T is for Thanksgiving, Taj, Tony (who?), Toronto, trades and turkey

They’re back! The Bulls handily defeated the Pistons last night, 99 to 79, thanks to the stellar performances of Taj Gibson, who scored a career-high 23 points, and Tony Snell (he’s one of the rookies, and started in his second game), who added 13. That was also a career high.

Bulls blogger Sam Smith tweeted, “Tony Snell moves into the rookie of the year conversation with eight points in the last four minutes. Conversation is: ‘Who is that guy?’”

There are times, especially during the playoffs, when you hear the Bulls, and other NBA teams, and I guess, teams in any sport say – “We really needed that win.”

This was not a nice to have. It was essential. Essential to enabling the Bulls to move on, and to helping them remember just how good they are – when they work together collectively.

And it’s not by accident that Taj and Tony lit it up. Sam Smith reported in his latest blog that Taj had his own shooting practice at a gym in the Detroit area after the Bulls arrived Tuesday night. And Thibs, in the post-game press conference said Tony doesn’t even leave the UC on the days the Bulls practice and play there. Thibs is in heaven.

And what can you say about Luol? Yes, there’s a reason the trade rumors are swirling. He had 27 points last night, and is averaging 24.3 in the last three games. Lieutenant Deng is not only one of the most talented guys in the NBA, he’s an amazing person and it setting all kinds of Bulls records in his tenth year.

And, with DRose’s injury, he could be in the running for the player with the most minutes/game again.  CSNBullsInsider Aggrey Sam tweeted Lu held a finger up to Thibs. Thibs, “You’re tired?” Looked shocked, then subbed in Dunleavy. Sam Smith tweeted, “Deng gets a minute and a half to rest and back in. Apparently rested when he began crawling toward the bench asking for water.”

Sam Smith says it all better than I ever could in another blog, called, Where would the Bulls have been without Luol Deng?

Although Jo’s name doesn’t start with the letter T, he’s not going to get left out. He’s back. The energy, jump hooks, rebounding, hustle plays, and yes , even his smile. It was great to see the Bulls’ two All-Stars, Jo and Lu smiling on the bench in the final quarter when they knew we could all drive home safely, victorious.

So, I’m thankful for this win, and so happy to see our Bulls get their mojo back. So all of us can enjoy turkey today even more. I’m headed to Toronto to celebrate, even though it’s not Thanksgiving there. And no, the Bulls aren’t playing the Raptors. I guess it just wasn’t cold enough for me here in CHI.

Might not be able to catch the Bulls defeat the Cavs on Saturday night, so everyone, please watch for me.

And remember, See Red, Go Bulls, and Gobble Gobble!

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The first day of the rest of the season

Making their way back toward CHI, the Bulls stopped in their final west coast destination, Utah, to face the worst team in the league – all that Jazz.

Playing at high altitudes, the Bulls reached a new all-time low, successfully losing to the Jazz, and establishing another streak, four losses in a row, for the first time in Thibs’ time with the Bulls.

All I could keep thinking while I tried to watch the game was, “I didn’t sign up for this.”

Thibs, on the sidelines, usually flailing, ranting and raving, wasn’t acting like himself. No animation (well, except at the end of the game…). He joined the Bulls to coach DRose and a championship team. A cruel joke indeed, that DRose has played 49 games in the last three years.

The rest of the players, those who have been there a while, the rooks, Dunleavy, everybody – were playing for Championship #7, with DRose as the centerpiece.

And little did the fans in Utah know that in lieu of seeing DRose perform his super-human heroics, they would have to settle for booing their former Utah Jazz player, Carlos Boozer. Hmmm, so, booing doesn’t end in NYC – it carries over even to a supposed religious town like SLC? Wonders never cease.

And DRose certainly didn’t sign up for this.

There are a lot of T words you can associate with Coach Thibodeau. Terror. Technical. Tenacious. And most of all, Tape.

But no one is taking a ride on the “Tanking” machine in ThibsWorld. There’s already a lot of talk about making up some injuries for the starters…having them sit, to ensure losing lots of games, missing the playoffs and getting some kind of higher lottery pick to help secure one of those top guys in the draft. I don’t exactly understand it all…but

Hold on, without trying, the Bulls are pretty good at getting injured all by themselves (note Jimmy Butler is still in a walking boot and can’t put weight on his foot), and as of late, we’ve seen a lot of success with losing games. I guess the plan is already in effect.

Seriously, Thibs will not tank this team…they will win games, they will make the playoffs, and we’ll all enjoy an exciting, although, at times, less than artistic season.

I wanted to point out that fellow Bulls blogger (OK, he IS the Bulls’ blogger, and me, well, I’m a different kind of Bulls blogger) tweeted this intro to his latest blog last night, “The Bulls leave the UC for the circus and end up basically in their own version.”

Wait a minute, Sam, that’s my intellectual property – I already used that one several days ago before the DRose fiasco. Chalk it up to great minds.

Here’s what our guys are saying:

“It’s never the right time for someone to get hurt,” said Deng, who had 24 points and 10 rebounds in the loss. “But on the road, it’s been a circus. You turn on the TV, it’s about Derrick, it’s about the Bulls. There’s so much going on. Honestly, you don’t even want to watch TV.”

“I think the last two nights we looked like a tired team,” said Kirk Hinrich, who suffered a hard hit in the face and early fears, unfounded, of a broken nose which was black and blue by game’s end. “The games are going to keep coming. We’ve just got to figure it out.”

“We’ve just got to keep grinding,” said Boozer, still booed back where he played most of his career in Salt Lake City. “We’re a hard working group of guys. We’re going to continue to fight. You (media) guys know that. Tonight was a hard fought game. It came down to the wire. They scored more points in overtime. That’s what it came down to.

“We’ve got to snap out of it,” said Noah. “We’re human. We’re disappointed with the way we’re playing and everything that’s going on. I personally have to snap out of it and be a better leader. It’s a tough blow. We lost our best player for the year. But you know we have lots of guys here who are very capable players. We just have to play with more fire.”

And, Thibs, sums it up, with what we have to hope and believe, as the Bulls began day 1 of year 2 without DRose: “We’re capable of doing better and we will.”

See Red, and Go Bulls! It’s gotta get better from here.

This changes everything, or at least, almost everything

It all changed, again on Friday night, for DRose, his Bulls, and me and you, the fans.

Again, the Bulls find themselves without the cornerstone of the team. And the pursuit of championship #7, which was going to have been none too easy with DRose at the helm. Well, it just got a whole lot more difficult.

The pundits are now talking of a major implosion. This was to have been the last chance for the core – D, Luol, Jo and Carlos…and we’ll likely never seem them play together again.

Heartbreaking? In my book yes. Sad, mad, disappointed, frustrated. That’s how I feel. And I’m just on the sidelines, taking my place on the couch or in the stands as their #1 fan.

Cannot even imagine how DRose is feeling…here we go again! Surgery, rehab, questions from the media, the fans, letting the team down.

Whatever game may have taken place yesterday afternoon out in Hollywood doesn’t count. They re-start today, and thankfully, they made it out of Lob City and now face a team that you could say is even more down on their luck than our Bulls (all that Jazz).

What’s different this time is that they weren’t prepared. Take DRose out of the mix, and without the likes of Nate the Great or Marco B, well, it’s a different ball game.

“We’re the Chicago Bulls. We have one goal, and that’s to win. And I believe we can”

That’s what Thibs says, and I understand the first part, and I believe the second part, but when it comes to the third part, I’m not quite there yet – without DRose, that is.

As mentioned earlier, DRose’s injury is the start in what is sure to cause a big old domino effect. These Bulls as we know them and love them – well, it’s the end of their road, and potentially Thibs’ too.

But here’s what won’t change. True Bulls fans like you and me will continue to support them, we’ll keep watch the games, write our blogs, head to the United Center, and jump on the Bulls bandwagon.

Excuse me while I mourn just a little bit, as the reality hasn’t sunken in yet. Although I did hit the court this morning, and learned a spin move at practice on Saturday. I, like DRose and the rest of the team must fight on and play on.

More than basketball

This post was to have been about the fact that it looks like the Bulls have nowhere near enough to win with (excuse the grammar), after the third quarter meltdown vs. the Blazers.

Now, instead of being mad, I’m just sad.

Sad for Derrick, his team, me, you, the NBA. I can’t imagine how he’s feeling, to face this again.

I didn’t realize how serious his injury was when I retreated unhappily to my bed again, and was just excited about starting basketball lessons with my coach again today, so I can step in to help our Bulls.

Forget all that.

Prayers for DRose are all that matters. That it’s just a minor injury and he’ll be back ASAP.

This is more than basketball, oh so much more, and the news has quieted his #1 fan.

Altitude, basket covers, Nate the Great, ejections – it’s a circus!

The Bulls (and Blackhawks) were sent away from their UC home to make room for the circus.

When I was a kid, I used to love going to the circus, at Madison Square Garden, and before we left the house Mom used to make hot dogs. Don’t know why I remember that, and not sure why it matters…

But I’d rather talk about anything but the Bulls’ forgettable performance in Denver last night, even if it means reminiscing about my childhood.

The idea was to escape the circus, not create one of your own. The basket covers were up for Luol Deng the whole night, and for the rest of the team here and there.

You can blame it on the altitude, or the basket covers, or Taj Gibson being ejected, but a few minutes into the fourth, when Nate hit to two threes and Thibs got the technical. Well, I knew those were the signs.

It was time for me to make my way to cozy bed. It’s hard to believe that the Bulls weren’t able to snap their 7-loss streak against the Nuggets (at home) purely by me watching from my couch.

No, they need more than that, but with Jimmy Buckets out, Thibs unable to call the rookies because he forgot their names, and the league’s failure to move this away game to Toronto, as requested – it really was quite a show. But definitely not the greatest show on earth.

I liked Nate a lot more when he played for our Bulls, and I liked the Bulls a lot more when they were making a win run, not this kind of run.

Silver linings – Noah almost had a triple double, DRose was close to the DRose we know and love, Boozer, well, he was Boozer.

And besides, it could be way, way, way worse – we could be the Knicks or the Nets, all tied up for second from the basement in the Eastern Conference. I’d rather be the Bulls…

…at least until tonight in Portland, as they face #2 in the West, the Portland Trailblazers, who have their own 8-game win streak underway. The Bulls will have to get back to their streak-busting ways, there’s no other way around this one. Oh, and I just looked it up, and the last time our Bulls won in Portland was on Feb. 3, 2007. Umm, that was almost six years ago.

They’ve got room on the roster now, so it seems like it’s time they work out EBC’s star shooting guard, Cindy Joy “Cinjo” Olsen, as I’m not sure what else can save them. Perhaps Benny the Bull should have made the trip. Well, at least it’s back to normal elevations, and hopefully, someone removes the basket covers.

See Red, and Go Bulls! Beat the Blazers.

No one ever said this was gonna be pretty

And I double checked, and I can’t find a column for “pretty” in the box score (sadly, I find myself reviewing that thing after every game now). So no matter how ugly, we’ll take the win as the longest win streak in the Eastern Conference continues, with our Bulls at five.

DRose tends to agree, “Winning takes care of everything – every category, every area. As long as we’re winning, I’m fine.”

I agree. I’m fine with last night’s 86 to 81 victory over the Bobcats.

When the Bulls don’t seem to “show up,” neither do the fans. I think it’s louder in most libraries than it was at the UC.

Mayor Emmanuel, Yao Ming, Scottie Pippen and David Stern’s replacement were at the game with a Chinese delegation. Not sure how much this game says about the Bulls and Chicago except – we’re sluggish, unenthusiastic and boring. Sigh. Until the fourth quarter, that is.

All that aside, on the upside, all of the starters were in double figures, and Jimmy Buckets took over where DRose left off against Indiana in the three-point department. OK, so he made two of two, but I was pretty excited about it, until he hurt his toe and left the game.

I will give those pesky Bobcats credit. They lived up to their wikipedia description last night: “The bobcat hunts animals of different sizes, and will adjust its hunting techniques accordingly.”

And they wouldn’t go away. Finally, MJ has put together a close-to-winning combo, with a Thibodeau pal and defensive-minded coach this Steve Clifford. And there’s assistant coach Patrick Ewing, and although I never liked him too much as a player when he showed up to face our Bulls, that was just because he was too good.

The Bobcats will cause the Bulls, and others some trouble, but for now, the winning team won, no matter how ugly, boring or lackluster it may have been.

“Sometimes you have to find different ways to win,” Thibodeau said. “We showed a lot of toughness down the stretch.”

Jo said, “Nah, it’s all good that we won, but we’ve got to keep it real with ourselves. We’ve got to play better. It’s not easy to win in this league. They’re [Charlotte] playing a lot better. It was a tough, tough game, but it was encouraging that we stuck together and we fought hard,” he explained. “We’re happy we won, but obviously we have a lot of work to do.”

Per Lu, “I’ve said it before: I think every game is going to be a different story and the sign of a good team is finding a way to win. We have enough weapons that when some guys don’t have it going, other guys can pick it up. But every game is going to be a different story and as the season goes on, we will be in a situation like this again and this game will come in handy.”

Don’t they all sound like pages out of the Tom Thibodeau book of quotations?

A win’s a win, especially when it brings you to within one win of the Heat in the standings.

So it’s on to the west coast circus trip, a land where the high elevations and the “Hollywood” of it all doesn’t always treat our Bulls too well.

And where this fan has to stay up until (horrors) midnight to watch the games live. It might be replay city for the next few weeks.

Next game, 9:30 p.m. CST on Thursday vs. the Denver Nuggets (and former Bull and last season’s playoff hero Nate the Great Robinson), followed by the west coast streaking Trailblazers on Friday. Let’s hope both of these are way prettier than last night.

See Red, and Go Bulls!

Who you gonna call? Streak-busters

All streaks stop in Chi-town. At the UC to be exact.

I think the Bulls scored more three-pointers (11) in this game than they did during all of last year’s regular season. While I wish my life’s theme song were, “It’s raining men,” I guess the closest I may get is the Bulls’ “It’s raining 3s.”

For now, I’ll take the 3s and worry about the men later.

Doing a quick calculation, 11 X 3 = 33. So, that’s about 1/3 of the total 110 points the Bulls scored in the game. Pinch me, I’m dreaming.

Oh Paul George, do you now see the error of your ways? You shouldn’t have said, “[The Bulls’] success is the Michael Jordan era. This is a new age, this is a new team. It’s ours till they take it.”

So everything went right for the Bulls. Remember last season, when sometimes, I would rather have been at the dentist than watch a game? And I HATE the dentist.

But you wondered where they’d find somebody, anybody to score. Benny the Bull, the ball boys, Neil and Stacey – all could have made baskets more easily than our Bulls.

Last night, the stars aligned, the basketball gods looked on our Bulls and smiled, and all of the covers were lifted off the baskets. Other than the third-quarter lull and a small shower of 3s from the Pacers’ Copeland, it all went right.

Deng with 23, DRose with 20, including six three-pointers. Taj, aka “The Secretary of Defense” with 15. Boozer and Captain Kirk with 13 apiece, and Jimmy “The Butler Did It” with 10, along with Dunleavy

In the post-game, Thibs said the first half was “terrific.” I think I fainted there for a minute.

So the pretenders are being put in their place now – the Nets and Knicks are all tied up third from the basement.

The Pacers have been shown who really owns the Central Division.

Miami, we’re catching up to you, and the Bulls now hold the longest win streak (4) in the Eastern Conference.

Seeking to uncover reasons for the Pacers’ incompetence, Sam Smith tweeted, “…travel to the Central time zone and time change leaving them disoriented.”

We know the true reason for their loss.

Our Bulls have arrived. It may have taken a little bit longer than expected, but watch out world.

See Red, and Go Bulls!

Bulls petition league for alteration to road schedule

The Bulls hereby formally and solemnly request to play all of their road games at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto vs. the Raptors.

No more Madison Square Garden, Staples Center, Bradley Center, Boston Garden (or whatever it’s called now), Barclays Center, American Airlines Arena.

Air Canada Centre, S’il vous plait.

It got so bad for the poor Raptors, the lone Canadian team, that the fans were booing. I guess they take their cues from Knicks fans. Andrea Bargnani can’t escape it. No matter where he goes, it’s boos.

I’ll admit, I actually started to feel a little badly about the way the lowly Raptors, with UConn alum Rudy Gay were getting dismantled by the Bulls. The feeling subsided when I remembered that the Raptors beat the Bulls good, real good last season, I want to say at least twice…but I’ve already erased the memory.

Most encouraging about the game? Hard to choose between…

Jo is officially back, racking up 18 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists and a steal. There were a lot of tweets from the Sam Smiths and Nick Friedells of the world about a rare occurrence – Thibs was seen clapping.

Chirping? Crying? Chiding? No, clapping, for Jo, every time he scored.

Kirky Wirky (sp?) aka Captain Kirk ran the team like he did last year, with confidence, getting everyone involved, and bringing a sense of calmness and stability to the game.

But then on the other end of the floor – the defense. Yowza. I think the word is stifling. In the first half, the Raptors couldn’t get a shot anywhere anytime anyhow. One word to describe them – flustered. Although, DeRozan found in way in the second half…

Balanced scoring again, with all starters in double figures.

Tonight, the Bulls are set to continue their home win streak, and reprise their role as streak-busters. Last year, they ended Miami’s 27 games and the Knicks’ 13.

Tonight at the UC, DRose or no DRose, it’s the streak-busting Bulls on the case once again, with the Pacers going home 9-1.

See Red, and Go Bulls.

Bulls head to mini training camp

The reward for their 15-point victory over the Cavs?

Thibs is holding a mini training camp. With three days off until the next game (away at Toronto – we know what that means. It’s a good thing I just got my passport renewed. I might be needed).

But seriously, with three days off, what else would one do but suffer through, I mean participate in a Thibs camp?

During the post-game press conference, Thibs claimed that was the plan, but other sources report this morning that the Bulls get a day off, then two days of practice.

So back to the game.

Reports say that DRose’s fourth quarter injury was just a hamstring strain, and he’ll be good to go vs. the Raptors. Phew.

What you have to love about the Bulls’ performance last night is equilibrium is being restored.

1.) DRose is beginning to dominate once again.

2.) Balanced scoring, with all starters in double figures.

3.) Mike “3-point” Dunleavy did what he was hired to do – made 3-pointers, etc., adding 15 points.

4.) Turnovers down to 11, and 0 for the MVP.

5.) Bulls crawl up to #6 in the Eastern conference…so much better than last week’s third from the basement.

6.) Cinjo dozes off during the third quarter.

It feels good to be back on track, and although it’s no 55-point victory (ala UConn women) – we’ll take it.

And while the Bulls are at camp, we all best rest up for three nights of basketball in four days – Friday-Raptors; Saturday-Giants aka Pacers; Monday-Bobcats.

See Red, and Go Bulls!

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