Game 38 Recap: Bobcats 96, Bulls 91

“We’ve got to do a better job of being a 48-minute team.”

That was what Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said after his team beat the Celtics last Saturday night. In fact, it’s a variation of what he’s been saying all season. And it was like some kind of dark prophesy, as the Pistons built a 12-point lead at the United Center on Monday night. The Bulls came back to win…but Thibodeau’s point had been made.

Not strongly enough apparently. For the second straight game, the Bulls surrendered 55 first half points to a sub-.500 team and found themselves down by double-digits. They once again came out strong after the break — outscoring the Bobcats 28-14 in the third quarter — but it wasn’t enough.

Bad starts are harder to overcome on the road.

How bad a start was it? The Bobcats, one of the league’s worst offensive squads, scored 36 points in the first quarter. Kwame Brown, one of draft history’s biggest busts, scored 10 of those points.

So many things seemed to go wrong last night. Derrick Rose finished with 17 points and 7 assists, but he shot poorly (5-for-17) and hit only three of his 12 layup attempts. His turnover with 28 seconds left — and the Bulls down only 92-89 — was crippling.

What’s more, Rose was outplayed by D.J. Augustine, who has 22 points, a career-high 12 assists, and only one turnover. Augustine also went 4-for-4 from the line in the final 23 seconds when the Bulls were forced to foul. He was good. He was clutch.

 Tyrus Thomas had a classic revenge game against his former team. Thomas finished with 17 points (7-f0r-14) and a season-high 13 rebounds off the Charlotte bench. Ty also made big plays down the stretch. He converted a layup “and 1” with 4:01 left in the fourth that put the Bobcats up 86-82. Then, 12 seconds later, he blocked a layup attempt by Rose. Finally, he hit a crazy reverse layup with 1:14 to go that gave Charlotte a 90-89 advantage after the Bulls had taken a one-point lead.

Said Thomas: “Half the people over there ain’t there no more, but it always feels good to beat your old team. I haven’t been playing the minutes I want to. But I’m in there when it counts so I have an opportunity to win games for us.”

He’s still inconsistent. That hasn’t changed. But he haunted the Bulls last night.

Still, if you want to talk inconsistency, you have to talk about the team based in Chicago. Their intensity is up and down. Or, rather, it’s down and up. Down to start the game, up in the second half, usually when they’re already behind.

Said Luol Deng: “Right now, we’re waiting until we’re down and then we’re picking up our intensity. We can’t do that. We got to come out and play with a lot of energy and play hard right away. We’re starting the games right now off sluggish and then we got to catch up.”

Added Boozer: “We can’t be one of those teams that has slow starts and rely on ourselves to come back. We got to be a team that puts in on them from the jump and goes that way. It’s something we’ve got to clean up and clean up fast before we get to Indiana.”

I think a big part of the problem is the continuing absence of Joakim Noah. Not only because he provides the foundation of Chicago’s interior defense — which was almost nonexistant in the first half — but Noah provides the spark when the Bulls are sluggish. He doesn’t just bring intensity, he is intensity.

What’s worse, it feels like the Bulls are playing 3-on-5 to start games. I’m sorry, but Keith Bogans and Kurt Thomas should not be starting in the NBA, much less for the Bulls. I can’t help but think that’s a big part of the reason the Bulls keep stumbling out to slow starts.

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

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22 Responses to Game 38 Recap: Bobcats 96, Bulls 91

    C-Lo_The_Great January 13, 2011 at 12:18 pm #

    Hey Thibs I’ve been noticing something at the start of the game, when Bogans is replaced with Brewer, the Bulls magically start playing better at almost every facet of the game. Maybe you should look into that. Should have never lost last night’s game.

  2. Inception January 13, 2011 at 2:01 pm #

    we’ll be lucky to get out of the 1st round with the way we’re playing on the road….CHI desperately needs to improve the SG position or at least make a change by inserting Brewer…i’m slowly losing confidence in this team…i’m kind of accepting the fact that they will be a 50+ win team with a POSSIBLE 1st round win in the playoffs this year….they’re not elite yet…next season i’m expecting big things from this team.

    Enigmatik January 13, 2011 at 2:23 pm #

    You called it, Matt. The way the Bulls play is beyond frustrating…how many times are people going to comment on the team’s lack of energy at various points during a game? It’s nice to know that when they get down big that they have the ability to come back, but how about they just play with energy at all times?

    The team has got to get more people chipping in. The Bulls usually have only 3 guys in double figures compared to 5 or more for other teams. I can live with the production of Kurt Thomas and his 9 points 7 rebounds last night…but remind me why the team has someone who averages 3 points a guy starting at the shooting guard position?

  4. Inception January 13, 2011 at 2:45 pm #

    @Enigmatik….remember, Noah is a double figure scorer…so i’m not too concerned about the other contributors in the starting lineup, with the the exception of the obvious one.

  5. TBF January 13, 2011 at 2:49 pm #

    Finally someone else pointing out that Kurt Thomas should not be starting for us. I guess you can live with his overall production of 9 and 7…but for long stretches of the game he looks totally over his head. Kwame Brown (Kwame Brown?? Really??) was made to look like Wilt Chamberlain out there in the first quarter. In one 20 second sequence, Kurt Thomas got a defensive 3 seconds, an off-the-ball foul, and then a technical after Kwame dunked it…again. I turned off the game at that point for a while, because I could feel my blood pressure rising. They just got lay-ups and dunks, one right after the other. Just terrible.

    What’s worse is that we’ve got the Heat coming in. If you think that the likes of Tyrus Thomas, Gerald Wallace and Kwame Brown are tough to handle, I can’t wait to see what we do with LBJ, Bosh and Wade. If we play our usual “0 intensity until we’re down 20” game, we’ll lose by 40 at least.

    J January 13, 2011 at 4:26 pm #

    As much as I dislike the heat, the bulls should take a look at dwade and lebron and their level of intensity.

    Paul January 13, 2011 at 4:40 pm #

    TBF and J — The Bulls have a history of playing down to the competition. The opposite is also true, though, especially at home. When Boston came to town, there was 48 minutes of effort. When Kobe and crew were here, we fell behind but then held them to 10 points in Q2.

    Also something not being noted much — DRose wasn’t 100% due to illness. If he can shake the cold, I expect he’ll be fired up and play like an MVP against the Heat.

    Savage January 13, 2011 at 6:47 pm #

    I’m sorry to say it but Rose got torched by Augustine. Augustine had 22 points 12 assists and ONLY 1 turnover. Rose helps win more games than loses but this one was not his best moment. Dominant teams do not play down to their competition so I guess we are not there just yet. Hopefully by the end of the season we can consistently win games we are expected to win. Last three loses are to 76ers, Nets, and Bobcats. I try to keep positive but that is as Barkley would say Turable!

  9. SteveL January 13, 2011 at 10:12 pm #

    I really hope that watching the Bulls’ playa against the 76ers and the Bobcats has been a wakeup call to make a move before the trade deadline. Rose has been amazing this year, but we need another legit starter to take some of the defensive pressure off of Rose. If the Bulls want any chance of competing with a team like Miami, they need to add at least 1 more playmaker to complement Rose.

    Idea 1 (OJ Mayo, Hasheem Thabeet):
    1. I love Gibson, but let’s be honest. Once his contract is up, he’ll want to play for a team where he can play 30-35mpg. We might as well try to get something for him while we can.
    2. Mayo is unhappy in Memphis and could help stretch the court in Chicago.
    3. Hasheem Thabeet has not been productive in Memphis, and we could probably ask to throw him in with Mayo. Imagine pairing Hasheem Thabeet with one of the greatest defensive coaches in the NBA (Thibs). Thibs could develop Thabeet into an effective defensive presence in a couple years. When that happens, he could spell Noah since I feel that Noah (like most centers) should not play more than 35mpg before the playoffs.
    4. Acquiring Mayo and Thabeet would establish a young core of players that could develop alongside DRose for years.

    Idea 2 (Andre Iguodala):
    1. Andre Iguodala is the prototypical 6’6″ 2-3 that the Bulls are lacking. The Bulls need more athleticism if they want to compete with a team like Miami. While Boozer is a great addition, I would describe him as more strong than athletic. He plays 2-3inches shorter than he really is. Rose’s ability to create plays for other players would really complement Iguodala’s athleticism and ability to finish.
    2. Iguodala has shown that he is efficient and effective WHEN he plays alongside another talented guard (i.e. Iguodala was extremely efficient when playing alongside Iverson). Also, Iguodala is extremely efficient when the weight of an entire team is not on his shoulders every night. I believe his comfort zone is around 10 fg attempts per night.
    3. Rose and Iguodala had great chemistry during the Summer on Team USA

    Scottie Pimpin January 13, 2011 at 10:59 pm #

    did bulls not get the memo ? teams are not scared, they’re energized to play you. in a fight its usually smart to hit first, and bulls need to hit teams hard from the jump. no easy layups AT ALL, no falling in love with jumpshots if your not named kyle korver. maybe if your named, c.j. watson too

    these comebacks were cute at first, now its getting a little worrisome.

    Gorditadog January 14, 2011 at 12:02 am #

    OK we lost to the Bobcats. And we looked terrible. No we looked worse than terrible, we looked . . . average. But then Miami lost to the Clips. Boston lost at home this week to the Rockets. Good teams can have bad games.

    But I’ve got to agree with Scottie Pimpin, we are missing that defensive intensity, especially out of the gate. Our problem against Charlotte was less that we only scored 22, but more that we gave up 36. 36 points to the Bobcats in the first quarter!! How does that happen??!!

    Obviously we miss Noah. We miss his intensity, we miss his shot blocking, we miss his quickness to the ball in the lane. But I think it’s more than that, and let me tread carefully here.

    In the fourth quarter Diaw and Augustin ran the pick and roll against us better than Boozer and Rose did for us. And when your defense makes Diaw and DJ look like Mark West and CP3, you’ve got a problem.

    When Boozer first came back Noah covered for him on defense. With Noah out every missed step out, every missed rotation is more costly, because Joakim is not there to help. Boozer is also not much of a shot-blocker so he can’t make up for his lapses as well as other bigs.

    I am sure Boozer will improve, and when Noah comes back it will be less of an issue, but right now we are making a habit of letting teams, even bad teams, score on us at will early. Our biggest issue by far right now is up-front, out-of-the-gate, shut-them-down defense.

    BoppinBob January 14, 2011 at 4:46 am #

    I think the Bulls may be looking ahead to the Heat game. I am disappointed with the effort but like someone else mentioned the Heat lost to the Clippers, but so did the Bulls.

    chitown4life January 14, 2011 at 5:11 am #

    The Nba has alot of cleaning up to do the ref’s make calls that they should not make when it comes to our bulls also they don’t make calls they should make. This game has been tarnished since the one ref got caught it is more and more clear that cheating does and has been going on in our games in the NBA, the bulls might want to complain more and the league man stern might want to clen this up before the legacy of this game is lost and the only memeory will be is that it went sour and south fast……….

  14. Brian January 14, 2011 at 11:10 am #

    i’m as die hard of a chicago bulls fan as any, but chitown4life’s post is clear, unabashed, whining nut-huggery. it’s always easier to point to the referees, as opposed to looking internally, and saying “hey, the bulls are lacking defensive intensity.” or “maybe if chicago didn’t play down to the level of their opponents, they’d be in much better shape.”

    hell, i’d even go along with using noah and boozer’s injuries as excuses to why things occassionally don’t go the bulls’ way. but to point to the refs? a bit ridiculous.

    that being said, i cringe every time i see bogans and thomas in our starting lineup. they’re literally the two worst starters at their position. thomas is kind of a default starter, as we’re missing noah. but bogans? c’mon, thibs. as much as he’s been talked up, and as well as the bulls are doing, i can’t help but think he’s still got a lot to learn as a coach. starting bogans over brewer (and even korver), despite his poor shooting and lack of efficiency is mind-boggling.

    that being said, i’m sure he’s just stubborn, and sticking to his guns with the bogans decision. eventually, he’ll relent, and insert the much more athletic and talented brewer into the starting spot. at least, i hope so…

  15. Inception January 14, 2011 at 3:20 pm #

    @Gorditadog….bingo!…Boozer looks like a lost soul on defense without Noah there to cover his a**….he’s a great 20/10 machine, but defense is just not in Boozer’s DNA.

    Savage January 14, 2011 at 6:13 pm #

    I think blaming one player for lack of intensity on defense is silly and hides the team defense issues the Bulls are having from TOP to BOTTOM.

  17. TBF January 14, 2011 at 6:55 pm #

    Savage—> How so? A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Booze is not good defensively, we all know this. However, his 20 and 10 a night is enough on the offensive end to balance it out. It doesn’t help that Thomas and Bogans have been playing 0 defense lately. Add that to the fact that they contribute literally nothing offensively and to me that sounds like a good recipe for why we’re struggling to win right now.

  18. Inception January 14, 2011 at 6:57 pm #

    boozer’s defense is def an issue….thibs benched booz for an entire quarter, most likely based on defensive issues….thibs has already praised rose for his defensive improvement….i haven’t heard thibs praise boozer yet…unless i’m missing something…?

    Einstein January 14, 2011 at 7:55 pm #

    Question: What is it going to take for the front office to get serious about acquiring a shooting guard that can actually shoot?

    If we do not acquire one then we cannot be considered as serious title contenders.

    BoppinBob January 14, 2011 at 8:06 pm #

    I am concerned about the Indiana game, because I think the Bulls are pointing toward Miami on Saturday. They could lose to Indiana.

    Savage January 14, 2011 at 8:42 pm #

    @TBF If you think Boozer is the only problem on defense you are delusional. Breakdowns are occurring on the team level including Rose. That weakest link saying used here is weak in my opinion because if you have 5 weak links it matters not that one is weaker than the rest. They need to play better defense as a unit all of them must improve.

    inkybreath January 15, 2011 at 12:40 am #

    I know we should have beat Charlotte, but they have been playing better under Silas (of late). As well, Thomas was eagle-eyed once he got in the game.

    Hell, let’s not forget that Kurt Thomas is playing better than any of us had expected. So, what it would have looked like if he played to our expectations? Not so good. Asik has also progressed well (better than a lot of us expected, by the comments I have seen here.)

    There is no way we don’t see our deficiencies from Noah being out, over the long haul.

    (I thought the Bobcats did a really good job on Rose and no one else could pick us up.)

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