2009.10 Chicago Bulls | 82 gamesOctober and November
Game 15: Bulls can't buck their losing ways
Bucks 99, Bulls 97 | 11.30.09: Well, at least it wasn’t a blowout this time. And nobody got hurt. And the post game pizza was still hot and it was Milwaukee and it wasn’t snowing. So there were some positives.
But the Bulls came home—to the Midwest, at least—but lost to the Milwaukee Bucks 99-97 when Brad Miller’s 18 footer with less than a second came up short.
“That’s a shot I’ve shot a lot,” said Miller. “It just came up short. We had one play called and when (Charlie Bell) missed the first (free throw with 7.1 seconds left), we switched to a pick and roll. It’s well in my range. I felt comfortable. Just didn’t make it. Now we’ve got to take advantage of these home games coming up and get back on the winnings ways.”
So the Bulls finish their so called “circus” trip 1-5 and now 6-9 on the season and getting into dangerous territory of falling too far back in the Eastern Conference.
“You read my mind,” said Derrick Rose, who had 17 of his 19 points after halftime and won the matchup with Bucks prized rookie Brandon Jennings. “I know how hard it is from last year to get back to .500. We’ve got to take advantage. This was a game we were supposed to win and we let it slip.”
Sam Smith of Bulls.com talks about the road trip, the slow first half
and James Johnson's lack of playing time:
Game 14: Jazz feast on Bulls for Thanksgiving
Jazz 105, Bulls 86 | 11.26.09: The Bulls played the Utah Jazz on Thanksgiving, so they seemed to accept the occasion as the turkeys with the Jazz as the hosts. That’s right. The Bulls got carved up badly in this one, mashed like a potato, creamed like corn, had the stuffing knocked out of them, squashed like a butternut and whipped like cream.
I know. That was pretty corny. But anything for a smile after this Bulls disaster of a 105-86 loss to the Jazz, the fourth consecutive game in which the Bulls trailed by at least 24 points.
Sorry. That’s just bad basketball. There’s no bright side to that. You lose like that and it means you are not competing.
“They played harder than us. That’s all I know,” said Joakim Noah, who had six points and nine rebounds, his third straight game failing to reach double figure rebounds after taking the league lead. “We’ve got to do something. We’re not competing like I know we’re capable of competing.”
Who’s idea was it to go heavy on the tryptophan for the pregame meal?
Game 13: Portland sends Bulls to third straight big loss
Blazers 122, Bulls 98 | 11.23.09: The frustration—of a third consecutive loss in which the Bulls trailed by at least 24 points, of playing against a big, physical front line, of just not being able to compete throughout—finally burst out of Joakim Noah with 5:34 remaining in what would be a 122-98 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers.
Noah was doing his best all game, banging against Greg Oden and his 50-pound weight advantage, trying to scramble outside to blitz the pick and rolls and then hustle back only to find the opportunistic Trail Blazers with the ball sent into Oden with little weak side help. So Rudy Fernandez launched a three and there was Oden grabbing the rebound again and Noah fouling him and it was all just too much as Noah fired the ball into the basket stanchion, his hands falling to his side and his head hanging.
“He kept putting his body on me…(Joel) Przybilla coming in... All their big guys played well,” Noah sighed. “Yeah. I was frustrated. What do you want me to say? I’ve just got to find a way. I feel like I’ve been getting overpowered the last few games, guys putting their bodies on me. It’s taken a toll. I’ve got to find a way to sustain.”
Noah, wearing a coat and hat as his teammates dressed around him and left the locker room quietly, continued to sit silently and stare at the box score. He ended with seven points and eight rebounds and no thanks. He didn’t speak to anyone and no one said anything to him. He just sat there and studied that box score over and over...
Bulls Executive VP of Basketball Operations John Paxson talks about his changing roles and the play of Joakim Noah (Part I):
Paxson discusses Tyrus Thomas, the selection of the two rookies and Vinny Del Negro in his second year (Part II):
Game 12: Bulls take another beating out west
Nuggets 112, Bulls 93 | 11.21.09: You might say the Bulls’ 112-93 loss to the Denver Nuggets had its ups and downs. That’s right. The Bulls seemed to give up when they got down.
“I thought our defense, our transition defense, our energy, our effort in the second half was very disappointing,” said Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro in perhaps his harshest critique of the team in his two seasons as coach. “The Lakers and Denver (who both blew out the 6-6 Bulls on this road trip that is now 1-2) are two of the top teams. They’re big and strong and they have guys you can guard well (and they still produce). But I didn’t like out intensity, our effort, especially rebounding the ball. Our rotations were slow, and once they got on a roll, we had no answer for them offensively. They picked their defense up and we let the pressure bother us.
“Guys make shots on this league,” said Del Negro. “But you’ve got to continually give the effort, the energy and the professionalism, and I didn’t think we did that in the second half.
“Once they got the lead and got rolling, we kind of fell into (their) momentum instead of being physical and having a little fight to us,” said Del Negro. “Giving up layups in transition, tip dunks. The list goes on...”
Bulls Radio's Bill Wennington discusses the first half:
Game 11: It's CSI L.A. and Bulls are victims
Lakers 108, Bulls 93 | 11.19.09: Well, at least the Bulls, in being blown out 108-93 by the Lakers, learned how far they are from being a championship team. And how tall.
“Our defensive schemes…they just weren’t good enough….not for what they bring to the table,” stammered Joakim Noah, trying to sort through trailing by close to 20 virtually the entire second half. “You double team somebody, you leave someone open and…they killed us on the offensive glass. There’s nobody you really can help off. You have a guy at the two 6-6, a guy at the three 6-10, a guy 7-1 at center and another 7 footer power forward. They’re bigger at every position.
“They made it look easy, like an exhibition,” sighed Noah, who had 12 points and 15 rebounds for his sixth straight double/double. “It felt like the varsity team compared to the j.v. team. I’m tired. I’m looking around on the court and nobody on the Lakers broke a sweat.”
This was how it started...
Game 10: Bulls are the kings of Sacramento
Bulls 101, Kings 87 | 11.17.09: It looks like the Bulls may have found a go to scorer for down the stretch in games, Joakim Noah. Joakim Noah?
Perhaps his range is four inches, but Noah, with another double/double of 15 points and 14 rebounds, converted the two crucial baskets late in the fourth quarter Tuesday as the Bulls opened the so-called circus Western Conference road trip with a 101-87 victory over the Sacramento Kings.
“Joakim Noah was a monster, especially in the second half,” said Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro. “He had a couple of great tip-ins. Just some good performances that we needed. We didn’t shoot the ball nearly as well in the second half, but at least we had enough of a cushion to sustain that a little bit. It’s a good start to a long trip.”
John Salmons, meanwhile, celebrated his return to Sacramento with a team high 23 points on nine of 18 shooting with four steals and three of five threes. It was a promising sign for Salmons, who came into the game shooting 31.7 percent and 26.7 percent on threes...
Game 9: Bulls show spirit in sinking 76ers
Bulls 94, 76ers 88 | 11.14.09: It was almost like Steve Nash, Reggie Miller, Mark Price and Larry Bird were out there shooting for the Bulls. It was almost like Doug Moe was running the Bulls offense. How ‘bout that offensive display, folks?
The Bulls scored a season high 94 points, though they remain the only NBA team not to score 100 in a game yet, and shot 44.9 percent, second best on the season, and overcame an early 14-point deficit to beat the Philadelphia 76ers 94-88.
OK, OK, but for this Bulls team this season that was high powered offense.
“Guys are getting good looks,” offered Luol Deng in a familiar refrain. “It’s just a matter of time. We’ve got to stay consistent. Our defense is winning games for us now.”
Deng had 19 points and nine rebounds and tied Kirk Hinrich for high scorer. Though Hinrich was perhaps more pivotal in coming off the bench with Brad Miller to combine for 33 points after the Bulls opened up jumping on the 76ers for six points in the first seven minutes of the game. Not according to plan, the 76ers had 20 by then...
Game 8: Raptors shoot down misfiring Bulls
Raptors 99, Bulls 89 | 11.11.09: So when exactly does a shooting slump become just bad shooters? Not yet, assures Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro, despite another shockingly poor night of jump shooting as the Toronto Raptors beat the Bulls 99-89. And talk about your firing of blanks.
The Bulls accumulated (I can’t use a verb like scored the way they played) 28 second half points. They missed their last 15 shots and were three of 21 shooting in the fourth quarter. Their last field goal of the game was with 9:21 left. They also committed five turnovers and missed three of their last four free throws in being outscored 22-11 in the fourth quarter. The Bulls guards were three of 18 after halftime.
“It’s still early in the season,” said Del Negro as the Bulls fell to 4-4. “We got good looks, but we just didn’t knock them down. We have got to find some guys to step up and make some shots when we need to. But we are relying on our defense a lot, (putting) a lot of pressure on that. We had our opportunities in the fourth quarter. They took control by making shots. We had open looks. There is no good answer for that other than just look at the film, make adjustments and try to make plays. We are getting good looks it’s a matter of knocking them down.”
Yes, we’ve heard that for most of eight games, and given where the Bulls are in the league statistics it’s a minor miracle they are .500 and could have been 5-3 if Brad Miller’s desperation throw had counted against the Nuggets...
Raptors All-Star forward Chris Bosh talks with Chuck Swirsky about staying connected with his fans and maturing in the NBA:
Game 7: Bulls lose to Nuggets on the replay
Nuggets 90, Bulls 89 | 11.10.09: It had already been a terrific finish before the controversial finish. In the end, the Bulls saw official opinion deny them a sensational win over the Denver Nuggets which officially became a 90-89 loss.
Derrick Rose, with a team high 22 points including 10 in the fourth quarter in his best game of the season, had picked up a loose ball and scored after a terrific Kirk Hinrich save to bring the Bulls into an 87-87 tie with 33.9 seconds left.
Carmelo Anthony, who led the Denver Nuggets with 20 points but on eight of 22 shooting, worked Luol Deng along the left baseline away from help and his 14 foot fadeaway gave the Nuggets an 89-87 lead with 13.1 seconds remaining.
This was getting to be fun, if agonizing...
Continue reading Sam Smith's game recap | Box Score | NBA.com recap
Also: Denver’s Karl takes notice of Bulls’ ability to hit the boards
Joakim Noah or Greg Oden? Who's better?
No love for Noah on NBA's All-Star ballot
BullsTV: Bulls Insider with Sam Smith
BullsTV: Special Access with George Karl
Game 6: Bulls win and Noah's no ordinary Jo
Bulls 93, Bobcats 90 | 11.07.09: The Bulls figured they might have an All-Star this season for the first time in a decade. They didn’t figure it could be Joakim Noah.
But Noah again was indispensible, scoring a career high 21 points and grabbing 16 rebounds to help lead the Bulls to a 93-90 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats and raise the team’s record to 4-2.
Noah is averaging 11.3 points and 11 rebounds and shooting 60 percent, and it was his inspirational full court playoff Game 6-like drive that kicked off a 16-0 Bulls run late in the third quarter into the fourth that wrestled the game away from the Bobcats...
Game 5: Bulls take down another contender
Bulls 86, Cavaliers 85 | 11.05.09: Let’s see: Wins over two of the five accepted title favorites this season, the Spurs and the Cavs. Leading the Central Division despite four of the first five games against playoff teams and three on the road. And they still can’t shoot.
“Heck of a win,” Joakim Noah exulted running off the floor in Cleveland after helping on the game saving play, forcing Cavs star LeBron James into a turnover as James drove for the game winning points.
“If he scores they win the game,” noticed Luol Deng, the other half of the duo to sandwich James. “If we get a stop we win the game. All you can do.”
And what do you know. There was no superstar call, though the superstar, James, was left speechless, looking vainly at the referees but not sure even what to say.
“I felt a push from Deng, and I felt some contact up top from Noah," said James. "Enough to put me on the free-throw line? Yes. But it is a judgment call from the refs, and he saw what he saw."
And what the rest of us saw was an impressive defensive effort from the Bulls, right down to the last moments when they forced James left, to his weaker side, on the drive to the basket that had a lot to do with James being unable to control the ball. It trickled out of bounds with two tenths of a second left. The referees went to the video replay, and if you were a Bulls fan you were thinking, “They’re changing the call for LeBron.”
But it was to determine possession and time, and it went to the Bulls and they soon walked off with an 86-85 win to go to 3-2 after what looked to be an impossible start to the season...
Video: Bulls score a road win in Cleveland
Continue reading Sam Smith's game recap | Chuck Swirsky audio recap | Box Score | NBA.com recap
Luol Deng fracturing critics this season
Shaq vs. Brad Miller: Round 2?
Game 4: Bulls buck the losing trend against Milwaukee
Bulls 83, Bucks 81 | 11.03.09: Could it be the Bulls (2-2) have rediscovered that developing All-Star, Luol Deng?
Here’s how former Bulls coach Scott Skiles described how his Milwaukee Bucks blew an 18-point lead and lost to the Bulls, 83-81, as Deng had 24 points and a career high 20 rebounds.
“We got physically dominated by Deng tonight,” said Skiles. We just couldn't do anything with him. There was no pressure on him. Then we froze when they pressured us defensively. When they took the lead, and we were making as many mistakes as we did, it's hard to come back. I thought we defended fairly well all night. We just couldn't control Deng.”
Our Luol Deng? Yes, the guy who seemed on the verge of stardom a few years ago but who sunk with injuries and uneven play is averaging 17.8 points and 10.5 rebounds in the 2-2 start and 25 points and 14 rebounds the last two games...
Game 3: Bulls shot down in Miami
Heat 95, Bulls 87 | 11.01.09: Can’t anyone here make a shot? It’s something of a paraphrase of Casey Stengel’s famous line about his 1962 New York Mets and whether anyone here can play this game. The Bulls (1-2) aren’t that bad. But in losing to the Miami Heat 95-87, an unsettling pattern is beginning to develop.
This Bulls team can’t make shots. The Bulls shot 40.9 percent Sunday and now are 41 percent for the season, 24th in the NBA and 28th in points scored. You’d bring up Ben Gordon, though the Pistons are 29th in points scored. The only reason you'd say the Bulls aren't shooting themselves in the foot is they'd probably miss.
I thought the bigger issue was that the Bulls seemed to be getting good shots. You’d almost wish more were contested. Kirk Hinrich is two of 13 on threes. John Salmons is three of 19. They are the team’s long distance court spreaders along with Jannero Pargo, who is one of three on threes in limited playing time. The team, overall, is seven of 43 on threes...
Gar Forman talks about taking over as general manager, the difficult November schedule and the growth of Derrick Rose:
Part II with Forman as he talks about the maturation of Joakim Noah, the emphasis on defense this year and the addition of the two rookies:
Game 2: Celtics send message to Bulls: Not this time!
Celtics 118, Bulls 90 | 10.30.09: You are not supposed to be able to send messages this early in an NBA season. But it seemed the Boston Celtics air mailed one to the Bulls (1-1) in Boston’s bruising 118-90 stampede over the Bulls.
Having had to listen for almost six months about how evenly the Bulls played the Celtics in last spring’s memorable opening round, overtime filled series, the Celtics’ play spoke eloquently that things are different now and you kids are not quite ready. Forget overtime. This one was over before anyone had much time to sit down.
“They played intense defense tonight,” said Derrick Rose, who had a quiet 10 points and two assists, reported a modicum of ankle soreness in what looks like an ongoing watch and was dominated by Rajon Rondo. “I’m happy this is early in the season so we can come back and learn from it. It took a long tome for us to get in a groove. I’m still trying to find my groove out there.”
Joakim Noah led the Bulls with 16 points and 10 rebounds, and the Bulls did have five players scoring in double figures. But the game in no way resembled the spirited opening win over the San Antonio Spurs...
Game 1: Bulls outplay Spurs in impressive opening win
Bulls 92, Spurs 85 | 10.29.09: The Bulls (1-0) in their home opener looked good in a 92-85 win over the powerful San Antonio Spurs. No, really. They really looked good. Seriously. Like a team that really could compete with the top teams. Did I mention that they really looked good?
“We play well together,” said Luol Deng, who led a well rounded, unselfish effort with 17 points and nine rebounds. “We share the ball real well. I think we’re going to see this a lot, where a lot of guys are (scoring) in double figures. We know it’s a big game, but we’ve got to keep building. But I feel we’re mature this year where we can stay consistent.”
Yes, it’s one of 82, and everyone had that excuse ready just in case they lost.
But the Bulls vastly outplayed the highly regarded Spurs, outrebounding them 52-44 and 15-8 on the offensive boards, holding the trio of Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Richard Jefferson to a combined four points in the second half and dominating the Spurs in second chance points 22-13.
“They had more guys come to compete than we did,” said Spurs coach Gregg Popovich. “We had one guy (Tim Duncan with 28 points and 16 rebounds) come to compete, and that’s not good enough. Their team competed. They deserve a lot of credit. They kicked our (butts). They were more aggressive, loose balls, boards, the whole deal.”
It was something to see...
Video: Opening Night at the United Center
Video: Post-game interviews from the locker room
Continue reading Sam Smith's game recap | Box Score | NBA.com recap
Preview: For starters, it’s Rose at point guard