These BullsTV clips continue to provide nothing but Grade A entertainment. Joakim Noah is just wandering the UC halls looking for dap as The Swirsk tries to ask him some questions. During his stroll, I believe I saw him get high fives from Bill Wennington, Gar Forman, and B.J. Armstrong, as well as one other unidentified individual. Beyond that, every Bulls starter is interviewed by Mr. Swirsky, including Taj Gibson in a black wifebeater. Have a look...
Above is another terrific fan-made video of the Bulls gut-checking the Cavaliers last night. Check the title of the video. Gotta love it.
Today is a great day. A great day indeed. You know why today is a great day? Because today is the day that all the Cavalier fans who haven't won a single championship in a gazillion years and don't know what it's like to be a winner start getting nervous. All I'm hearing is excuses. Guess what. THERE ARE NO EXCUSES.
Let me explain to Cavs fans why you lost last night. The answer is simple. Because your team really isn't anything special. Your tean will get absolutely demolished by Kobe and company, but that's besides the point. Let's talk about last night's game.
Here is a direct quote from my Bloguin colleague Brendan Bowers of the Cavalier blog Stepien Rules:
"But saying all that, the Cavs played hard for a quarter and a half in road playoff game and lost by two, so take it for what its worth."
I don't know what game you were watching, but try telling LeBron that the Cavs only played hard for a quarter and a half. I think he might beg to differ. And what kind of so-called "championship caliber" team only plays hard in a playoff game for a quarter and a half. Give your team (and my team) a little more credit. They played hard the entire game and simply got outplayed. Blaming it on the effort is a very weak excuse for your team simply not being able to knock down shots. Sorry, pal. And by the way, didn't the Cavs win 60-plus games this season? Should it really effect them whether they're playing on the road or at home? Sounds like another poor excuse for a team that's supposed to compete for a championship this year.
Amazingly, the Bulls duplicated their effort from Game 2 and this time were able to turn into a victory at home. In fact, the Bulls once again were able to get 20 or more points from three of their starters, except this time, instead of Noah getting 20-plus, it was Hinrich. But one of the reasons we were actually able to win is because while Noah didn't get 20-plus, he did convert a double-double with 10 points and 15 rebounds, as well as 5 assists, a steal, and 2 blocked shots.
It's honestly amazing how much of a difference Kirk Hinrich makes. Unfortunately you can't really rely on him, but when he scored 20-plus points this season, I don't think the Bulls have ever lost. He was huge during that last 3-game stretch to close the season, and he was absolutely huge again last night. Kirk finished with 27 points on 9-12 shooting from the field, including 4-4 from three, and 5 assists...including this little dime to Joakim Noah.
He also only had 1 turnover. In fact the Bulls backcourt of Rose and Hinrich only combined for 1 turnover. Keep in mind that they played a combined 81 minutes. And this is against the so-called "best defense in the league". Gimme a break.
Speaking of Derrick Rose...YOU CAN'T STOP HIM LEBRON, YOU CAN ONLY HOPE TO CONTAIN HIM. I'm sorry, but the highlight of the game for me was when Derrick took LeBron off the dribble and drained a fadeaway in his eye with LeBron gliding past him on th left side. I wish I had the video of it. It was duurrrrrty. Okay yeah, Rose put up an airball on the next possession, but we can pretend like that didn't happen. Rose finished with 31 points and 7 dimes, and oh yeah, was that 0 turnovers? Why yes, I believe it was. Good effort, LeBron.
Let me just add a direct quote from my boy Brad Miller via KC Johnson's Twitter account...
Brad Miller, on what it meant for LeBron to switch onto DRose: "It just showed he was kicking their ass."
And what about this dime from Joakim Noah (also via KC Johnson)?
On Bron guarding DRose: "He didn't really do a great job. DRose was giving him buckets."
Buckets. Haha. He was giving him buckets. Period. Noah does not suck. He's just dropping gems left and right, haters.
Let's not forget about Luol Deng. For this, I refer to my boy Stacey King:
Luol did him dirty. That one's gotta sting. LeBron...you got punk'd. HAHA. LeBron looked all like, "Um...what had happend was...huh?" Deng finished with another big 20 point performance, and the Bulls need him to perform like that each and every game to be competitive in this series. And that's been Luol's major issue in the postseason...consistency.
Listen, the difference in the game was obviously the shooting percentages. The Bulls shot 50% from the field while the Cavs only shot 43%. The Cavs were lucky it was even that close. In fact, it was that close for two reasons. The first being that the Cavs knocked down 14 three-pointers. That is an absurd amount of three pointers. The Bulls only attempted 12. The Cavs? 35. How do you attempt 35 threes? The Bulls can't even attempt 35 threes in a week-long stretch. And they knocked down 14 of them. And that's exactly what the Bulls are missing. They need three-point shooting of the Cavs' caliber. But hey, we got 5 last night...and we'll take it.
The second reason it was that close is because the Bulls couldn't knock down free throws in the final minute. Hinrich, our best free-throw shooter, clanked both of his. Derrick went 1 of 2. Luol Deng went 1 of 2. Only Brad Miller made both of his. This allowed the Cavs to have opportunity after opportunity to bring it closer and closer instead of the Bulls just being able to put the game away. If we make 2 of the 4 that we missed in the final minute, this game is over waaaaaaaaay before that LeBron three, or that Mo Williams three, or that Anthony Parker heave. So don't flatter yourselves Cavs fans. This game really wasn't as close as the final score makes it seem.
The Bulls pulled this one out with a huge team effort. They got major contributions from their best 3 players...Rose, Noah, and Deng...as well as from their x-factor, Kirk Hinrich. Not too mention Brad Miller came in with 10 points and 5 boards off the bench and made Shaq work a bit. And can I just say that Shaq totally sucks. Except for Game 1, he's been totally outplayed by both Joakim Noah AND Brad Miller. He's awful. How can you chant Noan Sucks, Cavs fans? You should be chanting Shaq Sucks. He's letting your team down. Anyway, I said we needed more contributions from Hinrich and Miller in my last post, and we got 'em. And that's a major reason why we won.
However, I do think Vinny isn't utilizing Hakim Warrick enough. There was a stretch in the 4th quarter where Vinny didn't want to put in Joakim Noah because he had 5 fouls, and Taj Gibson looked absolutely gassed and wasn't really getting it done defensively, either guarding LeBron or Jamison. Vinny decided to bring in Noah with a lot of time left in the 4th with 5 fouls. Why not try to work Hakim Warrick in a bit so that you can at least give Taj a breather and spare Noah a few more minutes. It's not like Hakim isn't totally useless, so I'm not exactly sure why Vinny has exiled him. Maybe he forgot that it's Warrick and still thinks he has Tyrus Thomas? I could see it...the playoffs can drive you crazy. But I do applaud Vinny for his usage of timeouts last night. The Cavs ran out, while the Bulls finished the game with a twenty to spare. You don't see Vinny out-maneuver an opposing coach very often, but I must say I think he got it done. I even like the foul on Varejao late in the game to prevent LeBron from launching a miracle three that he seems to hit with his eyes closed. At least Vinny's starting to do certain things right.
But basically, the Bulls were knocking down shots at home, and the Cavs really struggled from the field in stretches, and that allowed to the Bulls to create separation in the first three quarters. Even LeBron couldn't pull this one out for them. Bottom line,I don't think this Cavs team can win the title. Why? Because the Bulls can play with them. LeBron is an absurd physical specimen with other-worldy basketball skills. He's a clown, but his skill level cannot be refuted. And that's why this team competes. But so is Derrick Rose, and at a very important position, and that's why the Bulls match up well against the Cavs. And if the Bulls can compete with the Cavs, which I predicted they'd be able to do (SORRY JEFF VAN GUNDY, but you have no idea what you're talking about), then no way can the Cavs truly compete with the West's elite. Not even with LeBron's 4th quarter heroics. Sorry Cavs fans. And personally, I cannot wait for the Cleveland Sucks chants (which were louder than the Noah Sucks chants in Cleveland) on Sunday afteroon at the UC. And oh yeah, Cleveland does suck...it's not an opinion, it's just a fact of life. Get 'em, Jo.
In preparation for tonight's game in CHICAGO, here's are some Joakim Noah soundbytes about the MISTAKE BY THE LAKE.
Basically, the Bulls gave the Cavs their best shot in Game 2. Their top 3 players all scored over 20 points, they only had 4 turnovers, and they played stellar defense. And they still lost by 10. LeBron was just unbelievable. But hey, if Jamario Moon doesn't turn into Mark Price for a game, then we steal that game in Cleveland. He's turning back into a pumpkin tonight. No way the supporting cast comes into the UC and starts draining threes the way they have been. And no way LeBron goes 16-23 from the field in Chicago. As long as the Bulls come out and play the same way they did in Game 2, and match the intensity, then the Bulls should win at least one here at home. And oh yeah, a little scoring from Kirk Hinrich and Brad Miller would be great. Thanks. Go Bulls.
Recap coming TONIGHT after the game.
This is why as a Bulls fan, you MUST love Joakim Noah.
"Boozer's dumbass jumped, so I just dunked on his ass."
Go get 'em tonight, Jo.no comments
First and foremost, Game 1 went just as expected. Cavs came out hot on their homecourt, and the Bulls looked a little shell-shocked. Derrick put the Bulls on his back and carried them pretty much the entire way to make the game somewhat competitive.
But what did you really expect in Game 1? Mike Breen, Jeff Van Gundy, and Mark Jackson expected a massive blowout. At the start of the game, Van Gundy says, "Why not let Shaq start and regain his bearings, this won't be a competitive series anyway." Do I need to hear that? Do I really need to hear that, as a Bulls fan, before the series even begins? From a beat-writer...fine. From a blogger...fine. But from the color commentator announcing the game, with a gazillion Bulls fans watching, do we really need to hear that? When Derrick started completely breaking down the Bulls defense and the Cavs couldn't break down the Bulls defense for 10 minutes where they didn't score once, the announcers really didn't know what to say. They seemed as shell-shocked as the Bulls at the start of the game. The game was down to a Cavs 7 point lead, and the announcers were hardly paying attention, treating it like a blowout.
Not to mention, they spent the ENTIRE second quarter talking about the Paxson/Del Negro shoving incident. Gossiping like little girls. I kid you not. It was the definition of a travesty. I mean Derrick Rose was whizzing through the lane with spectacular move after spectacular move, and all I hear is "Paxson this", "Del Negro that", "the NBA should step in", "they should be reprimanded". I DON'T CARE. I'm trying to watch a freakin' playoff game. People always complain about Neil and Stacey being too homer. GOOD. I prefer homer to constant Bull-bashing while not even calling the game in front of them. I swear, if I'm forced to watch another game on ABC, I will be watching it on mute in its entirety.
In terms of the actual game, it was a test-run for both teams. The Cavs feel good because Shaq seemed to work himself back in "seamlessly." Oh, really? 12 points on 5-9 shooting and 5 rebounds in 25 minutes. Let me tell you something. I've seen Tyrus Thomas put up numbers like that a hundred times. NOT IMPRESSED. To be honest, the Bulls are the ones who should feel good. Joakim Noah went out there and learned what it's like to play against a 350 lb fat man. Now he knows. And you better believe he will make adjustments.
LeBron and Mo Williams had their standard type of performances. Nothing spectacular from LeBron. 24 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists. He had a few nice blocks that the commentators wouldn't shut up about. In fact the entire half-time show was dedicated to LeBron's blocking ability. I've never seen brown-nosing to that extent. I remember back in the day when the games were on NBC, the half-time show was all business, with game breakdowns from the likes of Costas, Rashad, Dr. J, Peter Vecsey, Jayson Williams, etc. These guys didn't have their heads up Jordan's *ss. They just told it like it was. Entire segments dedicated to recreating a LeBron block through computer animation? Nope.
But anyway, Mo Williams is really killing us. No, it's not even that. It's the three-point shooting. John Paxson and Gar Forman are witnessing the exploitation of one of the Bulls' biggest weaknesses and one of their own biggest screw-ups...the failure to acquire three-point shooting threats. The Cavs attempted 23 threes and made 6. The Bulls attempted 7 and made 1. And that's typical. Mo Williams alone attempted 7...and made 3. He tripled the Bulls' entire three point production. That was the difference in the game. Not LeBron, not Shaq, but three-point shooting. Anthony Parker went 1-6 from three. Jamison made one. Jamario Moon made one. As for the Bulls? Flip Murray made one of his three attempts. That's it. Derrick had a couple that each went in and out. Had he made those, then it's a different game.
Of course, the Cavs did manage to hurt the Bulls in other ways as well. They outrebounded us 37-31. Six more. Specifically, six more offensive rebounds. That was the difference in rebounding. Take away some of those second chance opportunities, and again, it's a different game. The Bulls, who happen to be the best rebounding team in the league, absolutely have to box out better. Then again, the Cavs were getting lucky with a lot of loooong rebounds after some serious bricks and clanks. See below:
Derrick Rose was spectacular. 28 points on 13-28 from the field, with 10 assists and 7 rebounds. Fairly close to a triple-double. I love how as the game closed, Mike Breen says "Derrick had a great night, not a great shooting game, but he played very well." Really? Shooting about 50% from the field is now a bad shooting night? That's news to me. Puttz.
But Derrick, did did have 7 turnovers, but a lot of those turnovers were off of transition drives to the basket where he got hammered and there was no foul call. The refs literally swallow their whistles when it comes to Derrick Rose. Is it because he's a Bull, and they just hate the Bulls? Or is it because he just doesn't argue so they get away with it? I mean, is he not an All-Star? Is it not absolutely clear that he's getting blatantly hacked? Those questions are rhetorical. We know the answer to every one of them. Derrick shared his thoughts on the crooked refs after the game.
“That’s the way they call the game. I can’t say nothing about that. Hopefully, the refs look at what they are doing. We’re still gonna go out and play the game and see if we can get some calls. I know one day it’s gonna change. I cannot get mad. I learned from the New Jersey game (seven turnovers) the refs weren’t calling it right and I got frustrated a little bit. It’s got to change one day. The only thing I’ll tell you is it’s gonna change one day and when it does it’s going to be scary.”
He's right about that. What he does right now is already scary. But when he starts going to the free-throw line 12 times a game, that's when opposing teams will pray they don't meet the Bulls in the playoffs. As for Game 1? He had 1 trip to the line. 28 shots, and only 1 trip to the line. Process that for a minute. Phil Jackson would have been fined $100k after Game 1 if he were Derrick's coach. He would have totally ripped the refs a new one. VDN? Nope. It's like he's trying to impress somebody with his professionalism and class, when instead, he should be sticking up for his best player and making it clear to the league that what the refs are getting away with with Derrick is a traveshamockery.
I'm hoping...praying...that the refs realize they screwed up in Game 1 and start treating Derrick like the superstar that he is, and AT LEAST call a fair game. He should at least be getting to the line when he gets fouled and not being treated like a rookie. AT LEAST. If they wanna throw in a few superstar calls as well, no complaints from me.
Also, Luol Deng has to play better. 12 points on 5-15 from the field and 6 rebounds in 39 minutes ain't gonna cut it. The Bulls need more offense from him, not to mention more defense. He did alright on LeBron, but it was clear that he was incredibly frustrated and overwhelmed guarding him. I don't blame him, but he can't let it take him out of his element on offense. Lu and LeBron even got into it a little bit at one point during a timeout, but we need Lu to keep his cool and just do what he does. I expect Vinny to play James Johnson on LeBron a little more tonight, as Johnson has had some success against him in the past. They can use his phsyicality and athleticism on the defensive end. I also wouldn't be surprised to see another scuffle tonight. I desparately want someone to get in LeBron's face after he does some stupid little celebration/dance and show this Cavs team that the Bulls really aren't scared, and just wait till you come back to the UC.
Which reminds me, Joakim Noah must play tougher. Take Shaq out of his element. Keep playing physical. Don't back down. And if you get in foul trouble, so be it, but you have to play physical. I'm sure Brad Miller won't mind helping with that. But most of all, the Bulls just have to hit their jumpshots. Game 1 was a poor shooting game. As a collective they shot only 42% from the field. That number has to get up to at least 45% for them to be in it. Then again, the Bulls outscored the Cavs by 2 points in the second half even while shooting at a lower percentage, so who knows. Tonight, the Bulls may steal one. You gotta believe, Bulls fans. Game 1 was what it was. And it could have been a lot worse. Give the Bulls credit for making a game out of it. Game 2 will be a different story. I expect a closer game throughout tonight. GO BULLS.no comments
My Bloguin colleague Don, from the Lakers blog With Malice, came up with an interesting concept. Read below:
April 14th: ‘Unsung Player Day'... we should recognize the guys who toil and work hard every day, for no recognition. Well, today's your day. In reality, these guys are just as responsible for making the NBA what it is today - every team needs role-players, guys to come on and give that valuable 2-5 minutes. Without them, there is no NBA. I would encourage NBA bloggers to put up an ‘unsung player' on their blog on April 14th.
What's an 'Unsung Player'? A role player who gives his all in the 2-5 minutes he gets per game (try to be definitely under 10 minutes). Someone who doesn't get a lot of recognition...
This was especially hard for me considering every rotational player that Vinny lets into the ball game averages at least 10 minutes a game. Even freakin' Jannero Pargo is averaging 13.3 minutes a game this season, not that I would have picked that bum for this esteemed award anyway. And I hate most of our bench players anyway, so I would never give them unnecessary props just to give them props.
However, when looking through our roster, one name for this award stuck out to me. Mr. Acie Law IV. Acie Law was traded to the Bulls at the trade deadline. Since the deadline, he has only appeared in 12 of 29 games. Of the twelve that he's appeared in, the Bulls have only won 2. In the 12 games that he's appeared in, he's averaging 11.1 minutes per game. The only reason he even appeared in 9-10 of those games is because Derrick Rose was injured, and Kirk Hinrich missed a few games as well. However, when Acie Law was given minutes, man...did he take advantage. He scored 18 and 22 points in two consecutive games in mid-March. He had some spectacular plays in several stretches, with a bunch coming in this close one against the Mavs:
And he really got zero credit. Vinny never rewarded him with more minutes. In fact, the game after he scored 22 points, he only played 10 minutes wtih Derrick Rose still injured. Instead, Vinny opted to play the awful Jannero Pargo for about 40 minutes. VDN, ladies and gentlemen. It absolutely never made sense to me how a guy like Jannero Pargo is ahead in the rotation over a bigger and more talented guard like Acie Law. Ever since he had those outbursts when Derrick got injured, I've been campaigning strong for Vinny to play Law instead of Pargo. I honestly can't imagine how a head coach chooses Jannero Pargo over a younger better player, but I've beat this issue to death. And even though Law didn't help the Bulls actually win any games, he was the only reason those games were close in that awful stretch where Rose and Noah were injured. And that's why I've been saying he should be moving up in the rotation...he's definitely shown he can play with the big boys, definitely moreso than Jannero Pargo (and maybe even Flip Murray).
So congrats to the Chicago Bulls only true unsung player...Acie Law IV.no comments
STATEMENT FROM GENERAL MANANGER GAR FORMAN:
The Chicago Bulls are focusing all of our energies into the remainder of this season and, as such, were disappointed at the recent stories that may have distracted from that. Reports of a recent internal disagreement between a Bulls executive and the Bulls head coach were the result of each expressing their passion about the health and well being of their players and the desire to win basketball games.
The event occurred in Coach Del Negro’s office, not in the locker room and not in front of the players, as some wrongly have reported. This disagreement, while not communicated well by either party in the heat of the moment and in the immediate aftermath of a tough loss, was a result of conflicting views, but all based on the fine balance required to ensure both the immediate and long-term success of the team and the health of its players. The fans well know that the Bulls are dedicated to the team’s day-to-day success, but first and foremost want to protect the health and well being of its players.
The Bulls have a full and complete understanding of what took place, but, as requested by all parties, will address the attendant issues with the participants after the season is over. At this point, everyone intends to keep focused on the remaining games.
For what it's worth, after tonight's game, Vinny categorically denied that he was the aggressor. His act words were "that's totally innaccurate, totally false." And I believe him. I think it's the Bulls trying to make Vinny look bad and help Paxson and the front office save face, since Vinny's probably on his way out. I don't think it's gonna work though, because no one really believes this "Vinny the aggressor" nonsense. More to come.
And for all you Raptors fans...I'm sorry...but I had to repost this. I especially like the ending...enjoy.
Recaps, previews, NEW TEES...all coming shortly...
The Windy City vs. The Mistake by the Lake... JUST A FEW DAYS AWAY.no comments
This story is slowly getting out of hand. You know what story I'm talking about. The one where the Bulls front office started their own version of Fight Club.
Yesterday, Adrian Wojnarowski broke a story where after a game on March 30th where Vinny Del Negro played Joakim Noah for 27 minutes after a management imposed 25-minute cap, Paxson walked into Del Negro's office and proceeded to grab him by the tie and "jab" him in the chest twice, whatever that means.
"After a loss to the Phoenix Suns on March 30, an irate Paxson walked into the coach’s office at the United Center and confronted Del Negro over a narrow breach of a management-imposed minutes limit on injured forward Joakim Noah. Sources said Paxson first grabbed a hold of Del Negro’s tie and seemingly tried to provoke him with two successive jabs into his chest. Paxson was even heard to angrily challenge Del Negro to a fight.
There were several staff members present, sources said, and assistant coach Bernie Bickerstaff stepped between Paxson and Del Negro and pulled Paxson away.
Sources said Del Negro did not retaliate, mostly out of fear the incident could be used to void his contract without pay or hurt future career opportunities elsewhere. The Bulls have dispatched lawyers to interview witnesses about the incident, sources said."
That's lovely. Apparently Gar and Pax were furious with Vinny stemming back to a game on February 26th where Vinny played Joakim beyond a management-imposed cap. Joakim missed the next 10 games.
But if you thought that was all, you have another thing coming.
JUST TODAY, it is being reported by ESPNChicago that Vinny was the aggressor in the latest incident, and this isn't the first physical altercation in volving Vinny.
"Chicago Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro initiated the physical contact with executive vice president John Paxson during an altercation on March 30 -- contrary to a report that painted Paxson as the aggressor -- a source close to the situation told ESPNChicago.com....
...a source close to the situation disputed [Paxson] initiated that argument, and said that it wasn't the first altercation Del Negro has had with management. The source said that Del Negro and Bulls general manager Gar Forman had an altercation in Forman's office that was similar, but did not give details.
"So this was not the first time [Del Negro] exhibited this behavior," the source said. "[Del Negro] put his own interest ahead of the Bulls."
...The source said when Noah was brought back a second time after the injury, it was made even more clear to Del Negro what Noah's time limit was, but he was allowed to save a minute or two for close games or play Noah for one possession at the end if he had already reached his time limit and the game was close. Those were the only exceptions. And Del Negro looked for "loopholes," the source said."
Good lord. Now Del Negro is the one who's trying to start fights with his GM? This is hard to wrap my head around. I really don't know who and what to believe. It's been reported in the past that Paxson has some anger management issues, and that's part of the reason why he was so stressed out while he was GM and decided to step down. It's still incredibly shocking that he would put his professional career and personal life in jeopardy by going into his head coach's office and trying to bait the coach into a fight. You have to know that something like that will eventually leak to the press, and you only make Vinny, who is a bum of a coach, look like the good guy.
But if Vinny is the one who is starting fights with management, that's just beyond absurd. You are a new coach who is constantly being doubted and usually the butt of any coaching jokes. How could you even consider putting your future in jeopardy by attacking your GM or Head Executive of Basketball Operations. You have to be a mad-man. I can't imagine that Vinny was truly the aggressor, although this ESPN source seems pretty sure of themselves. But Vinny? With everything he lacks in the coaching department, he's handled himself with the utmost respect and professionalism toward management. Period. He comes off as nothing but a classy guy. I can't imagine that he would storm into his GM's office and do this. And more than once for that matter? No way, right? But who really knows what goes on with these guys behind the scenes? You don't really know someone unless you know them. I'll tell you one thing though...the whole fiasco the other night with Joakim Noah playing only 12 seconds combined in two overtimes makes MUCH more sense now.
It's unfortunate that this story leaked at the absolute most crucial point in the Bulls' season. And I certainly hope that it doesn't remain a distraction and detract from their focus. I respect K.C. Johnson for not releasing this story when he found out about it around 3 weeks ago, even though it was his job to do so. He's clearly respects Vinny's and management's privacy, and sometimes the moral high ground takes precedent over breaking a story. That, and he probably wants the Bulls to make the playoffs and distractions could hurt them and stop them from doing so. A TRUE BULLS FAN, K.C. I like it. I'll update as more info leaks, but right now, I really don't know what to believe. I'm leaning toward the Pax as the aggressor story, simply due to how Vinny usually conducts himself, but who really knows...honestly.