Well, that was pretty ugly, wasn’t it?
The Bulls shot 42 percent from the field — including 3-for-12 on threes — and missed 11 free throws. The Bucks shot an identical 3-for-12 from downtown and gave up a whopping 27 points off 25 turnovers. There were blocks and bricks and steals and all manner of awkward moves.
Welcome to the NBA preseason.
Said Bucks coach (and former Bulls coach) Scott Skiles: “It was a typical first exhibition game. We turned the ball over way too much. We got too casual with [the ball]. We made some poor decisions with the ball. Defense was OK.”
Whether Milwaukee played OK defense or the Chicago players simply couldn’t locate the hoop is a matter of opinion. Maybe it’s a little of column A and a little of column B. Bulls big men Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson, Kurt Thomas and James Johnson went 7-for-22. Omer Asik played 17 stiff and tentative minutes.
Meanwhile, guards Keith Bogans (starting at SG for the injured Ronnie Brewer) and C.J. Watson were 3-for-13. Watson had a team-high 6 assists but committed 5 fouls and 4 turnovers, finishing with a game-worst plus-minus score of -15.
Despite Chicago’s active hands (which led to 14 steals), the Bucks managed to hit over 50 percent from the field and outrebounded the Bulls 42-37. The wee tiny Earl Boykins scored 12 of Milwaukee’s 29 fourth quarter points.
Said Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau: “We can’t be pleased with our defense. We allowed the ball to go anywhere.”
Mostly into the basket.
Added Noah: “The best thing about the game is we have another one in a couple of days. It’s preseason, just clean it up and get better.”
Don’t get me wrong. It wasn’t all doom and gloom. The perpetually overlooked and underrated Luol Deng scored 16 points on 6-for-10 shooting…and three of those field goals were at the basket. He also added 4 steals, 3 boards and 2 assists. That’s Deng for you: Doing a little bit of everything…but very quiet like.
Kyle Korver came off the bench apparently intent on earning a starting role. Korver scored a game-high 22 points by going 7-for-12 from the field, 1-for-1 on threes and 7-for-7 from the line. He scored 11 points in the fourth and his triple pulled the Bulls to within a point (82-81) with 3:21 to go.
Of course, Korver’s fourth quarter heroics came mostly against Milwaukee’s Chris Kramer. Skiles switched the more athletic Luc Richard Mbah a Moute onto Korver after that almost-game-tying three. From that point, Korver struggled to get open and didn’t score again.
I’m just sayin’.
As noted, Chicago’s offense struggled. Derrick Rose had 13 points on 5-for-10 shooting but dished out only 2 assists. Rose’s assist totals are a continuing source of concern for me. He just doesn’t have a playmaking nature. He’s a scorer…but he’s a point guard. Ah well. I don’t want to obsess over this too much. I will try to reserver judgement until Carlos Boozer — who had successful surgery on his broken pinky finger and wants us all to know he has only 5 percent body fat — returns and gets into a groove.
Having a solid inside threat and a full compliment of healthy teammates might be all it takes to unleash Rose’s inner assist champion. We’ll see.
The offense had plenty of movement but not much flow. Bulls fans are probably going to have to exercise a little patience. Thibodeau is implementing a new system and the Bulls are working in several new players. And of course the team’s presumed second option is currently acting as the team’s head cheerleader.
Transitions don’t always go smoothly.
By the way, Boozer’s absence was probably evened out by the fact that Milwaukee’s Andrew Bogut was held out of the game. It was a precautionary move to protect his surgically repaired right hand, which apparently got whacked at practice last Friday.
Not that I expected anybody to take too seriously any game in which Brian Scalabrine logged 20 minutes. I’m just trying to provide some perspective.
One quick hit on Thibodeau: The man is intense. He was pacing, directing, lobbying with the officials. As K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune observe, Thibs “was vehemently arguing a blocking foul on James Johnson late.”
Said Thibodeau: “The result is always important. We’re here to win.”
Unfortunately, the Bulls didn’t. Which is fine. After all, it’s still early in the preseason. There’s no pressure.