Fresh ink: January 27, 2009

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K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune: “In their current season-long five-game losing streak, the Bulls have been outscored by a combined 21 points in the fourth quarter. That’s as good a place as any to start the discussion on the team’s woes, which include too many turnovers, poor defense and the inability to execute even the most basic of plays down the stretch. ‘Anyone who is watching us knows we’re playing harder and with a lot of spirit and effort,’ forward Luol Deng said. ‘We just have to play smarter.’”

John Jackson of the Chicago Sun-Times: “Coach Vinny Del Negro put the ball in the hands of rookie point guard Derrick Rose for the last-second plays in regulation and overtime, and there’s no problem with that. Rose is the team’s best ballhandler and the player most capable of breaking down the defense. The problem against the Timberwolves was execution, not play design. ‘The first one, I waited too long,’ Rose said. The result was a forced, off-balance jumper that missed badly. In overtime, Rose made his way into the paint, but his path was cut off and he picked up his dribble, a definite mistake in that situation.”

Mike McGraw of the Daily Herald: “Opponents are finding unprecedented success against the Bulls’ defense. The list of players who have set career highs in scoring against the Bulls this season is long and features a mix of both young stars and run-of-the mill big men. Detroit’s Rodney Stuckey lit up the Bulls for 40 points. Toronto’s Andrea Bargnani (31), Charlotte rookie D.J. Augustin (29), Atlanta’s Al Horford (27), Cleveland’s Anderson Varejao (26) and Boston’s Kendrick Perkins (25) have all rung up career highs that still stood as of Monday morning. The players who have set season highs against the Bulls is an even longer list and contains familiar names: LeBron James (twice), Joe Johnson, Vince Carter, Al Jefferson, Pau Gasol, Travis Outlaw, Stephen Jackson, Mike Bibby and Rudy Gay.”

Mike Imrem of the Arlington Heights Daily Herald: “Del Negro and Paxson are in an unwitting race to determine which will be out of his job first. In Paxson’s case it would be because he has had enough. In Del Negro’s it would be because somebody noticed he is the wrong guy at the wrong time. Then again, who is qualified to coach this motley crew? Would Mahatma Gandhi have been? No, these Bulls would stampede all over him, or worse. Would Charles Manson be? No, he’d stampede all over them, or worse. Someone between a Gandhi and a Manson? Yes, that’s it, someone between a pacifist and a mass murderer. Del Negro fits in there somewhere but lacks the certain ‘it’ that would command the Bulls’ respect.” [Via TrueHoop.]

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