I'm going to talk about the game first. I'll address the other nonsense about management fist-fights in my next entry. Because the game's more important, right? I think? Not sure. I think so.
First, let me just say...oh my goodness, Kirk Hinrich. I have never seen a more heroic performance from The Captain. The Bulls backcourt of Rose and Hinrich outplayed the Celtics backcourt combo of Rondo/Allen/Pierce. Those three combined for 57 points, while Rose and Hinrich combined for 69. Kirk Hinrich set a season scoring high with his 30 point performance. And it wasn't so much that he scored 30 points. It was more impressive that he was just hitting big shot after big shot, especially in the 4th quarter. The Bulls would have been donezo if Hinrich had not hit some of those 3's in the 4th. And I've said in the past that Kirk is maybe the least clutch shooter in the game. But not last night. Last night he was the most clutch shooter in the game. Watch the video below and hear Joakim Noah and Derrick Rose talk about "Kirkie Wirkie" and hear from the horse's mouth himself, The Captain, about his great night and his thoughts on the last game of the season.
What is more entertaining than a Joakim Noah post-game interview in the locker room? Not many things. Jo had a terrific night himself with 9 points and 16 rebounds. His rebounding numbers really are staggering. Still not sure how he does it. But he helped the Bulls outrebound the Celtics 49-40.
And of course let's not forget about Derrick Rose's performance. A career high 39 point ball game. And equally important, getting Rajon Rondo in serious foul trouble, thus allowing him to abuse Nate Robinson over and over. Rose had a line of 39 points, 7 assists, 5 boards, and 3 blocks. And one spectacular open-court reverse dunk:
Dirty. Derrick Rose may have won the dunk contest with a dunk like that. He's making a case to be in next year's competition. He had an unbelievable night while his counterpart, the ever-lauded Rajon Rondo, was held to a measely 4 points and 6 assists, with no steals. And this is a guy who averages 14 points, 9.8 asissts (fourth in the league), and 2.5 steals (1st in the league). All that in 37 minutes? I would say that's one of the worst performance of Ms. Ronda's career. And Derrick also had this stuff on Ronda:
Do not bring that weak stuff in on Derrick. And also, Derrick was finally getting some calls as well. He actually shot 10 free throws. AND HE MADE 9 OF THEM. Where was that free-throw stroke in the Nets game? Beyond that, the Bulls also got a few breaks and bounces for once, a la Rasheed literally catching a ball and laying it in for the Bulls:
I have never seen anything like that. Ball don't lie, right? By the way, how quick was Rasheed Wallace's decline? I bet the Celtics would give anything to rescind that contract offer from this past off-season.
Bottom line, the Bulls, in the midst of possibly the worst distraction of the season, came out incredibly focused and absolutely did work, especially Captain Kirk. How ridiculous is it that our playoff homes come down to the final game of the season? Makes me think back to the 35-point Kings comeback or the Nets debacle from a few days ago. JUST ONE MORE WIN, and we'd already be in. So many blown opportunities. But you gotta forget about all that, and come out tonight and do what needs to be done. GO BULLS.no comments
Bulls face the Celtics tonight. I feel like I dislike a lot of teams. But I truly hate the Celtics. It honestly just seems like they're in our way every single year in one form or another. Last year it was the playoffs, this year it's getting into the playoffs. But for some reason, I've always hated them. I don't even remember what it is that they did, but they definitely did something.
Now, we have plenty of reasons to hate them. Such as Rajon Rondo's feminine facial features, Kevin Garnett's protruding jaw, Ray Allen's ridiculously ugly snarl that's ever-present on his face, Ray Allen's annoying gum chewing, Paul Pierce faking injuries once or twice a game, Kendrick Perkins complaining after every single foul call that he's ever been called for, and on and on and on. I could honestly go on for a couple of hours.
I hope the Bulls are making a list like this and that UC locker room whiteboard. I hope they're looking at that list and I hope that list is making them angry and annoyed. I hope that they take that anger and take it out on the Celtics tonight. They have to. Tonight truly is a must-win. If the Bulls lose, they no longer have control of their own destiny. They would need a Raptors loss to the Knicks on top of a win of their own against Charlotte on the last day of the season. Not likely. So basically, tonight, the season hangs in the balance.
We know enough about the Celtics, so I'm not gonna sit here and dissect this Celtics team. Here's what we really know. If both these teams are healthy, and there's a playoff atmosphere, you're going to have a very competitive matchup. In the playoffs last year, the Celtics didn't have Garnett. The Bulls didn't have Luol Deng. Deng is just as valuable to the Bulls as Garnett is to the Celtics, if not more, simply because the Celtics have more offensive weapons and big bodies. Tonight, both individuals will be playing. The Celtics are playing for playoff positioning, while the Bulls are fighting for their playoff lives. The Celtics currently sit 1.5 behind Atlanta for the 3-seed. They almost certainly would rather play the Bogut-less Milwaukee Bucks, who will likely remain in the 6-seed, rather than the Wade-led Miami Heat. The Bucks are the far easier matchup, simply because they have no real superstar and almost no real playoff experience. So the Celtics have something to play for, even though it's pretty unlikely they catch the Hawks at this point. Doesn't mean they won't try.
But it also doesn't mean that Kevin Garnett and co. will necessarily be playing 40-plus minutes tonight. This Celtics team is a year older, and a year slower. They're all bruised up and nursing injuries here and there. With the Bulls coming out and inevitably playing physical and determined basketball at home, it could be a grueling and tolling night on the likes of KG, Pierce, and Ray Allen. I can see Doc limiting their minutes in the second half. Then again, if the Celtics win tonight, the Hawks play the Cavs tomorrow night where LeBron and Shaq are both expected to play. That could very likely be a loss for Atlanta tomorrow night. If the Celtics win tonight, and then beat the Bogut-less Bucks tomorrow night (which they will be determined to do as a means to intimidate a potential first-round opponent), then the Celtics will earn the 3-seed. This is the case simply because the Celtics are a division champion, which means they hold the tie-breaker between the Celtics and Hawks even though the Hawks swept the season series. Unreal, I know. So the Celtics really are playing for a lot. Which means I don't expect a lot of limited minutes if the game is close.
But the Bulls can't be thinking about that. They're not. I guarantee it. They don't care who comes out to play tonight. They're determined. They're confident. The focus in both Joakim's and Derrick's eyes in the game against the Raptors was unprecedented. And you know the Bulls are going to come out tonight and play with a similar focus. The key is for them not to play tight and get nervous. Just be smart, play with intensity for 48 minutes, don't turn the ball over, get good shots, don't play Jannero Pargo too much or at all if possible, and be physical. I think they will do all those things with an electric home crowd behind them. All us fans can do now is hope and pray. Make us proud tonight, Bullies. GO BULLS.no comments
Here's a little excerpt from the most recent Bloguin NBA Roundtable where we debated the NBA vs. NCAA brands of basketball. You'll find that the argument gets more serious after I throw in my 2 cents.
It is an age-old debate among basketball aficionados - which brand of hoops is best, the NBA or the NCAA. While there is no right or wrong answer to this question - it basically comes down to personal preference - that doesn't stop people from having very strong opinions on the subject. In that vein we present to you the latest Bloguin Basketball Roundtable - NCAA vs NBA.
Participants in this battle royale are Jeff Fox of The Hoops Manifesto, Don from With Malice, a Bloguin newcomer in Ezra of The Purple and Gold Blog, College Wolf" of TWolves Blog, David Pustilink from Da Bulls' Eye, Gene Zarnick of Favre Dollar Footlongs and A Stern Warning's mookie.
For the rest of this article, click Here.
Definitely check out that video above. Someone made a great video mocking the Raptors for choking last night. I freakin' love it. And I love the little reference to the "Jarrett Jack tying his shoe" incident. Yeah, Jarrett. What now?
Basically...the Bulls came through last night. Boy, did they come through. By far the biggest game of the season. They played like it.
It was a very well rounded effort. One where we saw Joakim Noah reach near triple-double numbers in the first half. He finished half number 1 with 10 points, 10 rebounds, and 6 assists. He's not exactly a passing machine, so finished the game with a cool 18 points, 19 rebounds, and 7 assists. He went 7-10 from the field and 4-6 from the line. Our second best player played like an MVP. In an alternate reality, the plantar fasciitis would have been avoided and that 10 game losing streak would have been a 10 game winning streak, simply because Joakim Noah is a beast and will be for years to come. No annoying minute caps last night. He played a strong 39 minutes, and his motor was constantly running.
And this is when I go into my little sidebar rant. After the New Jersey game, Vinny Del Negro should have been fired on the spot. When you're in double overtime and you're still worried about management's 35 minute cap on your 2nd best and maybe most valuable player, something is very very wrong. Vinny is coaching for his life here. There is no tomorrow. If the Bulls don't make the playoffs, he's donezo. If they do make the playoffs, he's donezo as well. Wouldn't you rather go out making the playoffs? Doesn't it look much better making the playoffs in back-to-back seasons as a brand new coach? Instead, Vinny decides to abide by 35 minute cap that was put in place by a misguided and inflexible Bulls management team, and he was too scared to adjust the policy on the fly. Or maybe, he just doesn't know how to adjust things on the fly. He's always been stubborn about his tactics. It's like I've said in the past...Derrick Rose is out of the game with 3 minutes to go in the 1st and 3rd quarters, and not back in until the 8 minute mark in the following quarter...REGARDLESS OF THE GAME SITUATION. Vinny's policy never wavers. It's sickening and very disturbing. But what I do know is that real coaches do not coach like that. Real coaches make adjustments. How exactly do you refuse to make an adjustment on a player as valuable as Noah's minutes in a must-win double overtime game? Especially when the consequences are probably insignificant in the short-run AND long-run. How does Vinny not see that he's coaching for his life? Does he think he's going to get brownie points from Gar by abiding by the Noah minute cap as opposed trying to win that game with Noah out there and thus make the playoffs? Noah had already played 35 minutes...what did you have to lose by playing him 10 more? Oh...just the game...that's all. And I didn't even mention that Gar gave permission at the beginning of the 1st overtime to play Noah beyond the 35 minute cap, and Vinny still took that as meaning "I better not play him too much beyond the cap." Obviously Gar wanted to win the game. Vinny just wanted to impress his boss with the fact that he can follow directions. Instead he pissed his boss off by showing he doesn't know when and how to make adjustments. Oh yeah, did I mention that Joakim Noah played 12 seconds in both overtimes combined? Good going, Vin.
But, last night the Bulls had a chance to redeem themselves. I mean it's kind of hard to redeem yourself after losing the season series to the worst NBA team in decades, but nonetheless, they played their adversary for the 8-seed last night. So as I stated, Joakim Noah was a beast. Derrick Rose? Also a beast. 26 points on 12-23 from the field, 7 assists, 4 rebounds, 1 steal, 1 block. He's still being taken out and key moments in the game because of Vinny's whacked out rotation, but man does that jumper look good. He's hitting at will. And with Chris Bosh out of the middle, he was getting to the basket at will as well.
Deng also had a solid nice. 14 points and 7 rebounds. Basically, the big 3 for the Bulls put the team on their backs, and carried them to a rout of the Raptors. They didn't really need contributions from many others, although they got them anyway. Hinrich was the only starter who wasn't in double-digits. The Bulls also got 10 points each from Hakim Warrick and Flip Murray. Like I said, nice all-around effort. They finished the night shooting 49% from the field while holding the Raptors to 41%. The Raptors had just an awful shooting night, but I partially credit the Bulls defense for that. However, let's be real, the Raptors missed a ton of open looks. They very easily could have shot 50% from the field like the Bulls. And they should have with all their 3-point shooters and being at home and all. But they're failures...so the Bulls go up a game.
The Raptors are currently playing the Pistons, who are also one of the drec teams of the NBA. They're currently down 2 points as I post this after the 1st quarter. I don't expect them to lose, because the Pistons are so bad. But hey...you never know when Ben Gordon will explode with a 39 point performance like he did the other night. Go BEN, Go Bulls.
No pictures tonight. No cute videos. I can’t.
The level of disappointment is immeasurable. The frustration is unbearable. The pain? Intense. The feeling? Indescribable. No words.
Being a fan is not easy. Caring about something so much that you can't function after a loss like this...sucks. But I'm not here to feel sorry for myself, and that's neither here nor there.
Truth is...I didn't watch this game. I was on a date with my better half. We were walking around Water Tower place after some all-you-can-eat sushi, and I was non-chalantly checking the Bulls score. She stopped at a few female oriented apparel shops, and I figured that would be the perfect opportunity for me to sit and check the Bulls score while I waited for her to finish.
I started watching on my phone right before half time. Bulls up 47-38, meanwhile the Raptors are down by 12 at halftime. Looks like it's going to be a good night for the Bulls. I wasn't concerned. I was glad. I figured the Bulls would come out and take care of business against the crappiest of crappy teams in a pretty much must-win game. They were taking care of business.
I checked the score later in the quarter. Hmmm. Alright…the Nets are making a run. That’s fine. Teams always make runs. But it’s the Nets. The Bulls will turn it on later and take care of it. We’re up 1 at half-time.
I’m sitting there having some dessert with my better half and I casually start checking the score again. She says to me, “What’s the score?” With a concerned look on my face, I answered, “75-69, Nets.” At this point, I’m annoyed. Obviously the Bulls realize how important this game is. And certainly they see that the Raptors just lost to Atlanta and they now have the chance to take a 1 game lead for the 8-seed. Golden opportunity. Beyond golden. Platinum opportunity.
I’m no longer putting my phone away. I have my phone open to ESPN Mobile and clicking reload literally every second. The page reloads. I press reload immediately. The page reloads. I press reload immediately. This goes on for the entire 4th quarter. With 7:30 left, I start to lose hope. Bulls are down 78-90, but I remind myself that it’s the Nets and there’s a decent amount of time left. But still, I start mentally preparing myself for a loss and playing out scenarios in my head for how the Bulls can still make the playoffs.
Three minutes pass. Under 5 minutes left. Bulls are down 10 after a Yi jump-shot. I look up, and all I can say is, “It’s over.” Down 10 with less than 5 minutes to go, and the Nets are playing very solid basketball and have been for a very long stretch now. It’s going to be tough for the Bulls to come back, especially after a very hard fought Cavs game the night before at the UC, which I happened to be in the building to witness. By the way, just a sidenote, I had nightmares about Mo Williams last night. The Bulls hardly escaped with a victory against the Lebron-less Cavs. But anyway, I braced myself for a loss to the Nets, processed it (with difficulty), and was already thinking about the upcoming Raptors game.
But obviously, I don’t stop reloading the page on my phone, because I’m from Chicago. Chicagoans are hopeless. You always think there might be some miracle or a huge comeback that can bring you back. There rarely is. I still can’t tell you exactly what transpired to bring the Bulls all the way back to take the lead with 48 seconds left. When I saw that on my phone, I literally got up and did a jig. I didn’t care that I made a fool out of myself in front of a boat-load of people. I was elated. The Bulls made a huge comeback in an absolutely huge game, just like they needed to. A few plays later, it’s 102-99, Bulls lead with 9 seconds left. I look up, and I say, “It’s over.” Again. And it wasn’t. Again.
Harris makes a running jumper. Nets foul Rose. He goes one of two from the line. Inexcusable. Unforgiveable. I said it right then and there. If the Bulls lose, it’s on Derrick. Kobe? Never would have missed. LeBron? Nope. Durant? Nope. ‘Melo? Uh-uh. Deron? No way. Derrick? Every time. I don’t know what this kid’s deal is with free-throws, but it’s pissing me off. You cannot be an elite player in the NBA (with the exception of Shaq) if you cannot be called upon to convert free-throws in big-game situations in the 4th quarter. Especially an elite point guard. Derrick missed 5 freakin’ free-throws the entire game. When was the last time a star point guard missed 5 free-throws in an NBA game? Seriously. Someone tell me. When was it? I can’t imagine.
103-101 with 3 seconds left. Nets score. I didn’t even flinch. I knew they would. I knew. I was so confident they would score that I wasn’t phased one bit when I saw it show up on my phone. I was told that apparently Lopez goal-tended the Harris miss, but that’s neither here nor there. It wouldn’t have mattered if Derrick made that free-throw. He missed it, and overtime was a-coming.
Bulls ran out to a 7 point lead in overtime. Still, I wasn’t confident. Excited, but not confident. Hopeful, but not confident. Anything can happen in a Bulls game at any moment. They have absolutely zero ability when it comes to putting teams away, so with over three minutes left, a 7 point lead is not at all comforting. And for some reason, the Nets wouldn’t just quit like they had all season long. I don’t really understand it. I was having serious flashbacks to the 2007 season when on the last game of the season, the lottery-bound Nets beat the Bulls to drop them to the 5-seed when had the Bulls won, they would have been the 2-seed. That loss to the Nets also prevented the Bulls from getting their first 50-win season since 1998. I still hate the Nets for that until this day. Somehow, deep in my gut, I knew the Nets had it out for us again…even with this 7 point lead.
Sure enough, what followed was a 24-6 run by the Nets through both overtimes. The Nets came back from 7 down to take it to overtime number 2. And then they gave the Bulls a taste of their own medicine by going on a 7-0 run to start the 2nd overtime. Only the Bulls didn’t have the heart, nor the legs to do what the Nets did and come back. 24 to freakin’ 6. A 24 to 6 run of which the details I refuse to transcribe as doing so would certainly make me nauseous reminiscent of the stomach ailment I acquired within an hour of the 35 point Kings comeback. I can tell you that somewhere in the 2nd OT, while we were driving home, Derrick Rose fouled out, and that spelled the end for the Bulls. Maybe the fatigue caught up to them. Playing two overtimes on a back-to-back home to away isn’t easy. Against the Nets, that’s not really an excuse. In the Bulls’ situation, that’s not really an excuse against anyone.
The loss is really a good metaphor for the entire Bulls season. Up and down. Up and down. UP AND DOWN. Up. Down. Up. Up. Down. Down. Rollercoaster in every which way possible. And as nauseating as the worst rollercoaster you can imagine. And it seems like it’s down more than up. And with this loss, it’s hard for me to imagine it finishing up. The Bulls face the Raptors next. Then they face Boston at the UC and Charlotte on the road. Both those games are going to be tough. The Boston game may not be that bad only if they rest their players, but who knows if they will. It won’t matter if the Bulls lose to the Raptors on Sunday. It really won’t. The Raptors’ remaining games are against the Bulls, Pistons, and Knicks. Pistons and Knicks? Cupcakes. Those two teams are utterly pathetic. Even if the Bulls beat the Raptors, the Raptors can take care of both those teams without Bosh. Assuming the Raptors finish 2-1 with a loss to the Bulls, the Bulls still need to finish 3-0 to make the playoffs since the Raptors hold the tiebreaker. Can they win three straight against the Raptors, Celtics, and Bobcats? I don’t think they have it in them. This team hasn’t shown me the mental strength or heart necessary to show that they can take care of this situation. Sure, the Raptors could maybe lose to the Pistons and/or Knicks and help the Bulls out, but I’m not banking on it. Still…the Chicago fan in me isn’t giving up hope till the fat lady sings. Go Bulls.no comments
What the hell happened last night? Can someone explain to me what it is I witnessed? Are we or aren't we fighting for a playoff spot right now?
The Bulls blew it. After last night's game, they flat out plain and simple don't deserve to be in the playoffs. I mean seriously, how often do you witness shenanigans like this from an NBA team? How do you score 24 points combined in the 2nd and 3rd quarter? I swear in the name of all that is holy, I never see this from any other team besides the Bulls. 9 points in a quarter? Freakin' 9 points in the 2nd quarter?
Let's analyze this for a second. First, let's look at the big picture. The Raptors lost earlier in the night to the Cavs. Not only that, but Bosh went down and stayed overnight in Cleveland for surgery. No one knows how long he'll be out still. Regardless, the Raptors lost. The Bulls knew this. If the Bulls beat the Bogut-less Bucks, and I cannot stress Bogut-less enough, the Bulls would be currently sitting in a virtual tie for 8th place in the Eastern Conference with the more than likely Bosh-less Raptors, who host the Celtics tonight. Bulls could have been in sole possession of 8th after tonight if they beat the Bogut-less Bucks. The Bogut-less Bucks who scored only 79 points. The Bogut-less Bucks who shot only 36.4% from the field. The Bogut-less Bucks who scored more than 20 points in only one quarter.
Think about it this way. The Bogut-less Bucks scored 14 points in the 1st quarter. If the Bulls could have at least matched that 14 in the 2nd quarter, instead of a ridiculously absurd YMCA-esque 9, then they would have at least sent it to overtime. No? Too much to ask? Fine, how about following up the 9 point second quarter with at least a 20 point third. Right? That's not asking too much, is it? You have one bad quarter, score less than 10 points...okay...forgivable as long as you come out with some intensity in the 3rd and try to make up the points. They gotta at least score 20 in the 3rd if they only scored 9 in the 2nd, right? RIGHT? RIGHHTT!?!?!?!? Wrong. How, you ask? I don't really know how. I don't really know how they could do what they did with the playoffs on the line. All I know is if they had scored at least 14 in the 2nd, or 20 in the 3rd, it would have been overtime. That's what I can tell you.
I mean the Bucks shot 36% from the field. They had 4 less field goals then the Bulls. The final score is just ridiculous. But if I had to wrap my head around how it happened, I would blame Derrick Rose and his 6 turnovers, along with his disappearing act in the 2nd quarter and 3rd quarter. Not one point in the 2nd. Only 2 points in the 3rd. Star player? Do you know of any other star player who that would happen to? And at this point in the season? Absolutely totally and utterly inexcusable. What good are your 12 points and 11 assists if you have 6 turnovers to go along with them?
What else could have made up for the discrepancy in field goals and shooting percentage that still led to a Bucks victory? Free-throws. Bulls had only 7, Bucks had 16. The difference in the game was 5 points. And when you have a player like Derrick Rose on your team, who should be shooting 6 or 7 free-throws a game, that's also inexcusable. Sure, the refs have a little something to do with it, but if the refs aren't calling it, he has to continue to force the issue inside until they do, instead of just disappearing. Although it's kind of ridiculous that John Salmons gets to go to the line 8 times and Derrick Rose only twice. I think it's a combination of the refs as well as Derrick's unwillingness to force the issue. He especially should have been pushing and pushing and pushing to go inside with Bogut being out. Without Bogut, the Bucks really don’t have a single legitimate shot-blocker. No excuses Derrick. Your team’s trying to make the playoffs here.
Anything else? Yeah. Coaching. Scott Skiles knows how to draw up a play. Vinny Del Negro really doesn't.
With 13 seconds left, Vinny Del Negro calls a full timeout. The Bulls are down by 3. You figure it’s going to be one of two plays. Either a quick drive to the basket by Derrick for a layup/foul, and I mean real quick, or a Derrick Rose drive to the basket for a kick-out to Brad Miller for 3. I would have been fine with either of those, even though it’s pathetic that I would have been fine with the last shot of regulation being a hail mary three from Brad Miller. Instead, Vinny drew up what may have been the worst play of all time. With 13 seconds left, Kirk Hinrich passes it into Luol Deng at the elbow. Deng passes it to Brad Miller on the perimeter. Brad Miller, aka the slowest individual in the NBA, goes on to attempt to drive past Kurt Thomas in an attempt to get to the basket. Did I mention there were only 13 seconds left? Not only does this play take incredibly long to develop, but Brad Miller doesn’t even manage to get an inch of space between himself and Kurt Thomas. Eventually, Miller just collapses at the key like a sack of potatoes and gets called for a travel. Kurt Thomas didn’t even doing anything special on defense. He just stayed in front of Miller…NOT A DIFFICULT TASK. And Miller flat out collapsed…like a tree going down in the forest. It was pathetic to watch. It was laughable. I laughed. And traveling was the call.
So you’re down by 3, and you call for a drive to the basket by Brad Miller with 13 seconds left. No very fast drive to the lane by Derrick Rose. No drive and kick for three to tie the game. Instead, you call for an incredibly slow developing play that only leaves 6 seconds left on the clock. Even if you had made it, you’d still be down 1 with 6 seconds. You’d have to foul, which would take about a second off the clock. And they’d likely hit both or at least 1, and you’re probably in the same spot you started, but this time you have 5 seconds. 5 seconds would probably be better because maybe then Vinny would be forced to give Derrick Rose the ball and make him take it to the bucket as fast as possible.
Beyond that…I still don’t think Derrick Rose is playing enough minutes. No reason Kirk Hinrich should be playing 44 and Derrick Rose only 38. Yeah yeah…defense…I know. I don’t care. Rose needs to be the one playing 44 minutes, because every possession that he’s not out there, that’s another possession where the Bulls are stagnant on offense.
At least Luol Deng had a decent game going for 16 points and 10 rebounds. He also played 44 minutes. And Joakim Noah had a pretty good game as well, going for 8 points and 11 rebounds. Although I don’t really know how the Bogut-less Bucks managed to tie the Bulls in rebounds. Did I mention the Bucks didn’t have Bogut? No idea what happened to Taj’s rebounding tonight…but they could have used him on the glass. He only finished with 6 boards.
The Bulls blew it. 9 points in the 2nd and 15 in the 3rd really did them in. 6 more points in either quarter would have won the game. Or even three more in each quarter. I just can’t get over it. If the Bulls scored 12 points in the 2nd and 18 in the 3rd, they still would have won the game. PATHETIC. Just unreal. Now, they still sit a game back of the Raptors, and probably half a game back after the Raps lose tonight, when they could have been half a game up. All is not lost, even though after last night’s performance, I don’t think this team even deserves to be near the playoffs. The Bulls do still play the Raptors in 4 days, and that game could very well decide the 8th seed. There’s still a lot of basketball to be played, and we will all be scoreboard watching. In fact, I’m watching the scoreboard right now, and the Bosh-less Raptors are only down 2 to the Celtics in the 3rd quarter. If the Celtics lose, it will give me just another to hate them with a passion…no comments
The Bulls face the Bucks tomorrow night. But it’s not the Bucks we have become accustomed to the past few months. It’s not the Bucks that have terrorized Eastern and Western Conference opponents alike as of late. And it’s definitely not the Bucks who I predicted would be a playoff sleeper in the Eastern Conference in an earlier Bloguin NBA Roundtable Discussion.
Andrew Bogut took a ridiculously bad fall after a dunk in the Bucks’ last game. He fell on his elbow in the most awkward way possible. He had to be helped off the court and it looks like he’s done for the season. Which means…everything the Bucks have worked so hard for just went down the crapper. This team is nothing without Bogut.
Don’t talk to me about John Salmons. Salmons is nothing. Salmons did nothing for half of the 2009-2010 season. Salmons entire ability to score is based on having a big man in the middle who will often draw a double-team, thus opening up the lane or giving John just enough space to square up and pop a 3. There was no such big man on the Bulls. Bogut is that big man on the Bucks. Bogut is the reason this team is good, not John Salmons. Who’s going to draw that double team now? Dan Gadzuric?
Which brings me to my next point. Who’s going to bang down low with Mr. Hard-Hat/Lunch-Pale tonight? Dan Gadzuric? Ummm, no. And who’s going to bang with the African Viking? Dan Gadzuric? Ummm, no. Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson, when healthy, are an absolute elite rebounding tandem. Something I haven’t seen on the Bulls ever. Usually it’s been one guy in the past. Charles Oakley. Horace Grant. Dennis Rodman. Elton Brand. Tyson Chandler. Ben Wallace (if you can count him). The Bulls now have two very gifted rebounding big-men in Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson. Even with Bogut healthy, a healthy Bulls team probably dominates the Bucks on the boards. But tonight, they definitely will.
By the way…Joakim exploded all over Tyrus Thomas…probably one of my favorite moments of the season. Stacy was loving it…see below.
As for the rest of the Bucks…I’m simply not impressed. John Salmons? I know John Salmons. He’s a mental midget. I can see him getting into his own head knowing he’s going up against his old team. If you think John will be putting up 20 points tonight, you’re out of your mind. Not with a resurgent Captain Kirk guarding him. As a matter of fact, Kirk Hinrich has been a nightmare for star players lately. And if he hadn’t gotten injured and forced Jannero Pargo to come in and play olè defense on Steve Nash, then the Bulls would have won their recent game against Phoenix as well. And I absolutely hate to put John Salmons in that category, because he’s certainly no elite player, but in Milwaukee, he’s all they got right now. Kind of makes you chuckle a little bit, doesn’t it? I expect Kirk to shut him down to the tune of roughly 12-15 points and maybe one three point field goal.
As for Brandon Jennings, there’s another mental midget for you. He’s more concerned with flash and what hair style he’s gonna wear rather than playing smart basketball. The second he hit a rut this season, he went from possibly the next Allen Iverson to possibly the next Stephon Marbury. He completely lost focus and never truly regained his swagger. He’s the opposite of a Derrick Rose. More talk and less helping his team win. I expect Derrick to absolutely dominate Brandon tonight, as Derrick has significant height, speed, and strength advantages. Jennings is about to see what he’s going to be up against for the next decade and a half or so…that’s gotta be depressing.
So bottom line, I definitely do not expect John Salmons and Brandon Jennings to be able to carry the Bucks past the Bulls, who are playing as if they are on a mission right now. Meanwhile, the Raptors play the Cavs tomorrow night. If they beat the Cavs tonight, you can call it a day. But I don’t see that happening. Which means the Bulls and Raptors will be tied after tomorrow night in the Eastern Conference standings, with the Raptors holding the tie-breaker. And please keep in mind that the Raptors and Bulls are set to square off in 6 days. Which means anything can happen. This one is going to the wire, and it’s DEFINITELY NOT OVER. GO BULLS.no comments
Well, I'm back from my mini-business trip. Upon my return, the Bulls find themselves two games back of Toronto, with a game to be played tonight against the Bobcats in a few minutes.. Unfortunately, the Raptors avoided what would've been a costly collapse earlier today. They held a 17 point lead in the third quarter only to see it dissipate and ended up having to beat the 76ers in overtime. And man does that hurt the Bulls.
But the Bulls won last night. And this happened:
I believe the reaction was, "Watch your head Lil' Boykins!" I'd say that's an appropriate reaction. And the funniest part about it? Joakim Noah running the point for a lob to Derrick Rose and not vice versa. Only on the Chicago Bulls.
Lots of good stuff happened last night.
First, Taj Gibson. 14 points and 16 rebounds. He continues his monster rookie season. A type of season no Bulls big man rookie has had since Elton Brand. And we're talking about a long list. Marcus Fizer, Eddy Curry, Tyson Chandler, Tyrus Thomas, just to name a few. Taj Gibson is playing out of his mind...simply put. Hard hat, lunch-pale? Yes please.
Second, Joakim Noah. Played 27 minutes and had 10 points on 4-6 from the field and 8 rebounds. More minutes for Joakim means more wins in this final stretch. And oh yeah, let's not forget the lob to Derrick. Go watch the above video again. Right now.
Third, the return of Luol Deng. I've been somewhat out of the loop lately due to being away on business, so I had no idea he was actually coming back. Not only did he come back, but he played 28 freakin' minutes. And in his 28 minutes, the man looked smooth. Maybe it was the new stylish goatee he was sporting. He had 14 points on 6-8 from the field, and 6 rebounds in his 28 rebounds. I'd say that's a hell of a comeback game. Can everyone now see how much better the Bulls are than half the Eastern Conference playoff teams once they're all healthy? This is actually a good team when everyone's playing.
Fourth, Derrick Rose. He had a very nice Derrick Rose-esque game. 24 points on 10-19 from the field, 5 assists, and 4 rebounds. Basically, he did work. And he led us to victory. It was a must-win game...and we won. So who's next?
Charlotte, that's who. In about 10 minutes, the Bulls square off against the Bobcats at the United Center. It's going to be a tough game, because the Bobcats are playing very well and have won two straight, which is very annoying. It's just annoying when a mediocre team is going to end up making the playoffs while the Bulls might miss, when the Bulls, when healthy, are a much better team than the Bobcats. Injuries killed us. Even the obscure random ones, like Hinrich rolling his ankle the other night, causing Jannero Pargo to come in and single-handedly lose us the game to Phoenix. Lucky I wasn't available to blog for that one, I would've gone on all night. I'm actually holding myself back from going on about it right now, but I digress. With a tonight, the Bulls could move to 1.5 back of the Raptors. But a win tonight could be hard to come by and a loss could all but ruin the Bulls playoff chances. So here comes another must-win. Tip-off in about 20 minutes.
"We're still going to make it. You can't think about stuff like [not making the playoffs]. In my mind, we'll be making the eighth spot. We'll be playing LeBron James -- playing Cleveland. The closer we get, the [more] I'm going to think that. We can't walk around acting like we're not going to make it, because that's when things turn on you. Our biggest goal is to make the playoffs, and we're going to make it. It's tough. But that's why it's the NBA. [Unless] you're a team like Cleveland and the Lakers, you're not going to come out and just win 50 or 60 games, or something like that. You're going to have to fight, and that's what we're in right now. Hopefully, it just prepares us for the future, and ... helps us grow as an organization, as a whole. I've learned a lot of things. If anything, I just feel way more comfortable. In situations I know what to do ... I think every year you play in the NBA you just learn more stuff. And it gives you more comfort to go out there and play. Yeah, it's fun, man," he said of the possibility. "The crowd is going to be crazy. Media is going to be crazy. A once-in-a-lifetime type of ordeal right there. Why not?"