A foul loss: Nets 127, Bulls 116

Derrick Rose was praying for a call. His prayers went unanswered.

Derrick Rose was praying for a call. His prayers went unanswered.

The 2009-10 New Jersey Nets are one of the worst teams in NBA history. They have 12 wins and 67 losses.

The 2009-10 Chicago Bulls — who, rumor has it, are fighting for a playoff spot – have given them two of those wins. In fact, the Nets won the season series against the Bulls 2-1.

If Chicago ends up missing the playoffs by one or two games, those two losses to New Jersey are going to haunt the Bulls players all summer. At least, I hope so. As a fan, they’re going to haunt me.

At any rate, here are some thoughts on last night’s game:

Defense:
Chicago’s D wasn’t good. The Bulls couldn’t handle Brook Lopez (26 points, 14 rebounds), Devin Harris (19 points, 7-for-12) or rookie Terrence Williams (27 points, 13 rebounds, 10 assists). They left Yi Jianlian and Coutney Lee open for critical shots late in the game. There was entirely too much looking around and letting opposing players sprint by with no resistance, and not nearly enough fighting through screens.

And yes, I’m looking at you, Derrick Rose and Luol Deng.

The Nets also came away with 13 offensive boards, including the biggest of the game. More on that below.

Brad Miller:
If the Bulls had pulled this one out, I was going to title this post “Brad Miller is my hero.” The former Boilermaker had a season-high 27 points and helped bring Chicago back from the brink. Not bad, considering that watching him drive to the hoop is like watchng a still-life painting. Of a statue.

Yi had just knocked down back-to-back jumpers to put New Jersey up by double digits with about four and a half minutes to go in the fourth quarter. Miller responded by hitting back-to-back threes to give the Bullies a little hope. While the Nets were missing free throws — Harris went 0-for-2 and then Jianlian went 1-for-2 — Chicago was getting layups from Rose (one) and Miller (two) to get back to within a point.

By the way, the second of Miller’s layups happened when he trapped a pick-and-roll with Deng, which helped force Williams into a turnover, and then sprinted downcourt to receive the pass from Deng for a layup. Just a great, savvy, veteran play.

The Bulls took a one-point lead off a tip-in by Joakim Noah and Miller padded that lead by hitting a couple clutch free throws with nine seconds left. Frankly, that should have been the game.

Unfortunately, Harris hit a tough running jumper over Kirk Hinrich with four seconds left. The Nets were forced to foul Rose who — gak! — knocked down only hit one of two. Now the Bulls were up only two points. After a timeout, Courtney Lee forced up an ugly shot over Miller, who had slid over to help on defense. Unfortunately, Miller only watched the shot go up instead of putting a body on anybody, which allowed Brook Lopez to tie the game with an uncontested putback slam (more on that below).

Now, admittedly, when a player helps on defense, another player must rotate to his man. So it wasn’t all Brad’s fault. That said, Miller has been in the league a long, long time. He got caught watching the ball…and it might have cost his team the game.

Officiating:
The officiating stunk. It did. There’s no denying it. Which isn’t really all that surprising, considering earlier this week the NBA had to admit a botched call at the end of a high-profile game between the Jazz and Thunder.

Look, I hate laying blame on the officials after a tough loss. It comes off like sour grapes. But in this case, I feel like it’s justified. Not all the blame, mind you. But some of it, at the very least.

Take the Lopez putback that sent the game to overtime. That ball was touching the rim when he slammed it down. In 50 out of 50 states, that’s called “goaltending.” Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro pleaded with the officials to review the play, but apparently it wasn’t reviewable.

Fast forward to the end of the first overtime. The Bulls were up 112-108 with just under a minute to play. The officials decided it was okay for Courtney Lee to body bump and handcheck Rose all over the backcourt, which resulted in Derrick losing the ball out of bounds. Why the refs suddenly decided to choke down their whistles is anybody’s guess.

Harris pulled the Nets to within 112-110 with a quick layup. On the other end, Rose blew past Lee, who did the only thing he could do…he reached. Lee reached from behind and grabbed Derrick’s left arm, after which the ball flew out of bounds. Replays showed conclusively that this was the case. Rose could not have been fouled more blatantly without blood being involved.

The officials paused to review the play to determine who sent the ball out of bounds. Technically speaking, the ball went off Rose. But, as I said, the film made it pretty evident Rose was fouled. Here’s the problem: It’s not within an official’s power to rule a foul via video reply. Therefore, they awarded the ball to the Nets, who tied the game on a couple free throws by Lopez.

The Bulls — who were clearly fatigued, thanks in part to the previous night’s home game versus the Cavaliers — promptly fell to pieces in the second overtime.

Honestly, what’s the point in allowing video review if the officials aren’t allowed to make the right call? Why can’t an official review goaltending or a non-call? I mean, the Bulls could literally end up missing the playoffs in part because the video review system doesn’t make total sense.

Beyond that, why oh why isn’t Derrick Rose getting the benefit of the whistle? He’s not a rookie anymore. He’s an All-Star for pity’s sake. I’m not suggesting the refs should give him preferential treatment. Not by a long shot. But if Rose gets fouled, it should be called. Last night, Derrick was treated like a rookie nobody on a few plays, and that treatment proved critical.

Derrick Rose:
A few observations:

First, Derrick finished with 7 turnovers. Two of those weren’t entirely his fault, but 5 is still an awful lot.

Second, he had only 6 assists, but he might have had 10 or 12 if his teammates could hit open jump shots. Honestly, Rose’s drives are so deadly that teams collapse on him with extreme prejudice. And, more often than not, Derrick makes the right play by passing the ball out to an open teammate. Unfortunately, he’s on a team full of lousy shooters.

Rose has taken some criticism with regards to his floor game, and no, his isn’t as good as Steve Nash’s or Chris Paul’s. But I’m telling you, if Chicago management can bring in another All-Star and surround Rose with some capable shooters, his assist numbers are going to go up. No question.

Conclusion:
The Raptors lost to the Atlanta Hawks last night, which means Toronto and Chicago are still tied for the final playoff spot in the East, which should hereafter be referred to “Cleveland’s first round hors d’oeuvres.”

The Bulls play the Raptors in Toronto on Sunday. Considering that the Raptors have the tiebreaker, that game is…well, it’s as important as the games Chicago lost to the Bucks and Nets this week. So take that for whatever it’s worth. I’m not quite sure at this point.

It’s become quite evident that, as presently constructed, the Bulls are not a good team, healthy or otherwise. They have no inside game, no outside game, and they rely on contested two-point jumpers. This season has always been all about waiting for next season…and of course this summer’s free agent market.

Extras:
Recap, Box Score, Advanced Box Score, Play-By-Play, Shot Chart, Photos

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18 Responses to A foul loss: Nets 127, Bulls 116

  1. doubleaccord@gmail.com'
    Tony C. April 10, 2010 at 3:49 pm #

    Boy, what an excruciating game to watch.

    There is no doubt that the officiating was poor, but let’s face facts: the Bulls didn’t deserve to win, as has been the case in each of their last three “must win” games. I say that for the following reasons, most of which Matt has covered well.

    VDN is a very bad coach, and is almost invariably out-coached at the end of close games.

    The Bulls free throw shooting stinks. There is no excuse for being so poor at something so fundamental, and it is especially disappointing that the likes of Rose and Gibson, two young players with excellent work ethics, have not been better at the line. As far as I am concerned, in close games, the better free throw shooting team deserves to win (and they usually do).

    Very poor defense. The Bulls allowed far, far too many easy baskets around the rim. Also, VDN has a remarkable tendency to ignore the opposing player who is doing the most damage until it is too late. Terrence Williams, for example, hurt the Bulls previously, and yet was basically allowed to run wild through much of the game. Also, Rose confirmed, yet again, that quick guards have no problem blowing past him.

    As a final, specific note on free throws, at 9:39 in the fourth quarter, Rose missed twice from the line. On the second shot, the director chose an unusual angle (camera facing Rose), and it was clear that his eyes were following the ball. This is a classic, technical mistake, and one that any well-coached high-school player would know to avoid. The eyes should always be on the target when shooting, be it a basketball, an arrow, or a gun. Now it may well have been an anomaly, but in any case the Bulls’ coaches should be all over him to correct the mistake.

  2. seancdennis@hotmail.com'
    blackfujones April 10, 2010 at 6:02 pm #

    @tony c.
    you are correct, anyone with a good coach would tell you never to follow the ball, hence why mj could close his freakin eyes after he’d taken a peek at the basket(.
    I didnt see the game unfortunately i had dinner obligations were there were no televisions and me having my smartphone out just wasnt politically correct. However, Im totally dissatisfied with this team. We dont defend, we’re a crappy jumpshooting team who lives on jumpshots. Can we please get someone else other than d rose who can penetrate? can we please get a low post presence, can we please get someone other than pargo off the bench who can score(not like pargo can score bc frankly the kid cant) This bs has gotta stop seriously. The only kid out there playing his heart out is Noah

  3. cliniclysick April 10, 2010 at 6:35 pm #

    And the worst part of it is, this torture just keeps on going. This season just won’t end. Bad decision-making, very poor coaching every single game (if VDN isn’t replaced I’m boycotting this team until he is) and worst of all, most of this team’s flaws have been apparent for 5 years now (no low-post game, too many quick jump shots and inconsistent play on both sides of the floor). At this point, only D Rose, Noah and Taj are worthy of a place on the roster.
    Taj is fading a little bit, but come on, he’s never played 80 games in a season before, so I’ll give him a pass on this one. He’s improved bigtime this year and hopefully will be even better next season.
    On the other hand, Luol is as good as he’s gonna get, which isn’t that good. He lacks defensive intensity, offensive explosiveness (what’s with all those behind-the-back dribbles in the paint?) and you can’t rely on him to make a play at the end of the game. Who knows where they’d be with JJ starting at the 3-spot and Gordon coming off the bench? I wanted Gordon to leave, but expected the coaching staff to be better so he wouldn’t have to bail them out with some crazy threes.
    Conclusion: playoffs or not, just let this season end. And don’t assume we’re gonna sign any of the A-list FA’s. They’re all playing on better teams and money isn’t everything…

  4. powers88@vt.edu'
    Bobby April 10, 2010 at 6:50 pm #

    The worst part about this game is the ramifications that it could have this summer. If we don’t get a top free agent it won’t be because we didn’t make the playoffs. It will be because when our season was on the line and we NEEDED to win we couldn’t pull it off against Milwaukee and New Jersey. A free agent will want to go to a team where he is the piece that puts that team over the hump and no free agent wants that hump to be Milwaukee and New Jersey. At least if we beat Toronto tomorrow maybe Bosh at least will see that the Bulls without him are better than the Raptors without him.

  5. admin_leader@hotmail.com'
    Faithleader April 10, 2010 at 7:38 pm #

    Bulls with Rose Calderon talented wise but funny thing is both of them don’t play defense…lol at least Rose has the physical gifts (is it just plain lazy?)

    Watchout against rap’s King Jack or Shoeless Jack!…lol

    Go Cavs!

  6. chicondo@hotmail.com'
    luvabullnj April 10, 2010 at 11:24 pm #

    This one hurt sooo bad. The only thing that would cure the gaping would created by this game is a win over Raptors on Sunday. What a wasted opportunity in so many ways. Brad Miller did everything he could to win this game and show the kids what it takes to get in the playoffs. You could see the desire in his eyes. I don’t even fault him for not putting a body on Lopez as he rotated to help on Lee and no one else rotated to block out Lopez. Nor can I blame this one on the coach. The Bulls players just made too many mental mistakes, (turnovers, defensive lapses, missed free throws, bad jump shots, etc.)
    The Bulls just don’t have anyone who can consistently make a perimeter jump shot. And they have no one with any post-up ability. It is the most painful to watch them try to feed the ball to anyone in the paint.

  7. chicondo@hotmail.com'
    luvabullnj April 10, 2010 at 11:47 pm #

    First I wrote the rant above. But I want to rant on all the LOCAL Bulls Fans. Blackfujones is absolutely right. “…I’m totally dissatisfied with this team… This BS has got to stop seriously.”
    The only way this BS stops is if the Bulls Fans stop supporting the team. Time to send Jerry “fan rip-off” Reinsdorf a message. Put a contender on the floor or watch the attendance drop to through the floor.

    Seriously, did they drop the ticket prices for this season, after letting Ben Gordon walk and trading John Salmons for the sake of cap flexibility. Not to even mention that Joe Fan probably had to take a pay cut due to “economic conditions”.

    Time for the Bulls Fans to make Jerry “Miser-Dorf” feel the same economic conditions the rest of the country is feeling.

  8. owill75@yahoo.com'
    dolo April 10, 2010 at 11:56 pm #

    why no noah down the stretch?

  9. handkuft@yahoo.com'
    GotNext April 11, 2010 at 5:25 pm #

    luvabullnj don’t be a fair weather fan please. We are not supporting Jerry Reinsdorf, we are supporting the guys on the floor. Do you think these guys are out there tanking games on purpose?? Yes the games was awful and painful to stomach, no defense and terrible decision making all around. Rose has a lot of work to do in that department(how are you gonna dribble into the paint and put up a hook shot without even jumping). But the fact is we’re competing, we wouldn’t even be fighting for playoff spot if it wasn’t for the injuries. Not an excuse for our poor play, but everyone knows it’s true.

    Do not forget about our cap situation for next year. If any big name FA leaves his team, Chicago is the best destination PERIOD. Do you think someone like Joe Johnson wants to go to a garbage squad like NJ and spent his peak years rebuilding, AGAIN?? Think about it. BG was offered basically the same contract that he got from Dumars, TWICE. You do the math. Salmons wasn’t playing the way he could for whatever reason,
    and who would you rather have, him or JJ?? Complaining is one thing, but giving up on them, whatever your reasons may be, shouldn’t even cross your head.

  10. inkybreath@gmail.com'
    inkybreath April 11, 2010 at 7:54 pm #

    This team has been a .500 caliber club for soooo long. The frustration is clear with us fans, in particular. The only solace for me is to zoom out and keep looking at the long term. We had our Floyd fun as a hapless bunch and such and we are now at the apex of our role as a good, but not-dominant team. At this point, we all know the stakes are high. These are the times where I wish that fans, as a whole, were more … unified? as a voice. Maybe organized is a better term. All of this hierarchy is near-governmental, so our votes could be easier to tally. It is, perhaps, an overestimation of the current power of the fan opinion on management, but I think it would lead to a greater role. (And, for the organizations, with a more invested fan base, their advertising product becomes more valuable.)

  11. TexasBullsFan April 12, 2010 at 12:58 am #

    Hey Luvabullnj, if you don’t wanna watch, then don’t watch. But don’t try to tell me I can’t watch the games if I want to.

  12. mrmacross@yahoo.com'
    WannabeRulesCommitteeMember April 12, 2010 at 2:47 am #

    Bad calls happen all the time. It sucks when bad calls tip the balance of a tight game, but any type of gaffe in the closing minutes of a close game can do that. More importantly, we can point out dozens of things the Bulls did badly that cost them the game, so blaming one incident on the refs is not all that useful.

    However, we can always criticize rules that defy common sense, and the rules did just that on Friday night. The Courtney Lee foul/Derrick Rose turnover situation spits in the face of common sense. Forget team allegiances for the moment; I don’t think any reasonable fan can be comfortable with the way the replay rules dictated how possession was awarded after that specific play. If following the rules means the refs have to conclude, “Wow, we can see we just awarded a team that committed a violation, and we can’t do anything to correct it,” then the rules must at least be revisited for the sake of fair play and “getting the call right.” They might never make perfect rules, but they can make much better ones.

    Anyway, I’m just happy the Bulls now are in the 8th spot. I believe a strong effort in the playoffs, win or lose, will be important for them to land key free agents this summer. I’m not counting on the Bulls hitting the lotto again and managing to draft John Wall or Evan Turner.

  13. DD October 21, 2010 at 8:53 pm #

    I hope your announcers continue to be classless and fake choking while on air. Karma at its finest.

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