Considering how outgunned the Bulls are against a team like the Lakers, especially in the frontcourt, the first half was an admirable effort.
Gordon was cold all night, but was at least still attacking the rim. Rose tried to pull them back with spurts of brilliance, but he wasn't enough.
I thought Luol Deng looked pretty terrible, including two awful early turnovers: one where he got caught in the air, and another inbounding the ball. Though he was charged with guarding Kobe, and that usually warranted Kirk Hinrich a free pass on the offensive end.
But it's the frontcourt that really separates the Bulls and the Lakers, and it showed tonight. Drew Gooden was in foul trouble, Noah had a particularly ineffective first half (he was better in the 2nd) so it meant a lot of Aaron Gray.
Gray actually did alright by his standards, getting a few dunks, and it helped that Tyrus Thomas was in there with him (Vinny followed Scotter's rotation rules) and playing well. Together they were part of a lineup that actually made up ground, and a lot had to do with Thomas' defense (and some nice passing) allowing the Bulls to run, a time where the Lakers loafed a bit. When the Lakers were set on defense they were very agressive on the wings, pressuring the Bulls into double-digit turnovers in the first half.
Vinny then stuck with big Aaron a bit too long, and things eventually went bad. He was in relatively early in the 2nd half too. There was the typically deadly pairing with Noc, and Lamar Odom took advantage of Noc's spaciness on defense.
I started writing this once I saw the fourth quarter open with Hunter/Hughes/Noc/Thomas/Gray. They actually held it close enough to warrant bringing Rose/Gordon back, and the Bulls closed the game back to 10 with the ball...and then Aaron Gray telegraphed a pass that wound up giving the Lakers a fast break basket.
Not that Gray's the single reason the expected result happened tonight, but it shows the talent disparity, though some of that is seemingly with Vinny exacerbating the situation (it's not like Gray played himself 21 minutes).
Ah well. There's another game tomorrow where that disparity won't be so high, and at least some of the rotation players got some rest, with Rose getting 'only' 35 minutes.
- Either Gordon gets fouled a lot, or he has really bad body control when heading into the lane. I think it's somewhere in the middle. He does get hacked, but you can see the difference between him and Rose when they get fouled. Rose was getting hit so often early Vinny was actually up and screaming.
- Hughes is still confirming he's terrible, yet maybe it'll take a dozen or so games before someone affiliated with the Bulls realizes it. Especially considering that he's in the game when Gordon's running the point, there's no reason Hughes plays ahead of Thabo except for the paycheck.
- Bulls got the Lakers in the penalty real early in the 2nd quarter, but did nothing with it.
- Pau Gasol sure looked like someone worth trading for.