MILWAUKEE – When a team doesn’t have its go-to scorer, it needs something to go to down the stretch. In the case of the Chicago Bulls, that means having guys go to the offensive glass.
When the Bulls beat Milwaukee Saturday night at the BMO Harris Bradley Center, they shot just 39 percent (32 of 82) compared to the Bucks’ 43.2. They had 16 turnovers worth 15 points to Milwaukee compared to 10 and 7 by the home team. Yet Chicago beat the Bucks with some Chinese water torture – they made 25 of their 26 free throws vs. Milwaukee’s 7 of 10 – and by dominating them inside for second opportunities. And third. And fourth.
|Bulls’ offensive rebounding|
Through Saturday, 11/24
The Bulls outrebounded the Bucks 54-40, including a 20-10 edge on the offensive end. Seven of those came in the fourth quarter and most of those came in the final minutes, when Chicago broke an 81-81 tie with a 12-5 run over the final 5:22.
It was a statistical edge and a psychological bonanza, as the Bucks had to stay in and reset their defense for a half minute, sometimes a minute at a time. The Bulls shot a lousy 31.8 percent (7 of 22) in the quarter, same as the other guys, but got eight second-chance points. They dominated that category, 25-5, even more starkly than the boards.
“There’s a lot of things that can break you,” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. “Sometimes you can block out great and the ball takes a funny bounce, you don’t get it. Or maybe it’s a result of, you get broken down off the dribble, you get help, rotation, now the ball’s up…
“So offensive rebounding. Defensive transition can break your spirit too. Those things reveal a lot. It tells a lot about the character of your team. People talk a lot about fast breaks, but the second shot is another part of easy baskets.”
By the second shot, a defense might already be broken down. By the third or fourth, a backup screen-setter can seem as dangerous as a missing MVP candidate named Derrick Rose.
For Milwaukee, it was starting center Samuel Dalembert who was missing. He was a late scratch prior to tipoff, with whispers that he might have arrived late to the arena, though coach Scott Skiles called it simply a “coaching decision.” Then there was rookie power forward John Henson, who had grabbed 18 rebounds off the bench in 27 minutes Wednesday at Miami. Henson logged only 1:18 vs. Chicago.
Mostly, though, it was the Bulls’ relentless work at chasing down their own misses that left Milwaukee in shambles late, as surely as if the guy in the No. 1 jersey had been doing the attacking. The Bulls rank fifth in the NBA in offensive rebound percentage (30.5). And this is despite the loss this season of backup center Omer Asik, whom NBA.com’s John Schuhmann shared had an offensive rebounding percentage of 14.2 over the past two seasons, best on his team.
“[Getting beat on the offensive boards has] happened to us before,” said Chicago forward Carlos Boozer, who got eight of his 19 rebounds on the offensive glass. “It’s kind of demoralizing, especially when you’ve played good defense for 22, 20 seconds. The shot goes up – they get the ball back! That’s tough.
“The more you go, the more you get.”