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Bulls Thu Feb 04 2010

As the Bulls Turn: Bulls Drop One In Philly

Two days, two losses for the Bulls. After a sterling effort on their recent Western road trip, Chicago cooked up a remix version of the energized offensive and defensive efforts against playoff bound competition called, cleverly enough, "Lackluster Effort Against Two sub-.500 Teams In a Row, Vol. 1" On Tuesday night, Chicago showed the utter lack of zip and "legs" common after an extended and travel-intensive road trip (seven games in eleven days, ouch) and were outmanned and outhustled at every turn by the "our record looks worse than it actually is," LA Clippers. Credit where credit's due, the Clippers played to win and Chicago sorta phoned it in (and yes, the Clips won the season series 2-0). Last night against Philadelphia, it was a different story.

For the first half neither team really seemed to be all there defensively; CHI 51, PHI 45 at the half and it looked as if Chicago was going to catch the 76ers sleeping. Even when the 76ers and Bulls were both going in cruise control in the first half, Philly's Bigs, Samuel Dalembert and Elton Brand were muscling the Bulls quad of Bigs (Noah, Miller, Taj Gibson and Tyrus) all around the paint. A troubling trend that continued over from Tuesday night's interior destruction at the hands of LA's bigs: Chris Kaman and Marcus Camby. Nothing new, it's just painful to watch the Bulls interior defense get broken down against less-athletic but much more powerful bigs. The same thing happened last spring in the Boston series where Kendrick Perkins and Glenn Davis camped out (without a permit!) in the lane and made easy lay-up after easy lay-up. Eh. Until Joakim, et al build up some more muscle this will continue be a regular trend against monstrous centers and power forwards: see, Howard, Dwight of the Orlando Magic. The promising news? The Bulls did make Elton Brand, the elder statesman of powerful bigs, settle for a lot of outside-his-comfort zone jumpers. For Dalembert? There was no answer.

An even more troubling trend than the lack of interior defense? Chicago has lost six times in their past 17 games, of those losses only one has come to a +.500/playoff-bound team (Oklahoma City and the Thunder still may not make the 'offs). This is all too reminiscent of last season where the Bulls would routinely not show up against the Wizards and Kings of the league only to ambush the cream of the crop squads. Honestly, lack of preparedness or focus against a BAD team is maybe an excuse truly exceptional squads like the Lakers or Cavaliers might argue with, but for a team like the Bulls to lose these games? Games that should be playoff seed cementing gimmes? The responsibility has to come down to Del Negro better preparing his team to take no opponent too lightly. The bottom of the Eastern Conference playoff picture (that's 2.5 games separating the 6-9 spots) is too tight to lose to Philly or the Clippers or Golden State. Step your coaching game up, Vinny.

 
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