Circus Trip Game 6: Bucks 99, Bulls 97

With last night’s loss to the Milwaukee Bucks, the Bulls finished their circus road trip 1-5. They are now 10-61 on that annual trek through hell over the last decade…so don’t blame the coaches or players if they get the shakes any time they hear the word “circus.”

Well. At least it’s over. Until next year.

I suppose there is some small consolation in the fact that — instead of getting blown out for the fifth consecutive game — the Bulls came back from a 14-point third-quarter hole to take an 89-87 lead on Luol Deng’s layup with 4:15 to go in the fourth. They also got a clean look at tying the game at the buzzer via a Derrick Rose/Brad Miller pick and roll. Unfortunately, Miller’s 18-footer came up just short.

Said Miller: “It was well within my range. I felt comfortable, and I just didn’t make it.”

Why didn’t Derrick just take it all the way himself? Said Rose: “Part of me being the point guard was to pass that ball. That’s why I did it.”

Added Vinny Del Negro: “Brad got a good look. They double teamed Derrick. Derrick swung and he made the right basketball play. The percentages will go in your favor if you make the right play.”

Unless they don’t. Although passing to an open teammate really is the right play. You can’t fault Rose for doing his job.

But again, it was better than getting blown out. Of course, whether a team ends the game down by 20 points or only two, the final result is still a loss. Last time I checked, the NBA standings don’t have a “Gosh, they came awfully close” column.

Pain in the Paint:
After getting manhandled inside for most of the trip, the Bulls actually came out kinda-sorta on top within the painted rectangle last night. They were +4 in rebounds (51-47), +4 in points in the paint (44-40), +1 in layups (14-13) and +1 in dunks (3-2). They also had a slight edge in Offensive Rebounding Percentage (40.0 to 37.7).

However, the Bulls still fell victim to their old Achilles’ heel Walton’s foot: namely, they were victimized by an opposing frontcourt player. Andrew Bogut was 10-for-19 from the field (mostly at or around the basket) and finished with 22 points (a team-high), 15 rebounds (another team-high), 3 assists, 3 steals (a co-game-high) and 4 blocked shots (another game-high).

He was also strong in the clutch. The Bucks were leading 93-90 with 1:30 to play when Bogut stuffed a dunk attempt by Deng. With 1:07 to go, Bogut hit a layup to build Milwaukee’s lead to five. Less than 10 seconds later, Bogut swatted a layup attempt by Rose on the other end. Deng got the offensive rebound and earned a foul, but that sequence was a microcosm of how dominant Bogut was for most of the night.

And he wasn’t even supposed to play!

Bogut missed the last six games with a lower left leg strain. That injury was supposed to keep him out up to four weeks. Instead, he came back early and beat the Bulls. The Milwaukee coaching staff intended to limit Bogut to 20 minutes. He played 35. Said Bogut: “I’ll be sore tomorrow. I’ll get in the ice bath, do my recovery and I should be all right.”

Don’t get me wrong. Joakim Noah (16 points, 17 rebounds, 8-for-10 from the line) had a strong game. But the Bulls desperately need to figure out how to stop opposing big men. Maybe it’ll help when Tyrus Thomas returns from injury. Maybe.

Team effort:
Another possible consolation was the solid team effort VDN got from his troops. I already mentioned Noah’s numbers. In addition, John Salmons scored a game-high 23 points (8-for-15) to go along with 3 boards, 3 steals and 3 blocked shots. Deng added 22 points (7-for-14) and 14 rebounds. Rose had 19 points (8-for-17) and 7 assists (and it might have been at least 8 if Miller could have knocked down that last-second jumper). Taj Gibson chipped in with 8 points and 5 boards (4 offensive).

Unfortunately, the bench play was weak. Chicago’s reserves shot 4-for-18 and got outscored 18-9. The Bulls really need Kirk Hinrich back. Unfortunately, he’s out for another week or two.

TrueHoop Network:
Jeremy of Bucksketball: “Bogut’s play figuratively (and at times quite literally) leapt off the court for the majority of his 34:39 on the court. He was mobile and showed no sign of the injury that had kept him shelved for the previous five games. He frequently carried the Bucks for extended stretches on offense. When he wasn’t the focal point, he was often the release valve if the Bucks struggled to get a good shot. Bogut brought his entire offensive repertoire in this one: hooks, baby hooks, left hand, right hand and runners. It all started with Bogut in the paint on offense. 22 points on 10-19 shooting. Ask Joakim Noah if Andrew Bogut is back, he spent the better part of four quarters getting destroyed.”

Matt Moore of Hardwood Paroxysm thinks Joakim Noah should have taken that last-second jumper. More or less.

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

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7 Responses to Circus Trip Game 6: Bucks 99, Bulls 97

    Nick Camporese December 1, 2009 at 3:45 pm #

    While I am highly disappointed in DRose for dropping the ball off to Miller on the last play instead of taking it to the rack himself, he made a decent play. Miller WAS wide open, and Miller CAN hit the fifteen footers. It was a decent play…but not the best. Rose should have taken it. When is he going to realize he needs to be the man, the alpha dog? Watch the second to last play again, the one where Salmons dunked it with no one around the rim. The Bulls were down three with thirteen seconds left. In this situation, you get the ball to Rose (did it) and let him drive to the hoop (did it) for a quick two (didn’t do it; he kicked it out to a not open Salmons for an unnecessary three). Not only did Rose fail to understand the situation (they DID NOT need a desperation three yet; thirteen seconds in bball is an eternity), but if you watch closely, HE HAD A WIDE OPEN LAYUP! THE LANE WAS WIDE FRIGGIN OPEN! Luckily, the Bucks defense is pretty terrible, and when Salmons got the ball, the lane was still wide open, which obviously led to his dunk. However, if Rose understood the situation and accepted his role as the alpha dog, he would have taken it himself on this play, and the Bulls would have saved an extra three-four seconds. He was right next to the rim! This is inexcusable! Blah! I miss Ben Gordon.

    DLouis December 1, 2009 at 4:59 pm #

    Can you please correct “Achilles’ heel in the sentence, “However, the Bulls still fell victim to their old Achilles’ heel: namely, they were victimized by an opposing frontcourt player,” to “Walton’s foot?”

    Vic De Zen December 1, 2009 at 7:02 pm #

    “The Bulls really need Kirk Hinrich back.” – said state of affairs.

    Luis Rivera December 1, 2009 at 7:58 pm #

    Sounds to me like Derrick Rose is scared, maybe he should stop talking about the Hollywood career that’ll never happen, and practice that jump shot alittle more.

    grant December 2, 2009 at 1:51 am #

    If they had B Gordon, they would be down by 10 pts at least (because Deng would play much less efficient, not to mention how many pts BG would give up), so it would not matter whether Rose or anyone else makes a last min layup. I do NOT miss BG. See the Pistons lost to the Mavs by 5 pts when BG shot 1 for 16 plus 4 TO. Had the Piston not have BG, they would beat the Mavs. See the Pistons just beat the Hawks (which has one of the highest winning% so far) without BG (they defended Jo-Jo well). Had they have BG, they may not be able to beat the Hawks, because Jo-Jo would be on fire (all the Hawks needed was Jo-Jo to make 2-3 extra baskets to beat the Pistons in that game). Jo-Jo always shot well against BG when the Hawks played the Bulls in the past; or Hinrich became much less effective as a PG, because he has to guard Jo-Jo and other elite, tall SGs because of BG’s defensive deficiencies; then many fans on and on bashed Hinrich for not being a better PG. Name one PG in the entire L that can be a good PG if their coach forced them to guard those good/elite, tall SGs all the time and during the entire game?!

    The depth of the bench used to be Bulls’ strength. However, this year team has no depth at all. Hunter and Gray are useless, and Pago and two rookies are minimal useful (all these players would not get much playing time even on the Nets or T-Wolves). They basically only have 7 NBA-caliber players, two of them (Hinrich and Tyrus) are injured, and Miller has not played a single good game.

    They also need a better coach. VDN is the most inexperience and incompetent coach in the L right now.

    bullsfan76 December 2, 2009 at 3:29 pm #

    grant i agree with you but drose dfense is not good at all but you love him we need to make a big trade soon or we are in trble salmons sucks


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