Bulls suffer worst loss of season to Hornets


Bulls suffer worst loss of season to Hornets

Doug McDermott’s silky smooth jumper was immediately followed by Jeremy Lamb treating him as if he were a three-feet cone on a 3-pointer.

Aaron Brooks’s third triple of the night was met by Kemba Walker losing him on a deadly crossover and nailing a jumper of his own.

The Bulls’ offense wasn’t a huge problem but it was a reminder about playing on one end of the floor won’t get it done, as they handed the Charlotte Hornets their first win of the season, a 130-105 drubbing at Time Warner Cable Arena.

The loss was their worst defensive showing in regulation since March 9, 2010, a 132-108 loss to the Utah Jazz—the last season before Tom Thibodeau took over as coach.

“It was a complete domination from the tip, and they just had their way with us,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. “We didn’t have any fight, no resolve, didn’t try and go back at them. Just kind of accepted it tonight.”

[MORE: Bulls' defense carrying the load thus far; Dunleavy on the mend]

The only resistance was accidental, as they allowed the Hornets to hit eight of their first 10 triples and encouraged their 70 percent first-quarter shooting by being completely indifferent to the premise of defending.

In the first half, Joakim Noah nailed Cody Zeller with an accidental elbow that drew blood all over the baseline as the Bulls galloped downcourt for a 3-pointer.

Before then and soon after, it was evident that the Bulls were seeing red—and against one of the league’s most inept offensive teams at that.

But one wouldn’t know that by seeing Lamb, a recipient of a new three-year, $21 million deal many around the NBA questioned, responded by playing free, hitting his first six shots from the field on the way to 20 points, missing just one of his 10 attempts.

“I mean you want to compete,” Hoiberg said. “There’s nights that ball is not going to go in the basket, you gotta fight. I mean they scored over 30 every quarter, and that’s disappointing. Everyone seemed like they were on an island. Not only on defense, but offense and defense. Just not a good night.”

Lamb wasn’t the only one, considering the group of himself, Spencer Hawes, Jeremy Lin and Frank Kaminsky went eight for nine from 3-point range, putting on their best Golden State Warriors impersonation.

The Hornets shot 51 percent and 61 from 3-point range. In essence, the Bulls played like strangers.

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“It was an individual effort out there tonight,” Hoiberg said. “Nobody had each other’s back, nobody made extra passes, they outrebounded us by 19 … you can go right down the line. Just wasn’t there. We’ve been pretty solid on that end of the floor, holding a good percentage from three, keeping teams off the line pretty well, and they just beat us in all areas tonight.”

Seven Hornets scored in double figures, as they seemed to heed whatever suggestions former Bulls coach Thibodeau sent Steve Clifford’s way—Thibodeau and Clifford are close friends, as Clifford said Thibodeau sent “37 suggestions last night."

All of them must’ve worked, as the Bulls got worked from the opening tip, clearly a step slow defensively and unable to stop the bleeding. Hoiberg even inserted Joakim Noah to play with Pau Gasol to stop the damage Al Jefferson was inflicting on the Bulls but to no avail.

The Hornets kept pouring it on, with 37 first-quarter points and 69 in the first half, committing only one turnover in the first half. The Hornets were more aggressive in every tangible and intangible way, going to the line double the amount of times and outrebounding them by a wide margin.

It negated Jimmy Butler scoring 26 points in 32 minutes and even McDermott’s career-high of 17.

With the way the Hornets were shooting, the Bulls had better hope it was an aberration of the worst kind—because if this continues, it could be a warning sign of the worst kind of things to come.

Would Wendell Carter Jr. be picked higher if the NBA Draft was today?

Would Wendell Carter Jr. be picked higher if the NBA Draft was today?

According to Bleacher Report, Wendell Carter Jr. would be taken fourth overall by the Memphis Grizzlies if the NBA were to redraft this year’s class based off of Summer League performances.

It may sound like a crazy concept (and it is), but Carter Jr. averaged the second most points, 14.6, through five July games in Las Vegas. He also averaged 9.4 rebounds and shot 55 percent from the field while averaging 28.8 minutes in his glamorous first-stint with Chicago. Those numbers are even more striking if you consider Carter Jr.’s 42.9 percent shooting from behind the three-point line.

Carter Jr., the real seventh overall pick of this year’s NBA Draft, looked like the all-around player the Bulls were hoping to get this offseason. He made his blocking abilities as a center known from the moment he stepped on the court in Summer League.

In their re-draft, Bleacher Report had Chicago using the No. 7 pick on the New York Knicks’ Mitchell Robinson, who was actually taken 36th overall in last month’s Draft.

Robinson, a center, averaged 13 points and 24.8 minutes per game over five Summer League contests. He was the best rebounder on his team with an average of 10.2 in the five games that the Knicks played.

The 20-year-old took the second most shots on the Knicks and had the highest field goal percentage at 67 percent, but Robinson did not have any three-point attempts.  What made his recent production seem even more surprising was the fact that the 7'1'' big man did not play a single minute of college basketball.

But would Robinson fit in the Bulls’ system?

Chicago has taken on an offense-first mentality, so Robinson would not be as great of a fit in the Bulls lineup as Carter Jr., but he would still be an impact player. He can be compared to the Bulls’ current center Robin Lopez, who averaged a similar amount of points per game (11.8 points in 26.4 minutes) last season as Robinson’s Summer League average (13 points in 24.8 minutes). And like Lopez, Robinson will likely be most effective around the basket and in the pick-and-roll.

Robinson would also have to learn the defensive concepts that a veteran like Lopez has mastered over his 10-year career.

Next season, the Bulls will have an exciting scoring trio of Jabari Parker, Lauri Markkanen and Carter Jr. in the frontcourt. And the fact that Carter Jr. is getting so much love in the national spotlight is yet another reason for Bulls fans to be excited about this upcoming season.

Jabari Parker channels his inner Uncle Drew: This game is about getting buckets


Jabari Parker channels his inner Uncle Drew: This game is about getting buckets

The Bulls gave Jabari Parker a two-year, $40 million deal for good reason.

One, the Bulls had the salary cap space to get the deal done and had just about filled out their roster. The money wasn't going to be used elsewhere. Also, the second year of the deal is a team option which gives the Bulls some security should Parker not be able to stay healthy or play up to the standards such a salary commands.

Parker was given that money for multiple reasons. One of those reasons was not for his defense.

But, according to Parker, no one gets paid for their defense.

Speaking on 670 The Score on Wednesday, Parker was asked about whether he felt he had the ability and effort to defend in the NBA, something he hasn't done particularly well in four seasons.

"I just stick to my strengths. Look at everybody in the league. They don’t pay players to play defense," Parker said. "There’s only two people historically that play defense. I’m not going to say I won’t, but to say that’s a weakness is like saying that’s everybody’s weakness. Because I’ve scored 30 and 20 on a lot of guys that say they play defense.

"If you know the game, you also know that everyone’s a pro, right? And you know that certain guys have an average. No matter what you do, they still get that average. They pay people to score the ball, and I would hope that somebody scores the ball on me if they pay them that much. So, I’m not saying that to cop out or nothing. It’s the NBA. We’re professionals. Everybody scores. It’s just about limiting them as much as you can, trying to contain them."

Parker's right in one sense, that players are usually paid for their offensive output. There are also more tangible, easily read statistics on the offensive end than there are defensively. Heck, the Bulls gave $80 million to Zach LaVine and he was the team's worst defender last season.

But then again, defense matters. A whole lot, especially at a time when offenses are better than ever (thus making defenders more valuable). The final four teams in last year's playoffs were ranked 1st, 6th, 9th and LeBron James (29th) in defensive efficiency.

A day after Parker's comments the Celtics gave Marcus Smart a four-year, $52 million contract. He's a career 37 percent shooter and has made 29 percenet of his 3-pointers in four seasons.

So while Parker, a below-average defender, might not be entirely accurate, at least he's owning who he is. And if he scores like he did in Year 3, averaging 20 points before re-tearing his ACL, no one will care how he defends.