–Taj Gibson sat out his second consecutive game to rest his ailing right heel, but the night off came for precautionary measures.
Ill be at practice, ready to go on Monday, said Gibson, who surely could have helped combat the Magics dominance in the post. Tonights loss was tough on our team, just watching the whole effect, so Im just looking forward to getting back in practice and ready for the next game. Thibodeau reiterated the same stance: Hopefully Gibson will be back at practice on Monday. I think hes fine. Like he said yesterday, if this was the regular season, he would be playing. Its more precautionary; he said he could have gone today.
–Perhaps the Bulls lone bright spot was the outing from reserve guard C.J. Watson, who came up with 13 points and four assists off the bench.
Just trying to find my rhythm, find where I can get shots in the offense and also get shots for my teammates, so its going a little better, Watson, who took no solace in having a decent performance in defeat, told CSNChicago.com. We can have all the excuses we want, but we just have to play better, especially defensively. We gave up too many easy baskets, too many dunks, open threes. Our offense wasnt there tonight, but our defense has to be there every night.
–Thibodeau, for one, isnt overlooking the Magic as an elite team in the conference, despite his former team (the Celtics) being the defending Eastern Conference champs and Miami making a huge splash in the offseason.
The East in general has gotten significantly betterOrlandos as good as anybody. Theyre strong in every aspect of the game. I think the team that can remain the healthiest and is playing the best at the end will have the best shot at it. Theyre a lot of good teams in the East, said Thibodeau, who also added his thoughts about Asiks struggles (he scored two points before eventually fouling out) against Howard in his welcome-to-the-NBA moment. When youre going against their size and the physicality of Dwight HowardI think he Asik had a couple calls that were tough early onbut the thing is, I think we have to meet him before he generates his speed, and we didnt do that. Omer, each day is learning, getting better. I didnt think he could get into the flow of the game because of the fouls. We tried to leave him out there. Some of them the foul calls were tough. Theres a lot of contact with Howard; hes a great player, hes strong, quick. We probably should given him Asik more help than we did.”
–After playing Rose, Deng and Noah heavy minutes the last two games, Thibodeau reduced the trios playing time significantly, although he claimed that wasnt by design, as he initially intended to play them traditional starters minutes.
We got down early and we were just searching for things to get us going, and we couldnt find an answer. If it was closer, we probably would have played them more, but we were looking for some energy off the bench and we couldnt find any, said Thibodeau. I like our bench. I dont think anyone played particularly well tonight. I liked Kurts Thomas defense early. I think we have a good, solid bench. I think Ronnie Brewer will get better and better with time. His timings a little off hes been off for a long time but I like the energy, I like the way he moves without the ball. Defensively, hes still not quite there, but hes trying to do the right thing, so for him, this was good. C.J. Watson, I think, got untracked a little bit. But defensively, I think we need to make a lot of corrections.Dont forget to follow Aggrey Sam on Twitter at @CSNBullsInsider.
Saturday, Oct. 16, 2010Updated 10:42 PMBy Aggrey SamCSNChicago.com
ORLANDO Following weeks of grueling practices and an overtime game in which three key starters received significant playing time the previous night (not to mention a red-eye flight), it wasnt entirely unexpected that the Bulls would struggle against a formidable opponent like Orlando. A 38-point shellacking, 105-67 at the hands of the Magic, however, was not supposed to be in the cards.
Theyre Orlando a tough team. Youve got to be ready for the start of the game. Youve got to be ready for the speed and intensity of the game. I thought they got us in a hole early and we couldnt get out of it, Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau said after the game. Youve got to give them a lot of credit. Their defense was great. They dont any possessions off, so youve got to be ready and you have to execute against them. If you dont, its going to be a tough night for you.
It was a good test for us because we can measure ourselves against a high-caliber team, he continued. The first month of the season, were going to have a number of these situations. Whatever the circumstance is, we have to be able to rise up and be ready to play the next night. Weve got to prepare ourselves better, Ive got to prepare us better and weve got to be ready for the start of the game.
Maybe it was an issue of depth perception in the unfamiliar confines of Orlandos sparkling new Amway Center, but the Bulls morphed into the gang that couldn t shoot straight in the first period. A pair of quick fouls against rookie center Omer Asik with a subsequent third upon his re-entry to the game later in the quarter further hampered Chicagos already depleted frontcourt (Taj Gibson sat out his second consecutive game to rest his ailing right heel, although he traveled to Orlando and dressed for the game) charged with battling All-Star center Dwight Howard.
However, it was swingman Vince Carter who did most of the damage for the home team in the early going, as his precise shooting reaped 11 points in the initial stanza. After a 38-point explosion in the opening quarter against Dallas the previous evening, the Bulls mustered up a lowly 10 points to the Magics 22.
It was a lack of effort defensively. They shot what, 60-something percent, said Derrick Rose, who finished with seven points in only 12 minutes of action. Defensively, thats what we have to be known for. Offensively, like I said, thats on and off. Around the league, we want people to know what were about just getting into people in the beginning of the games and throughout the whole game, where its going to be a tough game and tonight wasnt that night.
Already playing catch-up, Chicagos reserves were given the task of attempting to impede Orlandos progress, as Bulls head coach logically rested the majority of his starters; Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah and Luol Deng were coming off a night in which they played heavy minutes in an overtime contest. Backup guard C.J. Watson displayed some of the instant-offense potential he was highly regarded in Golden State for, but that was countered by Magic sharpshooter J.J. Redicks who was courted by the Bulls this past offseason on the free-agent market before being retained by Orlando reciprocal hot hand.
Carters potent scoring (21 first-half points) persisted and while the Magic as a whole werent similarly prolific (although there was good balance amongst their starters), the deficit widened and Chicago went into halftime facing a 51-23 mountain to climb, with 25.6 percent shooting from the floor, compared to Orlandos gaudy 60 percent.
The visitors abysmal offensive output didnt immediately subside, as Orlando began to assert its inside dominance in the form of Howard and backup center Marcin Gortat who started the second half; the Magic went with last years starting power forward, Rashard Lewis, on the wing, arguably his more natural position while continuing to limit the Bulls to mostly contested outside jumpers.
Howard displayed his developing repertoire of post moves (the jump hook, in particular, seemed to be his preferred move of choice) and combined with Gortat and power forward Brandon Bass to dominate the backboards, rendering Chicago almost helpless on the interior. Bass actually put his own stamp on the game with his mid-range jumper in pick-and-pop situations, further adding to the Bulls miseries. At the end of three quarters, Chicagos futility manifested itself in an 81-43 deficit.
With the Bulls reserves fully entrenched for the remainder of the contest (Rose played only 12 minutes overall; neither he nor Noah and Deng were to return in the fourth quarter), the game became an exercise in determination and evaluation. By the final period, both coaches had started to go to their deep bench, providing a means for role players such as Gortat, who took his turn amongst Orlandos post players that enjoyed success on the evening to distinguish themselves.
It was also a battle of wills, as Chicago was playing for pride and Orlando only to maintain its concentration and maintain the tremendous winning margin. Although the Bulls didnt really manage to chip away at the Magic lead, it also didnt balloon past the already-huge proportions. Perhaps the most telling event down the stretch was the preseason debut of Roger Powell (his game-ending dunk cut the deficit to under 40), a clear indication of what type of night it was for the new arenas guests.
We know that if we start off and our offense isnt there, our defense has to be even better. After we came in to the locker room, I told everybody, No matter what, we still have to fight. Our defense should never go anywhere. Our offense is going to have our on and off nights, but defensively, thats when youve got to push harder, said Rose, providing evidence of his burgeoning leadership skills, albeit in an instance of adversity. Its a learning experience. I told the guys, Never again. People will get cursed out, whatever. Weve just got to ball, dog. Tonight, we didnt ball. We didnt show any fight and thats whats going to happen when you go out there unprepared.
Were very far from where we have to be, but I think with the team that we have the guys that we have we should be all right.
Concurred Thibodeau: I just think we have to improve. In the NBA, you can find an excuse every night whether its back-to-back games, four games in five nights, long practice, short practice, on the road, home and we dont want to find any excuses. Were going to try to learn from this, make some corrections and then strive for improvement.
Watsons 13 points and four assists and James Johnsons 10 points and five rebounds set the pace for the Bulls, while Carters game-high 21 points led Orlando, with Howard adding 15 points, 11 rebounds and three blocked shots, Bass contributing 14 points and 10 boards and reserves Redick and Gortat chipping in 16 and 14, respectively.
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