Circus Trip Game 2: Lakers 108, Bulls 93

In the NBA, whether a team loses by one point or 30, it still counts as only one loss. And even some blowout losses have lesser meaning, such as when they happen on the second night of back-to-back games, or when the team’s star has an off night, or when the team simply has a group meltdown.

But some blowout losses feel downright bad. I’m talking “kick a cat” bad. (Don’t worry, PETA. I’m only kidding. Don’t give me the Manu Ginobili treatement.) Take last night’s defeat in L.A. The Bulls weren’t awful. Their best player, Derrick Rose, performed reasonably well (20 points, 9-for-20, 6 assists)…although his 2-for-11 shooting in the first half may have gotten the blowout ball rolling. And yet the Lakers swatted the Bulls aside rather casually, seemingly with the kind of effort reserved for a scrimmage. Or a shootaround. Or, geez, maybe even a game of NBA Live.

I mean, the Bulls lost by 17 on a night in which Kobe Bryant was only 7-for-21 from the field.

This fact was not lost on Joakim Noah: “To me, the most amazing thing about it is you’re out there competing hard, and these guys are hardly breaking a sweat because they’re so comfortable running their offense. They look like it’s very easy.”

In the end, this game illustrated the relatively wide gulf between these Bulls and the league’s elite. The 6-4 start to this season was nice, especially considering Chicago’s offensive woes, but the Bulls are still very much a work-in-progress. And considering the fact that half the roster could be playing elsewhere next season, we aren’t going to see the finished product any time soon.

The Four Factors:
Effective Field Goal Percentage was a dead heat (48.9 for the Lakers, 48.2 for the Bulls). Not surprisingly, Chicago had the higher Turnover Percentage (15.3 to 12.2), and L.A. ended up +7 in points off turnovers. The Lakers handily won Offensive Rebounding Percentage (29.1 to 21.2) and were +10 in second chance points. L.A. also won Free Throw Rate (23.9 to 20.2). They also knocked down a better percentage of their freebies (81% to 70%) and finished +6 in points off foul shots. That made the Lakers +23 points in three key categories…which is usually a bad sign.

Pain in the Paint:
The disparity in Offensive Rebounding Percentage was indicative of how badly the Bulls were manhandled inside. But here’s another ugly stat for you: L.A. outscored Chicago 60-40 in the paint. (Make that L.A. +43 in four key categories.) The Lakers, whom Vinny Del Negro described as “really, really long,” also forced the Bulls into 10 misses at the rim (11-for-21 on layups/tip shots).

Said Rose: “It definitely wasn’t the right time [to face the Lakers]. You’ve got two 7-footers out there tipping balls to each other. It’s tough. Doesn’t matter if it’s (Gasol’s) first game or last. He’s a great player.” Speaking of which…

Frontcourt defensive woes:
Pau finished with a game-high 24 points (9-for-15) and 13 rebounds (7 offensive). There’s no shame in getting schooled by Gasol, because he’s a fantastic player. But still…it simply continues the trend of a frontcourt player scorching the Bulls.

Player of the Game:
See below.

Here we “Jo” again:
Here’s a shocker: Noah was once again the Bulls’ best player: 12 points (6-for-12), a game-high 15 rebounds (5 offensive), 4 assists, 4 steals and 2 blocked shots. It was Jo’s 10th double-digit rebounding effort in 11 games this season. He also did a servicable job on Andrew Bynum (11 points, 5-for-12, 8 boards).

It wasn’t all violins and roses, though. Noah was only 2-for-5 at the front of the rim, went 0-for-3 at the charity stripe, and committed a game-high 4 turnovers. However, at times, he looked very, very alone inside against the Lakers’ giants.

Comeback watch:
Luol Deng’s comeback hit a speed bump last night — or, since this was L.A. we’re talking about, maybe it got stuck in traffic — as Deng shot 3-for-11 and finished with 6 points, 6 rebounds, and no assists. He looked a little too much like the Invisible Lou of the last couple seasons for my comfort, but then again, facing Ron Artest’s pit bull defense will do that to a player.

Not slumping, slumping again:
John Salmons played pretty well in the first half (18 points on 7-for-10 shooting) and then disappeared in the second (zero points on 0-for-3 shooting). Of course, that’s mostly because he spent most of his time riding the pine due to foul trouble.

L.A.’s 108 points were the second-most (to Boston’s 118) that Chicago has given up this season. The defensive no-show dropped the Bulls from 4th to 7th in Defensive Rating (100.6 Points Per 100 Possessions).

Actually, calling it a “no-show” probably isn’t fair. The Bulls were simply overwhelmed by a much better team. Which, now that I think about it, doesn’t make me feel any better.

In case you were wondering:
The Bulls have “improved” to 26th in the NBA in Three-Point Percentage…at 29.9 percent. They were 5-for-15 (33 percent) last night. They’re 27th in Field Goal Percentage (43.1) and Effective Field Goal Percentage (45.3). They’re also 27th in Offensive Rating (97.8 Points Per 100 Possessions).

Still, Noah remains optimistic that the corpse of the Chicago offense will return to life. “”I think that we got some good shots. We moved the ball pretty good in spurts and played pretty well in spurts but we just need to keep up that intensity and ball movement. I think we’ll be all right.”

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

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8 Responses to Circus Trip Game 2: Lakers 108, Bulls 93

    Varese November 20, 2009 at 3:24 pm #

    Noah said it right, it looked like ‘JV vs. Varsity’ out there – I live in LA, and knew it was going to be a long night – but I couldn’t believe the length they had at every position, or the talent. At one point, I looked at every one on one and the Lakers literally had the better player at every single position on the floor – there were NO advantages to be played on the court. (Even D-Rose vs Fisher/Farmar seemed out-classed)

    Noah was excellent, and it was good to see Salmons aggressive against Kobe in the first half … but overall, it was like watching your kid get beat up on the playground. The Bulls did play hard … but yikes. I’ve never seen the Lakers so good from top to bottom defensively.

    Vinnie of the Blacks November 20, 2009 at 6:21 pm #
    Vinny of the Blacks November 20, 2009 at 6:28 pm #

    i mean, look a the inside trax where they miked up Vinny del Negro(


    the bigest bulls fan in Florida November 20, 2009 at 6:50 pm #

    the bulls are a good team, but the lakers are on a higher level. they got 5 all stars on there team with one of the greats head coachs of all time. The bulls may need to think about picking up allen iverson.

  5. PTFC November 20, 2009 at 9:18 pm #

    Me unlike some others (such as the author) was expecting a beat down to the point that it is “okay” with me. It doesn’t mean the bulls are not a solid team. The Lakers with Gasol back are going to give beat downs to many solid to great teams before the season is over. LA and Boston are in totally different level of their own, there’s really no shame in losing to them (even losing badly). We all knew the Bulls were just a middle of the road playoff team. The Lakers and C’s are in their own league thus its not a surprise those were our only to large losses the Bulls endured. All the other really good teams the Bulls played, they either kept it close or even beat. So at the end of the day lets face it the Bulls wont beat LA, Boston or even Orlando, just not going to happen. But the Bulls can be competitive against the other 27 teams in the league.

  6. letsgobulls_24 November 21, 2009 at 5:24 am #

    PTFC, I completely agree. On any given night, the Bulls are capable of beating any team in the league, except Boston, Orlando, and L.A. (although there are only 26 other teams, bc we will not play ourselves..)

    rocky November 21, 2009 at 7:11 pm #

    The bulls should play James Johnson more. He’s an offensive mismatch and actually has a decent perimeter game.


  1. Circus Trip Game 3: Nuggets 112, Bulls 93 » By The Horns - November 23, 2009

    […] before it even happened. Not because the Bulls were facing a good team on the road, or because they had played so poorly in Los Angeles against the Lakers, or even because of their ugly history of losing on their annual circus […]

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