- Scott Powers, ESPN Staff Writer
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Yes, they were disappointed, and they felt they could have defended the 3-point line better. But, no, they didn’t think the game was a sign of where their team was with 10 games left in the regular season -- and on a night when Chicago clinched a playoff spot when the New York Knicks lost in Phoenix some time after the Bulls had cleared out of the United Center.
“We’re playing pretty good basketball,” Bulls center Joakim Noah said. “Today is just a bump in the road. I think we’re all disappointed with the way we played tonight. The edge wasn’t where it needed to be. I’m 100 percent sure we’ll get it back.”
The Bulls let Friday’s game get away from them just after they seemed to seize some control of it. The Bulls opened the second quarter on a 6-1 run, taking a 22-20 lead and forcing a Trail Blazers timeout. When the teams returned to the court, Portland pushed ahead with a 12-2 surge and never trailed again.
The Bulls’ offense went through a few other positive stretches throughout the night, but most of the game consisted of inconsistent offensive play for Chicago. The Bulls shot 33-of-84 from the field for a 39.3 percentage, and were just 3-of-17 from 3-point range.
As good as the Bulls are defensively, even they can’t overcome sub-80-point performances. They have scored fewer than 80 points 11 times this season -- and have lost all 11 games.
Bulls forward Carlos Boozer chalked the game up to being just one of those off nights.
“It’s the NBA,” Boozer said. “You’re going to have some days where you shoot the lights out. You’re going to have some games where you don’t. We just didn’t shoot the ball like they did.”
Bulls forward Mike Dunleavy thought his team had open chances to knock down shots, but just failed to capitalize on them. Dunleavy, Kirk Hinrich and Jimmy Butler particularly struggled and combined for 4-for-24 from the field.
“I just thought we got some good looks early on that didn’t go down,” Dunleavy said. “Just sort of snowballed from there. Just one of those nights. Not our best. Not our best, that’s for sure.”
While the Bulls were missing shots at one end, the Trail Blazers were knocking them down at the other. They hit nine of their first 14 3-pointers. They finished 10-of-22 from 3-point range.
“Just seemed like we were a step behind the play,” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. “Couple of them were scramble 3s. You can live with that. A couple other ones we lacked discipline on closeouts, allowed the ball to get to the middle, and they made good plays. They played unselfishly. We didn’t cover the line like we needed to.”
Even though the loss came just after a significant win over the Indiana Pacers, Thibodeau wouldn’t connect the two games.
“For us, it’s about improving each and every day,” Thibodeau said. “I don’t want to look back at Indiana. We lost this game. We’re going to analyze why we lost it. Make our corrections, get ready for Boston [on Sunday]. One game is not the end all either way. You want to keep building. Hopefully you build into the right habits. We got to be ready to bounce back.”
10dMatt Walks, ESPN.com