(more on the 4 factors box score)
They do have Derrick Rose, who should be somewhat similar to the sort, at the very least in terms of a late-game role, but Rose didn't look right all game and he certainly wasn't taking over possessions late. His defense was also quite poor, and Carlos Arroyo lit him up so bad in the 1st half VDN used Pargo for a 5 minute stretch when the situation arose in the 2nd(I think that was the reason anyway...). Those were crucial stretches as the Bulls should've been padding their lead with Wade on the bench. When it got to the 4th quarter the Bulls only scored 17 points, with the set offense not doing much made worse by nobody really stepping up in isolation.
But such late-game impotence could be expected: If it wasn't coming from Rose, who can really be counted on to generate shots late? That may be a theme all season (hopefully with the happy ending of Rose maturing and taking charge) but what is something that could be changed is how the minutes were distributed in that 4th quarter and much of the game. Tyrus Thomas came off the court with 3 minutes left in the 3rd, and never returned. He wound up with 21 minutes (and fairly pedestrian production), including a stint with him at SF (should those even count anymore? It's not a good role for him). Taj Gibson somehow played 17 minutes, and for the centers, Noah had 30 with Brad Miller at 24. It's crazy that Taj is cutting into the supposedly Vinny-proof 7 man unit, but apparently Taj has been elevated to another toy for Vinny to play with. It's bad: Noah and Thomas need to play more.
What has been especially concerning in VDN's use of Tyrus in both this game and the Spurs game, is that he feels his best unit late is Rose/Hinrich/Salmons/Deng and alternating Miller and Noah. I can see why Vinny feels this is getting his best players on the floor, but I wouldn't say that the wings are so far above Thomas that it implores that you go in with a small lineup (unlike the Spurs, the Heat did not oblige and kept two bigs on the floor) making Noah do almost entirely handle the rebounding role. Luckily Noah is fairly awesome, and doing his best at just that...in fact the Bulls once again did alright overall on the defensive glass, so that's a promising sign. I can understand Vinny wanting Hinrich out there late, but he shouldn't be caught in scenarios where it's keeping Thomas on the bench for an entire quarter. I wonder if that's always the plan, or will it be on a game-by-game basis of sitting who's struggling, with Hinrich replacing Deng or Salmons (never Rose, no matter how bad he may look in a particular game) at times.
(And there's always the long-term effect of this minutes cut meaning losing Thomas mentally for the season, only to make it official by letting him walk in the offseason. But I don't think there's some conspiracy to make Thomas look unimportant in order to have fans accept his already-decided departure. That'd imply some organizational forethought and planning (albeit evil). I think it's just a case of VDN trying to win every game he can, and he genuinely feels that Tyrus isn't his best option.)
There were good signs before that 4th quarter though, a good offensive game from the trio of Salmons/Deng/Hinrich, shooting 21-46. Deng even showed an impressive post game (and more importantly, recognition of when to use it) when the smaller Quentin Richardson was matched on him. Though with Richardson in the game late (he hit a huge three), why was that matchup never exploited in the 4th? Hinrich once again did his best to frustrate Wade all night, and Salmons had his best game of the season shooting the ball.
But, a problem with this trio remains: no 3 point shooting. The Bulls were 2 of 12 from beyond the arc, and one of those makes was from Brad Miller. It was a major question going into this season as to whether Hinrich and Salmons could compensate for the loss of 3-point shooting with Gordon's departure, and so far they haven't delivered. Doug Thonus nails it at ChicagoNow: if they're not increasing their efficiency through 3-pointers or getting to the line (an area where Rose HAS to get better), how can this team have an above-average offense this season?
And if our shooters aren't shooting well enough to space the floor (and they're not really much of a running unit either with Hinrich/Salmons/Miller), what is the big advantage of going small to close out games?