Joakim Noah summed it up best: “We got smacked.”
It turned out that the return of both Kirk Hinrich and Taj Gibson wasn’t some magic elixir for the Bulls, who fell in yet another one-sided affair—something that used to be a rare occurrence, but has surprisingly become more commonplace as of late—this to the Trail Blazers, a decent team, but not one that should be capable of beating their hosts by the score of 99-89 Thursday night at the United Center, which doesn’t reflect the lopsided nature of the contest.
“We’ve got to play better,” Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau said. “Well, in the second and third quarter, you give up 32 and 28 points, that’s not going to get it done.”
Noah chimed in: “It’s tough, man. We’re not playing great right now, so it’s disappointing. It’s the final stretch. We’re not getting it done, so we’ve got to find a way.”
“Got to give credit where credit is due, but we didn’t execute our game plan very well and that is disappointing,” he continued. “It’s tough right now, it’s disappointing. We’ve just got to stick together and find a way.”
The combination of All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge and Rookie of the Year front-runner Damian Lillard wreaked havoc the entire evening and after the opening period—the Trail Blazers went on a 14-0 run to start the second quarter to break open a game that the Bulls led by a point—it was as if the end result was already set in stone.
On the bright side, Thibodeau utilized one of his unconventional lineups again—starter Marco Belinelli, reserves Gibson, Jimmy Butler and Nate Robinson, back in his role of second-string point guard, as well as Nazr Mohammed, who didn’t play in the first three quarters—in the final stanza and while the group was able to make up some ground, they didn’t have enough firepower to make the comeback a reality.
“I thought the spirit of that group was very, very good,” Thibodeau said. “I thought they played with great energy, very good team spirit, hustle, made them miss some shots, got out in transition, shared the ball and I thought the hustle united and inspired that group, so once they got going a little bit, they were able to cut into the lead.”