Defense breaks down in overtime loss to Mavs


Oct 16

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The United Center Friday fans got an extra five minutes out of it for their preseason money, and they got a Derrick Rose three pointer with 1.6 seconds left in regulation to send the game into overtime.

But, in the end, the Bulls lost 109-105 to the Dallas Mavericks and showed some cracks that need to be patched up pretty quickly.

“I thought we really did not do a good job of containing dribble penetration,” said Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau. “I thought the body position (on defense) wasn’t where it needed to be. The help was late and often times the ball got too deep and we fouled as a result. We’ve got to keep the ball out of the paint and try to make them shoot contested twos.”

Thibodeau always gives you a good basketball breakdown from the game. You can look at the box score and note 21 turnovers for 29 Mavs points. Thibodeau said that was an issue and the team needs to keep that number around 14.

Though I don’t have a big issue with that at this point given Thibodeau’s offense, which is good, involves considerably more movement and passing than the Bulls have been accustomed to. It’s going to produce turnovers, especially early. And that’s compounded by basically no post game with Carlos Boozer out until after Thanksgiving, and Taj Gibson out Friday (and probably Saturday) in Orlando with what’s said to be a minor eruption of plantar fasciitis.

“That hurt us,” said Rose, who along with Luol Deng led the Bulls with 23 points each. “Especially the pick and pop players with those two guys missing. But we clearly had a chance to win the game.”

The Mavs made sure of that, though, after leading by a dozen with seven minutes left and then missing five of six free throws in the last 42.4 seconds to give Rose a chance to shoot a dramatic shot.

“The shot was, I guess, a good shot,” said Rose.  “But we didn’t win the game.  That shot took it to overtime but we didn’t finish the game the way we were supposed to.”

Rose will be the closer for the team, and Thibodeau had planned to have him finish the game as a result. But with the overtime, which Rose also played, Rose finished with 37 minutes, the fourth straight game of at least 30 minutes. Likewise, Joakim Noah, with 13 points and 15 rebounds, played 35 minutes, his third straight of at least 35 minutes.

Thibodeau said it was part of his plan with Rose because he wanted to see Rose in end game situations. For his part, Rose said he welcomed the minutes and told Thibodeau to give him that many.

“I told coach I’d love to play a lot of minutes to get me back in rhythm,” said Rose. “He’s trying to get me in a rhythm and a groove.”

Is it too much for preseason?

Perhaps, though Thibodeau did play 11 players and seven more than 20 minutes each. Rose and Noah are young and the Bulls are coming off two full off days.

It was a little surprising not to see Kyle Weaver play since he didn’t play the last game and backup point guard C.J. Watson shot two of 13 and had difficulty running the offense. In the end, Thibodeau played Watson more at shooting guard with Rose back at point.

Without Boozer, and without Gibson to at least be a body you can throw the ball to in the post, the Bulls started Noah and Omer Asik. Asik was solid again with seven points, six rebounds and four steals, though he did have three fouls in the first eight minutes.

That size gave Dallas difficulty inside early in the game as the Bulls played a terrific first quarter behind Deng’s improved three point shooting and 13 points.

“I’ve been shooting the ball well in practice and they were in a zone so I got some good looks,” said Deng, 11 of 20 on threes thus far.

But it gave the Bulls no post threat. Noah played a high post, where he mostly passed, and Dallas set up in a zone much of the game and Noah committed six turnovers with his team high five assists.

He can pass out of the post, but without Boozer and Gibson the Bulls revert mostly to being a perimeter team. Dallas, thus, went into a zone most of the game and the Bulls were thwarted trying to create penetration off the dribble as a result.

So they ended up shooting an unusually high 31 threes, though they made 11. Dallas helped the Bulls stay in it shooting a surprising one of 16 on threes.

“Thirty one three point shots is probably too many for us,” said Thibodeau.  “If they are wide open we want to take them.  Some of them, I thought, were forced.  For the most part, I thought those were the shots we were getting and then you have to make them.  We made 11 and that’s a good number.”

Really, after the Bulls 38-27 first quarter lead, it was a game the Mavs pretty much controlled as Nowitzki led with 24 points as he played 37 minutes and rookie Dominique Jones came off the bench with 19.

While the Bulls offense sputtered after a 65 percent shooting first quarter and when Rose was running the point, it really was on defense were the team let down despite Dallas shooting 41.2 percent.

Thibodeau, basically like all defensive coaches, preaches shutting off the perimeter and then with breakdowns, which are inevitable, especially off pick and rolls, for inside help. But the Bulls perimeter players repeatedly were broken down and the inside help was routinely late. It also hurt that Gibson, a good help defender, was absent.

As a result, the Mavs got 51 free throws to 26 for the Bulls, thus also limiting Bulls fast breaking chances with the game stopping so much. Plus, the Mavs got the ball inside much more with 50 inside points to 36 for the Bulls.

“We didn’t have a defensive mindset from the start,” said Thibodeau. “We gave the easy scoring opportunities off the turnovers. You look at the turnovers and fouls. You are beating yourself with those things, so we have to correct that.”

It was mostly a rough game for the reserves, though Thibodeau said he was pleased with what he saw from Ronnie Brewer—at least with movement and better shooting stroke—despite Brewer going zero for five. Brewer did have five rebounds in 14 minutes and was more active than the previous game. Watson struggled to run the team, and the Bulls basically lost all their 12-point second quarter lead until he came out for Rose midway through the quarter.

The way Weaver played when he did get some time you would think you’d see more of him at the point, particularly because he’s much bigger and can guard.

Though he was just two of seven, James Johnson showed some nice moves when the Bulls spread the court and he drove, though I’m not sure they want to get into that offense much since then there’s a lot of standing around and it creates more chances for turnovers. And Johnson does have difficulty playing defense out on the perimeter.

It was 55-55 at halftime as the Mavs had trouble getting inside early against the two centers. Asik also was three of three on free throws with a nice stroke.

Rose contributed a couple of those breathtaking drives, once on a break with Shawn Marion five steps in front of him and then Marion having to foul Rose from behind as Rose got past at the basket. There was one Rose fast break where Jason Kidd got his full hand on the ball as Rose went up, and Rose kept going right through the powerful Kidd and scored. With Rose’s quickness, it’s remarkable how strong he is with his hands.

With the Mavs solidly in the zone after halftime, the Bulls began clanking jumpers reminiscent of their old offense as they were one of six on threes in the third and Dallas went ahead 80-74.

The Mavs began to pull away in the fourth before gagging on free throw after free throw to give Rose the chance to tie it with just over a second left. For some reason, the Mavs had three players basically in the paint despite leading by three at the time. Yes, they have work to do as well.

The Bulls took a 102-101 lead with 2:52 left in overtime on a Deng drive and foul and then Johnson made one of two free throws. But Jones got a fast break layup and foul after a long Rose miss and then Ian Mahinmi put back Jones’ free throw miss for a three point lead and Rose missed a last three point try.

It made for an entertaining finish, but it’s going to be difficult without those power forwards.

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