BULLet Points: Bulls drop an absolute stinker in Orlando

They say “if you don’t have anything nice to say, it’s better to say nothing at all.” But when you are obligated to recap a Bulls game, it can be a tough rule to abide by

  • The defensive effort was embarrassing from the opening tip. The Bulls surrendered 33 first quarter points, digging themselves a hole they never came close to emerging from.
  • Orlando’s fast start was literally a fast start. The Magic scored six fast break points in the opening quarter and routinely beat the Bulls down the court the entire game. The Magic finished the game with 19 fast break points and scored several more in semi transition.
  • Derrick Rose and Pau Gasol were the biggest culprits when it came to the transition defense. On one first quarter possession, Rose switched on to Victor Oladipo in transition and simply stopped tracking him once he got below the free throw line. Rose committed a similar mistake again the third quarter, failing to find his matchup in transition and surrendering an open three.

  • Rose’s lapses on defense were bad, but nowhere near as bad as the stink-bomb Pau Gasol dropped. Pau is old and is being asked to carry a huge load on offense. But this play in particular really made me angry

Orlando scores an easy layup off a live-ball turnover, but Gasol’s effort is laughable. At the time of the turnover, Pau is out around the top of the three point arc and ahead of the oncoming Magic fast break. But the big Spaniard is in no hurry to protect the rim and is nowhere near in position to prevent the basket.

  • The Bulls sluggishness could be chalked up to playing the second night of a road back-to-back. But that excuse doesn’t fly against a team that also played the day before. The Bulls arguably had a schedule advantage over the Orlando. They only had to travel from nearby Miami; the Magic flew in from Dallas.
  • Continuing a trend that has been consistent the last several years, the Bulls who didn’t play made just as big of an impact on the game as the ones who did. Chicago was without Jimmy Butler,  Joakim Noah, Nikola Mirotic and Taj Gibson, who sustained a hamstring injury Tuesday in Miami. Remember in January when it seemed like the Bulls needed to make a trade to unclog the big man logjam? Good times.
  • With Taj out, Fred Hoiberg inexplicably chose to start Cameron Bairstow alongside Pau Gasol. Bairstow, who averages 6.7 fouls per 36 minutes, lasted only five minutes in the first quarter before picking up his second foul. Unfortunately, the damage had already been done; Bairstow was a net -12 in the quarter. He did not re-enter the game until only five minutes remained and the score was far out of reach. He miraculously avoided picking up a third foul.
  • Hoiberg used the lack of serviceable big men as an opportunity to experiment with lineup combinations. The five man group that saw the most minutes in this game was Aaron Brooks, Tony Snell, Justin Holiday, Doug McDermott and Bobby Portis. The Bulls were -1 in the 11 minutes these guys shared the court, an encouraging net rating considering how all other combinations worked out. With an acute awareness of the lack of size on the floor, all five players worked hard together to play defense and rebound. The added space on the floor didn’t do much to help the offense, but this concept is something I hope Hoiberg continues to revisit.
  • Derrick Rose had a nice first half, scoring 16 points on 7/9 shooting. He also dished four assists and grabbed three rebounds in the first two quarters. The hot start sadly did not carry over the rest of the game, as Rose finished with just the 16 points.
  • Mario Hezonja scored a career high 21 points, shooting 9/17 from the field and 3/7 from three. The Croation rookie is not afraid to let it fly, and if he starts knocking down threes with some consistency he could develop into the floor spacing wing the Magic desperately need.
  • Coming up: the Bulls host the Rockets on Saturday, when Jimmy Butler may return to the court.
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