Drink: Dancing Bull Zinfandel (Why have I never drank this during a game before?!)
The Chicago Bulls were coming off a loss against the Warriors in a building where they traditionally do not play well. To follow up that effort, the Bulls head to yet another building where their play is sub-par. Add to this Derrick Rose coming off of the worst game of his season, and there seems to be some room for worry. But, surely Rose is going to game up for some redemption, right?
Well, your MVP candidate certainly started it out right, leading off with 4-6 with 10 points. What threw me in the beginning of this one was that the Portland announcers (I had the Portland feed) were calling LaMarcus Aldridge, “LA.” Thinking they were talking about the City of Angels, I was confused when they kept saying things like, “LA had a great game last time around against the Bulls.” After getting my mind straight, the Bulls defense started out well, but quickly deteriorated as Luol Deng picked up a quick two fouls and Ronnie Brewer came in for him. The quarter went on evenly matched as the Trail Blazer (two words for whatever reason) shot 78% from the field in this period. The quarter ended with a hose job, as Taj Gibson tipped in a Rose miss, but was called for a phantom over-the-back call. Instead of two points to end the quarter, Portland went to the line for two shots and a two lead after one.
Unit: DJ TrainWreck (consisting of Watson, Brewer, Korver, Gibson, and Asik) came out playing up-tempo ball and opened up a lead. It would have been a larger lead if Asik could get a call, but this one was being called oddly all over the place. After a break, the Blazers picked it back up and battled with the Bulls. The half ended with Taj getting raped – but not called – after grabbing a free throw miss from Rose and trying to put it back up. So after two quarters, it was Gibson getting hosed twice and the game tied at 50.
The third quarter got ugly in a hurry for the Bulls. They started out playing decent defense, but were missing everything on the offensive end. Then that poor offensive effort was parlayed with a sluggish defense that was giving up the lane and not showing much interest in rebounding. The Bulls fought back, largely through the effort of Rose (and despite Deng) to close the quarter well, ending it down by three.
The fourth began rough by both teams. There was no rhythm to be had by other side. Rose started the quarter, but inevitably subbed out shortly into it. Rose looked to be the Bulls only offensive threat, so when he went out, it was looking bleak. Yet, they hung in there while he was out, with the Bulls down by one when Rose got back in the game. Yet, Rose was not enough, as the Bulls had too few weapons and fewer answers by the man they had drafted years ago, LaMarcus Aldridge or LA.
Truthfully, the Blazers deserved this one. Between their defense and ability to hit shots, Portland was the stronger team in this contest. On a night where Rose was the Bulls only offense, Aldridge blew up, and the refs were all over the place (equally poor for both teams), it just was not meant to be for the Bulls.
Two things I took away from this game are homer announcers and Danny Glover deficiencies. First off, nothing is more annoying than listening to homer announcers in a frustrating game, and Portland have the cream of the homer announcing crop. Second is that Thibs has to realize that there are match-ups where Kurt Thomas is not the correct option. He seemed to realize it in this game, but possibly too late. With the offensive-less Bogans and Thomas on the floor together in the third is when Portland opened a lead and the Bulls had to battle back from the rest of the game. Portland was playing with a much more athletic lineup. When Asik was in the game, the Bulls had a much more competitive set-up. Thibs seems to be too comfortable in having his set lineups (Hello Bogans starting every game!) and rotations. This needs to end, especially when Noah comes back and one of the two back-up centers is a better fit to come in.