Complete embarrassment: Raptors 110, Bulls 78

Were the Raptors playing 10-on-5 last night? Because it sure felt like it.

Were the Raptors playing 10-on-5 last night? Because it sure felt like it.

Getting blown out on the road by the Cleveland Cavaliers was understandable, maybe even expected. After all, the Cavs have the reigning MVP, the reigning Coach of the Year (even if Mike Brown road LeBron James’ coattails to the award), post players, shooters, loads of depth. In short, Cleveland is a championship-caliber team. The Bulls are not.

The Toronto Raptors, on the other hand, came into last night’s game 8-13 and losers of five of their last six games. What’s more, the Raptors were playing the second night of back-to-back games, which also happened to be their third road game in four nights and fourth game in five nights overall. Their previous night’s game, against the Washington Wizards (7-11) even went to overtime. Oh, and did I mention that Toronto is ranked dead last in Defensive Rating (116.6 points allowed per 100 possessions)?

Even without Tyrus Thomas (left forearm injury) and Kirk Hinrich (sprained left thumb), this game should have been a gimmie, right? Instead, the Bulls suffered a devastating homecourt loss — by 32 points! — in which they managed to score only 78 points (on 39 percent shooting) against the league’s worst defensive team. It wasn’t even competitive, as the Bulls were down 37-16 by the end of the first quarter. The Raptors didn’t pull any LeBron-esque antics, but I bet Chris Bosh felt like riverdancing.

Speaking of Bosh, he put on a nice audition for a team that might want to sign him when he becomes a free agent next summer: a game-high 25 points (9-for-12 from the field, 7-for-7 from the line), a game-best 12 boards, 2 assists, 2 steals and a block. Go ahead and add Bosh to the ever-growing list of frontcourt players who have dominated the Bulls over the past two seasons. And he did it in only 22 minutes. Bosh was feeling so good after his limited duty, he said: “It feels like I might be able to have a choice in doing something tomorrow, other than just recover. Maybe I’ll go to the mall or something.” I’m really glad the Bulls helped Bosh get a chance to do some Christmas shopping.

So…what went wrong? That’s an easy one: pretty much everything. On defense, the Bulls could not stay in front of anybody, often missed their rotations and regularly failed to provide help coverage. On offense, they couldn’t deliver a crisp pass or decide on a good shot. Derrick Rose attempted too many floaters instead of driving with authoritah. John Salmons and Jannero Pargo jacked up too many threes (a combined 2-for-13). Taj Gibson committed too many turnovers (a game-high 4). Joakim Noah got too many technical fouls (and therefore a complimentary ejection). I can’t even name a Player of the Game because their wasn’t one. Nobody played well last night.

Update! If you think I’m being hard on the Bulls, just watch this video:

Perhaps the most frustrating — and certainly the most depressing — aspect of this loss was Chicago’s stunning lack of effort and intensity. Simply put, there was no fight in the Bulls last night. How else can you explain the fact that Toronto outrebounded the Bulls 53-32, including 18-11 on the offensive glass despite the fact that Chicago had quite a few more available offensive boards? Look, I understand the Bulls are shorthanded right now, but they should not be getting outhustled and outworked at home by bad teams. They just shouldn’t.

Said Rose: “I feel like on Monday or something like that, we’ve got to go back to school or something. I feel like that right now. Tomorrow is an off day, get treatment or whatever and come back the next day, have a strong practice and we’ll be fine.”

Are you sure about that, Derrick?

I predicted the Bulls would suffer through a rough start. The team has had to contend with a change in identity (due to the loss of Ben Gordon), key injuries and an early schedule that has been packed with road games. So the sub-.500 record — currently 7-11 — I expected. What I did not expect was to repeatedly watch the Bulls fail to even compete. Blowout losses to the Nuggets, Lakers, Blazers, and Cavaliers are one thing. Blowout losses at home to other sub-.500 teams are a sign that something is seriously wrong.

I understand depth is an issue. Like I said, Thomas and Hinrich are still out. I understand the Bulls don’t have any crack shooters right now, so the spacing is bad. Their shooting is awful (29th in Effective Field Goal Percentage). Their interior defense is terrible. Their interior scoring is nonexistent. Like last season, they are one of the worst defensive rebounding teams in the league (currently ranked 30th in Total Defensive Rebounds and 29th in Defensive Rebounding Percentage). They are 28th in Point Differential (-7.4), ahead only of the 1-18 New Jersey Nets (-10.4) and the 3-17 Minnesota Timberwolves (-11.6).

I could go on, but let’s just say that virtually every statistic available provides cause for some serious concern. And I can’t help but feel like Vinny Del Negro is in over his head. He’s not making the obvious mistakes he made during his rookie coaching season, like wasting timeouts or sitting Rose during crunch time. But Vinny seems ill-equipped to deal with the team’s personnel problems. He also can’t seem to fire them up, motivate them to go all-out on every play, every night.

That was the magic of Scott Skiles, until the players got tired of being driven like cattle, that is. Of course, it could be a problem of group mindset. Noah is the only fiery player on the team. (And sometimes, like the last few nights, a little too fiery.) Rose, Salmons, and Luol Deng all look pretty laid back. Kirk Hinrich and Brad Miller can appear mellow from time to time. Pargo has some gumption, but he’s been hurting all season. Gibson and James Johnson are wide-eyes rookies. Aaron Gray…is Aaron Gray, bless his heart.

Therefore the question is: who’s going to take the reins and pull this team out of its funk? Somebody has to, because the leadership is seriously lacking right now.

Who’s going to step up?

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

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17 Responses to Complete embarrassment: Raptors 110, Bulls 78

  1. mfdc5@hotmail.com'
    Ryan December 6, 2009 at 5:02 pm #

    you didn’t even mention how the whole Bulls team got punked by Jack. As he tied his shoe, everyone just watched him. Nobody even tried to take the ball away from him.
    Disgraceful.

  2. detroitmurderdog@gmail.com'
    Detroit Murder Dog December 6, 2009 at 6:02 pm #

    Name a worse Bulls first quarter lineup since the Floyd Era than this atrocity that VDN trotted out yesterday: Pargo, Hunter, Miller, Gray and Salmons.

  3. lebron_in_07@yahoo.com'
    Buck Nasty December 6, 2009 at 7:06 pm #

    Basketbawful must include the awesome “Jarrett Jack gonna tie his shoes while we just watch” defense played by the Bulls.

  4. Mahmoud December 6, 2009 at 11:40 pm #

    Remember yesterday, how I said that we shouldn’t worry because we’d had a really tough schedule and it was understandable that we were losing? Yeah, no longer true. The Bulls are in panic mode. Make that trade for Harrington as soon as possible, anything to shake this team up. D-Wade is not going to want to come to a team that can’t make the playoffs.

  5. brianavers@gmail.com'
    Varese December 6, 2009 at 11:45 pm #

    Not like VDN is Red Auerbach or anything, but you’re talking about a group of players that don’t have height, weight, leadership, or an All-Star type of player who can create his own shot and/or get to the foul line. They’re easy to defend and easy to score against.

    Deng and Salmon should be the 3rd best players on a good team, rhythm guys who can’t impose their will on a game. Noah should be fourth best, an energetic, talented banger in the Varejao mold. Rose, ideally, would be second banana, a Tony Parker type of threat.

    Look – there are only a few NBA coaches who actually make a difference. This team needs players. The Bulls are not one, but 2 All-Stars short of making any noise. Identity, toughness, and leadership don’t come from the sidelines.

    How do you think this team would look under Mike Brown? Stan Van Gundy? Remember how stupid Doc Rivers looked until he got Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett?

    Players win games in the NBA. This isn’t Indiana high school ball.

  6. LL-Smokes-Jays December 7, 2009 at 2:07 am #

    After watching that game and seeing just how pathetic the Bulls are when Aaron Gray is playing, I have decided that I will no longer make jokes about how good Aaron Gray is.

  7. L.A.Bullsfan December 7, 2009 at 8:15 am #

    I’m tired of this lame team. Derrick Rose sucks, Deng is wack, Salmons can’t buy a shot if it was sold, and the rest of the team goes along with them. I’m tired of them not competing, no defense, specially not being able to make any type of shots. Watching this team is disgraceful. it’s not basketball. Teams let them stay in the game and then turn it up a notch and blow the baby bulls out. I’m tired of people saying Derrick Rose is the future, the franchise player. Guess what he is not. Not even close. He has no leadership, no defense, no offense other than speed, he can’t even finish plays, for example, he blows by defenders but can’t even make a lay up or how teams let him shoot, he is wide open and can’t buy a shot. Trade his ass and maybe he will be better. Send his ass away from home. He will not be an all star as long as he is with this team and every other player on this team should be happy their even on an NBA roster. Deng should be thanking God the Bulls management even gave him $81 million. Trade the whole team. Bring in energetic defensive minded, team chemistry unselfish players. This is the CHICAGO BULLS. The team should be represented well. Fire the coaching staff. Vinny doesn’t cut it. Trade players away and make something happen. Who cares if Kirk or Tyrus are injured. The Bulls shouldn’t use that as an excuse. Are those two players gonna make you run faster, make you play d, or help you make your shots. Come on!!… I refuse to watch another Bulls game with this roster. It is not basketball anymore or fun at all. It’s embarrasing being a Bulls fan with this team. The New Jersey Nets are gonna spank this team, watch and see.

  8. Mike December 7, 2009 at 7:13 pm #

    Typical Chicago sports fan blowing everything out of proportion less than a quarter into the season. I have no idea why any athlete would want to come play here.

  9. sean@rmeg.biz'
    Pharaoh December 7, 2009 at 8:31 pm #

    It doesn’t take very long for NBA coaches and professional players to make adjustments. During the first handful of games this season, the Bulls defense looked like it would be in the upper third this season. What happened?

    On Defense: Teams have adjusted to our defensive scheme and are attacking us without mercy. Our interior D and backside rotations are not solid because we lack size and extremely slow. Joakim can’t do it all by himself and his frustrations are becomming more evident. We need Tyrus back like yesterday. Miller just doesn’t have the legs to keep up with younger guys at this stage in his career. Taj has played well, but as a rookie won’t get the benefit of many calls. Besides, he could stand to add about 15lbs of muscle. Collectively, the Bulls aren’t playing to their strength on D’. We need to utilize the half – 3/4 press more when the game is close. Salmons is our best perimeter defender right now with Kirk out and he is hardly setting the tone on D. Ideally, pressing up more will help us get more transition scores and would at the very least give other teams less time to set up their offesne and pick us apart.

    On offense: We need better shooters. Period. With Gordon gone, Rose just doesn’t have the same lanes to penetrate. Additionally, I think its obvious Deng and Salmons on the court at the same time is not a good fit. Neither slash to the hole enough, both take too many mid-range jump shots. Upon Hinrich’s return, VDN need to bench Salmons for Hinrich. This may help Rose by allowing him to play off the ball more. Right now he’s a turnover waiting to happen.

    Intangibles: Lastly, I agree that this team needs more attitude and fire. Short of Joakim and Tyrus when healthy, we have none. Players need to have more pride in themselves, otherwise opposing teams will continue to whip our butts in disrespectful fashion i.e. Lebron and Jarrett Jack on consecutive nights. If the Bulls aren’t going to committ to getting Aaron Gray’s butt in shape – let’s at least utilize his 6 fouls in garbage time for guys who want to get they highlight fix on ESPN against the Bulls.

  10. gobulls76@hotmail.com'
    bullsfan76 December 7, 2009 at 10:50 pm #

    labullsfan i agree 100 percent every body booed bg why at least he played hard but his dfence was not great but freekin drose keeps getting a pass not only is he overrated but no one says anything abaut his horrible defence and we should trade him while he still has valu he took a step back from his rookie year but no won says nothing because there all over this guys nuts they need to make a big trade and fast

  11. fland_man99@yahoo.com'
    TexasBullsFan December 8, 2009 at 7:00 am #

    Oh really, Bullsfan76? And who exactly do you want to make that big trade for? And who do you want to trade for him? Who’s available that you can’t get for nothing next summer?

    How about you, LAbullsfan? You say, “Bring in energetic defensive minded, team chemistry unselfish players.” Oh yeah? Like who? The problem with D-Rose is that he’s already too unselfish. We need someone who can be selfish and create his own shots. Not AI selfish, but selfish enough to be willing to take over a game. Even if we wanted a bunch of defensive minded, team chemistry players, who would you bring in? There isn’t anyone out there we can get.

    Typical Chicago sports fans. The teams aren’t that great, but instead of looking at things logically, you want to blow up the team just for the sake of doing it. No idea who you want to get or what you want to do; you just want to start making moves for the hell of it.

    This is why you people don’t run NBA teams.

    The problem with the bulls is that they have too many role players and no leaders or all-stars. Deng, Salmons, Noah, Rose…all those guys are great role players but not one of them is going to take over a game for you. And I’m sorry folks, Ben Gordon wasn’t either. He was good off the bench, but he needed talent around him to take the pressure off him.

    So here’s what we do. We suffer through this season as best we can and make our play for 1 or 2 all-stars next summer when they’re available. What we don’t want to do is start randomly making trades, selling our players for pennies on the dollar mid-season, and then try and build our way out next summer. If we do that, we’ll end up with 1 good player and nothing around him.

    In the meantime, stop panicking like you haven’t seen the Bulls suck before. They are nowhere near as bad as they were under Floyd.

  12. blakemitcham@yahoo.com'
    Blake December 8, 2009 at 8:20 pm #

    Unfortunately this is the way it will always be with the Bulls (unless there’s a change in ownership). Go to 82games.com or basketball-reference.com and look up the revenue numbers for each NBA franchise. We’re #3 in the past 10 years in overall revunue (behind the Knicks and Lakers, respectively) and #1 in profit margin. Yet, we have not paid the luxury tax once since its inception. Take a look at the consensus “top 5” teams this year (Lakers, Celtics, Magic, Cavs, Nuggets) and you will see that each one of them is paying the luxury tax (along with the Hornets, Jazz, Blazers and others). Now, I’m not saying Reinsdorf should pay it EVERY year, but once every 10 years or so (to reward the loyal fans who sat through the Dickey Simpkins and Ron Mercer years) is probably acceptable for the most profitable franchise in basketball.

    Here’s the real problem: without resigning Gordon in the offseason, we have no real shot at a max-contract free agent next summer (no Wade, Lebron or Bosh). Why? Because the salary cap is shrinking to about 52 million dollars this summer. We have about 41 million committed next year unless Salmons opts out of his contract (and with the way he’s playing that doesn’t seem likely). So, we’ll have about 11 million to throw at a free agent (a max contract is about 16 million). Anyone ready for the David Lee era?

    The only way for us to get a top-tier superstar this summer would be through a sign-and-trade — so that we could shed some salary and give the player the maximum deal (he gets more in a sign-and-trade). To do that you need assets. I’m assuming we’re unwilling to trade our two biggest assets (Noah and Rose) and the rest of the team is pretty much either garbage or insanely overpaid (see Deng and Hinrich for examples of overpaid role players). Gordon would have been our biggest asset in a trade and we let him walk to a division rival for nothing.

    So, the organization told us two lies this summer. First, Gar said in a press conference that resigning Gordon was “our #1 priority.” We find out later that they didn’t even offer him a contract. Second, we were then told by Reinsdorf in an interview that the decision to let Gordon go was made during last season when we traded for Salmons. What?! Leaving the GM hanging out to dry like that? We were told that was the only way we’d have a shot at a free agent in 2010. Well, now it looks like our only shot was by KEEPING Gordon. Lies, lies and more lies. JR will be happy to ride Rose and NOah through their rookie deals until they’re up for an extension and then he’ll lowball them and claim “they weren’t team players” when they take an offer from a team willing to pay them what they’re worth.

    Anyone remember what he said when the White Sox won the championship? “I’d trade all 6 Bulls championships for this.” Look it up, our owner said that. Unacceptable. The Bulls are his business, his money-maker, his cash-cow, profit-machine; whatever you want to call it. The White Sox are his TEAM. He doesn’t care about winning, and so long as the Bulls are making money he’s not going to sell the team (which is what we fans need to happen if we ever want a true contender again). We’re not going to luck into the greatest player of all time ever again; it’s just not going to happen. I’d settle for lucking into a competent owner who rewards his loyal customers.

  13. gobulls76@hotmail.com'
    bullsfan76 December 8, 2009 at 10:47 pm #

    hey texasbulls fan read blakes piece you idiot

  14. gobulls76@hotmail.com'
    bullsfan76 December 8, 2009 at 10:54 pm #

    your already not geting crap next summer you need to make a big trade dwade is not coming here or james or bosh who says he wants to play with wade in miami i think you need to face the facts like me and blake they ran jordan and pippen out of town after six titles they dont care abaut the bulls its a cash cow like blake said 2 or 3 years ago they had good young players to trade for that go too guy they didnt because they dont want to pay you want to keep believing lies good for you im sick of them.

  15. joesung25@gmail.com'
    Joe December 9, 2009 at 2:28 am #

    What the freaking hell is wrong with the bulls?

    They didn’t put up any sort of fight at all!
    First the Cavs (led by LeBron) got away with dancing like fools, completely disrespecting the entire team (except for Joakim Noah, who should be lauded for initially putting up a fight, even though he immediately retracted once LeBron approached him and refused to say anything bad about LeBron in post-game interviews); then you’ve got the Raptors disrespecting the Bulls as well.. Why didn’t anyone say anything about Jarrett Jack tying his shoes during the game? Where is the freaking heart of the bulls organization? Where is the competitive fire the bulls have or used to have? I am completely disappointed with the lack of passion and intensity of this bulls team. It looks like they’ve given up completely and have accepted being a second or third-tier squad that will get it handed to them every night. It is flat-out depressing to watch. Somebody needs to step up and demand greater intensity and a sense of pride.

    But who’ll do that? D Rose? (too young) L Deng? (too passive) Captain Kirk? (injured.. and also a bench player)

    Could someone please do something to have the team grow some freaking balls and a sense of pride to at least show up to compete every night?

    Maybe it’s Del Negro… At least Skiles had the baby bulls playing hard every night (that is, until the bulls tuned him out…).

  16. joesung25@gmail.com'
    Joe December 9, 2009 at 2:42 am #

    Sorry Matt, I realize I pretty much restated your blog (but with some expletives inserted). I just can’t understand why our fan base isn’t more furious about this. And why VDN or the front office hasn’t received more heat.

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