(more on the 4 factors box score)
(I won't get into the Tyrus 'flu' controversy for this one. Though there was a bit of a snarky tone when describing it at halftime, nobody provided any additional information. Speaking of that pre/half/postgame show I couldn't really share Kendall Gill's puzzlement as to how Lindsey Hunter's speech at Monday's practice didn't carry over to this game. Honestly, what the hell do Bulls 'observers' believe win games in the NBA? Is 'talent' around 56th down the list?)
What an absolutely awful game to watch. As I've said, the Bulls need wins early in any way possible. So let's take it and run (to get slaughtered in Cleveland). But the lesson of it isn't what Luol Deng said postgame, that this proves Bulls are a group that cares about winning because they came back. (he said something silly like that, trust me).
The lesson is this team is not good, and need to get better to make the playoffs this season. This is a bad Bucks team, missing Michael Redd, and the Bulls had to surge in the second half to squeak out a win at home.
Let's hope that first half is the worst we see all season from the Bulls, shooting 27% with 12 TOs on their way to 29 points. And that was actually better numbers than they put up in the first quarter. We know that no matter how undermanned they seem, any Scott Skiles team will be active defensively, but those Bulls teams he led was rarely big on forcing turnovers. But the Bucks were very disruptive tonight completely frustrating the Bulls into turning the ball over and rushing their pick/roll plays. Brandon Jennings was getting his hands everywhere, including picking Rose's pocket on one occasion.
The Bucks would've been even farther ahead at the half if they didn't have such terrible shot selection (with terrible shot-makers). Their bench was especially abysmal all game, going 5-19 on the game with 10 points. They were a Bulls-esque 4-20 on three-pointers. It was fitting that their final shot was a 3-point airball from Iylasova.
The Bulls actually didn't get going until midway through the 3rd, when it was deemed Pargo time. As is the case once every dozen games, Pargo played well: scoring 10 in his 14 minutes, and helped carry the Bulls to a quality 3-point shooting night (Hinrich/Salmons were only 1-5, not good enough). The Bucks kept missing, the Bulls owned the glass (another good DREB% result), able to run to prevent the Skiles D to get set, and the Bulls eventually made up the entire deficit with a Brad Miller 3-pointer early in the 4th quarter.
One good we can take from this game was that after being outshone much of the game by Jennings, Derrick Rose then took over the final few minutes. He was using screens set by Miller and either shooting over Jennings, or finding his way to the rim off of Miller passes (Brad Miller rules, in case you forgot). He also had a big block on Jennings in the penultimate Bucks possession. In close-ups, you could see that Rose dwarfs over Jennings, and it was good to see him recognize and use that advantage. (credit to Hinrich as well, he started out really lagging behind Jennings' speed, but started to figure him out defensively as the game went along).
The other big story was Luol Deng's night, who had a career-high 20 rebounds to go with 24 points. He even hit a 3-pointer and and went to the line 11 times. Luol Deng certainly looks healthy, and it was great to see him fighting for rebounds and moving without the ball like he used to. But while Stacy King begged for the Bulls to 'go to' Luol more, he still hasn't shown any added ability to be a 'go-to' player. He doesn't have to be that to be effective, but this game doesn't mean he's taken some major step in his game, especially considering it was against a horrible Bucks group of forwards (and we know Skiles hates rebounding from his forwards in general). But this early season has shown Deng to be healthy and productive again, and that's needed for this season to be successful
So between Rose and Deng, If you're looking at this roster as only a very small group of actually important players, then this is a nice night. But I was hoping the Bulls would put on a good home performance and they did nearly the complete opposite of that. If not for a good game from Pargo, the Bulls likely don't come back and this season's projection looks apocalyptic. So should his random spurt of good shooting and an eeked-out victory really change that projection? Not much, though seeing Derrick Rose as the one to put the game away does help my mood.
Some other observations...
- Noah missed his first jumper of the season, as he made a Tornado in each of the first 3 games.
- Bogut at times seemed to be able to score so easy against the Bulls frontcourt, yet at other times seemed completely unable to do anything.
- It'd be nice if our color commentator offered something to describe the Bulls bad play besides 'flat' and 'lacking energy'. Also, I get the desire for the Bulls to run, but every team likes to get easier looks when running. There were lineups out there not especially suited to run nor effective enough defensively to get transition going, so when you're a 'bad halfcourt offense team' you're just a bad offensive team.
- Nice graphic to show after an absolutely abysmal first quarter: Bulls lead the league in average attendance from '99-'09. Yay, us! We don't expect much and have plenty of disposable income!
- In the end-of-quarter possessions, Vinny actually had them running plays. First quarter had Rose/Miller high screen which Rose penetrated to find Deng for a (missed) corner 3. Second quarter saw Hinrich use a screen to hit a floater. He's hit a lot of those this season so far. Overall, better than the usual iso-and-stand-around.
- Vinny did a good job on the short rotation tonight, independent as to however he's handling this Tyrus thing. Resisted the urge to keep Pargo in too long into crunch time even after his hot shooting.
- Not worried about John Salmons yet, since I never expected him to replace Ben Gordon in the first place. He has to be better than this (3-15 tonight) but while some slide was expected from last season, it's likely not going to be a complete free-fall statistically for him.
- Taj may be yet another symbol of the Org.'s love of grit over talent, and he may not be good at all, but he does fight for offensive rebounds.