Bulls Lose But Did They Find Something?


Nov 3

The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Chicago Bulls. All opinions expressed by Sam Smith are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Chicago Bulls or their Basketball Operations staff, parent company, partners, or sponsors. His sources are not known to the Bulls and he has no special access to information beyond the access and privileges that go along with being an NBA accredited member of the media.

How about Three’s Not a Crowd.

Or Three’s My Company.

Or Three Jamboree.

Forget Seven Seconds or Less, the shooting mantra of the Run and Shoot Phoenix Suns of recent vintage.

I think the Bulls may have found something a fan could love in Monday’s 96-93 loss to the Orlando Magic here. I don’t know if coach Vinny Del Negro, groomed in the San Antonio system but recently with the high flying Suns, will buy into it. I’m not sure he’ll embrace the three-guard rotation that nearly stole the game for the Bulls Monday.

But I think, at least for now—and I’ll go into this in more depth later tonight in my full blog—this is the kind of offenses that will make sense for the Bulls and give them a chance to be competitive more often.

Look, this isn’t supposed to be a high level playoff team. It’s supposed to be a team in transition looking for the right pieces to put around rookie guard Derrick Rose.

Coming back twice from 17-point deficits Monday, the Bulls put the shooters and drivers around Rose that gave the Bulls their most lively attack of the season.

Drew Gooden, cleverly holding off Dwight Howard by stepping outside as long as Gooden could stay out of foul trouble, had a team high 20 points. But it was the three guards and Andres Nocioni’s shooting who rallied the Bulls. Nocioni had 20 points, including a classic Noce closing stretch when he almost got himself a four-point play with the Bulls trailing by four with about 10 seconds left.

Noce threw himself into a disbelieving Rashard Lewis on a shot and front rimmed it and got three free throws. He missed the first, though Del Negro already had called for the third to be missed on purpose for a chance to maybe win the game. Noce missed the first, limiting the strategy, but he made the second to put the Bulls within 96-93 and then shot the third short, getting his own rebound but unable to get back quick enough and get off a good shot for a potential tie as the Bulls fell to 2-2.

Gordon had 17 points and Rose 14 with Kirk Hinrich just four, but tenacious defense on the much bigger Hedo Turkoglu, which kept the Magic from exploiting the matchup differences.

"It is a good lineup," Rose said of the three-guard. "But it is up to coach. We’re a young team and trying to get to know one another and play with each other. For us to go out there and come back like that really showed good signs."

The lineup change, partly necessitated by another limited production from Luol Deng with one point on zero for eight shooting in almost 26 minutes, energized the Bulls and seemed to provide an intriguing blueprint for playing off Rose.

No, you can’t use it all the time, but I’ve always felt you can have regular season success with systems teams don’t see often, which was part of the Suns’ success and usually for Don Nelson.

Orlando had the huge height advantage and Howard had 22 points and 15 rebounds and Lewis had 22 points, though he and Turkoglu went nuts trying to deal with Nocioni’s aggressive play. At one point in the fourth quarter after still another hard foul by Nocioni coming down to prevent a three-point play, Turkoglu began screaming at referee Dick Bavetta, "Did you see that (crap)! He went for my head!"

Noce also seemed on roller skates once again in flopping around like a trained seal at times. One time he went flopping off the court after a collision, only to get up and find it was after bumping into Gordon.

Nocioni, like Gordon, though both reserves this season, seem to fit best with Rose, who also was off the ball quite a bit Monday with Gordon hot and taking the ball. He had his best game of the four, though, Ben being Ben, did one too many and trailing 94-92 with about 12 seconds left, threw up a wild runner trying to drive with Howard helping. Gordon admitted afterward it could have been a better shot choice, but he drove the Bulls back into the game. He gets a pass. And Rose had the ball back for an instant before it slipped out of bounds.

He and Noce spread the floor well for Rose, so the Bulls can also put Rose on top and run more one-four sets in which the lead guard creates. The Cavs, whom the Bulls play Wednesday, do that with LeBron James, but not often enough, which is why they often go in fits and starts.

I’ve always believed in going with your best talent and what works best for you, no matter what the convention is. You try to put players in position to succeed. The Bulls don’t have post players. So don’t bother. Former coach Scott Skiles used three-guard sets often, but Del Negro isn’t as demanding on missed shots and there seems the potential to play with more freedom. Plus, I like to put opposing offenses, like Don Nelson does, in position to try to attack you because of a perceived match-up advantage with what they might not do best.

Have the Bulls found something? We’ll see.

Check back later as I have much more to say about this game…

The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Chicago Bulls. All opinions expressed by Sam Smith are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Chicago Bulls or their Basketball Operations staff, parent company, partners, or sponsors.

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