By K.C. Johnson, Chicago Tribune reporter
11:28 PM CST, November 17, 2012
LOS ANGELES — The NHL lockout allowed Saturday's Bulls-Clippers tipoff to shift from an afternoon matinee to 51/2 hours later, although the NBA could schedule a game at 3 a.m. and Tom Thibodeau's approach would be the same.
"You just have to be ready," Thibodeau said.
The Bulls weren't, particularly for the athleticism and depth of the Clippers, who cruised to a 101-80 victory at Staples Center behind Blake Griffin's 26 points and 10 rebounds and 22 points from Jamal Crawford.
It's the first 20-point defeat in Thibodeau's tenure since a 29-point home loss to the Magic on Dec. 1, 2010.
"We got outscrapped. We got out-competed," said Joakim Noah, who missed all six of his shots. "That's disappointing. We took a couple of steps back. They were denying everything with their switching and we didn't finish well around the rim. We know we're capable of playing a lot better basketball."
The Bulls committed 16 turnovers leading to 20 Clippers' points, allowed 26 fast-break points and were on the short end of a 53-25 disparity in bench points. DeAndre Jordan blocked seven Bulls' shots.
"We turned the ball over too much and you can't do that against a team like this," Noah said. "They're too athletic and they get out on the break. That's their strength. They're probably the best at getting out on the break in the NBA."
The Bulls came out sloppy. Thibodeau likes to keep the team's turnovers at 13 or below, and the Bulls coughed it up seven times in the first quarter alone.
It got uglier in the second when the Clippers' vaunted bench sank 10 of 15 shots and scored 33 of the team's 35 points. By the time Chris Paul stripped Kirk Hinrich all alone out front for a breakaway layup as part of a 6-0 run to open the second half, the blowout was on.
"The second quarter was the difference in the game," Thibodeau said. "The first quarter was pretty good. But we gave up 35 points in the second quarter. The tone of the game changed.
"We put them in the open floor. Many of our turnovers ended up being layups and dunks. They were quicker to the ball. That's a big part of the game."
Hinrich posted a season-high 10 assists but committed five turnovers and missed all five of his shots. He's now shooting 29.2 percent on the season.
"I'm trying to do my best to run the team," Hinrich said. "I'm not worried. I still feel like I'm shooting it well in practice."
Carlos Boozer's 22 points and 12 rebounds led the Bulls.
The Clippers quickly became one of the league's deepest teams over the offseason, going two deep at every position even with Chauncey Billups and Grant Hill injured. That means Vinny Del Negro's team has a second unit similar to the Bulls' of the last two seasons, one that is able not only to maintain a lead but build on it.
In fact, former Bull Crawford comes off the bench to lead six scorers in double figures at 20.7 points per game. He had 17 points in the second quarter alone.
"That's Jamal," Thibodeau said. "He always has been explosive. The thing that's a little unusual is him being the leader scorer. But it doesn't take much to get him going. He hits a couple of shots and he's hard to turn off."
Thibodeau double-teamed Crawford consistently in the second half.
"It doesn't even feel like I'm hot or anything," said Crawford, who is shooting 52.2 percent overall and 44 percent on 3-pointers. "It just feels like this is how I'm supposed to be shooting."
Without Derrick Rose, large deficits aren't easy to make up for these Bulls.
"He's the MVP of the league," Del Negro said. "You take anybody of that caliber — and there are very few — out of a lineup and it's going to change. It's just natural. Derrick's that good of a player."
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