It was a rough, rough night for the Chicago Bulls tonight at the Oracle Arena against the below .500 -- yet dangerous -- Golden State Warriors. Nothing went smooth tonight, from Derrick Rose -- to his backup, C.J. Watson.
Rose, an MVP candidate, had a brutal night, arguably the worst of the season. Rose had 14 points and 10 assists, but also had a career-high 9 turnovers. He just couldn't get much going all night, and give the Warriors credit, they had a very disciplined game plan for Rose coming in: collapse on him when he goes into attack mode off the screen-and-roll or isolation.
It sure did work to perfection. Rose was very careless with the ball, and it was easy to tell early on that he was headed for an off-night. It's going to be interesting to see if more teams follow suit and use this defensive scheme on Rose more often.
Quite frankly, Rose played very bad, but the Bulls didn't get much from the supporting cast to make up for his struggles tonight.
Let's take a closer look at tonight's loss against the Warriors:
What led to the Bulls loss
The Bulls really struggled offensively in the 4th quarter, getting outscored 28-18 in the period, and their defense followed suit. At one point, the Bulls went nearly 6 minutes without scoring -- from 10:53 to 4:54 -- in the 4th quarter; they aren't going to win many games going through droughts like that, which seemed very reminiscent of their early season struggles.
The Warriors' starting backcourt, consisting of Monta Ellis (33 points) and Stephen Curry (23), scored a combined 56 points, compared to the Bulls' 20. It was pick your poison: when the Bulls switched Rose onto Ellis early in the 4th, Curry went to work and flat out destroyed Ronnie Brewer.
All season the Bulls' defense has been reliable; when their offense struggled, it was the defense that kept the Bulls in it. Tonight, however, was a completely different story. As soon as the offense started to falter, the defense did the same, leading to several easy fastbreak layups.
It's been a while since the Bulls have played such a sloppy, deflated quarter, but they have no one but themselves to blame for the 11-point loss.
What does it signify
The Bulls -- like most other teams -- can't win on nights where the best player, Derrick Rose, struggles mightily. Rose failed to get much offense going and was too sloppy with the ball.
The first half was filled with turnovers and sloppy passes, and Rose was too unselfish in the second half. Rose came into the game averaging 20 field-goal attempts per game, but only took 14 shots tonight. He's been the MVP of the league because of his scoring prowess and leading the Bulls on his shoulder; tonight, he didn't do that.
Chalk it up as an off-night for Rose, but this was a winnable game for them had Rose stepped up and had a typical night, which is usually over 14 points and under 9 turnovers.
Although he only played 21 minutes, Taj Gibson had a very solid night, with 8 points and 8 rebounds. With Thomas and Omer Asik on the bench for much of the second half, Gibson was the only big who kept up in this up-and-down style.
Fellow power forward, Boozer, had a big night on the stat sheet, with 21 points, 10 rebounds, and 5 assists, but also committed 4 turnovers and shot 1-for-4 from the free-throw line. It was good to see Boozer dominate his matchup with David Lee -- 13 points and 4 rebounds on 5-of-15 shooting -- however he, too, couldn't get anything going in the 4th quarter when the Bulls needed buckets.
Luol Deng and Kyle Korver each had their moments, however, neither showed up in the pivotal 4th quarter. Deng finished with 18 points and 6 rebounds, but had trouble getting to the three-point line on Dorell Wright, who scored 20 points and hit 3 three's.
Korver had an 8 point second quarter, but had just 3 points in the second half. He scored 8 straight points for the Bulls in the second half, but besides that, Korver didn't impact the night too much. There was an ugly looking turnover in the 4th quarter for both he and Boozer when the two collided, turning it over on a traveling violation.
Speaking of ugly, that was Watson tonight. Poor Watson; obviously he was pressing tonight, as he went 0-for-5 from the field in 11 minutes. When he was in the game, not much was going for the Bulls offensively and he threw up his fair of poor shots, too.
Overall, it was an ugly night for the Bulls as a whole. Tough to put blame on one player on nights like these.
At 34-15, the Bulls are still sitting pretty with the number 3 seed in the Eastern Conference. It's way too soon to begin panicking; the best part of the NBA is that there's another game right around the corner. When the Bulls are coming off a loss, they are 12-2 in the next game.
In other news, one of the greatest records in Chicago has been broken. Coming into tonight, the Bulls were 12-0 when Keith Bogans scored 6 or more points. Bogans did his part tonight, scoring 6 points on 2 three's, but the loss snapped the 12-0 record. Time to find a new stat/record for Bogans.
February 7th: Bulls (34-15) @ Portland Trail Blazers (27-24). 9:00pm C.S.T. WGN/ESPN 1000
The five-game road trip continues in Portland against a injury-riddled, yet dangerous, Blazers team. Taking the Blazers for granted would be a huge mistake, especially with the way LaMarcus Aldridge has played.
Aldridge is averaging 21.2 PPG, 9.1 RPG, and over a block per game. He was just shy of making the All-Star team, and clearly should have over Tim Duncan.
Another player who's dangerous on the Blazers is Wes Matthews, who's averaging 16.2 PPG and shoots 38% from three-point land. He's played very well since Brandon Roy's been out and has assumed the role of the top perimeter option for the Blazers.
The Blazers aren't as dangerous as they were with Roy healthy, but they are still a capable team and they've recently beaten the NBA-best San Antonio Spurs.