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A day after praising the Bulls, I witnessed their fourth-quarter face-plant in New Jersey last night

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A day after praising the Bulls, I witnessed their fourth-quarter face-plant in New Jersey last night -- a big win for the Nets that, in combination with Devin Harris' half-court heave against Philly on Monday, has New Jersey's playoff hopes looking as strong as they have in some time. Two things stood out to me in this game. First, Vinny Del Negro has taken to pulling Derrick Rose in the fourth quarter and using Kirk Hinrich as his point guard, which is a bit of an unusual way to instill confidence in the lad. I get that there were some issues -- Rose was positively blistered by Harris at the defensive end -- but I have to wonder if pulling Ben Gordon wouldn't have been a better solution last night ... especially since nobody was passing him the ball anyway. Second, they might want to think harder about going small more often. Last night they kept using Tim Thomas off the bench as the backup 4, even though they easily could have kept Luol Deng out there (New Jersey was playing Bobby Simmons in a small lineup of their own); Chicago's two Thomases played nearly 42 minutes at the power forward spot and jacked up 22 shots (making six) before the Bulls finally went small late. Rather than rely so heavily on the Thomases, it sure seems to me a Rose-Gordon-Salmons-Deng lineup could wreak a lot of havoc (or the same with Hinrich at one of the guard spots), and that such an option needs to be utilized far more often for the Bulls to maximize their roster. One thing that was out of their control, however, was defending the free throw line. New Jersey made all 25 of its free throw attempts, turning what might have been a close game into a one-sided affair.

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