Epic Failure: Nets 103, Bulls 101


I moved to Chicago back in the summer of 1998, so I didn’t become a hard core Bulls fan until the Michael Jordan era was coming to its storybook ending. It was a case of unlucky timing on my part, because the Bulls were about to go from the top of the mountain to the bottom of the trash heap.

This meant that, as a fan, I had to live through some very dark times.

I’m talking about the Tim Floyd era. I’m talking about a three-season stretch in which the Bulls won a total of 45 games. I’m talking about 47-point losses to the Orlando Magic. In short, I’m talking about real wrath of God type stuff: fire and brimstone coming down from the skies, rivers and seas boiling, forty years of darkness, earthquakes, volcanoes, the dead rising from the grave, human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together… mass hysteria!

Yeah. Dark times indeed. I’ll tell you this much: I learned to appreciate what Clippers fans have gone through for, well, ever. But I can honestly say I’ve never felt as demoralized as I did when the Bulls lost to the New Jersey Nets last night.

I really thought that 110-78 homecourt loss to the Toronto Raptors was going to be the low point of the season for the Bulls. I was sure of it. I simply could not envision a more painful loss. Then the Nets strolled into town with a 1-19 record and nothing to lose. I have to admit, I was looking past them to the game against the Hawks in Atlanta tomorrow night. I don’t know if the Bulls were looking ahead too, but I sure was.

Well, my bad. And Chicago’s bad, too. Very bad.

What makes the whole dreary situation even more galling is that there were actually some really positive signs in the game. Taj Gibson scored a career-high 20 points (8-for-12) off the bench. Luol Deng scored 27 points (10-for-17) on a variety of jumpers, post moves and even three-pointers (two of them!). But best of all, there was Derrick Rose, who had his best game of the season (27 points, 7 rebounds, 10 assists, a steal and a block).

It wasn’t just the gaudy statistics, though. Rose asserted himself — I mean, really asserted himself — down the stretch for the first time this season. He scored 11 of his points in the fourth quarter, two of which came on a running, one-handed jumper with 19 seconds left. That shot gave the Bulls a 100-99 lead…but it didn’t last.

After a New Jersey timeout, it took Devin Harris all of five seconds to answer Rose’s shot with a running one-hander of his own. Said Harris: “I saw an opening and I knew what to do. It was the same play they ran, we ran on the other end. Pretty much an isolation. It was my shot to take. It just happened that we both ended up hitting runners, going right.”

Now the Bulls were down 101-100 with 14 seconds left, and it was Vinny Del Negro’s turn to write up a clutch play.

I don’t know what play the Bulls were supposed to run. What I do know is that John Salmons (12 points, 4-for-12) caught the inbounds pass, dribbled to the top of the arc and jacked up a 25-footer with seven seconds still on the clock. It didn’t go in, Harris pulled down the rebound and the game was pretty much over.

And that, my friends, is how the Nets got their second win of the season.

Pain in the paint:
Oh yes. Chicago’s interior defense was once again the goat in yet another brutal loss. Brook Lopez (25 points, 9-for-14, 10 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, 2 blocked shots) became the latest in a looooong line of big men who have had their way with the Bulls (both this season and last), and the Nets racked up a whopping 54 points in the paint. In all, they got 16 layups and five dunks. And when they weren’t scoring outright, they either earned free throws (28 of them) or created open looks.

In all seriousness, the Bulls’ inability to protect the basket is their biggest weakness. Bigger than any of the many things going wrong for them on offense. Although, speaking of which…

Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers:
With the way the Bulls handled the ball last night, I can only assume they’ve been taking passing lessons from Jay Cutler. By game’s end, they had given up 20 points off 19 turnovers. By contrast, the Nets gave up only 11 points off 14 turnovers.

Other little problems:
The Bulls missed eight free throws. Sure, the final miss was intentionally bricked by Rose because Chicago had to try and get the ball back for a last-second, game-tying two-pointer. But still, Rose and Gibson went 0-for-4 on back-to-back possessions near the beginning of the fourth quarter.

Both teams looked great when they got out on the fast break. Unfortunately, the Nets did more running, which is why they outscored the Bulls 20-10 in fast break points. You know, the Bulls are such a lousy shooting/scoring team that they really need to run, run, run and then run some more. Why not take advantage of Derrick’s speed?

Derrick Rose:
Like I said, Rose stepped up and became a go-to guy down the stretch. That was awesome. What was decidedly less awesome was Rose’s defense. He simply could not stay in front of his man. Even Rafer Alston (15 points in only 17 minutes) was burning Rose alive. It boggles my mind that someone as speedy and athletically gifted as Rose can’t stay in front of, well, anybody. Honestly, my gast is flabbered.

Vinny’s big adjustment was starting Brad Miller. ‘Nuff said.

Here’s what he had to say about the three by Salmons that killed any chance the Bulls had of pulling this one out: “The play was designed for Derrick to come and get the ball. … Derrick was unable to get open and we went to John Salmons. We did not attack on that and pulled back for the jumper.”

Quote of the night:
Said Joakim Noah: “It never feels good to lose to the team with the worst record in the NBA. It hurts.”

Not-so-fun facts:
New Jersey entered last night’s game on an 18-game road losing streak stretching back into last season. Furthermore, the Nets came into the game scoring a league-worst 87.6 PPG. They surpassed that average by over 15 points against the Chicago defense.

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

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12 Responses to Epic Failure: Nets 103, Bulls 101

  1. pumpkinpatch@hotmail.com'
    therealSEANPOE December 9, 2009 at 6:45 am #

    im sorry guys im like popeye ive had enough and i cant take no more!!!!! the terrible lineups,crappy plays, nonchalant attitude. the experiment is over with..fire this lame-o..visit my site n feel free to voice your opinions http://firevinnydelnegrosazz.blogspot.com/

  2. lennywe@hotmail.com'
    Pop December 9, 2009 at 3:41 pm #

    Can we just watch the Blackhawks instead?

  3. anthony.heath218@gmail.com'
    shine218 December 9, 2009 at 4:04 pm #

    For what its worth on the whole alston thing… It wasn’t Rose getting lit up… When Rose went to the bench late in the first/early second, that’s where Alston really went off

  4. njcamporese@yahoo.com'
    Nick Camporese December 9, 2009 at 4:07 pm #

    Can we fire John Salmons? What a joke. How much are we paying him to shoot us out of games and make stupid decisions on a regular basis? He’s an effective role player – nothing more – masquerading as a star on a crummy team.

  5. blakemitcham@yahoo.com'
    Blake December 9, 2009 at 4:59 pm #

    Allow myself to repeat… myself. WE ARE NOT GETTING BOSH, LEBRON OR WADE. Probably not Stoudamire or Joe Johnson either. The only way we have that kind of money is if we renounce Tyrus and Salmons opts out. With the embarassing season Salmons is having, is there any chance he opts out? I think not. The only way we could have a chance at a big time FA next summer is a sign and trade. Which will gut out team. Even if someone will take Tyrus + Deng + draft picks (which is a weak package for a player like Bosh) — that STILL guts our team. Then we have Rose, Hinrich, JJ, Bosh and Noah in our starting line-up. Miller, Salmons, Gray, Hunter and Pargo will be gone (they’re the expirings we need for cap room) and Tyrus and Deng will be gone in the trade.

    Keeping Gordon was the only smart move — he’s the most valuable piece in a sign and trade. But Reinsdorf was too cheap to pay the luxury tax FOR ONE STINKING YEAR. Even considering that the Bulls have been the most profitable team in basketball for the past 15+ years (look it up, I’m not making this stuff up).

    This is Reinsdorf’s fault. The Bulls are a business to him; he doesn’t even like basketball. I bet I can count on one finger the amount of Bulls games he’s watched this year. He spends $110 million a year on the White Sox when The Cell is half empty for most games — yet refuses to spend more han 68 million a year on a Bulls team that sells out ever game.

    Remember the words of your team’s owner Bulls fans: “I would trade all six Bulls championships for this one” — Reinsdorf after the White Sox won the 2005 World Series. Yep, that’s our JR.

    Why do I bother with this team again?

  6. brianavers@gmail.com'
    Varese December 9, 2009 at 6:26 pm #

    Matt – love the Ghostbusters reference. And your ‘gast is flabbered’? May I venture to guess you’ve been reading Simmons’ “Book of Basketball”?

    Re. Rose’s defense: at the PG position, you rely so heavily on the guys behind you giving good protection, no matter how athletic you are. Tony Parker has Duncan behind him and doesn’t look as bad; Nash has nobody who cares and he looks worse than Rose. That said, if Rose wants to be a ‘great’ player and a team leader, he should add some serious D to his off-season work list. His hands don’t seem active enough.

    Also: I love how the floodgates have opened following these tough losses — fire Vinny, fire Salmons, even ‘fire Reinsdorf’. Fire the owner? Um … isn’t he the owner?

    I think the biggest lesson of this last stretch should be this: Hinrich and Thomas are essential to the success of the Bulls right now. Hinrich is the best defensive guard on the roster, and Thomas gives the back-side blocking help the team so desperately needs. Add Ty’s athleticism and growing J, with Hinrich’s ability to make shots and hit 3s… those two players are sorely missed.

  7. Mike December 9, 2009 at 9:41 pm #

    Well we probably won’t get Wade, Bosh, or Lebron. . . but what’s wrong with a Rudy Gay + David Lee signing with two other roster fillers?

  8. rossana-AHA@hotmail.c?om'
    mike killer December 14, 2009 at 5:42 am #

    IT’s funny because I said that same comment already a long time ago. So much for being a smart guy.


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