Game 50 Recap: Blazers 109, Bulls 103

The Portland Trail Blazers scored 109 points on 51.5 percent shooting.

They accumulated an Effective Field Goal Percentage of 52.9 percent and an Offensive Rating of 125.4.

They outscored the Bulls 18-4 on the fast break.

They shot 40 free throws to 68 field goal attempts, giving them a mind-boggling Free Throws Per Field Goal Attempt percentage of 54.4.

And, of course, LaMarcus Aldridge scored a career-high 42 points on 15-for-23 from the field and 12-for-14 from the charity stripe.

Said Aldridge: “It was fun.”

I have no doubt the Blazers had fun. The Bulls? Not so much.

Aldridge wasn’t the only player to haunt the Bulls. Andre Miller had a mega-game, with 27 points (7-for-11, 13-for-13 from the line), 11 assists, 6 rebounds, 4 steals and a blocked shot. Then Rudy Fernandez came off the bench to score 18 points on only nine shots.

Said coach Tom Thibodeau: “Every aspect of the defense was missing. Again, this is two games in a row we put ourselves in a bad position because we’re not guarding. [Andre] Miller got whatever he wanted. Aldridge got basically got whatever he wanted. [Rudy] Fernandez came in … we weren’t able to take anything away from him, so it was an easy game for them offensively. Then you’re playing with fire and you’re trying to outscore them and that’s not our game. We can’t win like that. We can’t win on the road like that.”

Added Derrick Rose: “I think our offense is there, but defensively we’re terrible right now.”

Rose should know. He was one of the primary culprits on that end. Just ask Nicolas Batum: “He’s a great offensive player, but he can’t play defense.”

You can hardly fault Batum for drawing that conclusion after this debacle. In fact, Portland fans might get a hearty chuckle if reminded that the Bulls lead the league in Defensive Rating at 100.0. Last night, Chicago looked like the league leader in gambles, reach-ins, blown assignments and missed covers. It was like Thibs asked Mike D’Antoni to stand in for him for the night.

So…what’s the fix?

Said Thibodeau: “We have to get back to playing defense and there’s not one aspect of our defense we’re doing well right now. From defensive transition, to post defense, to pick-and-roll defense, to catch-and-shoot defense. Once we correct that, then we’ll give ourselves a chance to win, but we’re not going to win trying to outscore people, I know that.”

Added Deng: “It happens. We know what the problem is. We got to fix it and we’ve got guys that are going to play hard. It definitely hurts when you lose, especially [because] we didn’t play our best, but we’re going to bounce right back. It’s still a long season. It’s two games. But we just got to end it as soon as possible.”

On that subject, when does Joakim Noah come back, again?

I’m not saying Noah would have been thesolution. But games like this serve as a reminder that Joakim was the foundation of the team’s defense. The big man in the middle who helped clean up everybody else’s mistakes. It was also a reminder that Kurt Thomas, who really has been an excellent stand-in, is a 38-year-old man who probably wouldn’t be starting for any other team under very many circumstances. Big Sexy finished with only 2 points (1-for-4) in 22 minutes of relative inaction.

Of course, that was 2 more points than Keith Bogans scored in his 21 minutes. But I’m not going there right now.

Gaping holes in a team’s lineup are easier to cover up in home games. The Bulls spent most of January in the welcoming confines of the United Center. Only two games in and this road trip has exposed how much the Bulls need not only Noah’s defensive prowess but his energy and will to win…the intangibles being nearly as important, if not more so, than the tangibles.

This is grind time. Historically, players tend to lose focus a little bit before the All-Star game, especially on the road. A little less energy. A tad less urgency. Which isn’t to say the team didn’t play hard. Not at all. But last night’s Bulls team was not the same squad that held opponents to 87.9 PPG last month. Not remotely.

Defense is more about desire than sheer talent. When the Bulls want it, they can shut people down. It looked like they were trying to live off their reputation and win-loss record last night.

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

15 Responses to Game 50 Recap: Blazers 109, Bulls 103

    Wes R February 8, 2011 at 12:44 pm #

    I’m not quite sure if Deng’s early foul trouble was an ominous sign of things to come, or part of the reason the defense looked so compromised. Very rare for Deng not to play his usual 11-13 minute stint before Korver is brought in. Brewer was brought in a little earlier than normal, and missed a breakaway dunk that seemed to once again shift momentum. I don’t like seeing them lose games like this…not like this.

  2. Inception February 8, 2011 at 1:47 pm #

    Noah on Aldridge – 42 pts? …no chance….this is a game you know CHI would’ve had with Noah in there.

    BoppinBob February 8, 2011 at 2:25 pm #

    The kind of defense that the Bulls play requires high intensity, unfortunately that can not be sustained every game of the 82 game season. These last two loses are the result of that lack of intensity.

    I am wondering what the thinking is with JJ’s trip to the D-league. Are the Bulls getting him into game shape to reduce Deng’s PT or are they getting ready to feature him prior to the trading deadline? Based on what Gar said he should rejoin the Bulls for the Charlotte game.

    Haven’t heard anything positive or negative about Noah’s rehab. Will he be back for Charlotte also or will the Bulls wait for Toronto on the 23rd?

  4. Inception February 8, 2011 at 3:02 pm #

    @BoppinBob….it’s been positive news so far for Noah’s rehab…doing drills with no pain…he’s on schedule.

    let the countdown begin…..btw, Rudy looked good last night…just saying.

    Wes R February 8, 2011 at 4:36 pm #

    Nothing new on the Noah front. Where are people getting the Charlotte rumor from? The earliest that I’ve heard/read is after the All-Star game against Toronto. No need to hit the panic button and bring him back any sooner. There’s still a lot of basketball left to play.

    Paul February 8, 2011 at 6:02 pm #

    Let’s go there on Bogans for a minute… This loss wasn’t about him, but he certainly didn’t help. No player can possible create less value per minute. His PER is second lowest among SGs in the league. He’s barely above Scalabrine for the worst on the Bulls. Basketball Prospectus even created a new stat to try and justify his role… and found him to be the worst on the team!

    Given the way that teams are gang defending Rose and clogging the paint on Boozer, I’d even like to see Korver starting when there isn’t a killer 2 to defend (like last night). How many dominant 2s do we have to deal with wher he’d be such a liability? He’s got to be a huge upgrade over Bogans…

    I am loving this team, and have been OK with Thibs. But Bogans is driving me NUTS.

  7. ak February 8, 2011 at 6:38 pm #

    Lma wouldn’t have scored on Noah. Come on bulls fan your better than that. LMA put 33 on noah earlier this year, averaged 28ppg against them last year. Also us blazer fans don’t wanna hear anything about injuries. Anyways the defensive intensity for both teams was severely lacking last night. That drive were rose dunked it was pretty pathetic. We half covered his crossover and he exploded the other way and nobody took more than a step towards him to stop it, but I’ll take the W over a solid bulls squad.

    Blake February 8, 2011 at 6:53 pm #

    Huh, Batum seems pretty ready to talk trash about Rose’s D considering he got torched by Luol Deng for 40 points last time we played them. I hope he gets traded to the Eastern Conference before the deadline so Rose can dunk in his face and expose him for the punk he is.

    Gorditadog February 8, 2011 at 8:46 pm #

    I didn’t get a chance to watch the game last night, but I saw that Portland shot 51% against us, and know when that happens we don’t win . In fact, when we hold teams to less than 45% from the field we are 31-4 this year; when we give up 45% or higher, we are 3-12. (When we allow 50% or higher we are 0-7.)

    It doesn’t seem to matter so much how well we shoot: when we are at or over 45% we are 19-7; under 45% we are 15-9.

    Also interesting- when we try to “outscore” a team- both teams shoot 45% or better- we are 2-6 (1-2 at home and 2-4 away).

    Said Thibodeau: “This is two games in a row where we put our selves in a bad position by not guarding anybody. Miller got whatever he wanted, Aldridge got whatever he wanted … we weren’t able to take anything away from them. It was an easy game for them offensively. You’re playing with fire, trying to outscore people. We can’t win like that.”

    BigUpsTo#15 February 8, 2011 at 9:31 pm #

    Good Old Batum trying to claim he didn’t say that…

    … and it’s funny that he seems to have forgotten when Deng dropped 40 points on him earlier this season while he put up 3 points. Batum can’t play O, can’t play D, can’t remember what he said a day after he said it; the dude just seems like a failure that shouldn’t be talking trash about an MVP candidate.

    This whole thing just reminds me of when Deshawn Stevenson was trying to trash talk to LeBron a few years ago… a scrub saying something bold about a star to get their 15 minutes

  11. TBF February 8, 2011 at 10:23 pm #

    Well, you hit the nail on the head. Lets look at what Big Sexy and Bogans gave us. A combined 43 minutes, 2 points, 4 boards and an assist. That’s combined. A player doing that wouldn’t be on the team if those were his numbers all by himself, let alone teamed up with someone. And when those two people are your starters…well, there ya go. That’s why we lost.

    We need some kind of shooter at SG in the starting 5. Teams have figured out that if you trap Derrick with a double at the time line, he has trouble getting it to anyone. They know that Bogans is good for *AT MOST* one or two baskets a game. So the trap, no one can shoot so Rose has to try to get it down low from 30 feet away and it leads to turnovers. Witness the fact that he’s had like what, 11 of them in the last 2 games?

    Korver’s got his shot working real well right now. He’s a legit threat where Bogans totally is not. There’s no reason on earth Korver shouldn’t start if we’re not playing an elite 2 guard.

    Bogans is like a friggin’ black hole of stats. I’ve been watching Bulls basketball for years now and I’ve never seen anyone contribute less of anything to the game. He doesn’t score, rebound, get assists or even pick up any fouls. He’s like a freakin’ ghost out there.

    BFD February 8, 2011 at 10:46 pm #

    Keith Bogans is the Dickey Simpkins of the Decade. Everybody knows he shouldn’t be out there, the fans hate him (except a few defenders) while management (in this case, Tommie Thibbs) sticks up for him purely to cover there own ass..essment of him. I for one, will be ecstatic to see him go.

    inkybreath February 9, 2011 at 12:35 am #

    I am moving more and more toward the idea of Korver starting over certain games. It is basically that I want him to be able to get as early a feel as possible for his shot. This is something we need now, while Noah is still on the mend. Our spacing has not been so good, of late and Rose has had to really bully himself through the lane. We need to make some easier paths for him ….

    Scottie Pimpin' February 9, 2011 at 1:19 am #

    we talkin bout free throws, not dunks, not 3 pointers, free throws man, we talking about free throws, not layups not floaters, free throws. that and crappy defense killd the bulls twice now.

    hey when the offense is stagnant like that , you post up the booz man. gotta give it to the 260 pound polar bear down low and let him work man. hes ur best shooter not named kyle korver.


    West Aussie Bulls Fan February 9, 2011 at 4:49 am #

    I think the Portland fan ak is actually Mark Jackson or at least is channeling him via ouija board.

    “Your better than that”

    If he starts banging on about Kobe we’ll know it definately is.

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