Bulls doomed by scoring drought, fall to Thunder

Bulls doomed by scoring drought, fall to Thunder

Through three quarters the Bulls and Thunder were neck and neck. Chicago pulled to within one point of OKC early in the fourth period and while I was never confident the Bulls would pull out the win, they were right there until a 50/50 ball changed everything.

The Bulls were on defense, and the Thunder were passing the ball around the perimeter. D.J. Augustin dove into the passing lane to intercept a pass and got a hand on it. For a moment it looked like an easy fast break layup was about to ensue, but the Thunder were able to bat the ball stronger causing D.J. to over run the play.

One second later, Derrick Fisher, left open due to D.J.'s effort, knocked down a three and brought the lead up to four. Maybe if D.J. had been a split second faster, and the Bulls had taken the lead everything would have changed or maybe nothing. As it stands, that play was near the beginning of what became a six and a half minute scoring drought.

The Bulls kept getting good looks. Wide open threes, shots close to the basket, offensive rebound chances, but nothing would fall. Everything rattled in and out. D.J. Augustin had a wide open corner three rattle in and out towards the end of this stretch which sort of summed up the futility the Bulls had going for them.

By the time Joakim Noah split a pair of free throws giving Chicago 76 points, the Thunder had rallied back to bring their total to 89. The game was over.

It all came down to shooting

The Bulls did everything they needed to do to win this game except shoot the ball well. They won the rebounding battle, they just five turnovers, and they held the Thunder to 41.5% from the field. OKC shot 13/25 from beyond the arc against the Bulls 5/22. Push both teams back towards their mean, and the Bulls win.

D.J. Augustin was 0-6 while Jimmy Butler was 1-6. The pair both missed plenty of open looks that they should have knocked down and were the biggest culprits in the Bulls lack of three point shooting. Make them both 2-6, and this game's got an exciting finish to it.

When does Noah not have a near triple double?

Nosh finished with a 9/12/9, and while he was on the verge of a triple double the fact that the Bulls were losing really made it difficult to notice or care about. However, what I find most impressive about Noah's recent hot passing streak is the lack of turnovers.

Over his last five games, Noah has 40 assists against six turnovers. That's eight assists per game vs 1.2 turnovers per game. That'd be a pretty damn good run for any PG and shows that the Bulls are actually getting efficient offense/decision making when they play through Noah.

What's also great about the way Noah compiles his assists is that he doesn't disrupt the offense, hold the ball a ton, or become the focal point. He typically gets the ball and gives it up quickly. Sometimes he finds a cutter, sometimes he just kicks it out to the perimeter, sometimes he takes a few dribbles to attack.

However, what he doesn't do frequently is hold the ball for any length of time. Many guards who are putting up eight plus assist nights are holding the ball 10-14 seconds out of the shot clock, probing, looking, and in some cases stagnating their offenses. Noah makes sure the ball keeps moving.

I don't that his numbers are sustainable if the Bulls had a couple ball dominant guys on the team, but his style of play is, because he'll keep moving the ball back to the scorers.

Two back in the loss column for the three seed

Chicago is presently lined up as the four seed. If the season ended today, they'd play the Wizards [nursing a half game lead over the Nets] in the first round of the playoffs. They'd face Indiana in the second round. It's not a sure thing, due to a tougher schedule down the stretch, but it seems unlikely that Indiana will drop their lead on Miami.

The Pacers have five games in the win column and two in the loss on the Heat, and while Miami will be massive favorites in all but three games less this season, they rarely show the killer instinct to play hard night in and night out.

Eyeballing it, I'd say the Nets have an easier schedule than the Wizards as well and will likely pass them to grab the four seed by the time the playoff rankings are done.

This leaves Chicago vs Toronto fighting it out for the three seed. Chicago is presently two games behind the Raptors in the loss column to claim that three seed and have an easier schedule down the stretch. I give Chicago about a 50/50 chance of passing the Raptors before the season ends.

I think if I had my way, I'd stay in the four slot regardless of who the opponent was in the first round, take one higher draft pick and call it a day. I think the Bulls are slight favorites either way in the first round but not heavy favorites, and they're likely to get annihilated in the second round either way.

One difference in draft position isn't much, but then again, there's no big difference in caliber of opponent in the 3rd/4th seed either way. Brooklyn has more experience and probably more talent, but Washington is the young type of run and gun team that sometimes the Bulls struggle to control or keep up with.

I like Chicago in a slowed down game that Brooklyn plays more so than the style of game Washington plays even if I think Brooklyn has more talent. I'll add all that up and call it a wash.

Filed under: Uncategorized


Leave a comment
  • It was a good game to watch overall. The Thunder are the one team in the league that I feel like the Bulls have no chance going into it. Every other team I can come up with why the Bulls can pull it out, but the Thunder I never see it. And I just want to say, I hate watching games that Hubie Brown does. He's a smart basketball guy, but last night saying that the Thunder took Noah out of the game and that the Bulls count on his scoring was just dumb. Noah had 9/12/9 and he averages what 11-12 ppg. I'm not sure what he was expecting from Noah.
    As for the Bulls seeding, I think the Bulls will finish 50-32. I don't know Toronto's schedule, but I would think that would put the Bulls into the 3 spot. The only teams that they should lose to would be Indiana and Portland. They play the Pacers twice, I think they will win one of those, and they seem to lose to Portland. The schedule in April doesn't look to rough at all. They should be favored in all the games and they usually win when favored.

  • In reply to PaBullfan:

    The bulls just lost their 30th game last night, irregardless of who they play, how on earth do you expect them to finish the season 13-2, they wouldn't even do that if they had a healthy Rose(and Deng for that matter). Must have had too much green kool aide right out of the Chicago river last night.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Other than the three games I mentioned, they only play 3 playoff teams: Washington, Minnesota, and Atlanta. I think you have to go back to January since they last lost to a non-playoff team and the Bulls are playing their best ball right now. I'm not putting money on it or anything, but I think it's a real possibility. Maybe I'll be wrong, but I think they will beat the bad teams that are left on their schedule. Since you mentioned it, I got curious and looked up how Rose and Deng finished the 2010-11 season: 21-2. So I don't think it's to crazy.

  • Hubie Brown is the only TNT or ESPN announcer I can stand to listen to. The rest talk about themselves, other games and people in the crowd 80 percent of the time. Hubie talks about the game being played now all the time. (One game last year with the Bulls down 25 points with two minutes to play he failed. I can forgive that) At some point I turn off the sound for all the rest of TNT and ESPN. I am not judging your opinion or his on this particular point but 98% of the time Hubie gives good insight into what is going on in the game now.

  • As much I as would like the bulls to win every single game in the season, I never thought that the Bulls could win a game against OKC last night. The defense could keep OKC slightly limited but they still need decent offense to get them over the top. I guess, this is the story of the season. The Bulls can be just good enough to compete, but not enough to win a championship.

  • Yes, 3-point shooting was key, 13-25 vs. 5-22.

    Comparison of the March pickups:
    Caron Butler: 29min, 12pts, 3-6 on 3s.
    Jimmer Fredette: DNP - Coach's Decision

    Do Bulls need any shooting? Why sign Fredette for his shooting and then never play him, except 2-3 minutes of garbage time? How can the coaching staff of OKC integrate Caron Butler so quickly and the coaching staff of Bulls cannot integrate Jimmer?

  • In reply to Edward:

    You're looking at this through just one lens. Could Jimmer have made a three or two? Maybe. Defensively, could Jimmer also have given up 20 points in a quarter to Russy? Absolutely. DJ's not the best defender, but at least he's had enough time to grasp and execute Thibs' system..not to mention what he brings as the change of pace / scoring PG.

    The game was close until the Bulls' shooting went completely south once they got within one. Even then, why would you put in a guy who hasn't even grasped Thibs' defensive schemes during that stretch? Sure he could've made a shot or two, but I refuse to believe that he could've helped stem OKC's run from a defensive standpoint.

    His potential to make 3s is not enough justification for Thibs' to insert him in key moments during winnable games thus far. Marco admitted it took him almost a 3rd of the season to understand and execute the defensive scheme to a point where Thibs trusted him with more minutes. There's no way Jimmer has picked up this scheme well enough to deserve more than just garbage minutes at this point.

    To your point about Butler, he's an experienced vet that fills an immediate void for OKC: backup SF and SG due to injuries. Integrating him quickly is a no-brainer.

    You may not be one of them, but the Jimmer fanatics on twitter are gaining steam and may reach Tebow-levels soon. Do I hope he can contribute some needed shooting? Sure, of course. But let's temper our expectations.

    This outcry for more minutes, immediately, reminds me of when the Bulls picked up Rasaul Butler and Daquean Cook.

  • In reply to JPesos1230:

    What about just taking Snell's minutes so that he gets some real time to learn Thibs system. Snell isn't exactly Tony Allen on D either.

    In fact I think that I've found a nickname for him(besides mope a dope that is) how about Velcro, as in he sticks to the man setting a pick on him like lint or cotton flying in the wind sticks to velcro. Maybe he needs to change sports and become a defensive back in the NFL where that attribute would make him a rich man.

  • In reply to Edward:

    Totally agree on Jimmer, just more of the same with Thibs being a stubborn mule, if not an outright ass, but what can you do, you have to take the good with the bad in that department.

    Obviously, 3 point shooting was the key problem last night, as the Bulls got killed by OKC from 3 all night. However, despite the Bulls offensive struggles( jimmer or not), 13-25 from 3 isn't going to cut it on D. This has been the Bulls achilles heal on D all season, and gone mostly unnoticed. We are in the mid 20's in 3 point percentage against, not sure about the numbers for 3 point attempts and makes per game, but I'm sure we are in the bottom half there at least, if not in the mid 20's also.

    This Bulls D is just not nearly as good as the teams from Thibs first 2 seasons, we are not as dominant on the boards(or should I just say not dominant at all), especially on the offensive glass, and our other metrics don't match up to those teams either. Clearly we miss Asik, but Taj misses him more than we do, he has essentially turned into boozer on D(I guess that he is using all his energy committing turnovers while pretending to be a dominant low post player), except that he doesn't garbage rebound like boozer does. I am really disappointed with Taj's demeanor since he started focusing on his offensive game, if he can't do both, then go back to defense and rebounding, we will get our future offense at power forward from Mirotic anyway.

    Just like against Miami, OKC turned up the frenetic D, and our offense just disappears, we simply do not have enough talent on O to compete with the best teams. Again, just like Miami when they want to, I would have to say that OKC has a better defense than we do, when they want to.

    Can't we just trade boozer for Steve Adams, a nice cheap replacement for Asik. I could see that guy developing into a nice solid piece for OKC's extended period as a contender(as long as Durant stays of course)

  • In reply to BigWay:

    So you want Jimmer to get more minutes, but lament that this Bulls D isn't as strong as it once was? You can't have both.

    You mention taking Snell's minutes...what minutes??

    Oh, and apparently Taj is now Boozer on D. Sure, he definitely benefitted from playing with Asik but you need to lay off the sauce...

  • In reply to BigWay:

    I may agree if he wasn't so recently acquired. No decent coach plays a non-star player who has been with the team a week major minutes against one of the best teams in the league. Not going to throw around Thibs is stubborn accusations this quick. He integrated DJ into a major role who was an in season acquisition and who also sucks at defense. I really don't think Jimmer is the difference between this team beating the Thunder whether Thibs plays him or not. Like most on here they are just so good I never expect them to win.

Leave a comment