The Bulls Beat the Hornets

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Published: February 5, 2009

The Bulls came out, smacked the Hornets in the mouth in the first half, and it was pretty much over.  I know last game against Portland there was much criticism about the Hornets offense with Paul out – how Byron’s schemes were at fault – how the guys aren’t cutting enough, but here’s the reality – and it’s been the reality about the Hornets all season:

The Hornets are a mediocre defensive team.  If you take the best two defenders on the team, Paul and Chandler, they are a bad defensive team.

In the loss to Portland, yes, the Hornets scored only 15 points in the 4th.  But with a seventeen point lead, 15 points should be more than enough.  Today, yes, their offense was merely okay, but the Hornets gave up 62 points in the first half, and another 27 in the fourth quarter.

They scored enough to win tonight – they didn’t defend enough to win against anybody.  Here’s some all-defense focused bullets:

  • The perimeter defense was a sieve tonight, and that’s the whole team’s fault, really.  West and Ely never go out far enough on picks while Daniels, Brown, Stojakovic and even Butler couldn’t keep in front of their guy.  Simple pick and pops got the shooter open repeatedly, especially in the first half.
  • Butler is a fine defender against certain types of players – the Roy, Bryant, and Carter style players who don’t have explosive speed or strength, but are simply all-around athletic and skilled.  Tonight, though, he was chasing Ben Gordon, Hinrich and even Rose for a time, and he had trouble keeping up with them.  When he was on Loul, Loul had a hell of a time.

  • West’s defense in the paint is pretty solid.  When he’s teamed with Chandler, they are good at stopping easy baskets and covering for each others mistakes.  When he’s relying on Armstrong or Ely, it hurts.  Particularly Ely, who can defend a player trying to score in a simple post up, but never moves his feet to help against anyone else at all.  West kept having to come over to help – which left his guy open for offensive putbacks all night.  It made Joakim Noah look great.
  • Bowen defended well as usual tonight.  He was the one who keyed a brief comeback in the fourth with his hustle and aggressive defense.
  • Devin Brown did a decent job on the perimeter, using his bulk to keep driving players from easy forays to the hoop.  He still got beat several times due to slow foot speed, but overall he was fairly good.
  • Julian Wright doesn’t know how to work in a zone.  Three times I saw him completely forget where who he was supposed to shift to and give up a wide-open three.  And they were really wide open.  When they shifted to man to man, and Julian was able to lock on again, he was beastly, but he’s still too much of a ball-watcher to defend his man properly when they don’t have the ball.
  • Armstrong was yanked in the third after a defensive lapse and got a lecture.  I went back over the play twice, but didn’t see any egregious mistake.  I’m assuming it was the play before or something.

Anyways, that’s it.  Byron was hopping mad in the first half, snapping at players and getting after some of them.  By the second half, he had a group that could defend, so I’m betting we’ll see more of the West-Posey-Bowen-Stojakovic-Brown lineup on Friday.

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