Bulls simply dreadful, still take Hawks to the wire in loss

Derrick Rose was 6-21 for 14 points and 0-7 from beyond the arc [though in his defense, two of those were desperation heaves at the end of the game], Kirk Hinrich didn't score for the second game in a row and seemed to make a dumb ass play or miss a shot every time he was near the ball.

Pau Gasol and Taj Gibson were so lazy on defense I wanted to tear my eyes out, especially in transition. If you're a big man who can shoot from more than eight feet from the basket you can get whatever you want on Gasol. Gibson kept diving out at Millsap at the three point line out of control in idiotic ways that lead to drives.

Nikola Mirotic had an abysmal shooting performance for the second straight game. Aaron Brooks, one of the few guys with more points than shots, barely played and was yanked after a couple poor decisions on offense in the fourth. The Bulls odds to win ended right there.

The Bulls looked like a team with zero continuity on either end of the floor, I mean this was awful, awful basketball, and you know what? With a minute left, on the road, against a quality opponent, while playing the second half of a back to back, they were still right there in the game, one possession down at one point.

I'm not suggesting there's anything to be even mildly happy about the results of this game, but it does show something for the Bulls talent level that they can be this bad and still hang with a team. I mean this was awful.

Derrick Rose

This was the polar opposite of the Portland game. Derrick Rose looked like he could barely dribble a basketball at times. Every time there was a crucial possession, Rose was there to miss a short or turn the ball over. He ended with 14 points on 27 possessions which is truly, truly awful.

It's fine, I'm happy Rose is out there playing, and he'll have some games like this as he works himself back into proper form, but it's pretty rare for a real superstar to be _this_ bad which tells you all you need to know about whether Rose is really back yet.

After a couple good games against Brooklyn and Portland, Rose was lackluster [though not awful] against Miami and was a train wreck against Atlanta.

Pau Gasol is playing too many minutes

I don't know if he's just worn out or if he's just always this slow, but his defensive intensity was embarrassing at times. He gets you some blocks at the rim, and plays tough when he's down there with someone, but he won't guard anyone 10 feet out.

He gave up probably six to eight points on simply being lazy in transition defense, and I don't mean slow, I mean lazy. Like oh wow look at those guys running, I'm going to turn around and jog now that they're past half court.

On offense, Pau tried to force a lot of shots and the offense looked pretty ugly running through him. He tends to lose the ball if he has to dribble more than twice, and Chicago needs serious lessons in how to feed the post, because with a guy as slow as Pau the answer isn't to throw slow lob passes.

Taj Gibson, you weren't much better

Taj gave the Bulls an efficient lift with his offense. He scored 15 on 7/11 shooting and added 17 rebounds. You'd think Gibson had a great night with those numbers, and I suppose relative to the rest of the Bulls he did, but his defensive decision making was bad, and It felt like he must have been feuding with Thibodeau because he was also incredibly lazy in transition.

What's Thibs to do?

This team looked tired to me. They didn't look like they were into the game. Guys need bigger breaks, especially Gasol who's being worked like he's 25.

I'm sure Thibodeau will be tempted to drill the crap out of the team the next two days after a game where the defense was so lack luster it felt like guys were purposefully ignoring what they'd been taught and not even trying to execute the scheme.

I think that's the wrong move though, this team needs an off day even if you do want to drill some madness into their head.

Knicks on Thursday

That seems like a good chance to regroup.

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  • I don't know maybe they was just fatigue from Miami but I agree this was a ugly game. I love Thibs as a coach but I really don't like the way he allocates his minutes. He overplays guys almost to the point where it seems like he's waiting to see who gets injured next. Why play Hinrich 21 minutes when he's clearly having a off night ( and the night before ) but only play brooks for 14 and he's 50% from the field? I get it that with Noah out your limited on option with your bench but this is why you don't waste a roster spot on Nazr Mohammed, A guy that can't help you at all on the floor.

  • Also, we really need Jo on the floor

  • I thought the same about this game, it was horrible but they were right there, it could have been a win despite the awful shooting.
    I like Kirk, but tonight he didn't belong in the court, Brooks deserved more minutes, so did Dunleavy.

  • In reply to mariiito:

    Great coaches figure this out. Even some average coaches do because it is pretty obvious! Thibs has a blind spot here and he needs to correct it.

    The hot hands should get more minutes, whoever they may be on a given night.

    As for Rose, I would tell him, you miss three 3s in a row, not another 3 until you make five 2s! If he doesn't listen bench him! A lot of bad habits need fixing on the team, and that applies to the coaches as well as the players.

  • In reply to rustyw:

    Yeah I think you'd find your method of getting a superstar to shoot less threes ineffective to say the least. I agree with the sentiment, but you gotta handle him in private, in practice, repeatedly before you ever make that kind of move. Might be worth using with a lesser player, but being a pro head coach comes with managing egos and while Thibs might seem like a guy who isn't interesting in such things, that he'd just be a hardass no matter what, but I've seen him show quite a bit of guile in handling the harder to deal with than advertised Rose and possy.

  • In reply to rustyw:

    To me this felt like one of those games where the only way we could win was for Brooks to take over and hit a bunch of crazy shots

    Thibs looked like he was going to close with Rose and Brooks, then Brooks jacked up 2 long 3's and Thibs immediately yanked him for Hangdog, as Doug said there went any chance to win the game.

  • A 34 year old Mike Dunleavy plays 39 minutes. This can't happen.

    Aaron Brooks with excellent efficiency in two and three point shooting plays.. 14 minutes. Meanwhile Klank plays 22 minutes and is 0-7. Not the right minutes distribution which is obvious to anyone - except Thibs.

    Derrick Rose rather then being paired with Brooks plays I'm guessing all or most of his 32 minutes at PG. Mistake.

    If Derrick plays at the two then Brooks can get meaningful minutes at a position he can at least somewhat defend, and Derrick is free to roam and get easier looks. Meanwhile Jimmy moves primarily to SF so 34 year old marginal player in Dunleavy doesn't have to play 39 ridiculous minutes.

    Thibs will play Mirotic only when he's producing/shooting which puts the pressure on him, and is not the way to develop players. His over reliance on a 34 year old Dunleavy and 34 year old Klank will come back to bite him and this team.

  • As Bulls fans we've really been spoiled(or tortured) by the effort this team has put forth on a night to night basis from the day Thibs arrived. I say spoiled because it was a gift to have a pro sports team to root for where you knew beyond any doubt that they were giving it 100%. But really, it was also absolute torture to watch those teams, as you'd ride the high of a 60+ win season, only to be reminded in the playoffs that everyone, except the Bulls, had another gear come playoff time. The Bulls hadn't even downshifted since week 1, another gear? they could try to try even harder, but really all that would get them was a louder and more annoying barrage of Carlos Boozer screams. The postseason Lebron's Miami Heat weren't the regular season Miami Heat, no sir, but the post season Bulls? Business as usual. So I'm spending tonight feeling rather rosy about these Bulls, and more specifically these postseason Bulls. I'm ecstatic they can go 80% on defense here and there, and still have a shot in the end. I guess ideally you'd want them to keep up the same intensity even with the massive offensive progression, but I'm not so sure really. I think I'm looking forward to having a Bulls squad in the postseason that is an upgrade over its regular season counterpart and not merely a carbon copy. I'm not condoning playing with no effort, and I thought Taj looked pathetic tonight, I'm just pointing out the silver lining I took from tonights game amidst some frustration.

  • In reply to Chicagosportsguru:

    I was thinking the exact same thing about the Bulls not going 100%. It is not a bad thing right now! I remember the same as you how we were all spoiled with Bulls effort and now this team really has some slacking going on, and I actually am OK with it. Save it for the playoffs like most good veteran teams do, and I think that is what is going on here.

  • To take a view from 30,000 feet, I look at some of these teams out west and I think realistically where do the Bulls stand? Maybe they're the fifth, sixth or seventh best team in the NBA. These Western Conference teams are something else. They're so good their fanbases freak out over one loss. I'm not sure the Bulls would look like a contender right now if you dumped them in the west where they wouldn't be able to beat up on hopeless east teams twice a week.

    Getting into the weeds a bit more, our minutes problems with key players never seems to get better. And I can't neglect to mention that Hinrich averages 27.6 minutes a night and Dunleavy 30.9. Other people have already diagnosed it, we need help on the wing. We also need Noah to come back and not be the hobbled version of Noah.

  • In reply to Hunter:

    With our current record we would place 8th in the west and that's with our very soft eastern starting schedule. If we played in the west with just an average difficulty schedule, the team would currently have a losing a record and missing the playoffs.

  • In reply to Hunter:

    I think you're being generous.
    Many "Power Rankings" have Bulls are listed at 11th - 12th overall. Behind Toronto, Washington, Atlanta and a slew of West teams.

  • In reply to Edward:

    Yea, now that OKC has its guys back, that puts at least 8 west teams ahead of the Bulls, and 3 or 4 in the east, so 11-12-13 sounds about right.

  • Rose isn't the type of player that can just pick up a basketball after missing this amount of time and play like his old self. Remember during the lockout season when he missed 4 weeks to recover from multiple injuries. When he returned he played awful. He averaged 7ast on 6TO and shot 29% over the following games, with a 1/13 game. The Portland game was just his night. I think we'll be lucky if we see Rose play with consistency by the all-star break.

  • Thibs isn't playing Mirotic because he is trying to teach him that you have to bring it every night and play like he did against Portland. Just hitting a few shots isn't good enough. He needs to play better than Gibson, and that is the best way for him to reach his full potential. And the way Gasol is wearing out and Noah is playing every other game should be enough to quiet all the talk about trading Gibson. Thibs with an 8 man rotation on the second of a back to back this early is not very encouraging.

  • In reply to bullshooter:

    Nobody is talking about it, but WTF did Noah play against GS? He hasn't played since, about 10 days now. He could have gotten 5-6 days recovery time just by skipping that one game, which was after all right after he badly injured his ankle in two consecutive games.

    I'd really like to know who was in charge of that decision, and on what basis it was made.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Bulls training staff is the antithesis of the Phoenix Suns (best in NBA). Doug wrote a nice article on Suns staff 2-3 years ago.

    With Bulls its: Ice it, Tape it, Play. Add Thibs lack of recognition that he has a roster of humans and not video game characters and it doesn't inspire confidence.

  • Doug, you were dead on about Gasol and Gibson. I too noticed how little effort they gave, and actually I'm almost not that upset. I think we are used to the 100% effort Bulls as Chicagosportsguru mentioned.

    I don't really like that they aren't getting back on D or they are complaining too much, but I'm hoping this will allow the Bulls room for growth and the playoffs will be different. Gasol really does complain a lot and actually is very lazy at times, but maybe Thibs is the bigger reason for this, just too many minutes.

    And yes, Hinrich really sucked it up, no excuse there, I still am sticking with him, just wish he was closer to 18-20 minutes a game right now and I think it would help him in the long run, playoffs. I think he still will show up as a positive part of the team in the playoffs as long as Thibs doesn't overuse him.

  • In reply to Keep:

    I think if you swapped Hinrich and Brooks minutes it would be quite helpful. Hinrich can still be a role player, but 28 minutes a night is just too many for him.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    I agree. Especially when Kirk's shooting is shaky!

    So, Gasol, Hinrich, and Dunleavy, all older for the NBA, are playing way too many minutes. Why?

  • 3rd game in 4 nights. On the road against Atlanta, who's been balling, but still hard to get up for. Typical NBA let down.

    It's hard for the rest of the team to play hard when Rose chooses not to show up. He should either play hard or sit.

    Still, Bulls record is not indicative of who they really are. They are an elite team - even in the West. I doubt anyone would want to face a healthy Chicago in the playoffs. (assuming Rose is closer to Portland Rose... which I think he will be come playoff time. He's just taking nights off at this point.)

  • In reply to Granby:

    If you ask me, unless something changes dramatically, they look like a first round loser, even in the east, just like last year.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Which teams in the East do you really think would beat them in 7 games?

    I will say this much: I'm really thinking that the "when healthy" qualifier for the Bulls will simply never apply. It's not how this group has done things, and I think they have several injury-prone players on the roster. One or two guys will always be limited or out. So in that sense, maybe they are a first round exit, I think more likely second, but what matters is, we're not seeing this team as a real championship contender. Maybe they could be, but they haven't been so far.

  • In reply to Roman F:

    Cleveland and the 3 teams currently ahead of them could certainly do so, with Atlanta being the least likely which would put the Bulls in the 4-5 hole again. In what 7 game series do you see the Bulls performing consistently enough to win 4 games based on the evidence so far.

  • It's hard to keep the big picture in mind, but who really cares how the Bulls play in November and December? The NBA is littered with teams that win over 60 games, but do nothing come playoff time.

    Home court means very little to Chicago. They can win anywhere. They suck at home. I think Chicago is good enough to beat anyone in the East when it comes down to it, so let's just make the playoffs, be healthy, hope Rose can improve and that the team can gel. I think it's a good sign if Chicago can get up for the big games like Portland.

  • Other than Jimmy a totally apathetic, moronic and pathetic performance. There must have been a half dozen times in the second half that we got to within a point or 2 of the lead, once even shooting a 3 for the lead, but it just felt like we could never get over that hump.

    Maybe Hangdog taking zero shots in 30 minutes isn't such a bad thing after all.

    Thank you for getting the Carlos(I got paid) Gibson analysis correct, despite his numbers he played like a lazy and stupid dog, mostly in transition and defensive rotations. Given his stats, I figured people would be touting him for the HOF today.

    I highlighted the most egregious display of laziness last night at halftime last night. Here is a copy of it.
    I Got Paid strikes again with about 2:30 left in the first half against Atlanta, gets his shot blocked at the rim, completely gives up stands there and watches as the Hawks go the other way on a fast break, Rose blocks the shot, everybody(well, not Taj) scrambles for the ball, the Hawks finally get it back call a timeout, IGP still hasn't made it past the free throw line on the other end of the court. What a fucking slug, how the hell does Thibs let him(or anybody for that matter) get away with such sloth. Maybe we should trade him for Lance afterall

    Teams have figured out that if you run your big men you can get easy baskets against the Bulls because Gasol can't run the floor and Gibson simply can't be bothered anymore now that he got paid.

    For the past several years when in the halfcourt offense our opponents could use the when in doubt run pick and roll at boozer offense to virtually guarantee a wide open shot, a layup or a trip to the free throw line, now it's when in doubt just run pick and roll at Gasol with the same result.

    Actually run it at anybody as the Bulls have been horrendously lazy at pick and roll defense, essentially taking the easy way out by switching everything, usually ending up with our big man guarding their pg and our pg guarding their big man in the post.

    Good point about the Bulls having no clue on how to properly feed the post or make a proper entry pass, this goes hand in hand with not having any dominant post players. It isn't only a Gasol problem, its a problem no matter who we attempt to post up. The only way they can get points out of the post is by moving the ball from side to side and getting quick hitting post shots in the flow of the offense, not isolating 2 guys on one side of the court with one guy sumo wrestling for post position and everybody else standing around watching.

    Insanely bad 3 point shooting on way too many attempts last night, another sign of laziness and a particularly bad thing to do on a back to back when/if you already have tired legs which tend to lead to a lot of shots coming up short. You need to have the mental discipline to force the action inside and hopefully spend the night at the free throw line. but why bother when it is just so much easier to jack up 3's, especially early in the clock.

    There just isn't very much to like about the way this team plays right now, and I'm not sure that much will change unless a miracle of some sort occurs. We may have gotten old, slow and unathletic before our time and without anyone noticing it happening. The only key guys who are not in decline or rookies are Rose and Butler, and we still don't know what Rose is or isn't going to be. I really hoped that this team was going to be much more enjoyable to watch this season, right now they are agonizingly painful to watch, like an entire team of Hangdogs.

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    They had a chance to win that game.

    I hope I'm wrong in my observation of the Bulls, but they look old. Age is more than a number with this team,age is becoming a defensive liability.
    I'm all for resting older players and giving the younger ones a chance to develop during the reg season, but the Bulls aren't looking too spry anymore.
    Maybe, they will get it together and string out a group of wins, but so far they look mediocre, and if it weren't for the newbies Pau Gasol, and Aaron Brooks, the Bulls would be struggling to reach .500.
    Rose has been a huge disappointment. A turnover machine. It seems like he gives his opponents 6 - 8 ppg just off of his careless turnovers. Geesh!
    Between Rose's old knees, and Taj, Noah, Gasol, Hinrich, Dunleavy all over 30 yrs old the window is now or never. Let's hope Niko and Butler can keep elevating the team to championship levels.

  • In reply to Michael Cunningham:

    Agreed. What really bothers me as how I often hear that Thibs treats all his players equally. If that were so, why is he tolerating Rose's sloppy play (mucho turnovers) and brainless three-point shots. A really fair coach would have pulled his ass out of a number of games.

    Then again, Klank and Brooks have not always been terrific creators. So, maybe that's the answer.

    It has been clear to me that E'twaun Moore is a better player than Hinrich. IMO, fans should be screaming to give Moore the minutes that Hinrich gets. Hinrich is like a mooching brother-in-law who won't move out of the guest bedroom.

  • In reply to hgarbell:

    Has Moore seen the floor for other teams? I am asking seriously. If not, don't you think there's a reason?

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