Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Why Last Night's Devastating Loss...

...Doesn't Devastate Me One Iota.

About a week back, our homeys over at Blog-A-Bull gave a nod to John Hollinger's distinction between processes and results, particularly in regards to point differential. The money graph:

Normally, a team with Memphis' victory margin would have a record of 10-19 and a team with Miami's victory margin would be 9-18. That's right -- if you're looking at the process, not the results, the Grizzlies actually have played better than the Heat. The signature play here, of course, is the blind 3-point buzzer heave by Miami's James Posey in Memphis on Dec. 2 that handed the Heat an unexpected 98-97 win and the Grizzlies one of their eighteen losses by nine or fewer points.

I'd say last night's game against the Suns was an equally textbook example of when the outcome of the game doesn't match the flow and/or process of the game itself. It was the third game I've been to this year, and though the Bulls won the other two games (against Milwaukee and the Knicks), this was easily the best I've seen them play. If I'm not mistaken, the Suns' last lead before Barbosa's barbaric three was 8-6, about 3 minutes into the first quarter. And not only did the Bulls lead the entire game, they also completely controlled its pace and tempo, as Sam Smith pointed out today, in one of his more astute columns.

Aha, you say, but the Bulls blew another game late in the fourth quarter. That complaint is technically accurate, but it's not like the Bulls gave this one away to the Suns. There was no errant pass from Duhon or other bone-headed turnovers; Amare's offensive boards at the end were earned, not given; and though I would've like to have seen some more movement offensively from the Bulls late in the fourth, with BenGo being BenGo, that wasn't a huge problem either. Instead, Phoenix just played incredibly well at the end, hitting some remarkably clutch shots when they had to have them. The Suns have been there before, in the crucible, in the dwindling seconds of the fourth quarter, fighting for their playoff lives. These Bulls haven't (or hadn't before last night), but they are starting to now, and they are learning. A battle may have been lost last night, but you need to fight battles like that (and sometimes lose a couple) if you're ever going to win the war.


Blogger Big Sweet said...


Great post. I too was not devastated after the loss -- certainly dissapointed, but not devastated. The Bulls were the better team for the first three quarters. Although Phoenix probably won't shoot that poorly from three against us next time (30 percent last night, they are usually at 39 percent, second in the Association only to the Spurs), the Bulls proved that they can play with anyone.

What frustrated me, however, was their play early in the fourth. Did it seem like they were playing NOT to lose as opposed to playing to win? Up about 12, they seemingly made a concious effort to milk the clock, hoping to keep the Suns from running back into it. But on about four straight possessions, they didn't get anything going to the basket until about seven left on the clock and they looked anxious and frankly flustered. I would have liked to see them run the same sets that had been working all night (those curls to Deng, Gordon on the dribble etc) and not worried about the time or their opponent's offensive explosivness. Maybe Hinrich would have been useful here, but I also think that game awareness will come with experience.

4:00 PM  
Anonymous Robby said...

Man, that loss hurt! To play so well for so long and then lose? You guys are right, but don't say it don't hurt!

7:16 PM  

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