Welcome to Bizzaro World: Grizzlies 104, “Bulls” 97

All D-Rose could do was watch as the Bulls lost their eighth straight.

All D-Rose could do was watch as the Bulls lost their eighth straight.

Imagine if a Bulls fan had used the Hot Tub Time Machine to travel from some time last October to right before last night’s tipoff against the Grizzlies in Memphis. They’d probably think they had traveled to some horrific alternate reality instead of through time.

After all, Chicago opened this season with a core group of Derrick Rose (out with a sprained wrist), Joakim Noah (out with plantar fasciitis), Luol Deng (out with a strained calf muscle), Kirk Hinrich (serving a one-game suspension), John Salmons (traded to Milwaukee) and Tyrus Thomas (traded to Charlotte).

In the absence of that core group — which includes the team’s current best four players – the Bizarro Bulls opened last night’s game with a starting lineup of Brad Miller, Taj Gibson, Flip Murray, Acie Law and Jannero Pargo. After giving it some serious thought, I came to conclusion that it was the worst lineup I’d seen since 1998-99 when Chicago finished the season with a starting lineup of Tony Kukoc, Ron Harper, Dickey Simpkins, Rusty LaRue and Cory Carr.

Honestly, I expected the Bulls to get blown out in the first quarter…so imagine my surprise when Law hit four of his first five shots (including a few wide open layups), Memphis couldn’t hold onto the ball (7 turnovers in the first 10 minutes) and Chicago took a 20-10 first quarter lead. It felt too good to be true.

And it was.

The Grizzlies went on a 17-0 run during the second quarter to establish a 55-44 halftime lead. That bulge grew to as many as 25 points in the third quarter before Memphis went back to sleep on the Bizarro Bulls…

…and the Bizarro Bulls nearly pulled off the upset.

They were aided and abetted by the Grizzlies, who opened the fourth quarter by missing 10 of their first 12 shots – which included two sweet blocks by James Johnson — and committing 5 turnovers. Chicago rampaged all the way back from that 25-point hole to within four points (94-90) with under three minutes to go in the game.

Then things came undone…thanks to Pargo. If I didn’t know better, I’d wonder whether somebody in the Memphis front office had paid off Pargo to throw the game. Not only was his shooting horrific (4-for-15 from the field and 0-for-4 from downtown), but Jannero committed three of his co-game-high 5 turnovers in the final 2:27. That included turnovers on back-to-back possessions, which led to a hook shot and layup for Zach Randolph that pushed the Memphis lead to 98-90.

After Hasheem Thabeet hit a shot on the Grizzlies’ next possession to put Memphis ahead 100-90, the game was pretty much over. I just hope Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins did the right thing and gave Pargo the game ball. He was their MVP down the stretch.

In all, the Bizarro Bulls gave up 20 points off 19 turnovers. That’s way too many for a team that had basically no margin for error, even if the Grizzlies surrendered 25 points off 22 turnovers themselves.

Said coach Vinny Del Negro: “We had too many turnovers. We cut it to four, we couldn’t convert. We had a couple stops. We didn’t value the possession of the basketball well enough and just turned it over too much. It’s frustrating because you don’t even get a shot at the basket. We had some costly turnovers and that was unfortunate. … I was pleased with the effort, but I was disappointed with the outcome.”

The outcome was Chicago’s eighth straight loss, which dropped them to 1.5 games behind the Toronto Raptors for the eighth and final Eastern Conference playoff spot. The only good news is that the Charlotte Bobcats lost to the Pacers in Indianapolis and the Miami Heat dropped a home game to the San Antonio Spurs. Every loss by a team competing for the East’s final four playoff spots is kind of like a win for the Bulls, right? Which is important, since the Bulls can’t win an actual game themselves.

Chicago’s Bizarro squad gave a strong showing, especially Murray (game-high 25 points), Hakim Warrick (22 points off the bench), and Law (season-high 18 points). I’m not sure what that means. If things were going a little better, I’d say their increased PT might lead to some development that would benefit the Bulls come playoff time. Only Chicago’s playoff hopes are looking worse by the day.

Let the “if the Bulls can only get healthy” refrain continue.

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

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14 Responses to Welcome to Bizzaro World: Grizzlies 104, “Bulls” 97

  1. seancdennis@hotmail.com'
    blackfujones March 17, 2010 at 2:17 pm #

    pargo has to be the worst bull ever to get PT and thats saying a lot since corie blount and dickey simpkins were allowed to stay on for so long. look i really cant harp on the bulls “besides crappy pargo” but at least they arent laying down for teams. they simply have no firepower for this hellish schedule. id dare the bobcats or bucks to have this schedule and not have a 5-6 game losing streak.lol
    but alas we’re in the crappy eastern conference so we may still get into the playoffs

  2. njcamporese@yahoo.com'
    Nicky C March 17, 2010 at 2:17 pm #

    Rio de Jannero is absolute garbage. Sure, he’s good for some quick points…but only in “spark plug” situations off the bench. No team can ever possibly win a basketball game with Pargo at the helm. He’s too erratic, too sloppy, too selfish, and too poor a shooter / decision maker. I would like to see someone do a study on which player has the worst career winning percentage when he starts a basketball game. I’m willing to bet Pargo would be up there.

  3. weaksiderejection5@gmail.com'
    Sami March 17, 2010 at 4:01 pm #

    Pargo was really a factor in New Orleans as a change of pace behind Chris Paul. I’m surprised he hasn’t been able to make a similar impact here.

  4. inkybreath@gmail.com'
    inkybreath March 17, 2010 at 4:10 pm #

    I would have more sympathy for Pargo if he was getting his shots through the offense, but time and again, he just goes into iso-mode. One thing this team needs if for people to get their hands on the ball. There are a lot of people trying to get a feel for the game on the fly and Pargo has hogged the ball too much.

  5. d.ddoemr@gmail.com'
    dlouis March 17, 2010 at 4:44 pm #

    Its nice to see Law play well. Hopefully VDN noticed and will give him Pargo’s minutes when Rose comes back. That would have been a nice win to steal. Plus, it was nice to see Flip and Warrick playing well again. They can’t play poorly if we are going to steal Toronto’s spot.

    Fortunately, we’re not that far behind Toronto, and they are playing horrible with their whole team healthy. At least we have an excuse for our losses.

  6. bullsbythehorns@gmail.com'
    Matt McHale March 17, 2010 at 5:15 pm #

    “…but at least they arent laying down for teams. they simply have no firepower for this hellish schedule.”

    It’s true. I was very pleasantly surprised with how the team competed yesterday. The fact that it came down to the final minutes despite the fact that the Bulls were missing their four leading scorers was pretty impressive. Still a loss, tho’.

    “Rio de Jannero is absolute garbage. Sure, he’s good for some quick points…but only in “spark plug” situations off the bench.”

    Exactly. Pargo is best utilized in short stints against an opposing team’s reserves, or possibly in small ball situations. He was 1-for-10 on jump shots last night. Guh.

    “Pargo was really a factor in New Orleans as a change of pace behind Chris Paul. I’m surprised he hasn’t been able to make a similar impact here.”

    I know it’s a popular complaint, but I kind of blame Vinny Del Negro. Look at how John Salmons’ productivity has improved for the Bucks. Same with Tyrus, although to a lesser extent. Vinny doesn’t seem to adjust to a player’s strengths…he just sort of expects them to run his system.

    “I would have more sympathy for Pargo if he was getting his shots through the offense, but time and again, he just goes into iso-mode. One thing this team needs if for people to get their hands on the ball. There are a lot of people trying to get a feel for the game on the fly and Pargo has hogged the ball too much.”

    Pargo doesn’t have great handles, isn’t adept at passing, and never has been a good spot up shooter. His only forte — offense — often comes at the expense of his team. Which is fine if he’s used in limited situations as a game-changer. But that obviously wasn’t the case last night.

    “Its nice to see Law play well. Hopefully VDN noticed and will give him Pargo’s minutes when Rose comes back.”

    Seriously. There’s nothing to lose at this point. Pargo’s been a bust in his return to Chicago. At least Law has an eye for the hole. Huh. That sounded wrong.

  7. contrerasadvocates@yahoo.com'
    Savage March 17, 2010 at 6:34 pm #

    I don’t know about “an eye for the hole” (LOL) but I too am very curious why VDN continues to give Pargo minutes. I have been less critical of VDN than most but the way he delegates his minutes makes little sense to me. Lets see what Law can bring at the end, maybe he will make a competent back up PG for the future. What do we have to lose?? Were losing every game anyway.

  8. usmcroc22@msn.com'
    Rocky March 17, 2010 at 8:15 pm #

    Even though the bulls are only a couple of games behind Toronto I think the bulls should consider throwing this season away and hitting the lottery with the amount of good bigs coming into this draft. Also I really like this kid James Johnson. He brings some athleticism that Luol just doesn’t bring and he’s going to be more of a threat as a three point shooter. Here’s my plan for the bulls next year:

    Trade Luol Deng+Taj Gibson to Minnesota for Kevin Love(Who is in Kurt Rambis’s doghouse)+17th pick in the draft.

    Trade Kirk Hinrich to Washington for the 30th pick in the draft.

    Use our own lottery pick to draft:
    Greg Monroe 6’11″ 250lbs PF/C
    Use the 17th pick in the draft for:
    Jan Vesely 6’11″ 240lb SF/PF/C
    Use the 30th pick in the draft for:
    Dexter Pittman 7′ 290lb C

    Use our free agent money for two young up and coming shooting guards:
    6’7″ 230lb Ronnie Brewer-excellent defense
    6’5″ 220lb Kelenna Azubuike-Career 40% 3pt shooter

    Re-sign: Acie Law, Joe Alexander for Depth

    Roster:
    C-Joakim Noah-subs-Dexter Pittman
    PF-Kevin Love-subs-Greg Monroe
    SF-James Johnson-subs-Jan Vesely, Joe Alexander
    SG-Kelenna Azubuike-subs-Ronnie Brewer
    PG-Derrick Rose-subs-Acie Law

    We’d be a strong, athletic, and much deeper team.

  9. gobulls76@hotmail.com'
    bullsfan76 March 17, 2010 at 9:20 pm #

    wow rocky you are an idiot please stop………….

  10. d.ddoemr@gmail.com'
    dlouis March 17, 2010 at 10:23 pm #

    I kind of feel bad for Pargo. As Matt said, he isn’t a point guard, he can’t pass and all he can really do is hit threes (or at least that is what he used to do.) He was put in a bad spot last night without Rose or Hinrich, and you can’t really blame VDN for that. Its not like he had anywhere else to go. I’m pretty much convinced that all three of them could play if they had to, especially Rose. My guess is that Rose plays against Clevaland, and Noah comes back against Philly or Houston. I’m more worried about Deng. He doesn’t seem like a quick healer, and someone wrote that he could be out 1-3 weeks. Honestly, I’m not in panic mode yet. We still have two games against the Bobcats and the Raptors are playing just as poorly as us. Tanking for the lottery isn’t worth. Worst case scenario is if we fall in the lottery, draft between 10-14 and end up Milwaukee’s pick, which probably will be 20.

    I like that the team is conceding tonight’s game by holding out Rose, Deng and Noah. Even if they were going to play, a win would have been a long shot, and this is a perfect time to give some PT to Law and Johnson. Hopefully both of them can put together a string of good games and have some confidence going into summer league.

    Rocky, I’m assuming that you aren’t a personnel guy for the Bulls, and I’m thankful for that. If Paxson traded Hinrich for the 30th pick, I would personally go to the Berto center and run him down in my car. What’s wrong with the current plan of liquidating the team while keeping the “core” for max FA? If Paxson can pull it off and have a decent draft, he is GM of the year. I do kind of like the Azubuike idea though. He can be some good FA filler if we blow our load on one FA (pause).

  11. Bullsfan22 March 17, 2010 at 11:09 pm #

    You know people harp on how bad the team has been since 98′ and how we’ve had horrible players. Yes the first couple…ok 5-6 years were downright scary, but the next three years there was great improvement. We made the playoffs, improved the record in each of those seasons (including 07 where we swept the defending champs and played #1 Detroit pretty tough) so there was hope then, and dare I say there should be some hope now, inspite of all the injuries, suspensions, trades, coaching, etc. Heck, we had a
    31-27 record before hell broke loose with all the injuries.

    The problem is VDN inability to play around with the starting lineups and his excessive love (as many others suggest) for Pargo. VDN was not able to figure out how to manage the lineup when everyone was healthy earlier in the season, that’s why they started 10-17. Then they probably exerted themselves too much to get back into the mix and now half of the team is injured.

    Yes, you need to play your best players the most, but you also have to use up your reserves the best you can and give everyone an opportunity to show themselves. Gordon, Salmons and T. Thomas, all traded and look where we are now. If they were so inclined on getting bigger men, why not do so. I guess with Johnson, Taj, Jerome James, Chris Richard, Miller and Noah you have your big men, or somewhat big, but that just isn’t good enough. The ‘big’ reserves rarely got any playing time. The only big guy that is productive (or was) is/was Noah! Miller is like two steps slower, he turns the ball over, and just makes the wrong fouls at the wrong time. He is a great shooter and an offensive threat but he is just getting too old and slow!

    The Bulls will have to evaluate their trades and who/what they want come this summer, because player management has been their achilles heel the last 2-3 years and it is showing right now, excluding the injuries. If they want to see this team get anywhere near where it was in the 90′s, they are gonna have to have some common sense and not just trade away key players and get nothing in return. BTW I have a sneaky suspicion we pull it off tonight! What say you guys? LOL

  12. bob.edwards47@yahoo.com'
    Boppinbob March 18, 2010 at 5:11 am #

    Bullsfan22, I don’t know what you are seeing that I am not. Prior to this rash of injuries the Bulls were improved over last year, after the trades. Gordon has not helped the Pistons and is still the inconsistent gunner/non-defender he was with the Bulls. Salmons and Thomas are not tearing up the league. Salmons is getting more PT but not shooting as well as he did in January, as a sub, with the Bulls (1/10 – .48%, with the Bucks 45%) Thomas is getting more PT but is doing about the same scoring and rebound wise as he did with the Bulls. With all the injuries it might have been nice to have someone like Salmons and Thomas only because they knew the system. As far as the long term development of the Bulls as a team both trades make sense. Salmons is a journeyman and Thomas would never reach his potential in Chicago. By getting rid of him the Bulls may probably help Thomas reach his potential by giving him a wake-up call. Three different coaches got average to below average effort from Thomas. He was getting by on his potential and not working on his weaknesses.

    I still feel that the core of the Bulls is solid (Rose, Noah, Deng, Gibson, Hinrich, Johnson). Murray, Miller and Warrick are role players. Law has potential. Alexander is an unknown entity. The rest (Brown, James, Pargo and Richard) should spend the rest of the year collecting splinters on the end of the bench. Bench Noah for the rest of the year, get him healthy for the future. Give Law, Johnson and Alexander as much playing time as they can handle and see what they can do defensively and offensively. Play Miller sparingly, it is all he can do to give 15 to 18 quality minutes. Push Warrick and see if he can earn a spot as a role player for next year and in the future. Looking at the draft and free agency it would be nice to add a PF, C and SG. I hope the Bulls target Bosh and Lee as FA’s, I think they could land both. But either one would be an upgrade. The draft will have a lot of good big men and pure shooters available, the question is will they be able to play NBA defense. While you have to have offense to win a championship, you will not win one without solid team defense.

    As Bulls fans, right now we need to see if Warrick, Gibson, Johnson and Law can play solid team defense. Miller, Brown, Pargo, James and Richard should be gone next year. I hope Miller is kept on as a coach for the “big men” because I think he has really helped Noah and possibily both Gibson and Johnson. While I am disappointed with the turn of events regarding the injuries during the second half of the season I feel very positive about the future of the Bulls going forward. While management has made some controversial decisions as far as personnel I am very confortable with those decisions.

    I am not about to defend VDN as a coach yet. I think that how he uses his roster for the balance of this year will be an indication of the kind of head coach he will be. Realistically, this season is lost. If the Bulls make the playoffs they will be first round fodder. What Vinnie does to get his young players (Gibson, Johnson, Law and Alexander) and potential role players (Murray and Warrick) playing time to see what they can do will tell us what kind of coach he will be for the future. While I am not sold on VDN, I am not ready to throw him out with the bath water. Before the injuries I saw a lot of good things that were the result of solid coaching. While the balance of this season is probably gloom and doom, the future to me looks very promising. Of course, the future could be like Tyrus Thomas, all promise and no delivery, only time will tell.

  13. gobulls76@hotmail.com'
    bullsfan76 March 18, 2010 at 11:08 pm #

    boppinbob i agree with everything except for the last part.. solid coaching no way this guy has mismanaged this roster all year long. why do players like murry and warrick and law play 30 min one night then just 10 min the next thats why noah deng and rose are all banged up…you look at the good teams they have their starters and then the players they trust the most off the bench he has been horrible with his substitutions this late in the year he should already have a set rotation off the bench this guy just doesnt get it hopefully he is not the head coach next season.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Sports Trades « Extractiv - March 17, 2010

    [...] http://bullsbythehorns.com/?p=1761 After all, Chicago opened this season with a core group of Derrick Rose (out with a sprained wrist), Joakim Noah (out with plantar fasciitis), Luol Deng (out with a strained calf muscle), Kirk Hinrich (serving a one-game suspension), John Salmons (traded to Milwaukee) and Tyrus Thomas (traded to Charlotte). [...]

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