Bulls lose first preseason game to Bucks


Oct 10

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The Bulls lost Saturday night in Green Bay to the Milwaukee
Bucks 98-86.

This is what was most obvious from the team’s first loss of
the preseason.

They really miss Derrick Rose.

They better be a transition team as much as possible because
they do not play well in the half court.

Did I mention they really miss Derrick Rose?

OK, it’s obvious you are not the same team when you do not
have your best player. Rose, clearly, is now their best with the departure of
Ben Gordon. But Rose, out with an ankle injury, is even more crucial for the
Bulls now without Gordon because without Rose on the floor, no one really merits
a double team.

Yes, the Bulls should be able to score by spreading around
the responsibilities. But they have the kind of team that will do best in
transition. Gordon was the kind of player who could create his own shot, often
where there wasn’t one. Rose can as well.

Without them, the Bulls seem best in the open floor. And in
a poor shooting game—you have to give them a bit of a jet lag excuse returning
from London Wednesday—they did best when attacking as they drew 37 free throws
to 22 for the Bucks. Kirk Hinrich and James Johnson made eight each.

That kept the Bulls close at times, though the Bucks clearly
dominated the game.

It was your typical preseason game as the Bulls were without
Rose and Tyrus Thomas while recovering Bucks veterans Michael Redd and center
Andrew Bogut played limited minutes.

But you can still gain insight into a team even without its
regular rotation.

Joakim Noah played 16 minutes and had seven rebounds but
also two quick fouls. The fouls figure to be the main thing that can hold back
Noah this season as he’ll have to control his enthusiasm at times to avoid
silly fouls, more often on moving screens.

The Bulls were led by Johnson with 14 points, though he had those
eight at the free throw line in 10 attempts. Johnson clearly is best with the
ball and moving given his ability to cause so many mismatches with his size and

He had seven rebounds as he does fill up the columns in the
box score. But Johnson also had six turnovers as he’s not accustomed to the
defense closing so quickly in the pros. He’ll get better at that.

Early in the game, Johnson tended to stand around in the
half court game when he didn’t have the ball.

The Bulls were using Jannero Pargo at point guard a lot, and
I would liked to have seen Johnson take a shot at that instead. Even with the

Pargo, though he had six assists, really seems best in the
Gordon role off the ball and attacking the defense. He hit both his threes
along with scrappy Derrick Byars. Pargo’s a quick, streaky scorer in the Gordon
mold. Playing point on top seems to take Pargo away from that and also seems to
stall the offense.

Luol Deng had six points on two of nine shooting, and you
figured he’d be the most fatigued after being something of the unofficial host
for the Bulls visit to his adopted country.

But with the offense stagnant early when Deng played, Deng
was too often put in position of trying to go one on one and take his man off
the dribble, which are not his strengths. Deng did make one nice post up move,
but you want to see him slashing and on the move and there wasn’t much of that

The Bucks did do a good job of fighting over screens and
without players to double team were able to pressure their man more.

Taj Gibson had 12 points in 22 minutes along with five fouls
in what I thought was a nice effort despite being outmaneuvered early.

The Bucks went right at Gibson with veteran Kurt Thomas
sealing Gibson and getting an easy layup and then suckering Gibson into a
moving screen. But I liked the way Gibson didn’t get down or lose his emotion
or hustle and came right back with a nice mid range jumper when John Salmons
drew defenders on a pick and roll. Gibson then stepped up on defense to thwart
a fast break and send the Bulls off running on maybe their best play of the
night as Deng found Salmons on the run for a fast break layup.

Bogut got loose early to give the Bucks a quick lead, though
he had five fouls. The Bulls kept pulling within a few points despite horrid
shooting, but could not get much going on offense and trailed 51-42 at
halftime. Gibson kept at it, which was impressive, as the Bulls trailed 75-67
after three.

They did pull within five with an 11-0 run into the fourth
quarter, but were beaten on the boards as Hakim Warrick helped the Bucks hold
off the Bulls. The Bulls fell to 2-1 in the preseason while the Bucks went to 1-2.

The Bucks rookie point guard Brandon Jennings was a jet,
like Rajon Rondo, though without much conscious as a shooter. It should be a
test of coach Scott Skiles’ patience. The Bulls host the Bucks at the United
Center Tuesday in the first preseason home game for the Bulls. They have to
hope Rose is back by then.

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