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Pacers 98, Bulls 91: Forgot to trade Vinny

This is the difference when the Bulls coach actually has to coach: In a game on Friday where the Bulls only had 8 available players, they won handily against a very good Denver Nuggets team. On Sunday afternoon(hangovers can explain a lot of what happened today) Vinny had all sorts of shiny new toys (and some old ones), and they lose to a mediocre team that was without their best player.

Kirk Hinrich was soul-suckingly bad, and Vinny kept going to him. His franchise player is at the same position, but that is of no matter apparently, playing 23 minutes to Rose's 28. And the worst part was that even though Kirk was not hitting shots or running the team well (while I don't think his motives are quite this malicious, he was freezing out Gordon in the 3rd...why Hinrich entered the game 2 minutes into the 3rd period in the first place...), Vinny went to him for defense, and his defense stunk too. This is not news: while Kirk is a good defender for his position he struggles against quick guards, and TJ Ford is one of the quickest in the league. So why have Kirk out there in a position to not even help in the matter he can most, while enduring his faults on the other end?

Though it shouldn't even be broken down: Rose should rarely (maybe never) be pulled for performance. Let him play. It's been a pain for this franchise to not let their young bigs play through mistakes, but you'd think those problems wouldn't extend to the franchise-saving #1 overall pick.

It wasn't even as much the overall minutes as when the substitutions happened, especially in the 4th quarter. I had thought that with Tyrus replacing Salmons at the 7:44 mark and all five starters on the floor, they'd be out to close the game, and were only down 2 at the time. It only lasted 3 minutes, still with a 2-point deficit, and then captain (of the U.S.S. Suckage) Kirk Hinrich entered the game. A minute later (still only down 3) Vinny then takes out Thomas and Noah for Miller and Salmons.

Why???? There's 3 minutes left at this point and you now have in three players off the bench, two of which are playing their first game for you. And this young frontcourt has been playing very well for months, and you need them to make the playoffs (and beyond if you have a, perish the thought, long term view), and they're getting yanked out of a close game late for 'veterans'.

This stabilizing veteran force manages to actually extend the deficit to 5, now with only 1:23 remaining. Rose and Thomas are back in, Salmons commits a TO that leads to a dunk, and the game is effectively over.

It's not only substitutions (though that's the most worrisome thing given that we're talking about Derrick Rose being sat in 4th quarters for Kirk Hinrich), but also the odd defensive strategy so switch screens all game, allowing the Pacers to have a mismatch (usually using Troy Murphy) on nearly every posession. Except when the Pacers didn't employ a screen, and TJ Ford just blew by Hinrich without any help.

Good news though was that the new additions all played decently, even Tim Thomas in his 8 minutes (proving at least he's not going to be 'Tim Thomased' like, um, he was before). Brad Miller missed some shots he'll usually make, and played the pick/pop with Rose on one play that worked just like I had dreamt it would, and had 11 rebounds in under 20 minutes. John Salmons had an efficient game from the floor and it was very nice not dreading Nocioni entering the contest.

But should I even be excited for new arrivals if it just gives Vinny more ways to screw up? (I'll answer it: yes. The talent does look a lot better post-deadline) His one fallback was at least he was playing Derrick Rose a lot, and letting him stay on the court even through mistakes and poor defense. And Rose wasn't good today. But he shouldn't be benched for it, especially not for a guy who's playing even worse.