Well, that was disheartening. Still apparently feeling the effects of that horrible loss to the Rockets on Christmas Day, the Bulls, losers of 3 of their last 4, fell to the Charlotte Bobcats in the latter team's first win this month.
Charlotte, who had lost 18 straight games, outplayed the Bulls in nearly every conceivable measure today. They outshot Chicago 47% to 35% (including a 40% to 25% advantage from deep), outscored the Bulls in transition and, most importantly, outrebounded the Bulls 52-49. Jeff Adrien and Bismack Biyombo, despite shooting a combined 6-14 from the line, were huge for Charlotte, combining for 21 boards (7 offensive). The Cats' backcourt did most of the damage, with Ben Gordon, Ramon Sessions, Kemba Walker and Gerald Henderson all scoring at least 15, most of which seemed to come right at the rim in transition situations. Ben Gordon took Marco Belinelli off the dribble whenever he wanted, and Walker toyed with Nate Robinson, who shot 2-11 on the afternoon, cementing his place as the worst starting point guard in basketball (despite fierce competition from Kirk Hinrich).
The Bobcats, to their credit, played aggressively and banked on their athleticism (despite the absence of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, whom I should have noticed wasn't playing today in my preview). They gambled that the Bulls wouldn't be able to score, and going by the fact that Chicago has now scored fewer than 90 points in 7 of their 15 games in December, it was a pretty reasonable bet that they would come out ahead.
Joakim Noah had nothing in the tank today, tallying 2 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 steals and 2 blocks in a little over 30 minutes of playing time, while Luol Deng was his usual indefatigable self, ending with 20 points, 12 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals and a block in 38 minutes of play. Carlos Boozer chipped in with 19 points and 14 rebounds after a horrible first half, and Rip Hamilton scored 11 in limited minutes.
This team still defends hard, but on days like this, when the shots aren't falling, they usually turned to one of two places for a spark: the Bench Mob and Derrick Rose. Neither of those things is here right now, and the latter is a "ways away" from playing. This team is destined to flame out like this every few games until he returns.
2013 can't come soon enough.
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