A rotten homecoming: Clippers 90, Bulls 82

Derrick Rose and the Bulls got punched in the mouth by the Clippers.

Derrick Rose and the Bulls got punched in the mouth by the Clippers.

Back when I was four or five years old, my mom once dragged me to visit my great grandmother on a Friday night. That was the last thing I wanted to do, not because I didn’t love my great grandma, but because Friday night was when CBS aired my favorite television show: The Incredible Hulk. I finally nagged my mom into leaving so I wouldn’t miss Bill Bixby’s first transformation into Lou Ferrigno. No sooner had we pulled into the garage than I jumped out of the car and raced to the living room…where I promptly tripped over our dog and faceplanted directly onto the TV stand.

I ended up making a trip to the emergency room, losing a tooth and missing the entire Hulk episode. My point? Sometimes you go home and fall flat on your face. Just ask the Chicago Bulls.

Ah, those zany Bulls. Just a few short days ago, they made history by becoming the first NBA team to ever win five games in a row against winning teams on a road trip, Derrick Rose was named to the Eastern Conference All-Star Team, and Charles Barkley gave mad props to Vinny Del Negro and Joakim Noah.

Then the Bulls got thumped by the Los Angeles Clippers in their first game back in the United Center. Talk about a buzz kill.

And ah, those zany Clippers. Last week, they lost back-to-back road games by double digits to the New Jersey Nets (4-42) and Minnesota Timberwolves (11-38) before getting obliterated by the Cavaliers in Cleveland. Let’s face it, The Other L.A. Team was reeling. This game should have been a gimmie for the red-hot Bulls. Or so I thought.

Well, apparently the Bulls thought so too, because they showed up and played like a team that expected the win to be given to them. But this is the NBA. Wins aren’t gift wrapped and handed out, teams have to take them. Well, Vinny didn’t have his team prepared to do that, and the players obviously weren’t ready to face a Clippers squad that was desperate to salvage a little pride after their recent disasters.

The result: Chicago shot 38 percent as a team and gave up 24 points off 20 turnovers. And mind you, the Bulls had a full three days off after beating the Hornets in New Orleans on Friday night, which made their sloppy, disjointed effort even more disappointing.

Nobody played well. Nobody. Derrick Rose went 7-for-20 from the field (including 2-for-12 on jumpers) and finished with just as many turnovers as assists (4 and 4). Luol Deng was 6-for-14 and made some incredibly stupid plays, like overdribbling for 10 seconds and then trying to shoot over Marcus Camby. Kirk Hinrich finished 3-for-9 and appeared to have lost confidence in his shot by the end of the game. Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson played like their feet were hurting. The bench missed 17 of 24 shots.

What happened to that “us against the world” mentality? The Bulls came out flat and, at times, looked intimidated by the Clippers’ 18th ranked defense. Marcus Camby (11 points, 9 rebounds, 4 steals, 4 blocks) was an impenetrable wall. Chris Kaman (21 points, 11 boards) was a bully. And the Chicago players apparently needed a map to locate Eric Goron (a game-high 24 points, including 18 in the first half). Ditto for Rasual Butler (16 points, 6-for-8, 3-for-3 from downtown).

Said Rose: “We were just making bad plays, making bad decisions. It was tough the whole night.”

Added Captain Kirk: “We were doing what it takes to win on the road. Tonight we lacked intensity and got beat for it.”

Concluded Noah: “We didn’t come with the right energy.”

Okay, okay, sure. But that’s al “Captain Obvious” type of stuff. The better question to answer is: Why? Why did they play like that after performing so well on the road? They appeared to be a step slow on defense, and there was waaaaaay too much standing around on offense. The Bulls do not have talented one-on-one players, and yet there were countless possessions that were one-pass-and-shoot, or even no-pass-and-shoot.

Said Vinny: “…our activity was so complacent as far as ball movement.”

No kidding.

Of course, the road trip should have taught us that as Rose goes, so go the Bulls. And Derrick simply didn’t have it last night. Said Rose: “I was definitely off. My rhythm wasn’t there. It seemed all game we were turning it over, making bad decisions.”

It’s a brutal reminder that, as well as the team has played lately, their margin of error is exceedingly slim.

“We’re not a team that can take anyone lightly,” said Vinny. “When your top players don’t play well, it’s hard to beat good teams. It’s hard to beat any team, for that matter.”

Again I say: No kidding. 

By the way, By The Horns reader Tony C. disagreed with the props that Barkley (and this blog) gave out to Del Negro and felt that this game was a perfect example of bad coaching: “Case in point: roughly 2:30 to go in the third quarter tonight, VDN calls a timeout. The Bulls come out and immediately turn the ball over. This is absolutely typical – and damning – of Del Negro’s quality as a coach. Timeouts crystalize coaches’ decision making; they are much like chess moves, in that the coach has far more control over that single play than the vast majority of (more spontaneous) plays. The Bulls are typically terrible out of timeouts, underscoring just how bad a tactician VDN is. Oh, and after that timeout, the Bills went from down six or eight to down eighteen in a matter of two minutes. VDN sat and watched the Clippers’ momentum building, rather than calling another timeout to stop the bleeding.”

And so here we are again, question the Bulls, their talent, their desire, and, naturally, their coaching. Maybe we’ll get some answers tonight in Philly.

TrueHoop Network:
Kevin Arnovitz of ClipperBlog: “Chris Kaman appears a lot more comfortable as a jump shooter than as a post practitioner, but you’d never know he’s nursing a bad ankle. He grabs 11 rebounds, dishes out some pretty assists. The Clips are now a .500 team when Kaman suits up. Whether it’s because he’s talented, or because his coach has made him the entry point for the offense, or because he’s a lot more valuable than his defensive replacements, it’s increasingly clear that the Clippers aren’t going to compete without a healthy Kaman.”

Extras:
Recap, Box ScoreAdvanced Box ScorePlay-By-Play, Shot Chart, Photos.

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14 Responses to A rotten homecoming: Clippers 90, Bulls 82

  1. PTFC February 3, 2010 at 2:40 pm #

    Let’s be honest here. VDN calls a time out, sets up a play, the players start to run it and THEY turn the ball over. How is that Vinny’s fault? I realize VDN is not the best coach right now in his career and I realize he made mistakes (or atleast to us they are mistakes) in this game. But the lack of execution and the turnovers are on the players. Now, it is the coaches (Vinny’s) responsiblity to communicate to his players to man the f*** up, pick up the energy and not lose to the Clippers. That’s where I criticize Vinny. It’s up to him to MENTALLY have his team ready. Light a fire, get loud, show that you mean be business and stop worrying too much about being the players friends. Start yelling in time outs like Van Gundy. The mental let downs by the team (not being focused, lack of energy, lack of motivation) that falls on the coach. Players simply having off nights is not necessarily the coaches fault. My point is there’s a difference between the two and it’s important to not blur the two things together. At some point the players have to just get it done. The coach isn’t on the floor.

  2. bahrani@uchicago.edu'
    Mahmoud February 3, 2010 at 3:17 pm #

    This was Chris Kaman’s first game back too, I believe, and he’s definitely the rock of their team. The Clippers are something ridiculous like 10-2 when they have the starting line up they had out last night. They’re not a bad team, they’ve just been hobbled. So it was a combination of a complacent Bulls team coupled with a Clippers team that had everyone back and ready to go. I feel like this was definitely one of those trap games (although I’ll admit I greedily looked at at the real possibility of like a 7 or 8 game streak until the Miami game). Hopefully this fires everyone up, we’ll come out, and we’ll crush the Sixers on the road.

  3. mears54321@hotmail.com'
    chad February 3, 2010 at 4:20 pm #

    Why did Tyrus only get 15 minutes. He was the only big guy who wasn’t hurt yet he only gets half the playing time as the other guys. He was not playing any worse than the other guys. He made a few turnovers, but so did everyone else. He makes a shot, then goes for a layup and makes it and gets fouled but the ref calls it a charge so del negro takes him out till the last minute of the game when there’s no longer time to come back. Guess they must be getting ready to trade him if they aren’t playing him.

  4. tc643@hotmail.com'
    Tony C. February 3, 2010 at 4:46 pm #

    PTFC –

    As I implied in my post, I wasn’t cherry-picking; this is absolutely typical of VDN’s designed plays out of timeouts. I don’t chart them, but am certain that a far lower percentage of Bulls’ plays out of timeouts lead to points than the league average (let alone the best of the coaches).

    Of course players have to execute, but to again focus on the play I mentioned in last night’s game, do you – or does anyone – believe that swinging the ball to Tyrus above the free throw line is LIKELY to lead to something good!? Has TT ever given the slightest suggestion that he is likely to make good decisions under such circumstances? We know that he is not a particularly good (or smart) passer); we know that his outside shooting is not good; so why on earth would a coach choose to put him in that difficult position in a designed play?

    Even when players fail to execute, it isn’t difficult to discern whether or not a thoughtful play was designed. And VDN consistently comes up with dumb or incoherent plays, rather than smart ones. All you have to do is pay attention to those particular plays, and then juxtapose them with those designed by other coaches.

  5. PTFC February 3, 2010 at 5:46 pm #

    Tony C,

    I hear you. But why is TT not reliable (rhetorical question). He is the only non-injured big. He needs to step up and not be a liability when Vinny wants to run a play. “I want to run a couple different plays but I can’t because I can’t trust Tyrus”. It’s rather sad that coach has to deal with that. Also, when plays work it’s a “good” play, when a play doesn’t work (give credit to team you are playing against also, it’s not the practice squad) it’s a “bad” play. I understand some plays are just universally seen as not a “smart” play, but when the entire team struggles and the team loses it magnifies a play here or play there that you want to take your frustrations out on. I’ve watched every Bulls game this season. When the bulls lose it’s because they have stunk it up (poor shooting, no ball movement, poor defense, turnovers), Vinny can’t physically control that on the court. Now Vinny has done questionable things (like make derrick rose throw the inbound pass with a few seconds to go in regulation when it needs to be him one recieving it) but most of the time the players have already stunk it up all game. In fairness I’ve rarely seen a Bulls lost where they played well but Vinny screwed it up for them and they lost. Vinny has a lot improving to do throughout his career but I can feel for him when too often your guys just don’t show up. What are you supposed to do.

  6. tc643@hotmail.com'
    Tony C. February 3, 2010 at 6:12 pm #

    PTFC –

    I’m not excusing poor execution, but frankly, more often than not, such failure to execute is at least a partial indictment of the coach.

    Offensive plays out of timeouts should obviously be designed to produce high-percentage shots (time allowing). So a simple way to judge the effectiveness of such plays is to note whether or not they lead to good shots. Again, throughout VDN’s tenure with the Bulls, I’d be willing to wager that a shockingly low percentage of timeouts lead to good shots (whether they go in is a different matter). It’s a game of chess between opposing coaches. They should each be familiar with their opponents strengths and weaknesses, and the offensive coach must attempt to either surprise the defense, or exploit its weaknesses. Good coaches accomplish this with impressive regularity, exploiting match-ups or other opportunities. Not VDN, though, who mostly runs predictable plays, and rarely produces an easy or very open look.

    Look, he’s not a total idiot, and he has made some useful adjustments in recent weeks. But the idea that he is likely to develop into a truly good and valuable coach strikes me as fanciful at the moment.

  7. dabulls February 3, 2010 at 8:36 pm #

    Aside from the horrible plays run out of timeouts, or even the issue of when the timeouts are taken, why does Vinny always seem to take Rose out of the game after he has made several shots in a row. He started 2-12, however made 5 in a row and then was taken out, and the clippers pushed the lead to double digits. I understand Vinny has a rotation but this happens game after game, but if someone is on a hot streak let them continue.

  8. chicondo@hotmail.com'
    luvabullnj February 4, 2010 at 1:56 am #

    I have to agree with PFTC here. I watched the whole game and the Bulls stunk it up the whole game save for the first 5 shots Deng took. This was one of the worst if not the worst game I’ve seen the Bulls play this season. Even Noah looked tired out there.

    While I’m at it, I will say this too. Rose is not a point guard (not yet anyway). He is a scoring guard who happens to bring the ball up the court. Don’t get me wrong, I like Rose, and he has been playing terrific the last few weeks, but I watch him set up the plays and he just does not make crisp passes to get his teammates easy/open shots. When he penetrates to the basket he’ll usually shoot the ball even when the defense collapses on him. He should be kicking the ball out to an open teammate but he’ll throw up a wild shot. When he does kick it out to a team mate, it is rarely to a wide open team mate. Hopefully he will imroove as time goes on, but I have watched other great point guards like J. Kidd and Nash and they get the ball to their team mates such that it is one smooth catch and shoot motion. I don’t see that very often with Rose yet.

  9. mrgar87@live.com'
    andres Lopez February 4, 2010 at 3:16 am #

    The real problem is that the Bulls need to make a trade soon before the deadline to upgrade their bench players with true solid consistent scorers like: Al Harrington and Wilson Chandler for Tyrus Thomas and John Salmons. Plus they already have good solid defenders with their starters.

  10. denksucks February 4, 2010 at 4:33 pm #

    luvabullnj,

    Did you watch the game against the clippers? Rose would drive and set up wide-open shots for Deng and Hinrich, and instead of taking the shots, they end up dribbling into traffic and not even getting a good shot out of it. Oh, and he makes a lot of those “wild” shots as you call it. Or the defense collapses and Noah or someone else is free for a tip in.

  11. Anonymous February 5, 2010 at 12:13 am #

    First of all Vinny D didnt hire his self or draft LaMarcus Aldridge and trade him for Tyrus Thomas… By tha way ha Bulls need a low post presence and any true bull fan dat knows basketball knows that.2008 1 Derrick Rose 17.9 3.9 6.2
    2007 9 Joakim Noah 7.7 7.9 1.4
    2006 2 LaMarcus Aldridge 15.7 7.1 1.5
    2006 16 Rodney Carney 6.0 1.9 0.4
    2004 3 Ben Gordon 18.4 2.9 3.0
    2003 7 Kirk Hinrich 13.5 3.4 6.0
    2002 2 Jay Williams 9.5 2.6 4.7
    2001 4 Eddy Curry 13.3 5.3 0.6
    2000 7 Chris Mihm 7.5 5.3 0.5
    2000 4 Marcus Fizer 9.6 4.6 1.2
    2000 24 Dalibor Bagaric 2.6 2.5 0.4
    1999 16 Ron Artest
    now im not sure what year he took over but if you check tha players drafted after thes players that we passed up on and see our weakness then any true BULL fan will know that its TIME 4 PAX 2 GO! Thanks for tha yeears at tha point but your talent evaulation sucks;ie payin John Salmons instead of giving big shot Ben who can win us 15 2 20 games by his self… O yeah by tha way tha Bulls dont have any BODY that can shoot it from downtown. We dont even have a specialist dat can play no D so he dont get no tic but: He can shoot dat THREE.. NOPE we dont have one…I say erbody but D Rose & Joahkim should be on tha block. But we need 2 start with Pax. Matter of fact I can be tha GM yall put a pollup 2 vote for me and I PROMISE TO PUT A BETTER PRODUCT ON THA COURT THAN JOHN MY FAVORITE NUMBER#5 PAXSON. BUT THAT WAS WHEN YOU WAS DROPPIN 4TH QUATER BOMBS IN THA FINALS. NOT DROPPIN BOMBS WITH ALL OF THESE LOTTERY PICKS. I MEAN ITS NOT LIKE WE’VE BEEN GOOD BUT WE CONTINUE TO LET TEAMS WIT LOWER PICKS PLUCK THA TALENT AND WE GET LEFT WITH JAMES JOHNSON WHILE THE SPURS WHO HAVE WON 4 TITTLES SINCE THA LAST TIME WE EVEN SNIFFED AT THA CENTRAL DIVISION TITLE DRAFTED DEJUAN BLAIR. NOTICE I JUST SAID THA CENTRAL TITLE. AND THE REASON WHY IS BECAUSE OF THA MAN DRAFTING THA PRODUCT. I HAVE A GREAT EYE FOR TALENT I HAVE SUCCESSFULLY PICKED THA ROOKIE OF THE YEAR EVERY YEAR SINCE SHAQ WAS NUMBER ONE.WHY DIDNT WE TAKE BRANDON ROY???? WHY PAXSON?????WHY!!!YOU NEED AT LEAST 2 SUPERSTARS 2 WIN A TITLE UNLESS YOU HAVE A TEAM LIKE THE PISTONS HAVE WHO PLAY SUFFOCATING DEFENSE WHICH THA BULLS DONT. SO UNLESS HE GETS D-WADE TO COME HOME THEN IT’S TIME 2 AXE PAX!!!WE LOVE YOU JOHN PAXSON BUT YOUR NOT A GOOD TALENT EVALUATOR… PEACE OUT BULLS FOR LIFE BABY WE’LL BE BACK ON TOP ONE DAY!!!!

  12. kgfrmdachi@yahoo.com'
    KG February 5, 2010 at 12:15 am #

    First of all Vinny D didnt hire his self or draft LaMarcus Aldridge and trade him for Tyrus Thomas… By tha way ha Bulls need a low post presence and any true bull fan dat knows basketball knows that.2008 1 Derrick Rose 17.9 3.9 6.2
    2007 9 Joakim Noah 7.7 7.9 1.4
    2006 2 LaMarcus Aldridge 15.7 7.1 1.5
    2006 16 Rodney Carney 6.0 1.9 0.4
    2004 3 Ben Gordon 18.4 2.9 3.0
    2003 7 Kirk Hinrich 13.5 3.4 6.0
    2002 2 Jay Williams 9.5 2.6 4.7
    2001 4 Eddy Curry 13.3 5.3 0.6
    2000 7 Chris Mihm 7.5 5.3 0.5
    2000 4 Marcus Fizer 9.6 4.6 1.2
    2000 24 Dalibor Bagaric 2.6 2.5 0.4
    1999 16 Ron Artest
    now im not sure what year he took over but if you check tha players drafted after thes players that we passed up on and see our weakness then any true BULL fan will know that its TIME 4 PAX 2 GO! Thanks for tha yeears at tha point but your talent evaulation sucks;ie payin John Salmons instead of giving big shot Ben who can win us 15 2 20 games by his self… O yeah by tha way tha Bulls dont have any BODY that can shoot it from downtown. We dont even have a specialist dat can play no D so he dont get no tic but: He can shoot dat THREE.. NOPE we dont have one…I say erbody but D Rose & Joahkim should be on tha block. But we need 2 start with Pax. Matter of fact I can be tha GM yall put a pollup 2 vote for me and I PROMISE TO PUT A BETTER PRODUCT ON THA COURT THAN JOHN MY FAVORITE NUMBER#5 PAXSON. BUT THAT WAS WHEN YOU WAS DROPPIN 4TH QUATER BOMBS IN THA FINALS. NOT DROPPIN BOMBS WITH ALL OF THESE LOTTERY PICKS. I MEAN ITS NOT LIKE WE’VE BEEN GOOD BUT WE CONTINUE TO LET TEAMS WIT LOWER PICKS PLUCK THA TALENT AND WE GET LEFT WITH JAMES JOHNSON WHILE THE SPURS WHO HAVE WON 4 TITTLES SINCE THA LAST TIME WE EVEN SNIFFED AT THA CENTRAL DIVISION TITLE DRAFTED DEJUAN BLAIR. NOTICE I JUST SAID THA CENTRAL TITLE. AND THE REASON WHY IS BECAUSE OF THA MAN DRAFTING THA PRODUCT. I HAVE A GREAT EYE FOR TALENT I HAVE SUCCESSFULLY PICKED THA ROOKIE OF THE YEAR EVERY YEAR SINCE SHAQ WAS NUMBER ONE.WHY DIDNT WE TAKE BRANDON ROY???? WHY PAXSON?????WHY!!!YOU NEED AT LEAST 2 SUPERSTARS 2 WIN A TITLE UNLESS YOU HAVE A TEAM LIKE THE PISTONS HAVE WHO PLAY SUFFOCATING DEFENSE WHICH THA BULLS DONT. SO UNLESS HE GETS D-WADE TO COME HOME THEN IT’S TIME 2 AXE PAX!!!WE LOVE YOU JOHN PAXSON BUT YOUR NOT A GOOD TALENT EVALUATOR… PEACE OUT BULLS FOR LIFE BABY WE’LL BE BACK ON TOP ONE DAY!!!!

  13. kgfrmdachi@yahoo.com'
    KG February 6, 2010 at 4:23 am #

    WHY DIDNT WE HIRE RICK ALDEMAN?????

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. More roadkill: 76ers 106, Bulls 103 (OT) » By The Horns - February 4, 2010

    [...] When Chicago lost at home to the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday night, I noted that as Derrick Rose goes, so go the Bulls. Rose didn’t play particularly well against the Clips (7-for-20, 4 turnovers), and the Bulls lost. And while that’s something of an oversimplification, his performance is a pretty good measure of how the team performs as a whole. [...]

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