Let's get the good stuff out of the way: the Bulls did battle back in the second half to cut a 20+ lead down to under 5 in the closing minute. Ben Gordon had a remarkable second half, with 34 points. He was attacking the basket, drawing fouls (16 FTA), and for the most part was taking his jump shots in rhythm. Why can't he do that all the time? Is it just because the game was out of reach and it's easier for him to play then? I don't know if there's a true correlation there but it does seem fishy. Either way, good to know 'inconsistent' still means there's a good game here and there.
But what put the game out of reach in the first place is the concern. This game went completely opposite to what was planned: It was the Rockets controlling the offensive boards, the Rockets using their speed to get easy looks, and it went on for 3 quarters. There may be post-game talk about 'energy' and 'intensity', but it really was just Tracy McGrady. McGrady was getting by everyone the Bulls put in front of him, most notably Luol Deng. For all those who think Deng should move to the Shooting Guard spot, that game is a clear-cut reason why it's such a stupid idea. McGrady was able to get into the paint at will, forcing the Bulls defense to collapse and leave wide open shooters all night. When Deng failed, Skiles went to Nocioni and Tyrus Thomas (who had a terrible game, 4 fouls and 4 points in 14 minutes), but not Thabo Sefolosha . Thabo was the only one who didn't play(Adrian Griffin was inactive for the game), even Mike Sweetney got his first minutes of the season. Who knows if he was ready for the assignment on this night, but Thabo would at least be a quicker option than anybody else Skiles put out there.
Ben Wallace also had a poor game, 5 rebounds in nearly 35 minutes. In the early going he did a nice job guarding Yao, and maybe that preoccupied him from also crashing the boards, but by the second half he just looked tired. Nocioni had a bad game, Duhon was predictably a non-factor...the new starting lineup began the game well but looking back it seems like a farce based only on some threes going in.
Overall this team isn't 'worse' than last season...they're just the same. Huge deficits, futile comebacks. The vaunted new defense let them down as much as the typically inconsistent offense. I'm still waiting to see the new improved Bulls, but it may take until a break in the schedule for them to show it.
Tomorrow night in San Antonio...and if McGrady gets to the lane at will, it'll be 'interesting' to see how Parker and Ginobili do. Hopefully Ben Wallace shows up to the game this time to meet them in the paint.