldn't solve.
11 points. That's what the Bulls fourth quarter gave us. Fortunately Derrick Rose, after a god-awful, trainwreck of a night, managed to hit a floater with 5.7 seconds left on the clock to give the Bulls a one point lead. Carmelo Anthony proceeded to take a contested shot from the three point line and came up short.
The headlines may read like Rose was the hero, but he was no hero last night. Athletically, Rose looks fine. However, it also looks like he forgot how to play basketball in the past 18 months. A few preseason games against lackluster effort haven't been a good enough representation of a real game.
He finished with more turnovers than assists for the second game in a row and shot just 30% from the field, a slight improvement over Tuesday's 27%. This isn't to trash Derrick, but it's to note that all the other headlines I read about Derrick bailing the Bulls out don't really tell much of the real story.
Derrick looked absolutely wretched this fourth quarter, turning the ball over, missing shots, and basically being completely ineffectual. The Bulls as a team looked equally hopeless around the rest of the court struggling to get anything done whatsoever.
Rose will obviously improve as he gets used to playing NBA games again, but in the meantime, it's an ugly struggle. If the Knicks hadn't completely left him alone at the three point line for consecutive shots early in the third, his night would have been really, really ugly.
Needed more Boozer
Did I actually type that? Yes, I did. The Bulls had good success going to Carlos Boozer early. He knocked down 5-7 shots, and then they inexplicably never got him the ball again. On the night, he scored 14 and dished out three assists. His +9 was the highest +/- on the team, and the Bulls only real good quarter was the first where they went to Boozer repeatedly.
Look, I'm not a Carlos Boozer bandwagon rider, but right now, he's the Bulls only piece on offense that doesn't look scared and confused. Derrick Rose obviously needs some time to work out the kinks, Jimmy Butler climbed back into his shell this game, Luol Deng's always a guy who only plays well when other guys play well first, and Joakim Noah's still finding his strike.
Carlos Boozer's what the Bulls have right now on offense, and they need to feed the hell out of him while everyone else is figuring out what to do.
Jimmy Butler showed a lack of confidence
You could see it in his game. There was some point in his head where he said "I can't hit the three tonight, I'm not going to try another one". After that he had possession after possession where he dribbled out of an open three into either a worse shot or simply was forced to give up the ball.
Butler also seemed nervous to drive decisively to the basket and simply generate contact or simply couldn't get the step. Either way, the result was Jimmy took a lot of tough shots, didn't hit many of them, and looked pretty poor on offense.
That said, his defense was still tremendous, his rebounding was huge, and he found other ways to contribute. Despite an awful shooting night, he also made it to the line for six free throws which helped balance out what was otherwise a poor offensive performance.
Luol Deng picked his spots for a strong game
Luol Deng wasn't able to create anything for the Bulls. He wasn't able to drag them out of their shooting slumps, but he was able to take advantage of all the little seams he had all night. When Carmelo was negligent, there was Luol Deng cutting to the basket for a layup.
I didn't think his offensive game was as pretty as the numbers, but on a night where the Bulls couldn't throw the ball in the ocean, I'll take 8/15 from the field. Much like Butler, he also contributed greatly on defense and played Anthony very well when matched up against him.
While I blasted Derrick Rose's night of 7/23 from the field, Anthony was just 8/24 and missed his opportunity to win the game at the buzzer. The Bulls rarely had to double team him, and Luol Deng gets the lion's share of the credit for that.
Joakim's still getting there
His offensive numbers still aren't pretty, but he racked up five assists vs one turnover and looked more comfortable on the floor tonight than against Miami. Jo probably needs another two or three games to find himself, but his rhythm is coming back.
Best Noah moment of the night was probably the rocket pass he flipped to Derrick Rose. Noah was around the baseline three point line and whipped one on the outside of the baseline with one hand to a Derrick Rose who barely got in bounds before catching the ball and going in for a lay in.
That said, Noah appeared to lose the physical battle with Chandler more times than he won it. Particularly in the fourth quarter where Chandler kept getting back taps to grant the Knicks extra possessions. Noah did knock down to clutch free throws towards the end of the game when the Bulls simply couldn't buy a shot which was big for the team.
Mike Dunleavy looked like a good signing once
Let's hope he find his game, because it's ugly right now. He missed both his shots from the field, one of which was a wide open three point attempt with time that's inexcusable for a shooter to miss.
I'm not going to panic about Dunleavy jr yet, as his game will probably round into much better shape when the rest of the offense isn't a train wreck which will give him more space. That said, he hasn't shown much of anything yet.
Except for that whole turnover thing...
Kirk Hinrich did a lot of things really well, most of them marred by the fact he turned the ball over five times. In the fourth quarter, it felt like the Bulls were biding their time with Kirk in the game. They couldn't generate any offense at all and were just hoping to get Rose back on the floor.
Then they got Rose back on the floor, and it got even worse.
We didn't need Nate Robinson? Really?
I don't know that the Bulls needed the Nate Robinson, but they definitely need a Nate Robinson if you know what I mean. The last few years, they've always had some type of offensive oriented, black hole, streaky as hell combo guard to bring off the bench and score some points in a game like this where the whole offense falls apart.
They don't have it this year, and you can see the void it's created in both games they've played so far. The defense against the Knicks was spectacular, but the Bulls look like last year's team trying to hold opponents to 80 because they can't score.
Derrick Rose will get better, everyone else will get better when he does, but the team is still lacking shot creators. It doesn't seem like they even want to address it or view it as a problem either. Perhaps that's the biggest problem.
It wasn't pretty, but it was a win
With the team obviously quite far away from gelling, it's good to get a win. Things will improve considerably as the season wears on, so I'm happy they got this one even if it wasn't a great performance.
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