Futile fourth quarter sends sloppy Bulls to defeat


Futile fourth quarter sends sloppy Bulls to defeat

Sunday, Feb. 6, 2011
Posted 12:02 a.m. Updated 1:25 a.m.

By Aggrey Sam

OAKLAND All good things come to an end.

Maybe it was the irregular travel schedule, their delayed elation at beating the blizzard out of Chicago or more realistically, playing an unorthodox opponent that caught them on an off night, but the Bulls (34-15) simply didnt have it Saturday night, dropping a 101-90 decision to the Warriors (22-27) and snapping their six-game winning streak.

The challenge is to be ready no matter what the circumstances are. Sometimes its back-to-back, sometimes youre off for three days and then you play, so the challenge is to make sure you have that edge right from the start of the game, whatever youre faced with and I thought we eased into the game, said Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau, whose team gave up 100 points for the first time since a Christmas Day loss at New York.

WATCH: Rose crumples, tosses stat sheet

I thought it was an offensive game to start and when you do that against a team like this, youre asking for trouble. Down the stretch, when we had the lead, we quick-shot the ball a little bit.

Although the Bulls were proficient scoring the ball in the early going not exactly the most impressive feat against the defense-optional hosts the game was played at the Warriors pace, with both teams seemingly producing points at will.

For some reason, Golden States defensive scheme consisted of allowing Bulls veteran Kurt Thomas (eight points, six rebounds, four assists) to shoot open 15-foot jumpers his bread and butter which permitted the big man to provide Chicago with some scoring punch. After a slow start, All-Star point guard Derrick Rose (14 points, 10 assists, nine turnovers) briefly got going, mixing his acrobatic drives, pull-up jumper and unselfish distributing to maintain the visitors slim edge.

On the home teams end of things, high-scoring guard Monta Ellis (33 points, five assists) was his typical aggressive self on offense and was aided by power forward David Lee (13 points), who used his face-up ability and shooting range to make an impact.

At the conclusion of the opening period, the Bulls held a narrow advantage, 25-23.

I thought the first quarter was pretty good. I didnt think we eased in. I thought it was easy in the first quarter, observed Carlos Boozer. Maybe we had the impression it was going to be easy the whole game.

Improved defense and a shooting clinic put on by reserve swingman Kyle Korver (11 points) helped Chicago widen the gap early in the second quarter, prompting a Golden State timeout for adjustment purposes.

Whatever moves Warriors head coach Keith Smart made apparently worked, as Golden State quickly cut into the deficit it didnt hurt that backup Ronnie Brewer missed a wide-open dunk in transition and Carlos Boozer (21 points, 10 rebounds, five assists) picked up a technical foul leading Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau to put his own halt to the proceedings.

Warriors swingman Dorell Wright (20 points, six rebounds), already having a productive outing, put the home team in the lead temporarily by splashing a three-pointer midway through the stanza, completing an 8-0 Golden State run.

The contest then evolved into a back-and-forth affair, with the two squads exchanging baskets in dissimilar fashions, as the Bulls mostly scored in the paint second-year backup Taj Gibson (eight points, eight rebounds) came off the bench with his typical energy while the Warriors stuck with their perimeter-oriented style as the first half went on.

Atypically for Rose, he struggled miserably with turnovers (he had seven in the half) and creating offense, leading to a helter-skelter flow that benefited Golden State, sending the rowdy Oracle Arena crowd (equipped with a live jazz band in the upper reaches of the building) into a mild frenzy.
The Warriors threw a brand new defense at Derrick Rose by doubling him up top and not letting the point guard control the ball. Rose acknowledged after the game that, as a result, he wasn't able to get into any kind of rhythm. (AP)
Rose was just out of sync. The way that they doubled was kind of weird, said Rose. When I came off the pick, two people were on me. If I made the little slip pass, somebody was sticking Carlos. It was just tough. A tough night.

It was just something that weve never seen before, he expounded about the Warriors defense. I couldnt get a feel for the game because they didnt let me. I couldnt split, when I dragged it out, they were coming out with me. Every pick-and-roll, they trapped and I guess thats what Ive got to get used to.

Added Boozer: They tried to get the ball out of his hands, which is the smart thing. Once he has the ball, the other team is in trouble. Were not going to take anything away from them. They did a good job executing their game plan. We made a lot of mistakes and had a lot of turnovers. We didnt capitalize on some of their gambles, he went on to say.

The next time we see this kind of defense, well be ready for it.

At the intermission, the visiting Bulls trailed, 48-47.

Things didnt go smoothly for Chicago immediately after the break particularly for Rose, who appeared out of sync but with their star struggling, Luol Deng (18 points, six rebounds) and especially Boozer responded. Boozer, after being corralled around the neck by Lee who was assessed a flagrant foul for his actions became a dominant post presence, propelling the visitors to a 14-2 run to begin the third quarter.

Thats when were supposed to take control of the game and slow the ball down, get what we want, instead of playing their game, Rose remarked about that critical juncture of the game. They want to play up and down, we were taking quick shots, playing stupid. But were going to learn from it and hopefully you wont see this performance anymore.

Golden State eventually fought back the only way they know how (scoring more points), battling back to once again make it a tight-knit affair. Second-year point guard Stephen Curry (23 points, eight assists, six rebounds) took his turn carrying the load for the Warriors, using his skilled blend of scoring and playmaking to bring the home team back, with Wright complementing his efforts.

With only 4.9 seconds left in the period, Golden State pulled off a slick inbounds play Wright threw an alley-oop pass to Ellis, who finished a nifty reverse layup while airborne and backwards to give the home team a 73-72 lead through three periods of play.

Building on their momentum, Golden State took control of the contest, going on a 16-2 run to start the final frame, further inspiring the raucous, sellout audience. Chicago was completely out of sync, unable to stop the Warriors offensive attack or successfully put the ball in the basket.

The visitors extended drought lasted through the midway point of the period, when Deng was fouled going to the basket and subsequently split a pair of free throws. Although Dengs second attempt resulted in an offensive rebound and eventual Brewer layup (he was fouled on the basket, but couldnt capitalize on the three-point play opportunity), Chicago was unable to use the rare positive moment to make a sustainable comeback, despite Golden State not decisively putting the game out of reach.

To the Bulls credit, they continued to battle late, but it simply wasnt enough. After a Korver triple cut the deficit to seven points with under a minute to play, Ellis hit a tough fadeaway toward the end of the shot clock with 24.8 seconds to go, effectively ending Chicagos slim hopes at a miraculous finish.

It was just one of those games where it wasnt going our way. Tried to force it, concluded Rose. We didnt stop them. They were getting everything that they wanted, they were playing with a lot of confidence. We had a chance to break the game open. We were up by a large amount and our defense didnt hold them.

If our offense wasnt going, weve got to depend on our defense. Our defense is what makes us a good team and tonight that wasnt us tonight.

Chimed in Boozer: Golden State made it more of a perimeter-type of game, more perimeter jump shots. They double-teamed D-Rose right when he came into the pick-and-roll and got the ball out of his hands.

The game just got a little bit more clogged up on offense for us and then on defense, we just didnt get any stops. Sometimes you can look at the offense so hard, you forget about the other side, he continued. The way they play, they make you rush a little bit and I thought at times, we rushed a little bit tonight.

Aggrey Sam is CSNChicago.com's Bulls Insider. Follow him @CSNBullsInsider on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bulls information and his take on the team, the NBA and much more.

Rookie Denzel Valentine believes he'll play in Bulls' season opener

Rookie Denzel Valentine believes he'll play in Bulls' season opener

Showing no hesitation, Denzel Valentine stood some eight feet behind the 3-point line and launched a triple in Jimmy Butler’s face, then on the next possession, hit a corner triple that ended a contested 3-on-3 game following Bulls practice Wednesday.

He looks ready, sounds ready and most importantly, feels ready for the season opener Thursday night against the Boston Celtics after missing so much time with a right ankle sprain he suffered in the preseason opener well over two weeks ago.

“I think I’m going to suit up,” Valentine said. “Still have to talk to coach about it, but I think I’m going to suit up. I feel great.”

Assuming the Bulls play nine or 10 guys tomorrow night, Valentine should get some run against the Celtics considering how easily he adapts to the game—and the Bulls are in no position to discriminate if a guy can contribute, thus making Valentine’s recovery that much more important.

“It feels great right now. The staff, give them credit. They’ve done a great job of getting me back into great shape, getting my ankle stronger, so it feels great right now, and ready.”

It seemed the injury took longer than the initial prognosis, and even Valentine felt that, as the Bulls’ first-round draft pick was anxious to get back on the floor and learn the new system and teammates.

[SHOP: Gear up, Bulls fans!]

“Yeah, that was my first ever actual ankle sprain. I’ve twisted my ankle a couple times in college, and I’m back in a couple days, practicing the next day,” he said. “But this one took a while. It was kind of frustrating because I thought it was going to be just like college, twist my ankle and be right back, but it was kind of an unfortunate accident. It took longer to heal. It actually took longer to heal than me actually being out there. It took time, but I’m ready now.”

Heck, he even has a new teammate in Michael Carter-Williams and that affects him being a primary ballhandler on the floor. Fred Hoiberg envisioned Valentine being able to play some point behind Rajon Rondo but with the recent trade, Valentine will likely play more on the wings behind Butler and Dwyane Wade.

It’s another change in the early stages of his career—one where he hasn’t been able to establish much continuity. Hopefully for Valentine, the worst of this is behind him.

“It’s very difficult, and being in Chicago, we’ve played all of our preseason games here, so there wasn’t no traveling like mid-season, so everybody is here pretty much every day practicing, and I’ve got to sit out at it,” Valentine said. “They kind of lose a little chemistry towards me, and the guys getting to play with me and me getting to know them on the court, so kind of lose a little bit of rhythm. But the good thing about me is I don’t need a whole lot of time with the team. I can kind of just sneak my way in and adapt.”

Bulls Talk Podcast: Looking ahead to opening night matchup against Celtics

Bulls Talk Podcast: Looking ahead to opening night matchup against Celtics

In our latest installment of the Bulls Talk Podcast, Mark Schanowski and Kendall Gill get you set for opening night against the Celtics. 

They debate realistic expectations for the team and break down the decision to start Taj Gibson at power forward. Later, Schanowski and Gill analyze the team's biggest concern, defense. 

Finally, CSN New England's Celtics Insider A. Sherrod Blakely joins the panel to discuss what Rajon Rondo has left in the tank. 

Check out the latest edition of the Bulls Talk Podcast below: