A lot of turnovers prevented the Bulls from at least having the lead at halftime — that and Shannon Brown. When the Bulls and Lakers went to half with the score 49-51, Brown had 18 points in 14 minutes. This included four three-pointers, and he did a lot to crush the Bulls while they were holding on tight with most of their starters out of the game.
As for the turnovers, some were inevitable. The Bulls looked to run at every opportunity, which I think is the best way for this roster to attack the Lakers; but, at times, they pushed it to the point where things got sloppy. The Lakers didn’t turn the turnovers into points, but they did take away from a Bulls offense that had a better field goal percentage than the Lakers in the first half.
In second half, the Bulls cut the turnovers in more than half. At least partly because they simplified the offense. Most possessions, the Bulls didn’t even pretend to concern themselves with running any sets. Their possessions came down to high screen-roll or Rose one-on-one. Some Bulls still managed to get their points, or at least shots, through the all-Rose offense: Noah had a couple put-back dunks and Bogans had some wide-open looks that he failed to knock down.
Rose’s burst and some very Artest-like bad shots from Ron Artest kept the Bulls in this game, even though the Lakers led by as much as eight in the third quarter.
The Bulls would eventually be done in by failing to close out on the Lakers’ shooters and the Lakers hitting some open threes. It also didn’t help that they went 5 1/2 minutes between field goals in the fourth. Simply, the Bulls can’t beat the best team in the NBA when only three guys — Rose, Noah and Taj Gibson (thankfully his foot healed overnight) — play well.
- Rose did what good point guards are supposed to do against the Lakers: go wherever they want on the floor. The Lakers rotated the defender on Rose for much of the game, but the result was the same. Things got tough for Rose late in the third when Odom, or another long, athletic Laker, came to double Rose and force him get rid of the ball. This strategy shouldn’t have been a huge issue, but the Bulls weren’t getting enough offense from anyone else to take advantage of Rose dishing to the wide-open man.
- I guess Gibson’s foot is OK. The Bulls got 40 really good minutes from him. I’ll be watching him tomorrow to see how the foot holds up during the second half of a back-to-back.
- Last night was Pau Gasol’s worst game of the year; Noah had something to do with that. Really, he had something to do with a lot of the things the Bulls did on defense: he had four blocks and three steals.
- Luol Deng’s four fouls lost him some minutes, especially in the second half. After the game, Tom Thibodeau told reporters that he should have brought him back in the game earlier. Though, the way Deng played in the second half, he may have been just trying to be nice.
- Ronnie Brewer was the “star” of the Bulls’ bench last night — six points on 1-for-4 shooting. He took a less physical, more position-oriented approach to defending Kobe. It wasn’t great.
- Kyle Korver can’t go 0-for-4 from behind the arc (1-for-6 overall) against the Lakers. Well, maybe he can; the Bulls had the lead with a little over eight minutes left in the game, but it doesn’t make it easy. Thibodeau didn’t specifically call out Korver for failing to close out on three-pointers, but he could have.
- Bogans was physical with Kobe on defense; I guess that’s why he had two fouls in three minutes and was hardly a factor the rest of the game. Single-handedly cost Rose a double-double.
- C.J. Watson was invisible to me in his thirteen minutes.
- Except for some impressive offensive rebounds in the fourth quarter, Omer Asik was better the farther he was away from the ball. Gasol didn’t take over the game when Noah was out, but when he had the ball Asik fouled him. Offensively, he established decent position on occasion, but was soft when the ball was in his hands.
Rose on the line – 9 attempts
Rose seemed to be more concerned with getting to the line — at least at times. On one drive in the second quarter, he yelled, gestured, did everything to one ref after Steve Blake hit him on the head. He even got a star call late in the fourth. Shannon Brown made a clean block, but Rose got the call anyways.