Insert Heat-related failure headline here

Arnold says: Duh Bulls vent up in flames against duh Heat!

Arnold says: "Duh Bulls vent up in flames against duh Heat!"

Allow me to briefly channel my inner Arnold Schwarzenegger: The Bulls couldn’t stand the Heat. The Heat made the Bulls sweat. The Bulls were burned by the Heat. The Heat fired the Bulls.

Okay, I think that’s out of my system.

So…why did the Bulls lose a hotly contested 95-87 decision in Miami? (Okay, that was the last one, I swear.) Several reasons. First and foremost, their shooting — just as it was against the Celtics and even in the season-opening win over the Spurs — was bad bordering on terrible. They missed 15 of their 29 layup attempts while hitting only 30 percent of their jump shots (18-for-59) and 16 percent of their threes (2-for-12). In Karate Kid Part III, Terry Silver told Danny Larusso that, “A man can’t stand, he can’t fight.” Well, by that logic, if a team can’t shoot, it can’t win.

But that wasn’t the only problem. After all, the game was close throughout and the Bulls even had an 83-82 lead with about three minutes left in the fourth. Only the Heat have a proven closer and the Bulls don’t. Dwyane Wade didn’t put up superduperstar numbers — 25 points, 8-for-19, 1 rebound, 3 assists, 4 turnovers — but he made plays when they mattered most. He took back the lead by hitting a tough baseline jumper with 2:57 left. He found Quentin Richardson for a triple with 1:40 left. And then he forced the defense to collapse and found Udonis Haslem for a 16-footer with 47 seconds left. That was pretty much the game.

As for the Bulls, here’s a summary of their offensive possessions after John Salmons canned a triple to give them that one-point lead late in the fourth: Luol Deng missed 21-foot jumper; Derrick Rose missed layup; Salmons missed layup (blocked by Joel Anthony); Kirk Hinrich missed 21-foot jumper; Derrick Rose missed jumper; Deng hit two free throws; Joakim Noah hit two free throws; Rose turnover; Deng missed layup; Salmons turnover.

So in crunch time, Chicago went 0-for-6 from the field, hit 4-for-4 from the line and committed 2 turnovers. That’s not going to cut it, not on the road against a probable playoff team. As Salmons put it: “”Down the stretch, close game, they made plays, we didn’t make plays. You’ve got to make plays down the stretch. That was the difference in the game.”

Pretty much, yeah.

All those down-the-stretch failures made the team’s lack of a go-to scorer glaringly apparent. Who was supposed to take over in the end game? Deng, who was the team’s best player on the night (26 points, 11-for-21, 8 rebounds)? Rose, who played poorly (8 points, 4-for-15, 5 assists, 2 turnovers) but is supposed to be the team’s franchise player? Salmons, who finally found his scoring touch (17 points, 7-for-14) but still couldn’t nail a three (1-for-5)?

Who knows? The Bulls sure didn’t. For Miami, everybody knew Wade was going to have the ball in his hands on every possession. For Chicago, Rose brought the ball up, but after that things got disjointed. Maybe that’s because, unlike Wade, Rose hasn’t developed a knack for creating offense out of nothing, both for himself and his teammates. If there’s anything holding Rose back in his bid to become the Bulls’ first All-Star in the post-Jordan era, it’s the fact that he’s not an elite playmaker. I want to say “yet,” but at times I wonder whether that’s just one of those “either he has it or he doesn’t” things.

It’s also worth noting that the Bulls were also (and once again) abused by an opposing big man. Haslem came off Miami’s bench to score 19 points (9-for-13), grab 11 rebounds and earn the game’s best plus-minus score (+15). Note also that he went 3-for-3 in the fourth quarter. The “burned by opposing big man” thing was an ongoing theme last season, and it’s happened twice in three games so far this season (Tim Duncan did it on opening night). Everybody on the Celtics burned the Bulls on Friday, so that doesn’t really count.

The incredible disappearing man:
Tyrus Thomas played only 21 minutes and finished with 4 points (1-for-4), 6 rebounds and 3 blocked shots. I guess Vinny didn’t think Ty was playing well enough to earn extra PT, but Thomas was one of only two Bulls to finish with a positive plus-minus score (+1). The other was Noah (also +1). Speaking of plus-minus…

The worst plus-minus score of the game goes to:
Derrick Rose, who was -11. That gives him a net plus-minus of -26 in the first three games.

Three-point shooting (or the lack there-off):
In their first three games, the Bulls have gone 7-for-43 (16 percent) from beyond the arc. Against the Heat, Salmons was the only starter to even attempt a triple (and, as mentioned, he went 1-for-5). Kirk Hinrich was 0-for-3, Jannero Pargo was 0-for-1 and Brad Miller was 1-for-3. You read that correctly: Brad Miller was the team’s best three-point marksman last night. That’s a bad omen.

Okay, okay, we all get it:
No clutch scoring, no three-point shooting. It’s safe to say that, at least in the early going, the Bulls are missing Ben Gordon. Badly.

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

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8 Responses to Insert Heat-related failure headline here

    Calogero November 2, 2009 at 1:31 pm #

    in addition to rose probably not being 100%, i think the horrible 3 point shooting has hampered him as well; it seemed to me every time he drove last night there were 2 or 3 guys ready to help on him because the heat knew they could collapse since nobody could hit a 3. i dont expect salmons and hinrich to continue to be this bad from deep, but until they pick it up, i think rose can expect to see more and more defenses clogging the lane on him.

    also, the heat did what i thought the spurs shouldve done when we wewnt small to end the game, and that is stay with their big lineup. deng isn’t good enough in isolations to take advantage of guys like haslem guarding him, and judging by how badly deng abused richardson in the post throughout the game, it seems like he’s figured out how to take advantage of smaller guys guarding him. but if teams dont fall into our trap of going small to match our going small, i dont really think playing deng at the 4 down the stretch is the solution. while tyrus was no great shakes last night, at least him crashing the offensive glass couldve created more 2nd chance opportunities, or at the very least forced the heat to only have 1 guy contesting with noah for boards instead of 3.

    Mahmoud November 2, 2009 at 2:14 pm #

    Guess who’s leading the Bulls in points right now. Yep, it’s Joakim Noah, averaging thirteen points a game. I’m all for balanced scoring, but when your leading scorer is an offensively challenged big man who shoots free throws like a tornado, then you’re in trouble.

    We’ve only played three games against three good teams ( which two were great) teams so far though,so maybe our offensive woes are a symptom of that instead.


    Greg November 2, 2009 at 5:09 pm #

    This is not a game about missing Ben Gordon. We got layups towards the end of the game and didn’t convert.

    For me, the most telling part of the post… Ty Thomas (6 boards in 21 minutes). With Thomas & Noah we control the boards. Miller & Gibson 7 rebounds combined in 42 minutes.

    Why for the love of god did Pargo get 6 4th quarter minutes instead of deng/salmons or Thomas.

    When is Pargo in the 4th ever a good idea. Simply, I put this loss on VDN and our absurd rotations.

    rocky November 2, 2009 at 7:25 pm #

    Ty Thomas is averaging 9ppg/6.7rpg/2bpg/1spg in only 23mpg…why is he not getting more minutes. He’s our starting power forward. If he was playing starting power forward minutes(35mpg)he’d be averaging close to 16ppg/10rpg/3-4bpg/2spg. I’m sorry but there is no reason he should be riding the pine. This is crap and vinnie better fix it.

    Chad November 2, 2009 at 9:50 pm #

    I hate Del Negro, why would he feel like the team was playing fine, they kept playing worse as the game got later. When they are playing worse, you are supposed to try a different player, put Tyrus in, couldn’t hurt anything. I know he was standing around some in the first half when he could have been trying for more rebounds, but he is still a lot better than Taj Gibson. Maybe I’d take Tyrus out if he shot like 6 jump shots and missed 5, but he shot no jump shots. Why are the only people who ever get to play at the end Rose, Hinrich, Noah, Miller, Salmons and Deng? Rose was 4-15, Hinrich 3-11, but they get to play at the end even though they are playing bad and not stopping Miami. If Thomas shot 3-11 he’d be benched the rest of the game, he was benched just because Del Negro don’t trust him to be smart, the talent of Tyrus could have won them the game.

    Kris November 2, 2009 at 11:16 pm #

    I actually thought this was a decent blog, but quite frankly, you have no basketball IQ whatsoever. Since
    I have a headache right now, I’m just gonna throw a few bullets to contemplate about.

    -Road games have never been the Bulls’ strong suit.
    -The team is simply not clicking, and are in a ‘mini-slump’.
    -Rose didn’t play the whole preseason. Get off his back.
    -Salmons is shooting well again, what did I tell you? (3 point shot will be back soon, guaranteed.)
    -You can’t point the finger at one person, and I can guarantee that if the Bulls had BG in, he would have tore up the team’s game plan even more than it already was, as well as taking a hot dump on the Bulls’ attempt at defense, thus resulting in an increase in points for the Heat.
    -Judging by my view of the game, it was pretty damn obvious that the Bulls were just out-of-sync. Consistent players that hit shots before are not hitting them now. Does that mean that they are all Larry Hughes’s? Don’t bet on it. All I can say, is though it is a rough start, the Bulls WILL still grab the 4/5 seed. Without a doubt in my mind. Don’t call it optimism. Take it from someone who actually KNOWS the game of basketball, and doesn’t just look at everything face-value.

    Matt McHale November 3, 2009 at 1:09 am #

    Kris — Are you sure it’s just the headache? Or did you also not get a hug today? Because you’re being a real gumpy pants. Nonetheless, I’ll respond to your points, such as they are:

    1. Road games aren’t the Bulls strong suit, huh? Why is that, do you think? I guess from now on I’ll just excuse any and every road loss because, hey, playing on the road just isn’t the Bulls’ thing.

    2. The team is not clicking and is in a slump. Ooookay? That’s also known as not playing well, and I’m pretty sure we’re in agreement there.

    3. I’m not on Rose’s back. The fact is, he is the team’s franchise player, the man the team is being built around. And there’s a lof of responsibility that goes along with that. Rose needs to take the reins and establish the Bulls as his team, especially in this new post-Gordon era. That has to happen. Part of doing that is, like I argued, developing the ability to create offense for his teammates in pressure situations. This isn’t a new thing, not a “he didn’t play in the preseason” thing. These were issues last season and they still are. They will remain issues until they are solved.

    4. What did you tell me? A better question is, what did I tell everybody? I wrote a huge post about how I believe in Salmons before the season even started, but stated (correctly) that his early season shooting woes were probably making Bulls fans nervous.

    5. When did I point the finger at one person? No win or loss is ever the fault of one person. I stated that, as a team, the Bulls are suffering from a lack of a go-to guy, that person having not yet been established in the post-Gordon era. Do you feel otherwise? Also, the whole “BG would have given up more points than he scored” is a tired argument that, no offense, shows an alarming lack of basketball IQ (and research) on your part. Do yourself a favor and check out some time. The record shows that the team’s SG in the Gordon era regularly outperformed opposing SGs. That’s shown in hard data, and unless you have harder data to refute that — and I’m not talking about this or that game in which Ben was outscored — then your argument is faulty.

    6. Frankly, you aren’t proving your basketball IQ by stating the Bulls are out-of-sync. My grandma could take a look at one box score and tell you that. I’m more concerned about why they’re struggling and how to fix it.

    Kris November 3, 2009 at 11:32 pm #

    I’m not saying it’s acceptable to lose road games, I’m saying it’s a expected, and should not change a TON when it comes to decent to upper echelon teams.

    I said a mini-slump, meaning not playing well for a few games, since it is the start of the season, and some preseason woes are peeking their ugly heads in.

    I agree how he should be taking the reins more assertively, but like most of the rest of the Bulls at the moment, he’s not playing too well and is still a little iffy. People don’t realize it’s only his second year in the league, and things like this are bound to happen, franchise player or not.

    From what I remember, (Correct me if I’m wrong, since I don’t feel like going back to it) you didn’t mention just worries for the Bulls fans, but you yourself getting worried about this whole season. Ben Gordon was a hit-or-miss player, and John Salmons is way more reliable and consistent, and has almost as good of a scoring touch.

    Cool. Are you Rick Kamla, cause you seem to have as good of a basketball philosophy as him (If you don’t know about Rick Kamla from NBA TV, he’s a hardcore stats guru, and that’s pretty much all he pays attention to, and is proven wrong about is predictions 99.9% of the time). Stats matter to an extent, but game-plan execution, chemistry, and all the intangibles that don’t show up on the stat sheet are much more important (While this is somewhat opinionated, I’ve seen enough for it to be reliable for me). You can’t just look at stats, you have to read people, understand the game, use common sense, and just watch the game, period.

    I personally just think it’s a bad streak, and they’ll break out of it either in tonight’s game against the Bucks, or in the next week or so. It definitely does not look long term.

    I apologize for coming off strong to begin with, was in a bad mood.

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