Tag Archives: Brook Lopez

Note-A-Bulls: Jimmy’s heroics save the Bulls from embarrassing defeat

On Wednesday Night at the United Center we were treated to a game that resembled a a heaping pile of turd with a pretty bow on top. I use this analogy because for the first 47 minutes of the game, we were treated to a snooze fest between a team that was 1-14 on the road coming in (Nets) and a team that had lost six of its last seven and had shown little fight in any of those games. But let’s break down that final minute of the Bulls (16-16) 101-99 win over the Brooklyn Nets (8-23).

  • After being deadlocked at 97 for over a minute, Jimmy Butler decided he had enough. He collected a steal on the defensive end before pulling up for a smooth mid range J to put the Bulls up 2. On the following possession, Brook Lopez turned back the clock (and forgot about his 16 foot surgeries apparently) by blowing by twin brother Robin to throw down a thunderous dunk with 12 seconds remaining.
  • From there it was Jimmy G Buckets time. Why the Nets offered poor Bojan Bogdanovic absolutely no help D (not so much as a flash) is beyond me. How Kenny Atkinson thought it was a good idea to let the Bulls only reliable scorer with Wade out calmly step up and drain a jumper as time expired against a much slower defender is beyond me, but I’m glad he did. Butler is becoming cold-blooded in crunch time which is nice to see, and watching him drain that buzzer-beater gave me a slight glimmer of hope for the future (even if it was just the Nets).
  • Speaking of Jimmy, let’s talk about the boy wonder who can do no wrong and is apparently indestructible. Even after rolling an ankle in the second half, Butler came through with a monster game to will the Bulls to win a game they really couldn’t afford to lose with the season quickly slipping away.
  • The Marquette Man finished with a line of 40 points, 11 rebounds, four assists, and four steals. If that isn’t a full stat sheet I don’t know what is. Butler was one of just three Bulls in double figures tonight as he scored in every imaginable way as Bogdanovic clearly struggled to slow him down with any regularity. He truly is a joy to watch on a nightly basis, it’s too bad this front office can’t put the players around him to succeed on any given night.
  • The only other positive I can come up with for this game for the Bulls is the charity stripe. The Bulls managed to get to the line 29 times on the night, knocking down a remarkable 28 of them for a staggering 97% clip on the night. Attacking the basket is when this Bulls team is at its best which has a strong correlation to trips to the free throw line. This trend will be key for the Bulls going forward in order to be successful.
  • Moving on from the few and far between bright spots of this game, it’s time to focus on the ever exciting topic of turnovers. The Nets aren’t exactly the most stout defense, giving up approximately 176 points per game on the road (sadly only a small exaggeration), but the Bulls still managed to turn the ball over a whopping 18 times. These were of course mostly self-inflicted wounds as the Nets didn’t suddenly turn into the Bad Boy Pistons overnight. Against good teams, every possession is valuable, and the Bulls sure don’t treat it that way as it took a late collapse from the Nets in this one to escape with a victory. It’s hard to tell if it’s the coaching, the players, or the general lack of focus that have lead to these turnover woes recently but the Bulls will be doomed as a .500 team if this continues.
  • As for the battle of the Lopez twins, Brook won again outscoring his brother for the 15th time in as many head-to-head match-ups. Brook ended the night with an impressive 33 points on 12/20 shooting including a surprising 5/6 from deep. Robin managed a respectable 12 points on the night on 5/8 shooting and got the last laugh after his team pulled out a W late.
  • Up Next: The Bulls travel to the Indy City to take on Paul George and the Pacers Friday night.

Note-A-Bulls: Bulls cut down the Nets to stay undefeated

Well that was a laugher. The Bulls clobbered the Nets 118-88 to improve to 3-0 on the young season. Lucky for you, my loyal readers, I put more effort in these blog posts than some of the Nets put into playing basketball–otherwise this game recap would end right here and I would’ve turned this game off at halftime. That’s because the Bulls jumped on the Nets early and cruised to an easy W in Brooklyn. As it stands, let’s take a look back at how the Bulls got off to their best start since 1996-97 (don’t make any more comparisons between the two just yet).

  • As I said, this one was pretty much over after the first 12 minutes. The Bulls jumped out to a 38-20 lead and never looked back. This was one never really in jeopardy as every time it looked like the Nets might make a game of it, they got in their own way to let Chicago walk to a victory. The fact that no starter played more than 29 minutes (Wade) tells you all you need to know about this one. But the Bulls did what good teams do against lesser teams, stomped on them early and didn’t let them up for air. This performance will do nothing to quiet the cautiously optimistic fan base after the first few games.
  • It’s hard to pick out an MVP of this game as SEVEN players ended up in double digits, but I’m going to go with Isaiah Canaan who ended up with 15 points on an efficient 5/7 shooting, including 3/4 from deep. He also added 6 dimes and 3 boards with zero turnovers to boot. If Michael Carter-Williams is going to be out any significant amount of time, the Bulls will need Canaan to be a quality backup, which he showed he can be tonight.
  • The transition offense was a thing of beauty again in the first quarter of this one. One play in particular, the one you’ve been watching on Vine (R.I.P.) for the last hour, highlights this perfectly. 

 

  • Taj gathered an innocent miss, but instead of pulling it down, he looked to run. He zipped the ball cross court to a sprinting Rondo, who, without even thinking, fired the ball back across court to a cutting Wade. While Wade could have gone up and possibly gotten and And-1, he decided to one-time a perfect touch-pass to the soaring Butler who threw it down for two points. That made the score only 22-11 at the time, but you could pretty much tell this one was over after that.
  • The All-Lopez matchup didn’t exactly register in this one-sided affair, as neither twin played more than 22 minutes (Brook). Robin registered only 4 points and 5 boards on 1/5 shooting, while brother Brook went for 13 points and 2 boards on 5/11 shooting. Of course it was Robin who got the last laugh seeing his team go to 3-0 while Brook is saddled with a 1-3 squad who are going nowhere fast this year.
  • A big shoutout in this game goes to the Bulls defense. They started the game flying around on the defensive side of the floor, getting into passing lanes, cutting off dribble drives, and boxing out well to put this one to bed early. There’s something to be said for forcing early turnovers, and Rondo’s aggressiveness in particular stands out as the lightning rod for this team on D. He was able to harass ball handlers all game long and never gave up on any play.
  • We’re nitpicking here, but there are a couple areas the Bulls could improve upon. The first is taking care of the basketball. The Bulls turned it over 20 times to a terrible defensive team (league average is around 14). I realize most of these came when the score was out of hand, but against better teams they’ll take advantage of silly turnovers and unforced errors. Another slight problem was the defensive rebounding of the Bulls second unit. With Felicio as the lone quality rebounder on the second unit, this team will find it hard at times to recover errant opponents shots. We’ll see if Hoiberg decides to leave Taj or Lopez in with this unit against bigger lineups but it was definitely a noticeable problem against the Nets on Monday night.
  • For the Nets, there were very few positives coming out of this night. Lin seemed to be the only player with any energy on the court while the team shot an abysmal 34% on the night including 16% from downtown. I’m no mathematician, but that’s not going to win you a lot of ballgames. One nice surprise is the emergence of Bojan Bogdanovic who has averaged 17 points over the first four games of the season. It’s not much, but the Nets don’t have a whole lot going for them now or the foreseeable future as they swap picks with Boston in the 2017 draft.   
  • Up Next: The Bulls travel to Boston on Wednesday night as the Celts will look to avenge their only loss of the season.

 

BULLet Points: Efficient Bulls notch easy victory over Nets

The Bulls truly need every win they can get as they scrap for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. They delivered a comfortable 118-102 victory against a Brooklyn Nets team lacking in talent. Let’s dive into the BULLets.

  • The Bulls went up huge early on, at one point doubling Brooklyn’s score with a 47-23 margin. They entered the half up 18, with great contributions coming from up and down the roster.
  • Unfortunately, the Nets came out firing to make the game close again in the third quarter. Bojan Bogdanovic finished with a scorching 26 points and five assists after somehow dropping 44 on Philadelphia on Tuesday.
  • Ultimately, the Bulls had built a big enough cushion to put the Nets away without too much anxiety. Doug McDermott continued shooting lights out, pouring in 25 points on 8/16 shooting and 5/8 from deep. Over his last five games, Doug is hitting 58.3% of his threes and averaging 17.6 points. He’s up to 42.9% from deep on the season, good for sixth in the NBA. McDermott has only shot below 40% on threes in one month this season, 37.3% in December. He is an elite shooter.
  • The Bulls bench contributed in a big way in this one. Bobby Portis snatched 14 rebounds to go along with 12 points and was +22 in 28 minutes. Cristiano Felicio was +20 in 21 minutes, tallying six points, 10 boards, two blocks, and a steal. With Pau Gasol and Joakim Noah out, the production of these two is critical for the Bulls. I’m skeptical of Felicio’s ability to stick in a legit rotation, but Portis continues to show signs of improvement. This was a ridiculously exciting play:

  • Jimmy Butler appears to be almost all the way back from his knee issues, leading the team with 22 points and seven assists. He hit 7/12 field goals and all eight of his free throws in 32 minutes. Derrick Rose looked good too, adding 12 points, five assists, and three rebounds in 29 minutes.
  • The injuries never stop. E’Twaun Moore played just two minutes after suffering a hamstring injury. On the bright side, Aaron Brooks added a crucial 12 points on 5/7 shots in just 16 minutes. A great performance, but the Bulls are much worse off if Brooks has to take Moore’s minutes for an extended period.
  • While Justin Holliday hasn’t played particularly well, he’s shown enough that Tony Snell is completely out of the rotation. Over his last five games, Holliday is averaging 9.8 points on 46.7% shooting overall and 50% from three in 23.8 minutes per game. His career shooting numbers are putrid, so it would be quite the development for these results to stick. The Bulls will continue seeing what they have with the lanky wing.
  • Brook Lopez is pretty clearly the best player on the Nets, but he was a complete no-show on Thursday night. He had nine points and just three rebounds in 31 minutes. To be fair, Lopez was +9, as Brooklyn’s YMCA-caliber bench got annihilated.
  • I’m a big fan of Thaddeus Young. He’s had an interesting career; as a young player, he was expected to evolve into a ball-dominant star that he was never suited to be. After Doug Collins left Philly, Young finally started shooting threes, taking 3.7 a night his last year there as he seemingly transitioned into being a stretch four. However, this season Thaddeus has once again eschewed the three point shot, and it’s hard to blame him. He’s averaging 15.1 points this year and a career high 9.1 rebounds. His herky-jerky game is perfectly suited for confusing defenders inside the arc. There are a ton of ways to be a good NBA player, and Thaddeus has found his own. He had 16 points, 14 rebounds, two steals, and two blocks against the Bulls.
  • Coming up: the Bulls host Utah on Saturday night.

BULLet Points: Bulls struggles continue with home loss to Brooklyn

  • The Bulls are struggling mightily right now. After Jimmy Butler went to the media to air his grievances with both Fred Hoiberg and his teammates, the Bulls had an opportunity to drown out some of the noise with an easy matchup at home against the Nets. They were unsuccessful, as the Nets prevailed 105-102.
  • While I think Hoiberg has generally done the best job we could reasonably expect–the Bulls are still 15-11–this game was perhaps lost the moment Fred announced the starting lineup. Moving Tony Snell to the bench was arguably overdue, but starting Niko Mirotic at small forward is simply a disastrous decision.
  • Mirotic has had a rough season, especially on the offensive end. Too often the Bulls have relied on him as a spot up shooter, even though he’s never shown the ability to consistently knock down the NBA three. Instead, the Bulls need to work to utilize Mirotic’s undeniable talent at keeping defenders off guard and out of position with his unorthodox, herky-jerky style. Playing Niko as a small forward is asking him to solely stand on the perimeter and provide “spacing”, the exact action that he has struggled so much with this season. Furthermore, he’s not as equipped to guard wings, eliminating any sort of advantage.
  • Starting Doug McDermott makes sense, but I understand why Hoiberg likes his offense as part of the bench group. What doesn’t really make sense is completely removing Tony Snell from the rotation after starting him in nearly every game this season. Snell has been awful inside the arc on offense, but he still plays solid to good defense on the wings. Hoiberg made it clear that Bobby Portis would get more playing time in the wake of his 20-11 double double, but I hardly expected it to come at the expense of Tony Snell. The Bulls just aren’t going to get better by playing super big; their defense has been incredible–second in the NBA. It’s the offense that’s been the problem, and benching Snell to play Mirotic at small forward just isn’t a real solution.

  • Joakim Noah was fantastic once again with four points, eight rebounds, eight assists and two blocks in just 16 minutes off the bench. Unfortunately, he popped his shoulder out on an ugly collision and is set to miss a few weeks with a sprain. It’s extremely disappointing after Noah had just finally started looking like a version of himself. At the very least, his absence should provide Bobby Portis with a real opportunity. Conversely, Niko Mirotic and Tony Snell should get good chances to break out of their respective slumps.
  • Pau Gasol continues to pace the Bulls offense (alongside Jimmy Butler). He scored 20 points and added nine boards. Pau has taken a lot of crap around these parts, mostly for his defense and old man effort at times. Still, many nights his offense is a critical part of the Bulls already pathetic attack; without him, I don’t want to know how much further they’re capable of dipping. Defensively, Gasol deserves credit for improving his positioning and effort. I still believe signing Gasol last year was a misstep, but he should not be solely blamed for the team’s struggles, as I see so often among truly smart people in the Bulls community.
  • Butler has had a rocky week in the media, but his play speaks for itself. He added 24 points on 11/20 shooting and at times looks like the only guy even trying to score. I’m sure there is something to the idea that he needs to facilitate more for his teammates, but it’s not hard to understand why Jimmy feels like he has to do it all for the NBA’s 27th-best offense. He’s making a little over one third of his three pointers this year, right on line with his career mark. That’s fine, but it’s not good enough to alleviate the issues inherent to a starting backcourt that includes Derrick Rose. The offense is starving for spacing. (Paging Mike Dunleavy…)
  • It wasn’t the best game for Rose, who scored eight points on 3/11 shooting. He’s undoubtedly been better lately as he shot 42.9% in the nine previous games. While I’m hopeful that he’ll continue to improve his efficiency as the season progresses, it is getting hard to bank on the Rose from last year’s playoffs showing up consistently. Some nights it absolutely seems like he’s uninterested in attacking, so I suppose we won’t really know what Derrick is thinking until the playoffs. I’m hoping, perhaps irrationally, that many nights he’s just been saving himself. It should go without saying that neither Rose nor the Bulls are really good enough to coast through games like this.
  • The Nets are quite bad, but they’re probably friskier than many realize. Brook Lopez is a legitimately good center, and it’s really great to see him finally healthy again. Few defenders can check him around the basket. Thaddeus Young is also quite underrated. His unusual, shifty style around the paint is extremely hard for opponents to keep track of. Young scored several difficult baskets within 12-15 feet that undoubtedly helped contribute to the narrow Brooklyn victory.
  • Coming up: the Bulls travel to Oklahoma City to take on the Thunder on Christmas Day. Merry Christmas, everyone!

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.