Two in a row: Bulls 104, Pacers 95

With rumors swirling about Vinny Del Negro’s dubious future, Bulls GM Gar Forman finally spoke up: “Vinny is our coach. Our goal is to get better each and every day. As a management team, we’re exploring all options in order to get better. We expect our coaches each and every day to get this team better. And I met with the team [Monday] for a while, and we expect them to work each and every day to get better. And that’s where we’re at at this point.”

So there you have it. Vinny is still the coach until he isn’t the coach, and the team goal is simply to “get better each and every day.” Not quite “Start moving toward championship number seven” is it? Nor were Forman’s words what you’d call a ringing endorsement of Del Negro’s coaching performance. Especially the “we’re exploring all options in order to get better” part. After all, firing Vinny certainly is one option for improvement.

Were the Bulls better during last night’s home victory over the Danny Granger-less Pacers? Insomuch as wins are better than losses, yes they were. But the game was a little too similar to that nightmare loss to the Kings for my tastes. Chicago started out on fire, outscoring the Pacers 34-15 in the first quarter. It looked like the Bulls were going to run their hapless opponent out of the building. After all, Indiana was without their best player, had lost six straight, and was coming off a 34-point blowout loss to the Miami Heat.

Talk about a team ready to roll over and die.

But just like in the Sacramento debacle, Indy came back, outscoring the Bulls 38-23 in the second quarter. Let me be frank: there is no reasonable excuse for letting this particular Pacers squad — who, again, are missing their leading scorer and best player — drop 38 points in a 12-minutes span.

Indiana drilled five three-pointers in that second quarter. What I don’t understand is how the Pacers kept getting open. They attempt 20.2 threes per game. That’s the seventh-most in the league. Everybody knows they want to shoot threes. So hands in the faces of the shooters, right? Only the Bulls struggle to deny penetration and have trouble protecting the paint. That tends to get players open for long-range jumpers.

The Pacers kept fighting tooth and nail, and they eventually took a 72-71 lead with 6:24 left in the third quarter. Deja vu all over again, right? However, less than a minute later, Troy Murphy left the game with an ankle sprain and didn’t return. Murphy is Indy’s leading rebounder and second-leading scorer. Obviously that was a big break for the Bulls.

They made the most of it. Chicago immediately ripped off a 10-0 run that was capped off by back-to-back three-pointers from John Salmons (17 points, 5 assists) and Luol Deng (15 points, 8 rebounds). The Pacers never got closer than seven points the rest of the way.

Despite Indiana’s almost-comeback, the game may well represent Chicago’s best offensive performance of the season. They scored a season-high 104 points on 53 percent shooting while also hitting 60 percent of their three-pointers (6-for-10) and 92 percent of their foul shots (22-for-24). To top it off, they outrebounded the Pacers 47-31.

If you’re wondering why the Bulls didn’t win by 30, you can blame sloppy defense in the second quarter and a case of group butterfingers (they surrendered 17 points off 21 turnovers). Chicago’s big men also had a rough night. Both Joakim Noah (4 points, 5 rebounds and 5 fouls in 24 minutes) and Taj Gibson (6 points, 5 rebounds and 5 fouls in 18 minutes) were limited by foul trouble, and Tyrus Thomas (2-for-10, 5 turnovers and a missed dunk) looked incredibly rusty (although he did grab a game-high 15 rebounds and block a game-best 3 shots).

One positive sign was the aggressive offensive play of Derrick Rose. D-Rose scored 18 of his game-high 28 points in the second half, including 11 in the fourth quarter. I like that Rose looks ready to be the team’s closer. I do. Really.

But…I also worry about little things. Little things like the fact that 18 of his 20 field goal attempts were jump shots. Like the fact that he had only 6 assists while also committing a game-high 6 turnovers. The fact that Rose often looks like a shooting guard who’s being forced to play point guard worries me a lot. Maybe it’s the coaching, maybe it’s the system, or maybe that’s just the player Derrick is.

But at least we know that the team is working hard to get better each and every day. So I’m sure everything that went wrong last night should be improved by the time the Bulls play the Pistons in Detroit on Thursday.

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

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13 Responses to Two in a row: Bulls 104, Pacers 95

    Jason December 30, 2009 at 6:04 pm #

    We’re a bad team and we’ll continue to be so, until we can get a quality big man that can score consistently in paint. These are your Chicago Bulls, unable to close the deal because we have to settle for jumpers.

    Really, Paxson should be fired and rehired daily for not aquiring Pau Gasol. Fired. Fired Fired!!! But nobody else on this website wants to admit that!!!

    felipe garcia December 30, 2009 at 6:18 pm #

    So far the Bulls are playing really good together at home as a team with everybody back at full strength but, I am still worried about the bulls playing on the road against bad teams and losing like Detroit. If they lose tomorrow that tells me that they are in need of another scorer to hit big shots for them in late games to fix their offense problems. Hopefully that wont be the cast and they start getting more W’s and start changing their season by making the playoffs again, to draw more star players like: Bosh, Wade, Joe Johnson or David Lee to Chicago for next year.

    felipe garcia December 30, 2009 at 6:20 pm #


    felipe garcia December 30, 2009 at 6:40 pm #

    As for VD, as long as I we don’t see anymore games like: Sacramento lost or bowl out games from: Boston, Toronto, Atlanta & Cleveland. VD can keep his job, if we start seeing the bulls putting more effort against good or bad teams and winning those games. If things don’t change right away then the Bulls should firer him and hire Byron Scott.

    Jason December 30, 2009 at 6:47 pm #

    VD’s not the problem. He’s another scapegoat like Skiles. It’s humuorous that nobody else can see this. We don’t have a post scorer. Are you guys even watching the games? Or do you know basketball. To stop a run, you need easy baskets. Well, easy baskets are scored in the paint. Usually, they are scored by big men. However, our most conistent shots are a contested drive by D Rose or a contested 18 footer by Deng. Until this issue is addressed by the witless fron-office, firing the coach is simply a way to pass the hour.

    andres Lopez December 30, 2009 at 6:58 pm #

    Yah, and don’t forget to add another go to guy scorer like Al, David West, David Lee or someone like that. If the Bulls can get another similar trade from last season adding Brad Miller and John Salmons but, with younger players like Ellis and Randolph from Golden State then the Bulls are set to make the playoffs again.

    WstCstBullsFan December 30, 2009 at 8:06 pm #

    Ok, How many times has VDN felt the need to remind us that he’s the ‘head coach’ or the ‘leader of this team’? Does he really think we don’t realize what his title means? It just sounds out of place…

  8. Anonymous December 30, 2009 at 10:09 pm #

    Why the obsession with Byron Scott? He was fired from New Orleans because his players tuned him out. Do you really think Byron Scott made Chris Paul?

    NBA teams continue to show no imagination by continuously hiring failed coaches.

    andres Lopez January 2, 2010 at 6:01 am #

    First of all, how would you know that ‘Anonymous’? I don’t know about you but, last time I check CP3 was really mad when he hear the news they fired Byron Scott, which tells me he did help Chris Paul to improve his game a bit. I am just say, I rather have an experience coach like Byron Scott to improve our young players then to have a coach like VD that doesn’t know what the hell he is doing sometimes. And as for you ‘Jason’ you don’t know anything about basketball. Are you being serious about firing Paxson for not trading for Pau Gasol? You are crazy because last time I checked if the Bulls wanted to get Gasol in a trade back then, they would have to give Memphis: Tyrus Thomas, Ben Gordan, L. Deng and J. Noah for Gasol. Now tell me this, you still would have made this move to get Gasol if you were the Bulls GM and give up your young developing players? NO! you guys are crazy, just when i thought their were some smart Bulls fans out their lol

    felipe garcia January 2, 2010 at 6:09 am #

    Yah! thank you Lopez, the only thing I do agree on with you Jason is that they do need an inside scorer if Tyrus Thomas is not the right guy for the job and another thing they need is another go to guy scorer like Al or somebody like that to take some off pressure D. Rose.

    felipe garcia January 2, 2010 at 6:10 am #

    to take some pressure off D. Rose*


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