Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Bulls defense: slippin' like the quality of ESPN's product

Hey, I'm able to see the game! Time for a good ole-fashioned recap:

The first quarter of tonight's game against the Rockets started out well for both teams, each moving the ball well, and the quarter finished with a 1 point Bulls lead at 29-28. Luol Deng was taken out of the game early with foul trouble, which especially hurt since judging by his early dunk over Yao he was looking to build upon his career high effort the night before. In the second quarter the Rockets bench exploded for a 15-0 run, behind the scoring of Jon Barry and the rebounding of Bull-for-a-week Dikembe Mutumbo(with names like that no wonder they have the league's oldest team). If I hadn’t been watching I’d assume that Tyson Chandler was getting his lunch handed to him by Mutumbo, but I personally thought Tyson was getting his as well, while overcoming a raw deal from the refs. This was especially true when he had the ball in his hands, as Rockets would come in from all angles ready to break his wrists at a chance for the ball.

The Bulls were outscored in the second quarter 23-14 yet kept the halftime deficit under single digits at 8.

Another run (this time 8-0) by the Rockets opened the 2nd half. Things were looking so bad on the offensive end that Jannero Pargo got in the action midway through the quarter (Duhon was still out there though, so go figure). Going to a smaller lineup and zone defense initially didn't help with Tracy McGrady and David Wesley shooting the Rockets (ugh, pun) to a 18 point lead. But the Bulls answered with a flurry of points to end the quarter down by a manageable 11 points, perhaps gearing up for another stirring 4th quarter comeback.

The Bulls came out in the 4th with the same lineup (Hinrich/Pargo/Pike/Noc/Chandler), which I thought was a case of Skiles pushing his luck. Mutumbo again was taking over inside(13 rebounds in 17 minutes!), even driving the baseline for a ferocious dunk (which made me think it was 1994 again, when Mutumbo was a spry 35 years old).

In the end the Rockets shooting was just too much as they went on yet another scoring run and built the lead to 20, on their way to handing the Bulls a 105-92 loss.

Some bright spots for the Bulls were Tyson Chandler, who had 20 rebounds and verified my (usually) lying eyes. Pike and Duhon had decent shooting games. Noticeable MIAs were Curry (10 pts in 23 min) and Gordon (9 in 24). Deng finished with 20 minutes after playing 47 the night before.

Lets chalk this one up to bad legs, the Bulls were on the second of a tough back-to-back, against a good veteran Rockets team. For a team that is among the league leaders in field-goal defense to give up an eFG% of 54% and give up 105 points to a team that normally scores a Van-Gundy-style 93 shows that the Bulls just didn't have it on the defensive end tonight.