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Futile fourth quarter sends sloppy Bulls to defeat

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Futile fourth quarter sends sloppy Bulls to defeat

Sunday, Feb. 6, 2011
Posted 12:02 a.m. Updated 1:25 a.m.

By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com

OAKLAND All good things come to an end.

Maybe it was the irregular travel schedule, their delayed elation at beating the blizzard out of Chicago or more realistically, playing an unorthodox opponent that caught them on an off night, but the Bulls (34-15) simply didnt have it Saturday night, dropping a 101-90 decision to the Warriors (22-27) and snapping their six-game winning streak.

The challenge is to be ready no matter what the circumstances are. Sometimes its back-to-back, sometimes youre off for three days and then you play, so the challenge is to make sure you have that edge right from the start of the game, whatever youre faced with and I thought we eased into the game, said Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau, whose team gave up 100 points for the first time since a Christmas Day loss at New York.

WATCH: Rose crumples, tosses stat sheet

I thought it was an offensive game to start and when you do that against a team like this, youre asking for trouble. Down the stretch, when we had the lead, we quick-shot the ball a little bit.

Although the Bulls were proficient scoring the ball in the early going not exactly the most impressive feat against the defense-optional hosts the game was played at the Warriors pace, with both teams seemingly producing points at will.

For some reason, Golden States defensive scheme consisted of allowing Bulls veteran Kurt Thomas (eight points, six rebounds, four assists) to shoot open 15-foot jumpers his bread and butter which permitted the big man to provide Chicago with some scoring punch. After a slow start, All-Star point guard Derrick Rose (14 points, 10 assists, nine turnovers) briefly got going, mixing his acrobatic drives, pull-up jumper and unselfish distributing to maintain the visitors slim edge.

On the home teams end of things, high-scoring guard Monta Ellis (33 points, five assists) was his typical aggressive self on offense and was aided by power forward David Lee (13 points), who used his face-up ability and shooting range to make an impact.

At the conclusion of the opening period, the Bulls held a narrow advantage, 25-23.

I thought the first quarter was pretty good. I didnt think we eased in. I thought it was easy in the first quarter, observed Carlos Boozer. Maybe we had the impression it was going to be easy the whole game.

Improved defense and a shooting clinic put on by reserve swingman Kyle Korver (11 points) helped Chicago widen the gap early in the second quarter, prompting a Golden State timeout for adjustment purposes.

Whatever moves Warriors head coach Keith Smart made apparently worked, as Golden State quickly cut into the deficit it didnt hurt that backup Ronnie Brewer missed a wide-open dunk in transition and Carlos Boozer (21 points, 10 rebounds, five assists) picked up a technical foul leading Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau to put his own halt to the proceedings.

Warriors swingman Dorell Wright (20 points, six rebounds), already having a productive outing, put the home team in the lead temporarily by splashing a three-pointer midway through the stanza, completing an 8-0 Golden State run.

The contest then evolved into a back-and-forth affair, with the two squads exchanging baskets in dissimilar fashions, as the Bulls mostly scored in the paint second-year backup Taj Gibson (eight points, eight rebounds) came off the bench with his typical energy while the Warriors stuck with their perimeter-oriented style as the first half went on.

Atypically for Rose, he struggled miserably with turnovers (he had seven in the half) and creating offense, leading to a helter-skelter flow that benefited Golden State, sending the rowdy Oracle Arena crowd (equipped with a live jazz band in the upper reaches of the building) into a mild frenzy.
The Warriors threw a brand new defense at Derrick Rose by doubling him up top and not letting the point guard control the ball. Rose acknowledged after the game that, as a result, he wasn't able to get into any kind of rhythm. (AP)
Rose was just out of sync. The way that they doubled was kind of weird, said Rose. When I came off the pick, two people were on me. If I made the little slip pass, somebody was sticking Carlos. It was just tough. A tough night.

It was just something that weve never seen before, he expounded about the Warriors defense. I couldnt get a feel for the game because they didnt let me. I couldnt split, when I dragged it out, they were coming out with me. Every pick-and-roll, they trapped and I guess thats what Ive got to get used to.

Added Boozer: They tried to get the ball out of his hands, which is the smart thing. Once he has the ball, the other team is in trouble. Were not going to take anything away from them. They did a good job executing their game plan. We made a lot of mistakes and had a lot of turnovers. We didnt capitalize on some of their gambles, he went on to say.

The next time we see this kind of defense, well be ready for it.

At the intermission, the visiting Bulls trailed, 48-47.

Things didnt go smoothly for Chicago immediately after the break particularly for Rose, who appeared out of sync but with their star struggling, Luol Deng (18 points, six rebounds) and especially Boozer responded. Boozer, after being corralled around the neck by Lee who was assessed a flagrant foul for his actions became a dominant post presence, propelling the visitors to a 14-2 run to begin the third quarter.

Thats when were supposed to take control of the game and slow the ball down, get what we want, instead of playing their game, Rose remarked about that critical juncture of the game. They want to play up and down, we were taking quick shots, playing stupid. But were going to learn from it and hopefully you wont see this performance anymore.

Golden State eventually fought back the only way they know how (scoring more points), battling back to once again make it a tight-knit affair. Second-year point guard Stephen Curry (23 points, eight assists, six rebounds) took his turn carrying the load for the Warriors, using his skilled blend of scoring and playmaking to bring the home team back, with Wright complementing his efforts.

With only 4.9 seconds left in the period, Golden State pulled off a slick inbounds play Wright threw an alley-oop pass to Ellis, who finished a nifty reverse layup while airborne and backwards to give the home team a 73-72 lead through three periods of play.

Building on their momentum, Golden State took control of the contest, going on a 16-2 run to start the final frame, further inspiring the raucous, sellout audience. Chicago was completely out of sync, unable to stop the Warriors offensive attack or successfully put the ball in the basket.

The visitors extended drought lasted through the midway point of the period, when Deng was fouled going to the basket and subsequently split a pair of free throws. Although Dengs second attempt resulted in an offensive rebound and eventual Brewer layup (he was fouled on the basket, but couldnt capitalize on the three-point play opportunity), Chicago was unable to use the rare positive moment to make a sustainable comeback, despite Golden State not decisively putting the game out of reach.

To the Bulls credit, they continued to battle late, but it simply wasnt enough. After a Korver triple cut the deficit to seven points with under a minute to play, Ellis hit a tough fadeaway toward the end of the shot clock with 24.8 seconds to go, effectively ending Chicagos slim hopes at a miraculous finish.

It was just one of those games where it wasnt going our way. Tried to force it, concluded Rose. We didnt stop them. They were getting everything that they wanted, they were playing with a lot of confidence. We had a chance to break the game open. We were up by a large amount and our defense didnt hold them.

If our offense wasnt going, weve got to depend on our defense. Our defense is what makes us a good team and tonight that wasnt us tonight.

Chimed in Boozer: Golden State made it more of a perimeter-type of game, more perimeter jump shots. They double-teamed D-Rose right when he came into the pick-and-roll and got the ball out of his hands.

The game just got a little bit more clogged up on offense for us and then on defense, we just didnt get any stops. Sometimes you can look at the offense so hard, you forget about the other side, he continued. The way they play, they make you rush a little bit and I thought at times, we rushed a little bit tonight.

Aggrey Sam is CSNChicago.com's Bulls Insider. Follow him @CSNBullsInsider on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bulls information and his take on the team, the NBA and much more.

Bulls Talk Podcast: Will Kris Dunn build off career night?

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USA TODAY

Bulls Talk Podcast: Will Kris Dunn build off career night?

On this edition of the Bulls Talk podcast, Mark Schanowski, Kendall Gill, and Kevin Anderson react to a breakout game from Kris Dunn against the Hornets Friday night. They’ll discuss his development and how it impacts rookie Lauri Markkanen. Plus just how long will both the Wolves and Bulls be judged on the Jimmy Butler trade? Is Dwight Howard a hall of famer? And a new era in Philly with Simmons and Embiid. That and more on this edition of the Bulls Talk podcast.

Observations from Bulls-Hornets: Kris Dunn, a sigh of relief and hack-a-who?

Observations from Bulls-Hornets: Kris Dunn, a sigh of relief and hack-a-who?

Kris Dunn did it: You can’t play that position without an edge, without some form of “basketball killer” in you. Kris Dunn showed at the very least, he has that in his DNA in his best game as a Bull with a career-high 22 points, seven assists and five rebounds.

Leave it to Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg to point out a forgotten stat: one turnover in 26 minutes.

“That’s the biggest thing I’m proud of,” Dunn said. “Everyone knows I’ve had a lot of careless turnovers in the season. It’s one thing I’ll take credit for.”

Dunn scored 13 with six assists in the fourth quarter alone as the Bulls outscored the Hornets 40-28 for the comeback victory. More than anything, it was his competitive spirit and aggressiveness that stood out. Kemba Walker stood across the way and gave Dunn—and the Bulls—every bit of 47 points.

“He tested my conditioning, for sure,” Dunn admitted. “He’s a great player. He’s been in the league for so long. It was good to go out there and compete with him.”

It could’ve went a different way had Walker not been bothered by Lauri Markkanen’s challenge at the rim, blowing a layup that would’ve given the Hornets the lead back with seconds remaining but he missed it and the narrative changed at least for a night.

And when teams are talking about learning experiences, it’s good to have them in a win every now and again. Markkanen’s challenge at the rim followed by his closing free throws right after, along with a quietly effective 16 points and seven rebounds, proved huge on this night.

Dunn finally having a confidence booster was imperative.

Dunn scored but it wasn’t an easy 20 or a smooth 20. It was an attacking 20, a necessary 20. He did hit some elbow jumpers, especially in the fourth as the defense laid off him.

But his biggest basket was a slithering drive to the rim for a layup with 2:24 left, because he attacked and was under control.

“That’s huge growth for Kris,” Hoiberg said. “He made the right play darn near every time he had the ball in his hands. Rose up with confidence, knocked down huge shots. Defensively got them going, got steals.”

What a relief: Nobody wanted to say it, but it bore out on the floor, the sheer desperation the Bulls played with.

Coming in with a five-game losing streak and headed out west to for four games in the next week, they were staring in the face of a possible double-digit losing streak to end November.

Confidence was sparse after three bad losses, and it’s a dangerous time for a team that will struggle to win games all season.

The United Center crowd got into it, particularly late when the Bulls began climbing back into contention to start the fourth quarter. The fans wanted this win too, even with the eyes being on a larger prize coming in mid-2018.

The relief was written all over Hoiberg’s usually-stress ridden face and he even cracked a couple jokes that weren’t aimed in his direction, as self-deprecation is normally his escape of choice.

“It is important but I asked the guys: is it hard to play with that type of effort? When you play with that type of energy and effort and swagger, it’s fun,” Hoiberg said. “When you play low energy and hang your head, it’s a drag. It’s hard to play at this level with that mentality.”

Starting change: Justin Holiday returned after his quick leave with his wife delivering a baby girl recently and his game-high 27 points showed he missed the Bulls as much as they missed his shooting, hitting four triples and going 10 for 15 from the field.

“Guys were serious about getting their jobs done,” Holiday said. “It was a lot of energy, a lot of energy, competitiveness. That’s how we have to play every night for our team to do well.”

Denzel Valentine, although he didn’t want to say it, wants to be a starter. Hoiberg chose Quincy Pondexter over him recently and then made the change Friday to insert Valentine for more scoring.

Valentine scored 18 with six assists and five rebounds in 32 minutes of run—and with those two starting as scoring options, the Bulls surpassed that seven-point first-quarter mark really early and scored 26 overall.

He hit a big triple in the fourth with 2:49 left to give the Bulls a 110-109 lead on a set play the Bulls actually executed between Valentine, Dunn as a setup man and Robin Lopez as a screen to pop Valentine open.

If he continues to hit 3-pointers at a 40 percent clip, especially with the way the Bulls have struggled to start games, he’ll have the right to feel he belongs in the first five.

“It’s definitely more confidence,” Valentine said. “You feel you’re an NBA starter, you get to go in and feel it out for a second and bring some energy to start the game.”

He didn’t mince words about starting, with a little honesty saying, “I think it’s huge being a starter.”

When asked if he felt validated by his performance and the result being a high-scoring win, it was just as telling.

“I think I deserve…I think I deserved a starting role,” Valentine said. “At the same time it’s different combinations, different people that need to be on the floor at certain times, so if he feels like I don’t need to start, I won’t start. But I feel very comfortable starting as well.”

Hack-a-Dwight: It could be Hack-a-Dwight, hack-a-Drummond, hack-a-Wilt or Shaq or Charles Shackleford.

The Bulls went to it and Howard went two of four from the line but it took a little rhythm from the Hornets and probably slowed Kemba Walker down just enough before he got cooking in the last 90 seconds and almost pulled a win out of his keister.

But…

I hate it. Get it out of the game completely.