Game 35 Recap: Sixers 105, Bulls 99

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Before the game, Bulls broadcaster Stacey King listed his keys for the game.

One was that Chicago needed to control Philly’s guards. Didn’t happen. Jodie Meeks (24 points, 8-for-11, 4-for-7 from downtown) and Jrue Holiday (19 points, 8-for-14, 6 assists) got whatever they wanted, and Lou Williams burned the Bulls for 20 points off the bench.

Another of Stacey’s keys was that the Bulls needed to avoid bad quarters, like when they were outscored 32-18 in the third quarter of their loss in New Jersey on Wednesday night. Didn’t happen. The Sixers also outscored Chicago 32-18 in the third quarter to take an 86-74 lead heading into the fourth. Philly scored those 32 points on 14-for-18 shooting. For those who enjoy simple math, that’s a 78 percent rate of accuracy.

Going back to that whole “control their guards” thing, Meeks and Holiday combined for 18 points on 7-for-7 shooting in the third quarter while the Bull were committing six of their 15 turnovers.

But forget guards and bad quarters. The real problem — just like against the Nets — was defense. As in: Where was it?

The Bulls currently rank second in the league in Defensive Rating, but you wouldn’t know that based on how they played in Philadelphia. The Sixers rank 20th in both PPG (96.6) and Field Goal Percentage (45.2). Last night, they finished with 105 points on 56 percent shooting.

As I mentioned in my preview post, the Sixers entered the game ranked 20th in Offensive Rating (104.9) and 24th in Effective Field Goal Percentage (48.1). Last night, Philly had an O-Rating of 115.8 and an eFG% of 60.6. Those numbers would lead the league.

Breaking it down by shot location (thanks to Hoopdata), the Sixers went 7-for-10 at the rim (70 percent), 9-for-15 inside 10 feet (60 percent), 11-for-14 from 10-15 feet (78.6 percent) and 7-for-16 from 16-23 feet (43 percent). On the season, their shooting averages from these areas are 64.8 percent, 44.5 percent, 36 percent and 36.5 percent, respectively.

Philadelphia was shooting lights out — especially for them — from pretty much everwhere. Against the league’s supposedly second-best D.

As ESPNChicago’s Nick Friedell pointed out, it was a complete defensive breakdown.

Said Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau: “Our catch-and-shoot defense wasn’t very good. Containing dribble penetration. And then challenging shots, you got to challenge shots. Sometimes we’re right there and if we don’t challenge shots they’re going to make [them]. They got in rhythm early on us and when a team gets confidence, it’s much harder to slow them down. They got their confidence going and we had a hard time all night.”

Added Derrick Rose: “We weren’t playing any defense. I think they hit 10 or 11 shots in a row. We couldn’t stop nobody. But we can’t panic. We just lost two in a row. We got a game [Saturday].”

So what’s the problem?

“I really don’t know right now,” Rose said. “I’m confused. We just got to find a way where everybody’s on the same page … We’re not playing like ourselves right now. Where we’re not stopping people, they’re scoring at will right now and we just got to get back to ourselves.”

You probably already know what I think the problem is: No Joakim Noah. Despite being out with injury, Noah ranks fourth in the NBA in Defensive Rating (96.9) and acts as the anchor or Chicago’s defense. Last night, when guys were getting beaten off the dribble, Noah wasn’t there to switch out or intercept them. Additionally, the Bulls’ perimeter players were running into picks and screens all over the place. Noah usually jumps out and smothers plays like that. Without him, the Sixers — particularly their guards — got open shot after open shot.

And those defensive shortcomings wasted what was a pretty good offensive game by the Bulls on the road against a solid defensive team. Chicago shot better than 50 percent from the field and finished an Offensive Rating (109.2) and eFG% (52.7) that were well above their season averages.

The Bulls face the Celtics in Chicago tonight. Boston ranks first in Defensive Rating (99.7) and crushed the Raptors 122-102 last night. If the Bulls don’t get their defensive act together, they might get crushed too.

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

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3 Responses to Game 35 Recap: Sixers 105, Bulls 99

  1. bob.edwards47@yahoo.com'
    BoppinBob January 8, 2011 at 5:37 pm #

    The last few days were painful. The D was inconsistent. Thomas, Asik and Bogans did a disappearing act. The only guys to turn in decent efforts were Rose, Boozer and Deng. Only decent, Rose and Deng were 1 for 10 from 3-pt land and Boozer was 3-7 from the FT line. While the sky is not falling, these last 2 games were a team failure and now we face the Celtics. Maybe the Bulls were looking ahead, but I don’t think so. There seemed to be a break-down in the focus on defense.

  2. jc.555@hotmail.com'
    cmb_55 January 8, 2011 at 7:37 pm #

    ive watched every bulls game this this year and i havent commented once yet ive read every post. ive took a wait and see approach but ive seen enough and some type of move needs to be made. when rose, boozer, and deng combine for 78 points and chicago barely gets close to 100 points theres a problem. those 3 are getting no offensive help. as for defense they are average at best without a consistently capable big man to back the rest of these guys up. now i know noah being hurt is the biggest reason for the recent poor play offensively and defensively but if the bulls expect to realistically contend in the east some type of chsnges need to be made. im not looking for a huge overhall like orlando did but when your team is so hugely reliant on 2 players (rose and noah) only theres a problem. if one or the other has a bad game or is out u can count it as a loss. chicago can overcome bad games from boozer and deng but not from the other two. boozer has been great but he is far from dominating like amare or howard is and deng, while statistically is having a good year, is horrible in the clutch. he is the master of meaningless buckets and can not be trusted with the ball in his hands under 5 min. left in a close game. i really dont have an answer to solve chicagos problems but i do recognize that the existing problems are big enough to keep chicago from being a real contender just for the eastern conference alone. sorry for the post being so long ……1st one of the season lol….GO BULLS!!!!!!!

  3. TBF January 8, 2011 at 7:54 pm #

    You know who deserves a lot of the blame for this? Our shooting guards and Kurt Thomas.

    Kurt Thomas put up 0 points and had a game-worst -12. That’s not nearly good enough. Add to that the fact that he’s slow, has no inside game and can’t or won’t run the floor and you’ve got a center who’s a dead-weight. Yeah, he plays good defense. Sometimes. Bargnani lit him up in the first half in Toronto, because for some reason Kurt refused to guard him, even after he started burying shot after shot. How much longer before we let Asik start? At least he runs the floor, which is our main problem. We can’t get fast breaks and can’t run with Derrick Rose, which is his greatest strength, when Kurt’s out there.

    We need a new shooting guard. Desperately. Bogans ended up with 0 points last night. He had one assist and NOTHING ELSE. That’s fucking terrible. When two of your starting 5 don’t score, you’re going to lose. I don’t care who you’re playing or how good your defense is. No team in this league can win carrying that much dead weight in the starting rotation.

    And what the hell is Ronnie Brewer doing? 2 points in 27 minutes? No free-throws? Just 2 boards? Just 2 assists? He’s gotta step up. And against New Jersey, he had just 9 points? In 30 minutes? Somebody has to score, and obviously the point guards we have now can’t or won’t produce to starting level capacity. We need a new one. Yesterday, if possible.

    Oh, and someone should tell Derrick and co. that when the 3′s aren’t falling, maybe you should stop hoisting them up. Carlos was dominant; I’d have fed it to him in an isolation every time down the floor. Let him put up 40 shots if he has to. You gotta go with what works until they stop it.

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