It's CSI L.A. and Bulls are victims


Nov 20

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Well, at least the Bulls, in being blown out 108-93 by the Lakers Thursday, learned how far they are from being a championship team.

And how tall.

“Our defensive schemes…they just weren’t good enough… not for what they bring to the table,” stammered Joakim Noah, trying to sort through trailing by close to 20 virtually the entire second half. “You double team somebody, you leave someone open and… they killed us on the offensive glass. There’s nobody you really can help off. You have a guy at the two 6-6, a guy at the three 6-10, a guy 7-1 at center and another 7 footer power forward. They’re bigger at every position.

“They made it look easy, like an exhibition,” sighed Noah, who had 12 points and 15 rebounds for his sixth straight double/double. “It felt like the varsity team compared to the j.v. team. I’m tired. I’m looking around on the court and nobody on the Lakers broke a sweat.”

This was how it started.

Seven foot Andrew Bynum missed and seven foot Pau Gasol, playing his first game of the season after a hamstring injury and leading everyone with 24 points and 13 rebounds, tipped the ball in over Taj Gibson.

Then Gasol went at the smaller Gibson and was fouled.

Then Ron Artest missed inside and Bynum was fouled shooting the rebound.

Then Luol Deng lost the ball and Pau beat Gibson downcourt for a fast break layup. Then Gasol tipped in the third Lakers’ miss on the same possession. Then you could see Noah tell Gibson he’d take Gasol before coach Vinny Del Negro finally brought in Brad Miller for Gibson.

While Gasol was out, he appeared in an episode of the TV show CSI Miami, which aired earlier this week. Lakers coach Phil Jackson joked Gasol should keep his night job. He’s actually pretty good at it. You could say for the Bulls, the crime scene was the Staples Center. Did anyone get the license plate number of that Lakers’ semi?

It was a rough time for Gibson back where he went to college at USC as he looked like the little brother jumping to try to get the ball while the big brother held it up in the air.

“There’s so much focus on Kobe (Bryant),” noted Del Negro. “And then Bynum and Gasol on the glass, Artest inside. They have a lot of weapons. And talent. It’s one thing to be tall, but there’s also being tall and talented, and they got both. So that helps.”

The Bulls also got pushed around, as if the one sided loss to send the Bulls to 6-5 wasn’t bad enough.

“I think we kind of let them take the game as far as playing physical,” noted John Salmons, who was keeping the Bulls in the game in the first half and even blowing by Bryant for scores on several occasions.

Salmons had all of his 18 points in the first half as he sat most of the second half with foul trouble.

“We didn’t take the challenge,” said Salmons, who is snapping out of his early season shooting slump. “I think we learned a little bit, (that) you can’t let teams be more physical. You’ve got to set the tone as far as how physical you are going to play.”

The Bulls didn’t much bring the hammer as Bryant with 21 points on but seven of 21 shooting, seemed to take out his frustrations on Salmons and Kirk Hinrich with some stealthy elbows to the chest as they played him. After one, Del Negro drew a technical foul complaining, and Hinrich then got into a verbal spat with Lamar Odom as the game deteriorated rapidly for the Bulls.

Sticks and stones did harm more than words again.

“I thought Kobe was getting away with a few things on Kirk,” said Del Negro. “A few calls were questionable and I wanted them to let them now my feelings.”

There was something of a bright spot as Derrick Rose led the Bulls with 20 points and six assists and just two turnovers. But Rose was two of 11 in the first half when the Bulls were sort of in the game and down four midway through the second quarter. The Lakers then hit the Bulls with a 16-6 run as the Bulls now were dropping everyone into the lane and Bryant, Ron Artest and Derek Fisher hit threes. That put the deficit into double digits for just about the rest of the game, certainly after the Lakers went back inside and opened the third quarter with an 8-0 spurt to take a 63-44 lead.

Yes, Lindsey Hunter started getting his sweats off.

“I really liked the way he (Rose) attacked,” said Del Negro of Rose’s 10 points in the third quarter in a futile effort to help the Bulls fight back. “I thought he got his rhythm in the second half and was attacking the rim with his floaters in the lane. He played with a little bit more thrust and pace, and it was nice to see him knock some shots down.”

But two elements still troubled Rose.

On two occasions in the first half, Rose broke through the defense for explosive drives to the basket reminiscent of the way he played in becoming 2009 Rookie of the Year. But in each case, Rose missed the layup. It seemed he wasn’t able to get high enough to make the layups easier and had to push them up from below the basket.

Rose acknowledged his ankle isn’t perfect and said, “When my ankle is back healthy enough, I’ll try to dunk that one. I’m just happy I’m was getting that far to the rim.”

Yes, you have to find little positives when the game spirals out of control like that.

It also seems obvious the Bulls have to do a better job of coming up with some offensive schemes to give Rose more room to work.

The Bulls rely mostly on a pick and roll on top of the floor for Rose. But every time he went over the screen, the big man out to trap never even looked back at his man but followed Rose and formed a wall with Rose’s defender sliding under. The rotation came quickly from the weak side for the roll man, thus forcing Rose to move the ball somewhat late in the shot clock.

The Bulls clearly need to push the ball quicker for so called early offense before the defense sets or have Rose give up the ball more quickly and then get it back where he can attack from the weak side without so much defensive attention.

Of course, making some shots also would help.

That is coming along some as Salmons was seven of 11 and three of four on threes in the first half as the Bulls trailed 53-42 at halftime.

Salmons then picked up two fouls early in the third quarter after doing a good job holding Bryant in control in the first half.

Though the Lakers plan, clearly, was to use their size advantage, especially against the smaller Gibson, and to constantly attack from the post.

“Joakim was solid, gave us a great effort,” said Del Negro. “This was a game Tyrus (Thomas, injured) could have helped us with his length and athleticism.”

The Lakers had 60 points in the paint to 40 for the Bulls and led the Bulls 22-8 on second chance points.

We know volleyball is popular in L.A., but on the basketball court?

“They were too big,” said Rose, “tipping balls, two seven footers tipping balls back to each other is tough.”

Noah did a commendable job on Bynum once Miller came in for support, holding Bynum to 11 points and eight rebounds, though Bryant hit Bynum with a pair of nice lobs as the Lakers began to pull away late in the second quarter. Fisher also broke out of a slump with five of five shooting and Artest added 15 points and a pair of threes and forced Luol Deng into an unproductive six points on three of 11 shooting.

“Artest had his hands on him and he couldn’t get away from him much,” said Del Negro. “He didn’t get in much of a flow. We need him to score.”

It was the second team this season to score more than 100 points against the Bulls. The first, of course, was the Celtics.

Not that the Bulls didn’t know they weren’t at the level of those teams. Still, it hurts to see it up close like this.

“I thought,” said Jackson, “we played a relatively decent game.”

Sadly enough, he was serious.

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