For Bulls, it’s an open-and-shoot case
By Neil Hayes firstname.lastname@example.org January 8, 2012 10:16PM
“The great thing about our team is we have so many good players that can create open shots for everybody else," Carlos Boozer said. "We just have to be one of those teams that takes them." | John Raoux~AP
Pistons at Bulls
The facts: 7, CSN, 1000-AM.
Updated: February 10, 2012 8:59AM
The Bulls have a problem, and it has little to do with the team not showing up Saturday in Atlanta.
This problem has been festering since tipoff of their season-opening victory over the Lakers. Guard Derrick Rose has talked about it several times. Coach Tom Thibodeau has addressed it. It has been discussed at home and on the road.
“The biggest thing with this team is we just have to learn to shoot open shots,” Rose said. “We play too unselfish sometimes. We end up passing up good shots for bad shots.”
It’s not a problem many teams face. More often, teams suffer from not sharing the ball. The Bulls having the opposite problem is an example of the kind of team that president John Paxson and general manager Gar Forman have assembled. It says a lot about the philosophy that Thibodeau preaches and the players buy into.
It’s a reflection of the team’s leader. When Rose says he doesn’t care if he scores as long as the team wins, he means it. That attitude permeates the team and sometimes is a detriment.
“We talk about that all the time,” forward Carlos Boozer said. “The great thing about our team is we have so many good players that can create open shots for everybody else. We just have to be one of those teams that takes them. Sometimes if you don’t take it, you end up taking a tougher shot because you gave up the easy shot thinking someone else has a better shot. As a team, we have to do a better job of getting open and shooting the ball.”
Rose has been saying it from the day guard Rip Hamilton arrived. Players just have to take and make open shots. When they make the extra pass instead, it often results in a turnover. Turnovers have been a factor in both of the Bulls’ losses. They had 19 against the Hawks.
There’s a fine line between making the extra pass, finding the open man and taking open shots. Bulls players think too much sometimes.
“You can’t pass up an open shot,” Thibodeau said. “Oftentimes if you do, what you end up with is a contested shot after that. If somebody’s open, we want them to shoot. But, in general, I like our ball movement and willingness to share the ball and hit the open man.”
Put your head on the rim. That’s what Thibodeau tells players. Before taking a shot, imagine the court from the perspective of the rim. Does someone else have a better opportunity? If so, move the ball. If not, take the shot.
“Instead of taking the shot, the guys sometimes try to make a better play for somebody else,” guard Ronnie Brewer said. “It doesn’t always work out like that.”
Hamilton has seen this before. The Pistons team he helped to win an NBA title in 2004 lacked a true superstar. What separated that team was defense and the same all-for-one mentality the Bulls have.
“As the season goes on and it gets closer and closer to the playoffs, guys will understand their roles, and they’ll know where to go with the basketball and where to get their shot from,” Hamilton said. “It’s still early. Everybody is feeding everybody else. It just tells you the guys really care about each other and want everybody to have a good time and have fun out there.”
Several players sat with ice wrapped around their knees, staring vacantly into space after the blowout loss Saturday. Unselfishness wasn’t their biggest problem, but it’s a problem nonetheless.
“The one thing we do is we play great defense every night,” Boozer said. “The biggest problem we have offensively is we’re too unselfish. That’s a great problem to have.”