Bulls

Derrick Rose on his play against Pacers: 'I played like (bleep)'

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Derrick Rose on his play against Pacers: 'I played like (bleep)'

INDIANAPOLIS — Fred Hoiberg has been pretty tight-lipped about the Bulls’ bad performances to start the season, preferring to use as few words as possible to illustrate his disappointment.

But after Friday’s disappointing loss to the surging Indiana Pacers, Derrick Rose gave a self-assessment that was as critical and biting as any comments he’s made about his play in quite awhile.

“Oh my god. I feel like I played like (bleep) tonight,” Rose said. “I don’t what the case might be, Thanksgiving, I don’t know. But it’s horrible coming in here and losing to them tonight. Their energy level. My energy wasn’t up.”

Rose certainly wasn’t the only culprit as the Bulls’ sluggishness was on display from the opening few possessions, but he was critical in a way he’s usually not known to be after a 10-point, six-rebound and five-assist performance that saw him shoot just 4-of-16 from the field.

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But he seemed quite disgusted with himself after, saying he wouldn’t take Saturday off like the team will to work on his game.

“I can’t put a finger on it right now,” Rose said. “Tonight, it was all about energy. We came out sluggish, I came out sluggish. Missed a bunch of shots. Me, I’m one of the leaders on this team. I have to change that.”

The Bulls were certainly begging for a superstar to save them on this night, especially considering the first game coming off a west-coast swing is the toughest one to get, as it’ll be two whole weeks between games at the United Center.

“It is a tough game coming back from the west coast but we can’t use that as an excuse,” Rose said. “We had a chance to crack that 10-point lead but we didn’t execute the right way.”

Rose couldn’t muster a strong performance with the aforementioned numbers, turning the ball over in the tried-and-true way of jumping in the air without a plan that resulted in turnovers and layups for the fast-breaking Pacers.

“Turnovers and bunnies,” Rose said. “I missed a lot of layups, shots I normally hit, with my left hand, I missed. Give me a day or two, we got practice Sunday and we play Monday.”

He got to the basket a few times but couldn’t convert. Only once did it look physically awkward, an instance where he was caught underneath the rim but couldn’t glide enough to bring his body to the other side for a layup that would’ve been difficult under the best of circumstances.

The other times, he just left it short on the front rim, missed opportunities that clearly gnawed at him. Rose was far more concerned about the defense that couldn’t get the necessary stops when the Pacers began to pull away.

“It’s just making it hard. The way we play (offense), we play free,” Rose said. “So we come down and shoot up a shot, if we go down on defense and son’t stop them, they could easily go up 8-10 points. We shoot a lot of jump shots. If we change that, we just make it hard on them, even the times where we can’t score, our defense has to be consistent. At least our energy level has to be consistent.

“I’m not even worried about the offense, to tell you the truth. If we can’t stop nobody or put stops together, it’s no point in talking about offense. We’re not trying to outscore teams. We’re trying to play defense.”

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His double vision, while annoying for some to hear, is still a factor without a definitive timetable for returning back to normal. And perhaps his sprained left ankle he suffered the last time these two teams tangled didn’t allow him enough lift for said layup attempts.

Hoiberg wouldn’t pin the loss on Rose, especially since not many could look at themselves and say “I had a game tonight.”

“Derrick’s had some really good moments, he’s won some big games for us and we trust him out there,” Hoiberg said.

But trust didn’t play much of a factor in performance, as even if Hoiberg wouldn’t explicitly say how bad the Bulls were, Rose said what was on full display for all to see.

It's time for the Bulls to spin the point guard roulette wheel

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It's time for the Bulls to spin the point guard roulette wheel

Over the last couple seasons we've had some fun on our Bulls Pregame Live shows with the ever-changing cast of characters at the point guard position. We even brought the point guard roulette wheel to the show a couple years ago when Rajon Rondo, Isaiah Canaan, Jerian Grant and Cameron Payne all saw significant time at the position.

Grant began last season as the starter, followed by Kris Dunn and Payne with a little Ryan Arcidiacono mixed in.

But this season was supposed to be different. Dunn showed enough in his 52 game stint (13.4 points, 6 assists per game) in 2017-18 that he entered training camp as the unquestioned starter, with Payne and Arcidiacono as backups. The front office and coaching staff expected the 3rd year guard out of Providence to establish himself as a quality starter with elite skills at the defensive end.

Now, after playing just one regular season game, Dunn has been sidelined again, this time with a sprained left MCL suffered in his debut at Dallas Monday night. He's expected to miss 4-6 weeks of action, which should get him back on the court sometime in early December, right about the same time Lauri Markkanen is expected to return from his elbow injury.

So, what does Fred Hoiberg do now? Initially, you can expect Payne to replace Dunn in the starting lineup, with newly signed Shaq Harrison getting a look in the backup role. In case you don't know much about Harrison, he's an undrafted four-year player out of Tulsa, who spent most of the last two seasons in the NBA G-League. Like Dunn, Harrison is a physical 6'4" defense-first player who should be able to pressure some of the elite point guards the Bulls will face in the coming weeks. The front office showed their level of interest in Harrison's potential by signing him to a two-year NBA contract which includes a guaranteed salary for this season.

The Bulls also signed former Marian Catholic H.S. star Tyler Ulis to a two-way contract after he was released by Golden State in the final cutdown. Ulis started 58 games for Phoenix over the last two seasons, and is lightning quick in the open court. Problem is, he's generously listed at 5'10" which could create some serious issues at the defensive end.

And then there's always Arcidiacono, a Hoiberg favorite who's fundamentally sound, a solid defender and a decent outside shooter. Arcidiacono didn't play in Dallas Monday with Dunn back as the starter and it will be interesting to see how he's used with the coaching staff searching for answers at the position.

From my perspective, the Bulls' best option might be not going with a point guard at all in the starting lineup. Zach LaVine is on the hottest offensive streak of his young career, and he's most effective with the ball in his hands. LaVine played a lot of point guard during his rookie season in Minnesota, and he's more than capable of pushing the ball in transition.

Yes, I know having LaVine defend some of the high-scoring point guards around the league is not an ideal formula for success. The Bulls could move Justin Holiday to the shooting guard position, and see if he can match up defensively against opposing point guards. Again, not ideal.

The Bulls will be facing the likes of Kemba Walker, Trae Young, Steph Curry and Chris Paul over the next week and a half, and going without a true point guard might create defensive issues that are impossible to overcome. That's why you should expect to see Harrison take on a significant role in the upcoming games, since he's the only point guard currently available on the roster that has the physical skills to replicate in some fashion what Dunn brings on the defensive end.

Any way you look at it, the Bulls will be in survival mode over the next six weeks, trying to scratch out as many wins as they can until Markkanen and Dunn are healthy enough to get back on the court.

Bulls Talk Podcast: Reaction to Kris Dunn's knee injury and where Bulls go from here

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Bulls Talk Podcast: Reaction to Kris Dunn's knee injury and where Bulls go from here

Kelly Crull, Mark Strotman and Will Perdue react to the news that Kris Dunn will miss the next 4-6 weeks with a knee injury.

Listen to the full episode here or via the embedded player below: