Bulls look to turn the tables on Bobcats

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Bulls look to turn the tables on Bobcats

Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2011
10:16 a.m.

By Christopher Cason
CSNChicago.com

Returning home after a winning two week west coast road trip, the Bulls now turn their attention to the Charlotte Bobcats as they try to avoid being swept in the season series.

While Charlotte has won the previous two meetings, the Bulls have been a few late game mishaps and a last second shot away from the outcome of those games being in their favor.

In the last game here, the big thing was we turned the ball over and they converted in transition, said Tom Thibodeau about the teams 13 turnovers that Charlotte turned into 16 fastbreak points in the 83-82 loss on Jan. 18. That was the biggest thing that they did against us.

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The Bobcats lineup of Stephen Jackson at shooting guard, Gerald Wallace at small forward and Boris Diaw at power forward has given the Bulls trouble with their size and versatility, especially on the defensive ends as theyve been able to switch on pick and rolls and not lose any ground defensively.

Theyre different in the sense that they do a lot of switching defensively, said Thibodeau. I think offensively we have to do a better job of taking care of the ball. The turnovers that we had, they were live-ball turnovers. So it put them in the open floor and for us thats a problem. If we can get defensively set, we feel pretty good about our defense but if its in the open floor and it creates three-on-one fastbreak opportunities for them, those breaks are difficult to stop.

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Perhaps, no other Bobcat has benefited more from being cut from Larry Browns control more than third year point guard D.J. Augustine. Hes displayed the floor game under new coach Paul Silas and has seen an increase in not only his production, but his confidence as well.

Augustine has given friend and draft-mate Derrick Rose his share of problems this season as hes averaging 18 points and 8 assists in the two games against Chicago.

Rose, however, is coming off two impressive performances against two of the names that are beginning to get mentioned after his in discussions of the leagues best point guard.

In wins over the Utah Jazz and New Orleans Hornets, Rose finished with averages of 26 points and 6 assists while Deron Williams and Chris Paul finished a combined 26 points and 18 assists on 8-23 shooting from the field.

While Paul and Williams are more highly regarded, the Bulls arent taken Augustine lightly.

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Hes a terrific player, said Thibodeau. Every night, youre faced with those challenges. If you overlook a guy like D.J. Augustine hes terrific. Sometimes, he probably doesnt get the credit that he deserves and when you look at the past couple of years there when Raymond Felton was there, both of them played extremely well and played well together at times. This is a guy whos very confident, hes a good player and he shoots the ball extremely well. If you give him open shots, hes going to make you pay and hes been playing at a very high level for them.

The Bulls are hoping to avoid a letdown in energy after the extended road trip, but wanting to get back at Charlotte for the way theyve lost their past two matchups against them should provide plenty incentive to bring forth their best effort.

They beat us both games, said Rose. We want to get some revenge when we play them and just try to keep it hard on them throughout the entire game. If we come out and play very aggressive and with a lot of energy, I think the game should be very easy for us especially because weve been wanting to play them and we want a little bit of revenge. If our energy is high, we should have no problem.

This will be the second night of a back to back for the Bobcats who come into the game off an impressive 109-89 win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Monday.

Dwyane Wade tweets apology to fans after Bulls' lopsided loss in Atlanta

Dwyane Wade tweets apology to fans after Bulls' lopsided loss in Atlanta

For the opening three quarters in Atlanta, the Bulls were off. 

So off, in fact, that Dwyane Wade tweeted an apology to Chicago fans after the game. 

Thanks to a furious run by the Bulls' bench, the final score ended at a respectable 102-93. In reality, though, the Hawks dominated. 

Wade and company trailed by 29 points at half and 30 at the end of three. The 35-year-old shooting guard finished with a minus-18 and just four points while All-Star starter Jimmy Butler posted a team-low minus-22.

The Bulls will look to shake off their lopsided loss against the Sacramento Kings on Saturday. 

 

Fred Hoiberg after Bulls' embarrassing loss to Hawks: 'We're gonna look at everything'

Fred Hoiberg after Bulls' embarrassing loss to Hawks: 'We're gonna look at everything'

The bus was warm before the game started, as the Bulls looked like they wanted no parts of the Atlanta Hawks.

It was evident from the jump that playing with a full and healthy squad for one of the few times this season wasn't enough to arouse their competitive juices, as they put together arguably their worst 48-minute showing in a 102-93 loss at Philips Arena, dropping them to 21-23 in a game they trailed by as many as 34 points.

The practices have apparently been the sterling jewel of effort and competitiveness for the Bulls but it hasn't carried over through the season as the inconsistency continues to be maddening — one that seems to go beyond the "growing pains" mantra that's been fed by all involved so far this year.

"It could be things but I don't want to share it with the media," a sunglasses-clad Dwyane Wade said outside the locker room, in a rare mood of not being elaborative following a loss.

It appears even the professional's professional has gotten a bit more frustrated than usual — understandable considering the way the starters came out with a lack of energy, with more turnovers (eight) than field goals (six) in the first quarter.

"Continue to try to lead behind the scenes," Wade said. "Can't stop when it's bad, when it's good. You gotta be the same."

Fred Hoiberg, fed up with the starters, ran with the reserves for the fourth quarter and outscored the Hawks by nearly 25 points, bringing the lead to 95-90 with a minute left before a Dennis Schroeder jumper restored order with 52.6 seconds left.

Four Hawks scored in double figures led by Schroeder's 25 points and six assists and Paul Millsap scoring 14 while making all four of his shots in just 22 minutes of run.

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Perhaps it's the Hawks being the same kryptonite to the Bulls that the Bulls are to the Toronto Raptors — except the Bulls simply frustrate the Raptors, not embarrass them.

"I have been, we have been, tired of this. I gotta come out better," said Jimmy Butler, who led the Bulls with 19 points in 29 minutes. "I gotta play better from the jump, 48 minutes. That's not the way we're supposed to play. 

"The way we practice is not the way we play in the game. Don't ask me why, I don't know. Starting with me and going down the line, we gotta be better as a whole. Otherwise we'll keep getting our asses beat and it's bad."

The Hawks shot over 60 percent for most of the night until the game devolved into what amounted to a pickup game late. After all, the Hawks seemed to be battling boredom by half, leading 65-36 and shooting 68 percent from the field and hitting 67 percent from three.

"We're gonna look at everything and we'll see how we go out and start tomorrow and a couple days after that, hopefully we figure some things out," Hoiberg said. "They shot over 70 percent in the first quarter and you dig yourselves a hole and it's impossible to get out."

Hoiberg said he would evaluate everything leading into Saturday's game at home against the Sacramento Kings, but Friday didn't seem to present any realistic lineup changes based on performance.

Bobby Portis scored 10 with seven rebounds off the bench, with Jerian Grant scoring 12 and Paul Zipser 10. Doug McDermott and Nikola Mirotic combined to shoot two for nine, so one wonders where Hoiberg can go.

"I don't know. Practice is good. Practice is great," Butler said. "Practice is not gonna win you games. We gotta take what we do in practice and take it over to the game."

The Bulls weren't about to make it any more suspenseful than it had to be, as they started off missing their first 11 3-pointers, often missing multiple open looks on the same possession.

It wasn't relegated to just shooting as the Bulls squandered easy opportunities in easy situations, like Denzel Valentine turning a three-on-one fast break into an airballed finger-roll attempt that he caught himself — a violation, of course.

"I don't know, I can't put a word on it. Because it's just talk," Butler said. "Doesn't matter what you say, if we don't go out there and do it, what the hell is talking gonna do? We've been up and down all year. If we don't guard and turn the ball over, games get out of hand very quickly."

This one was over a few minutes into it, as the Bulls looked like a lifeless squad with no direction and very little fight, short of a minor dustup between Dwight Howard and Robin Lopez in the third quarter.

At that point, though, all Howard had to do is point at the scoreboard, where a 30-point lead did all the necessary talking.

The Bulls trailed by 20 even before Tim Hardaway Jr. hit a 35-footer to end the first quarter, sending the Hawks off on a high and seemingly demoralizing the Bulls.

Even Butler's 19-point night, hitting six of his eight shots in 29 minutes, rang hollow. The Bulls could've trotted out a D-League team for the second half to gear up for Saturday's game against Sacramento and been better off than how they performed Friday night.

And for the Bulls, they can't simply just go back to the drawing board. There looks to be something fundamentally wrong with this bunch — either that, or the Atlanta night got the best of them Thursday.