A loss is a loss and they'll come and go all season. And in this 66-game season spanning less than 130 days, the NBA slogan can easily change to "Where odd junk crappens"; but Monday's loss was sloppy and lethargic against a team which also played the night before, yet outran a young, energetic, deep, talented, well-coached Bulls squad or the majority of the night.
The Bulls allowed an NBA-best 97.4 points per 100 possessions last season, according to Hoopdata. Last night, they allowed 104.2.
Joakim Noah said after the game:
"We're not going to get to where we want to go playing defense like this. Even though we beat the Lakers, we only played well in spurts. Bad pick-and-roll defense. Bad post defense. Lack of communication. Our defense was just bad."
How the Bulls lost was an entire anamoly. They're led by an MVP point guard, while faster and bigger than most teams in the league, but were the only ones on the floor without hustle, were incapable of holding onto the ball, and got killed in the paint, Matt McHale noted:
One night removed from a stirring come-from-behind win against the Lakers in L.A., the Bulls played one of their ugliest games since Vinny Del Negro was patrolling the sidelines. Chicago gave up 22 points off 20 turnovers while letting Golden State rack up 16 steals and 20 fast break points. The Warriors shot 47 percent, outscored the Bulls 42-32 in the paint, and got to the free throw line 31 times.
The Bulls were outplayed. Outworked. Outeverythinged.
Frankly, the Bulls were indeed "outeverythinged", but the loss wasn't due to the Warriors exploiting some structural flaw in the personnel and system. Most of the ugliness can be chalked up under the 'weird crap in a weird season' bunch when it's all said and done. Concerning is Derrick Rose's lack of efficiency beyond the 3-point arc in high volume.
He was 1-for-8 on 3s Monday after going 4-for-5 in the Sunday opener. Is the brickfest from Monday the real Rose or the lights out shooter from Sunday? Neither, but it isn't somewhere in between; it's actually a combination of both. The truth is that the long-range shooters on which you count aren't perfectly consistent, but consistently nine out of every 25 3s. Rose doesn't do that. And this isn't a blip.
The blip was the lights-out 3-point sniper we saw in the opening months of the 2010-11 season. Sure, he's a much better shooter than ever before, as his mechanics show, but the production just isn't there -- and for an overwhelming majority of the last 14 months, it hasn't.
Here are his 3-point numbers from the start of last season through the first two games of this one, according to Basketball-Reference:
Rose isn't a bad shooter, but there's a chink in the armor somewhere which has yet to be effectively identified. And for the player with such a disproportionately high usage rate, it can be very dangerous when the energy is too anemic for others to create off the ball-- as it was Monday. There's no question that Rose has solid shooting mechanics, but good spots for 3s are almost never created by the shooter.
Nikola Mirotic, the Bulls first pick in the 2011 NBA Draft was named the Euroleague MVP for the month of December:
Mirotic averaged 18.5 points and 6.8 rebounds, posted his first career double-double and helped lead Real Madrid to a 4-0 mark with wins over three other top-16 teams.
The Bulls are extremely high on the sharpshooting big man, who likely will remain in Europe for two to three more seasons. The Bulls acquired Mirotic from the Timberwolves, who drafted him 23rd, in exchange for picks Nos. 28, 43 and cash.
I said I'd begin to believe that Adidas is pulling the strings on Dwight Howard avoiding the Bulls when business people and reputable journalists found sources credible enough to publish such information. That day is here:
"Adidas simply cannot have its two signature players on the same team in the same market," a "high-ranking sneaker executive" told Wojnarowski. "Derrick is the face of that market, owns that market, and Adidas can't possibly have maximum bang for its buck with Dwight there."
According to Wojnarowski's source, Adidas is working on a lifetime shoe deal to make Rose one of, if not, the highest-paid shoe endorsers in NBA history.
Howard's Adidas contract also happens to be up for renewal in the coming year. And while the company considers Howard an "outstanding partner" and maintains they're "completely supportive" with whatever he chooses, there is no denying he has less value to Adidas with Rose than without.
This could easily play a role in his next shoe contract negotiation. By joining the Bulls, Howard would relinquish some of the marketing power he'd have in Hollywood or Brooklyn.
Whether this has actually played a role in Howard's decision-making is debatable. But his decision to discount the Bulls for basketball reasons isn't.