Bulls Recap from Last Night
So I went to last night’s game with my 80+ year old grandmother. I figured I’d recap the game through her eyes.
- Oh, I don’t follow these guys like I used to. I don’t know half of them.
To be fair, there has been some significant roster turnover since the beginning of the season. What was more interesting in last night’s win was VDN’s willingness to play with his lineups. The Rockets are an unorthodox team starting a 6’6″ center and a generously listed 6’0″ point guard but seem to make it work. James Johnson started and seemed to be more comfortable focusing on his defense and just running the floor, rather than trying to stand out on the second squad. And on several occasions, Vinny countered the Rocket’s small lineup of only Luis Scola in the middle with a big lineup with Brad Miller and Joakim Noah on the floor. This led to interesting results as Trevor Ariza blew past Noah on one end, but then Miller responded by driving on Ariza and drawing a foul. Apparently, no one told Brad of the mismatch.
- Come on guys, play some defense!
She shouted this early and often as the Bulls gave up a number of open looks in the first half. Luis Scola exhibited some crazy Hakeem the Dream up and under moves and Ariza and Kevin Martin had a number of uncontested jump shots.
I’m not sure if the Bulls were completely responsible for the Rockets’ shooting woes in the second half (Chase Budinger did nearly airball two straight wide-open three-point attempts) but they did obviously frustrate the Rockets, particularly denying Kevin Martin and Aaron Brooks the ball in the open floor. Before Brooks nailed a few shots late in the fourth quarter, he was staring at a box score with 1 point from the FT-line despite playing 35 minutes.
A lot of people writing today are crediting Derrick Rose for his improved defense, but I also think some credit has to go to Jannero Pargo and Flip Murray for recognizing that their minutes could disappear to Acie Law at any time and to stay on the floor they have to bring some defensive intensity. They truly seemed to be laboring out there on getting up in Brooks and Lowry’s faces and funneling them into Noah and Gibson (6 blocks combined).
- Three Blind Mice, Three Blind Mice!
The refs were just plain terrible and the Rockets exacerbated the problem. Luis Scola must have taught them a class in Argentinian flopping over the All-Star Break because they perfected standing right at the edge of the circle under the basket and then pretending they had been shot by a cannon ball when a Bulls player drove the lane. The Bulls were whistled for 7 offensive fouls throughout the game.
Aaron Brooks, taking a page from Reggie Miller’s playbook, routinely attempted to draw fouls on every three-pointer he attempted. It worked once, and the rest of the time he just looked ridiculous flailing backwards sliding on his backside after bricking another attempt.
At one point, the Bulls were up 13 and looked like they could put away the Rockets but a series of one-sided calls seemed to kill any momentum the Bulls had leading to a 9-0 run by the Rockets bridging the 3rd and 4th quarters. This was what led to Vinny getting thrown out of the game. Which was ridiculous in itself because the ref who gave him both technicals remained 50 feet away on the far end of the court. I did appreciate Vinny’s anger because it prevented Brad Miller or Kirk Hinrich from getting involved and risking another costly suspension.
- I can’t stand it. Derrick Rose gets the ball and everybody just goes to their spots and stands around.
She said this towards the end of the 4th quarter when the Bulls players obviously looked for Derrick Rose to finish the game. While the first place I would look is to blame Vinny, he had already been kicked out of the game by this point. So this falls squarely on Bernie Bickerstaff, just kidding. The Bulls players need to be able to run some semblance of an offense late in games. My grandma was right to say that the Bulls just parked three players in the corners around the three point line, and just relied on the pick and roll with Brad Miller in on offensive possessions. The problem with this strategy is that the Rockets just hedged into the lane, preventing any real penetration and forcing the Bulls’ jump shooters to beat them. Last night, it worked to mild success, but on an off night the Bulls will need to do better.