Terrible shooting and transition defense shot the Bulls in the foot with a great performance by LaMarcus Aldridge in their 109-103 loss.
The Bulls (34-16) have now lost 10 of their last 12 in Portland after a 109-103 loss where the score makes the game look more like a toss-up than it was. The Blazers (28-24) weren't very good defensively, but they came out with more energy than you're going to see for a very long time and straight-up, outran the Bulls on the floor.
It was the first time since Dec. 4 the Bulls allowed 100 points two games in a row, allowing a dominant 87.9 per game and 100 only once in January. In what was only an 87-possession game, Portland put up a staggering 125.4 Offensive Rating (points per 100 possessions) against the most efficient defense in the NBA on Monday. (Basketball-Reference)
I'll defer to Kerry Eggers at NBA.com, who pretty much summed up the night with:
Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau chose to single-cover [LaMarcus] Aldridge, mostly with Carlos Boozer, much of the night. Aldridge had a career game.
Trail Frail Blazers were of course without Brandon Roy, Marcus Camby,... OK, I'm not risking carpal-tunnel for this list. That said, they're 18-11 without Roy and he could actually
return as early as this week, Jason Quick of The Oregonian tweeted Monday night. Wow. Just... wow!
His knee was bone-on-bone less than six weeks ago. He plans to play at a "high level" again, though not the type of superstar he was becoming. Best wishes to a good guy with a big balls and a big heart. Still not sure on which side of the fine line between tough and stupid he stands, but I'm a fan.
Fine, I'll write about the game...
The Bulls shot terribly outside of the paint (21-for-53 on jumpers), as their shot selection wasn't bad. The Blazers didn't close out well on shooters, committing heavily to 2-3 zones that frequently collapsed the paint into 1-2-2 zones with four guys protecting the inside and Andre Miller spying Rose. It really shouldn't have worked, but the Bulls were brick-tastic.
The Blazers switched it up on the Bulls and tried to beat them as GSW did on Saturday night -- by relentlessly running, running, and running. Just as the GSW game, the Bulls transition defense was offensive to watch.
In the halfcourt, the defense was good. That is, if you consider leaving Aldridge wide open after every pick he set and consistently turning your back to him on the baseline "good."
Said coach Tom Thibodeau:
"Every aspect of the defense was missing. Again, this is two games in a
row we put ourselves in a bad position because we're not guarding.
[Andre] Miller got whatever he wanted. Aldridge got basically got
whatever he wanted. [Rudy] Fernandez came in ... we weren't able to take
anything away from him, so it was an easy game for them offensively.
Then you're playing with fire and you're trying to outscore them and
that's not our game. We can't win like that. We can't win on the road
Added Derrick Rose: "I think our offense is there, but defensively we're terrible right now."
Rose should know. He was one of the primary culprits on that end.
Just ask Nicolas Batum: "He's a great offensive player, but he can't
You can hardly fault Batum for drawing that conclusion after this
debacle. In fact, Portland fans might get a hearty chuckle if reminded
that the Bulls lead the league in Defensive Rating at 100.0. Last night,
Chicago looked like the league leader in gambles, reach-ins, blown
assignments and missed covers. It was like Thibs asked Mike D'Antoni to
stand in for him for the night.
Yeah, pretty much.
- The Bulls didn't allow as many fastbreak points as the GSW game. Only 18 to the Blazers. Wait... WAT?!?!? That's just trrrbull, Kenneh.
- Aldridge dunked all over the Bulls. Carlos Boozer, Kurt Thomas, Carlos Boozer, Taj Gibson, Carlos Boozer, Luol Deng, and Carlos Boozer should all be ashamed of themselves for allowing Aldridge to reach a career-high 42 points on 15-for-23 shooting -- 8-for-15 on jumpers.
To their credit, the Bulls were very physical on LMA, but he hit 12-of-14 from the FT line. Great game for the guy who was a Bull for a minute-and-a-half. But, hey, they got Tyrus Thomas for him, right?... Bueller?
- Hands. Faces. Somebody. Anybody.... LMA's shooting was lethal. He made it look easy, but the Bulls weren't gonna let that happen, so they made it look even easier by not closing out on his shots. Boozer was lazy on LMA and when he helped cover Miller off of picks, perimeter players completely blew off on helping -- usually Deng.
- Derrick Rose had a high-scoring 36-point night, but Miller dropped 27 on him. Rose was a ferocious attacker, shot 14-for-27 from the field, but only shot 1-for-6 on threes. The shot volume was enormous because the Blazers denied Boozer well, Deng took a long time to find a stroke, and the Bulls were awful outside of the paint. Also, taking the game on your shoulders -- while you can freeze Wesley Matthews in his sneakers like this -- isn't such a bad thing:
Miller isn't fast, so Rose beat him with the ball using speed, though he turned the ball over four times. That said, Miller's bigger and stronger than Rose and he efficiently forced Rose to get physical or get out of the way. Rose tried, but it usually looked like getting out of the way. Miller also had 11 assists, most to a lonely Aldridge.
- When the game is lost in the third quarter, you're legitimately handled. At home, going into halftime 50-50 was a great sign for the Blazers, shooting 58.8% in the half, and they capitalized to create a 69-60 lead in the third quarter. It was their biggest lead of the night, but the Bulls' defense was just so bad and LMA was just so good that it was pretty much over at that point. Now, if the Bulls shoot better than 4-for-16 on threes or 11-for-18 on FTs or attack more to get to the line more, maybe a different story. But there was never a sign of change coming.
- 11-for-18 at the FT line gets worse. Everyone not named Rose on the Bulls shot a combined 4-for-10 at the FT line. Omer Asik went 1-for-4, Deng 1-for-3, and Boozer 1-for-2. And after washing their hands, they tipped the soap dispenser a C-note.
- Attacking more would've been good, but 54 points in the paint's pretty damn good. And the Bulls constantly had completely wide-open looks. They were simply brick-tastic.
- Boozer had a double-double and played anemic defense. In other news, Republicans are stupid.
- Deng disappeared for way too long. He left the game in the first quarter, picking up two quick fouls, and finished the first half with a big ol' goose egg, bricking his only shot in only 8:25 of PT. He bounced back for 15 points on 7-for-14 in the second half against the team on which he dropped foh-dee on early in the season, but it wasn't enough. Bricking all four three-point attempts made even worse.
Where he disappeared most crucially was every damn pick n' roll where Boozer showed to the ball handler and Deng didn't shift to Aldridge. It was embarrassing.
- OMER WITH AUTHORITY!!! He dunked all over the Blazers for nine points on top of grabbing five rebounds. He played 11:26 and LMA scored at will when Omer was on the bench.... klasdhflkasdfh;klahsfdlkadfjlhasdfaldsfh
- Kyle Korver showed up to shoot and Ronnie Brewer to throw his body around. Korver's one guy who hit his open looks. He scored 14 on 5-for-7 shooting -- 3-for-4 on threes. Brewer scored eight on 4-for-9 shooting with three rebounds and two steals. So, of course, Keith Bogans played almost the entire third quarter.... klasjdflkjhadskfljhaldksjfhakldshfalksdf
- Who out-rebounds a team 41-31, grabbing 17 offensive boards while shooting 49.4%, and loses? The team that shoots 11-for-18 at the line and sends the other team to the line 40 times.
Yeah, the Blazers hit 37-of-40 FTs. Insane.
Of those, this could all just be variance or "market correction," if you prefer.
This is the third time this season the Bulls have lost two in a row, but haven't lost three in a row yet this season. That could change on Wednesday when they face the Jazz (31-22) in Utah. But the Mormon Beboppers have lost nine of their last 13.
That said, the Bulls are now 11-12 on the road for the year with 18 of their remaining 32 games away from home another road game on Saturday to face the Hornets (32-21) in NOLA. The Hornets got embarrassed in Minnesota on Monday night, but their defense is stifling, Chris Paul is amazing, and they're 20-7 at home.
Someone might wanna clue Eggers in on "facts":
First, the Bulls are on a five-game road trip on which they've begun 1-2.
Second, everyone makes mistakes. I'm a completely sloppy idiot. But I run a blog on a Chicago-centric website with everything from sex advice to gardening to random photo galleries of bar sluts, not The Association. So, really?
Also: I can't figure out a caption for this, but there's too much awesome here to not post it:
Stats via CBSSports.com.