Okay Pippen Peoples, raise your hand if you thought the Bulls had a chance last night. If you are raising your hand you’re either lying or in denial. The Bulls got it handed to them by the Los Angeles Clippers 112-95. This game is no cause for alarm. The Bulls got beat by a more talented team. The worst thing that happened to the Bulls was that the Clippers was looking past the Bobcats a couple of nights ago and got beat. Yeah, those Bobcats. The Bobcats who got 62 points dropped on them by Carmelo Anthony in Madison Square Garden on a record-setting night. Doc Rivers got them focused and it showed last night.
Blake Griffin led the Clippers with 26 points 13 rebounds and 7 assists. It marked his 27th double-double of the season in a dominating performance. He had a lot of help. Jamal Crawford came of the bench to score 19 points. J.J. Redick finished with 18 points. Darren Collison, filling in for an injured Chris Paul, scored 17 points. DeAndre Jordan continued his strong play finishing with 10 points and 12 rebounds. Carlos Boozer had 22 points and nine rebounds coming back from a calf injury. Taj Gibson finished with 18.
The Bulls lost this game on the defensive end…early. They came out sluggish and the Clippers made them pay. Time and time again. As strong as the Bulls defense is (top five in the NBA) they struggle playing out to the three-point line. The Clippers put on a clinic showing the Bulls weaknesses. In the first quarter, the Clippers set a franchise record hitting seven three pointers. They shot 73.7% overall on their way to a 41-26 lead. The Bulls just cannot afford to do this. As a team, they do not score a lot of points, and their offense is not structured to fall behind by double digits to anyone, much less a team that is ranked 5th in the league with over 105 points a game. Things did not get better after that. The Bulls gave up 68 points in the first half on the strength of 10 of 14 from the land of the extra point and 64.1 % overall. This is not new for the Bulls, the Clippers have taken four straight games including a 121-82 beat down back on November 24th. Pippen Peoples you remember, that was one game AFTER Derrick Rose went down with his season ending knee injury.
Jimmy Butler is one of the players that the Bulls want to build their future around. Last night Jimmy provided the bricks, shooting a putrid 3-15 from the field for nine points. Okay, sometimes your shot is not falling. But you can’t allow J.J. Redick to double you up scoring 18 points including four three pointers. Is he getting worn down from all the minutes? (Trust me, there is a ton.) We’ll see. DJ Augustin came down from the clouds a bit scoring only seven points and dishing six assists.
The Bulls have a decision to make over the next few weeks before the trading deadline. They need a backcourt player that can make an impact. They have a couple of 10-day contract players…Cartier Martin and Mike James who obviously not a long-term solution. With the injuries to Kirk Hinrich who is shooting a career worst 35% from the field and these two stop-gap players, its time to make a trade to boost the backcourt. Hopefully the player can shoot straight.
The Bulls go to Charlotte. DJ’s old stomping grounds. The Bulls cannot afford to go back under .500. The Bobcats have to still be in shell shock after what happened in New York. Without Kemba Walker, the Bobcats lose a major source of offense. If the Bulls pay attention on the defensive end…They’ll win!