Hey man, last night was fun. In a world where we're forced to watch Nazr Mohammed and Kirk Hinrich play semi-regularly at a semi-professional level -- I'll take last night in terms of entertainment value. Memphis is a really talented team, legitimately good. And considering the circumstances for the Bulls -- fourth game in five nights, smitten by injury -- last night was probably a net positive. So without further ado, here are seven things I'd like to share with you.
1) Marc Gasol v. Pau Gasol
Your friendly blogger highlighted this in the recap, but I'd just like to touch on it a little more. I'm not going to be overly critical of Pau -- I mean, everyone knows he's a lazy defender -- but I'd just like to point out the differences between how he and his brother play help defense:
In the video clip above, Pau is helping on a baseline action the Grizz ran all night where Marc would trail into the play, often resulting in a wide-open jumper. To Pau's credit, he protected the painted area and the rim fairly well, but it was open jumper after open jumper for Marc as a consequence.
And then in the video below Marc loops into the action from the opposite block for an open jumper instead of trailing from the backcourt:
Now, I understand Marc is an all-world defender. However, that doesn't mean I can't point out how to play proper help defense. In those videos above, Pau's simply not quick enough to cover that much distance between the ball and his man, plus his positioning was shaky. In the screen-shot below, Marc displays perfect positioning and exemplary help:
Marc is stationed three quarters of the way up the lane, sags off Pau and helps Mike Conley until he's able to recover, which then results in Aaron Brooks taking a contested fall-away jumper. Brooks sees all the space baseline and thinks he'll be able to at least get off a clean look, but instead -- due to Marc's quickness, positioning and length -- only the illusion of a good shot appears.
2) Bulls Fourth Quarter Run
This is a thing that actually happened. Just take a look:
It was truly awesome until Memphis went on a 17-3 buzz saw to end the game, though.
3) Taking Tony Snell Out Of The Game
This one I'm not entirely sure how to feel about. Tom Thibodeau removed Snell from the game -- after Snell had just scored 11 points in a matter of three minutes -- because he hadn't rested the entire second half. So giving Snell a breather sort of makes sense, it's possible that he was tired. But then once you consider how out of character it is for Thibs to do such a thing -- he's played Jimmy Butler for entire halves for years -- I then begin to question the decision a little bit more. I don't think it cost the team the game or anything like that, but the timing was odd.
4) Joakim Noah Setting Screens
I very much have my concerns with Noah as after last night's four-point outing, he's failed to reach double figures in scoring eight times out of twelve back-to-backs this season. But what Noah lacks in scoring he supplements elsewhere via passing and screen setting. Last night in the fourth quarter, Noah set a couple of his trademark space-clearing, arm-bar screens that wound up springing the aforementioned run the Bulls went on:
On the example above, Noah disjoints Jeff Green from Nikola Mirotic which then allows Niko to put this gorgeous spin move on Kosta Koufos.
Then on this screen-shot below, Tony Snell takes the hand-off from Noah who then jams Vince Carter, freeing Snell for the trey bomb:
5) Sideline Out Of Bounds
Small thing, normally not an issue under Thibs, but with 1:12 left in the first quarter and 14 seconds remaining on the shot clock, the Bulls ran a sideline out of bounds play where Kirk Hinrich and Nazr Mohammed ended up being the only ones touching the ball out of the set play. The Bulls tried to run a double-high screen action towards Mirotic on the far side of the floor, but Hinrich elected to run the play towards Mohammed on the near side for some reason, and they got a complete brick out of it.
6) Nikola Mirotic Pick-and-Roll
The Bulls using Mirotic in the pick-and-roll is standard except that they used him as a ball-handler -- not a screener -- in the fourth quarter. They had some success with it, too. Actually forcing Marc Gasol to cover him and let Zach Randolph cover the other big in the game for Chicago. And although I get on Pau for his defense, Z-Bo isn't much better if at all in the pick-and-roll. But yeah, back to the point: Niko continues to impress the hell out of me.
7) DOUG, COME BACK!
I totally understand that Doug had thought the Bulls had come away with the steal, but the dude completely vanishes from the bottom of your screen whilst the four other guys on the defense haven't even gotten outside the three-point line!
And another thing, I firmly believe that the front office has mandated Neil Funk and Stacey King to promote the hell out of Doug. I mean, am I listening to an endorsement of a political candidate at a keynote speaking event or an NBA broadcast? The propaganda is overwhelming! That's neither here nor there and is solely my opinion, though. I promise I'm rooting for Doug, but man he does some funny ass things on the floor sometimes.