To say it was a letdown game would be an underestimate. It was also go completely against the team’s “readiness to play” mentality.
After using their hate for Miami to help fuel an overtime victory on Sunday against the Miami Heat, The Bulls couldn’t come close to mustering up a quarter worth of the ounce of energy as the San Antonio Spurs cruised to a 104-96 win.
The Spurs shot 50.6 percent from the field, but shot 70 percent or most of the first half. They jumped out to a 23-6 advantage and their 38 first quarter points matched a franchise record of largest deficit after the first quarter (24).
The Bulls fell down as many as 32 in the first half and trailed 61-33 at halftime with the Spurs shooting 61 percent.
“38-14 at the end of the first quarter, 61-33 at the half; we were not ready to play,” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. “That is completely on me. My job is to have them ready and we had no edge tonight. That’s a championship-caliber team and they are going after it. If you don’t match their intensity to start, you are going to dig yourself into a big hole. I did not prepare them for the way they needed to be prepared for that.”
Thibodeau normally takes the blame any time his team doesn’t play with their usual edge, but even he appeared to have an off night, not calling a timeout at all during the first quarter Spurs romp until 2:40 remained and his team down 15.
Even with a 33-point third quarter, the Bulls couldn’t find a way to stifle their opponents offensive flow and trailed 90-66 entering the fourth. The only reason for such a respectable margin of defeat was the Spurs sitting their starters and a five of D.J. Augustin, Jimmer Fredette, Tony Snell, Nazr Mohammed and Taj Gibson outscoring San Antonio 30-14 in the fourth.
Augustin scored a game-high 24 points and Jimmy Butler added 23 and six rebounds.
Along with their hot shooting from the field, the Spurs also shot 12-for-21 from 3-pt range.
“We got our (expletives) kicked,” Noah said. “Very disappointing to come out that way. We had no answer for a lot of their players. Got to give credit where credit is due. We didn’t play our best basketball.
“They came out with a better edge. Usually, that’s us. Tough loss but we gotta bounce back.”
Manu Ginobili led San Antonio with 22 points. Tony Parker added 20 and Kawhi Leonard chipped in with 16 and nine rebounds.
The win was San Antonio’s seventh straight, but for the Bulls, it drops them to just 1-2 on this current six-game home stand. With the Houston Rockets coming into town on Thursday, there’s no time to dwell on the past.
"We're the ones that are out there playing so we got to bring it each and every night,” Butler said. “Thibs can only do so much. But you learn from it. We knew to be ready. I guess we weren't, so to speak. So it's in the books. We've got another one on Thursday."