Defensive Fail: Pacers 115, Bulls 108

There haven’t been very many times this season — especially recently — when the Bulls have failed on defense. Unfortunately, it happened last night.

The Pacers scored 115 points. That’s the fourth-highest point total the Bulls have surrendered this season, ranking behind only the 116 points they gave up to the Rockets in an overtime win on December 4, the 118 points they surrendered in Toronto in Joakim Noah’s first game back from thumb surgery on February 23, and the 120 points the Knicks scored in the United Center way back on November 4 (thanks to a flurry of three-point shooting).

Indy scored 31 points in each of the first two quarters in route to a 62-point first half. They Pacers had 89 points by the end of the third quarter. Mind you, the Bulls had held their opponents to 89 points or less in 12 of their last 13 full games. So there’s no way the Pacers — who rank 24th in Offensive Rating — should have been scoring so easily.

Sure, Chicago held Indiana to 13 points in the fourth quarter and managed to force overtime…but the damage had been done.

Now, you may be tempted to give the Bulls credit for holding the Pacers to 43 percent shooting. And, admittedly, they did a credible job of contesting jump shots. Indy went 19-for-60 on jumpers (31.6 percent) and 5-for-13 on three-pointers (38.5 percent). But — and you knew there was a “but” coming, right? — the Pacers hit 18 of their 25 layup attempts (72 percent) and threw down three dunks (according to this shot chart).

So, essentially, they converted 75 percent of their shots at the rim.

The Pacers also earned 35 foul shots. That’s the sixth-most free throw attempts the Bulls have given up this season. Indy knocked down 30 of those freebies.

Furthermore, the Bulls had no answer for Tyler Hansbrough. “Pyscho T” had team-highs in points (29) and rebounds (12) while shooting 12-for-19 from the field and 5-for-5 from the free throw line. Hansbrough was just straight up outworking people. At one point, with just over three minutes left in regulation, Indiana’s Darren Collison bricked a jumper and Hansbrough bolted from the other side of the floor, grabbed the offensive rebound, ran out to 17 feet and tossed in a jumper with nary a hand in his face.

Mind you, Hansbrough set back-to-back career highs against the Knicks last week. Granted, New York’s defense is horrible, but come on. Check out his game log: Hansbrough has scored 20 or more in six of his last seven games. Check out his splits: Hansbrough is averaging 20.2 PPG on 51.2 percent shooting over his last 11 games. This wasn’t some sort of “out of nowhere” performance.

Said Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau: “The only quarter we played defense was the fourth. “You usually get what you deserve.”


Thibs continued: “We’ve got to do a lot better. This is a step backwards. …You’ve got to get in the fray. If they’re going to make contact, then you’ve got to fight. And we didn’t do that until late. You can’t measure what you have to put into a game. You’ve got to go into the game thinking, ‘I’m putting everything I have into this,’ and then, I think when you wait around, and now all of a sudden you’re in a hole, so you’re fighting your way out of the whole, then you don’t have enough energy to finish it off in the end, and that’s exactly what happened.”

Not to give the Bulls any excuses, but they did look tired from the previous night’s win in New Jersey and appeared to be a step slow all night. The Pacers seemed to be a split-second quicker to loose balls and tap-outs. At times, everything seemed to be going Indiana’s way.

Chicago’s saving grace was Derrick Rose, who tied his career-high with 42 points. The Bulls entered the final quarter down 16 points, and when things looked absolutely hopeless, Rose took over. He scored 19 points in the final 7:18 of regulation. He hit two layups, a short jumper, a three-pointer and 10 free throw. The only other Bulls player to score in that stretch was Kurt Thomas, who went 1-for-2 at the free throw line after being fouled by Danny Granger.

It was an amazing performance…the kind that serves as a reminder of why Rose is an MVP candidate.

It also wasn’t enough.

And, if I’m going to be completely honest, Derrick’s big game has me kind of worried. It’s easy to overlook because he’s still putting up big numbers and the Bulls are winning, but Rose is in kind of a slump.  Check the splits: Rose is shooting 39.6 percent from the field this month. If you check his splits from 2008-09 and 2009-10, you’ll notice that March of 2011 has been the worst shooting month of Derrick’s career (discounting his 39.1 percent October of 2009, which consisted of only two games).

Bottom line: Rose’s jumper is not falling.

Last night’s game was a perfect example. Rose went 9-for-11 on layups and 18-for-21 from the line. But he went 2-for-16 on jump shots, including 2-for-8 on his three-point attempts. And when you see box score lines like 11-for-27 from the field, 18-for-21 from the line, 2 assists and 4 turnovers from a superstar point guard

…you see what I’m getting at?

Going back to Derrick’s splits, he’s averaging only 5.6 APG this month, which represents his worst assist month of the season. In fact, it’s his worst assist month since averaging 5.2 APG in February of 2010. Rose hasn’t had a double-digit assist game since March 2. He hasn’t reached his average since March 7. He dished  total of 4 assists in back-to-back games against the Nets and Pacers.

I don’t think it’s all Derrick’s fault. Guys were ducking shots down the stretch last night. I’m serious. At one point, Rose drove, drew the double and dished to Kyle Korver…who didn’t take the shot and ended up passing the ball back to Rose. Bulls broadcaster Stacey King noticed this and (correctly) said that guys have to be ready to take those shots.

Then again, it’s a chicken-and-the-egg situation: Are Rose’s teammates deferring to him or are they out of rhythm because Rose is taking all the shots? When Rose fouled out in overtime, the Bulls looked completely discombobulated.

Despite his monster game, Rose was killing himself up after the game, specifically for not coming through in overtime: “That’s the time when I’m supposed to take over. And I didn’t show up. Tonight, I think my turnovers hurt the game. Plain and simple … no way I was supposed to turn that ball over in that clutch situation, and I did. I put that on me, man.” Rose also said he felt “beat up” and that he needed to “try harder.”

Wow. Go easy on yourself, there, Derrick.

This isn’t the end of the world. There are bright sides. First, the Celtics got blown out in Houston last night, so the Bulls are still tops in the East. Second, as painful as this game was, it’s very hard to win back-to-back road games on back-to-back nights against teams that are trying to claw their way into the playoffs. Especially when you’re without your second-leading scorer, as the Bulls were. I mean, as ESPNChicago’s Nick Friedell points out, Noah was the last Bulls player other than Rose to make a field goal, and that came with 8 minutes left in the fourth quarter.

The problems with the defense, well, they’re going to take care of themselves. Thibs will see to that. These kinds of defensive lapses are aberrations with a great defensive team like the Bulls. But Derrick having to do everything on the offensive end, that cannot continue. And hopefully, Boozer — who has now missed five straight games — will be back soon and the offense can become a little more well-balanced.

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

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20 Responses to Defensive Fail: Pacers 115, Bulls 108

    1c1cle March 19, 2011 at 4:25 pm #

    More depth would be useful during the back-to-back games. Hopefully Boozer will be back, yes, but I would like to see Scalabrine and Butler given a few minutes in the first 1/2 against the opponent’s subs. 2/3s of the bulls remaining games are back-to-backs…

    The core of the team has to get more rest.

    inkybreath March 19, 2011 at 4:30 pm #

    For me, when you see a player like Rose playing like this, it denotes some tunnel-vision. It may be that, for as much as this team is united, Rose may not trust them as much as we thought.

    I don’t begrudge him, as we lose sight on his youth, at times. I agree that this is an(other) opportunity for Thibs to teach and make this team even more unified.

    Rose has to trust everyone.

    As for Korver, in particular, it appeared that he has not been ready to shoot. But on a lot of those plays, it didn’t seem like he had the spacing he needed.

    On the bright side, it will provide a good feeling for Boozer’s return. It will give him the sense that he is really needed and it will give the team the extra sense that they need to keep him involved.

    Clearly, he is the key to keeping Rose well-rested, in game.

    inkybreath March 19, 2011 at 5:27 pm #

    Good point on Scal and Butler …

    chitwon4life March 19, 2011 at 5:31 pm #

    No way does Korver get a pass from me on last nights game, his play was beyond bad he stunk it up . He has to take shots that is why he is here no other reason plain and simple, when he got the ball he did not look to shoot all he did was look to pass it that is about it, last night our team was totally DRose dependent and the rest was not there to play least on the offenseive end. If this team does not play on both sides of the ball then we may as well look to next year , yes this was only one lost but it was too the pacers and they made T hans look like a wolrd all star no way does that sit well with me or i think Tibs.We need to have players on the court to help DRose carry the load plain and simple as great as he is he cannot do it all by himself.
    The call last night the refs did not make they should of made and the calls they did make that they should not have made , left a bad taste in my mouth for this game and the fairness of it all, DROSE is a superstar and did not get the calls not just as a star should get but a player in the NBA should get not letting the refs off for the game calling of last nights game.I hope there bosses looked at this game and are thinking they need something a repermand or what ever it takes to like get this stuff together it was to blaint to miss and too many times it was done plain and simple. Our team had to beat the refs and the pacers on the same night in the same game totally not even or fair i would say anyways our bulls did strike that DROSe did a great job putting our bulls in position to win last night and he almost did it nothing less than spectacular DRose don’t beat yrself up at all you balled big time the rest of the team needs to step up and take there share for what they did not do last night not you DROSE anyways its only one game just hope it is not the sign of things to come gonna stay on side it was one game let down for now …PEACE

  5. Inception March 19, 2011 at 6:42 pm #

    i’m not liking the inconsistency in Rose’s jumpshot as well…makes you wonder if his shooting slump is the result of fatigue or being overworked.

    GET D ROSE SOME REST! ….but we know that’s not happening this season.

    Scottie Pimpin March 20, 2011 at 1:11 am #

    outplayed, outhustled, down by 20 and we still took em to overtime. not a bad loss if u ask me.

    did korver ran out of hot sauce ? noah having opposite day ? (should have had 17 rees and 3 points). i like the booz, but he should have played. rose playing with ulcers, noah playing with broken fingers, luol running on fumes, come on booz. sup with that ?

    GO BULLS !

    joe March 20, 2011 at 2:51 am #

    Tyler Hansbrough scored 29 points and grabbed 12 rebounds as the Pacers felled the Bulls in overtime, 115-108.

    I’m happy for him but we needed Boozer to win this game with a guy like Tyler playing well.

    It’s interesting to see Hansbrough finally recover from his rookie vertigo that put him down and subsequent poor conditioning.

    BFD March 20, 2011 at 4:11 am #

    With Luol playing 40+ minutes a game all season with out Thib’s even trying to find somebody who could fill in for him for a few minutes tells me that the Coach is severely stubborn to mess with the rotation any to give guys rest.

    I don’t know what to think of this game. It was heartening to see the bulls crawl back from a deficit of 20 while on the road on the 2nd night of back-to-backs and nearly win the game. On the other, the Bulls clearly needed somebody else out there to serve as a scoring threat. Bogans is not going to score 17 every night, Korver at times looks skittish, and I have no idea what happened to Luol at the end of this game.

    Thankfully there are no back to backs once the post season arrives. Just have to hope that we can ignore our flaws (Bogans is our starting SG and our bench guys don’t always step up and score) while exploiting our enemies when we get there. (Carmelo tainting the Knick’s chemistry; Boston’s psychological weakness after making a horrible trade; Heat’s ability to choke against good teams; Spur’s/Laker’s age)

    chitwon4life March 20, 2011 at 1:03 pm #

    ALL Great poit made above , but still this was one game we should of won and if not for Rose this would of been a blow out . No one else showed up to help Rose and if korver does not get his stuff in order and i mean fast might want to consider benching him cause if he aint shooting his D sure aint gonna make him be a contributor to the team so, might want to let butler play some and see what he has to offer to the team might as well now coach T we have amost locked up at the very least third over all in the standings , but the questions of our roation still is there so might be time to try some new things ….I know we are fighting for fisrt place but the gola is to win it all not to win the East in standings…Peace

    Bam! March 20, 2011 at 2:05 pm #

    Frankly, we occasionally have defensive failures, but our defense is usually incredible. However, we need a consistent scoring threat to help out Rose with the scoring load.

    This summer, Ray Allen will become an unrestricted free agent. Any chance we could make a run for him? He’s played on three teams in his career, each one for about the same amount of time, so it is not unlikely that he would be willing to leaving an aging Celtics team to come to a young championship caliber team. Maybe it’s a stretch but it’s worth a try.

    Look at this:
    PG: Rose
    SG: Allen
    PF: Boozer
    SF: Deng
    C: Noah

    Starting Five with Ray Allen=CHAMPIONSHIP, BABY!

    One could argue that Ray Allen is 35 and on his decline, but he would be wrong! (haha) His shooting percentages are better than ever, he is turning the ball over less than ever and his rebounding, stealing, etc. are pretty consistent with his career averages. Ray is used to Thibs’ defensive schemes and would provide Chicago with much needed assistence to the scoring load. With Allen, all five of our starters would (potentially) average 15+ points per game and he could add some extra veteran experience. Also, with him available on the court, Deng probably wouldn’t have to play 40+ minutes every game.

    Maybe it’s a long shot, but if we could somehow get our hands on Ray Allen in free agency, I can’t see us not winning a championship.

  11. Inception March 20, 2011 at 5:40 pm #

    Bam! – i think (and i hope), CHI’ goal is to establish a dynasty, and acquiring Allen won’t provide that.

    inkybreath March 20, 2011 at 7:19 pm #

    It has also been interesting to watch Luol play a teeny bit of point forward, having Rose play off the ball. We don’t really have the personnel to do it a lot, other than when Watson is on the floor with him. But, it alludes to our need. We need someone who is an innate ball-handler, be it a point guard backup, a 2 guard, etc. This would be for next year, for sure, but I would like to see more of these sets with Rose getting a break from the ball-handling.

  13. Tae March 20, 2011 at 8:45 pm #

    Barn!, absolutely not. First of all, Ray has a player option who will probably take it in his final year as a Celtic and an NBA player.

    Second, we have much better choices that are half as old as Allen. Anyone from the Nuggets (They can’t keep all their players), Jason Richardson, OJ Mayo still available with the Bulls having multiple expiring contracts, etc.

    The Bulls want multiple championships, not all-in crapshoots like the Miami Heat, who suffered many years (And still paying for it) of lackluster seasons after Wade won a ring. We need a young shot creator and sign him long-term.

    inkybreath March 20, 2011 at 9:01 pm #

    (It would also get him some better 3pt set shots)

    Max March 20, 2011 at 10:03 pm #

    A overtime loss after a 8 game win streak and people are acting like it’s the end of the World. This team is going to have bumps like this. Rose is going to have shooting slumps. So are stars on every other team.

    Bex March 20, 2011 at 10:11 pm #

    I like Ray Allen but I don’t think we have a shot in -you know where- to land him. What about Tayshaun Prince? He is an unrestricted free agent this summer and he will be ready to leave the D as it has turned into a total cesspool. Has good size, great defense and as he is older we could probably sign him to a short term deal. He would be a great vet mentor for whoever we can draft. He is not a long term solution, but I see him as one of the better options out there that no one seems to even be considering.

  17. Bulls Fan in Ohio March 20, 2011 at 11:43 pm #

    Tayshaun Prince would be a good fit for the bulls good defensive player solid offensive player with good length. What Richard hamilton as well he can still shoot and play good defense as well, if we could get him for good price and short deal I think the bulls should go for him. I don’t like Ray Allen as an option for the bulls look for good role players guys like prince and hamilton would both be gives veteran winning presence 14ppg and good team defensive play would fit right in with the bulls.Stop hating on Krover he’s a shooter those guys are streaky at times.

    inkybreath March 21, 2011 at 3:29 am #

    Side note:

    I was just listening to the Mike North show and he reminded how D’Antoni all but had the Bulls job and changed his mind.

    I forgot allll about that…


  19. Brian March 21, 2011 at 7:31 am #

    for those of you talking about shooting guards, aaron afflalo, jason richardson, and ray allen would all be perfect signings. but once again, this seems like something to talk about in the off-season. no point in discussing it now really, when the bulls still have 10+ regular season games and the entire post-season to go.

    BoppinBob March 22, 2011 at 2:22 pm #

    Max, I’m with you, every team has an occassional bad game. Remember it was the second game of an away back-to-back, very tough to win both. The Bulls will be fine. It was disappointing to see the defense disappear, but again defense takes intensity, and that is hard to maintain for every game. It was too bad that the defense and offense both went South in the same game.

    There will be younger players than Ray Allen available in FA this coming off-season. I would rather see an upgrade at shooting guard that will be around for multiple seasons, I doubt that would be Ray Allen at 35.

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