Bulls Shooting Woes Becoming a Serious Issue

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Bulls Shooting Woes Becoming a Serious Issue

Wednesday, November 11th

by Mark Schanowski
CSNChicago.com

What can Vinny Del Negro and his staff do with the gang that can't shoot straight? We knew the Bulls would miss Ben Gordon, but this is ridiculous! They gave away winnable games against Denver and Toronto because of terrible shooting from the perimeter. How bad was it you ask? Well, the Bulls' 2 best outside shooters, John Salmons and Kirk Hinrich combined to go 10-for-44 from the field. And when Salmons and Hinrich aren't hitting, the Bulls' offense is in deep trouble.

Wednesday night in Toronto, the Bulls didn't score a single point from the 6:24 mark of the 4th quarter until Hinrich made 1 of 2 free throws with 10 seconds left. All this against a Raptors team that is among the worst in the league defensively. Toronto began the night giving up an average of 111 points a game, and they lived up to their reputation in the first half, allowing the Bulls to get numerous easy baskets inside on the way to 52 percent shooting from the field and a 60-53 lead. But the Bulls' shooting went into the deep freeze after intermission, they hit only 25 percent of their shots, and managed to score only 29 points for the entire half! Granted, the players were probably a little fatigued playing on back-to-back nights with a short rotation, and not arriving in Toronto until early this morning. But the larger issue is shot selection. The Bulls missed 11 straight shots down the stretch and almost all of them were perimeter jump shots. When the outside shot isn't falling, you have to take the ball to the basket, especially against a bad defensive team like Toronto.

Okay, so we know Ben Gordon isn't walking through that door (to paraphrase the infamous Rick Pitino rant from his days as head coach of the Celtics), but what are the Bulls going to do about their offensive deficiencies? The easiest solution would be better shooting from Salmons and Hinrich, but maybe they're not cut out to be big-time scorers. The Bulls also need Derrick Rose to be more offensive minded, and he's shown signs of that with 36 points in his last 2 games. Look for Derrick to be involved in a lot more high screen and roll situations to get him more chances to attack the basket once his ankle is 100 again. The reality is the Bulls just don't get enough easy baskets. It seems like every possession is a struggle to try to free an open shooter for a mid-range jump shot. Luol Deng is off to a nice start, but he's more of a spot-up shooter, and is turnover prone when he drives to the basket. And, the Bulls aren't going to look for Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson to post-up their defenders in the paint. That's not really the strength of either player.

So again, what is the coaching staff going to do? They might need to take a longer look at Jannero Pargo, who was brought in for his 3 point shooting, but has only played limited minutes so far because of a bad back. Once he's completely healthy again, the coaches might need to get him more court time. Same with rookie James Johnson, who showed some promise during the pre-season, but has been the forgotten man in regular season play. But those are just band-aid solutions. John Paxson and Gar Forman may have to think about exploring a trade for another scorer. We know they want to maintain salary cap flexibility for next summer's free agent class, but this Bulls' team has the potential to win 45 to 50 games......all they really need is one more scorer.

Would you roll the dice on a player with behavioral issues in the past like Allen Iverson or Stephen Jackson? We know those 2 guys are available. Or is there a young shooting guard out there who could be acquired at a reasonable price, and not destroy the Bulls salary cap flexibility? Ideally, the Bulls would like to acquire someone who is on the last year of an expiring contract, but those players are normally in high demand around the league.

Maybe the offensive issues will sort themselves out, and Salmons and Hinrich will shoot their way out of the early slumps. But it's never too early to start preparing for the possibility this team needs to go outside for scoring help. Especially with the dreaded Circus road trip looming next week.

What do you think? We invite you to share your suggestions in the comments section below or drop me an e-mail.

I'll see you Saturday from the United Center before the Bulls-76ers game during SportsNite at 6:30.

Mark Schanowski hosts our Bulls pre and post game studio coverage with 15-year NBA veteran Kendall Gill. You can also watch Mark on SportsNite, Sunday through Thursday at 6:30 and 10.

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.

[MORE BULLS: Dwyane Wade not buying into the Bosh to Bulls speculation]

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.