After the Bulls downed the Spurs in their season opener, I included the following statement in my reasons for concer: “…the fact that the Bulls have to face the Celtics in Boston tonight after beating the Spurs in Chicago last night, a game that threatens to kill all the good mojo created by their game-opening win…”
Just call me Nostradamus.
It wasn’t too hard to figure, really. The Celtics had a day of rest going for them, and they were playing at home. The Bulls were coming off a big home win against a championship contender, and they had to hit the road immediately afterward to play another contender. (Note that the Bulls arrived at their Boston hotel at around 3 a.m. An hour later, a malfunctioning fire alarm went off for several hours. Must have been Red Auerbackhs ghost.) And remember how flat the Spur looked on the second night of back-to-backs?
Still, that 118-90 beatdown was a real bummer of a loss. Only Joakim Noah (16 points, 7-for-10, 10 rebounds, four assists, two blocked shots) played well. Derrick Rose couldn’t create shots for his teammates and dished only two assists in 24 minutes. Luol Deng bricked his first five field goal attempts and scored only four points on eight shots. Tyrus Thomas almost had a double-double (10 points, 8 boards) but went 3-for-7 (including 1-for-3 on layups and 0-for-2 on jumpers). And John Salmons (missed his first six shots, finished 2-for-14) played even worse than he did against the Spurs…which I didn’t think was possible.
Said Brad Miller: “That was an old-fashioned ass-whooping. You can go across the board with everything. They kicked our ass in. They were more physical. They moved the ball. They hit a lot of 3s and our defense obviously wasn’t there.”
More physical is right. There was plenty of uncalled contact last night, especially when the Bulls dared to venture into the paint, which is why they hit only 10 of their 21 layup attempts. A team missing more than half of its point-blank shots is a bad sign. So is missing almost 70 percent of its jumpers (including only 2-for-14 from downtown).
If the offense was bad, the defense was road kill. The Celtics shot almost 60 percent from the field despite Rasheed Wallace’s 2-for-9 performance. Boston also canned 50 percent of their treys. It was just that kind of night.
“Uh oh” Watch:
Salmons is now 5-for-29 in the first two games (2-for-14 in threes). According to K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune: “Asked if he’s OK with his shot selection, Salmons paused for 27 seconds, uttered one ‘um’ and took three deep breaths before answering. ‘I’ll go to the film and see what the defense is doing, see what I’m doing wrong and adjust,’ Salmons said. ‘I’ve never been this bad. I have to do something different.'” God I hope so.
This is probably a bad time to mention that Ben Gordon is averaging 23.5 PPG and hitting 50 percent of his threes for the Pistons so far this season.
Zach Lowe from Celtics Hub: “So, to clarify: Rondo’s teammates took 21 shots directly off of Rondo passes — Rondo would have been credited with 21 assists had they made them all. Rose, in 24 minutes of playing time, created a whopping 5 shots for his teammates. Once again: Rajon created 21 shots in 30 minutes for his teammates; Rose created 5 in 24. You take Derrick, I’ll take Rajon.”