A bad start: Warriors 114, Bulls 97

Let’s not mince words: the Golden State Warriors are a bad basketball team. They entered today’s game against the Bulls 11-27 overall and only 7-10 at home. In terms of wins and losses, only the Minnesota Timberwolves (9-33) and New Jersey Nets (3-37) are worse.

The Warriors have had two main problems this season. First, they’ve suffered a bizarre number of injuries. Seriously, the Warriors have as many players out of action as they have available for games. Their injured list includes Anthony Morrow (strained right knee), Anthony Randolph (torn ligaments/avulsion fracture of the left ankle), Brandan Wright (left shoulder surgery), C.J. Watson (lacerated right hand/index finger), Kelenna Azubuike (left knee surgery),  Raja Bell (left wrist surgery), Ronny Turiaf (sprained left ankle) and Vladimir Radmanovic (strained right Achilles).

Crazy, right? I guess it’s safe to say the Warriors aren’t exactly oozing sympathy for the Bulls, who were without Kirk Hinrich (flu-like symptoms).

Golden State’s second problem has been their defense. Or, more accurately, their complete and rather embarrassing lack thereof. The Warriors rank 29th in Defensive Efficiency (108.7 Points Allowed Per 100 Possessions). And although they score a lot of points — they average 107.3 PPG, good for 3rd in the league — the Warriors are only 20th in Offensive Efficiency (103.5 Points Scored Per 100 Possessions). The point being, their offense isn’t nearly good enough to make up for their lousy defense.

In all honesty, Golden State’s best defense is the mind-numbing effect their uptempo, undisciplined style has on their opponent’s offense. That was definitely the case today. They suckered the Bulls into playing their style…and it worked.

The Bulls only have themselves to blame. Too many one-on-one plays, too little movement without the basketball, not enough passing and waaaay too many jump shots. In fact, 72 of Chicago’s 96 shots were jumpers. Sure, I could give a little stink eye to Tyrus Thomas, who attempted only two shots  at the rim (one of which got stuffed), but everybody was guilty of chucking…even Joakim Noah, who went 0-for-5 on jump shots (one of which was swatted). Has Noah ever attempted five jumpers in a game? Probably not. And there’s a very good reason for that.

Mind you, Golden State’s opponents hit 65 percent of their shots at the rim, which is second-worst in the league. This means that Chicago’s best strategy would have been to attack the basket relentlessly. Not only would that have earned them higher percentage shots, it would have gotten the Warriors in foul trouble…a real bonus considering Golden State coach Don Nelson only had eight players in uniform.

Instead, the Bulls were content to jack up outside shots, which probably explains why they hit only 36.5 percent of their field goals. That does not, however, explain why Chicago missed 11 of their 33 free throw attempts.

Of course, it’s worth noting that Golden State’s Andris Biedrins — who has appeared in only 14 games this season — is finally healthy. He set up camp in the paint and defied anybody who tried to challenge him. Biedrins grabbed a season-high 19 rebounds and blocked a career-high 8 shots. Now that he’s back and feeling like his old self, it’s very possible some of the Warriors’ defensive stats will improve. Probably only slightly, but still.

In addition to losing their minds on offense, the Bulls never really established themselves on defense. Nellie has always specialized in isolating his best offensive players to create mismatches. That’s precisely what he did against the Bulls, and you can see the results in the stat lines of Monta Ellis (36 points, 8 assists), Corey Maggette (32 points, 11-for-14 from the field, 10-for-11 from the line) and Stephen Curry (26 points, 5-for-8 from downtown, 6 assists).

Said Noah: “They’re match-up problems. And Maggette’s an unbelievable offensive talent. And Ellis is … he’s a monster out there. I think that they just played harder than us and they deserved the win.”

Now the Bulls are left to ponder one that got away, which could very well come back to haunt them. By the numbers, the Warriors were easily the worst team they’re going to face on this seven-game Western Conference road trip. If they don’t come through against the Clippers on Wednesday, an 0-7 trip wouldn’t be out of the question.

Said Chicago coach Vinny Del Negro: “When you lose there’s a lot of question marks. Our intensity was not at the level defensively that it needs to be at. We’re not going to win just out-scoring people. Especially Golden State, who can really put the ball in the basket. Those three guys are tough to cover off the dribble — we know that — but we should of done a better job with them.”

Well, you can’t change the past. Not without a DeLorean outfitted with a Flux Capacitor, anyway. So what can the Bulls do moving forward?

Said Vinny: “Play harder. Play smarter. With more intensity. And that’s what it’s going to take for us to win on the road. There’s no magic pill. There’s no perfect scenario. What it is, is, going to work — understanding, executing and getting after it.”

Sounds good. Now they need to go out and do it.

If you check last season’s schedule, you’ll notice this was the point of the year when the Bulls started to turn things around. After opening their road trip with a loss in Minnesota, the Bulls rebounded to beat the Clippers and eventually finished their seven-game trip 4-3. Let’s hope we see a repeat of that this season.

Recap, Box Score, Advanced Box Score, Play-By-Play, Shot Chart, Photos.

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13 Responses to A bad start: Warriors 114, Bulls 97

  1. TexasBullsFan January 19, 2010 at 1:33 pm #

    This, all you Tyrus defenders out there, is why those of us who don’t like him feel the way we do. Did you see that line? 2-7 for 4 points? Yeah, he grabbed 9 boards, but dang. 4 and 9? He’s been around for 4 years now. When is he gonna prove he’s not just 1/3 of Eddy Curry?

  2. erik.ruda@gmail.com'
    Edd January 19, 2010 at 3:23 pm #

    Tyrus did attempt at least three shots at the rim. One was blocked by Biendrins on a fast break, another two came right after one another (I believe in the second quarter). He just happened to miss all three of these shots. I can look up shot chart details if you want proof.

  3. bscholtens@hotmail.com'
    Brad S. January 19, 2010 at 4:22 pm #

    Why look up the proof? Does 3 shots near the rim make enough difference in the assesment of Thomas’ play? The guy hasn’t had a really impressive stat line in a couple of weeks and there is no excuse. He should be healthy, it’s a contract year, he’s coming off the bench and facing D-leaguers!

    Next Subject.

    I don’t want to be the first off the band wagon (not that I was really ever back on!) but this stinks of a coaching loss to me. Most of the Bull’s shortcomings that I read in both the Trib and on ByTheHorns could be categorized as “failed gameplaning” and “lack of tactical adjustment”. Attacking the rim to get opposing players in foul trouble, setting up mis-matches, and running plays to pull Biedrins away from the basket; these are things an nba coach should be able to do in his sleep. I know, I know, the players are the ones on the floor. However, do these Bulls seem like defiant, coach killers to you? Not to me, either. I don’t get the sense that they won’t run the plays, but that the plays are not effective. (See Noah’s quote.)

    Just to be clear: I am not calling for Vinny’s head, just pointing out that this one seems to be very squarely on him. It is an area that he needs to learn from and improve on. To be sure Don Nelson may be crazy, but he out foxed Vinny last night.

  4. bullsbythehorns@gmail.com'
    Matt McHale January 19, 2010 at 6:29 pm #

    Edd — I made a mistake. Hoopdata says Ty took two shots at the rim. He was 1-for-2 from there and 1-for-5 from everywhere else. I updated the post accordingly. If there was a third shot at the rim, I don’t remember from watching and can’t find it in any of the shot charts.

    Brad S. — That’s a valid argument. I don’t know what Vinny told them in the huddle. It might be poor coaching, or it might be poor execution. I know a lot of teams intend to drive against the Warriors, but the players get sucked into shooting jumpers because they’re always so open.

  5. mikemayer3@hotmail.com'
    thirdsaint January 19, 2010 at 6:37 pm #

    No doubt Nelson outsmarted Vinny last night. Like the announcers said, Nelson loves to play chess matches with teams. I get a feeling Vinny would prefer to play Go Fish. Yesterday’s game was pathetic on so many levels and that’s a game we should never lose, even on the road. I hope Rose and Co. take offense to how they played and destroy the Clippers.

  6. tc643@hotmail.com'
    Tony C. January 19, 2010 at 8:47 pm #

    There’s a tendency for people to forget about how bad VDN is when the Bulls win a few games. But whenever they face decent (or better teams) with excellent strategic coaches, losses should be expected.

    Thomas has always been a dumb player; that’s his primary problem. He might improve sharply in the right system and under a serious coach, but that’s not likely to happen in Chicago. He should be traded while he still has value.

  7. felipeagarcia87@hotmail.com'
    felipe garcia January 20, 2010 at 1:40 am #

    Thank you Tony C. and TexasBullsFan, I am glad to hear that their are some smart Bulls fans out their. I am also getting sick and tired of Tyrus Thomas being inconsistent on almost every game since he has been back from his injury. This kid is a joke and I want him traded along with Jerome James for Al Harrington. Hopefully New York coach Mike D’Antoni still want Tyrus Thomas youth and can actually turn him into a solid player.

  8. felipeagarcia87@hotmail.com'
    felipe garcia January 20, 2010 at 1:44 am #

    Because let’s face it people, the Bulls coaching staff can’t help Tyrus Thomas grow up into a man like Chris Bosh or Amare Stoudemire. So Bulls GM’s please trade Tyrus Thomas right now before his value goes down!

  9. m@hot.com'
    Mr Mully January 20, 2010 at 8:37 pm #

    You guys got beaten by the Golden State D-Leaguers…too bad so sad.


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