In the second game of their first back-to-back of the season, the Bulls found themselves up against an Anthony Davis-less New Orleans Hornets. Despite being without Davis, the Hornets did not have too difficult of a time defeating Chicago.
It all began when the Bulls struggle to find their offense in the first quarter. With 8:29 remaining in the first, the Bulls had only scored 2 points, which came off a a tip-in by Joakim Noah. Nearly two minutes later, Chicago had only 4 points. They struggled to find their offense early on and could not finish with what offense they could find. This did not last throughout the entire quarter though. Marco Belinelli found early playing time and had some confidence as well. Belinelli got a three-point play on a drive to the basket, a dunk, and a three all in the first quarter. His offense helped the Bulls finish off the quarter down 18-21.
The second quarter did not seem as brutal as the Bulls’ energy and defense were much more intense than it had been prior. They stepped up their defense to force the Hornets to stay out on the perimeter, cutting off their inside game. The bench helped the offense by contributing 25 points by halftime. It still was not enough as the game had stayed relatively close, but the Bulls could not get the edge ending the first half down 41-46 after allowing two straight threes by Greivis Vasquez.
The third quarter picked up where the second quarter ended. Chicago found it difficult to score while New Orleans remained ahead. The tempo of the game and defensive intensity brought by the Bulls was similar to that of the beginning of the game. It was slow, and they were not very active on either ends of the floor. Somehow, the Bulls still managed to get their points up to 60, shooting 25% from the field, but still ended the quarter behind six points.
Chicago did not step it up from the beginning of the fourth quarter either. Their feel for the game was not any different than it was in the third. The Bulls took a long time to set up their offense often waiting until the final seconds of the shot clock to try and get something. They were able to get within four points of the Hornets, but that was as close as it got. Nate Robinson made a three to make it 82-87 with 22.9 seconds remaining in the game, but it all went downhill from there. Vladimir Radmanovic even got a steal off of a failed New Orleans out-of-bounds play, but the Bulls could not take advantage of that either. The Hornets were able to shot yet again ending the game 82-89, giving the Bulls their first loss of the season.
After their excellent play against the Cavaliers, the Bulls played completely opposite from that against the Hornets. They had little energy and could not find their offense. It did not help that Kirk Hinrich and Carlos Boozer were each 1-8 from the field while Richard Hamilton also struggle shooting 2-10. As a team, the Bulls did not look much better shooting 33% from the field while getting out-rebounded 41-44. Some good did come from the game though. Joakim Noah recorded a double-double of 11 points and 11 rebounds, despite fouling out, while Luol Deng achieved a near double-double of 19 points and 8 rebounds, Belinelli finished off the night with 13 points while other bench members Robinson and Taj Gibson contributed 15 and 12 points respectively. Hinrich also grabbed 5 steals in 24 minutes of playing time.None of these individual accomplishments amounts to much though as the Bulls failed to pull of a win.
It is only game three of the regular season, so the positive part about this struggle of a game is that it provides the Bulls a lesson early on: play with intensity and defense. That is how Chicago basketball finds its success.