[Very enjoyable diary. I don't think anyone's been solely blaming the officials for the free-throw discrepancy, although it'd be nice if Gordon got an Iverson treatment. Or even a lighter version of that treatment. The early numbers are awful, and it's something that needs to not only get to previous levels, but improve over last season. Or else the taunts of 'jump shooting team' will remain, with merit. -Matt]
First of all, I just want to introduce myself. I'm Jaina, a 24 year old Chicago native now living in Boston.
Onto the diary:
Sometimes it seems that the Bulls get the short end of the stick when it comes to foul calls. This theory is backed up by the fact that the past three games, our opponent has shot more free throws than we attempted during the game.
However, the inclination should not be to blame the refs. Against New Jersey, they were whistled for 31 fouls and the Bulls were whistled for 30. Against Philadelphia, the Bulls were called for 23, the Sixers 22. And against the Bucks, the Bulls were called for 25 fouls to Milwaukee's 21. Not a huge difference there.
So what is the problem? This indicates that either the Bulls foul in bunches, creating a penalty situation, or they foul shooters a lot. On the offensive end, it means they are not attacking the basket and not taking advantage of the opponent getting into the penalty.
Against New Jersey, 21 of our 30 fouls resulted in one or more free throws for them - 70% of our fouls. Only 13 of their 31 - 41.9% - resulted in free throws for the Bulls. Against Philadelphia, 17 of 23, or 77.3% of our fouls translated into free throws, and only 9 of their 22 - 40.9% - ended up giving us free throws. The Bulls fouled the Bucks 14 times out of 25 - 56% - for free throws, and the Bulls shot free throws on Bucks' fouls just 9 times out of 21, for 42.9%.
The Milwaukee game included 12 offensive fouls - 7 for the Bucks, for 1/3 of their total fouls, and 5 for the Bulls, for 1/5. Even if the offensive fouls are not considered, the percentage rate of getting free throws from fouls increases to 14/20 (70%) for the Bulls, and 9/14 (64.3%) for the Bucks. Even though the Bucks had more offensive fouls and fewer total fouls, the Bulls still gave them free throws at a higher rate.
In the first quarter against New Jersey, the Bulls had 10 fouls, 7 of which ended in free throws. The Nets had 8 foul calls with only 2 of them ending in free throws for the Bulls. The Bulls were called for 4 fouls in the opening 2 minutes, immediately placing them in the penalty. They need to calm themselves down. Each time they foul, it almost seems to cascade. Against the Sixers, Hinrich gets called for 2 quick fouls and then a technical, giving them three free throws. That is not the type of behavior we should get from our captain.
What's to be done? The Nets shot the most number of free throws of our opponents at 41, and that is not an outrageously high total. The fact that we shot 26, 19, and 17 in the three games is the outrageous part. A drive at the end of regulation against New Jersey maybe gives us a layup or a foul call, allowing us to shoot free throws to take the lead (though there were other issues with that play - screen was too late, and why was Wallace in the game?).
Philadelphia opened the 4th quarter with 3 fouls in 30 seconds, and they only ended up being called for 4 more fouls in the period. 4 of the 7 fouls resulted in free throws. If the Bulls had driven to the basket more, they could have squeezed more fouls out of Philly in the final period.
Sure, it seems like our guys get hit under the basket with no call a lot. Maybe they deserve a few more of those calls. However, the refs are not calling a ridiculous amount of fouls on us. Only shooting fouls. We are supposed to be a good defensive team, but we can't play defense with fouls. I believe that the Bulls can snap out of their funk, but this is something that has nagged them for a few years. We don't need a post-up scorer to get free throws, but we do need to attack the basket.