Preseason Game 2: Mavs 88, Bulls 83

preseason game 2

You know what I love about the NBA preseason?

It’s stress-free basketball. During the regular season and playoffs, I obsess over losses. Even worse, I obsess over what I consider to be ominous signs during wins…bad shooting, poor rebounding, and so on.

During the preseason, I can simply shrug my worries away. The wins and losses don’t accumulate or count toward homecourt advantage, so 0-2 hardly matters. Basketball-Reference.com doesn’t list a player’s preseason stats, so there’s no need to sweat Luol Deng’s 3-for-9 shooting night.

I don’t have to second-guess anything.

And yet I found myself doing just that last night. It wasn’t the loss that bothered me. After all, Dallas starters Dirk Nowitzki (30 points, 10 rebounds) and Caron Butler (who scored 14 of his 22 points in the fourth) played until the final minutes. Meanwhile, Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau used a clutch lineup of John Lucas, Kyle Korver, James Johnson, Brian Scalabrine and Omer Asik.

That’s not the team’s clutch-time five.

What worries me are negative trends. After getting outrebounded 42-37 by the Bucks on Tuesday, the Bulls were again crushed on the boards last night. Dallas held a 54-34 rebounding edge and finished with 25 second-chance points. Can Carlos Boozer pull down one-handed rebounds? Have we ruled that out? Because that eight-week absence is starting to feel really long.

Said Thibodeau: “We’re small. So we have to gang rebound. If we can’t do that, we won’t be successful. We can’t leak out. We have guys taking off early trying to get on the break. They need to get in the fight first.”

Chicago also struggled through another night of poor shooting and stunted scoring that gave me flashbacks to the worst days of last season. In their first preseason game, the Bulls shot 42 percent and scored only 83 points. Last night, they shot 42 percent and scored only 83 points.

That’s definitely the bad kind of deja vu.

The three-point shooting was particularly bad: 6-for-21 as a team, despite the fact that Keith Bogans went 3-for-3 from deep and Luol Deng was 2-for-4. To be fair, that stat was padded by John Lucas’ 0-for-5 shooting inaccuracy. Derrick Rose continues to shoot treys with confidence…he just isn’t hitting them. He went 0-for-3 last night.

Speaking of Rose, his ball distribution was an issue once again. I know some people think I’m needlessly nitpicking on this point, but through the first two preseason games, Rose has attempted 25 field goals while accumulating only 4 assists (2 assists per game). During last night’s game, Joakim Noah (6 assists) surpassed that total and Scalabrine matched it. Am I the only person bothered by that?

A 6-to-1 ratio of shots to assists is not what you want from your All-Star point guard. It’s just not. I’m all for Rose hitting shots. But he needs to create them for his teammates too.

Still, complaints aside, the Bulls played solid defense, holding the Mavs to 38 percent shooting. Dallas lived off of their rebounding and a 31-18 advantage in free throw attempts. And, of course, the clutch play of their starters against Chicago’s reserves.

Moreover, the Bulls starters played well. Every one of them had a positive plus-minus score, led by Taj Gibson (+13), Noah (+11) and Rose (+11). By contract, only Nowitzki was in the green for Dallas (+5). The rest of the Mavs’ starters were a combined -16.

Chicago struggled when Thibs went to the bench. That’s not terribly surprising, considering the Bulls were missing Boozer (broken right hand), Ronnie Brewer (sore right hamstring), and C.J. Watson (sore left quadriceps). When a team is down two starters and their backup point guard, don’t expect much in the way of depth.

To wit: Brian Scalabrine has logged 43 minutes in two preseason games. Once the regular season starts, he might not have 43 minutes of PT by the trade deadline.

But hey, what am I getting all worked up about? Like I said at the beginning of this post, preseason games don’t count for anything. I should just sit back, relax and enjoy this meaningless basketball. No, really. I’m going to stop fretting about misguided shooting and Derrick’s sticky fingers. I wouldn’t mind if somebody addressed the rebounding issue, though. Is that cool?

Said Noah: “Just for the psyche of the team, it’s a problem. When teams are getting second and third opportunities, they get confidence. So we have to eliminate that.”

Okay. Good. I’m done complaining then. For now.

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

18 Responses to Preseason Game 2: Mavs 88, Bulls 83

  1. Inception October 8, 2010 at 1:10 pm #

    I think you have to live with Rose as a scoring PG…he’s not going to give you the assist averages of deron, nash, etc…but yeah, it would be nice to see an average of 7 assists or so this season…maybe Bozo will help with that when he returns.

  2. provofam@hotmail.com'
    John October 8, 2010 at 2:01 pm #

    Great point on the rebounds, all those second chance opportunities for the Mavs was very annoying last night. I’m still very excited about the direction this team is going. We’re still missing some wide open shots but like you said it’s only preseason. Also, to be fair one of Rose’s 3 pt try’s was a full court shot at the end of a quarter.

  3. thetallented1@yahoo.com'
    Brooklyn Bulls October 8, 2010 at 2:08 pm #

    Inhale…..exhale. Rose has to pick up his scoring after Boozer’s injury. The primary job of a pg is to recognize and provide whatever the team lacks. Once his primary target returns the assists will go up. everyone is winging it at this point finding their way. the rebounds? thats a problem

  4. thetallented1@yahoo.com'
    Brooklyn Bulls October 8, 2010 at 2:13 pm #

    We led the league last year in rebounds with ourcore contributors still on the team. on a 2nd thought the boards will come by the reg season

  5. enigmatik.inviktus@gmail.com'
    Enigmatik October 8, 2010 at 2:26 pm #

    No Matt, you’re not the only one bothered by Derrick’s piss poor assist totals. Also, getting crushed on the boards is not a good sign considering the team was among the best in the league at rebounding last season. I followed along with the game and I am far from impressed with this team so far. I know it’s just the preseason, but they need to approach the games with the same mindset as the regular season…go out and win every time they step on the floor. The Bulls aren’t a team that can afford to coast, especially since we’re missing our “clumsy” 75 million dollar man.

  6. choyle@bpu.com'
    Chuck October 8, 2010 at 2:48 pm #

    You want to know why teh team can’t rebound? Look at how many minutes Scalabrine is playing. The preseason is the time where starters get enough minutes to gell a bit then they are benched so they don’t get hurt. Then bench and borderline roster guys get PT. A better indication of how the team will do is to look at rate stats and +/-. All the starters we in the + and the rebound rate of the starters was good.
    Chill. It is preseason. A time for end-of-the-bench guys to get the spotlight.

  7. bscholtens@hotmail.com'
    Brad S. October 8, 2010 at 3:06 pm #

    If you would allow me to play “Devil’s Advocate” for a moment…

    IF the Bulls are going to play an “inside-out” style of offense this year, wouldn’t it be logical that our centers and power forwards would gather higher than normal assist numbers? Could it be possible that Derrick’s low assist totals are a function of him trying to figure out and run the coach’s new system? (as opposed to just trying to win using his natural game).

    Don’t get me wrong, I was hoping the Bulls would be much better this year. These two losses are very dissappointing. However, we knew that this was going to be a work-in-progress early on. There are simply too many new parts and we shouldn’t get too wound-up when the Bulls start this season slowly.

    …That said, Oh how I miss Captian Kirk!

  8. thetallented1@yahoo.com'
    Brooklyn Bulls October 8, 2010 at 3:24 pm #

    @ Brad….good point

  9. d@yahoo.com'
    D. October 8, 2010 at 4:20 pm #

    I think Rose’s assists will go up with guys playing a more regular rotation and as these new guys, Korver, Bogans, Thomas, Watson get used to Rose. Last night there were a few missed wide open shots from Rose’s penetration that would’ve been assists had the shots fallen. That’ll get better as the shooters get more comfortable with where to be and where to expect a pass. I think Rose doesn’t play at 100% until he really needs to. I noticed that in the USA training camp and pre-knockout stage games and the same thing for these pre-season games. I think he’s only going at about 80% right now. I’m expecting a lot more aggressiveness…some dunking, more free throws, etc. once the regular season get’s going. I agree with Brad too, this is a new offensive system. Last year it was all pick and roll, now if they are playing inside and out and penetration game, the open shot is going to be after 1-2, sometimes 3 quick passes mitigating some of Rose’s assists. I’m more concerned with the rebounding more than anything, but at the same time glad it’s been glaring bad these first 2 games. It’s gonna be a focus now and be on all the guy’s mind from the get go to fix, which should be a good thing.

  10. doubleaccord@gmail.com'
    Tony C. October 8, 2010 at 4:29 pm #

    “IF the Bulls are going to play an “inside-out” style of offense this year, wouldn’t it be logical that our centers and power forwards would gather higher than normal assist numbers? Could it be possible that Derrick’s low assist totals are a function of him trying to figure out and run the coach’s new system? (as opposed to just trying to win using his natural game).”

    Yes, Brad, it makes good sense to take those factors into account. At the same time, however, Rose has never given me the impression of being a naturally gifted passer, so whatever the context, I rather doubt that he will ever exceed expectations in that part of his game, and I’m not sure that he will even live up to them.

  11. Inception October 8, 2010 at 5:34 pm #

    let’s not forget…CHI is missing two starters…evaluating and worrying over wins and losses in the preseason becomes almost useless…even analyzing stats to a certain extent.

  12. bob.edwards47@yahoo.com'
    BoppinBob October 8, 2010 at 6:27 pm #

    Improving his long distance shooting, improving his assist totals (improving his passing skills) and playing better defense are the things on Rose’s plate for improvement. Until he accomplishes those steps in his development he can not be called a superstar. A superstar makes his teammates better, right now Rose falls short in that area. Like MJ, he has worked on his game in the off season and shown growth. It can not all happen at once.

    I am not at all concerned with what is happening with the outcomes of these preseason games. Thibs does not know his players yet, he needs to learn what they will do in a wide variety of situations. He needs to begin to see how the players interact on the court so he can develop his rotations. I expect that Thibs will continually trying his bench players in unusal times all season long so he knows what to expect if he has to do it due to an injury or foul trouble. This season is going to be a learning experience for the players and the coaches. Every game is important, especially now.

  13. ursmacker54@yahoo.com'
    Matt October 8, 2010 at 6:45 pm #

    You talk about Rose’s assist numbers a lot. But what you don’t mention is it would help if people actually hit the open looks that Rose gets them throughout the course of the game. No he isn’t as creative a passer as cp3, dwill, or nash but he does get people good looks off his penetration and kick outs and more often that not it seems like no one can hit a shot.

  14. Ryan October 8, 2010 at 7:40 pm #

    I agree with Matt. Rose could average 4-5 assists more a game if his teammates could execute the shot. I understand they can’t knock down all of them, but if Korver, Brewer, and Watson can stay healthy through the season and with Deng slashing and having more confidence, I can see better results for Rose. I would imagine a Boozer pick and roll could do wonders as well. The kid just turned 21 and has a new team that he has only been with for a month – so I think he has some time to iron out these minor gameplan deficiencies.

    On a side note, I noticed 3-4 plays with Bulls players running into each other on offensive screens and on defense (Scal was involved in 2 plays – I will never get used to seeing him in red). This looked embarassing – like a high school team.

  15. inkybreath@gmail.com'
    inkybreath October 8, 2010 at 11:47 pm #

    I have a lot of faith in what Rose understands on the court. And, I get the impression he knows he cannot do it by himself. I think he is a lot like Baron Davis with a much more rooted perspective.

    To me, it’s just that he has a lot of new players around him and once he sees what they can do, he will be more prone to swing them the ball. He is a player to fills the need, the best he can. He will run down a block full court and rebound and I am sure he will do what is necessary.

    Lastly, on this long list of excuses, he has his motor running already from the international competition, so the start of the preseason is not as electric. The point may be that he needs to understand that he must project 100% right now to get everyone else running. With Boozer gone, he needs to get them fired up and involved right now. The learning curve has shortened.

    We will soon find out what kind of coach Dr. Thibs is made of …

  16. inkybreath@gmail.com'
    inkybreath October 8, 2010 at 11:47 pm #

    Ok, that last sentence … what can I say? It was a long week.

  17. Tom October 9, 2010 at 8:19 pm #

    I think part of the reason for Rose’s low assist total is that from watching the game I notice he gets a lot of “hockey assists”, meaning he assisted the guy who assisted the shooter. I realize that this doesn’t get Rose completely off the hook but it is something worth noting. Also, I think a lot of what Paul and Nash do to get assists is they take a few extra dribbles around the paint to get the bigs to commit to them, while Rose just goes right in for the layup. I think as he plays more, especially as he gets used to Thib’s system and where the cutters will be, his assist totals will improve. Just a thought, but I am not worried as of yet of the low assist totals. The team only learned the offense two weeks ago, it is going to take some time before they are all comfortable with it.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Dallas Mavericks and Chicago Bulls - preseason recap | The Two Man Game - October 8, 2010

    […] Matt McHale, By the Horns: “What worries me are negative trends. After getting outrebounded 42-37 by the Bucks on Tuesday, the Bulls were again crushed on the boards last night. Dallas held a 54-34 rebounding edge and finished with 25 second-chance points. Can Carlos Boozer pull down one-handed rebounds? Have we ruled that out? Because that eight-week absence is starting to feel really long. Said [Tom] Thibodeau: ‘We’re small. So we have to gang rebound. If we can’t do that, we won’t be successful. We can’t leak out. We have guys taking off early trying to get on the break. They need to get in the fight first.’” […]

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