Bulls look beat, beat up against Nets
And Superman took off his glasses and shed his street clothes, donning a resplendent uniform and cape, sprouting wings before the masses.
Oh, yea, he said unto his people, that he will lead them past these nasty Nets, and to a meeting with the despicable Heat.
If only it had happened that way. If only.
Derrick Rose did join his team on the court in Brooklyn, but only to sit on the bench in his Saturday night best.
Meanwhile, Joakim Noah -- he of the injured foot -- did play and even started but was quite limited and appeared to be in agony during his 13 minutes of action.
Other than that, the Bulls looked very much like you might expect them to look in a playoff game without Rose -- when the other team is trying.
Unlike the regular season, when the Bulls outwork every team on every possession of every quarter of every game, the Nets decided they would play hard, too, and they took apart the Bulls in a 106-89 blowout from start to finish, in the first professional postseason game played in Brooklyn since the Dodgers left New York in 1957.
It's easy to say the Bulls came out flat and just got out-hustled from beginning to end, but what's a fair expectation for a team that is exhausted, beat up and can't score?
No one with a realistic belief for the talent level currently on the floor could expect much more, but that didn't stop coach Tom Thibodeau from expressing precisely that.
"Poor defense, poor intensity, poor energy on offense," Thibodeau said. "Can't win like that. We have to respond better than that."
Brooklyn started the game going 70 mph down the expressway, while the Bulls were still trying to get off the on-ramp, and the final score might have been 20 points worse for the visitors had the Brooklyn starters not sat for much of the fourth quarter.
"They start fast and they get teams down big early," Thibodeau said. "I've been watching the (Nets) for a while now and they're playing at a very high level. We have to be ready from the start."
The Bulls never led and were down 25 at the half, with Brooklyn collecting 40 of their 60 points in the paint, shooting 60 percent and getting to the bucket any time they felt the urge.
Brook Lopez poured in 19 in the first half and 21 for the game, Deron Williams had 15 in the first half and 22 for the game, and even old favorite C.J. Watson had 10 points in the first half for the Nets as they ended the first two periods ahead 60-35.
The Bulls' weakside, baseline defense was nonexistent, and with no help inside and Noah hurting, Brooklyn destroyed the Bulls at the rim.
Since the Bulls were unable to score beyond Carlos Boozer (25 points), who always eats up the Nets, that meant more Nate Robinson, and more Nate Robinson meant even more bad defense and a track meet for Williams.
So what's Thibodeau supposed to do?
"They hit us with a haymaker, got us back on our heels (at the) end of the first quarter and (into the second) quarter," Thibodeau said. "My job is to have them ready, to have the intensity right. I have to get that corrected."
It's just one game and it could still be a long series. Knowing Thibodeau and these Bulls, they may yet make a game of it, but what difference does it make? Even if they somehow get past the Nets, how can this team possibly compete with the Heat?
Of course, it has felt like that for more than a year. It felt like that last season heading into the playoffs, even before Rose was injured.
It doesn't feel any different today.
•Listen to Barry Rozner from 9 a.m. to noon Sundays on the Score's "Hit and Run" show at WSCR 670-AM, and follow him @BarryRozner on Twitter.