No sweep for you: Pacers 100, Bulls 90

So much for sweeping the season series with the Pacers.

How did the Bulls shoot 57 percent against a pretty good Portland team on one night and then shoot 41.9 percent against a pretty not-so-good Indiana team the very next night?

For starters, they were playing on the road, where they are 12-19 on the season. And they were playing in Conseco Field House, where they are (somewhat inexplicably) 4-18 since that arena opened in 1999. More importantly, they were playing on the second night of back-to-backs…a situation in which they are 6-10 so far this season.

The Bulls had weary legs. When a team has weary legs, their jumpers fall short. And few teams rely on jump shots more than Chicago. And whereas they were crazy hot against the Trail Blazers — 21-for-33 (63.6 percent) from 16-23 feet — the Bulls went only 9-for-28 (32.1 percent) from that distance against the Pacers. And it’s not like the shots weren’t open. Chicago just couldn’t hit any.

Indiana coach Jim O’Brien certainly realized that fatigue might be an issue for the Bulls, who barely pulled out a tight overtime win in Chicago on Friday night, and he clearly instructed his team to run, run, run and then run some more. The Pacers were in constant motion, running the court, moving without the ball and making the extra pass.

Meanwhile, the Bulls defense was on a one-second delay.

Chicago’s players were all a step slow in reacting to Indy’s constant movement. The Pacers outscored the Bulls 14-8 in fast break points, but that total doesn’t count the free throws Indiana earned in transition. But what was really horrifying for Chicago fans was how many layups the Pacers got. They were 20-for-26 at the rim. That’s right: 20 of their 35 field goals were hit at point blank range.

Man, the Bulls missed Joakim Noah’s interior defense.

And that’s really what it came down to. First, the Bulls couldn’t defend the rim. Second, they couldn’t get high percentage shots. Third, they couldn’t hit their long-range shots. I won’t bother to complain about the officiating, but I will say there was an awful lot of uncalled contact in the paint. And I mean the kind that went Indiana’s way. But that’s what happens when one team is aggressive (that is, the Pacers) and the other is kind of passive (that is, the Bulls).

Despite bumping knees with Indy’s Earl Watson, Derrick Rose (27 points, 9-for-14 from the field, 9-for-12 from the line) did everything he could do. Loul Deng shot poorly (5-for-14) but was a monster on the boards (18 rebounds, 5 offensive). And rookie Taj Gibson (14 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 blocks) provided his typical strong performance. But nobody else seemed ready to step up their game. Even Jannero Pargo’s 14 points off the bench came on 16 shot attempts.

This loss provided yet another example of why the Bulls really need another All-Star level player to line up alongside Rose. You know, somebody who can get or create high-percentage shots when the offense is stalling. Rose has become good. I mean, very good. But he can’t do everything. And right now, he’s surrounded by nothing but role players.

Hey, the Lakers didn’t become contenders again until they bought in Pau Gasol to back up Kobe Bryant. Kobe could score 80 points by himself, but he couldn’t get his team out of the first round on his own. Of course, there’s a difference between the playoffs and a regular season road game against a lottery team. That said, a healthy Joakim Noah might have at least helped Chicago get past the Pacers.

The Bulls also committed 21 turnovers, giving them a total of 43 miscues for the weekend. Of course, they Pacers bobbled the ball away 18 times and the Bulls were +8 on points off turnovers. But still, it’s awfully tough to eke out victories when you can’t hold onto the ball. Especially on the road on the second night of back-to-back games.

Said Chicago coach Vinny Del Negro: “We had way too many turnovers. We had a lot of times where we could have converted but didn’t.”

Added Taj Gibson: “This is one of those bumps in the road. We just have to get back on track.”

He’s right about that. The Bulls really do have to get back on track. Chicago’s next five games are against the Hawks (36-21), Grizzlies (30-29), Mavericks (38-21), Jazz (38-21) and Magic (39-20).

Timeout tally:
1st timeout: Called after a Rose turnover
2nd timeout: Hinrich drew a foul (2-for-2)
3rd timeout: Pargo layup (Miller assists)
4th timeout: Pargo made 18-footer
5th timeout: Pargo missed 17-footer

Discounting the first timeout, the Bulls scored on three of four tries. Too bad that didn’t help them on the defensive end.

Extras:
Recap, Box Score, Advanced Box Score, Play-By-Play, Shot Chart, Photos

14 Responses to No sweep for you: Pacers 100, Bulls 90

  1. 2189alex@comcast.net'
    Alex R February 28, 2010 at 11:01 pm #

    This game was an excellent example of how the Bulls are in dire need of a “go-to” scorer. They seemed very out of sync on offense and they were getting killed on the dribble penetration from the Pacers guards. I noticed Luol Deng forcing so many shots that were unnecessary and painful to watch. I feel like he has a chip on his shoulder to prove to everyone that he is the best or something.

  2. TexasBullsFan February 28, 2010 at 11:21 pm #

    This is why Chris Bosh has to be the Bulls #1 priority this off-season. The Bulls need that consistent scorer down low who can get himself high percentage shots when the jumpers and dribble penetration aren’t working. Taj was showing some signs of having a post-up game (something that Tyrus never showed, by the by), especially against Indiana’s small lineups. Hopefully he can continue to develop that.

  3. Trm378@gmail.com'
    Trm3 March 1, 2010 at 12:08 am #

    Pargo needs to go. I’ve never been a fan of him and watching him last night made me dislike the guy even more. The dude seems to think he’s this great scorer that can create whenever he wants..and he’s terrible! Get rid of him! I didn’t like him the first time around with the Bulls and I certainly don’t like him now.

    We played terrible last night. Deng didn’t help by thinking he’s this one man wrecking crew, How many times is it gonna take for him to learn u can’t make a power dribble in the middle of the lane with 4 guys around him and not turn it over? He’s a rAtard!

    And we do have a “go to” scorer, it’s Rose. He’s learning more and more when it’s time for him to do something. There was a lot of no calls on the Pacers, they were slapping and fouling on pretty much every possession we had. There should have been a lot “and 1′s” but we didn’t get many of those. I think everytime Rose drove he was fouled. Oh well tho..we lost cause we couldn’t defend..it seemed like everytime the Pacers wanted to go backdoor..they did.

    Being tired didn’t help but we knew going into the season with a league high 23 back to backs that things weren’t going to easy. Just move on to the next game..and get rid of Pargo’s sorry @ss!

  4. Super Joe March 1, 2010 at 12:32 am #

    I second Pargo getting cut.

    I also don’t understand why if Chicago was so tired, why not throw Acie Law or Devin Brown out there to get some energy on the floor for a few minutes.

  5. tc643@hotmail.com'
    Tony C. March 1, 2010 at 1:54 am #

    I know I’m not alone when I ask: Why was Pargo used so heavily? I would frankly prefer to see Murray launching shots like that, given how poorly Pargo has shot throughout the season for the Bulls.

    Also, given how obviously many of the Bulls’ regulars were leg-weary, why wouldn’t James Johnson’s fresh legs have been utilized more heavily? He’s actually shown signs of life in recent games, so wasn’t this the obvious game to give him some heavier minutes?

    I don’t get it.

  6. shukrijudeh@yahoo.com'
    mikey March 1, 2010 at 4:13 am #

    James Johnson needs to be in the rotation more often

  7. bscholtens@hotmail.com'
    Brad S. March 1, 2010 at 3:34 pm #

    When you look at the roster, you see that Noah is out, Taj is playing through pain, Miller is old and creaky, Deng is beat-up, and then Rose gets hurt. I have never understood why coaches don’t utilize their bench more in a situation like this.

    My guess is that their are 2 divergent schools of thought:

    1. Every team is nicked up at this point in the season, and this was a winnable game, so get your best guys out their and win this game!

    2. Your team is nicked up and this is the second of a back-2-back with overtime, so play your back-ups heavy minutes and give your starters a chance to recover.

    I must confess, I am leaning towards the later. Due to the fact that this season is all about next season, and you are facing some tough match-ups in the next couple of weeks, I would want to give my sarters the best possible chance to be on top of their games. So let the scrubs play the scrubs (the Pacers), and who knows, maybe your guys will surprise you.

  8. gobulls76@hotmail.com'
    bullsfan76 March 1, 2010 at 4:14 pm #

    brad that might be true but why the hell pargo why not murry warrick who have played well and pargo has sucked all year the nite before murry and warrick played good then the next game he does not play them much this coach does not get it .you have your starters then the guys you trust the most off your bench both murry and warrick have played well but if you look at the last 3 games look at warricks min 15 33 17 this coach is a moron this late in the season and he does not have a set rotation i know there is players hurt but murry and warrick not that i have herd off plus with taj being a rookie and also playing hurt that makes even less sense that warricks min are so arratic this coach needs to go.

  9. TexasBullsFan March 1, 2010 at 6:35 pm #

    ^^^^^^^

    Wow, that’s total cancer and madness and I’m not going to try and puzzle through it. Your keyboard has a period key and a shift key for a reason. Please try to use them.

  10. gobulls76@hotmail.com'
    bullsfan76 March 1, 2010 at 8:17 pm #

    wow than go back to shoving your thumb up your bumb who cares what you think texasbullsfan

  11. bscholtens@hotmail.com'
    Brad S. March 1, 2010 at 9:05 pm #

    I did not mean to seem like I was making a case for Pargo in particular. I was more thinking about Johnson, Law, Murry, Warrick & Alexander. However my greater point was that I have never fully understood why teams even have a 12 man roster if they are so scared to use it; especially in the situation that the Bulls find themselves in right now.

  12. mears54321@hotmail.com'
    chad March 1, 2010 at 9:27 pm #

    del negro showing again that he sucks. playing noah too much so they can beat portland, which led to him not playing in indiana which cost us that game. either make noah play every game through pain or stop playing him until the pain is gone. playing him too much one day totally slows down the healing process. he’ll be in and out the lineup every couple games the rest of the year if they keep doing things like this. pargo sucks, law should play, brown should come in everyone else is sucking. we will always be controlled inside offensively, defensively, and rebounding whenever noah is out.

  13. mears54321@hotmail.com'
    chad March 2, 2010 at 2:32 am #

    warrick just doesnt have the combination of skills and size to succeed in the nba. he doesnt have enough strength to rebound or get into position to block shots, and isn’t quite tall enough to make up for his lack of strength. being that size his only chance is occasional drives to the basket against small unskilled low post defenders, and jump shots. but he isn’t the greatest shooter, so that is why he was stuck on milwaukee’s bench most the time. salmons has the shot so he is getting minutes and milwaukee is a lot better than they were before the trade. i hope we don’t have to face any team with size in the playoffs. we’ll never stop guys like josh smith and horford with the lack of size we have now.

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