Bulls have been uncharacteristically bad in defending the three-pointer
BY JOE COWLEY Staff Reporter December 9, 2013 10:01PM
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Updated: December 9, 2013 10:49PM
It was right there for all to see on opening night in Miami.
The Heat shot 11-for-20 (55 percent) from three-point range on its way to a 107-95 victory against the Bulls.
It had to be an aberration.
After all, this is a Bulls team that snacks on hustle and dines on defense. A team that was sixth-best in the NBA last season in holding opposing teams to a .346 shooting percentage on threes and third-best (.325) two seasons ago.
Some aberration. After 18 games, this is a trend. The Bulls are second-worst in the league, allowing the opposition to shoot .403 from three-point land and searching for answers on why it has been happening consistently.
“It’s effort, man,’’ big man Taj Gibson said Saturday after a game in which the Detroit Pistons shot 12-for-19 on threes. “We just have to have the will to play the possession to the end.’’
Yes and no.
Tom Thibodeau-coached teams always play with will and effort. They don’t know any other way.
This unit hasn’t done as good a job of finishing defensive possessions as recent Bulls teams have, but there also have been some other reasons, including long offensive rebounds off misses. Injuries also have forced different combinations on the floor and the players aren’t communicating with each other as well as they should.
“That usually requires multiple effort,’’ Thibodeau said of guarding three-pointers. “What [was] mentioned is a big part of it: the scramble three, the transition three. Those are the things you have to eliminate. The initial part of our defense I think has been very, very good. The finish of the defense, particularly the scramble three … the long rebound we have to get to quicker.’’
Thibodeau has been addressing the problem in practice for weeks, installing drills to work on it. Long rebounds for the offense aren’t just bad luck. There’s a breakdown in technique at times.
“We also have to have the discipline of not running in,’’ Thibodeau said. “Sometimes our guards have to get to the elbow area so they can chase down that long rebound. It’s been that part of it. We’ve done a pretty good job of challenging shots on the initial one. And the rebounding has been off the charts all year.
“But the defensive transition and rebounding, those are two things we can be great at. If we do that, this is a team that has a lot of toughness.’’
The team feels as if it is due for some statistical correctness in that category sooner than later.
“We look at it, we talk about it, we have a concentrated effort to try and take away the three, but it seems like it just keeps killing us,’’ guard Kirk Hinrich said.
“We’ll keep working at it. A lot of it is transition, second shots — there’s been an unbelievable amount of times where there’s been a loose ball and teams pick it up and hit a three against us. It seems like here at home it’s happened a lot to us.’’