Bulls-Hornets Film Room: Yeah, It Was That Bad


The Chicago Bulls traveled to Charlotte on Tuesday night to take on the winless Hornets. The result? A 25-point beatdown by the Hornets. How did it happen? Two things stick out: Poor execution and a complete lack of effort.

The NBA regular season is a long, treacherous road. On any given night, any team can look like a title contender with flawless shooting, a strong defensive effort, and a few breaks to go their way throughout the night. Some teams have these nights more than others, some teams have nights like the Chicago Bulls had on Tuesday night in Charlotte.

Jeremy Lamb — who just signed a three-year extension to stay with the Hornets — torched the Bulls for 20 points, Charlotte shot 60.9 percent from three-point land, and the Hornets picked up their first victory of the season with a 130-105 mauling of the Bulls on Tuesday.

(Yes, the Chicago Bulls gave up 130 points in a 48-minute game. And to answer your question, no … the Bulls never gave up that many points in regulation with Tom Thibodeau as head coach.)

How bad was it? Bobby Portis — yes, the same Bobby Portis that had yet to see actual game action this season — played almost the entire fourth quarter and scored more points than minutes played! (OK, so technically he played 9:44, which would translate to 10 minutes, but it’s cooler to not get that technical.)

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The Bulls showed a complete lack of effort on both ends of the floor. The more concerning part of Tuesday’s loss was the defensive side of the ball. Believe it or not, the Bulls actually shot the ball well. They made almost 49 percent of their total shots (44-of-90) and made 14 threes on the night.

But, in any era of the NBA, if you give up 130 points to a team that had yet to reach the 100-point plateau this season, you’re probably going to fly back home with a loss.

Let’s take a look at some of the issues for the Bulls during Tuesday’s loss.

The first possession of the game

Yeah, this was going to be a disaster right off the bat.

P.J. Hairston drives quickly on Tony Snell and has a lane to the basket for an easy bucket to start the game. This could have been avoided if Nikola Mirotic slides over to provide some help defense after Hairston drives on Snell.

To play good defense, you have to communicate and make quick decisions. Jimmy Butler can’t leave his man (Nicolas Batum) and Pau Gasol is guarding the always-reliable Al Jefferson (more on him in a second). This is Mirotic’s responsibility to slide over and help Snell on the drive attempt.

Yikes, Pau

There’s really not much to say here. Al Jefferson blows past Pau Gasol like he was a statue.

Al. Jefferson.

Gasol transferred his weight to his left leg after Jefferson’s jab step and at this point in his career, Gasol’s lateral quickness isn’t exactly … quick.

Once again, Mirotic sees the play, but doesn’t slide over to at least try to contest the shot. On this night, it didn’t matter because Charlotte made everything they threw at the rim, but this is something that cannot continue for the Bulls.

Based off last season’s numbers, opponents shot an average of 51.6 percent against Gasol and Mirotic at the rim. If Hoiberg is going to make this Spanish EuroBasket connection work in the starting lineup, the defense has to improve from those two.

This was a great finish by Jefferson at the basket, but Gasol bit too hard when Jefferson pump-faked at the nail. It opened the lane completely for Jefferson to drive. At least Butler and Mirotic were able to alter Jefferson’s shot, but when good players come down the lane, they find ways to finish.

KYP: Know Your Personnel

One of the many things that you’ll hear Stacey King say during a Chicago Bulls basketball broadcast is “KYP”. KYP stands for “K(now) Y(our) P(ersonnel)”. Simply put, you have to know what your opponent has on the floor and what their strengths and weaknesses are.

At the University of Wisconsin, former Illinois prep star Frank Kaminsky was a deadly offensive weapon for the Badgers. In four seasons during his time with legendary coach Bo Ryan, Kaminsky’s perimeter shooting got better and better. During his senior season, Kaminsky shot 41.6 percent from long range.

It’s clear that Nikola Mirotic didn’t read the scouting report. Even as a rookie — similar to what teams had to do with Mirotic last season — Kaminsky is a perimeter threat to make shots. Mirotic was rubbed by Jefferson on a screen, but Mirotic showed little effort into getting off the screen and challenging this shot.

The second-year man wasn’t the only one either.

Hornets play-by-play man Eric Collins literally said out loud what everyone else was thinking.

It’s still a work in progress for Doug McDermott

Offensively, there was nothing you could dislike about Doug McDermott. Not only did McDermott play a shade over 30 minutes, he shot 6-of-12 from the floor, including a barrage of five three-pointers on eight attempts.

Defensively, he still has a long way to go.

To be fair to McDermott he was helping out Pau Gasol on Nicolas Batum’s baseline drive and P.J. Hairston isn’t exactly a knockdown three-point shooter. But, this is way too much space given up for someone who looks for his shot often.

Overall, the Bulls have been struggling to defend the corner threes; something that was sacrilegious in the Tom Thibodeau defensive system.

Yeah, I got nothing for this one

If you’re curious as to why the Bulls gave up 130 points on Tuesday, look at this.

Overall thoughts and takeaways:

  • You’ll hear this a lot — especially for good teams — but nights like these happen. The Bulls were bad from the opening tip. This wasn’t even the SEGABABA (SE[cond] GA[me] of a BA[ck]-to-BA[ck]) and the Bulls still look as flat as they have in the previous four games. It’s the first full week of November, so there’s no need to panic. But, if these defensive mishaps don’t get fixed soon, these nights will happen more and more.
    • Jimmy Butler hit the nail on the head after Tuesday’s loss. “I’m just glad it happened the fifth game in,” Butler said after the game. “So we can fix because I can tell you one thing, come Thursday it can get really ugly very quickly again if we don’t guard.” The Bulls get Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday night.

Butler said quite a bit more about Tuesday’s loss:

"“We ain’t been playing no defense,” a frustrated Butler said after the game. “Other teams have just been missing shots to tell you the truth, to be honest. [Shoot] we score enough points, that’s not the problem. But when you don’t stop nobody, they put up 130 or whatever they did, we got to nip that in the bud now because that’s not winning basketball.”"

  • There’s no doubt about it: Derrick Rose has the utmost confidence in himself. So far this season, Rose is playing like a guy who missed almost the entire preseason. He credits his poor play to conditioning, but believes he’s pushing the ball just fine in this new offense and the results will come. Not everyone agrees.

They’re both right to some degree. Rose needs to get his legs underneath him for his game to potentially take off. Hoiberg’s accurate when he says the Bulls (more specifically, Rose) need to play quicker. Rose can be a little sluggish at times getting the ball up the floor. One of the keys in Hoiberg’s system is to get the ball into the half-court quickly. If this is still an issue outside of the first few weeks of the season, then it’s a problem.

  • Welcome to the NBA, Bobby Portis. The rookie played in garbage time during the fourth quarter, but he showed some encouraging signs in his time on the floor. He had a lapse defensively, along with an air ball (a rookie tradition in the NBA basically), but he still finished 5-of-7 from the field with 10 points. This play right here had more energy in it than the Bulls had all night.

It’s extremely early, but keeping Bobby Portis on the bench doesn’t seem like a recipe for success. The Bulls have plenty of guys that can play minutes, but when Portis is on the floor, the energy changes.

Next: Jimmy Butler ethers the Bulls defensive effort on Tuesday night in Charlotte

The next three games for the Bulls are against Oklahoma City and two young upstart teams: Minnesota and Philadelphia. It’s expected that the Bulls core comes out with boatloads of energy after Tuesday against the Thunder, but against two youthful teams, why not integrate Portis into the back of the rotation and see what he can do in meaningful minutes?