HANG TIME NEW JERSEY – Back and Forth With Bones is an email exchange between NBA.com’s John Schuhmann and NBA TV’s Brent Barry during a Monday night game. This week, they sat down (Schuhmann at home in New Jersey, Barry in the studio in Atlanta) to watch the 6-6 Chicago Bulls and the 1-14 Utah Jazz on NBA TV.
Schuhmann: I think this game qualifies as the Saddest Matchup of the Season. The Bulls just lost Derrick Rose for the year and the Jazz are 1-14, having trailed three of their last four games by at least 28 points. But somebody has to win tonight!
Chicago has actually been much better defensively with Rose off the floor, and Kirk Hinrich and Jimmy Butler is a pretty strong defensive backcourt. But for the time being, they’re also without Butler. So Marquis Teague and Tony Snell will each have a chance to prove they belong in the rotation. Long-term, they should be OK defensively, and they’ve been pretty poor offensively thus far, but they won’t be able to get much better without Rose.
And obviously, this puts more pressure on Carlos Boozer, Luol Deng and Joakim Noah to play big minutes and stay healthy. Noah’s minutes (29.3) are down below where he was two years ago (30.4) after a big increase last season (36.8), but I wonder if they go back up now that Rose is out.
Utah had two of their better offensive games upon Trey Burke‘s arrival, but they’ve actually been at their best with Diante Garrett playing point. This guy is a plus-24 for a team that’s been outscored by 67 points since he arrived.
Chicago can get points on second chances. They rank third in offensive rebounding percentage and the Jazz rank 29th in defensive rebounding percentage. It’s strange that Utah is such a bad rebounding team with Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter (who’s out with a sprained ankle) up front. They’re actually worse with both of them on the floor than they are overall, but we talked a couple of weeks ago about how they extend out too much on their pick-and-roll coverage.
What are you looking for tonight?
Barry: So many things going wrong for both of these teams. Both are coming off very embarrassing performances and have a number of players in the role of proving they belong to be in the rotation, if not in the NBA.
The Kanter loss for the Jazz will greatly affect their ability to score points. Burke is trying to get his legs and conditioning back after just one start. And beginning his career with a team under these circumstances is very very tough.
I guess this game boils down to the identity of the teams. The Bulls have one and Utah has yet to establish one. I look for the Bulls to respond in a way that they have in the past without Rose. Even though the makeup of this team is different, they should be able to pull this game out with the experience of their roster.
For the second straight edition of Back and Forth with Bones, the Jazz got off to a solid start offensively, scoring 21 points on their first 15 possessions, thanks to some strong shooting from the perimeter. They built an early nine-point lead, but six points from Boozer had the Bulls within four at the end of the period.
Schuhmann: Fascinating cross-match with Marvin Williams and Noah guarding each other, obviously an issue for the Jazz on the glass. Favors doing a nice job of denying Boozer in the post, but the Bulls also don’t mind going to Deng down there.
Barry: The Bulls are flipping some put-backs all over the place and wasting some good chances around the rim.
Schuhmann: Snell clearly doesn’t look comfortable out there, especially as a spot-up shooter. He has to build some confidence by getting out on the break and getting to the rim.
Barry: Still feels like the Bulls’ bigs, in terms of their effort, will wear down what is available for Ty Corbin on the inside.
Schuhmann: Yeah, forget what I said about Favors guarding Boozer.
2nd quarter (UTA leads 23-18)
The first eight minutes of the second period were downright ugly, as the two teams combined to score 14 points on the first 30 possessions. There was some scoring late, but Deng, Noah and Favors all picked up their third fouls late in the period.
Barry: There is really no one in this game that can create offense on their own. It feels like every possession needs a set to get to a shot.
Schuhmann: Yep. But I like what Utah is doing defensively, icing the side pick-and-rolls and keeping the ball out of the middle. Bulls are playing into their hands a little bit, not reversing the ball enough.
Barry: 24 points …with five minutes to go in the second quarter … vs. Utah.
Schuhmann: They just needed Mike James to come in and get Boozer an easy look.
Barry: Kirk back on the bench. Good sign for the Bulls.
Halftime (UTA leads 40-32)
Schuhmann: Noah came back in and had Jeremy Evans (40 pounds lighter) trying to guard him and picked up his third foul pretty quickly.
Obviously, if he can avoid that fourth foul in the first six minutes of the third, the Bulls can take advantage down low. Favors also has three and without him, the Jazz really have no one to guard the Bulls’ bigs. Either way, Chicago has to create space for Boozer and get him the ball early and often.
I like what I’ve seen from Burke so far. He doesn’t have the polish or strength to finish well just yet, but he does have the quickness off the dribble to at least get the defense moving.
Barry: Burke plays with good pace, something that made him inviting as a college player. But he’s has had a bit of a pass, missing out on guarding Westbrook and Rose in his first couple of games.
The best offensive quarter of the game had each team scoring 24 points. Favors picked up his fourth foul with 8:36 on the clock and Boozer was able to take advantage, scoring 10 of his 26 points in the period. The Bulls were able to close the gap, but the Jazz got some more separation with a six-point possession, thanks to a Hinrich flagrant foul on a John Lucas layup (that went in) on the break and then another three-point play from Hayward.
Schuhmann: Favors picks up his fourth and we now have Williams and Rudy Gobert trying to guard Noah and Boozer for most of the third quarter. Jazz will have to help inside and Bulls’ shooters should get open looks.
Barry: Boozer better realize 10-footers might be better than two-footers. Gobert is too long for him to find room if he is not going to the body!
Barry: There is where the damage can come … elbows.
Barry: Good call on the flagrant.
Schuhmann: Bulls finally getting something going offensively (four straight scores for the first time tonight), but as soon as Noah came off the floor, Gobert got a couple of buckets at the rim.
Barry: 56 … Ugh.
Schuhmann: Hey, they were actually over a point per possession (24 on 23) in that quarter. Still, not enough space inside and they’re 1-for-8 from three.
4th quarter (UTA leads 64-56)
After Evans scored on Utah’s first two possessions, the Jazz went scoreless on their next nine. A 13-0 Bulls run tied the game at 71 and the teams went back and forth down the stretch. It was mostly a Deng-Hayward duel in the final minutes, but Richard Jefferson got a huge three-point play when he took a bump from Mike Dunleavy and was awarded the continuation on a runner. He also got the stop on Deng on the final possession of regulation, after Taj Gibson stopped Hayward on the other end.
Barry: Interior efforts of Gobert and Evans, along with energy and hustle, are disrupting the areas that the Bulls’ bigs feel most comfortable.
Barry: Now see if Deng can make plays out of post, drawing attention of more than one.
Schuhmann: Too much dribbling from John Lucas III and Alec Burks for Utah. Use the screen, move the ball.
Barry: Back to the stretch line up for the Jazz.
Schuhmann: Jazz finally ended their drought when they put the ball in Hayward’s hands. That could be the advantage they have down the stretch. He has the ball. Bulls need to get it to Boozer in a crowded paint.
Barry: Deng and Favors creating scoring chances is so not this NBA. That’s the point guard’s job.
Barry: That is an awful foul by Marvin. I mean awful.
Barry: O/D sub with Gibson. Interesting to see if Burke is involved in this play after the :20. Any pick-and-roll could be worth a trap on the Bulls’ end.
Barry: Taj allowed the switch on Hayward. Old continuation?
Schuhmann: That’s where Butler is missed. Jazz should probably have attacked Dunleavy more tonight.
Barry: Again. I’m interested if Burke is involved in a play at this point.
Barry: Two for one? Attack? Not sure about that one.
Barry: This feels like getting five extra minutes at the dentist.
Schuhmann: Free basketball! Two isos against good defenders. Can’t be surprised by the outcomes.
Overtime (Score tied at 78)
The Bulls turned the ball over on their first three possessions as the Jazz built a five-point lead with a pull-up 3-pointer from Burke. Favors had fouled out late in the fourth quarter, and Corbin had Evans and Williams guarding Boozer and Noah to start the extra period. But the Bulls went scoreless for the first 3:30 and the game was sealed when Burke dug down on a Dunleavy curl, knocked the ball away, and started a Jazz fast break that put them up seven with 15 seconds left.
Schuhmann: Hey, you finally got your wish: Burke with the ball and he hits a three.
Barry: Kirk with four shots in 37 minutes? He must be aggressive for them.
Schuhmann: That the Bulls have not been able to take advantage of an Evans/Williams frontline does not bode well for their ability to score points this season. Nate Robinson is missed.
Barry: Derrick is missed. Jimmy is missed. Marco is missed. Nate is missed. Shots are being missed.
Final: Jazz 89, Bulls 83
It was an ugly night, with both teams shooting less than 40 percent from the field. The difference was 3-point shooting. Utah was 7-for-17 from beyond the arc, while Chicago was 1-for-13.
Deng and Boozer combined for 50 points, but Hinrich, Snell, Dunleavy, Teague and James combined for just 15 points on 5-for-22 shooting. The Jazz had five guys in double-figures, led by Williams’ 17. Hayward finished with 15 points, six rebounds and 12 assists.
It was win No. 2 for the Jazz and it knocked the Bulls under .500. They’re 0-4 on their circus trip, which continues in Detroit on Wednesday.
Barry: the Bulls do not have an attitude that is recognizable in their energy. Evans and Gobert did just enough to impact the Bulls bigs. Two very deflating efforts by the Bulls.
Schuhmann: On the other side, the Jazz now have a little more promise with Burke able to take some of the ball-handling burden away from Hayward, who can play off the ball more. Jefferson can still play (he shut down Deng in the fourth and OT), maybe Evans deserves a permanent spot in the rotation, and maybe they stagger their bigs’ minutes going forward, playing more small ball.
Barry: Well, those things will help the Jazz be more competitive, but the guys that Burke and Jefferson will have to play in the West are too much over the length of the year. This is where Alec Burks needs to get time to develop and learn how to play both ends.
The opportunity players (Evans, Gobert) in place of Kanter did a good job for Ty tonight. Yes, the Bulls battled, but they played a 1-14 team without their best interior player and a rookie point guard. Tough week for Chicago sports fans.