Okay, fine, I get that Derrick Rose (foot) and Luol Deng (ribs) were out with injuries. And it was the second night of back-to-back games. But the Bulls were at home against a Washington squad that arrived in Chicago with only 14 wins on the season and a miserable road record of 6-24.
Instead of rising to the (minimal) challenge, the Bulls played their worst game of the year.
Bad shooting? Check (38.1 percent).
Off the mark on threes? Check (4-for-14).
Unable to establish a transition game? Check (2 fast break points).
In addition to bad transition defense? Check (the Wizards had 20 fast break points).
Sloppy with the ball? Check (17 turnovers for 27 points going the other way).
Pushed around in the paint? Check (the Bulls went 8-for-19 at the rim and got outscored 48-22 in the paint).
Inability to close? Check (the Bulls opened the fourth quarter with a 65-57 lead then got outscored 30-21).
Forget anemic scoring. The Bulls don’t give up 30 points in the last 12 minutes of basketball games. And certainly not against moribund teams like the Wizards. And Kevin Seraphin — who averages 7.4 ppg and 4.8 rpg — blitzed Chicago for 21 points, 13 rebounds and 5 blocked shots.
During that fourth quarter collapse, the Bulls were victimized by guys like Maurice Evans, Brian Cook and Shelvin Mack. Otherwise known as “Who?”, “Who?” and “Who?”
Inexcusable. Unacceptable. Especially for a team with championship aspirations.
The Bulls still had a chance to tie the game in the final seconds — James Singleton blocked Rip Hamilton’s three-point attempt then C.J. Watson and John Lucas finished the game with some hopeless misses — but they played like garbage and deserved to lose.
Said Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau: ”We were putting them in the open court with 17 turnovers and they got 27 points. We beat ourselves.”
Added Hamilton: ”The game wasn’t lost at the last possession. We got to do a better job during the game when we’ve got a team down. We had a lead by 10, we’ve got to put them away. It’s not just tonight, it’s been happening the last couple of games, so we just got to get better at it.”
Speaking of Rip, he was one of the few bright spots for the Bulls, finally breaking the 20-minute barrier (34 minutes) and leading the team in scoring (22 points). He also added 5 rebounds and 5 assists, and he compiled a team-best plus-minus score of +11.
But that was pretty much the extent of the silver lining.
Hopefully, the Bulls can shake off the slop in time for their back-to-back games on Wednesday and Thursday. I’m not worried about the Bobcats — who are on target to potentially finish with the worst win-loss percentage in league history — but the game in Miami on Thursday could be brutal. Don’t think the Heat won’t be looking for revenge after what happened in Chicago last week.