"I'm so excited I am going to ram you with my sweaty groin. And you will like it."The Chicago Bulls:
I don't usually do this, but I'm raping my post
at By The Horns
. There's no sense in reinventing the wheel for this traveshamockery. I have added a few colorful updates.
How about never before?
With 8:49 left in the third quarter, John Salmons hit an 11-footer to help the Bulls go up 79-44 on the Kings. For those who enjoy simple math, that represented a 35-point lead with less than 21 minutes to go. Completely and utterly insurmountable, right?
Historically speaking, it should have been. But, of course, it was not. Otherwise, we wouldn't be here, would we?
Sacramento outscored Chicago an astounding 58-19 the rest of the way, including 33-10 in the fourth quarter. No home team had ever
lost after building a lead that huge. It was the biggest come-from-ahead loss in Bulls franchise history. Conversely, it was the largest come-from-behind win in Kings franchise history. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it was the biggest comeback since Utah overcame a 36-point deficit to beat Denver on November 27, 1996
That's some pretty epic fail right there. As John Jackson of the Chicago Sun-Times
said: "There's no way of knowing for sure, but the Bulls might be the first team in NBA history to be booed off their home court in a game in which they had a 35-point lead."
What makes this loss even more stunning is that things started off so well. The Bulls began the game by playing some of their best, most confident basketball of the season. In the first quarter, they shot lights out (71 percent), took care of the ball (zero turnovers), and played inspired defense (forcing the Kings into 39 percent shooting and 7 turnovers). Chicago went ahead by 24 at halftime and then opened the third quarter with a 12-1 run that seemed to put the game hopelessly out of the Sactowners' reach.
Frankly, it was the kind of performance that people have been expecting from the Bulls all season: efficiently and rather mercilessly taking care of business at home against a lesser team. And I'm sure coach Vinny Del Negro had to be thinking about getting his starters some rest for tomorrow night's game in New York.
Well, they got their rest all right...by going to sleep in the court. May I suggest some narcolepsy medication? Some 5-Hour Energy
My mind is still boggled by what happened. The Kings committed their fifth personal foul with 7:45 to go in the fourth quarter, which meant the Bulls would be shooting free throws on every foul from that point forward. After Salmons knocked down his freebies from that foul, Chicago was still up 94-79. All the Bulls had to do to secure the win was be aggressive, attack the basket, and force Sacramento to foul them. You want to know how many foul shots they earned in the next seven minutes? Four. And they missed two of them.
Instead of pressing their advantage, the Bulls got sloppy. How sloppy? Chicago gave up 23 points off 20...all after the first quarter. They committed nine of those turnovers in the fourth quarter, including two shot clock violations, a three-second violation and a carry. They went 2-for-10 from the field during the fourth while giving up 17 points in the final 3:08. The Bulls also surrendered four huge offensive rebounds in that final period, including two in the final 1:12 that led to 1) Evans' 22-footer that made it 99-96 with 50 seconds left and 2) Evans' free throw that made it 100-98 with 15 seconds left. Obviously, those boards were critical.
What in the name of Spiderman's balls happened? I mean, I've seen blocks of cheese that didn't melt down that completely, even after I forgot about them and left them in the microwave for a half hour. Yeah, don't ask.
Said Luol Deng: "I think we relaxed. We were making mistakes defensively. We were just not aggressive and that carries over to offense. It's frustrating."
Added Del Negro: "It was a matter of us not being smart at either end. It's frustrating. It's difficult. But what are you going to do, put your head down and feel sorry for yourself?"
Oh, I don't know, Vinny...how about making some defensive adjustments? Tyreke Evans absolutely killed the Bulls down the stretch. In the final 2:13, Evans outscored the Bulls 9-3 by himself
. He started by bolting past Kirk Hinrich and converting a layup while also drawing a foul from Deng. (And of course he knocked down the ensuing free throw.) He hit another driving layup on Sacramento's next possession, tying the game in the process.
On the Kings' next trip down the floor, Evans got past Hinrich again, drawing the foul. He hit the first foul shot to put Sacramento up by a point. Evans bricked the second freebie, but the Bulls couldn't corral his miss. The Kings milked the shot clock before Evans drilled a 22-footer in Deng's face to put his team up 99-96 with 50 seconds left.
That was a real kick to the balls is what that was.
Here's what I want to know. Once it became obvious that the Bulls couldn't contain Evans with single coverage -- the dude was leaving skid marks
on poor Hinrich -- why didn't Vinny switch things up? Maybe throw a few double teams at him, try to get the ball out of his hands. Wouldn't it be better to make, say, Beno Udrih or Jon Brockman try to beat you?
Here's another thought. Once it became obvious the Bulls were sleepwalking through the fourth quarter, why not insert Jannero Pargo? And I mean before
there are only five seconds left in the game. The guy is a spark plug. I can guarantee you Pargo would have been aggressive even if everybody else was standing around twiddling their thumbs. If you have somebody who can come off the bench shooting, what better time to use him than to counter a case of group lethargy?
Look, I've tried to cut Vinny some slack. I mean, we all know he's not Phil Jackson. (He's not even Patches O'Houlihan.) We also know he's had to deal with a brutal schedule, a variety of injuries and a group of underperforming players. But it's the coach's job to make the necessary adjustments when his team starts to let down. Defensive switches, strategic substitutions, demanding that his players attack the rim on every single possession to take advantage of being in the penalty. Any one
of these things might have saved the Bulls from this catastrophe.
And make no mistake: my use of the word "catastrophe" is not
an overstatement. The team's psyche has been fragile all season. After a handful of strong performances last week, they were finally getting a little swagger back. I saw it in the first half. But this kind of loss is a confidence killer. The Bulls are probably afraid to even try unwrapping a piece of bubblegum at this point.Bonus extra:
to read a chris's
breakdown of the game with links to several related writeups.Adrian Wojnarowski, quote machine:
Dan B. pointed this out to me, from Wojnarowski's Twitter
: "The Bulls have fired two coaches -- Scott Skiles and Tim Floyd - on Christmas Eve. Del Negro just trying to beat the last minute rush?"The Indiana Pacers:
Look, the Pacers were lacking in the talent department before
losing their best player (Danny Granger) to injury. It's just not fair to expect much from this squad. Considering the circumstances, I'm willing to overlook the 35 percent shooting and the 21 points they gave up off 19 turnovers. Even if those things happened despite the fact that they were playing at home.
That said, I do
expect more from them than letting Andrew Bogut go "Godzilla" on them. Bogut had a career-high 31 points on near-perfect 14-for-19 shooting to go along with 18 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 blocks and a steal. I mean, have some pride, guys. What, you can't give that guy a hard foul or two to discourage him? Maybe, I don't know, a double team or two?Andrew Bogut:
I know, I know. He was the player of the game...but he was also nearly the goat. Down by three points with four seconds left, the Pacers were forced to foul Bogut for what should have been the game-clinching free throws. Of course, Andy shanked 'em both, which gave Indy a chance to tie at the buzzer. They didn't, but still. If you're going to have a career game, you might as well close the other team out if you have the chance.The Utah Jazz:
It looked like the Jazz were ready to beat the Magic on the road...until the fourth quarter. Utah went up 84-79 with 7:31 left in the game before letting Orlando go on a 15-2 run that pretty much did them in. That run included a triple and two driving layups by...J.J. Redick.
Said Jazz coach Jerry Sloan: "We got lost defensively." Yeah, you could say that. The Jazz are now 1-20 in their last 21 road games against winning teams.J.J. Redick:
The former Dookie had a huge game with 20 points on 7-for-9 shooting, and he was instrumental in Magic runs in the second and fourth quarter. But he also whiffed on a high five with Orlando GM Otis Smith. Wah-waaaaaaaah. Said Redick: "We actually had one of those awkward Tiger Woods high-fives, where we high-fived, missed, then I looked and we high-fived and missed again. So I owe Otis a high-five."The Los Angeles Clippers:
Yeah, you expect the Clippers to lose 103-87 to the Spurs in San Antonio. The only notable aspect of this loss is that the San Antonio reserves scored almost half of the team's points, outscoring their L.A. counterparts 41-27. Said Baron Davis: "Oh, man, that was tough. We were doing a good job by staying in the game, staying close. You know, that bench came in and really made an impact."
Don't feel bad, Baron. At least you're not on the Bulls.The Phoenix Suns:
Ever since the Crabs beat them 119-111 in Phoenix on March 12
last season, the Suns had won 19 straight at home, including 10 in a row to open this season. Going into last night's game, they were the only team in the NBA without a home loss.
You know where this is going, right?
Even though Cleveland was coming off a loss to the Dirk Nowitzki-less Mavs -- a defeat in which Tim Thomas actually outplayed LeBron James
-- the Crabs showed no sign of fatigue, shooting almost 53 percent from the field and outscoring Phoenix 27-16 in the fourth quarter to win by 18 points.
The run-in-the-mud Suns were outscored 17-4 in fastbreak points and gave up 30 points off 19 turnovers. Said Steve Nash: "We didn't have a real winning mentality tonight. I thought we were hesitant and a little doubtful rather than bold and aggressive and determined. I think that was the difference." Translation: We sucked and they didn't.Drexel:
Dan B. sent in this special college entry for WotN:
The Kentucky Wildcats won their 2000th game last night, which is certainly nice. However, they beat the ever living shit out of Drexel (who?) in the process. They just completely, totally obliterated them.Lacktion report:
Drexel shot 17-55 from the floor -- that's a whopping 30.9%! Drexel's starters hit a grand total of 5 field goals on 28 attempts (only 17.8%), while their bench went 12-27 (a much more respectable 44.4%). Three of thir bench players outscored the best performing starter. And unbelievably the entire team only had seven free throw attempts.
Kentucky's largest lead was 51 points. With 8:53 left in the 2nd half, the Wildcats led 80-29. Around this point, garbage time officially began, and even then the lead was still 85-34 with 4:43 left in the game. Every single player on Kentucky's team got to see double-digit minutes. Apparently the entire bench was a box of human victory cigars that burned for most of the second half.
Chris took a break from celebrating the Bulls' meltdown by bringing us some lacktion:
Jazz-Magic: Kosta Koufos improvised a tune on Mario Paint for a 21 second trip through the Mushroom Kingdom! Meanwhile, Orlando's Ryan Anderson made one free throw and board in 6:42, but lost the rock twice and fouled once for a 3:2 Voskuhl.
Kings-Bulls: As Vinnie Smallz watched his Heifers heave up THE biggest choke in Association history, Jannero Pargo tried to milk the moment by protecting himself from asphyxiation with 6 seconds spent in a Frog Suit for a SUPER MARIO!!!!
Crabs-Suns: Celebratory crustaceans came to call for "Coach" Mike Brown tonight, with Jawad Williams bricking it up once for a +1 in 2:07, while Darnell "Lacktion" Jackson added two fouls to a singular brick of his own to bake a +3 in 1:54.
Labels: Chicago Bulls, Vinny Del Negro, Worst of the Night