As stated many times here before, the Bulls home telecast is awful. Though that's mostly due to who's at the mic (and can't see or understand the damned names of who's doing what), as sometimes they do a good job posting timely stats noting the recent flow of the game.
One was early in tonight's loss to the Blazers, during the Bulls scorching-hot start. I found it interesting because I naturally look for negatives: The Bulls shot 11/15, but were 'only' up 22-18 on Portland. The word 'efficient' was used, and it was meant to say that the Bulls were doing a great job generating looks (which they did). But what was glaringly lacking all game compared to their opponent, even in that hot start, was the 3-pointer.
Midway through the 3rd quarter, when the Blazers were embarking on their biggest lead, a similar statistic popped up again: The Blazers, at 57% shooting, were only a percentage-point higher than the Bulls from the field. But they were up 14 points. The final score and percentages shook out similarly: the Blazers won because 3 > 2.
The Bulls continued their slide as the most ineffectual 3-point shooting team in the league with a 4-16 mark from behind the arc in Portland. In a practical sense, it was even worse: two of those makes were part of a late Nate Robinson prayer-barrage after the game had been pretty much decided, at 1:26 remaining after Wesley Matthews hit his team's 9th attempt on the evening to put them up nine.
On most nights, the Bulls can seemingly be grouped into 3 tiers of players:
Noah+Deng: Heroes to all, and nearly beyond reproach. They played over 40 minutes tonight again after Thibs made a wise move in Saturday's blowout loss to call them off relatively early, but they were still run ragged in the second half. Noah had a near triple-double and more than held his own against LaMarcus Aldridge. Deng also played decently, but his counterpart showed the biggest 3>2 advantage, with Batum going 5-10 and Deng 0-2 from long range.
Boozer/Rip/Hinrich: The one-way starters, sometimes having solid games but rarely complete ones. Rip Hamilton had a very good offensive night (7-10, 15pts) but is becoming Boozer-esque (who, by the way, ended his not-terrible games streak at two) in having Thibs's hand forced to remove his porous D out of the lineup. Butler and Taj were entered in for the two vets midway through the 4th and neither returned. Thibs may be a bit too D-obsessed in these choices, but it's also a hard case to make otherwise. He does see the need for the opposite when yanking Hinrich after another anemic offensive night, and even his defense struggled early against rookie Damian Lillard (11 first-half points)
The bench: Ugh. They went up against one of the worst backup units in the league (which they showed) and didn't look to favorably in comparison. Taj Gibson is now being grouped in with the rest of these turds the way his season has started, with 4 turnovers and 3-7 shooting having Thibs choosing 'none of the above' when it came to Taj/Boozer late in the game. Nate Robinson had 18 points but half of them were too late, and his stewardship of the 2nd quarter produced 13 points and 7 turnovers as a team. Belinelli had 2 points in 19 minutes. Nazr Mohammed has hit one field goal in 62 minutes this entire season.
Jimmy Butler has looked ok, especially the couple times he flies in for offensive rebounds, so that's nice. But playing him more certainly won't help the shooting issues. At one point when Nic Batum hit a long-range bomb Stacey King said it was all about 'confidence'. Maybe some of that individually, but when it comes to putting a team together, a way to improve shooting is to actually have shooters.