Chicago Bulls – When Defense and Apathy Combine

Larry Drew has been complaining about how low the effort has been in recent games for the Atlanta Hawks, as that combined with fantastic defending from the Chicago Bulls, keeping the Hawks at a humiliating 58 points.

Whenever something like that happens, it’s time to open the record books. The Hawks finished with 58 points, 20 of them in the first half, scoring only 5 in the second quarter. They shot a 29.3% from the field.

That is the lowest the Hawks have scored in a game since 1955, when they finished with only 57 against the Celtics. They were also held to 59 points against the Hornets in 2011, and are the second team in the last 10 months to be held by the Bulls to under 60 points. The Orlando Magic were the previous offenders, losing 85-59 last season.

Their 5 points in the 2nd quarter were 2 points shy of the record for fewest points in the 2nd quarter in the shot clock era, with only the Raptors in 2003, the Cavs in 2000 and the Clippers in 1999 scoring less than them in one quarter of basketball. Their 20 points in the first half aren’t a new record as well; the Hornets scored only 16 second half points against the Clippers in 2006.

Their field goal percentage, while horrendous, isn’t the worst this season. The Charlotte Bobcats made 29.1% of their field goal attempts in their 114-69 November loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

This was very, very embarrassing. From where we were as a team to where we’re at right now, we have lost all sense of team on both ends of the floor. And why that’s happened I really can’t put my finger on it. The disturbing thing is the effort part. I shouldn’t have to come out and coach effort every single night. Effort is what you’re being paid, to bring effort every single night. Maybe it’s the chemistry right now. I’m going to have to do something to kind of jump-start us again. Right now we’ve flatlined. Not just from a physical standpoint. Mentally we have flattened. I’ve got to find a way to resuscitate this team.

The worrying thing for both Drew and the Hawks? This isn’t the first time he’s said this in the last couple of weeks, as the Hawks have fallen to 21-16.

The Chicago Bulls, on the other hand, had every reason to feel good about themselves and their defense, living up to its “best in the league” label. They finished with 13 blocks, five of them by Taj Gibson, who also provided the highlight of the night around the NBA with his huge posterizing dunk on Anthony Tolliver.

Early this morning, Tibs was going crazy on us at shootaround. Just waking up early in the morning and having Tibs just screaming at you and screaming at you and screaming at you. We didn’t want that to happen to us again. We were ready for this one. We had the right mindset, played with the edge and we rebounded the ball really well. Everyone came in and stepped up.

The defensive tone on this team is set by the energy and effort of Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer, surprising as his name might sound. When the two starting big men come hyped up and ready to put in the effort defensively, Luol Deng looks so much better, and even the guards get caught up in the defensive fever. For the up and down season they’re having (21-15), energy on defense seems to be the biggest key to success while Derrick Rose isn’t here.

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