Normally, we use the losses by the Atlanta Hawks to figure out what long term implications this kind of loss may have in the future. Today, we have to determine whether or not - it's more purposeful to value wins vs. teams that will ultimately be in the playoffs or to value losses vs. teams who likely will not. And we finally came to the conclusion that there is a way to value them without dismissing one. Wins vs. playoff teams can give us an indication of whether we have the talent to match up with the best teams in the league. Losses vs. non-playoff teams will give us an indication on whether or not we will have the seeding (i.e. home court advantage) necessary to actually defeat some of these playoff teams. The truly elite can lose to poor teams on the road, but it won't happen frequently (at least not frequently enough that it retards their drive toward 60 wins.
So, we'd say that a game like this one vs. the Bulls proves that we aren't a 60 win team, but doesn't send any other message, particularly as the back end of a back-to-back where we battled, competed, and ultimately should have won the game. On to the other analyses...
Game Recap - Bulls 101, Hawks 98 (OT)
- On the back end of the back-to-back, it would nice (even when well rested over the past few weeks) to have more copious use of the bench when starters are struggling. It would seem that Evans and Pachulia have proven that they can provide some valuable minutes when given more of an opportunity. Same for Teague - 6 minutes just isn't going to cut it when Hinrich and Rose are wearing Bibby and Crawford out.
- We like to see Joe Johnson decide that he has an advantage and keep the team in the game, but there has to be a point where Joe's hot start or finish consistently opens up options for others. 32 shots just seems a little excessive unless you are unconscious.
- Complaints aside, if we are going to lose, let's lose giving full effort and competing for the entire game. It was heartening to see the Hawks scrap a claw its way to an opportunity to win.
- Now, the flip side of that is - we have another step that has been added to our proving ground - closing out teams you are leading by 9 with 4 minutes left in the game..particularly when they are not better than you (road or no road).
- Josh...you and the jump shots - I mean...I thought we had gone over this before.
- Derrick Rose - way to shut some people up regarding your sophomore slump..at our expense of course!
Starter Kudos/Smackdown -
* M. Williams - 31 minutes and 4 points (on 1 of 7 shots)...I'm just sayin'
* Josh Smith - Ill Advised Fouls and Jump Shots...yes, this line says it all.
* M. Bibby - While you handled some offensive business, the defense on Hinrich and Rose was offensive (said in the Ryan Cameron voice)
* J. Johnson - Already said our piece on it, so just be clear - thanks for bringing your game to the Chi...next time tell everyone else to do the same. Big kudos to your defensive prowess in those final possessions vs. D. Rose...
* A. Horford - Lots of hard work down low - the question is whether or not we ever recognized that there really isn't a low post presence or shot blocker on the Bulls and therefore, Josh and Al should have been focal points of the office.
* J. Crawford - Jamal actually had it going and was unable to get even more shots or time to help us out of the malaise.
* J. Teague - Not really anything useful from you tonight, but maybe a second stint allows that to not be the epitaph.
* M. Evans - A nondescript night ...and on the heels of high praise! Beware of the HS8T curse...
* Joe Smith - DNP
* Z. Pachulia - No Comment..
* R. Morris - DNP
* J. Collins - DNP
* Hunter - DNP
No major complaints - maybe not so much fear of the fouls on Josh when you know you need him and a little more bench love when the game was getting tight, but this really just falls on the starters and their occasional reliance on Joe Johnson to win a game for us. Unfortunately, Joe Johnson singlehanded wins down the stretch don't really happen that often.
We are happy we didn't let the homestand get us to go too far things, so we'll just stick with 54-28, but we need to see a split in this road trip to feel good about how we are going to leave 2009 and go into 2010.