Holmes’ Morning After Blog: Bulls Fail In ‘Back Against The Wall’ Game

By Laurence Holmes–

CHICAGO (WSCR) Tuesday night marked the first time that the Bulls have lost three games in a row all year. It was a “back against the wall” game and the Bulls failed. It wasn’t because of a lack of effort or a lack of heart. Miami’s talent/size combination has been too much to overcome.

LeBron James has been a monster. He’s been great offensively, but his defense has been immense. His ability to guard Derrick Rose one-on-one has been invaluable and has rendered Rose silent in late-game situations. James made Rose settle for step-back jumpers. Rose loses his aggressiveness when James is guarding him. The league MVP has shot just 36 percent in this series because Miami’s on the ball defense has been outstanding. Here’s a scary stat from last night that explains how well the Heat played Rose: six assists to seven turnovers. That was Rose’s ratio. It’s been a clinic on how to stop a great point guard. The Heat’s double-teams have blinded Rose, forcing him to make passes while up in the air.

The Bulls played hard and they didn’t quit, but it wasn’t good enough. Now, they face an elimination game. All the Bulls can do is focus on Game 5. They get to come home. They’ll get the boost from the UC crowd, but what will they do with it? They can’t win the series on Thursday, but they can extend it. Think micro, not macro and let’s see if they can figure out the Miami defensive conundrum.

-If you’re looking for inspiration for Game 5, then why not look to the great Klingon Warrior, Worf, who famously (yes we’re going to geekland) said, “It is a good day to die, but the day is not yet done.”

-You can really question a lot of Tom Thibodeau’s coaching from Game 4:

1. Why did Kyle Korver play as much as he did?
2. Why did the Bulls stick with the Pick n’ Roll so long when it just brought trouble?
3. Is a 50/50 Asik better than a rested Kurt Thomas?
4. Why didn’t the Bulls attack Bosh when he picked up his 5th foul?

-It’s never been more evident that the Bulls need to find another consistent scoring threat to pair with Rose. Preferably someone who can score from the perimeter or create his own shot. In this series, Rose has had more shot attempts than points.

-During halftime, I switched over to see what the Sox were doing and was horrified to see the weather that was going on in Arlington. It’s been a strange, devastating spring, weather wise. I was happy to hear that the Rangers offered shelter to fans who had come to the ballpark.

-I put the Sox game to bed at midnight and recorded the end. Woke up to a power surge by Adam Dunn and more importantly Carlos Quentin. I don’t know if there’s anything more fun than when CQ goes on a homer binge. That bat flip is excellent. Some credit goes to Ozzie who moved Dunn down in the lineup and Quentin up.

-The rain kept us from really knowing how Jack Peavy would react in this all important third start. Peavy only pitched three innings and threw 63 pitches because of the rain delay. Not much you can glean from that.

-I’m a little (just a little) bothered by Mike Quade’s decision to let Carlos Zambrano pinch-hit last night. The Cubs had a big lead, no reason for Z to pick up a bat. The biggest injury issue for the Cubs is their lack of depth in the rotation. Batting and more importantly, letting Z run the bases, was dangerous. It worked, but it wasn’t smart.

More from Laurence Holmes
  • bronzo

    Rose looks very tentative…Boozer is killing them defensively and he gets stripped or rejected when he tries to go to the basket. Why hasn’t kurt thomas played 1 minute. why did they go to an isolation on the last shot in regulation rather than a pick and roll?? I”ve got so many questions about the caoch’s decisions late in the game.

    and again Boozer and Cover are killing them!!!

    I need to vent

  • bronzo

    Korver is killing them not Cover…

    • Spoon

      Yeah, he doesnt cover much of anything…

  • Jonathan

    Well said Laurence. I was questioning a lot of Thib’s decisions last night. Did he draw up those jumpers from Derrick at the end? At the very least he should have attacked the basket and tried to draw the foul. Why didn’t Kurt Thomas play at all???? Noah was exhausted. I wish Noah would have tried that jumper more than once. Why is Korver still in the game? He can’t play D, he can’t get his own shot, and in the off chance they do create some floor spacing he hasn’t hit. No reason to leave him in there that long. I’d rather see Taj Gibson guarding that position, but it should have been Bogans. He’s a better defender and he has proven more valuable in this series at getting his own and making shots. Lots of questions about coaching decisions after that one.

  • Spoon

    “-I’m a little (just a little) bothered by Mike Quade’s decision to let Carlos Zambrano pinch-hit last night. The Cubs had a big lead, no reason for Z to pick up a bat. The biggest injury issue for the Cubs is their lack of depth in the rotation. Batting and more importantly, letting Z run the bases, was dangerous. It worked, but it wasn’t smart.”

    Meh, the only thing the Cubs will provide this year is occasional good times and entertainment. If they had something the play for at the end of the year, I’d be a touch bothered by it as well, but there’s nothing at the end for this years team or it’s fan other than distraction and entertainment.

  • Chris in Scottsdale

    The thing about the end-of-regulation play that boggled my mind: No picks or screens set at all. No motion from the offense at all once the ball was inbounded to Rose. Two Bulls camped out at the low post. It felt very schoolyard (our big gun against your big gun). Granted, I’m not a basketball savant, but I would have assumed that they would have/should have/could have done something to at least try to create space for Rose, considering he wasn’t able to create any for himself the last several minutes while James was guarding him. I see the idea of giving Rose a wide berth to take LeBron one-on-one, but he hadn’t proven he could do so.

    I guess I’m just wondering if I missed something.

  • Matt

    Great blog Lawrence you nailed it!


    On the Chicago Bulls Radio Network flagship up the dial, Chuck Swirsky told partner Bill Wennington before the start of the 4th quarter that he felt LeBron James was going to take over the game, and Chuck was right on the money. Besides leading all scorers with 35 points, LeBron proved to be quite the ballplayer, both offensively and defensively in frustrating Derrick Rose. Needless to say, this NBA East Final has been one to forget for the NBA MVP this season. On a night where Derrick had to score 30, 40 or possibly 50 to get the Bulls the needed win to tie the series and make it a best 2 out of 3, Rose once again struggled from the field and was lucky to score 23 on just 8/27 field goal shooting. The Bulls also turned it over 22 times and allowed the Heat to spend much of the night at the foul line, getting 38 attempts to Chicago’s 22. Also, where was Chicago’s “Bench Mob”? Miami’s much-maligned bench got 28, highlighted by 12 from Mike Miller and a pair of treys from Mario Chalmers, while by my math, the Bulls got just 18 and lost Bernsy’s buddy Omer Asik to a reinjured leg. Folks, while this series returns to Chicago for Game 5 tomorrow, I get the impression the Bulls played hard enough to win, but got nothing to show for it. The 101-93 OT loss in Miami was the kind of punch to the stomach that the Bulls might not recover from and tomorrow’s game might be the last in Chicago for quite sometime.

    • RLH

      There’ another point guard coming available for next season. Can pass, shoot and open the offense. With Teague growing in Atlanta – Heinrich should be available.t He not only drives to the hoop he will dribble under and pass out to an open Bull.

  • Lorenzo Ross

    C.J Watson being on the floor at the same time as D. Rose was a bad idea. The minute Miami saw that matchup they took advantage with Mike Miller scoring a quick five points with Watson guarding him. If Miller misses one of those shots, Bulls win in regulation.

  • stucky

    mvp coach of the year GM of the year yeah right haha

  • IlliniStu

    Thank you Lorenzo!! Putiting Watson on Miller was a completely bone-headed move. Doesn’t anyone see that your “Coach Of The Year” has been outcoached BADLY in the last two series??? Interesting that when Brewer was out on the floor guarding Miller all of a sudden Miller disappeared. Thib’s rotations have been suspect to say the least. How many times has he left the 2nd team out there while Miami’s starters were on the floor?? Must he always platoon ALL the starters except Deng out at once?? Why not attempt to run a play to get Rose (or someone else like Deng) a shot at the end of the game?? Deng played well last night and had Rose kicked it out to him after attempting to drive on LeBron, Deng would have had a wide open three. I’d much rather have Deng shooting an uncontested 3 than Rose shooting a fade-away 18 footer over last year’s MVP who is 6 inches taller and just as athletic. All I heard about after Game 1 was how the Bulls not being suckered into one-on-one matchups against Miami being the reason they won so soundly and that Miami was going to have to go back to the drawing board. Well, Miami has made a few minor adjustments and the Bulls totally go away from the winning strategy of Game 1. Look, it’s simple, the way you beat the Heat is to replicate what you did in game one. Even if you shoot a more normal percentage from behind the arc in that game you still win. Yes, Miami has made some adjustments to prevent you from doing that but nothing that can’t be overcome. Where are Thib’s “Coach of The Year” genious counter-adjustments??? Don’t get me wrong, I like Thibs in a lot of ways, but it is time we see something from him that is Coach Of The Year caliber. After all, nearly any coach following Vinny was bound win more games and look better! Sorry, I know I’m all over the map but it’s so frustrating to see this opportunity slip away because of silly mistakes.

    • Murphfan1138

      Thibs is continuing that fine Chicago tradition…head coach/manager being stubborn and resistant to change because the “tried and true” isn’t working anymore. Plus, Rose needs to stop worrying about getting his teammates involved in the fourth quarter and start driving to the basket. If he gets knocked down, so what? Chances are, he’ll get some calls going his way and shoot some free throws. I have to wonder if Rose is passing more because the criticism he got for shooting 32+ times in one game vs. Atlanta got to him somehow and he doesn’t want to appear selfish.

  • Jeff47999

    One word Lawrence: HOOSIERS! The Bulls have to watch that film before game 5!

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