What a way to close the year.
The Charlotte Bobcats snapped an 18-game losing streak by defeating the Bulls 91-81. Their last win came Nov.24 at the Washington Wizards.
Even with the 2 p.m. start, the Bulls had two days to prepare themselves for a Bobcats team that had taken some good teams down to the wire. Out of their eight wins, Charlotte has only won by four points or more twice.
Luol Deng led the Bulls with 20 points and 12 rebounds. Carlos Boozer added 19 and 11 as the team finished shooting 35 percent from the field.
“[Coach] told guys to ‘be aware, be ready,’ and we came out flat,” said Taj Gibson.
The Bulls shot just 29 percent in the first quarter as Charlotte got off to a 28-18 start and never seemed to get an any sort of offensive rhythm.
“We put ourselves in a hole, right off the bat,” coach Tom Thibodeau said. “The defense, rebounding and low turnovers… that has to be there every night. Right now, we’re not getting that done. We have to figure out a way to get that corrected. You can deal with the shots (not falling) – some nights you’re going to shot it better than others – but the defense and the rebounding is not where it needs to be.”
The Bulls were outrebounded 52-49. Not that big of a discrepancy, but it’s the seventh time in the last nine games that they’ve been outrebounded.
“It’s frustrating because when you go for the rebound, you’re going hard,” Gibson said. “The amount of times that you go, the majority of times, you’re going to collect, but it hasn’t been like that. Guys are still going to the basket and there’s been a lot of long rebounds lately because we’re contesting so much. It just comes down to will, energy and our energy has been kind of down.”
With Kirk Hinrich sitting out, the Bobcats’ guards were able to get what they wanted as the quarter of Kemba Walker, Gerald Henderson, Ramon Sessions and Ben Gordon accounted for 64 of Charlotte’s total.
The Bobcats shot 47 percent from the field.
The energy was never there. Joakim Noah's poor stat line of just two points and four rebounds can be attributed to the center suffering from flu-like symptoms, but the Bulls have never been a team to make excuses.
Some of the numbers in this one were staggering.
Charlotte shot 33-for-70 (season low for an opponent), while Chicago hit the same amount of field goals with 24 more attempts.
The Bobcats also shot just 21-for-38 from the free throw line (season high for an opponent), which was 20 more attempts than Chicago attempted as Thibodeau went to the strategy of hacking Charlotte’s big core of Bismack Biyombo and Jeff Adrien to get his team going. It was the first time the coach has wen to the intentional fouling strategy.
“They weren’t shooting free throws well and you’re searching for anything that can get you going,” Thibodeau said. “So we tried the fouls, the trapping and all the stuff you have to resort to when you’re behind and you’re trying to find a way back into the game.”
The Bulls have lost four out of their last seven games and will fly to Orlando tomorrow after practice.
“We been down before,” Deng said. “We just have to play hard. Stay positive and keep playing together. When you’re struggling like this, the next game, you just have to play harder.”