Sam: Bulls React to Game 2 Loss to Cavaliers

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Sam: Bulls React to Game 2 Loss to Cavaliers

Tuesday, April 20, 2010
10:15 AM

By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com

After the game, a dejected Derrick Rose put on a brave face when talking about LeBron James backbreaking 40-point performance.

Hes a player where hes going to hit shots like that, the best player in the NBA right now on the best team in the NBA right now, Rose told CSNChicago.com in the visiting locker room at The Q after the Bulls loss. Well live with him making shots like that, as long as hes not getting all those other people involved like he usually does.

Weve still got to come with the same effort, even more energy next time. Weve got to rebound the ball more. If we come up with almost the same game and just hope theyre exhausted, we should be fine.

Luol Deng had a solid night -- regardless of James 40 points, Deng made him work for everything he got -- finishing with 20 points, six boards and five assists, after a disappointing showing in Game 1. Deng, who was the second-ranked player in the high school class of 2003 (James was No. 1), has been going head-to-head with the Cleveland star for years, making him more familiar with his game than most, especially as they play the same position.

You cant do anything. You can take away some things, but you cant take away everything, Deng said about defending James. You just hope he doesnt shoot like that. But hes been getting better since high school and when youre talented like that and you have all the confidence in the world, its hard to stop and thats where hes at right now.

He had a good shooting night, but weve got to go home. Ive seen guys do it, but at the same time, I think we did a good job of hanging in there. We had a chance tonight. We didnt have a chance the other night, so were happy about that.

Deng, like Rose, is also optimistic about Chicagos chances in the series, despite their 2-0 deficit.

Were not concerned. Were the eighth seed. Were going to battle, were going to try to win and still try to make a series out of it. The pressure is always on them and weve just to take care of home court and the pressure will build up.

Despite the loss and his villain status among the Cleveland faithful, Joakim Noah showed no remorse for his overblown comments about the city -- which were displayed on the Quicken Loans Arena JumboTron as he shot free throws, inciting fans to boo even more -- saying after the game, I was booed a lot. My whole life Ive been booed. College, I was getting booed a lot. Boston, they dont like me over there and they dont like me over here either. Its okay. I have my friends. I dont care.

Noah went on to say when asked if he regretted his comments, Not at all. You like it? You think Clevelands cool? I mean, Ive never heard anybody say, Im going to Cleveland on vacation? Whats so great about Cleveland?

As far as the game itself, Noah put the loss in perspective during his postgame press conference.

Were playing against the best team and I think this is great for our team, he said. The competition doesnt get any higher than this. Weve just got to keep fighting and understand that this is great for us -- in the big picture. When you go into the summer, you can say, We were playing against the best team and we know what weve got to do to get better, and thats all it is right now. Its all about getting better and trying to win ballgames.

Bulls reserve guard Flip Murray came off the bench to score 14 points, including 10 in the first half, and provided Chicago with a player other than Rose that could create his own shot -- especially in light of the series-long offensive struggles of starting shooting guard Kirk Hinrich. However, his strong outing was offset by the play of Cavaliers backup swingman Jamario Moon, who hit four of his five three-point attempts, including a perfect 3-for-3 in the fourth quarter, as well as two key blocked shots, complementing James with some huge baskets down the stretch.

Moon, an athletic streak-shooting journeyman who played in a various leagues across the world before breaking into the NBA as an older rookie with Toronto, said After that second one, it felt like I was throwing it into the ocean. Its about being confident and being ready to shoot the basketball. My teammates kept believing in me and I kept believing in my shot and I was knocking them down. Coming from where I came from and the road that it took for me to get here, it feels great.

Follow me on Twitter @CSNBullsInsider.

Aggrey Sam is CSNChicago.coms 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.

Doug McDermott's return boosts Bulls' bench

Doug McDermott's return boosts Bulls' bench

Doug McDermott wasn’t exactly hunting for his first shot, but the first time he touched the ball in an NBA game in nearly a month wasn’t the optimal situation for him to let one fly.

It wasn’t in transition where he runs to an opening behind the 3-point line, nor was it a drive-and-kick situation where the help defense collapsed and left him open. It was a regular, simple, pass to the perimeter and McDermott’s defender was in reasonable proximity with 3:23 left in the first quarter.

He launched and the crowd soon roared its approval as his sweet jumper was sorely missed by the Bulls bench brigade—and moments later when he ran the floor for a fearless layup that caused Spurs coach Gregg Popovich to call a timeout, McDermott showed he missed the United Center crowd too, calling for more noise on his way to the bench.

“Anytime you have a guy like Doug, he comes back and makes his first 3, that’s hard to do,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. “He stepped up with confidence on that first shot. I’m sure he had a lot of nerves getting back out there.”

Missing 12 games and suffering two concussions, McDermott looked right at home in 25 minutes of run Thursday as the Bulls were able to rely on their reserves in some form in their 95-91 win over the previously perfect road warriors known as the Spurs.

“We defended and kept them off the foul line,” McDermott said. “Coach (Jim) Boylen was with them, so we feel we know them and I think all this time they were missing my defense.”

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The last statement was certainly tongue-in-cheek, but the Bulls’ bench production was certainly missing in action while he was out with the concussion protocol. So much so that his return prompted the Bulls’ coaching staff to call out the reserves in the morning shootaround, demanding more.

“It’s definitely Dwyane (Wade) and Jimmy (Butler) and (Rajon) Rondo (but) the coaching staff kinda called out our bench like, we gotta have you tonight, bench,” McDermott said. “We took that to heart, we were really locked in.”

Seemingly his presence aided the Bulls’ spirits and production, as the Bulls’ bench had the least effective scoring bench in the NBA since Nov. 13, the day after McDermott hit the unforgiving floor against the Wizards for his second concussion this season.

Their net rating ranks ahead of only the Wizards, Mavericks and Nets, who are a combined 17-45 this season. Their effective field goal percentage, which takes into account 3-pointers, is worst in the league in that span (42.3 percent).

When McDermott was healthy for that smaller sample size, the Bulls’ bench ranked fifth in offensive efficiency, seventh in net rating, and fifth in efficient field goal percentage. Whether McDermott – and his absence – was directly related to those numbers, it’s clear the Bulls are better when they have their best reserve – and only true floor spacers on the second unit – on the court.

“We’re all professionals and we want to help the guys who are busting their butts in the first unit to get us the leads,” McDermott said. “Tonight we did a great job of sustaining it. We take it personal when teams come back on us.”

[MORE: Pau Gasol relishes consistency with Spurs he couldn't find with Bulls]

Nikola Mirotic was four of eight from the field, and Cristiano Felicio seems to be back in Fred Hoiberg’s good graces as he’s carved out a rotation spot for himself with nine points and seven rebounds in 18 minutes.

It seems as if Hoiberg will stick with this rotation of players, at least for a little while until Michael Carter-Williams returns from his injuries. If McDermott is the mark of the Bulls’ bench going from bottom feeder to adequate, it should show this month.

“When he’s out there on the floor and we get him coming off screens, it forces the defense to shift as another person they need to be aware of,” Hoiberg said. “It opens up driving lanes for our guys. It was great to have Doug back with us.”

Morning Update: Bulls beat Spurs in Pau Gasol's return to Chicago

Morning Update: Bulls beat Spurs in Pau Gasol's return to Chicago

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