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Bulls get shredded in Charlotte, allow 130 points in loss

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Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

The Bulls had produced good defensive results in their 3-1 start, and though some warning signs were there it was at least looking a lot better than the preseason. Tonight in Charlotte that all came crashing down in an epic beatdown at the hands of the Hornets. The Bulls lost every single quarter and gave up totals of 37, 32, 31, and 30, eventually losing 130-105. Hey, at least they statistically improved as the game went on.

From the outset, with previously-winless Charlotte scoring 4 straight baskets within 5 feet, it wasn't looking good. Derrick Rose couldn't stop penetration at all, and they were giving Al Jefferson any kind of chance against Pau Gasol. And when the 3-pointers started raining in, it got very ugly quick.

Earlier today before this game, our own HungarianJordan had some foreboding remarks on early results of the season showing a lot of variance, especially when it came to 3-pt shooting:

The Hornets went bananas in the preseason shooting a ton of threes, though their 0-3 start had them at under 36%. Tonight, in the three quarters where the game mattered the Hornets were 10-16 from deep, culminating in a Jeremy Lin banker to get to 100 points before the 3rd quarter ended.

The odd thing was the Bulls 3-point shooting was abnormally good too, finishing 14-30 and featuring fantastic shooting performances from Jimmy Butler (4-6) and a continuing-to-shoot-very-well Doug McDermott (5-8). A couple of the McDermott makes were among the more solid Bulls offensive possessions of the night, an area where the Bulls didn't struggle as bad as the atrocious defense but had a lot of issues in their own right. Nikola Mirotic had his first stinker, shooting 2-11 (1-4 from three) with 5 points. Rose had his 3rd straight game scoring under double-digits, the first time that has happened in his career.  Rose was very jump-passy and made poor decisions both there and in his shot selection, though to be fair a lot of those 3 point attempts were after the Bulls were getting creamed and needed the three ball.

The bench was also poor offensively outside of McDermott, where the Noah+Gibson frontcourt were producing way too many contested inside looks and outright turnovers. The far more flimsy froncourt trio of Spencer Hawes, Cody Zeller, and Frank Kaminsky (the best play of Noah's night might have been cracking Zeller in the nose) spaced out the Bulls and more than held their own rebounding, which spelled death. The Bulls deficit swelled during the 2nd quarter and while Hoiberg tried an all-shooting lineup with McDermott joining the re-entered starting lineup, they didn't even make a dent. An Aaron Brooks prayer to end the half got the Bulls to within 22, but it was shocking to see they had given up 69 points in a half.

The defense was the story through the 3rd quarter as well, as Charlotte opened with a quick 6-0 run as they ran at the Rose/Gasol combo. Behind Butler, McDermott, and Brooks (who was worse than Rose defensively, eaten alive again by Jeremy Lin and Kemba Walker) the Bulls were hitting a lot of shots but could never sustain a run as they'd almost as easily give points back. At best the deficit was 17, but was back up to 23 on that Lin triple to end the third.

In that 3rd quarter and the missed opportunity, there was a point where you could say Charlotte was hitting some luckier shots. But they had earned that massive cushion to play so loose in the first place, and it wasn't just shotmaking. Continually throughout the game they were quicker to loose balls, rebounds (12-4 in offensive rebounds), drawing fouls (23-8 FTA edge), and pushing the pace off of not only turnovers but any Bulls miss. They looked to be doing a lot of Hoiball themselves (including spread-out production, as their high scorer was Jeremy Lamb with 20 and six others in double-figures), and the key for that tonight was seeing a Bulls defense allowing them to get away with it. Chicago couldn't stop penetration, were brainlessly switching at times and failing to recover, or were merely late enough and flailing past shooters. At times the defensive plan looked to be shrugging your shoulders and taking the ball out of the net.

The 4th quarter saw the Hornets lead get to 33, and the all-bench lineup had little chance. Bobby Portis got his first NBA action in garbage time, which I didn't watch but I see he hit 5 shots.

The 130 points allowed was more than any Tom Thibodeau-helmed regular season game. The Bulls have some bad timing in showing their poor defensive habits, as the Oklahoma City Thunder are coming to town on Thursday. Who knows, here's hoping they miss a lot.