Chicago Bulls terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day dissected
Chicago Bulls terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day dissected
After a thrilling victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Chicago Bulls embarrassed themselves with a franchise-record 56-point defeat at home against the Boston Celtics.
John Paxson and Jim Boylen made a big deal about energy, spirit and passion after Boylen replaced Fred Hoiberg as head coach, so the Chicago Bulls naturally came out [with that post-firing energy bump we often see out of NBA teams.](https://www.betchicago.com/nba-betting-lines-trends-bulls-pacers-december-4) The Bulls lost 96-90 to the Indiana Pacers in Boylen's debut, but they were competitive throughout and covered the 8.5-point spread. Then came the Bulls' best performance of the season: A thrilling 114-112 victory as an 8.5-point underdog against a good Oklahoma City Thunder squad. However, the Bulls did not cover the 8-point spread against the Boston Celtics on Saturday night. After all of that rah-rah talk, hard practices (complete with suicides!) and improved effort for a few games, the Bulls put forth one of their most embarrassing performances of the season (or ever) in a record-breaking 133-77 loss that didn't even include Al Horford. Take your pick from this debacle, the loss to the Golden State Warriors in which the Dubs scored 92 points in a half and Klay Thompson set the 3-point record, and then the loss to the Milwaukee Bucks that saw a 22-point lead turn into a 19-point loss. This game probably takes the cake, though, because of just how thorough the devastation was. The Bulls were even booed off the court. This sums up the history rather nicely: <a href="https://twitter.com/JordanBernfield/status/1071607291164676101" class="embedly-card" data-card-width="100%" data-card-controls="1">Embedded content: https://twitter.com/JordanBernfield/status/1071607291164676101</a> As one would expect in a 56-point loss, this one was a beating from the opening tip. The Bulls fell behind 11-0 when Boylen motioned to his bench for a full line change. The score was 13-0 when the five reserves checked in, and Chicago didn't get on the board until Boston ran up a 17-0 lead midway through the opening quarter. The Bulls didn't get closer than 13 points the rest of the game. Things went completely off the rails at the start of the second half when Boylen *again* subbed out his entire starting lineup, despite the Celtics only winning the third quarter 5-3 at that point. [Players were thrown off](https://twitter.com/KCJHoop/status/1071848765168984064) by that decision after the game, but Boylen invoked Gregg Popovich in defense of the move (he really likes bringing up Pop) and made sure to point out multiple times how embarrassed the players should be: <a href="https://twitter.com/KCJHoop/status/1071614892057260032" class="embedly-card" data-card-width="100%" data-card-controls="1">Embedded content: https://twitter.com/KCJHoop/status/1071614892057260032</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/KCJHoop/status/1071615110203015168" class="embedly-card" data-card-width="100%" data-card-controls="1">Embedded content: https://twitter.com/KCJHoop/status/1071615110203015168</a>' Boylen also gave us this gem: <a href="https://twitter.com/CodyWesterlund/status/1071606843686952960" class="embedly-card" data-card-width="100%" data-card-controls="1">Embedded content: https://twitter.com/CodyWesterlund/status/1071606843686952960</a> Then, the Bulls didn't actually practice Sunday and [held a players-only meeting instead before being joined by coaches:](https://twitter.com/CodyWesterlund/status/1071861086285115395) <a href="https://twitter.com/malika_andrews/status/1071867392618315776" class="embedly-card" data-card-width="100%" data-card-controls="1">Embedded content: https://twitter.com/malika_andrews/status/1071867392618315776</a> There's no doubt the players need to take ownership of this kind of effort, and having this kind of meeting rather than another hard practice was the right call to make. However, Boylen immediately contradicted his players by saying he called the meeting instead of them, for whatever reason: <a href="https://twitter.com/malika_andrews/status/1071868844128550914" class="embedly-card" data-card-width="100%" data-card-controls="1">Embedded content: https://twitter.com/malika_andrews/status/1071868844128550914</a> Bulls players apparently also debated whether they were even going to show up Sunday: <a href="https://twitter.com/KCJHoop/status/1071895248958382085" class="embedly-card" data-card-width="100%" data-card-controls="1">Embedded content: https://twitter.com/KCJHoop/status/1071895248958382085</a> One has to wonder how Boylen's coaching style is going to go over with this group. [There were rumors](https://theathletic.com/692735/2018/12/04/bulls-hoiberg-boylen-coach-change/) that Hoiberg lost the locker room (more on this in a bit) because he was too laid-back and didn't demand enough accountability, but zigging back to the opposite end of the spectrum, at a level perhaps even more extreme than Tom Thibodeau, may not be ideal with this young team. Speaking of Thibs, his tenure with the Bulls ended in large part due to a deteriorating relationship with the front office. It was an open secret that Hoiberg was eventually going to replace Thibs because of the ties to Gar Forman, and there was no real coaching search once Thibs was canned in 2015. Now, on top of the embarrassing loss to the Celtics, [comes an explosive Chicago Sun-Times report from Joe Cowley](https://chicago.suntimes.com/sports/sources-bulls-gm-gar-forman-was-the-main-force-behind-fred-hoibergs-firing/) taking aim at Forman's role in Hoiberg's firing. From the report: > Multiple sources say Hoiberg didn’t lose the locker room; the problem was his relationship with general manager Gar Forman. > > According to sources, Hoiberg was approached by several key players, including Jimmy Butler and Dwyane Wade, during the 2016-17 playoff season and told that they didn’t want Forman around or as part of the traveling party because they didn’t trust him. > > According to one player, Forman was even trying to draw up plays for the team "that looked straight out of some high school [expletive], man." > > Wanting to do right by his players, Hoiberg took the complaints above Forman. When Forman heard about it, he wanted to remove Hoiberg from his post immediately. > There is a separate agenda at play, but it's not hard to envision multiple issues here. That includes Hoiberg losing support in the locker room *and* Forman being a problem. Forman has clearly been taking more of a backseat, and he didn't even take questions after firing Hoiberg, even though that was his guy. Paxson has insisted Forman's job is safe, but it shouldn't be given his recent track record and the way the Hoiberg situation played out, both in front of our eyes and via all of this reporting. You can argue that Paxson's job should be in jeopardy as well, but Forman at least needs to be feeling the heat. There has to be some kind of accountability for the people in charge making the decisions, especially considering how long they've held these positions. The good news for the Bulls is this should be rock bottom. It's hard to imagine it getting much worse. How they respond Monday against the Sacramento Kings will be telling, and they could get a boost in the form of Kris Dunn and Bobby Portis. [The hope the rest of this season](https://www.betchicago.com/bulls-jim-boylen-fred-hoiberg-firing) is to remain competitive while losing enough to get a crack at Zion Williamson or another high draft pick, while avoiding these kind of laughingstock performances.2018-12-09T23:44:02.541Z2018-12-09T17:42-06:00