BULLet Points: Bulls defense carved up in loss to Hornets

  • The Bulls entered Tuesday’s game in Charlotte with the fourth best defense in the NBA, allowing just 91 points per 100 possessions in their first four contests. This team was certainly due for some regression, but tonight the crash down towards the mean was just mean.
  • The Hornets, winless before Tuesday night, put on a shooting clinic against the Bulls. The team shot 51.6% from the field and an unconscious 60.9% from three point land. The disconcerting thing for the Bulls was that other than a pair of triples that banked in, most of the Hornets points came on good, open looks. The Bulls were consistently caught over-helping around the perimeter, and no one on the Hornets showed an ounce of fear attempting shots around the rim. In a game where the Hornets attempted 91 field goals, the Bulls did not record a single block.
  • And the glaring lack of a block comes on a night where the Hornets attempted a lot of shots in the paint. Joakim Noah looked all out of sorts, unable to challenge shots at the rim or deter dribblers outside the paint. Pau Gasol plays defense when he feels like it.  His effort to close the first half was beyond embarrassing.

Enes Kanter thought that was bad.

  • Doug McDermott had the best shooting night of his career. Last year’s first round pick was 50% from the field and 5-8 from beyond the arc. His 17 points tied a career high. But whatever McBuckets positively contributed on offense, he immediately gave back nearly every time he crossed half court. McDermott looks lost on defense in a way that is very concerning. Just a couple months shy of his 24th birthday, Doug seems incapable of executing a defensive scheme. He’s constantly trying to help, but his help is either late, unnecessary, or both. He leaves shooters, he hacks at guys as they blow by him, and he does it with a look on his face that screams confusion. His confidence on the offensive end has been a welcome site considering the results of his rookie campaign, but I expect his minutes to be drastically reduced as soon as Mike Dunleavy returns from back surgery.
  • Jeremy Lamb had a little pep in his step after inking a three year, $21 million dollar contract. The former Thunder guard shot 9/10 and 2/3 from three. He was +22 in his 25 minutes on the court.
  • The Bulls still put together a decent effort on offense. They shot 48.9% overall and 46.7% from three as a team. Jimmy Butler in particular had a great night shooting the ball. He came out confidently from the opening tip and finished the game with 26 points on 10/16 shots. But the Bulls settled for outside looks too much and only made eight trips to the free throw line, five of which they missed. Al Jefferson is not known for his rim protection skills, but he went largely untested in this game.
  • The one thing that kept me watching until the final buzzer sounded was the much anticipated debut of Bobby Portis. Portis entered the game midway through the final period when the game had been over for a while, but he still played with playoff level intensity.
  • Portis scored ten points and knocked down a couple of mid range jumpers. He looked a little slow defensively, but that’s to be expected in an NBA debut. Portis is far from a polished product and will probably be a human victory cigar in his rookie year, but he’s someone I’m very excited about as a building block for the future. It was great to see him on the court.
  • Up next: the Bulls host Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant on Thursday as the Oklahoma City Thunder come to the United Center.
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