Another worst loss of the season: Bucks 79, Bulls 74

In terms of injuries and sheer dumb luck, the Bulls haven’t caught many breaks this season. But last night at least, the bad breaks started going their way for a change. Seemingly.

After all, the Milwaukee Bucks showed up to the United Center without Andrew Bogut, who will miss the rest of the season recovering from surgery on his broken right hand. By the numbers — Player Efficiency Rating and Win Shares in particular — Bogut is Milwaukee’s best and most important player. That’s a pretty big loss.

What’s more, the Toronto Raptors — the team standing between the Bulls and the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference — lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers after their best player, Chris Bosh, suffered a “maxilla and nasal fracture to the right side of his face” during a collision with Antawn Jamison.

So all the Bulls had to do to tie the Bosh-less Raptors in the standings was win a home game against the Bogut-less Bucks. Considering the fact that Chicago is set to face the Raptors in Toronto on Sunday, it looked like the Bulls’ destiny was finally in their own hands.

Of course, they blew it.

Normally, playing at home and holding an opponent to 79 points on 36 percent shooting is enough to win an NBA game. But after starting the game on fire and leading 27-14 at the end of the first quarter, the Bulls were outscored 28-9 in the second. And yes, those 9 points were Chicago’s season low for a single quarter.

When Bulls players are sitting at home watching the first round of the playoffs on television, they’ll probably remember that 12 minutes as the quarter that cost them a shot at the postseason.

What in the world happened? The Bulls had the advantage. They had the momentum. They had the motivation. Can somone explain this to me?

Kirk Hinrich, who’s 4-for-16 shooting night was a big part of the problem, said: “They’re a good defensive team, but I think it was more than just the shots. We kind of had them going early in the game, we were relaxed and then they kind of outworked us in the second quarter and that kind of changed the momentum of the game. I think it’s more mental. I think we have a tendency to relax. We relaxed and they cranked it up and they got more aggressive defensively and we never really had an answer for them.”

Whaaaaaa?! How? How does a team “relax” against a vulnerable opponent when their entire season is on the line? That’s as stunning as it is unacceptable.

This was a prime time for Derrick Rose to back up his words. Instead, he ate them. Rose dished out a game-best 11 assists but also finished with a game-worst 6 turnovers. He scored 12 points on 5-for-12 shooting and got to the free throw line only once. That last fact is more damning than the turnovers and bad shooting. Granted, the Bucks were clogging the paint to prevent penetration, and Chicago’s outside shooters weren’t opening things up. But Derrick needed to be more aggressive. He needed to force the action and earn some whistles when his team needed him the most. That’s what franchise players must do.

Instead, John Salmons haunted his old team by earning a game-high eight foul shots and scoring a game-best 26 points. Salmons brought his A-Game on a night when the rest of the Bucks’ starters contributed only 16 points on 6-for-26 shooting. Chicago’s loss really was Milwaukee’s gain. For this season, at least.

Granted, the Bulls fought their way back to take a 65-63 lead with 6:13 left. But the Bucks immediately regained control as Chicago’s offense started sputtering down the stretch. The Bulls simply could not get a good shot. Credit some strong defense by the Bucks…and some downright bawful playcalling by Vinny Del Negro.

Now, I’ve been trying to take it easy on Vinny lately. After all, the Bulls overachieved last season and — despite a litany of injuries — are at least in the hunt for a playoff berth this season. But the garbage he was calling down the stretch cut three or four years off my life span.

Again, Milwaukee’s defense was stellar — what else would you expect from a Scott Skiles-coached team? — and maybe the Bulls players failed to execute. But down by three points with under 10 seconds to go, Brad Miller got called for traveling on one of the ugliest drives to the hoop I’ve ever seen. Why was Miller going for two when his team desperately needed three? Don’t ask me.

And don’t ask me why, after a forced foul of Brandon Jennings that put the Bulls down by four points, the Bulls came out of the timeout and got a two-point jumper from Hinrich, the coldest-shooting player on the floor.

This was a total failure by everybody. The players failed. The coaching staff failed. And of course management gave the Bucks the player (Salmons) who is helping send the Bulls to the lottery.

Said Rose: “We weren’t passing the ball enough, me making poor decisions, everyone just couldn’t get in a groove today. Nobody could get in the right groove to pull this team along. That’s why we struggled. We haven’t played this way in a while.”

Given those facts, and the importance of this game, maybe it’s better the Bulls don’t make the playoffs.

Update! Mike McGraw of the Daily Herald lumped a lot of blame on Chicago’s dreadful lack of outside shooting. I would like to extend that to the Bulls’ lack of offensive diversity. Look, I’ve said this so often this season I don’t always bring it up to avoid needless repetition, but the Bulls are a mid-range jumpshooting team. They don’t have an inside scoring threat, and they don’t have high percentage long-range shooters.

Yes, I think Vinny’s playcalling deficiencies exacerbate that. But, honestly, when the offense bogs down, shots aren’t falling, and the opposing team clogs the paint, the Bulls are rendered helpless. Like, turtle-rolling-around-on-it’s-back helpless. There’s no safety valve. No post player to dump the ball to. No lineup of marksmen that can open up driving lanes. The Bulls are often the victim of what they don’t have.

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

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26 Responses to Another worst loss of the season: Bucks 79, Bulls 74

  1. doubleaccord@gmail.com'
    Tony C. April 7, 2010 at 1:12 pm #

    I share your disgust, Matt. I mean, seriously, less than 14 seconds to go, down three, and you don’t even attempt a three point shot?

    But you know what? If this debacle serves to remind the geniuses in management to begin looking for a new coach as soon as the season ends, then I’ll be well-satisfied.

  2. basshtz@aol.com'
    G April 7, 2010 at 1:33 pm #

    WOW that was pooor gameplay and I hate brad miller im sorry but wen it comes down to the last seconds in the game he NEVER makes the right choices he does this crap constantly…. He should never be for the last mins, Sorry Brad miller should be benched Period and last night proved it!!! Bulls have alot of work but tons of potential i think they will make play-offs and give anytime a good series…. lets go wade we are waiting for you…….

  3. josh.radde@gmail.com'
    Josh April 7, 2010 at 3:00 pm #

    Why was Miller even out there with 10 seconds? Granted, he’s a solid shooter, but we needed people who could pull in offensive rebounds…I saw Rose should’ve had the ball with Flip and Luol stationed at the corners and Taj and Noah looking for offensive rebounds if a 3-point attempt was off. What a horrible display from a “playoff contender”–it makes you hate that a team playing with a ton of heart and less talent like the Rockets or Grizzlies is in the Western conference, because THEY deserve to be in the playoffs…not us.

  4. tester123xyz@hotmail.com'
    bobbysimmons April 7, 2010 at 3:49 pm #

    This is a more disgusted tone than usual Matt, but I have to agree. We really blew this one, at home no less. Though it’s true, Milwaukee controlled the tempo of the game after the first quarter, their defensive intensity threw off everyone and there was just brick after brick after brick, even more embarrassing is that Milwaukee shot worse (36%) and still managed to pull this one out. They were suffocating Derrick all night, but when he passed out nobody could hit an open shot all of a sudden. Skiles and Salmons were really fired up for this one. On a side note, Brandon Jennings really has gotten into his own head, the guy is literally afraid to shoot, he has no confidence in his game right now. The coaching staff should have noticed that and told Derrick to ease up on him defensively and play more help defense, though then again defense wasn’t really the issue this game.

  5. Mahmoud April 7, 2010 at 4:57 pm #

    I think it’s pretty startling how much we rely on Derrick. I don’t think any other team in the league has a more, as he goes, the team goes, player. This is Derrick’s first ‘bad’ game in a while, and the rest of the team just collapsed right along with him. Assuming the Raptors can beat the Knicks and Nets, they will at the very worst go 2-3 down the stretch, meaning the Bulls have to go 4-1…and we still have Boston and Cleveland to go, so one of those games has to be a win.

  6. contrerasadvocates@yahoo.com'
    Savage April 7, 2010 at 5:35 pm #

    Mahmoud, I agree with you there! The Bulls lack real depth and rely too heavily on Rose to have 20/30 point games with 8 to 10 assists. So frustrating that we are fighting for a playoff birth and can not down the Bucks. Granted they are playing great right now, it is just so frustrating that we could not pull this one out to become tied with the Raptors. First a 10 game losing streak then we lose a much needed game. Hopefully the Raptors go on a losing streak with Bosh out for a couple they have a tough schedule. Problem is we need to WIN GAMES for crying out loud!

  7. powers88@vt.edu'
    Bobby April 7, 2010 at 6:16 pm #

    I have officially joined the fire Del Negro bandwagon. Does he even know how to play? I mean I know he did play but did he forget how? You are playing a team without shot-blockers and in the fourth quarter you are in the bonus for somewhere between 5 and 7 minutes. In what world does that mean “let’s fire off jumpshots until the rim falls off?” The game was close and we should have been driving to the hole the entire time. Another problem. In this world that exists only in Vinny’s head, he seems to believe that no matter how many times you get screwed because you switched on the pick and roll, you just stick with it. At some point he believes that it will just start working. He also apparently coaches to go under screens even if that leaves players like Salmons and Ridnour wide open for threes all night long. I realize that I just said that he coaches and I apologize because he doesn’t really coach as much as he just allows people to do whatever the hell they want which is a f*****g horrible strategy, obviously. I liked Salmons and he’s a good player but he was their only player in this game for the whole game. You cannot get torched by one ok player when you are fighting for a playoff spot. Byron Scott if you’re still out there somewhere, please, for the love of god, kick this moron out and help us.

  8. powers88@vt.edu'
    Bobby April 7, 2010 at 6:18 pm #

    Although I guess we never really were planning on keeping Vinny past this season but we should have fired him during the season.

  9. powers88@vt.edu'
    Bobby April 7, 2010 at 6:29 pm #

    By the way, as for damning individual players for decisions you have to remember that there is only one person who should be forming the strategy during the game and that is the coach. True Derrick wasn’t going to the basket and everyone was taking bad shots instead, but that all falls on Vinny because if you’re the coach in a close game against a team with no shotblockers, then you have to lay down the law and tell your guys to drive the damn ball. All of this falls on Vinny and his inability to coach in close games. And does anyone want to explain why in any close game in the final seconds when we need a basket we run the same damn inbounds play every time. Miller comes to the ball while somebody picks for the inbounder and the pass is thrown to him while he is running AWAY from the basket. Does Vinny assume nobody watches film. We ran that same play like five times in the playoffs last year and the only reason it worked was because Ben Gordon was ridiculous in that series. Vinny has no business coaching anyone above the ability of the Nets or TWolves cause at least there his awful coaching wouldn’t matter.

  10. bullsbythehorns@gmail.com'
    Matt McHale April 7, 2010 at 6:38 pm #

    “By the way, as for damning individual players for decisions you have to remember that there is only one person who should be forming the strategy during the game and that is the coach. True Derrick wasn’t going to the basket and everyone was taking bad shots instead, but that all falls on Vinny because if you’re the coach in a close game against a team with no shotblockers, then you have to lay down the law and tell your guys to drive the damn ball.”

    Yeah, it’s true. It’s also true that Derrick’s options were somewhat limited because Skiles was clogging the paint to prevent his penetration.

  11. bullsbythehorns@gmail.com'
    Matt McHale April 7, 2010 at 6:49 pm #

    “This is a more disgusted tone than usual Matt, but I have to agree.”

    Honestly, I am disgusted. Like Kirk said, the Bulls did let up. There’s a time when killer instinct has to be used, and a team has to step on its opponents throat. The Bulls needed to do that early in the second quarter. Heck, they could have been up 20 at halftime with a determined, all-out effort. Instead, they started turning the ball over and playing Milwaukee’s game.

    I understand the Bulls aren’t going to win every night, but this was a winnable game. They made too many mistakes, and that goes for players and coaches. I’m just bummed.

  12. dferguson@ben.edu'
    Derek F. April 7, 2010 at 7:54 pm #

    Isn’t that the gameplan when you play the Bulls?

    Keep Rose out the lane and make him a jump shooter?
    When you do this and no one else can hit a shot this is what you get.

    This team is improperly constructed. And I don’t think they know how to fix it.

    Vinny’s no genius, but the ghost of Chuck Daly can’t do anything if his team can’t hit a shot, especially when they need to.

    You want the coach to tell them to drive to the basket. Besides Rose, who else can do it consistantly?

  13. powers88@vt.edu'
    Bobby April 7, 2010 at 8:21 pm #

    I agree Rose is the only guy that can take the ball coast to coast for a layup but by drive the ball I mean they should have been getting into the paint. Swing the ball a couple times and get it inside. Murry showed a couple flashes of what they should have been doing but they just gave it up.
    Another thing is that if a team clogs the paint that doesn’t mean that driving can’t happen. If the paint is truly clogged by the defense you just have to penetrate a little bit and kick it out. This forces the defense to rotate and thats when you swing it. Then the rotation has to play catch up and the lane should open up. There was just no strategy or adjusting on the side of the Bulls coaching staff.

  14. Dennis April 7, 2010 at 8:32 pm #

    For the love of god, Vinny is an abomination. I wouldn’t hire him to coach a 5th grade team. Seriously people, I realize that I was spoiled with some of Skile’s wisdom coming out of time-outs, and such, but Vinny can’t draw up a play if his life depended on it. Im so pissed off, he has not developed a single player on the bulls. Everyone is who they are as a result of their god-given talent, he makes no one better. FIRE VINNY NOW!

  15. TexasBullsFan April 7, 2010 at 8:59 pm #

    Or, when they kick it out, you just let them shoot wide open jumpers, which they will miss 60-70 percent of. The Bulls have no shooters. Drive and kick doesn’t work when the kick gets you iron over and over. There is literally no one on the team that can drive the bucket other than Rose. There just isn’t. Luol can do it some of the time, but more often than not he’s content to open up his 20 foot jumper.

    Really, has anyone had more hot and cold thrown at them than Vinny Del Negro? I mean, early this season, people wouldn’t piss on him to put out a fire. Then he won big on that road trip and people were annointing him as coach of the year. Now they’ve had a zillion injuries and we’re ready to lynch him again. What could VDN have done last night? Put on a jersey and head out there? If the shots aren’t going, then they just aren’t going. That’s how this team plays, folks. It’s how this team was constructed.

    This team is poorly constructed and has been for years now. The mantra has always been that we have 12 jump shooters and no interior game. It’s still true. Noah can bang the inside, but most of his game is getting on the boards and cleaning up the mess. Taj Gibson, while decent, is not an interior threat at this point.

  16. gamelust@gmail.com'
    sn0wX April 7, 2010 at 11:03 pm #

    I think the thing that i noticed that i am surprised no one else noticed, every time a player on the bench got hot, Vinny sat em. Flip and Brad got us back into the game, come back from a timeout by Skiles and both are warming the bench.

    Not only does Vinny not remember how to play basketball, not only does he not know how to draw up a half decent play, nor does he have the ability to lead these youngsters(not counting flip & brad)

    Vinny also does not know how to teach leadership to anyone on the team, its obvious with how often the team flat out falls apart…9pt quarters, 35 pt lead blown, 10 game losing streak, and more losses to bad teams than good teams

    Vinny also doesn’t understand to attack the rim when the other teams in the penalty

    Vinny also has no concept of which pieces fit and which do not(I’m glaring at you Pargo)

    last nights game has me completely embarrassed to admit I’m a bulls fan, or that i even watched that game. How many times do the Bulls have to play 50% of a game before someone upstairs realizes there’s a problem higher up in the food chain?

  17. inkybreath@gmail.com'
    inkybreath April 8, 2010 at 12:03 am #

    Livid, livid, angry. Okay, was it just me or did the starters play almost the entire 3rd quarter before a sub came in? It was ridiculous. The offense was stagnant and we needed Flip Murray in the game to change things up. It was as if Vinnie was thinking, “My starters are in, this is as good as it gets.” He lost the game in the 3rd quarter. Period. Rose did look more uncomfortable than I am used to seeing him. But, again, I am not going to harp on a second year player with mad responsibility (who only spent a year in college). I do expect even a rookie high school coach to know how to make a basic sub when things are stagnating. Just looked it up. Not a single sub until 3:33 in the 3rd quarter and based on the way they were playing – that is awful! So pissed!

  18. jcott@aol.com'
    reef April 8, 2010 at 12:23 am #

    After Brad Miller dunked on whoever that was under the basket it should have been clear then that if the Bulls wanted to win they needed to continue to attack the lane. I dont care what the other teams game plan is. I dont care if they have everybody in the paint and they just invite Rose to try to drive…or cut of his lanes..or force him to take outside shots……If a team is in the penalty early in the 4th quarter and the game is close you must attack the paint point blank PERIOD! I love Rose Deng and Hinrich but i think many of you posters are to harsh on VDN. I mean the coach coaches thats it. Rose Deng and Hinrich were too comfortable taking jumpshots at the wrong times. I wanted to smack all 3 of them. As a former basketball player you should know in those situations you attack the paint regardless of what the other team is doing. Force the action. Like in boxing knock someone out or your going to lose on the cards. I love the Bulls but they dont deserve the playoffs with that basketball IQ.

  19. powers88@vt.edu'
    Bobby April 8, 2010 at 1:14 am #

    “Rose Deng and Hinrich were too comfortable taking jumpshots at the wrong times”

    Thats exactly the point only it wasn’t just at wrong times it was for the entirety of the last three quarters. If it happens a couple times thats on the player, but when it happens throughout a close game and nobody is making any kind of effort to take advantage of a team that is wounded by injury as well as the foul count in the game, that is on the coach and nobody else.

  20. hickey48@gmail.com'
    Brendan April 8, 2010 at 3:23 am #

    What is even more frustrating than the inability to make a shot is the total lack of effort on both ends. With the season on the line, not 1 guy on that team was taking charges, crashing the glass, or even pretending to give a damn after the first quarter.

    On offense, everyone just stood around on offense and waited for someone else to go 1-on-1 and fire up a crappy jumper. No cutters. No screens off the ball. Same damn high pick-and-roll that wasn’t working to begin with, or maybe an iso for Deng against Delfino or Hinrich on the wing (neither of which worked).

    Defensively, they gave up open 3 after open 3 (Deng and Rose especially) and did a horrendous job of helping on D (let Salmons get to the cup at will). They were killed after the first quarter on the glass by a team whose post players were Gadzurich (bum), Ilyasova (Euro), and Kurt Thomas (older than Vinny).

    This was a make-or-break game, and the Bulls played like they didn’t give a shit. They let down their fans and the city, and they should be ashamed of their total lack of passion and professionalism.

  21. gamelust@gmail.com'
    sn0wX April 8, 2010 at 5:07 am #

    anyone else ever notice when they show VDN on tv, no matter what the situation, he always has that “whats happened” and confused look on his face?

    or when he calls a time out, the way he jumps out of his chair and walks halfway across the court, his body language is “i cant believe they got me here” or ‘just once i’d like to fling this clipboard into the crowd!’

    I dont believe i have seen VDN look interested in the game on the court once this season.

  22. Ryan April 8, 2010 at 3:42 pm #

    I notice that at the beginning of many games, Bulls will dump the ball down to Taj to get started. They seem to only do that in the 1st quarter and let him gets rebounds for the other three quarters. Taj is a solid free throw shooter at worst. I think they should get him involved later in the games – especially this year and especially this game.

    By the way – B52 looked like a prize fighter getting knocked out on that last drive. His legs looked like Jello. I think the reason he was driving was to get a foul/possible 3 point play. It was a veteran move that went awry. I imagine he has successfully pulled that trick before. It was a broken play, but I would have rather seen any other Bulls player shoot a contested 3 than that – and I love Brad.

  23. DNice23 April 8, 2010 at 4:22 pm #

    Bobby I totally agree with your comment:

    “And does anyone want to explain why in any close game in the final seconds when we need a basket we run the same damn inbounds play every time. Miller comes to the ball while somebody picks for the inbounder and the pass is thrown to him while he is running AWAY from the basket. Does Vinny assume nobody watches film. We ran that same play like five times in the playoffs last year and the only reason it worked was because Ben Gordon was ridiculous in that series.”

    The other similiar inbounds play is when they throw it to Deng in the post, Brad comes and picks for the inbounder around the top of the key, and Deng is to supposedly throw it to the inbounder coming off that pick.

    EVERY SINGLE TIME WE NEED A THREE HE RUNS THIS….AND THE WORSE PART IS THAT HE RAN IT WHILE AN RECENT X-BULL (SALMONS) WAS ON THE OTHER TEAM…SMDH!!!!

    If fans can call out this play don’t you think people that do this for a living will notice.

  24. DNice23 April 8, 2010 at 4:30 pm #

    Also, end of game situations the ball needs to be in Derrick’s Hands…PERIOD!!!!! I don’t care how many times you got to screen for hime to get open.

    That last drive vs the Bucks was horrible Brad, and stop crying for fouls all the time…get back and play defense!!!!

  25. Super Joe April 8, 2010 at 6:01 pm #

    “This was a make-or-break game, and the Bulls played like they didn’t give a shit. They let down their fans and the city, and they should be ashamed of their total lack of passion and professionalism.”

    Couldn’t have said it better myself.

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