Los Angeles Clippers (13-9) vs Chicago Bulls (11-8)
5:00 p.m. PST
December 10, 2015
Fox Prime Ticket/ TNT
Last time they met?
1 March, 2015 — Chris Paul had a monster game on a Sunday afternoon with 28 points, 12 assists and 5 rebounds and the Clippers outscored the Bulls by 10 in the final frame to seal victory.
The Clippers are 2-3 in the second game of back-to-backs so far this season with wins at home against Dallas and Portland. The losses include one at Staples Center against Utah and two losses at Phoenix and Portland.
1. Is Fred Hoiberg not as good as advertised or just struggling to emerge out of the shadows of the Tom Thibodeau era?
Law Murray (@LawMurrayTheNU): I don’t see what the cause for alarm is here – if you made the mistake of expecting everything from Hoiberg in Year One, well, I don’t know why. Thibodeau’s last three Bulls teams weren’t better at this point of the season than Hoiberg’s Bulls are right now. Hoiberg’s on his first losing streak as an NBA head coach, and he hadn’t lost 4+ straight games since his first year as Iowa State’s head coach in 2010-2011. He’s tried to change the identity of the team by having them play faster, and they’re actually better defensively than they were last year. But now his squad has some adversity – let’s see how the former 10-year NBA vet handles it.
Roscoe Whalan (@RoscoeWhalan7): Fred’s okay — he came in hoping to reinvent the offense and has somehow, inadvertently, improved the defense. While Thibs was a pro at racking up regular season wins at any cost, any new coach takes time. That said, the Bulls are a little like the Clippers in that their record maybe masks some of the on court issues and that feeling that something is just not quite right.
Ben Mesirow (@SemNeb): I think it’s still a little too early to be casting judgment on the Fred Hoiberg Era in Chicago. The transition from college to the NBA isn’t easy – just look at OKC, or watch most rookies try to rotate on D – and as talented as Chicago is, their roster and chemistry is complicated to say the least. The three consecutive games they’ve lost lately have all been pretty close, and after tonight they have a relatively easy next few, including a visit from the 76ers. They’re 11-8, the defense has been strong, and Doug McDermott has looked much improved in added minutes. I think Hoiberg will be fine.
2. It’s been nearly four years since we’ve seen CP3 vs. Derrick Rose — how much has the point guard conversation changed since their last meeting?
Murray: I’m going to keep this short: Since 2012, people have gotten overly sensitive about Chris Paul’s impact on a team. And people have been sensitive about Derrick Rose’s drive to play the same way he did before knee surgery — despite his voluminous inefficiency crippling the Bulls.
Whalan: For these guys? A lot. Four years ago these guys were the guys. Rose was an MVP and led the Bulls to 62 wins and a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals. He played 97 games that year and was amazing. Since then? He’s played just 117 games total. Meanwhile, Chris Paul came to L.A. and was expected to drag the Clippers out of basketball purgatory. He did just that but now, on the wrong side of 30, the Western Conference Finals continue to allude him. Unlike Rose, he’s still a Top 10 player but Steph Curry has snatched the mantle of the best point guard in the business.
Mesirow: Well, these days there’s this guy named Steph… But other than him, I think the thing that’s changed the most is the overall quality of point guards, league-wide. The position is stacked these days, and trying to pick All Star or All NBA spots is incredibly difficult. In the last meeting between CP3 and Rose, players like John Wall and Kyrie Irving and Damian Lillard weren’t really in the picture, Kyle Lowry hadn’t yet hit his stride and Russell Westbrook was just getting going. It’s a tough time to play the 1.
3. What would define a successful road trip for the Clippers?
Murray: A win in Chicago keeps them over .500, regardless of what happens in Brooklyn and Detroit. That said … something would have had to go very wrong for them to lose in Brooklyn. And the Clippers were able to beat the Pistons despite getting blown out early in the November matchup. The Clippers should be trying to come back to L.A. on a season-long winning streak.
Whalan: Quantitatively? 5-0… But this is a Clippers team still working out some glitches… So, maybe 4-1… However, tonight’s game is SEGABABA… Let’s say 3-2… Please, don’t get injured.
Mesirow: Honestly, at this point all they have to do is come back healthy for me to call it a success. It would be nice if they win at least two of the next three games, and if they don’t handle the Nets easily then that might be an issue, but more than actual wins and losses I think the quality of play and the health of the back court is what matters on this trip.