The Bulls lost another stinker to the Nets last night. Some observations from that game:
1. Hoiberg cost the Bulls another game with Poor In Game Management
It's pretty tough to evaluate coaches fairly. We see a very, very small sliver of what coaches actually do in terms of preparation, leadership, team-building, scouting, teaching, etc.
What we do see though are things like rotations, play calls, and timeouts. Hoiberg has been pretty bad at that stuff throughout this season. We went over how he probably cost the Bulls the game against Phoenix with poor time management, he almost definitely cost the Bulls the 4OT loss against the Pistons with weird rotations and misusing timeouts again, and in last night's contest his awful lineups really cost the Bulls again.
Hoiberg had experimented earlier on the season with a McDermott/Gasol/Mirotic trio and the results were, as you'd expect, not very good, posting a -1.0 net rating. You need at least one defender at one of those positions.
Hoiberg had gone away from that lineup recently, but essentially recreated it by putting Gasol with Bobby Portis and McDermott. That group was really bad, and the Portis/Gasol combo let the game get away. Portis and Gasol are probably the Bulls' two weakest big defenders - they should be paired with Noah or Gibson pretty much at all times.
Portis/Gasol were -5 in their span together and there was no rim protection at all - the Nets were going to the basket at will:
Hoiberg mercifully subbed Portis out with Taj Gibson with a little under 6:00 left in the game and that lineup went +7 in the closing minutes to give the Bulls a chance. Had Hoiberg put Taj in earlier and separated Pau/Portis, the Bulls would have had a much better shot at winning this game.
Hoiberg made a less questionable decision but still one I did not like in starting Mirotic at the 3 and giving Tony Snell a DNP. I'm always in favor of giving Snell less minutes, but Mirotic has really struggled at the 3 every time the Bulls have given that lineup a go (Will Gottlieb had a great writeup of this on BBallBreakDown last year).
Mirotic was actually pretty good defensively guarding Bojan Bogdanvoic, but he was still a -4 and shot only 3/9 for 8 points. The problem with Niko at 3 is that it really takes away his greatest strengths offensively - his ability to drive past slower, bigger players and take advantage of their slower rotations on the perimeter.
This isn't doom and gloom time for Hoiberg. I think it's fair to call him out when he makes mistakes, but he's still a very young coach and for better or worse, he's going to be the coach for a long time. He still has a lot of time and room to grow, and I believe he will. The lineups and timeout management have to get better, though.
2. Bobby Portis Rim Running
Portis' energy was fantastic again and he showed how he is a great fit for what Hoiberg is trying to do out there.
The Bulls have been dying for fast break points. They have big problems running off missed baskets and almost never run off makes. Portis got what might be the first fast break layup off a made basket that the Bulls have had in the entire season by outworking every other player on the court:
When the Nets scored this ball, there were 3 Nets defenders that were behind Bobby Portis. As Joakim Noah inbounded the ball to Aaron Brooks, Portis sprinted down the court and was wide open for a layup. (VIDEO)
That never happens with the Bulls, but it's what is supposed to happen in Hoiball.
Portis was doing the same type of stuff last game against the Knicks. He continues to look like an excellent player, although again he got outmuscled on the defensive glass. He needs to bulk up in the offseason.
3. Mike Dunleavy's Christmas Vest
This is the guy we're counting on to save our season. Seriously.
4. A Get Rich Quick Scheme that might actually work
Somebody get a copyright on this Scoring Drought (C) graphic. You'll make a million dollars per game.