The Bulls Wednesday perhaps got too much into the spirit of the cheese state. Limburger came to mind in the Bulls fetid 116-82 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks.
"I was upset with everything," said Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg, who almost ran out of timeouts in the second quarter with three in a three-minute span as the Bulls fell behind by 25. "We weren't getting back. We let our lack of shotmaking affect our overall game as far as edge, effort. Transition defensively was not good and offensively we were not getting matched up getting back. Offensively, we were just settling for way too many bad contested shots."
It was not so much offense as offensive.
Bobby Portis off the bench led the Bulls with 17 points. Kris Dunn added 10 points and Antonio Blakeney with eight points and team highs with eight rebounds and six assists was the only Bulls player with a positive plus/minus. Jabari Parker in his return to Milwaukee in the basketball opening of the new arena had two points on one of 12 shooting, missing his last 12 shots.
"One of them games, for myself, one of them times you have to face it," said Parker. "I felt like I just couldn't get anything to the basket; it happens. I haven't had one of those days in a long time and I was due for one."
Parker was hardly alone in another awful three-point shooting game, the Bulls seven of 41 after four of 18 in the opening win Sunday. Justin Holiday was one of eight, Portis one of seven and Chandler Hutchison one of six. The Bucks were just 15 of 45 on threes, but the style of play was apparent as the Bucks repeatedly made extra passes to get open threes while the Bulls forced tougher attempts.
"I feel like we haven't made (the threes)," said Zach LaVine. "We had a lot of open shots. We had some pull up twos and in the paint twos that were going in and out. New arena, right? I guess they had the cap on."
There was a cap put on LaVine's night early in the third quarter after the Bulls charged within 15 points, their closest deficit for the remainder of the game.
LaVine bumped knees and appeared to grab his right knee. Uh oh. He hobbled around a bit and then left for the remainder of the game with eight points. The Bulls called his injury a right thigh contusion. LaVine said it wasn't serious.
"When I drove, got hit by the kneecap, like a charley horse," LaVine explained. "I could have gone back in the game, but they said there was no need to. Little tight now, but I'll be all right. I'll evaluate it tomorrow and see how it is; little stiff right now. I'm fine; nothing major."
The Bulls would like to believe that's also the diagnosis for their play Wednesday, which was also spasmodic.
After a promising start in which LaVine had a pair of fast break dunk scores on Dunn passes, the Bucks appeared to have the temerity to defend the Bulls shooters, which the Pelicans didn't two much of. And work the ball around for threes. It became a 32-25 first quarter Milwaukee lead on the way to a 20-point Bucks lead at halftime and 90-59 Milwaukee to open the fourth quarter.
Perhaps the display of exotic cheeses was too distracting for the Bulls as well.
"We were going to go light tomorrow, but that's not going to happen," said an obviously annoyed Hoiberg. "We're going to get after it, have a hard physical practice and we're going to get better. It's been pretty easy for us putting the ball in the hoop and tonight it wasn't going down for us. Obviously, we were struggling to score from all areas and it was affecting us; physically we lost our edge. We weren't getting back, we weren't getting matched up, we had no communication out there. You lose the glass by 21; that says it all.
"When the ball is going through the hoop we're pretty good," Hoiberg noted. "But right now we have to find a way to fight through those adverse situations and we didn't do it. The other night we were getting the ball into the paint. Over 70 percent of our possessions ended in a paint touch; tonight that didn't happen."
The Bulls philosophy in these two games has been to get penetration, primarily through the dribble. The theory is that collapses the defense for three-point shooting. But the defense doesn't react to the shooters much when the shots don't go in. In the opener, the Bulls were making those paint shots. Dunn did again Wednesday in getter stronger finishing at the basket. Blakeney was taking advantage of his ability to get open and moving the ball, which he didn't last season. Portis was looking for his shot immediately, as usual.
"With me whether we are up or down, I am going to be myself," assured Portis. "That's the way I've always been. Take the shots given to me and be aggressive; you know me, I never hang my head, just use every game as a lesson."
This was a painful one as the Bucks showed how much more advanced they were than the Bulls with slicker and wider ball movement and the willingness to share that wasn't as apparent with the Bulls. Plus, the Bucks size was problematic for the Bulls. Rookie Wendell Carter Jr. was valuable with nine points and five rebounds. But at reaching for 6-10 he has a size disadvantage. In several matchups while playing with Portis or Parker, the Bulls were overwhelmed on the backboards. The Bulls had to bring back Robin Lopez several times to negate that Milwaukee edge.
The Bulls shot just 32 percent and had just 12 free throw attempts, indicative of their willingness to settle for too many contested shots.
"We came out good," insisted LaVine. "I felt like we were real lively. I think we looked really good and I felt really good, but in the second quarter I feel it really turned and we got really tired, offensively and defensively not getting back in transition and stuff like that. We were competing with them early on, making it a good game running. We have to keep that up regardless if we are tired or not or the calls are going their way or whatever it is. Second quarter we looked like a tired team. They looked good, like they had their legs, like us in our first game. But it's good adversity for us. When that hits, I'm glad it's preseason so we get to go back to film and see want we did wrong and try to clean it up. They were moving the ball, hitting the paint, spraying it out. We took a lot of contested twos. They were the more aggressive team."
Just a cheesy all around effort.