BULLet Points: Nets Snap Bulls Win Streak

Sometimes in sports you just don’t have it. And boy, did the Bulls not have it. After rattling off seven straight wins, the Bulls continued their shooting woes from the latter part of the game in Indiana, as Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler combined for 5-27 after Rose went 5-20 against the Pacers. It was a rough night for the Bulls, as no one on the team seemed to be able to bail them out against a Brooklyn team that hasn’t had a victory against a winning team all season.

  • The Bulls built a 31-24 first quarter lead and were sharing the ball well. Pau Gasol had a nice blow-by on Brook Lopez making him look silly, but ultimately it was Lopez who made the Bulls look silly – he was unconscious, scoring 29 points on 13-21 shooting.
  • An early Aaron Brooks ejection in the second quarter after a series of questionable calls by the refs deflated the Bulls, and the momentum seemed to change drastically from that point on. Brooks was inexplicably ejected after tossing the ball across the court to a second referee and reportedly saying “C’mon man.” I guess the ref thought he was throwing the ball *at* him, then T’d him up a second time for talking back. Seems to me the ref got his emotions involved.
  • Mike Dunleavy desperately tried to keep the Bulls in the game by going five of nine from beyond the arc, cutting the Nets lead to four early in the third quarter, but no one else came to the rescue and it could not be sustained.
  • When the Bulls got down 10+, Derrick tried attacking, but the Nets did a good job of collapsing, and Rose had a hard time holding onto the ball, committing four turnovers. He did have five assists, but when you lose a game like this it’s hard to see the good. Here’s one nice dish Derrick had, and it was even prettier seeing it live.

rose pass gif

  • The Nets dominated the Bulls even without Kevin Garnett and with a hobbling Deron Williams, who logged just 21 minutes. Joe Johnson had a great game against what appeared to be a winded Jimmy Butler, going 8-14 for 20 points and 11 rebounds – reportedly his first double-double as a Net.
  • The Bulls are now just 8-6 at home, despite being 11-4 in December, 10-2 in their last twelve, and 22-10 overall. It makes you wonder what it’s been about the home games that has the Bulls in a funk. Having been at this game, and hearing how silent the United Center was, I can’t help but think it has a lot to do with the lack of energy in the building. When I saw AB get tossed, I stood up in my section on the second level and started yelling at the refs (it was so quiet, I wondered if they could hear me) – everyone else just stared at me, ostensibly unaware of what happened or why I was upset. It was only when the announcer told everyone that Brooks had been ejected and the jumbotron showed him walking to the locker room did the fans start to get upset. You could hear a pin drop in that stadium. It’s almost eerie – over 20,000 fans.
  • Derrick was questioned about his slump, but contended, “I think I can shoot good enough to make them play honest. I just haven’t seen it these last couple of games. Not really (had a slump like this). But that’s what living is all about. You live and you learn. I know I’m going to have worse nights. I just have to learn from it, stay consistent with my workouts and find ways to try to affect the game when there are nights like this. There’s only one way to get out: Keep shooting. My teammates have a lot of confidence in me when I shoot the ball. That’s why I kept shooting. We were looking for someone to take charge and it didn’t happen.”
  • Rose continued to answer questions: “I’m going to have 40-point games, so I’m not worried about that (teams going under screens on his shot). They’re going under at the free throw line, so I have to take those shots no matter how many times I miss. Those shots I normally have to take to make them play honest. I’m just waiting for that game where I’m going to have a good game…. I can’t play the way people want me to play; they want me to score 40 points every night. If I can score 15 and still win the game, it’s good for us. I think I’m a smarter player as far as taking care of my body, picking and choosing during the game and not overusing myself throughout the entire game…. I haven’t thought about falling or getting injured again or hurting myself,” Rose added. “It’s just when I start making the shots I am taking it’s going to be a real simple game. It’s going to be pick your poison.”
  • As hard as it may be to swallow for some fans, Rose’s mentality is spot-on accurate for the long-term success of this Bulls team, keeping the eye on the prize. The Bulls want to develop winning habits, and that means making good basketball decisions and continuing to gel, developing that chemistry. It doesn’t necessarily mean putting on a show for the fans. The show will be the playoffs. The journey and development is what’s fun in the mean time. Remember the First Quarter Forecast, those words of wisdom? Give it a couple months… well, here we are, and the Bulls are 22-10, were ranked #1 in the league by Marc Stein on ESPN’s NBA Power Rankings as of Monday, they’re boasting several All-Star selections (knock on wood) and have a possible MVP candidate? (Marc Stein writes: “Forget the MIP. Perhaps we should have had Jimmy Butler listed in the East MVP discussion for Trimester purposes. He’s up to five 30-point games already this season … after zero in his first three NBA seasons. P.S. — Derrick Rose’s December numbers are looking increasingly Derrick Rose-like.”)
  • So the Bulls had a slump game over the holidays. It happens sometimes, and everyone just has to grit their teeth and get through it. They have another game agains the Nuggets tonight, on New Years’ Day (which I will happen to be at again) – hopefully Denver had a little too much champagne last night… Bulls look to bounce back and log a convincing win at home against a 13-19 team, but it promises to be a gritty matchup, as the Nuggets play physical game for a Western Conference team.