Round 2 Game 2 Recap: Bulls 86, Hawks 73

Now that’s the Chicago defense we know and love.

The Bulls held the Hawks to 73 points on 33.8 percent shooting and forced them t miss 10 of their 13 three-point attempts. Atlanta finished with a miserable Effective Field Goal Percentage of 35.7 and an Offensive Efficiency of only 81.1 (as in points per 100 possessions).

The Hawks missed 11 of their 23 field goal attempts at the rim and went a nightmare-inducing 6-for-30 from 16-23 feet. They were as cold last night as they were hot in Game 1. Dr. Jekyll, meet Mr. Hyde.

Chicago’s D did a number on Josh Smith (4-for-14), Al Horford (3-for-12 and zero free throw attempts), Jamal Crawford (2-for-10) and Marvin Williams (2-for-9). Moreover, the Bulls contained Joe Johnson, who finished with 16 points on 7-for-15 shooting and made only one trip to the foul line. And, outside of Crawford, the Atlanta bench managed only 2 points.

The Bulls outrebounded the Hawks 58-39 and had an 18-10 advantage in second-chance points.

Chicago’s defense was so dominant that it makes me wonder…

…why wasn’t this a blowout?

It could have been. It probably should have been. But the Bulls never led by more than 14 points and couldn’t pull away from a Hawks team that couldn’t have found the basket even with CIA assistance.

So what happened?

A lot of little things that added up. The Bulls shot poorly — 39.3 percent from the field and 5-for-22 from beyond the arc as a team — with Derrick Rose (10-for-27 and 1-for-8 on threes) leading the brick parade. Carlos Boozer was 4-for-12 and had four layup attempts stuffed (although it felt like twice as many). The bench, “led” by Kyle Korver’s 1-for-9 performance, combined to go 5-for-20.

Thank the Basketball Gods for Joakim Noah (6-for-8 from the field and 7-for-8 from the line) and — I can’t believe I’m saying this — Keith Bogans (2-for-4 from downtown).

The Bulls were also careless with the rock. No one more so than D-Rose, though, who committed 8 of Chicago’s 14 turnovers.

Noah was the hero of the night, scoring 19 points to go with 14 rebounds, including 7 big-time offensive boards. Jo also had three steals and countless hustle plays. There was no question he felt a sense of urgency. Still…Noah twice gave up three-point plays by swiping at an Atlanta player who was about to make an easy layup. The second time Noah did that — fouling Smith with 4:56 remaining — allowed the Hawks to pull to within six points (75-69).

That was the kind of night it was. It seemed that for every two positive players, somebody on the team made a negative one. Yes, the Bulls won by double-digits. No, it did not feel like a commanding victory even though it probably should have been.

Rose continues to shoot poorly and take too many three-pointers. It’s obvious to anyone who has followed Rose this season that his sprained ankle is holding him back. He earned only six free throw attempts, and two of those came with six seconds left and the outcome decided. Derrick converted four of his six shot attempts at the rim, but he’s not exploding to the basket the way he did during the regular season. Nor does he look anxious at this point to test the ankle by drawing contact.

As for Boozer, he’s barely a shadow of he 20-10 guy the Bulls thought they were getting last summer. He’s been in a slump since after the All-Star break and admits that the turf toe is affecting him “a lot.”

The spacing on offense continues to be poor unless Korver is on the floor, which explains why he had a plus-minus score of +11 despite going 1-for-9. Conversely, when Kyle’s not in the game, the Bulls always seem to be driving or passing into a crowd. That’s a major part of why Rose had so many turnovers and Boozer can’t get much going down low. The Hawks — like the Pacers before them — are crowding in or around the paint, cutting off passing angles and limiting the amount of space the Bulls have to work with.

Chicago’s offensive efficiency was only 95.6, not at all impressive, and it would have been worse if they hadn’t managed an Offensive Rebounding Rate of 32.6.

The Bulls can certainly win one or two games in Atlanta if they continue defending like they did last night. But they could also drop both of them if they don’t sort out their offensive problems.

Can they do that? If so, they’ll need Rose to draw more fouls, exercise some restraint when standing outside the three-point arc and take much better care of the basketball. The Bulls need to space the floor better — more Korver anyone? — and everybody needs to improve their sloppy handles. Whether it’s been the Pacers or Hawks, the team’s turnovers keep giving their opponents life. That has got to stop.

Oh, and could somebody, anybody, do something about Jeff Teague (21 points, 7-for-14, 6-for-7 from the line, zero turnovers)? Teague is playing so well that the Bulls are praying for Kirk Hinrich to miraculously heal overnight.

Overall, I liked the effort and sense of urgency the team displayed. They didn’t get caught flat-footed the way they did in Game 1. But until they start scoring with better efficiency, they’re vulnerable.

Quote of the Night:
Hawks legend Dominique Wilkins on Rose after Rose said his ankle was “fine”: “Derrick Rose deserves so much credit. He’s injured. I know what he says, but the fact is he’s injured. But when you’re the best player on the team, you play, period. Something about the playoffs enables you to overcome the injuries. More important than that, it’s your job. If you’re ‘The Guy’ you cannot let your teammates see you sweat. You can’t afford to let them see a cloud hanging over you. You can’t let the fans down. The pressure is a beast. And if Derrick doesn’t score big, they can’t win. I know people will look at the stats and say, ‘Well, that’s a sub-par night.’ Look, I played playoff games with an ankle so badly sprained I had to wear a boot over my sock. I played playoff games with three fractured fingers. The Game 7 in Boston against Bird? Had a dislocated thumb. Look at it; still can’t straighten it out. It doesn’t matter that he was 10-for-27 or had turnovers or that Jeff Teague played him really, really well, which he did. What mattered is Rose’s presence.”

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

19 Responses to Round 2 Game 2 Recap: Bulls 86, Hawks 73

  1. Inception May 5, 2011 at 2:05 pm #

    that was truly an ugly game.

    Boozer looked horrible….everyone says it’s the injury that’s causing him to play like this, but I’m not convinced….didn’t he play the same way vs. indy?

    i did feel for the guy when the boo’s came in Boozer’s direction….maybe he’ll play “mad” now…or maybe he won’t….it’s Booz

    BFD May 5, 2011 at 2:28 pm #

    The Bulls are who they have been all year. They have always had problems with turnovers, with generating offense outside of Derrick Rose who is admittingly hobbled. Boozer isn’t providing much, but he didn’t contribute anything for the first 6 weeks of the season either. When he came back, Noah went out and has been out. Most of the year, the Bulls never blew out anybody.

    The Bulls are who they are. Despite the above flaws they were still number one in defense, a top rebounding team, and the best team in the NBA. They did it by playing the way the play, the only way they know how. Can Atlanta play above themselves and beat us? Yes, see game one. The question becomes, can they do that 3 more times this series? Time will tell. I’ll still take the Bulls though.

    Paul May 5, 2011 at 2:51 pm #

    I have no real statistics to back this up… but it seems like on many of DRose’s layup or runner misses, either Jo, Taj, or Booz gets an offensive rebound — and often a layup. Browsing quickly through the play-by-play and ignoring the long jumpers, this is definitely happening. Seems logical, given all the attention Rose gets from helping defenders.

    I know technically it’s not an assist… but maybe we need to start recognizing that every game Derrick is going to hoist a few really tough shots in part because he knows someone is going to clean up the mess?

    Matt — have you seen any advanced stats on things like this? I can’t help but wonder if this is true for other PGs with such a potent penetration game?

    BJD May 5, 2011 at 2:55 pm #

    I’m glad there’s this emphasis on D-Rose’s ankle injury. Clearly he’s hobbled, and the downward trend in free throw numbers seems to indicate that clearly. I think the ankle could be the story of the playoffs, for the Bulls certainly, and if they don’t make it to the finals, as so many were predicting, then I think that failure, if can even be called that, will have largely to do with the injuries to both Rose and Boozer.

    But all of this makes me appreciate Rose even more, that he’s not willing to make an issue of the ankle, and that he continues to go out there and lift his team to (however ugly) victory. And the same goes with Boozer. He’s hurt too. A guy does not just go from a 20/10 machine to some lesser version of that without there being something pretty wrong. Which is to say, I wish the fans would lay off him a bit, the guy is trying, but he literally can’t jump like he normally does. The booing and the impatience are all a product of a misapprehension of this current version of the team, an inability to see that two of the top three or four players are suffering from semi-major to perhaps major injuries. Shouldn’t we applaud them simply for going out there and battling? The wins are nice, and, sure, a championship would be awesome, but let’s get real a little bit here.

    luvabullnj May 5, 2011 at 4:16 pm #

    It’s too bad Booz can’t take a queue from Rose. The dude is playing with a badly twisted ankle that he injured again in game 1, but still played 43 minutes. Booz is looking like Shaq after the 2004 Finals where Ben Wallace pushed him around easily. Booz is getting pushed around in the paint by Smith and Horford. And he can’t out quick either one.
    Boozer has always been about Boozer and not about the team. That is why the Jazz never got further than they did. And they had a terrific point guard as well. The Bulls have good enough pieces to win as a team. They don’t have enough superstar talent to win it on super efforts from two or three individual players.
    With that said, we need more effort and consistent offense from Boozer to win in the rounds going forward. We may get by Atlanta with contributions from Noah and Deng and the Bench Mob, but we will definitely need near 20-10 from Boozer to get further in the playoffs.
    It’s time for Booz to suck it up and play like he’s paid.
    I think in the next CBA, they should have a clause for a refund if the player doesn’t perform up to his contract.

  6. Anonymous May 5, 2011 at 4:55 pm #

    Your right about the spacing…not only is it causing Rose problems; but also, it is easier for help defense on Boozer.

    The Bulls need to start their offence with Noah…he is the most efficient player atm…a Noah/Thomas combo would work as well…Noah inside-Thomas outside. Remember the Bulls in the 80/90s always started games by going to Cartwright…it kept the bigs on defense honest.

    Boozer and Rose need to work the pick and roll at the free throw line…looks like that will get Boozer a lot of easy attempts. By pulling Boozer to the top of the key that will draw open the paint for either Rose or Noah…and Boozer can make that top of the key shot efficiently.

    It is not surprising that when Noah or Boozer played with Thomas–they were both more efficient offensively. Thomas played that top of the key area like the veteran he is. They need Boozer to get out of the blocks, since he is being doubled and tripled…and get to the top of the key to open up the paint. Boozer has a better chance of drawing his defender up their as opposed to Noah right now.

    Adam May 5, 2011 at 5:09 pm #

    Noah coming out with intensity was great. I’m looking forward to Booz having a breakout playoff game. It’ll happen…and hopefully before we face Miami!

    DS May 5, 2011 at 5:26 pm #

    Korver’s +/- stats are incredible. Just watching the games it looks like he’s hurting the team by not making open shots and getting torn up on D. I mean, in game 1, watching him guard Crawford was painful. But, his +/- in game 1 was +17! Then, +11 in game 2. He must be doing something right… I’m with you Matt, I vote for more Korver.

  9. Inception May 5, 2011 at 6:53 pm #

    Horace Grant made some legit comments regarding Boozer….it’s Taj Mahal time.

    uber_snotling May 5, 2011 at 6:55 pm #

    Korver’s +/- stats are the best on the team throughout the playoffs. What the team loses in defensive prowess they more than gain in offensive potency, largely due to the spacing issue. Both the Hawks and Pacers respect Korver’s shooting too much, and thus don’t pack the paint as much when he is on the floor.

    A particularly stunning set of stats for the playoffs is how much better Boozer and Korver play when on the court together.|2594,2430;season=p

    Boozer and Korver are +22 with both on the court, Boozer is -6 with Korver on the bench and Korver is -2 with Boozer on the bench. Boozer shoots 61% with Korver on the court, and 25% with him on the bench. And look at the points in the paint! Boozer is 71% in the restricted area with Korver on the floor and 21% when he’s out.

    Bogans is shooting the 3 very well in the playoffs, but he doesn’t pair well with Boozer. They are -1 when on the floor together. Thibodeau has to know this.

    Leffty May 5, 2011 at 7:06 pm #

    Boozer struggled yet again–worth the max contract?–but Noah picked up the slack on the interior. Scoring 19 points on only eight field goal attempts is really impressive, and D-Rose was at it again with 27 and 10. Noah also limited the Hawks forwards to 6-23 (26.1%) shooting, as his all-around performance last night was stellar.

  12. Inception May 5, 2011 at 7:15 pm #

    imagine if we team signed Joe Johnson over the summer….man oh man, the possibilities.

    i haven’t given up on Boozer, but i’m veryyyyy close to it.

    ScottA May 5, 2011 at 7:25 pm #

    Definitely in favor of more Korver. The Korver / Boozer stats are really interesting – sounds like a case to get Kyle in the starting lineup, but that’s not happening. Main problem is that Atl. plays with 3 guards most of the time; he can’t guard any of them consistently. Teague’s the best bet and, as Matt pointed out, he’s playing great.

    Other random thought: Rasual Butler. I think it’s worth giving him a chance to help the offense. He gave them some good minutes against Indiana; worst case, he doesn’t help and goes back to the bench, but they need to try some little tweaks.

    ScottA May 5, 2011 at 7:29 pm #

    And another random thought – the respect factor. Rose’s jump shot has been broken for a few months now, but teams generally played him as though he could shoot during the regular season. That’s gone now; teams have sat way off him so far, and will continue to do so. The respect seems to be gone, and that’s another part of what’s killing the Bulls spacing.

  15. Tae May 6, 2011 at 2:54 am #

    The boxscore is lying a bit. There should have been at least 2-3 Turnovers that were completely Boozer’s fault, but because he can’t hold on the ball long enough to be technically his, Rose gets the negative stat. Ugh.

    Why do coaches play people that are clearly hurt, and hugely hinder the team? His rebounding can literally be replicated by Taj, so the one thing Thibs say he DOES do decent isn’t suddenly missing if Taj comes in.

    The floor spacing is much better with Taj, too. He may not be the offensive post player Boozer used to be, but his constant movement and good screens are just as effective if not more along with the defense.

    And one specific host at ESPN Chicago radio has to stop demanding to trade Noah and make Asik the franchise center. Meathead.

  16. Luke May 6, 2011 at 4:08 am #

    For me, its not Boozer’s numbers, or that he is injured. I understand that. Its his mentality. For someone his size, who plays the PF position, and who needs to yell and sound as big and strong as he does, he is the weakest guy out there. It’s like he is trying to mask his weakness. He is wasted muscle out there… injury or no injury, he cant bang bodies and its killing us.

    chitown4life May 6, 2011 at 1:12 pm #

    I read all the post first of all to the ones who are like pointing out D Rose takes too many three’s
    1) the Bulls would not be where they are if not for the superstar MVP play of D Rose.
    2) I am ok with D Rose taking as many shots as he feels fit to take so is our coach else he would have told D rose to not shoot so many thus this is why he is the coach.
    3) If even boozer should not totally show up and play I feel Da Bulls still can win it all the one thing the Bulls cannot do is lose D Rose if that happens this series and year is over.
    4) Horace Grant has valid points when your paid to be the man you must learn to overcome pain and play harder thus Boozer needs to show up/ I have not given into all the talk of benching him this is a game of shots and timing boozer has not really played much only half the season with, on and off injuries yes its been his M/O all his career but so is his 18 and 12 stats so I give him a chance. he has shown flashes but need to be regular to help the team win and take pressure off other guys mainly D Rose.
    this Bulls team will win this series purely on effort and talent so no need to be worried less Rose goes down and cannot get back up after all he is the motor of the team and Noah is the heart of the team.
    Big win my prediction tonight in the ATL then next game also the message has been sent the Bulls are elite and if you beat them that is a big deal. Peace

    inkybreath May 6, 2011 at 7:00 pm #

    For me, it’s very simple, when it comes to Boozer.

    Veterans know how to adjust their game and play hurt.

    He tried to dunk over someone in that last game and it was just stupid. Plain stupid to even attempt.

    He has Such Great Touch and I don’t see him adapting on the fly to use that touch in close range.

    I think his pride is getting the best of him and he is just not playing smart.


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