I honestly think that if the Bobcats played the Bulls every night, they would win more than 72 games. This team kills us. I'm starting to hate them. They remind me of the Nets in '09. Just a thorn in your side that you can't get rid of.
When you're an 18-3 home team, how do you lose to a 15-24 Bobcats team who's 5-14 on the road and who just beat you less than a week ago. You're gonna let a team do you like that? Derrick Rose's sorry excuses for teammates should be ashamed of themselves. I'm looking at you LUOL DENG. Deng went 2-11 for the night. Just what we need when Boozer isn't playing. The so-called third option, who needs to step up and be the second option, who turns out to be no option at all. People are honestly right when they say Derrick would average 11 assists a game if he had real shooters on his team. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that 8 of Luol's misses were open shots...looks that he only got because Derrick Rose broke down the defense and found him.
The Bulls shot 39% from the field. Atroscious. Everyone was awful except for derrick and maybe Ronnie Brewer. It's just painful because Charlotte shot 40% and is so terrible. And any time you hold a team to 40% shooting, you should AUTOMATICALLY win that game. Without question. So that, my friends, makes the Bulls' performance tonight...pathetic.
Other than the disgusting shooting display, you can thank the Bulls for providing multiple And-1 opportunities. Derrick Rose with an immensely boneheaded foul on DJ Augustin in the 1st half on a fast break. One where he could've at least played defense and altered the shot. Instead, he just gave him a bump and didn't even bother preventing him from putting it up. Augustin did the exact same thing to Bogans in the 2nd half, but Bogans actually tried to wrap up Augustin and was just too slow to do so before Augustin got his arms up. And Ronnie Brewer got called for a phantom foul with Stephen jackson driving it on a fast break. If you aren't going to alter the shot, just get out of the way. Otherwise...FOUL HARD. That's 3 And-1's right there that shouldn't have happened. Could've used those points in the end there, eh?
And look...running a misdirection play with 8 seconds left when the ball should be in your best player's hands? Um...no. Kyle Korver is not a bad player, but one thing we all know that he is not capable of doing is scoring in the paint and taking it to the basket. How do you draw up a play for him to attempt to do just that when you just caught a huge break on a questionable reversal of an out of bounds call and then you call a play for Kyle Korver? 8 seconds is a lifetime for Derrick Rose to try and do something effective or draw a foul. 3 seconds is not. That play call very well may have blown the game. When you're down 1 with 8 seconds left, that is not the time to get cute, Thibs. Just put the ball in your best player's hands and trust that he'll do what he can to get the job done. You decided not to do that and you paid for it.
Hate to do this also, but I have to lay some of the blame on the refs. It especially hurts losing by the slimmest of margins knowing that Augustin took 4 steps and forgot to dribble on a fast break and the refs let it go. That right there was the difference in the game.
Bottom line...next time we play the Bobcats...I don't want the game to be close. I want the Bulls to win by 30. If I have to watch another close Bobcats game again this season, I will break my wall. I swear. I will. I don't have any more left in me. Also, I don't likeTyrus's face. But that's neither here nor there. The Bulls MUST stop playing down to the level of competition. Losses to the Nets, Sixers, Clippers, and 2 to the Bobcats are collectively inexcusable. Those are games that elite teams don't lose. Elite teams MAYBE lose one of those games. MAYBE one. SO the Bulls should be like 32-9 or something. Damn fools. Tonight's game was a mess and literally gave me a headache. My eyes hurt. It was garbage. I feel like I need to take a hot shower to wash it off of me. Let's try to forget about this one quickly.no comments
DBE is back and will be giving a post-game summary after tonight's game against the Bobcats. Sorry for the long layoff...but yours truly had to take a month off or so due to various time constraints. But I am back in full force and will be covering the Bulls daily from this point forward.
Expect a mid-season wrap-up some time soon as well.
And oh yeah...expect a lot of D-Rose youtube vids...just because.no comments
The Bulls face off against a dangerous Thunder team tonight. This picture pretty much says it all. Rose vs. Westbrook. With Durant in the background. The two point-guards will be the story. Although I dislike the comparison because it is a simple diss to Derrick Rose's greatness. Not that Westbrook isn't a stud. But the Rose comparisons should be laid to rest. A Derrick Rose he is not.
Bottom line, the Bulls will be trying to avenge their season-opening loss to the Thunder. It was a tight game up until the last two minutes where the Thunder went on something like a 12-0 run, resulting in them winning by 12. It was tough.
This is a different Bulls team though. Rose is playing at elite super-star status. The key now is for him to get the foul calls that go along with it. And Boozer is returning to form. The Bulls front-court is now totally stacked.
Side story...two of the top-three scorers in the league will be going at it. Yup...Durant AND Rose. Should be a fun one at the UC tonight and we'll see if the Bulls can ride the momentum from their emotional OT victory against the Rockets on Saturday. I say Bulls win 97-94 to even up the season series. Go Bulls.no comments
Yeah, that happened. Saturday night to be exact. Actually, a lot happened since last time I posted an entry. For one, I specifically mentioned the very real possibility that the Bulls might finish their circus trip with a winning record. I said this after the incredibly thrilling double overtime victory in Phoenix. At that time the Bulls were 3-2 on the trip. 2 games later, they were 4-3. Exhale.
Couple major things of note in those last two games. The Denver game. CJ Watson. Wow. Jannero Pargo he is not. Chris Duhon? Um no. All doubt can be cast aside. Folks...we have a true backup point guard. I use the term point guard loosely. In reality, he's a combo guard. Actually, he's more like a D-Rose disciple. As in...the skill-set of a point guard but the scoring ability of an elite two-guard. Okay...perhaps not elite...but is there any question that he can score? He flat out looked like a D-Rose clone in the Denver game. It was fascinating...only because D-Rose was out with a stiff neck and what we needed was a D-Rose clone. CJ more than delivered. He finished with 33 points on 11-22 shooting, along with a ton of bail-out layups and clutch tear-drops. Sound familiar?
I guess that leads me to the second thing of note that happened in that game. Tom Thibodeau made maybe his 2nd biggest screw-up of the year. 12.9 seconds left in the game. Bulls up by 1. You know they're going to foul. Both free-throws are crucial, as you don't want the Nuggets to have a chance to actually beat you. At least 1 free-throw is absolutely vital. Luol Deng is inbounding the ball. All Bulls fans watching are thinking the same thing. Get the ball into Korver. Kyle Korver is by far the team's best free-throw shooter. He's a veteran and he can be counted in. He's in the game. Get him the ball.
The other thing all Bulls fans are thinking?: Who's that short guy? And why is he in? And please don't throw him the ball. That short guy was John Lucas III. There is no rational reason as to why he was in. And Deng inbounded the ball to HIM. That is the last guy you want touching the ball. This guy was eating at a Wing Stop in Houston around 12:30 pm the afternoon of the game. He got the call to join the team because Derrick was a late scratch. And you put him in with 12 seconds left at an attempt to ice the game? Can you say clank? You don't have to. You can just watch and listen to the clanks. Cuz he clanked both. What happens next? Luol Deng gives 'Melo 2 feet of space on the other end to get off a jumper. Game over, Nuggets win. Thank you to Tom Thibodeau, John Lucas III, and Luol Deng in that order.
The best part about this? Thib's was asked why he put Lucas in the game in that situation? One word answer ladies and gentlemen. "Freethrows." Oh, the irony. He was probably trying to point out that Lucas is actually a good free-throw shooter so he wasn't in the wrong to put him in...but...no excuses. He's inexperienced and just joined the team and doesn't need to be in the game in that situation. Get the ball to someone else. The rookie coach showed his inexperience. It's not always about the stats Thibs. Either way, that's a pick of him answering for his mistake above...he was absolutely fuming...like I've never seen before.
How nice is it to know that if Derrick goes down, we have a very capable scorer in CJ to step in and do what he can to make up at least a good portion of it. In actuality, CJ pales in comparison as a player, but being unable to do what Derrick does, he does some other things that make up for it at least a little. And it worked wonders against Denver. No victory...but CJ's performance was the silver lining.
The next game, the Bulls continued their trend of falling behind early by roughly 14-17 points and having to come back late in the game against the Kings. This is a scary trend and they have yet to buck it through today's date. But they came out victors in Sacramento after a valiant comeback against a scrub team, i.e. a team that should not require a comeback effort. A victory is a victory. 4-3 on the circus trip. First winning circus trip since MJ rode off into the sunset in '98.
We knew the next two games coming home were gonna be toughies. I went to the first game back at the UC. The Magic...how shall I say...annihilated us. It was gruesome. Joakim Noah with zero rebounds? Nothing I can say that hasn't already been said. The Bulls simply could not get their hands on the basketball. They didn't win a single rebounding battle. That night...we saw the difference between Dwight Howard and Joakim Noah. Now Bulls fans should know what's what. Noah is a great rebounder. Howard is an other-worldy rebounder. Flat out unstoppable. Plus they made a gazillion threes and we were throwing up hot garbage. It was a masonic performance on the Bulls' part. Kinda made me wish I stayed home that night.
One thing of note in that game? Carlos Boozer's less-than triumphant return. He looked like doo-doo. In fact, I think he may have totally messed with the team's chemistry and thrown them off-synch at the very start. That and Dwight Howard. Not Boozer's fault, I suppose. But "falling over a gym-bag" was his fault so he gets no brownie points from me.
Next game wasn't much prettier. Bulls had to travel to much-despised TD Garden located in the mean streets of Boston to face-off againt Ronda and KG. Unfortunately, the two least favorite players in Bulls folk-lore had their way with us. I believe Ronda had 19 assists and KG quantum leaped back into 2001 form just for Joakim Noah's visit to the Garden. Jo was in solid form as he put up a double double to follow his rebounding donut in the previous game. It was good to hear the Celts fans still respect Noah enough to boo him every time he touched the ball. "It's okay. I have my friends."
That was two lopsided losses in a row to the top two teams in the Eastern Conference going into Saturday night's game against Houston. It kind of tells you how this Bulls team compares to the elite Eastern Conference teams. They don't, I guess?
Nothing like a Western Conference bottom feeder at home to restore some confidence, right? It looked that way for about the first 2 and a half quarters. But then the Rockets came storming back behind a gutty performance by beloved ex-Bull Brad Miller, who was yuckin' it up with the Bulls players during almost every time stoppage. B-rad finished with 20 points and went 4-9 from three. Not surprising considering the fact that he was our best three-point shooter last year. Kind of pathetic, I know. But it looked like the Rockets were going to complete their comeback after being down by 14 earlier in the game and pull this one out. The Bulls may have just gotten Bulled. But they pulled out one more incredibly late-game surge. Boozer had an offensive rebound put back with 14 seconds left. It was his 25th ponit and 9th rebound of the night. I believe that's the Carlos Boozer I've been searching for. Now we're talking. B-rad gets fouled with 10 seconds left. In my mind, I'm thinking he's a good free-throw shooter and he may just ice the game. In my heart, I know he's still a Bull deep-down, and he'll probably miss one. Clank. He goes one of two after bricking the first.
If you're Thibodeau, you're considering going to a three-point shooter like Korver to try and take this thing to OT. But you have 10 seconds left and no timeouts. You'll be hard pressed to run a play for Korver if you have to bring the ball up the court. You want your star point guard to have the ball and you'll live with whatever happens. After a little give and go from Noah, and about a foot of space between him and the defense while being roughly 25 feet out, Derrick put up the pretties shot I've ever seen him shoot. The form was incredible. The elevation was spectacular. The celebration was even better. Just check the video above. At that moment, you knew the Bulls wouldn't let this one slip away. D-Rose hit another three in OT just to show the fans it wasn't a fluke. And that's the ball game.
Look at this pic, Lowry knows it's going in. And Derrick's feet are at Lowry and Brad Miller's knees upon release.
The kid is special and that's about all you can say. And Thibs better be thanking his lucky stars that D-Rose willed them to victory in that game. With what would have been 3 losses in a row, 2 coming at home, it could have been the start of panic mode. Instead, we sit at a comfy 10-8 and 4th in the Eastern Conference. We can more than live with that, but let's tighten up on the defensive end, fellas. And I can't wait till Boozer finds his form, as he seemed to do against Houston. I see some winning streaks at the end of the tunnel.no comments
I can't believe the circus trip is almost over. I mean it's not quite over, but the light is at the end of the tunnel. But I gotta say...this is a weird feeling. Usually, at this very point in the season, most Bulls fans are overcome with depression and anxiety as they watch the Bulls limp their way back to Chicago after being mauled and mangled by multiple west coast teams. Even the post-Derrick Rose Bulls have struggled on the circus trip. Anyone remember last year's debacle when Derrick was still recovering from injury? It wasn't pretty. The Bulls went 1-5 last year and were 10-61 since 2000 before the start of this year's trip. Clearly, there's a reason we Bulls fans hate the Ringling Bros.
Amazingly enough, I feel no anxiety over the Bulls right now. It's almost as if they've made us forget that they're on the circus trip. They currently hold a record of 3-2 on the trip. The two games that they lost were to the two best teams in the Western conference, who have lost a combined 3 games. And in both games they more than held their own. In fact, get rid of a few mental lapses in the Spurs game...and we take it. And the Lakers game? Let's just say, that's the second game this year where we were beaten by a team who thought they were playing a real life game of NBA Jam (Knicks game anyone?). Shannon Brown makes 5 threes? Yeaaaaaaaaaah right. The fact that we were beaten by the Brown, Blake, and Barnes rather than by Bryant, Odom, and Gasol makes it a loss I'm willing to accept.
But the Suns game?
Man oh man.
It was blackout Wednesday...so naturally, being the socialite that I am, I was out. Having a few drinks at my friend's apartment, our interest was waning at around 31-11 toward the end of the 1st quarter. 4 words enter your mind. "One of those nights." You all know what I mean. Blowouts happen. You just brush it off as one of those nights, and check the schedule to see who the Bullies have up next.
We headed to a bar after the 1st quarter ended under the valid assumption that the game would probably not become competitive. It happened to be playing on a big-screen in the middle of the bar, but we weren't too concerned with it. I would use my peripherals to check the score...just because in my gut, I realize Derrick can take over the game at any point, so the Bulls are NEEEEEVER quite out of it. And a 20 point lead isn't necessarily insurmountable. The lead had stretched to 23 points at one point, but even that isn't necessarily impossible to come back from. It's just incredibly unlikely, hence the waning interest. But I was working my peripherals nonetheless.
Second quarter...you can see the Bulls starting to play with a sense of urgency. Derrick is in "we might lose this game, but I refuse to let us get blown out" mode. Joakim is possessed. They cut the lead to 12 before half-time. Suddenly the game has my total attention. As half-time draws to an end, I slowly sneak away from the crew, and I plant myself in front of the big-screen. We can work with this. I didn't move for the rest of the game.
Third quarter...the Bulls start playing some lock-down D, but the suns aren't willing to budge. Grant Hill from 1997 shows up and tries to mess with the space-time continuum by trying to assert his dominance and actually make himself relevant in a basketball game. The lead stays at 12 at the end of the 4th quarter. At this point, doubt starts to set in. You gotta nip at the lead in the 3rd quarter because in the 4th...teams with solid leads start playing with a real sense of urgency against teams making the comeback push. At least the good teams do. So 12 minutes to overcome a 12 point lead against a team that was absolutely red-hot in the first half? That's tough.
Fourth quarter...suddenly, the Bulls turn red-hot. Korver and Deng start knocking down jumper after jumper. That's the thing about Korver. You know at some point in the game, the guy is going to start knocking down his shot. He can be 0 for the century in the first half, but in the second half, he'll light it up. There's no way he'll continue to miss. And that's why we paid him. And that's something we didn't get out of our "three-point shooters" in the past, such as Kirk Hinrich. If Kirk was bad at the beginning of the game, he was bad at the end. Not Kyle.
And Luol Deng with 26 points in the ball game. He continues to have what is likely his best season to date...averaging almost 19 and 6. Those are legit second option numbers. I still the Bulls can trade him now and get something of significant value in return before he comes down to Earth a bit, but at least now I do not totally dislike him being on this team.
But probably my favorite sequence of the game involved the unlikeliest of heroes. James Johnson. The score being 94-99 with about 2:30 left after a Channing Frye jumper, the Bulls need to run a solid play. Somehow, 10 seconds later, they find James Johnson. He decides to shoot the ball. Are you kidding me that he has the balls to do that? He nailed it. Huge.
The Bulls continued to play lockdown D for the next two minutes. I mean their defense was incredible. Spectacular, if I may. Joakim Noah can and might win Defensive Player of the Year. He was flat out toying with Steve Nash by making Nash think he was toying with Noah. Nash kept trying to run the pick-and-roll and Jo kept switching onto him. Nash automatically assumed he had the advantage, and understandably so. Nope. Joakim Noah was quicker than Steve Nash. He took the ball from Nash on multiple occassions. Not an exaggeration. No other way to describe it. Flat out took the ball. Out of his hands. Twice at the end of the game. It was a sight to see.
The Bulls get the ball back after Joakim stripped Nash with 49 seconds left, and intelligently, Joakim handed it to Derrick who quickly started to run the fast break. The Suns managed to lose James Johnson in the aftermath of being in awe of Joakim just taking the ball from Nash as he attempted to dribble. Rose sets JJ up with a pretty bounce pass as he makes his way to the basket and we have ourselves a tie ballgame. Nash gets fouled and hits two free-throws. Rose comes back and maybe gets bailed out with a foul as he drives it to the lane and also hits two free-throws. He may have gotten bailed out, but the more important thing (at least to Bulls fans) is that he hit both free throws. Overtime.
The first overtime was kind of ugly. It was a see-saw battle and both teams looked spent. One thing of note...Derrick Rose settled for a jumper to take the lead when the game was 107-108 and the Bulls were down by 1 with 13 seconds left. No reason for that. He had Grant Hill's ankles guarding him and he chose to pull up when he could have just as easily blown by him and probably at least drawn the foul. I think he was running on E. He missed. The Bulls foul. Suns make 2 free-throws. Derrick comes back and shoots a three. Brick. Who's there to tip it in? It's a rhetorical question. Joakim gets the bucket. Bulls foul again. Richards makes 1 of 2. Bulls have one more shot to tie it. Somehow Joakim ends up with the ball at the top of the key. He's clearly looking for Derrick. Derrick knows. Coming off a few picks, Derrick loses the ghost of Grant Hill along the baseline. Joakim, one of the best big-men passers in the NBA, finds him right under the rim. Derrick, wide-open, puts in a reverse layup with .1 seconds left. It's the Trent Tucker rule. If you have under .3 left, you can only tip it in. No time to shoot. Bulls box out the inbound lob attempt...we're going to overtime 2.
At this point, if the Bulls lose, it's a flat out shame. You can't come all the way back from 23 down and lose, into a second overtime, and lose. I mean you can...but most teams won't let themselves lose. It's the point of no return. Kind of like last year when the Kings came back from 35 down against the Bulls...you knew they would win once it was at least within 5. The Bulls were not going to lose this game. This was somewhat of a repayment to the fans for last year's debacle against the Kings, because the 2nd overtime was a thing of beauty. Derrick started it off with an and-1 and they never looked back. The Bulls scored 12 as the Kings only managed to make two buckets. Victory. And victory on the circus trip makes it even sweeter.
It was a great night. But it's time to come back down to Earth. There's still 2 more games left on this trip, and at this point the goal is to come away with a winning record for the first time since Jordan's exit. One small goal within a season of big goals. The Nuggets are going to be tough at home, especially after we beat them earlier this season. And I doubt the Bulls have even fully recovered from Wednesday night's high. I think the Nuggets will take this one, leaving us at 3-3 on the trip. We finish the trip off on Saturday against the Kings...a winnable game. 4-3 on the trip looks like a strong possibility. This is a strange time in the season to feel confident. I can get used to it.no comments
The Bulls square off against a streaking Warriors team tonight. Fresh off a great win against a solid Nuggets team, the Bulls seem like they're starting to gel. In the Nuggets, as expected and predicted in my preview post, the front-court dominated. However, I did not predict an actual victory due to the assumption that it would just be too much 'Melo. Turned out to be not enough 'Melo.
Although...before I get into tonight's game...let me just say a few quick things about our victory on Monday. You're up 90-88 with 12 seconds left. You have the ball. You're about to inbound it. You have your best free-throws shooters out on the floor. Seems like you're in good shape. And then...Luol Deng...with one of the weirdest decisions in recent memory, decides to inbound the ball to, of all people, Joakim Noah. Joakim Noah was without a doubt the worst free throw shooter on the floor for the Bulls. Sure...he's a career 70% free throw shooter. And his shot has improved ten fold. But you have Kyle Korver 3 feet away from you. With 12 seconds left. Kyle Korver of 88% career free-throw shooting fame. How in the world do you throw it into Joakim Noah? Honestly? Get it into Korver and the game's over. Simple as that. Instead, Joakim gets it, goes 1 of 2 at the line, as expected, and thus leads me to the next debacle.
Fouling 'Melo with 11 seconds left to put him on the line as a means avoid the three-point buzzer beater is fine by me. Sure, 11 seconds left was a little early to do it, but who knows when 'Melo was planning on taking that shot. But then...by the grace of God, the Bulls got the ball into Kyle Korver who sank 2 free throws (this whole situation could have been avoided if they just did that on the last possession). Now there are 8 seconds left. Now you don't choose to foul? You risk the chance of letting Billups hit the big 3 on this possession when you didn't risk on the last possession? How does that make sense? It doesn't. The Bulls caught a break with Billups making a poor decision to pass it off to Afflalo who bricked a 3 from the corner. Some bizarre coaching choices at the end of the game...didn't really like it. But like I said...good W.
AS FOR THE WARRIORS...
This is not the Warriors we've all come to know. This is a different squad. This team's already 6-2 and is one of the hottest teams in the league. I remember last year the Warriors did a number on the Bulls where they absolutely couldn't contain Andres Biedrins. I remember thinking it was the worst loss of the season for some reason back then...I can't really remember why and I'd have to look back in my archives, but that game sticks out to me.
This team is far more worrisome. Stephen Curry and Monta Ellis are averaging roughly 50 points a game combined. They are both deadly from three. Rose is faster and more athletic than Curry...but Curry is incredibly skilled, knows how to create, and is an assassin from the field. He's not as athletic so he has to totally rely on skill. He's crafty. Rose will have some serious trouble guarding him tonight. And vice versa. No way Curry can contain Rose. Not even close. I expect point guards for both teams to have huge games.
As for Monta Ellis. He's a pure scorer. Nothing else. He literally does nothing else except for light it up from outside. He'll be playing with somewhat of a bad back tonight, which hopefully hinders his shooting a bit. If not, he'll be lighting up Keith Bogans all night. Maybe the lengthy Brewer will be able to do some good work on him, but the amount of time Brewer spends on the court any given night is always going to be in question. In all likelihood, Ellis has a big game the Warriors backcourt puts up another 50-spot.
The Bulls will need big contributions from Luol Deng, who, I have to admit, has been playing very well and very consistent. He matches up against a worse version of himself in Dorrell Wright. Lu should win that matchup on both ends and on the glass, but not by that much.
The real exciting matchup in this game comes in the frontcourt. Gibson and Noah vs. Lee and Biedrins. Bottom line, the Bulls are just too strong here. Joakim Noah is not the same player from last year. He is a refined, muscle-bound, point-scavenging, rebounding machine. The man is averaging 15 and 15. He leads the NBA in rebounds. And not that David Lee is a slouch at all. In fact both Lee and Biedrins are stud rebounders. Lee is actually averaging 14 and 11 himself. He put up 28 points the other night as well, so he can score on any given night. But not with Joakim setting up shop down low. Although Gibson will be the one guarding Lee...it will still be a below average night for Mr. Lee. Gibson and Noah are a formidable defensive and rebounding duo. On top of that, Gibson has shown that his offensive game has become incredibly polished and no doubt he's impressed thus far in Boozer's absence. And David Lee isn't exactly a great post-up defender. In fact, he's kind of horrible. It's not gonna be an easy night for D-Lee.
One thing you can count on tonight...it's gonna be a block party. Biedrins is a strong shot-blocker, which worries me with regard to Rose and his ability to get to the bucket. I'm hopeful that Rose does what it takes to draw contact tonight rather than avoid it, as the sooner you get Biedrins in foul trouble the better. And Noah and Gibson had a block-party of their own the other night, so hopefully they can continue it tonight against the scoring shrimps in the Warriors' backcourt.
It'll be a close one tonight, folks. The Bulls are well-rested and definitely want to bank some more home wins before the circus trip next week. A win tonight, followed by a W against the Wizards this weekend right before the circus trip would be absolutely huge. They have to come out motivated and with the pedal to the metal. And let's avoid the 30+ point 2nd quarter for the opposition as we've had trouble doing lately. And as we all know, the Bulls are a jump-shooting team, and when they miss, they rely on scavenger buckets from Noah and Gibson to keep them in it. If shots aren't falling, the Bulls simply might not have the luxury of relying on their frontcourt for points tonight with some high-quality rebounders on the opposition. If we shoot below 45% tonight, we don't win this game. If we shoot above 45%, that's not a guarantee either, but I'm optimistic. Bulls win 105-100.no comments
For starters, I didn't get to watch the Celtics game, so not much I can say about that. I witnessed the final 2 minutes of overtime and the Joakim Noah running the fast break debacle. No excuse for that ever...not in that situation. I saw the replay of the Rondo no-call at the end of regulation. That, my friends, was without a question, a foul. Rondo blatantly reached in and bumped Rose. It was nothing but contact. How a call like that isn't made when a player of Rose's caliber is handling the ball is beyond me. Regardless, I did not expect the Bulls to win that game, and would have rather had won the night before and had the Celts game be less close. Thibodeau absolutely blew it by not playing the starters in the 4th quarter of the Knicks game.
So now the Bulls have lost two in a row and face-off against the Nuggets tonight. Billups and Melo are always tough matchups for the Bulls. No question, Derrick will have some trouble defending Chauncey on offense, as he's a savy vet who knows how to take advantage of a young lackluster defensive player like Derrick. By the way, the era of which excuses for Derrick's mental lapses on defense are acceptable has pretty much come to a close. It's time for him to learn how to play defense. It should not be difficult for a player of his athleticism. I hope Thibs makes this a personal project of his.
Fortunately, on the offensive end, Derrick is pretty much twice as fast as Billups and should have no problem blowing by him. The key, however, is to draw contact. This is also something Derrick absolutely must get better at. When it comes to avoiding contact under the rim, he's freakin' Harry Houdini...but we need free throws. And we need our best player who dominates the ball to shoot more than four free-throws per game. Also, the Nuggets don't have an amazing shot-blocker in place, so that's something Derrick will hopefully be able to take advantage of.
I fully expect Melo to torch Deng tonight. Deng is a good defensive player and will probably guard Melo almost as good as anyone in the league, but he's pretty much unguardable and will get his regardless. Deng has been solid on the offensive end thus far this season, so hopefully he can put together an 18 point performance, as we need him to score and take some of the load off Derrick's shoulders as he has been doing as of late...especially tonight against a tough team like Denver.
Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson have fairly advantageous matchups tonight. Nene is no slouch, but Joakim is a younger, stronger, better version of Nene. Taj should be able to win the matchup against Shelden Williams, as Taj is more polished on both ends of the floor despite being less experienced. Williams may be a sliiiiightly better rebounder, but even that's questionable as Noah takes a lot of rebounds away from Taj. Bottom line, the Bulls should win the front-court matchup against the Nuggets. They should win. Doesn't mean they're going to. Last time I said they should win, they got destroyed by the frontcourt of Danillo Gallinari and Ronny Turiaf (no need to even mention Amar'e). Gallinari driving in for two handed dunks is something I did not expect the tandem of Taj and Noah to allow to happen. And no way Turiaf should be out-muscling Joakim down low. Nene, Williams, and Melo are a much stronger frontcourt than the former, so even though the Bulls should win the matchup (Deng, Noah, and Taj is slightly > Nene, Williams, Melo), in no way will it be a surprise if Denver manages to dominate the Bulls instead.
Bottom line, even though this game is at home, I'm not optimistic. The Bulls bench has been very blah so far this season and really hasn't shown me anything. At all. Whatsoever. So if the starters underperform, there's no one really to bail them out except for maybe Korver. But are we really gonna bank on Kyle Korver? No. The Bulls lose tonight 112-106 to make it 3 in a row. They have 2 winnable games coming up against the Warriors and Wizards and then the dreaded circus trip. The Warriors are 4-2 and look good this season, so the game against the Wizards could be our actual next shot at a W. It's not a great time for the Bullies right now and the sooner November ends the better. And unfortunately, my resentment of Boozer grows with each game that I see him with his weird beard and extravagant outfits on the Bulls bench.no comments
What a joke. Not the Bulls, but the Knicks. I know that sounds like sour grapes...especially after my predictions in my preview. I don't care. This team came into tonight's game shooting 29% from the arc and they end up going 16 for 24? Only one word for that...MIRAGE. Danillo Gallinari 4 for 4? Toney Douglas 5-9? Raymond Felton 4-6? Meanwhile Amar'e Stoudemire ends up going 5-21 from the field for only 14 points and 8 rebounds. Out of all the players who beat us...it was there three point shooters.
That was the story for most of the night. The funniest part is the Bulls actually shot better from the field. The Bulls shot 52% from the field while the Knicks shot 50%. In fact, the Bulls actually had two more buckets total than the Knicks on one more attempt. Obviously the difference was in the three point shooting. This game is a perfect example of how the three-point line effects the outcomes of games and exhibits the significance of having quality three-point shooters...which the Knicks appeared to tonight, but don't really.
The Bulls don't really either, minus Korver. Korver got a chance to show exactly why we signed him, going 4-6 from three with 18 points in the contest.
The Bulls really lost this game in the 2nd quarter when they were outscored by 14 points. They outscored the Knicks in the second half, but not enough to overcome the deficit. The Knicks' three-point shooting remained the story for most of the night...
Thibidon't made his presence felt. I know this guy is the new darling of Bulls fans everywhere, but tonight, it was painfully obvious that he's a rookie coach. Even though half the Knicks squad were having career games and what will end up being the best game they play all season (trust me Knicks fans, it's all down hill from here), this game was still winnable. Thibs made it unwinnable.
I'm not gonna put it all on Thibs. Honestly, I've come to realize that most of the Bulls bench is awful. That goes for Brewer, Watson, James Johnson, Scalabrine, and Asik. Every one of those guys is horrible. Disgusting. So actually...now that I think about it, I will put it all on Thibs for playing them a combined 59 minutes. On top of that, Keith Bogans who also happens to be god awful, played 25 minutes....but I guess I'd rather have Bogans than Brewer, although that's yet to truly be determined. However, Scalabrine and James Johnson played for a nausea inducing stretch in the 2nd quarter where they had +/-'s of -12 and -19 respectively.
But here comes the kicker. Joakim Noah and Luol Deng did not play in the 4th quarter. Derrick Rose got taken out with 9:30 remaining and didn't come back in. No, none of them were in foul trouble. Joakim Noah was working on a 12 point, 13 rebound, 2 steals, 2 blocks performance. Derrick Rose had 24 points and a career high 14 assists. Luol Deng was working on a Luol Deng game. Obviously, as I said he would, he came down to earth after last game's ridiculousness with 17 points and 4 rebounds. This game was an 8 point game early in the 4th quarter. We could've used Deng and Noah at that point. Still no sign of them. Rose gon at 9:30. This game was down to nine points again with 4:30 left. Still no sign of rose. Thibs stuck with CJ and the most atrocious lineup of all time, except Korver.
No excuse for Thib's actions. Listen, I know what he was doing. We have the Celtics tomorrow...it's his old team...he wanted to rest his starters. NOT IN A GAME THAT'S STILL WINNABLE...NOT AGAINST A CRAP TEAM...NOT IN YOUR OWN HOUSE. You get the lead down to single digits early in the 4th quarter against a crap team at home and you don't feel like putting your starters in? This game was not to be lost. Thibs was okay with losing it. No excuse. We're going to get crushed by the Celtics anyway, and he should know better. This can and likely will never happen again. Not after the "WE WANT ROSE" chants from the United Center late in the 4th. That had to be a little awkward for Thibs, and probably a situation he'd like to prevent from happening again if he can.
Other than tha...look, it's clear that the Bulls are set at every position except for shooting guard. Not having a shooting guard is killing them. It might be time to just suck it up and start Korver at the 2. Korver has proven that he's the only real threat from downtown, and we need him to space the floor early in games to counter barrages from the opposition, kind of like what happened tonight. Barrage is an understatement. But late in the game, Korver showed he can do a good job countering with barrages of his own. He needs to start. It will do more good than harm, simply because Rose dominates the ball so much anyway, so it's not like we need Korver to create for himself off the dribble or handle the ball too much. Plus, it's not like Bogans and Brewer are some sort of defensive wunderkinds. They suck. We need to put our best players out there moving forward and ride them until Boozer returns.
Bottom line, a crappy team caught fire tonight, and were helped by some serious coaching mistakes. It was just the Knicks' night. The shots were going in...most of the time they won't be. We caught them on a bad night. It's unfortunate. It hurts more because of the ridiculous coaching decisions that were made. But when a team that was shooting 29% from the arc comes in and goes 16-24 from the arc, what can you say? I mean we had 3 more free-throws than they had 3's. Unfortunately, morale can't be good for the big game against Kevin "I laugh at cancer patients" Garnett and the restic of the Celtics. We'll probably get our butts handed to us, but we need to come out and play with some fight after tonight's stinker. Hoping for a bounce-back performance. Go Bulls.no comments
The Bulls square off against the Knicks tonight. Knicks games are always fun. For some reason, beating the Knicks is always slightly more enjoyable than beating any other team. Actually for a lot of reasons.
The Knicks are awful. They have been for a while. Nothing different this year. No, not even with the addition of Amar'e Stoudemire. How is having Amar'e Stoudemire different than having Zach Randolph on your team. Zach Randolph is better rebounder, that's how. They sucked with Randolph, and now they suck with Stoudemire. In fact, nearly the entire Knicks' front line is injured. Eddy Curry, Anthony Randolph, Ronny Turiaf...all hurt in some way shape or form. Which means the Knicks have resorted to starting Timofey Mozgov at center. Yeah. Timofey is averaging just about 1.7 ppg so far this year...and let's not forget his 3 rebounds either. Only one word comes to mind. Destruction. Timofey and co. are going to get destroyed tonight. Even if the other front line scrubs were healthy, they're still all scrubs (except for Stoudemire). Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson will make mintzmeat out them in short order. That leaves only Stoudemire to worry about.
Are we worried about Stoudemire? Probably not. I mean there's always one player on a team who's going to score some points. Stoudemire is that player on the Knicks. So he'll get his. So what. He doesn't really rebound...and he doesn't really play defense. In fact, with the way the Bulls play defense...probably one of the top 3 best defensive teams in the league right now...I'm not even so sure Stoudemire will accomplish much tonight against Joakim and Taj. And if he doesn't, then who will? Danillo Gallinari? I doubt it.
I mean we can look at the other matchups more closely, but what is there to look at? I don't want to sound cocky, arrogant, or presumptous...but what is Raymond Felton going to do against Derrick Rose? Not a whole lot...on either end of the court. Landry Fields and Bogans/Brewer pretty much cancel each other out.
As for Deng...ugh. Yeah, I do think he's going to come down to Earth after his otherworldly performance last game, but he still wins the matchup against Danillo Gallinari. Gallo is a hit or miss player. Literally. On any given night, he's either hitting his shots or missing...all of them. I guess you can say the same for Deng, but Deng is more versatile and can do a lot more closer to the basket. He also plays much better defense and is a superior rebounder. I'm pretty confident D'Antoni hasn't even bothered translating the words defense or rebound for Gallo. I think Deng can handle this matchup, even if he does end up going 7-21 from the field this game (which I'm 95% certain his fg% will look something similar to that tonight).
Plus, the Bulls are just much deeper than the Knicks. They have Gallinari starting, but we have a guy just like that coming off our bench in Korver. If we want to use that part of our arsenal to counter Gallo, we'll just ride Korver for a while. It will never come to that, because Rose and Noah are going to just completely dominate their matchups.
Man, we need a 2-guard so bad. Brewer and Bogans just ain't gonna cut it. If we had one, we'd be able to dominate most teams, save the elite few, at pretty much every position. One day...one day.
Survey says the Bulls whoop the Knicks tonight at home to make it 3 W's in a row. Final score 105-93. Free Big Macs for all.
Also, I'll be liveblogging with the adversaries at the Knicks Blog...Knicks Fanatics. Feel free to check it out. Please don't embarrass me tonight Bullies. Thanks.no comments
Yeah...you know what that is right there? Luol Deng's audition tape to be traded. In all honesty...probably not. But I wish. For the Bulls fans who have consistently watched Deng throughout the years...let's not kid ourselves. We know this is a mirage. Next game, he'll revert to his 16 point, 6 rebound, 8-20 from the field, 2 points in the fourth quarter self. Sure, nights like tonight are great. They're also incredibly rare. The Bulls shot 61% from the field. Trust me...they will not top that this season. They will only come near it maybe one or two more times. They wholly and fully relied on the long two's that so doomed them last season. And Deng's performance was a big part of that. 14-19 from the field? Gimme a break. Not gonna happen aain all season.
Many will call me a pessimist and a cynic after reading this, but man do the Bulls need a low-post scorer. This game exhibited this fact more than anything else. No, this was not a Luol Deng coming out party. If anything, it was a defensive coming out party for this team. Or mabe even an Omer Asik coming out party. But the bottom line is the Bulls need that guy who they can throw to inside in the post. Someone who has footwork and maybe a couple of moves in their arsenal. Perhaps even a consistent midrange jumpshot. They need CARLOS BOOZER. Badly. By the way, anyone else getting tired of his awful fashion sense? Just sayin'.
I remember games like this. They tease you. All of them. Deng will be stellar one game, and then ice cold the next game. That's just the type of talent he is. Not elite...maybe above average. Good enough to have a good performance every two games or so. Not good enough to bring it every game. Not good enough to the point where you can rely on the long twos. That's why we've been coveting a low-post scorer for years. Because we can't rely on these players' shooting. The Bulls back in Jordan and Pippen's day could rely on their shooting...that's why they never coveted a low-post scorer...and never really had one. This team's good shooting performance every two games or so isn't going to hide how desperately we miss Carlos Boozer. At least not for me.
I'll tell you one thing though...the Bulls are 2-1. They've been 2-1 only twice in the last 7 years. The 2nd time? 2008-09...the year of the epic playoff battle with the Celtics. Could that be a sign of things to come? Leeeeet's not get ahead of ourselves. But still, it's a good sign nonetheless. And they put together two back-to-back inspired performances at home. One 21 point comeback against a despised foe and ex-teammate, and one against a Western Conference up-and-comer who came into the game 3-0 and 2-0 on the road. Impressive wins. And impressive defense. It's clear that the Bullies are buying into Thibs's philosophy early on. And that's important. Because what do we all know? Defense wins championships...not long 2's.
I think having a guy like Omer Asik to team up with Joakim Noah is incredibly important. Joakim Noah is already a defensive powerhouse. Omer Asik, at least tonight, has proven that he has solid defensive sensibilities and good shot-blocking skills. He knows how to rotate and he's shown that he isn't afraid to take a charge. That's impressive for a young guy with a Middle-Eastern/European background and no NBA experience. That means he's a quick learner. Wait till he puts on some muscle. With Taj in the discussion as well, a solid defender in his own right, can you say deep frontcourt? Boozer pretty much doesn't have to be too worried about playing defense. Good. Let him focus on rebounding and providing some inside scoring. That's just what the doctor ordered.
Tonight was a real solid win...but more of an anomaly on the offensive end than anything. Defensively, the Bulls pretty much showed what they're going to be all season. But offensively, the last game told more of the story than this game. It'll be Derrick Rose carrying most of the load with a huge dropoff behind him. Lu simply can't be relied on. You won't have many more games with Derrick only scoring 16 points on 11 shots from the field. Although you know he'd love that, as he was provided the opportunity to distribute, and thus amassed a career high 13 assists thanks to Deng knocking down jumpers consistently for once. Makes life easier doesn't it? Don't get used to it, Derrick.
Which is why I still think the Bulls should trade Deng right now while his value is high. In a few weeks, people won't remember this performance and Deng will be the same albatross on this roster that everyone knows him for, but right now maybe you can fool someone into paying extra for him? Who am I kidding, the Gar will never fall off the Deng bandwagon. Especially after a performance like this...him and Pax probably believe in him more than ever and are expecting a breakout season. All I'm saying is, how many times are you gonna be fooled by this man's potential before you realize the breakout season ain't coming. Hopefully they're fully aware of this and are continuing to attempt dumping his contract, even after this performance.
By the way...little side-bar...Aldridge was killing us. And he should've been a Bull. Man, what could have been. I know I should let this go at this point, but I still can't believe I had to sit through nearly 5 years of Tyrus Thomas...with all sorts of fans defending him and talking about how great he's going to be. What a joke that was. Not ready to laugh about it yet though. But can we at least all admit what a mistake it was now after watching Aldridge tonight? Man, he's a beast. And he has quite the offensive arsenal. Portland is indeed a good team, so I give the Bulls a lot of props for their defensive effort tonight. And thank you Kyle Korver aka Ashton Kutcher aka Liam from 90210 for showing up and making your presence felt. We had a Korver sighting tonight. The depth is starting to show a bit. Even James Johnson is starting to play a little better. Some people may have even been calling for him to start instead of Deng before tonight's performance by Lu (uncalled for, but still...). Depth is good. Let's keep it up.
One thing I do have to say though...Brewer and Bogans are not very good. The fact that we do not have shooting guard is a huge problem. The one position that should be consistently scoring is actually not scoring even a little. We will get about zero offensive production from the 2 spot this season unless we make a trade...and that's no good. Derrick is essentially the 1 and the 2, and the 2 is completely and totally irrelevant as of right now. It'd be nice to have another guard who can create and get himself open looks to take the scoring load off of Derrick. Korver isn't exactly IT. Should've drafted James Anderson. Hindsight is 20-20 I suppose. Or we can just dump Deng on some sucker who'll give us a great 2-guard in return? Melo anyone? I kid I kid...don't wanna get anyone's hopes up out there.
Next game is against the Knicks at home. Another winnable game, Amar'e or not. We just gotta keep on treading water until Boozer arrives in a month or so and hope that Derrick can keep us afloat and these long two's keep going in often enough.