After Bulls drop third in row, lineup changes might be in store
BY JOE COWLEY firstname.lastname@example.org November 22, 2012 7:17PM
Updated: November 22, 2012 7:22PM
HOUSTON — Now things are about to get interesting.
Or as interesting as they can get with a Derrick Rose-less team.
The Bulls have their first three-game losing streak under coach Tom Thibodeau after a disappointing 93-89 loss to the Houston Rockets on Wednesday. Thibodeau hinted that changes could be coming to a starting lineup that has yet to finish a game since the second game of the season.
“We’ll see,’’ Thibodeau said when asked if a new lineup was a possibility. “I’m looking at a lot of things.’’
Most of it not to his liking.
Poor defense down the stretch, poor execution of shots in crunch-time, too many turnovers, subpar rebounding. It’s been the same story for the 5-6 Bulls, and Thibodeau again was trying a different look in the final few minutes of the game. He got the same results he did in Los Angeles and Portland.
“The defense is not what it used to be,’’ center Joakim Noah said. “It’s not where it was last year, that’s for sure. We’ve got to do better. We just got to do better. Losing three in a row is unacceptable. We’re better than that.
“We’ve just got to trust each other a little bit more on the court. We’ve got to play together a little bit more. We’re a team that’s always been great at executing down the stretch, and we’re not in the right position. It’s frustrating.’’
But Noah didn’t necessarily agree that a change in the starting five would do the trick.
“Those aren’t things that I can control as a player, but to me, I don’t think changing the lineup is going to make a difference,’’ Noah said. “We got to execute better down the stretch, that’s what I think.’’
Thibodeau wants his team to play together in the final minutes of games, but the Bulls can’t even agree on what’s best for the team right now.
“When you’re losing, you see a lot of things,’’ Luol Deng said. “Whatever decision the coaches make or the coaching staff, as players when you’re losing you can’t really question that. If we’re winning and they make changes, you’ve got the right to question that. But if we’re not getting the job done, whatever changes are made you just got to wait and see what the result is.’’
Leading by three with 1:47 left, the Bulls watched the lead dwindle to one after two Chandler Parsons free throws. Nate Robinson put up a questionable three-pointer, and off the miss the Rockets (5-7) took the lead with a Toney Douglas three. The Bulls had two chances to tie the game, and after getting a third offensive rebound, Robinson threw a pass to Deng that was fumbled out of bounds.
The Rockets took advantage of every Bulls mistake, and there was no answer.
But questions? There are plenty of those.
“I think that will come,’’ Deng said when asked if it might be time for a team meeting. “I don’t think it’s time to panic yet. We’ve got a lot of guys that want to win. We don’t have any guys in this locker room that are dogging it. We’ve been winning the last three years, so this is something we’re not used to. Whatever you want to call it, a slump or whatever, you’re not going to get out of it just talking.’’