Game 36 Recap: Bulls 90, Celtics 79

Homecourt sure makes a big difference.

After two straight road losses to sub-.500 teams — due primarily to a couple of truly awful defensive efforts — the Bulls dusted off their defense and put the clamps on the Celtics.

And that defense was extra clampy.

The Celts were coming off a pair of games in which they shot the lights out — 61 percent against the Spurs and nearly 58 percent versus the Raptors — but they were held to 37.8 percent shooting by the Bulls.

Moreover, Boston finished with an Offensive Rating of 91.4 and an Effective Field Goal Percentage of 41.2, quite a bit off their season averages of 108.0 (ranked 10th in the league) and 53.6 (which leads the NBA).

Oh, and the C’s were one point shy of a season-low.

ESPNBoston’s Chris Forsberg said it was simply a bad night for the Celtics, who were playing their fifth game in seven nights, all without Kevin Garnett. And it sounds like Boston coach Doc Rivers kind of agrees.

Said Doc: “We were pretty awful. Let’s say it was the defense, let’s give them the credit. But we were bad. That was the worst ball movement we’ve had all year. … We had no ball movement. We basically bounced the life out of the game tonight. The bottom line is Ray Allen had zero shots in the fourth quarter, Paul [Pierce] had one and, when that happens, we really should not win the game. That was us.”

Rivers might have a point. A quick stat check tells us the Celtics had a season-low 12 assists.

Okay, so, the Celtics played poorly and didn’t get their best players shot attempts in crunch time. Fine. But that doesn’t explain Chicago’s 48-27 advantage on the boards or how they outscored Boston 11-0 in second chance points. Rebounding is about effort. And effort is how the Bulls won the game. And it sounds like Paul Pierce kind of agrees.

Said Pierce: “We had a lot of one-pass shooting tonight. There’s really no explanation. That’s really not the way we play. They wanted it more truthfully. They got all the loose balls. They attacked it.”

Speaking of attacking, how about Derrick Rose? He stepped it up in his matchup with fellow hotshot point guard Rajon Rondo, scoring a game-high 36 points while going 10-for-19 from the field, a shooting performance that featured some sweet running one-handers.

But forget the point total and the hot shooting. Derrick’s most impressive feat was getting to the line. Really getting to the line. Finally.

Rose set career-highs in free throws attempted (19) and free throws made (15). He repeatedly drove at and around Boston’s defense and directly into contact. And the whistles came. Again and again they came.

It only took almost two and a half seasons.

ESPNChicago’s Nick Friedell wrote that Rose used film study to figure out the best way to start earning some extra foul shots. I guess that film study paid off.

Said Rose: “I think I’m learning how to get fouled. Where instead of me taking off pretty far, I’m finding the extra dribble and going into their body. Usually I just try to take off and avoid the contact or take off, and they block my shot or something. Just making sure I take my time in the hole and go up to their body first.”

Bulls opponents should be freaking out about now.

Seriously, when Rose came into the league they said he couldn’t shoot the basketball. He’s proven he can. Then they said he couldn’t hit the three or see the floor. Now he’s hitting nearly 40 percent of his threes and averaging better than eight assists per game. Earlier this very season, ESPN’s John Hollinger said Rose wasn’t an elite point guard and wouldn’t be until he learned how to draw contact.

I wonder if Hollinger saw last night’s game? Carlos Boozer — who backed Rose up with yet another double-double of 22 points and 10 rebounds — sure got an eyeful.

Said Boozington: “He got the calls tonight. He attacked. He took on the challenge of going against [Rajon] Rondo. He loves challenges like that. For us, it was great to watch. He was aggressive all night long, got to the line, and the refs were giving him the calls. He attacks like that every night. You see him every night just like I see him every night and we saw the same Derrick Rose. It’s just tonight he got the calls and went to the free throw line.”

Drives. Jumpers. Threes. Free throws. Assists. Rose is becoming nearly unstoppable.

Of course, for Derrick to become truly unstoppable, his teammates need to step up their games so opponents can’t stack their defense against him. Yes, I’m looking at you, Keith Bogans.

I’m not kidding. Bogans finished with a game-worst plus-minus score of -14 in 12 minutes. The only other Chicago player with a negative plus-minus score was Kurt Thomas with a -3. Bogans is a complete non-entity on offense and his defense is average on his best days. By contrast, Ronnie Brewer (10 points, 4-for-5, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals and a block) had a game-best plus-minus score of +26.

Memo to Tom Thibodeau: Just give it up and start Brewer already. I honestly cannot think of a worse starter in the NBA than Keith Bogans.

Ah well. Maybe now isn’t the time to nitpick. Maybe I should just let the Bulls enjoy beating the Celtics. It sounds like they’re pretty stoked about it.

Said Rose: “It means a lot. Knowing that we can compete with some of the best teams out there. Especially coming in, getting a win after losing two. Especially against that team. It means a lot to us. Hopefully, it will boost our confidence up and I hope we start playing well.”

Added Brewer: “When you get a win like this, you know [can] compete with some of the best teams in the East. We had some let-ups on the road and it’s unfortunate. But it’s good, it shows that we can bounce back and play together as a team. And I’m just proud of this team that we came back and got a big win.”

Indeed they did.

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

31 Responses to Game 36 Recap: Bulls 90, Celtics 79

    BoppinBob January 10, 2011 at 3:53 am #

    Matt, you may want to check the title of this recap.

    Is it possible that the Bulls were pointing at this game instead of focusing on the Nets and Sixers?

    How beat up did DRose get earning those 19 FTs?

    Thibs, please move Bogans far down the bench. Split his PT between JJ and Watson and start Brewer.

    Maybe the Bulls should consider looking for a SG, but it should not be Mayo. He got into an arguement with a current team mate because he didn’t want to pay a gambling debt. That is a real team building experience that the Bulls do not need.

    Please do not let Noah rush himself back onto the court.

    Go Bulls.

    BoppinBob January 10, 2011 at 4:02 am #

    Next 4 games, Detroit, Charlotte, Indiana and Miami. Will the Bulls be looking ahead for the Miami game?

  3. Tom January 10, 2011 at 5:07 am #

    The main difference between this team and recent Bulls teams is that it feels like whenever we are about to go into a tailspin, this team comes out and immediately turns it around with a big win(s). I am not sure what this means but it definitely is a good thing.

    Gorditadog January 10, 2011 at 5:42 am #

    Thomas played a great game against Boston. He really did a good job clogging the lane. Boston has a play they like where Allen comes off a screen on the left side, runs through the lane to get another screen on the right side, and then gets a pass into the right corner for an open shot. But whenever Allen ran through the lane to get to the second screen, Thomas would get in his way and slow him down, giving Brewer time to get back in his face.

    chitown4life January 10, 2011 at 7:04 am #

    Great game bulls no bad things to say you, did not suprise me but yet just , was not feeling the loss to the Nets left bad taste in my mouth , either way do me a favor if you lose any games this week Beat I will say it again,Beat the Miami Garbage showboating Heat send them a big message that they are who I thought they were nothing to get excited about less yr into south beach….Go Bulls

    BigUpsTo#15 January 10, 2011 at 11:12 am #


    I have been trying to analyze every which way why Bogans is not just a starter for a seemingly title contender but why he is still in the league.

    1) I get that he gives it his all on D, but his all isn’t enough. Ronnie is younger, longer, faster, stronger and can also score.

    2) Veteran leadership maybe? No. Rose is the leader, Noah is the fire, and Big Booz is the Veteran presence.

    3) Decent Shooter? No. 36% FG and 29% 3PT… Korver shoots that with his eyes closed.

    First and foremost I would want the Bulls to win the championship, secondly for Rose to win MVP, finally for Thibs to win Coach of the Year*

    *Though no matter what happens, Thibs should not win the award if he keeps Bogans at the starting 2 the rest of the season; even if they win the championship. Because if they win the Championship it’ll be because of Rose, Noah, and Booz all while having to endure this moronic decision, which is holding them back, to start Bogans.

    I value your opinion/analysis on basketball very much; am I simply missing something and Bogans should be starting? What are your thoughts on the matter?

    andre January 10, 2011 at 1:02 pm #

    over on boston’s espn website they’re convinced that the bulls didnt beat them the celtics beat them selves how do you explain the bulls 21 T.O in a win how do you explain rose getting to the free throw line 19 times how do you explain glen davis gettting schooled by boozer cant give anybody credit cant reconize that there time is over our time is now. rondo cant be a starter you people in NYC are supposed to hate boston you vote rose we’ll vote gallinari and stoudemire.

    andre January 10, 2011 at 1:07 pm #

    OMG the bulls beat themselves!? does that count as a win or lost? if you think the bulls can get to the second round conference finals or nba finals put -sr -cr or -nba fin at the end of your comment.

    Tony C. January 10, 2011 at 2:32 pm #

    BigUpsTo#15 –

    Early on, I had no problem with Bogans starting. I thought that his defense was solid, and figured that he would improve his 3pt shooting (based on career averages). That has not happened, though, and so like everyone else now, I am perplexed as to why he continues to start. However, I will add a few points which are rarely mentioned in this discussion.

    First, he is a solid system defender, gets through/around picks fairly well, rarely leaves his feet and gets caught with resulting fouls, and does not make many mistakes. Secondly, Brewer has improved markedly in recent weeks, so the contrast between the two is much greater now. Third, Brewer has been playing more minutes than Bogans all along, and that disparity is increasing. Fourth, and most importantly, no one mentions how moving Brewer to the starting position might adversely impact the second team.

    Brewer is obviously a much better all-around player than Bogans. So it does make sense for him to be starting, or at least playing far more minutes than Bogans. But a switch would obviously leave a hole in the Bulls second team, so I am not as certain as most that it would help considerably.

    If the Bulls were able to make a good trade, then I’d be all for sending Bogans to the end of the bench. And I would like to see Brewer start, to at least learn how it might impact the team’s overall performance. But what I would still argue to the (many) fans who are clamoring for Bogans’ head, is that his roughly 18mpg are not the only problem that the team faces, and arguably not even the biggest (I believe that the Bulls have lost more games as a direct result of poor free-throw shooting, for example).

    Thibs is obviously a bit obstinate, and it will be interesting to see what happens.

  10. Inception January 10, 2011 at 3:29 pm #

    CHI has to improve their play on the road….a 2nd round exit is inevitable if they keep this up…

    your friendly BullsBlogger January 10, 2011 at 4:04 pm #

    Tony, you seem to worry A LOT about what other fans think, or any kind of consensus they may build. Usually, when “nobody else talks about” something, it’s because 1) you’re using hyperbole and people do talk about it 2) they’re dumb points so nobody talks about it for a reason

    You don’t want Bogans to start, and nobody else does. Not much else needs to be said: He stinks.

    If the Bulls make a trade without at least trying out a new starting lineup (and forget how the ‘units’ are affected, the key is getting Bogans from 18mpg to 0-ish), I think that’s a pretty big organizational error. We won’t know how bad the SG problem is until something else is tried.

    Tony C. January 10, 2011 at 4:20 pm #

    Actually, I don’t “worry” at all about what other fans think. I do, however, find it interesting when fans over-emphasize one obvious factor while paying little or no attention to others, and believe that it is useful to point it out.

    So, given your assertion above, which is it in this case? Am I being, or have I ever been hyperbolic about the second-team question (if Brewer were to start), or the free-throw issue? And if not, then are the points that I make “dumb”?

    And if the answer to those two questions are “no”, which is rather obviously the case, then why, exactly, did you bring them up?

    Finally, your last sentence suggests that in spite of your blog being littered with Bogans vitriol day after day, you yourself are not even sure that his starting is a big problem?. Is that true?

    your friendly BullsBlogger January 10, 2011 at 5:03 pm #

    You’re being hyperbolic when saying ‘nobody ever talks about this BUT I DO’

    It is talked about, and as you admit it’s less obvious, so therefore it is talked about less.

    The Bogans ‘problem’ isn’t so much significant as it is easily noticed and correctable (compared to bigger problems), which is why you more unsettling feelings than you likely should when reading all that nasty talk. Now that was me worrying about you.

    Matt McHale January 10, 2011 at 5:08 pm #

    First off, sorry about the title gaffe, everybody. Apparently, I picked the wrong week to stop sniffing glue.

    Second, to BigUpsTo#15, no you aren’t missing anything. I can think of absolutely no reason that Bogans should be starting, unless Thibodeau made some kind of deal with the Devil that requires him to leave Keith in the starting lineup.

    Bogans “earned” the starting job by shooting reasonably well during the preseason (10-for-20 on threes, including a 3-for-3 game followed by a 3-for-4 game). I think Thibs had already decided Korver wasn’t going to start because of his defensive issues and Brewer had a rough start because he was coming back from an injury.

    Furthermore, I think Thibs feels he needs another three-point shooter in the starting lineup. Korver can’t D up and Brewer doesn’t shoot ’em (only 2-for-7 on the season).

    But enough is enough. Bogans is terrible and the team is regularly outscored when he’s in the game. He’s hitting 29 percent on threes and opposing defenders don’t even bother to guard him anymore.

    your friendly BullsBlogger January 10, 2011 at 5:31 pm #

    One clarification to Tony C.: I answered the question about what was ‘hyperbolic’, but neglected to say the point about the second team is dumb.

    Bogans wouldn’t move to the 2nd team, he’d move completely out of the rotation. Brewer, Korver, and Watson can all play more minutes. The concern is how to optimize the team, not optimize the bad players by playing them with the starters. Maybe we wouldn’t have a hockey-esque ‘second line’ to start the 2nd quarter, but that’s not so bad either.

    Tony C. January 10, 2011 at 5:41 pm #

    Given that the ratio of Bogans-bashing posts on your blog to those in which my other points are addressed is probably over 100/1, I’d say that it’s a serious stretch to call me hyperbolic.

    With regards to the second team, I agree that others could play more minutes, but of course that doesn’t insure that it will be as effective as it has been with Brewer. Also, as Matt and others have alluded to, Brewer is probably even less of a 3pt threat than Bogans. And that is, at least on paper, far from ideal, given that it would leave Deng as the only serious threat when Rose drives and kicks.

  17. TBF January 10, 2011 at 5:42 pm #

    The fact that James Johnson can’t get a couple minutes per game while Deng plays 40+ every night and the fact that Bogans continues to start and doesn’t spend the games as a cheerleader like Scal is distressing. I mean, yeah, Thibs is a new coach and all, but anyone who’s been watching the games has seen that Bogans is worthless 2 months ago.

    Anyone else thing that Deng just looks tired and beat up recent? I mean, the man’s playing 40 minutes a night if that doesn’t wear on you you must be made of steel. The 40 against Toronto when the game was well in hand was particularly egregious. I just hope that Thibs isn’t suddenly forced to play JJ all night because Deng goes down with an injury after playing outrageous minutes all season. Only Rudy Gay, Monta Elis and Kevin Durant are playing more minutes.

    But if he does, no doubt everyone will blame Deng and not the shoddy coaching choice of having him go 40 minutes per, even in blow-out wins.

  18. TBF January 10, 2011 at 5:46 pm #

    Dude, Tony C. have you seen Bogans shoot the 3 lately? He doesn’t spread defenses at all. They don’t even bother to guard him anymore. That’s why he can’t throw it into the post for Boozer; his man can just sag off of him cause he knows Bogans can’t shoot. Think about it; if I have a 3 out of 4 chance that someone will miss a wide-open 3, I’m not guarding him. No way. He’s not a 3 point option; he’s trash and wouldn’t start or play meaningful minutes on any team in the league. He needs to be gone yesterday.

    Tony C. January 10, 2011 at 5:52 pm #

    To be clear, when I say “posts”, I am referring to comments as well.

    Tony C. January 10, 2011 at 7:45 pm #

    TBF –

    I fully appreciate that Bogan has sucked at shooting threes. My point above was simply that Brewer does nothing to upgrade that important variable on the starting five.

    Gorditadog January 10, 2011 at 7:46 pm #

    Bogans has always been limited offensively, it’s no great revelation that he can’t shoot. If I had my own blog I think I would want to say something more insightful about his role than “he stinks”. Looking at his stats I see that although he has never averaged in double figures, he has started 263 games in his career, for five different teams. So is his stinkiness something recent, or are Tibs and four other NBA coaches aroma-challenged?

    chitown4life January 10, 2011 at 8:02 pm #

    For the Thibbs lovers which I am not sold on yet as him being our coach he is gonna do as he wants to do, ala benching boozer so we can complain but does not mean he will listen, just know this if this team does not go far in the playoffs it will not be only because of the way the players played, out coach shows he is lacking in some area’s so best just try to deal with him while he is here .A trade is what we need but i don’t think its coming plain and simple….

    Tony C. January 10, 2011 at 8:14 pm #

    the odd things about Bogans is that he was a fairly good offensive player in college. What drives me nuts is that he so obviously doesn’t want to shoot (except the open threes), that it does, as mentioned above, allow defensive players to basically ignore him.

    BFD January 10, 2011 at 8:50 pm #

    I think we keep banging the “Bogans Sucks” drum because the other issues you bring up are hard for the fans to understand or fix. I don’t have any idea how to improve the team’s FT%. Neither does Coach Thibbs, the players, or anybody else I’ve heard or read on any website. The Bulls defense has been suspect lately, but that coincides with Noah going down. Short of getting Mr Miyagi to come in and magically heal Joakim’s thumb, there isn’t much we can do to help that other than hope the rest of the guys can pick up their intensity.

    The Bogan’s Issue though is glaring. I laughed when I saw Kobe Bryant ‘guarding’ Keith by standing in the post and staring at D. Rose.

    Savage January 10, 2011 at 8:54 pm #

    I am not a huge Bogans fan by any stretch but I have a hard time seeing why it is of so much focus and emphasis by many. He has played a meager 14.6 minutes on average in the last 5 games. Starting or not does it really mater when he is only playing nominal minutes? I really don’t think so. If we need a body in that can hit the 3 with the other starter I would personally try putting Korver in there and see how it works out. Brewer is in my opinion our best SG but cant hit the three and we do need some spark off the bench so I can see him retaining his roll. However, like I mentioned before with Bogans getting only nominal minutes I don’t see what all the fuss is about.

    BFD January 10, 2011 at 8:55 pm #

    TBF – I TOTALLY agree with you about Deng. This is the guy who the past 3 seasons has been known for his fragility. Now he is top 5 in the league for MPG.

    Gorditadog January 10, 2011 at 9:39 pm #

    By the way, those other brain-dead coaches who started Bogans include Doc Rivers, Bernie Bickerstaff, Brian Hill, Jeff Van Gundy, Stan Van Gundy and Gregg Popovich. It is amazing that those idiots have won 239 playoff games and made 9 NBA Finals appearances between them. They are so obviously clueless about someone who shouldn’t even be in the league.

    Tony C. January 10, 2011 at 10:32 pm #

    Gorditadog –

    Yes, I was tempted to point out something similar. It’s not that Thibs (or any coach) doesn’t make mistakes, but this is not, in my view, the same as, for example, putting Lucas in cold to shoot (and miss) those free throws.

    It would be very interesting to hear Thibs give a candid explanation of why he prefers to stick with the same starting lineup. I suspect that it has something to do with emphasizing a cohesive defense unit against the best of the opposition, given that the Bulls tend to find ways to win (offensively) when their defense is strong. And while Brewer is a more dynamic defensive player than Bogans, Perhaps Thibs wants his energy off of the bench.

    In any case, if the team can and does improve with a lineup shake-up or new acquisition this season, it will be fun to watch, as they’ve done pretty well in spite of the lack of offense at the SG position.

    Tony C. January 10, 2011 at 10:33 pm #

    Savage –

    Agreed. Minutes played is far more important than who starts.

    Gorditadog January 11, 2011 at 1:08 am #

    Tony C.-

    I’m with you on the Lucas thing. The kid had a real good summer in the Las Vegas league, but he was obviously nervous jumping into a 1-point game with a minute left. Tibs shouldn’t have put him in that position when he had other options.

    As far as Bogans, could be Tibs wants to wait to see if he gets his shot back, or maybe he just doesn’t want to make a change until after the trading deadline. There’s no sense making a shake-up now if the personnel is going to change in three weeks.


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