Bulls vs Lakers 7pm on ESPN/CSN - Phil's Chicago swan song?

Derrick Rose has never defeated the Lakers.

Joakim Noah has never defeated the Lakers.

It’s time for those streaks to end.

The Lakers roll into Chicago in what many believe to be Phil Jackson’s final United Center appearance.   Why those people think the Lakers won’t make it to the finals out west is beyond me, because he should have a minimum of two more in June [i kid].

Both teams should be motivated after struggling to barely escape with road victories against sub-par opponents on Wednesday.   The Bulls have the distinction of being the Lakers only victory against a +500 team this season, so the Lakers really are playing at a level that plenty of other good teams find beatable.  

Keys to the game

Make Kobe selfish and force him to shoot a lot

Sound counter intuitive?   Kobe’s averaging a shade under 26 shots per game in losses and a shade over 18 shots per game in wins.    When Kobe enters “I’m going to take this on myself” mode, the Lakers aren’t winning basketball games, so try and force him into that mode.   Pau Gasol, on the other hand, averages 14 shots in losses and 15 shots in wins.

While the mainstream media hasn’t caught on to this yet, Pau Gasol is the key to the Lakers now.    Granted, the Bulls forced him into a terrible game last time and still lost, but slowing Gasol is still the key to winning.   As for Kobe, he can go off and drop 50 on you, but when he’s throwing up a crapload of shots he’s forced more Laker losses than 50 point miracle wins.  

The bench won’t repeat their performance of last game, so let them try

The biggest difference between home/road games is typically the performance of the non-star players.   The stars frequently bring it no matter where they are, but benches often play dramatically better at home than on the road.  

The Bulls lost in LA due to the Laker bench dominating the hell out of the Bulls bench.  They went insane from behind the three point line crushing us with bombs whenever the Bulls would make a run.   

You don’t want to give the bench open three point looks, because it is filled with good shooters, but the Bulls contested the Laker’s shooters pretty well for the most part, and they hit shots.   Contesting them at a similar level will yield better results this time.

The Bulls bench needs to bring it

The corollary to the previous point is that the Korver/Brewer/Gibson need to bring it for the Bulls.   Their team is fundamentally stronger this time with Boozer back, so they should have more bench strength.   We need our bench to play well and win that battle, because we can’t count on Rose/Noah/Boozer outperforming Kobe/Gasol/Odom.

Carlos Boozer (and the rest of the Bulls) need to stay out of no man’s land

Boozer’s struggled against stretch fours.   He tends to get caught trying to help down low and get rebound position, but then gets burned by the outside shooting.   The result is that Boozer frequently tries to help, is late on run outs, and then is out of rebound position and failed to contest the shot.

You’ve got to make Boozer stay close to his shooter or have someone else help on his shooter and keep him down low for rebound position.   You don’t want to fail to contest and fail to rebound, you have to get at least one of those two things, but being caught in the middle as he often is yields nothing.

When Boozer is on the weak side and providing help he needs to have better recognition of the swing pass and get out to his man quicker as the ball moves.   The same theory applies to all Bulls players, as the Lakers have great shooters and post players, so help is necessary but recognizing when to get back home on your man is critical.

Final thoughts

The Bulls haven’t fared well in statement games this season, but here’s another one.   Given that neither Rose or Noah has ever beaten the Lakers, I think it’s imperative for their psyche to get that monkey off their back.   The Lakers have won three in a row, much like the Bulls, but were coming off of four losses prior to that.

They aren’t playing a particularly dominant brand of basketball, and the Bulls are playing at home.   The Lakers should be favorites, but this is a game the Bulls can get if they focus, play well, and the Laker bench tightens up a bit.


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  • "Why those people think the Lakers won't make it to the finals out west is beyond me, because he should have a minimum of two more in June [i kid]."

    Haha! Nice.

  • Somehow the Bulls seem to be vulnerable against the Lakers length. Noah has to control Gasol and Deng/Bogans/Brewer have to shoot well and also control Shannon Brown. It feels like the Bulls perimeter defense is more important than perimeter shooting.

    It might also give a psychological edge to win this game.

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    If you ask me the Bulls perimeter defense has been the biggest defensive problem. This might be because Thibs core defensive philosphy is to keep everyone out of the paint and the Bulls either haven't figured out how to fly out on the wings, or they don't have enough athleticism.

    Hopefully, it is just a matter of time to where they don't have to think about their rotations and they get to the level that Thibs had/has Boston playing this defense.

  • Feels like a game the Bulls can take. The Lakers aren't a team that always brings their A game during the regular season, and no Bynum significantly weakens their front line.

    I absolutely agree with the idea you make Kobe beat you because he's the type of guy who will take you on and maybe he makes you look stupid and scores a ton but the odds are he shoots them out of the game. As I see it every extra shot he takes is a higher efficiency shot Gasol doesn't take.

  • If the Bulls play tonight's game the way they played the Lakers in LA but do a better job of challenging the outside shooters, they'll win. I seriously doubt LA will shoot as well from 3pt land as they did in LA. It'll be all about clogging the lane and rotating quickly to the 3pt line.

  • Last game Lakers shot well from 3, but look at their season averages. They actually only shot a little above their average! Lakers shot 10-25 on 3s, their average is 8-20.

    IMO, Bulls just did a terrible job defending the 3pt line. Running out to wide-open 40%+ 3pt shooters after they have received the pass and are in shooting motion is not defense - its a form of prayer.

  • In reply to Edward:

    10-25 and 8-20 is exactly the same percentage 40%

  • In reply to BigWay:

    That's Right! Same percentage. They made 10 instead of their average 8.
    So its not like Bulls can blame that loss on a freak shooting night by Lakers. They shot well, but not exceptional.

  • In reply to Edward:

    But it was those open 3's that won the game for LA in that first game. But tonight was different. 3-13, D. Rose doing his thing. Bulls win.

  • In reply to Edward:


    I tried to believe in CJ Watson as an X-factor, but that clearly was a mistake.


    Derrick Rose may not be the best CLOSER, but he sure he a RUN STOPPER. He proved that again tonight. And Brewer and Korver continue to play well.


    I only wish Thibs would take his head out of his ass and start Brewer. Maybe he's waiting for Gar Forman and/or John Paxson to take their head's out of their asses and trade for another Shooting Guard (aka Nick Young).

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    But who do Bulls trade away for that SG? You want to trade Taj Gibson? No one else on the bench has any value. Taj and the Charlotte pick are the only assets Bulls have to trade - that's the dilemma.

    That's why I want Bulls to bench Bogans and give his 10-15 minutes to either JJ or Kyle Weaver. Bulls wouldn't have to give up any assets. Those 10-15 minutes should go towards development of young talent, not wasted on a no-upside player who turns 31 at the end of the season.

  • Doug, you mention "forcing" Kobe to shoot a lot. But How?
    Sam Smith writes that double teaming Kobe should be avoided to protect the perimeter. Is there any other way to force or encourage Kobe to shot? I think that's the way. Play Kobe straight up and run.



    I'm going with CJ Watson tonight. He duplicate what Shannon Brown did in L.A.

  • EDIT:

    He could duplicate what Shannon Brown did in L.A.



    * Truth be told, torches aren't past. They have to be taken away.

  • I think that is definitely the strategy to use against Orlando. I'm of the opinion that the myth of Howard is better than the reality so if you make him win the game you've got a fighting chance. Teams worry so much about him that they let the rest of the team beat them. While Howard is good he doesn't have the type of offensive game to really dominate, at least not like th great centers of yore. I do think he is getting better though, until then I say prove it.

    Just commenting on this because it drives me crazy everytime the Bulls play Orlando. Although I do understand the strategy of letting Carter try and be you, cuz he's a born looser.

  • ie. Reese1 Witherspoon

  • In reply to jgingeri:

    I will tell U before the game and after the game win or lose, the Bulls need to make some sort of move to acquire a better shooting guard or better perimeter scoring PERIOD. Whether they make the move this year or next, it still needs to be addressed. Thanks for the shout out.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    And hopefully the Bulls won't suck tonight and they can pull out the win. Someone will have to play some serious D cause the Lakers have too many good scorers. They have what the Bulls need.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    And as the game starts 16-4 Lakers it is painfully obvious.

    Jeff Van Gundy just said, "Bulls have no true shooting guard who is worthy of being a starter."

  • In reply to Edward:

    Eat your words Reese1 Witherspoon and sir Edward.. EAT YOUR WORDS.

  • In reply to jgingeri:

    Last time I checked the stats(on NBA.com) Lakers have +8 ppg differential. Bulls are +1. Both score 30% higher field goal percentage then they allow opponents. Bulls rebound four more per game over opposition while Lakers are at two.

    I really don't like the way Joakim has been trending down. He just has gone from looking like an all-star impact guy to really just a solid player. And Taj has dropped precipitously as well.

    If Taj and Jo were somehow to come up with stud games/retro back to November then I think the Bulls have a chance. Otherwise I doubt they come out with the W. Regardless of those question marks though, I'm still more interested in Derrick emerging as a premier player/scorer(assists also and solid D etc.) These statement games are an important barometer for emerging superstars because they tend to perform very well in these games.

    Plainly, of course I want the team to win, but as I said I've been dissapointed with Noah and Taj(maybe his feet are killing him - I know he sure seems like a battler as does Joakim). But these are the games I expect Derrick to be amazing/shine.

  • Those who deny the 'it' factor are blind. Amen MW

  • Great Points doug!

    And yes, imo that is exactly what you do...FORCE KOBE TO BEAT YOU. I rather have him take contested 20footers compared to Gasol making layups. And just looking at last years championship series...when Kobe scored a lot...the Lakers lost most of those games...its when he gets everyone involved is when the Lakers are really hard to stop.

    +2 Shakes....and when we play Orlando again...I would say do the same thing....Make Dwight beat you. Dont double team him as much...make him beat you. There outside shooters are to good to leave wide open. D Howard cant drop 40 every night.

    Lets go Bullies! Lets get this W!

  • DVR baby, its on ESPN.

  • It was layup after layup for the Lakers until Brewer and Taj entered the game.

  • Doug, your man Korver (along with Deng and Rose) made a major impact in the 2nd quarter. Bogans was on the bench with a -12 stat for his 6:45 minutes.

  • Bulls players are the main reason why Rose's assists are what they are. JO misses at least 3 lay ups, lay ups

  • I don't care about what anybody thinks, Rose is now a better player than Wade

  • In reply to bobhot:

    This may be the first game Bulls have won on their 3pt shooting 8-17 vs. 3-13. Bulls also hit their FT's 14-17 vs. 13-18.

    Rose is 46% 3pt(25-54) beginning with the circus trip.
    Deng is 54% 3pt(13-25) for last 7 games.
    They have added new dimensions to their games.

  • 13-8 over a stretch of schedule I would have put 10-11 as the par mark. Really great win, Rose really has to be in the MVP discussion right now.

  • Great W and effort for the Bulls on the home floor and the announcers are right, tomorrow is a trap game so they need to keep their focus and Thibs is doing the right thing by keeping Bogans starting cause maybe seeing how terrible he is looking, Gar and Paxson will make a some sort of move cause Korver needs to remain coming off the bench with his scoring and energy.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    O M G. I swear on my life this is the first time I've EVER read one of your posts without hearing about us needing to add a player, it is a miracle.

  • The Bulls were SO much better with Bogans out of the game. Whether it was Korver, Brewer, or Watson they were a much stronger team on both ends. I hope Thibs gets the message to compete with the top end teams, Bogans needs to sit. I'm a little surprised though, it seemed like Gasol was dominating Joakim, I thought the Lakers would have exploited that more. The Bulls came ready to play in the 2nd half and played great defense. Great win tonight.

  • In reply to bpmueller:

    The Lakers should be Gasol's team, Kobe needs to play support to him. Glad that Kobe's ego wont let that happen and the Bulls got the win though.

  • In reply to bpmueller:


    People around the league are catching on to Rose not drawing enough fouls. When do we stop blaming this on the refs (even though they were awful tonight)?

  • In reply to HoosierBull:

    Honestly it's a bit of his game and a bit of the refs. I think the article gets it right that the incentive structure in the NBA is wrong, you're rewarded for just running into people and forcing your way to the line even though that is boring to watch. But it'd take a rule change to fix that.

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    I thought the refs did an even job of not calling things. At least they were consistent, and it made the game more fast paced and fun to watch.

  • In reply to bpmueller:

    Yeah it was OK tonight, I meant in general the reason Rose doesn't get calls is part the way he plays and part the refs. Actually one probably feeds into the other.

  • In reply to bpmueller:

    The 3rd quarter was another key. They dominated LA in the 2nd quarter but the 3rd quarter has been when the Bulls have let teams back in the game or extend a lead. They outplayed LA in the 3rd and were able to hold them off in the 4th. Great win.

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