More roadkill: 76ers 106, Bulls 103 (OT)

When Chicago lost at home to the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday night, I noted that as Derrick Rose goes, so go the Bulls. Rose didn’t play particularly well against the Clips (7-for-20, 4 turnovers), and the Bulls lost. And while that’s something of an oversimplification, his performance is a pretty good measure of how the team performs as a whole.

Well, Rose had a fantastic game last night against the Sixers: 30 points (10-for-22 from the field, 9-for-10 from the line), 4 rebounds, 9 assists. His scoring and assist totals were both game highs. He scored 13 of his 30 points in the fourth quarter and overtime. And yet the Bulls lost their second consecutive game to a sub-.500 team…which in fact dropped them back below .500 in the process. So what happened?

Defense. Or rather the lack thereof.

Again, I don’t mean to oversimplify things here. However, Philly typically connects on about 45 percent of their field goals (20th in the league), and their average Effective Field Goal Percentage (eFG%) is 48.6 (23rd in the league). Meanwhile, the Bulls usually hold their opponents to 43.6 percent shooting (3rd in the league) and an eFG% of 48.0 (6th in the league). So, all things being equal, Chicago should have shut the the Sixers down. With authoritah.

But they did not.

Philadelphia connected on 52.3 percent of their shots and finished with an eFG% of 55.2. Not only did those numbers exceed what the Sixers normally do and far surpass how Bulls opponents perform on average, they’re also significantly above what the league’s best team do on a nightly basis. The Utah Jazz currently lead the league in FGP (49.2) and the Phoenix Suns are tops in eFG% (54.1).

It was a classic defensive fail.

And mind you, the Sixers missed 11 of their 16 three-point attempts (31 percent) and hit only 11 of thier 19 fouls shots (58 percent). But the Bulls — who usually hold their foes to 55.8 percent shooting around the basket (2nd in the league) — allowed Philly to connect on 15 of their 20 shots at the rim (75 percent). For comparison’s sake, the Cleveland Cavaliers lead the league in at-the-rim FGP at 66.8.

Tyrus Thomas and Joakim Noah rank 1st and 2nd on the Bulls in both Defensive Rating and Blocked Shot Percentage. And yet Noah (6 points, 8 rebounds) logged only 27 minutes while Thomas (12 points, 6 boards, 1 steal) played a mere 15. And mind you, this game included an overtime session. Neither player blocked a single shot. In fact, as a team, the Bulls finished with zero swats. Since neither man was in foul trouble — Joakim finished with 2 personals while Tyrus had only 1 — we have to assume Noah was limited by his plantar fasciitis and that Thomas remains outside of coach Vinny Del Negro’s circle of trust.

Meanwhile, Brad Miller played 33 minutes and contributed 8 points and 1 lonely rebound. I have no idea how a seven-footer could log that many minutes and yet finish with a single board.

I should also point out that Taj Gibson — who is 3rd on the Bulls in Defensive Rating but is also struggling with his own case of plantar fasciitis — played horribly (0-for-4, zero points, 1 rebound) and appeared for only 16 minutes.

At any rate, the Bulls lost this game on the defensive end, which isn’t terribly surprising considering their three best defensive players (by the numbers) spent most of the game on their butts or passing out Gatorade in the team huddles. It also at least partially explains why Chicago was so badly exploited by former Bull Elton Brand (26 points, 12-for-22, 9 rebounds, 3 blocked shots), Andre Iguodala (25 points, 11-for-19, 8 boards, 8 assists) and Samuel Dalembert (10 points, 13 rebounds, 3 blocks).

And did I mention the Bulls aren’t all that great on the second night of back-to-back games? It wasn’t just the limited PT for the big men. Everybody appeared to be a step slow. Let’s hope they get some rest — and that Joakim and Taj are feeling better — before Friday night’s game in Atlanta.

Timeout Tally:
Based on By The Horns reader Tony C.’s assessment that the Bulls typially fail after a timeout, I decided to start tracking the actual results on a game-by-game basis. Last night, Vinny called a total of nine timouts.

1st timeout: Thomas scored a layup (Rose assist)
2nd timeout: Luol Deng hit a 15-footer
3rd timeout: Deng nailed a three-pointer (Rose assist)
4th timeout: Brad Miller knocked down a jumper (Rose assist)
5th timeout: Rose missed a 5-footer
6th timeout: Rose missed a tough 18-footer at the end of regulation
7th timeout: Bulls commit a shot clock violation
8th timeout: John Salmons scored a layup (Miller assist)
9th timeout: Kirk Hinrich turned the ball over

So five of the timeouts resulted in a score, two were Rose misses (the second of which was a bit of a wash) and the other two resulted in costly turnovers in OT.

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

13 Responses to More roadkill: 76ers 106, Bulls 103 (OT)

    Dan February 4, 2010 at 2:26 pm #

    For the sake of Taj I hope he was hurting last night. Sitting three rows from the basket, you could see the Sixers just looking to throw the ball into Brand after the first couple of possessions. Gibson looked like he had no clue what to do once Brand caught the ball and he backed his in with ease. Plus, why did it take Vinny half of the first quarter and Brand to be in double digit points to realize he needed to make a switch on D? I’m not buying Noah’s lack on minutes due to the foot, he looked fine when he was out on the court and he was visibly upset when Vinny would toss him out for a defensive possession and then sub out for the offensive possession. Overall, a disheartening night to be a Bulls fan and the need for a legitimate big man has never been shown better.

    Tony C. February 4, 2010 at 2:28 pm #

    Keep tracking, Matt. Let’s see how it goes through a decent-sized sample. I’d do it as well, but don’t have access to some of the games.


    Tony C.

    brandon1 February 4, 2010 at 2:33 pm #

    You have to assume that both Taj and Noah are dealing with considerable pain as they have not looked great recently.

    Chad February 4, 2010 at 5:06 pm #

    Again, why didn’t Tyrus play more than 15 minutes. He was playing fine, I don’t understand. Coach don’t trust him, but they lost without him. Maybe if he were playing the final minutes the game wouldn’t have went overtime.

    the bigest bulls fan in Florida February 4, 2010 at 5:50 pm #

    i was thinking the same, vinny should of play Tryus on Andre Iguodala. Iguodala took some tuff shoot that i think tryus could of block. Also my bulls lost this game because of rebounding. Noah should of been in the game. the ball seems to find noah, even in the cluth.

    vinny needs more help on when to sub and keep the hot players in the game. in the 4th vinny should of played tryus, noah and miller for the bigs.

    Go Bulls.

  6. Ryan February 4, 2010 at 5:51 pm #

    I have enjoyed the recent bashing of Del Negro – right on time. I think that it is comical that when they beat New Orleans for the 5th straight, Del Negro said something like, ‘Players win games.’ The recent skid now leads to the next part of that saying, ‘Coaches lose games.’ I get this from all of the attacks on Vinny when they lose. I don’t know if I am biased to either quote, just a bit amused with the recent success and followed by drop in production. Just to add to recent Time out issues – I have noticed that many teams come out of a Bulls timeout (and other times in the game) playing the passing lane at the top of the key. I have also noticed a tendency for Vinny to run a play(s) that start with a pass to the top of key… small adjustment. The Clippers got at least 2-3 turnovers similar to this out of timeouts, and a few more in the flow of the game (wasn’t able to watch the 76ers game). Seems that it is time to start ‘burning’ these players playing the lanes – and this can be done by MOVING WITHOUT THE BALL.

    dolo February 4, 2010 at 8:53 pm #

    Freezing out Tyrus, particularly in the end of games, costs us victories… and further, I believe it’s what cost us the playoff series vs the Celtics (check Ty’s minutes in our losses). I’m beginning to appreciate VDN’s coaching alot more recently, but this Tyrus thing has arrived at REDICULOUS. Ty may make boneheaded mistakes at times, but they are becoming less frequent and, frankly… TYRUS is our “X” factor. We win games when we defend well, we block shots, get steals, rebound the ball, and run the floor. How many of those things is Brad Miller going to do? Joakim and Taj have their foot issues. This was Tyrus’ game to win or lose. Confidence is immensely important to winning. Coach is showing NO confidence in Tyrus and we lose games because of it.

    Boppinbob February 4, 2010 at 9:11 pm #

    What I am seeing is typical of a young team. They tend to focus better against strong teams and relax against weaker teams. How the Bulls do against the Hawks might support this premise. I remember the Jordan Bulls when Pippen and Grant were 1st and 2nd years players doing the same thing. There wasn’t much Phil Jackson could do about it and there won’t be much that Vinny can do about it. It is a learning and growing process. Let’s not panic and strat crying for someone’s head or trade valuable future assets before they can develop into the team they can be.

    Chad February 4, 2010 at 9:13 pm #

    Dolo you are exactly right. I am so mad at Del Negro. He had been playing Tyrus 20-25 minutes a game depending how he performed. Now he plays 15 minutes every game no matter what he does. Tyrus single handedly kept the Bulls from being blown out at the Clippers a couple weeks ago getting 18 points in 36 minutes. Imagine if he had gotten nearly that amount of playing time when they played the Clippers again and Philadelphia, coulda won both games, Bulls couldn’t have done worse. Must be benching him so he don’t get hurt while they are trying to trade him. Play the guys who are not hurt! Or Miller, Noah, and Gibson will stay hurt cause they don’t get enough rest and won’t perform at the level they are capable of.

  10. Bobby February 5, 2010 at 12:11 am #

    I’ll admit that the defense had some breakdowns last night but at the same time sometimes a player is just on. Other times a whole damn team is on and all you can do is close out hard and contest. To me, at the end of the game (in regulation) the Bulls were paying great defense and were all over Igoudala, Williams, and Green but every shot was going in for them. The Bulls didn’t play great but they didn’t play bad. The Sixers just had it goin when it counted. Going to the point of clear frustration for the Bulls. It was kind of ridiculous.

    luvabullnj February 5, 2010 at 1:52 am #

    Good observation and point BoppinBob. I have to disagree with you on this one Matt. I think the defense was fine in the first half except Taj was taken to school by Brand. In the second half defense dropped off a bit but it was the turnovers and offensive ineptitude that cost this game. The last two games the Bulls look like they have no clue on offense. They are not moving the ball at all and not moving with out the ball.

    Agree that the coaching staff needs to make better in game adjustments such as giving a player more minutes when he his hot and less when he’s cold. Brad got a lot of minutes because Taj was getting abused by Brand and Dalembert but Tyrus was having a good game and should have got those minutes.

    Deng appears to start the games hot but then the Bulls stop giving him the ball and he gets cold, really cold and starts missing from the outside in the second half of games.

    Iguadala put on a passing clinic last night. Rose should have been taking notes on how to set up team mates with passes. I’m begining to worry that Rose will become the second coming of Ben Gordon.

    I wondered why Ben Gordon never made the All-star roster and Rose has. So I looked back at the all-star rosters back to 2004 and the East was guard heavy in those years with Billups, Kidd, Hamilton, Carter, McGrady, Arenas, Ray Allen, Michael Redd and Baron Davis all playing at all-star during various years. This year the guard compitition in the East is very light. Stephan Jackson (split time with GS and attitude), Arenas was a shoe in till suspension, Mo Williams (hurt and probably didn’t really deserve it last year either), Jamal Crawford (shoot me now, ’cause I can’t believe I wrote that, but he has played well for the Hawks, all-be-it coming off the bench). And really there are no other guards worth mentioning in the East. I’m just saying.

    Matt McHale February 5, 2010 at 10:46 am #

    “11.Good observation and point BoppinBob. I have to disagree with you on this one Matt. I think the defense was fine in the first half except Taj was taken to school by Brand. In the second half defense dropped off a bit but it was the turnovers and offensive ineptitude that cost this game.”

    Well, like I said, when one of the best defensive teams in the league (by the numbers) goes against one of the worst offensive teams(by the numbers) and ends letting that team perform above the marks set by the best offensive teams in the league…and Chicago’s three best defenders happen to spend most of the game on the pine…I still think the main problem was defense. While I agree that turnovers and poor offensive execution lost this game down the stretch, in the big picture, it never should have come down the the final minute and then overtime had the Bulls defense simply performed the way it has all season.


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