Inconsistent Bulls are tough to figure out

 
 
Published: 1/7/2010 12:01 AM | Updated: 1/7/2010 6:40 AM

Just a few days ago, the Bulls stretched their winning streak to four by beating Orlando and their slump appeared to be over.

Now they're back on a two-game skid following losses to Charlotte and Oklahoma City. Once again, there is no telling how the season with turn out.

Since the Bulls took Wednesday off, this is a good time to search for their elusive winning formula, if one exists. For example, playing a bad team at home doesn't fit, otherwise the 3-31 New Jersey Nets would be 2-32.

The Bulls (14-19) have plenty of losing formulas, such as 0-7 in the second leg of back-to-back games and 0-11 when the opponent scores 100 points.

A cursory check of their performance based on certain milestones showed a couple of trends. Outrebounding the opponent is good, with the Bulls producing a 12-8 record when that happens.

A common sight when the Bulls were playing their worst was Joakim Noah tapping a rebound two or three times but unable to reign it in as he battled three opponents for the ball with no teammate in view.

The other positive trend is bench strength. The Bulls are 9-4 when they win the battle of bench points, or at least beak even. That's not surprising, since most of their problems can be traced to the fact that four players have consistently showed up - Noah, Derrick Rose, Luol Deng and Taj Gibson.

Give those guys a little help and the Bulls can be pretty good. The problem is the inconsistent efforts from a number of players, mainly Brad Miller and John Salmons.

Since exiting the starting lineup on Dec. 26, Salmons has had four games where he averaged 17.0 points and two games in which he scored a total of 3 points.

Miller has been a major disappointment. He scored 16 points against Indiana on Dec. 29 and played a good defensive game against Orlando's Dwight Howard last week. Otherwise, the veteran center has averaged 1.7 points and 2.0 rebounds in his last eight games.

The Bulls are 8-18 when either Rose or Deng score 20 or more points, which is probably another sign that balanced scoring is their best way to win.

They'll have another day off before the next dreaded back-to-back, featuring Milwaukee on Friday at the Bradley Center and Minnesota at home on Saturday.

No second chances: There was a statistical oddity in Tuesday's 113-108 loss to Charlotte. The Bobcats collected just 1 offensive rebound in the game. Yes, 1.

It happened late in the third quarter when Gerald Wallace rebounded a Boris Diaw miss and immediately had his putback attempt swatted away by Joakim Noah.

(A check of the play-by-play revealed Charlotte did get 3 team offensive rebounds).

According to the Bulls' media guide, that is a franchise record for fewest offensive rebounds in a game. The old mark was 2, by the way. There has been one other instance this season in the NBA when a team had just 1 offensive rebound, by Washington at Milwaukee on Dec. 23.

Bull horns: Derrick Rose confirmed on bulls.com Wednesday that he plans to defend his title in the Skills Challenge during all-star weekend. Rose knocked off New Jersey's Devin Harris in last year's championship round. - According to yahoo.com, the Clippers are targeting the Jan. 20 home game against the Bulls for No. 1 draft pick Blake Griffin to make his NBA debut. Griffin has been out since training camp with a stress fracture in his knee.

Finding a winning formula

Bulls win/loss record:

when they outrebound opponent: 12-8

when they win bench points: 9-4

when they win fastbreak points: 8-9

when Derrick Rose scores 20+: 4-8

when Rose has 7+ assists: 5-7

when Rose has 5+ turnovers: 5-3

when Luol Deng scores 20+: 4-10

when Joakim Noah grabs 15+ rebounds: 3-5

when John Salmons scores 15+: 8-6

when Salmons shoots 50 percent or better: 7-7

when Brad Miller scores 10+: 7-5

when Kirk Hinrich scores 10+: 6-6

when James Johnson plays 10+ minutes: 3-10

when Jannero Pargo takes 5+ shots: 3-7