Fourth quarter collapse: Hawks 91, Bulls 81

Under the circumstances — no Joakim Noah, playing on the road against a great home team — the Bulls were pretty darn good through three quarters. And during that opening stretch, Derrick Rose gave us one of the great highlights of this season…or any other for that matter.

Freaking amazing, right?

Anyway, the Bulls played really well for three quarters and even entered the fourth with a 70-64 lead. Then they were outscored 27-11 in the final 12 minutes.

Offensive fail.

Credit the Hawks defense, and some truly shoddy play calling and execution, for the Bulls collapse. For your viewing displeasure, here’s a list of Chicago’s fourth-quarter possessions. Read ’em and weep.

Kirk Hinrich turnover (pass stolen by Josh Smith)
Devin Brown missed 17-footer
John Salmons missed layup
Taj Gibson turnover (traveling)
Taj Gibson missed 20-footer
Offensive rebound
Salmons missed 14-footer
Salmons made jumper (Brad Miller assists)
Miller missed three-pointer
Salmons missed three-pointer
Luol Deng missed three-pointer
Rose missed 19-footer
Deng made 17-footer
Rose made 18-footer
Hinrich missed 8-footer
Rose made layup
Rose missed three-pointer
Hinrich missed 21-footer
Offensive rebound
Deng missed jumper
Deng missed jumper
Rose drew a fouls (1-for-2)

So…the Bulls went 4-for-18 (mostly on long jump shots), committed a couple turnovers and made only one trip to the line (with 24 seconds left in the game). Ugly.

Chicago also gave up five offensive rebounds in the fourth quarter, including two possessions in which the Hawks snared two offensive boards in the same sequence. After those five offensive boards, Atlanta got a layup by Joe Johnson (Hawks 76, Bulls 72), a putback by Josh Smith (Hawks 78, Bulls 72),  and a three-point dagger by Mike Bibby with 2:10 left (Hawks 86, Bulls 78).

Those were three critical possessions. Man, the Bulls sure could have used Joakim Noah. They also could have used Rose’s jump shot, which was MIA most of the night. Derrick finished 6-for-9 at the rim and 3-for-12 away from it. His shot looked flat all night.

Even without Noah, the Bulls did a pretty good job of shutting down Atlanta’s fast break (12 points) and protecting the rim (where the Hawks were only 16-for-28). But Chicago’s defensive rotations weren’t as crisp as they could have been, and Atlanta burned the Bulls from long range (8-for-18 from downtown). Although, in all fairness, the Hawks hit some tough shots, especially when they ripped off an 8-0 run to start the final period.

And Josh Smith (18 points, 14 boards, 10 assists) played out of his mind.

Meanwhile, with Miller starting at center, the Bulls got almost nothing out of their bench (8 points, 4-for-14). Big Brad played 40 minutes but finished with only 10 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist and 3 turnovers. And Miller didn’t score in the second half. Meanwhile, Tyrus Thomas earned only 16 minutes and had  4 points, 4 boards, 2 steals and 2 turnovers. I really thought that, with Noah out, Thomas would play 20+ minutes.

Another factor in Chicago’s offensive woes is that they throw bad passes. The Bulls aren’t selfish, and the players genuinely try to hit open teammates, but there are way to many passes that end up at someone’s feet, at their waist, up by their shoulder, a foot to their left, a foot to their right, so on and so forth.

A good pass has to lead into a player’s natural shooting motion. When a player has to collect the ball and then redirect it into their shooting motion, they not only lose a critical split second during which the defense can react, they usually won’t be able to fire it up in rhythm. The Bulls are a bad shooting team this season despite having guys (like Kirk Hinrich and John Salmons) who have hit a pretty decent percentage of their field goal attempts in the past. And Devin Brown — who went 0-for-3 from the field in seven minutes off the bench — had to reach down to his knees for one pass. And yes, that pass led to a missed jumper.

It just seems like the Bulls would benefit from some work on their passing. Because when players are already struggling to find their shots, bad passes only makes things worse.

Let’s hope we see some better passes tonight against the Heat.

Timeout Tally:
This continues my effort to track the Bulls’ performance coming out of a timeout.

1st timeout: Rose missed a 21-foot jumper
2nd timeout: Miller hit a short jumper
3rd timeout: Deng missed a 20-footer
4th timeout: Miller commited a turnover
5th timeout: Gibson missed a 20-foot jump shot
6th timeout: Deng drilled a 17-footer (Rose with the assist)
7th timeout: Rose missed a long three-pointer

Summary: Out of seven timeouts, the Bulls went 2-for-6 and committed a turnover. Five of their six shot attempts were from deep. It’s worth noting that Derrick’s three-point attempt happened with 1:32 left in the fourth quarter when the Bulls were making a desperate comeback attempt. However, even discounting that shot, the Bulls ended up with several empty possessions after their timeouts.

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

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16 Responses to Fourth quarter collapse: Hawks 91, Bulls 81

    Tony C. February 6, 2010 at 3:57 pm #

    Most people associate the acronym “PDR” with a Physicians Desk Reference. Well, I’m going to coin an alternate definition: Poor Decision Rate.

    Now, there are plenty of dumb players in the NBA, so you would think that there would be a good battle for the dubious distinction of being the one with the highest PDR. I submit, however, that Tyrus Thomas is in a class by himself.

    Let’s take this Atlanta game. Towards the end of the first quarter, during a very short span of time, he launched a ridiculous left-handed hook shot (closer to a turnover than a missed shot), turned the ball over with a very bad pass (which had the effect of killing the momentum built by Rose’s spectacular dunk), and was called for two goaltends. That remarkable display earned Thomas a PDR of about 48 (one poor decision per minute on the court).

    Seriously, though, can we please stop with the comments about what a mistake it is for VDN to play TT so sparingly? With rare exceptions, he simply degrades the team when he is on the floor.

    Another point: I’m as big of a Rose fan as anyone, but that doesn’t prevent me from noticing his weaknesses. One glaring weakness is his unfortunate tendency to stop his dribble, wait, and then pass. That is a classic mistake that you will almost never see made by fully mature, high-class guards. It shouldn’t be a difficult problem to resolve, and yet it happens with such regularity that I can’t help wondering whether or not the coaches are even focused on it.

    Greg February 6, 2010 at 5:16 pm #

    I’m not going to attempt to excuse the flailing left handed hook shot near the end of the 1st, but please Tony C. REALLY!!!

    The pass, was one of 14 “bad passes” made by the bulls during the course of the game & was notable only for its timing.

    the 20 footer with 4 seconds left on the clock isn’t a horrible shot considering it came off an offensive rebound by TY and that according to Hoopsdata Ty is the most accurate Bull from 16-23 feet. Again, perhaps not the best shot, but not inexcusable either.

    Now look at his D, particularly the exceptionally high arc of ever shot taken in the paint by the Hawks while he was in the game, or perhaps him guarding Smith heads up on consecutive possessions resulting in a miss and a steal.

    In 3 1/2 1st Quarter minutes he had 2 points, 3 boards and a steal… oh and 1 poorly timed turnover. Then he’s yanked. Big shock

    Now look at the 4th Quarter summary, not a single bad Ty offensive possession though Taj graced us with a travel and a missed 20 footer (see his 35% season rate), but all the scorn is on Ty.

    Also note that we were down 2 points when he’s removed from the game for Salmons. Next 3 hawks possessions resulted in 3 offensive rebounds and 3 uncontested layups. Score 80-72 game over.

    Yep, all Ty’s fault I totally agree

  3. TexasBullsFan February 6, 2010 at 5:54 pm #

    It’s not so much that Tyrus is bad, it’s more like he’s a non-factor. Literally, with the exception of the under the basket steal, did anyone notice that he was on the floor? I didn’t. He comes into the game and does absolutely nothing. He’s obsessed with blocking shots, to the point that it hurts the team. He got called for 2 goaltends, and although the announcers tried to lobby on his behalf for the first one, it was clearly a goaltend.

    I literally saw him catch a pass in the paint. What did Ty do? He immediately dribbled it out to the three-point line and passed it back to the guard. You try to get him to post, but he seems to stubbornly refuse to make plays at the rim. Maybe it’s because he sucks at it.

    I just don’t know what he’s doing out there. That hook shot was one of the worst I’ve ever seen; he just threw the ball at the rim, hoping blindly that it might go in. For all the ribbing Joakim gets, I bet he’d have put up a prettier shot than that stink-bomb Tyrus threw up there. When Tyrus is on the floor, I literally never see him do anything worth giving him more minutes.

    Ok, enough Tyrus bashing. Another good question is why the team kept shooting 3’s when it was clear they weren’t going in. Once you’re 0-9 and Brad Miller just airballed it, maybe that’s a sign you need to stop going for 3’s. The Bulls were most effective when they got people going to the hoop and when Derrick was allowed to break his man down one-on-one. Why they stopped doing that, I don’t know.

    Frankly, I think it was a game we lost because we didn’t have our second-best player. For all the rumblings about how awful it was we didn’t have Grey, well…would poor Aaron really have helped all that much? Probably not, unless it was just to suck up some minutes. I know his replacement stunk up the court while he was out there.

    Tony C. February 6, 2010 at 6:35 pm #

    Greg –

    No reason to overreact, given that I in no way implied that it the Bulls’ loss was “all Ty’s fault”. But if you seriously believe that there is another player on the Bulls who makes a higher number of dumb mistakes per minute of playing time, then you’re watching some alternate NBA universe in another dimension.

    Furthermore, mentioning Taj in a disparaging light suggests further that you are not paying attention. By any reasonable standard, Taj is playing excellent ball for a rookie, especially one who has been thrust into the pressure of starting on a decent team, and who is physically weaker than many of the players he is forced to guard. His decision-making, while not perfect (as one would expect of ANY rookie), is so far superior to TT that any comparison is ludicrous. Add to that the fact that he is playing through pain, and his performance last night was admirable.

    Not only is Taj obviously a better all-around player than TT, but the most important difference between them is that Taj is learning and growing rapidly as a player. TT physical potential will remain untapped unless he develops mentally, and there is no indication that anything like that is happening.

    Chad February 6, 2010 at 6:40 pm #

    he made mistakes cause he is rusty and lacks confidence cause of being benched all the time. the goaltends are not negatives cause the ball probably woulda went in the basket if he didnt block them. bulls 12-6 when tyrus gets 17 or more minutes, bulls 11-19 when he gets less than 17 minutes. wouldn’t hurt to play him more when the other bulls players arent good enough or rested enough or tall enough to win when he spends most the game on the bench.

    Greg February 6, 2010 at 7:02 pm #

    Tony C – I didn’t intend to imply you blamed entire loss on Ty.

    All I was trying to point to is that while his decisionmaking isn’t perfect (actually pretty far from it last night) the team is better overall with his presence in the game (at least when Noah is out). His ability to challenge shots at the hoop is essential for this team.

    I’m actually happy with Taj. I think he’s a great rookie (though his tendency to fire from long range is mildly frustrating in the same way it is with Ty). Yes, overall his decision making is better than Ty’s but then again Duhon made better decisions than Gordon, that didn’t make him a better player. Ty is maddening in the same way Gordon was in that for every great play he makes he makes another that has you throwing things at the screen. All I was trying to point out is that Taj makes a number of the same decisions in close games that Ty gets crucified for on blogs daily without any accountability.

    That said, to say Taj is a better all around player than Ty at this point seems to be an overstatement, given that (according to the statistics available at Hoops data and 82 games) his offensive efficiency is lower than Ty’s, his opponents success rates are higher, and his +/- is worse. Stats don’t tell the whole story, but they do tell some.

    Now, Ty is gone for sure, and I know Taj is our guy going forward & I’m cool with that, I’m just sad that it sure doesn’t seem like Ty has gotten the same leeway with mistakes throughout his tenure with the Bulls as Taj has had (read while getting torched by Elton Brand’s corpse the other night)

    Greg February 6, 2010 at 7:05 pm #

    Also, if Taj puts on 15 lbs of muscle this summer I will officially move him into the PJ Brown glue guy on a championship team mold

    The guy plays real solid every day and does it without complaining… a true professional who’s getting better with each passing game.

    Tony C. February 6, 2010 at 7:28 pm #

    Greg –

    Thanks for the clarification. The Taj/TT comparison is actually a perfect illustration of how bare statistics can be very misleading. You quoted some, and yet Taj is a better percentage shooter, better percentage offensive rebounder, makes better decisions, etc.

    Again, there is a fundamental difference between the two, and it trumps any statistics that one would care to cite: Taj is a really good, intelligent (and therefore valuable) team basketball player; TT isn’t.

    Greg February 6, 2010 at 8:15 pm #


    It’s difficult to disagree with you on who is better at playing within the team concept. Obviously, Taj is a better “role player” on what I imagine might become a very good team in the coming years. He’ll likely fill the role of 4th or 5th starter on several playoff teams for years to come (at least I hope since he’s with us)

    I don’t think anyone projects Taj as a difference maker (like Rose for instance), he’s more like a Kirk (which is equally important to a quality team).

    I just feel like we missed the boat with Ty. He projected/s real high just like he did as a rookie and throughout his tenure here he’s had to look over his shoulder for PT. Whether it’s Taj, PJ, Gooden, Allen, etc… we’ve never let this guy play through his mistakes & get comfortable like we had to with Taj this fall.

    Who knows, maybe Ty is the basketball idiot that so many insist he is, but I’m anxious for him not to be a bull just so he might have a chance to prove me right :)

    Then again, if he ends up Aaron Gray sitting on the end of a bench bitching about his time in Chi-town, I promise I’ll be the first to come on this site to say I was wrong.

    Ty is done here, we might as well just trade him of a pack of beer. My only lament is that it’s never felt like he got a fair shake here… but who knows, maybe that’s his own fault. I’m not in the locker room or at practice.

    dolo February 6, 2010 at 9:45 pm #

    Tyrus is a wild horse. The only way to break him is to ride him… Tyrus is an angry guard dog. Yes he may maul a couple kids if you let him out he yard. But if you want to protect the house, you can’t lock him in the basement. Tyrus is… what he is. It’s the cowboy’s job, the dog-owner’s job, the COACH’S job to manage his assets. With Joakim out, as Ty goes, the Bulls go. Tyrus is one of the most amazing uber athletes this league has ever seen. The coach that properly cultivates and manages him… will bear fruit. Will VDN cultivate him or kill him?

    Tony C. February 7, 2010 at 4:55 am #

    Nice of Tyrus to underscore my point by getting suspended. Sheesh.

    andres Lopez February 7, 2010 at 7:53 am #

    I totally agree with Tony C. Tyrus Thomas is a joke and I am pretty sure that their is a reason why he is not get a lot minutes like before. Hint: he is a hard head and he does not understand the game of basketball. Hopefully the bulls are planing to trade him along with John Salmons for some offensive players like Wilson Chandler and Al Harrington from NY, since Al Harrington has an expiring contract, so that way they don’t have to move Kirk.

    andres Lopez February 7, 2010 at 7:54 am #

    Since, he is playing really well with D. Rose as a starter.

    felipe garcia February 7, 2010 at 8:18 am #

    I totally agree with my cuz Lopez, the Bulls need to trade Tyrus Thomas and John Salmons before the deadline for solid bench players like Al Harrington and Wilson Chandler from the Knicks. Think about it people, Al Harrington can play multiple positions (SF, PF & C), plus he is playing a solid game coming off the bench averaging 18 ppg, playing under 30 minutes and he has an expiring contract this year worth 10 million dollars that the Bulls can use as an advantage to sign another solid free agent player along with Chris Bosh or David Lee if they get 1 of them hopefully. As for W. Chandler he is just having a solid year averaging 15 ppg playing the SG and SF positions, plus he is still young at the age of 22, he has height and strength advantage playing around the same minutes as John Salmons.


  1. The Tyrus Thomas conundrum » By The Horns - February 8, 2010

    […] The Bulls weren’t exactly forthcoming about why they suspended Tyrus Thomas for Saturday’s game against the Miami Heat, but it didn’t take a huge, throbbing brain to figure out it probably had something to do with the 16 minutes of playing time Thomas logged in Friday night’s loss to the Hawks in Atlanta. […]

  2. Gut check: Bulls 95, Heat 91 » By The Horns - February 8, 2010

    […] Since that bold prediction, Thomas has fractured the radius bone in his left forearm during a weightlifting session at practice, missed 23 games, lost his starting job to rookie Taj Gibson, endured a constant stream of trade rumors, and watched his minutes slowly dwindle to the point that — even with Noah shut down until some time after the All-Star break — he logged only 16 minutes of PT in a loss to the Hawks in Atlanta. […]

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