You know when Aaron Gray, Anthony Roberson and Lindsey Hunter come off the bench to play the final few minutes of a game, things have gone either really well or else very badly. In this case, it was the latter, as the Bulls were humiliated 113-90 by the Wizards — otherwise known as “The Worst Team in the Eastern Conference” — in front of “First Fan” and Chicago denizen Barack Obama.
Yeah. Sorry ’bout that, Mr. President. No we can’t, apparently.
It was ugly, folks. I’m talking Sam the Dog ugly. John Salmons (25 points, 8-for-13 from the field, 7-for-8 from the line) had some fire in his fingertips, but almost everybody else played like an aging politician instead of a professional athlete. Derrick Rose scored only 10 points (on 4-for-10 shooting) and finished with more turnovers (5) than assists (3). Ben Gordon missed 11 of his 14 field goal attempts. Tyrus Thomas was 1-for-6 and had almost as many fouls (3) as rebounds (4). It took Luol Deng 8 shots to score 4 points. Joakim Noah was perfect from the field (4-for-4) and almost had a double-double (9 points, 9 boards), but, according to his plus-minus stat, the Bulls were outscored by 19 points while he was on the floor.
And lest you think the problems were limited to the offensive end — where the Bulls hit only 39 percent of the shots they attempted — then let me inform you that the 14-win Wizards achieved a field goal accuracy that was a shade over 50 percent while placing eight players in double figures. Not bad for a team that came into the game ranked 26th (out of 30) in offensive efficiency. Antawn Jamison killed the Bulls softly with 27 points (9-for-18) and 11 rebounds. Okay. He can do that. But can someone please explain why Darius Songaila and Dominic McGuire combined to shoot 11-for-12 against us?
Washington’s “Princeton Offense” had our guys confused and completely turned around. It seemed none of the Bulls could stay in front of their man when he had the ball, nor could they keep track of him when he didn’t. And let’s not forget that Washington broke our backboards by grabbing 19 offensive rebounds, 7 of which came during the fourth quarter. So even when we forced a miss, we couldn’t get the stop.
Like I said. Ugly. And Ben Gordon agrees: “I’m speechless right now. To come in here and lose to the Wizards by 23 points, it’s inexcusable. I don’t know what to say. We didn’t do anything well tonight.” Meanwhile, coach Vinny Del Negro gave one of his typically bland and borderline meaningless assessments: “We weren’t aggressive. We took poor shots. We were out of sync.”
You have a point, Vinny. So fine…get us in sync already!
Although, come to think of it, that might not be a fair request, because I’m not sure he can. The only time he comes off as remotely competent in the coaching department is when the Bulls are shooting lights out (as they did against the Magic), and I don’t even know if the players are even listening to him at this point. After Wednesday night’s loss to the Nets, Rose openly questioned why the players weren’t told to trap Devin Harris and Gordon called the team’s defense and decision making “stupid.” Speaking as someone who watched Scott Skiles get run out of town, it sure seems like the villagers are sharpening their pitchforks and getting ready to light the torches.
The same team that looked so good in wins over the Nuggets and Magic now seems to be in a state of confused disarray. How else would you explain this rather mystifying comment Tyrus Thomas made after the loss to the Nets: “I don’t think there is anything to look into and try to seriously analyze. We’ve got to do what we want to do sometimes. We’re not on the same page as far as what we want to do.”
I can’t make any more sense out of that statement than I can out of Vinny’s rotation or his fourth-quarter strategies. The wins, when they come, only treat the symptom, and the disease rages on, consumes the team. The fish rots from the head, as they say. So what I’m thinking is, why not cut off the head? You know, of…the team…okay, it’s not a perfect metaphor. But I steadfastly believe that this team has the talent to win, certainly against mediocre teams like the Nets and terror squads like the Wizards. So if there’s a problem, it’s got to be at the top.