Game 16 recap: Magic 107, Bulls 78

bulls sad bench 2

Back on Thanksgiving night, Charles Barkley predicted the Bulls would win the Eastern Conference and reach the NBA Finals. Not in the future, mind you. Chuck said the Bulls would do it this season.

This prompted a strong response from Joakim Noah:

“Poison. We’re not in the Finals yet. I love Chuck. I think he’s great for the game. I love his honesty. He always tells you how he feels. But it’s poison. … I want to be in the Finals. But just because Chuck says it doesn’t mean that we’re there, ya know? We got a long way to go. We got a big game against Orlando. … I love Chuck, but at the end of the day, it’s one thing to talk about it, and it’s one thing to actually live it.”

Remind me to add “prophet” to his next scouting report.

Let me be blunt: The Magic didn’t just beat the Bulls…they spanked ‘em. It was demoralizing. With all the good vibes from the 4-3 circus road trip, all the excitement over Carlos Boozer’s return, all the generally high expectations, this game was like a punch to the face you never saw coming.

Orlando is one of the best teams in the league. We all knew that coming in. To be honest, I didn’t necessarily expect the Bulls to win this one. In part because teams tend to struggle in their first game home after a long road trip, and in part because integrating someone like Boozer — a starter, a 20-10 guy, a foundation player — takes time. Transition of this magnitude is rarely clean and easy.

But still…win, lose or draw, I expected the Bulls to compete. Pure defiance. That’s been the defining characteristic of this team in the early going. Last night, I saw pure bewilderment. Nobody had an answer for anything. Not coach Tom Thibodeau. Not Boozer (5 points, 2 rebounds). Not Luol Deng (8 points, 2-for-8). Not Joakim Noah (zero rebounds). Not the bench. Not even Derrick Rose (15 points, 5-for-13, 4 assists, zero rebounds).

The Magic overwhelmed the Bulls. They got whatever they wanted. They scored at will. They totally dominated that shaded rectangle known as the paint, outrebounding the Bulls 44-21 and outscoring them 46-26 in the paint. The 26 points in the paint were a season low for the Bullies. The 21 rebounds were a franchise low.

Chicago’s worst rebounding game ever? Yep.

The previous low was 25 boards in a 102-80 loss to the Miami Heat on February 18, 2002. That particular Heat team won only 36 games. That Bulls team — which featued a starting lineup of Fred Hoiberg, Kevin Ollie, Trenton Hassell, Tyson Chandler and Eddie Curry — won only 21.

But the 2010-11 Bulls surpassed them in rebounding ineptitude.

It was stunning. The Bulls entered the game a pretty solid rebounding team. Noah began the night as the NBA’s second-leading rebounder at 13.2 per game. And he didn’t grab a single board. It was inconceivable.

Do you know when the last time Noah went an entire game without grabbing a rebound? It was December 27, 2008, in a 129-117 loss to the Atlanta Hawks. In that game, Noah logged five minutes and 35 seconds and finished with a five trillion. But there’s a world of difference between the Joakim of then and the Joakim of now. Before last night, Noah had never gone rebound-less in games in which he’d played at least eight minutes. What happened?

I guess he was poisoned.

Said Noah: “It’s frustrating. That’s my job, to rebound the basketball, and I wasn’t able to do that tonight.”

Man, everything was awful for the Bulls. Their 78 points were a season low. Their Defensive Rating last night was 126. That is, they gave up 126 points per 100 possessions. They were a step slow all night…assuming they were moving at all. The Bulls committed three defensive three-second violations. And as K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune pointed out: “Omer Asik and Kyle Korver drew defensive three-second technical fouls within 46 seconds in the first minute of the second quarter.”

And let’s face it, Boozer — who picked up the other three-second violation — looked…bad. Totally out of synch, with his teammates and with himself. He had a shot cruelly swatted by Mickael Pietrus. Rashard Lewis, of all people, walked by Boozer en route to the basket as if Boozer’s feet had been surgically fused with the court. About the only thing Boozer did right…

…was not getting re-injured.

Said Thibodeau: “That was to be expected his first game, some good, some not so good.”

Ah well. All teams have bad nights. Look at how the mighty Miami Heat have been playing recently. The defending champion Los Angeles Lakers just lost their fourth in a row. So this loss isn’t the end of the world.

But it still feels crappy.

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

16 Responses to Game 16 recap: Magic 107, Bulls 78

  1. Jay December 2, 2010 at 12:11 pm #

    The Magic are a really dangerous matchup for the Bulls. The best Center in the league and his bunch of merry snipers is about the one thing the Bulls are absolutely not suited to defend (or defeat on the offensive end) Ultimately, I think there’s no other team in the East, and possibly in the entire NBA, that could have such a field day against them. Luckily, there are so few dominant Centers in the league that the Magics tactical approach is more or less unique.

    Nevertheless, I hope they end up in the other leg of the Playoffs, so the Bulls don’t need to worry about them until the ECF – if both teams get there.

  2. andrewleemarshall@yahoo.com'
    the bigest bulls fan in Florida December 2, 2010 at 12:14 pm #

    d rose needed to step up and play like the MVP that he is. its like d rose did not want to go to the rim. nelson out played him because of that. d rose need to play his game. d rose could of changed the whole game by getting howard and other players in foul problems, which would of got noah some rebounds. i know howard fouls hard, but you dont back down to no man, PLAY YOUR GAME!

    as i watched this game i had to listen to the magic home Broadcasting which was bad. they made it seem like d rose was a joke and the bulls was a joke and that nelson was a top 3 PG. well the whole world knows nelson is not in the top 10 PG in the NBA.

    the bulls are better then thay showed and will show it.

    GO BULLS!!!!

  3. enigmatik.inviktus@gmail.com'
    Enigmatik December 2, 2010 at 1:59 pm #

    The Magic own the Bulls. Plain and simple. I’m not sure what the team’s record is against Orlando over the past few seasons, but I’m sure it’s a lot of a losses to a few wins. Not only does the team lose to Orlando, but they get absolutely HAMMERED.

    This is completely embarrassing. And at home, no less.

    This team is too good to be losing like this.

  4. Inception December 2, 2010 at 2:24 pm #

    sorry, but Rose still needs to put up 26-30+ ppg for the bulls to succeed…he needs to stay aggressive and not adjust to Boozer…Boozer needs to adjust to Rose….i’m thinking we also need to trade for a SG that can score….fernandez????

  5. doubleaccord@gmail.com'
    Tony C. December 2, 2010 at 2:38 pm #

    While there were many other factors involved, there were two unfortunately predictable disparities which underscore glaring weaknesses in the Bulls.

    Free throws:

    Bulls 14/21

    Magic 23/24

    points off of three-point shots:

    Bulls 15

    Magic 30

    That is a 24 point disparity, easily enough, of course, to have totally changed the game. Obviously the Bulls underperformed in other respects, but unless they can shore up their free-throw percentage (and production), and reduce the rather consistent disparity in 3pt production, the better teams will continue to pose a problem.

  6. dengsucks December 2, 2010 at 3:05 pm #

    Matt,

    Remember last year during the game against the Suns in Phoenix, you criticized Rose because he didn’t set up Tyrus Thomas for an easy shot at the basket (even though Thomas was 0-4 at the rim at that point, and Rose was 15-21 for the game)?

    Well I am waiting for you to criticize Noah.

    It seemed to me that Noah was looking for his shot more than he should have. He had the opportunity to set up Boozer for an easy layup or dunk off a bounce pass from Rose, and he instead went up for a layup. He did make the layup, however, it was Boozer’s first game back, have to set him up with a few easy ones. Also maybe if he wasn’t shooting jump shots, he could have been near the rim gathering at least one rebound.

  7. bullsbythehorns@gmail.com'
    Matt McHale December 2, 2010 at 4:05 pm #

    “Remember last year during the game against the Suns in Phoenix, you criticized Rose because he didn’t set up Tyrus Thomas for an easy shot at the basket (even though Thomas was 0-4 at the rim at that point, and Rose was 15-21 for the game)? Well I am waiting for you to criticize Noah.”

    I understand what you’re getting at. Yes, you want to give Booz some easy looks in his first game back. No, you don’t want Noah chucking up jumpers.

    That said, it’s my belief, based on things I’ve heard, that Thibs directed Noah to be aggressively offensivly against Howard, to hopefully draw some fouls or at least pull Dwight out of the paint.

    Also, there is a slight difference in that Rose is the team’s point guard and therefore it’s his job to set up his teammates and get them going. In most cases, team’s aren’t expecting their centers to do the playmaking…

    …they do expect them to rebound, tho’.

  8. reggiemcglory@yahoo.com'
    Chi4life da Bulls December 2, 2010 at 5:24 pm #

    who was that team on the court last night playing the magic it was not our chi town bulls , well lets just hope they took the night off even with boozer coming back, it should have not been that bad of a game they played it was just painful to watch nothing good to say about it accept we owe the magic sme hoopings in the near future .

  9. bob.edwards47@yahoo.com'
    BoppinBob December 2, 2010 at 8:17 pm #

    This was to be expected, the dynamics of the team have significantly changed with Boozer stepping into the lineup. That being said, it was far worse than I expected. Hopefully the meshing will happen quickly, so the fine tuning can commense. The trading deadline is approaching and the Bulls will need to determine if they need to make a trade.

  10. zilla2033@yahoo.com'
    zillaa December 2, 2010 at 8:34 pm #

    Just one game. One REALLY bad game, but still just one game. It’s the reason the playoffs aren’t best of 1 every series, because everyone can have one bad game. Get it back Bulls!

  11. Jayson C. December 2, 2010 at 10:13 pm #

    As a lifelong Jazz fan, I’d just like to say, “Welcome to the Carlos Boozer era.” Be prepared to spend the next five years watching him play what we affectionately call the “matador defense” when he’s not sitting on the bench in expensive, well-tailored suits. We feel your pain (and are incredibly glad our FO wasn’t dumb enough to give him another long term, high dollar contract.) Just wait until the sound of “AND ONE!!” becomes like the sound of nails on a chalkboard…

  12. yomomma@hotmail.com'
    Scottie Pimpin December 3, 2010 at 12:38 am #

    booz ruined it for the bulls, he shouldnt have started, though it was a nice try. but i like the pick n roll with him and rose, once they get in sync, they will be a powerful 1-2 punch. teams will have to pick their poison with these two.

    zero rebounds for noah ? something went really wrong. and rose settled for jumpshots. this team loves the jumpshots way too much. i can deal with korver shooting jumpshots all night, but not the rest of the team.

    these bullies will bounce back. its part of who they are, so im not to worried. come on bullies, let go get it !

  13. inkybreath@gmail.com'
    inkybreath December 3, 2010 at 12:42 am #

    Let’s not forget that the team only had one, maybe two practices with Booz. Hell, the rest of the team is still getting in sync, even with the practices they’ve had together… The one thing I noticed is that, as bad as this game was, it could have been MUCH worse. The Bulls stopped a lot of momentum in this game, but they didn’t hit a single shot when they really needed to and Orlando didn’t miss a single shot when they needed to, so…

  14. gorditadog@aol.com'
    Gorditadog December 3, 2010 at 2:15 pm #

    Rebounding and Defense.

    Joakim was just manhandled Wednesday. Orlando had more offensive rebounds than we had on defense.

    The Bulls looked really confused about what to do when Nelson got past Rose into the lane (which was often). I remember one play where Rose lost Nelson on a screen, Noah switched to Jameer, Boozer came over to help (not sure why) and Rose followed Nelson into the lane.

    With three guys on him, Nelson found an open wing for an easy three. Tibs has got some coaching to do! God help him if he had Melo to deal with too.

    By the way, I get a kick out of the Jumpman commercial where Anthony is trying to guard himself. He plays defense in the ad just like he does in games.

  15. bob.edwards47@yahoo.com'
    BoppinBob December 3, 2010 at 4:12 pm #

    After thinking about it, I remembered the score of the first Miami/Orlando game this year and don’t feel so bad. I still firmly believe that we will not know how good the Bulls will be this year until February or early March, especially if the Bulls make a move at he trading deadline. Building this team is a process, and the foundation has not even dried much less set.

  16. zilla2033@yahoo.com'
    zillaa December 4, 2010 at 1:29 am #

    I’ll post this here since I noticed it last night, but thought it was a ‘only-when-guarding Dwight Howard’ aberration: Has anyone else noticed that Noah seems VERY tentative on the defensive end lately? It looks like he’s in position to contest a shot, let alone swat it out of the sky, and then he just stays on the floor. I’ve been seeing it more and more lately, and I’m wondering if it’s just my eyes.

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