Wednesday, November 19, 2003

0-28 Another West Coast loss last night, this time against the Suns, in which was arguably the most winnable game on this trip. The game wasn't on TV here (you know why), but I see that Jalen Rose shot 3-16 (he's shooting 38.7% so far folks), and Tyson Chandler was limited to 19 minutes, and is scheduled to see a back specialist today. As Scooby-Doo would say, "Ruh-Roh". I'm sure I'm not the only one who's starting to get worried about this. In other injury news, Crawford still isn't practicing, and Marcus Fizer was activated from the injured list and replaced by Linton Johnson. Fizer went on to score 10 in 17 minutes. ESPN's Dr. Jack Ramsay has this week's 'prescription' for the Bulls. Get it? cause he's a doctor. Its a short read, not really informative though...lets take a look:
The Bulls' record stands at 4-7 going into a five-game trip through the West. They've yet to win two games in a row, and, statistically, they rank 20th in points scored (88.5), 27th in points allowed (98.0), 29th in 3-point percentage defense (.428), 24th in field-goal defense (.442) and 28th in turnovers (18.9 per game). They also commit four turnovers more than they force from opponents and are out-rebounded each game on average at both boards. Those are not numbers associated with winning teams.
Well to be honest, the only one that's suprising is the 88.5 points scored, but those defensive numbers are really awful. You'd expect some improvement with Pippen and Gill coming in. And, well, maybe the kids learning some defense.
As I watch the Bulls now, Cartwright appears to have given in. He sits impassively as they commit careless turnovers, take bad shots and play soft defense. He needs to take the Bulls by the horns and assert himself again. Next, he needs to establish a starting lineup and stick with it. That lineup must include the five most talented players who play together best at both ends of the floor. Crawford and Rose should be among them, although both need to upgrade their games. Pippen should come off the bench. Scottie is a great player to settle the team, but he is no longer capable of starting or playing extended minutes. Hinrich isn't ready to start in the NBA. It's difficult for the offense to function properly when the point guard commits more turnovers than assists, as Hinrich has. Cartwright then needs to tighten his rotation off the bench to eight players -- or nine at the most. These players need to know when they are going to play and for approximately how long. He needs to stay with those decisions long enough to determine whether or not they fail or succeed.
This has been a rallying cry against Cartwright for some time now, figuring out a rotation and sticking with it. While its nice to cause a 'shakeup' after getting blown out a couple of times, it's still important for players to know their roles. But this year I'm giving Cartwright a pass on this. The team just hasn't been healthy all season. While this doesn't excuse their record, it does excuse the lack of a set rotation. Now with Chandler's back getting worse and Crawford still days from coming back, it doesn't look like lineup consistency is going to be happening for a while. I still expect the Bulls to steal one or two games on this trip. And for a Bulls' Fans' prescription while watching the games, do what I do: drink heavily.