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updated: 11/5/2013 6:52 PM

Bulls are the gang that can't shoot long

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  • The Bulls' Luol Deng has struggled from 3-point range this season, going 1-for-12 from long range.

      The Bulls' Luol Deng has struggled from 3-point range this season, going 1-for-12 from long range.
    Associated Press

  • The Bulls' Luol Deng has made just 1 of a dozen shot attempts from beyond the 3-point arc this season.

       The Bulls' Luol Deng has made just 1 of a dozen shot attempts from beyond the 3-point arc this season.
    JOE LEWNARD | Staff Photographer

 
 

One of the Bulls' biggest problems during their 1-2 start is letting points slip away at the 3-point line.

The difference couldn't be any more glaring. Through Monday's game, the Bulls ranked 29th in the NBA in 3-point shooting percentage at .232, ahead of Oklahoma City's .221.

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On the other side, the Bulls also placed 29th in opponents' 3-point percentage at .470, ahead of only Denver.

So with opponents making 6 more 3-point baskets per game than the Bulls, they essentially have an 18-point deficit to make up.

Needless to say, long-range shooting has become a huge short-term problem.

"You need shooting," coach Tom Thibodeau said Tuesday at the Berto Center. "We've got to take the right shots, play inside out. Carlos (Boozer) and Taj (Gibson) have done a good job of establishing us in the paint. Now we have to hit our perimeter shots."

Blame for the poor outside shooting is widespread. Luol Deng, who shot well in preseason, has gone 1-for-12 from long range. Derrick Rose is 4-for-5, Jimmy Butler 2-for-9. Mike Dunleavy and Kirk Hinrich are both 3-for-9, so they're officially the most accurate marksmen on the team.

"As far as why that's happening, it's a lot of different things on the defensive end," Dunleavy said. "Offensively, we've just got to get into a rhythm, step into our shots and knock them down."

The Bulls weren't a proficient 3-point shooting team last season. They ranked second-to-last (ahead of Memphis) in 3-point shots attempted at 15.4 per game.

At the end of the regular season, though, their deficit in 3-point baskets was just 7. They exceeded that total in Saturday's loss in Philadelphia, getting outshot from the 3-point line 11-3.

"The one thing we did well (last season) was we guarded the three," Thibodeau said. "So no one had a distinct advantage over us. We didn't take a lot of threes, but we also did not allow a lot of threes. So it wasn't where a team was making 10 and we were making 5. It was virtually a wash."

In both road games this season, the Bulls have let the opponent get hot from outside. Miami knocked down 11-of-20 attempts from long range in the opener, while the 76ers hit 11-of-22.

Another challenging road game awaits Wednesday at Indiana. The Pacers are seventh in the league in 3-point percentage at just under 40. They make 9 per game on average.

"This is the NBA. If a guy is left open and makes one, you can't give him a second and third," Thibodeau said. "You have to get out there. You have to challenge shots. You leave guys open in this league, you're asking for trouble. Once a guy gets going and gets his confidence, it's very hard to shut him off. You have to play him right from the beginning of the game."

Now the Bulls need to figure out a way to turn on the faucet with their own outside shooters.

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