Well, that was an all-around bummer. Having to chase a 1-14 Jazz team all night to force overtime and eventually succumbing to a 89-83 loss, often looking hapless on the offensive end even though Utah is a bottom-3 defense. It was basically everything we feared heading into these games without Derrick Rose: nobody to generate offense and really bad depth.
Thibs did start Tony Snell, though I don't think that was some kind of organizational philosophical shift to make sure young players got more minutes. With the injury situation as it is, Snell and Marquis Teague will get minutes regardless, and it made sense to lessen the burden on Snell by having him with the starting lineup, in theory having some bench balance with Mike Dunleavy joining Taj Gibson there.
But there's no balance to be had if both players don't do much. Snell did not totally embarrass himself out there so that's a step forward for him. He had a really bad turnover in the first half but it was his only one of the night. Completed a couple good drives but shot 1-5 from three. Dunleavy received the bulk of the time and finished 1-8. The bench in total scored 13 points in an overtime game, and that's just not enough.
The point guard play was abysmal. Kirk Hinrich and Marquis Teague did embarrass themselves out there. Hinrich, in 35 friggin' minutes, shot the ball 4 times and missed all of them. He attempted 2 FTs only at the very end of OT when the game was decided. He wasn't much to laud-over defensively either.
The only times I noticed Hinrich was:
- Near the end of the first half he got popped in the nose and had to leave the game with blood streaming down his face. He came back in the 2nd half with a band-aid on his nose to add to his ever-growing accessories.
- He nearly decapitated John Lucas III for a 3rd quarter flagrant foul
- Another point in the second half when he played a couple possessions without a shoe, and slipped.
I'm sure he got the Bulls into their sets really quick and set the tone, though.
The problem is further exacerbated because, no matter now much you value 'seeing the kids play, why not you guys?!?'... Teague continues to show he doesn't belong in the NBA. He took one bad-looking 3 as the only shot in his 14 minutes. Didn't have a single rebound or assist. I believe Thibs literally cannot play him much more without going insane and the locker room starting a mutiny. When Hinrich was out and bloodied to end the first half, Mike James actually came in. Thankfully that did not repeat in the 2nd half because it's not like I'd rather see Teague benched for James...but I do kind of understand it.
The Jazz are obviously bad themselves, so it's not like they ran away with things even with the Bulls playing like this. I mean, JLIII literally ran around like a lunatic, but that's not the same thing. Both teams shot an identical 15/39 from the field in the first half, and finished with a similar sub-40% for the game. The Jazz did hit more 3-pointers though. With Enes Kanter out they went small and it forced Joakim Noah out of the paint to chase Marvin Williams and Richard Jefferson. The Jazz hit 7/17 from deep and the Bulls were...oh god...1/13.
The Bulls trailed by as much as 12 in the second half which seemed insurmountable given their offense, but Utah went on a 6+ minute scoring drought in the 4th to surrender the lead. The Bulls did have a good performance from Luol Deng, who eventually just started barreling in the lane for foul attempts. He finished 10-13 from the line for 24 points overall. Boozer actually bested Deng in the points category, scoring 26, but he needed too many possessions to do so (23 shots, 6 turnovers). Between the two of them it's easy to see their limitations: with Rose out they have to try and do more on their own, and they're not quite good enough to shoulder that responsibility. Joakim Noah was merely OK, as he has been all season, and that's sort of an undermentioned problem. He had a double-double in 32 minutes, but fouled out and didn't have a single assist. With the Jazz going small, there were a lot of 50/50 balls that Noah usually gets to that didn't go his way tonight, and haven't at many times all year.
And that's the Bulls 'big 3', and while a couple late Deng shots and FTs were enough to force overtime (and a chance to win in regulation) they were not easy looks and it only got harder in the extra period. The Jazz went 7-0 to start OT with the Bulls not scoring for 3 and a half minutes.
There are cascading issues from the Bulls starters having to do too much to the role players being exposed, and it brought some signs of frustration in this game, from Thibs to Noah to Hinrich. KC Johnson reported post-game of a despondent locker room. This Rose news is still sinking in, and knowing this team's history they will likely look better than this as the season goes on, but man: it's a long season to go. I take no joy from a team with such high aspirations losing, and losing this poorly. But if you think that's 'good', tonight showed signs it may happen in spite of any intentions otherwise.