Bulls make and keep New Year’s resolution a little early with win over Grizzlies

I’m sure it was Thibs’ idea. That is, to make the New Year’s resolution list just a little bit earlier than everyone else.

Why? Well, desperate times, desperate measures, etc. After Saturday night’s destruction by Dallas, they, we, me, you, everyone. We’ve had about enough.

The title of K.C. Johnson’s (Tribune) article kind of sums it up: Ugly win on road is beautiful for Bulls. He reportedly even heard (wait for it…) laughter in the visitors’ locker room following the game.

There definitely have been a whole lot of laughers this season. But not a lot of laughter.

So it’s a win, no matter how ugly, and more importantly, the victory comes against a Western Conference team. So that’s two Ws against those high-flying offensively-minded teams from Hollywood, etc. You know, the teams with guys named Blake Griffin and KD and such.

I’ll admit, I might have begun penning, or typing this blog a bit too early, because I was going to write about how it’s more of the same. Same story. Different night.

Thibs argues with the refs about the fouls that really shouldn’t have been fouls. Thibs gets a T.

Bulls misunderstand NBA rules and focus on tallying more turnovers than field goals, which they accomplished quite successfully, especially in the first half, with 14 turnovers, just shy of the 17 points they scored in the first quarter.

Somebody’s injured, recovering from injury, caught a flu bug.

To my surprise, despite Jimmy’s ongoing turf toe (I don’t really want to know what it is, or why the word turf is even in there), he led the Bulls’ scoring with 26 points (season high).

Now Jimmy’s my kind of guy. While “brunching” with some of the vets, they told him to have fun. CMO? What? Fun? Too much Memphis BBQ for sure.

And Boozer’s back, with 21 points and his sneaky moves, as the double double (21 points, 10 rebounds) machine chugs along.

Never, never, never give up. And they didn’t. They dug themselves out of any hole they landed in, and even led by 18. When the Grizzlies emerged from their slumber and the double-digit lead had slipped away, our Bulls still found a way to overcome.

The feel-good movie of the year!

Not exactly, but I hope this trend of keeping their New Year’s resolution to win carries well into ’14.

With the win streak at one, the Bulls spend their New Year’s Eve “partying” with the Raptors (Oh Canada!) tonight at the UC.

See Red, Go Bulls and Happy New Year.

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Bulls feel what it’s like to be the Nets, or the Knicks – but without the boos

There are oh so many titles you could give this Bulls Banter blog following the Bulls’ loss to the Mavs last night 105-83.

Can we just replay the Christmas 2013 game and call it a night?

If we can’t wear our Christmas pajamas, we’re not going to play.

Still recovering from the unexpected two-game win streak, Bulls send in proxy – ImposterBulls.

Western Conference? What Western Conference? Get me my contract.

Bulls too busy looking into defensive mirror as Mavs steal their game plan.

Trying to see what it feels like to walk in the other guy’s (Nets, Knicks) shoes, Bulls attempt to get fans to boo, but not even 32-point deficit was enough. Sigh. It sure is boring here in the Midwest.

With UConn women unavailable to give Bulls lesson in winning by double digits, Bulls do the opposite and lose by double digits.

Seeking to set league record for fewest points scored in a game, Bulls successfully enter halftime vs. the Mavs with just 34. Victory is ours!

Dear David Stern: Due to high volume of holiday mail, you must have missed our request to play Eastern Conference teams only, and the Knicks and Nets as much as possible. It’s Saturday, December 28, and the Mavericks are here at the UC. We’re confused. Sincerely, Chicago Bulls.

Bulls saving all of their offense (and defense) for January 4 game when Cinjo’s at the UC.

So there is one little difference between the Bulls and some of those other teams. They actually didn’t give up. In fact, in the fourth quarter, they cut the Mavs’ lead to 14, or some kind of manageable number. I think the crowd might have woken up and a few attendees applauded.

Jo was a beast. But indeed, too little too late.

Jo kinda summed it up. “We didn’t play well. We didn’t play well offensively. We didn’t play well defensively.”

So now our Bulls head to Memphis to play, you guessed it, another Western Conference team. Someone at the NBA League office has really made a big mistake with the schedule.

Or perhaps, it’s cold, harsh reality, which I, for one, am struggling to face. The Bulls are ninth place in a horrible Eastern Conference, in a year when they were meant to win the NBA Title.

So I’m headed to church, for the second time in a week to pray for us all. See, miracles do happen. And we really need more than a few here in BullsLand.

Brooklyn-born Taj Gibson leads Bulls to Christmas victory vs. the Nets

My Christmas wish?

That the Bulls find a way to prevent themselves from being embarrassed on national TV, especially on Christmas.

And my wish came true, in the form of a gift wrapped up as a 95-78 win, with Taj Gibson, Brooklyn-born like me, who led the way in front of his friends and family with a team-high 20 points and a few blocks and slams which would make Blake Griffin jealous.

Here’s what Thibs had to say about Monster Taj: “Taj is playing great because of this: He worked incredibly hard all summer. He’s been, by far, our best practice player. Comes early, stays late, practices hard,” the coach said. “I’m not surprised one bit that he had a great training camp, had a great preseason and he’s gotten off to a terrific start, and I always say this: The magic is in the work. If you work and you practice well, you will play well.”

Other than the stellar performance from Taj, there are so many reasons we could potentially point to, which could explain this unexpected victory.

Christmas miracle.

Nets’ ineptitude.

Bulls wore “pajamas uniforms” in practice for a month to prep. [Read more about the Christmas Day uniform controversy here in Aggrey Sam’s story, Bulls debate short-sleeve Christmas jerseys.]

Bulls refrained from the gourmet menu offered at the Barclays Center.

Thibs changed everyone’s clocks to make it seem like it was a 7 p.m. local time start.

Everyone too worried Nets coach Jason Kidd would employ drink-spilling tactics, so did everything possible to win and escape ASAP.

Obviously, the right answer comes from Coach Thibodeau: “You can’t play well in this league without practicing.” And to read a dissertation, I mean article, focused on Thibs and the importance of practice, Aggrey Sam again has you covered with: Thibodeau, Bulls’ players take different route to same conclusion.

And the Bulls’ balanced scoring, with six players in double figures kind of helps, especially when their #1 player, All Star Luol Deng is still recovering from an injury.

The Nets may have “improved” their roster, increased their payroll by $55 zillion, added former NBA champs and supposed superstars. But it seems like not much has changed since the Bulls eliminated them from the first round of the playoffs last year.

They just don’t seem to have too much heart.

And when it comes to our Bulls, heart sets them apart.

The win streak is underway, and stands at two, and the rise to the middle or almost top of the Eastern Conference starts now.

I wish the Nets improvement as well, otherwise, we’ll have to watch the Pacers play the Trailblazers on Christmas Day next year.

See Red, and Go Bulls!

Chicago Bulls return, ImposterBulls dispatched to Z League

Bulls win! Bulls win!

I wasn’t sure if and when it was ever going to happen, but last night at the UC, they managed to not only score 100 points, they did so with a season high 53.6 shooting percentage, beating the Cleveland Cavaliers.

And since the fans at the UC receive a free Big Mac when the Bulls score 100, it was a festive and happy night in BullsLand. The crowd probably never thought they’d get a free Big Mac ever again.

At the start of the season, would you ever have guessed that rookie Tony Snell (aka Tony Tony Tony) would be a starter, and score 17 as the Bulls embark on their win streak? And this Rookie to the Rescue received the highest praise from Thibs.

“I love the way Tony played,” Thibodeau said. “He didn’t force anything. He shot when he was open. He passed when he was guarded. He competed defensively. That probably was his best game as a pro.”

See what can happen when you live in the gym and survive on a diet of drills and tape?

The newest member of the team, D.J. Augustin has jumped right in and has taken over for Lu as the minutes leader. No rest until 1:36 left. He scored 18 and added 10 assists, a double double.

Not exactly what anyone envisioned as the Bulls began their 2013-2014 championship run.

Thibs: “Like I said all along, I have great belief in this team, great belief in this team.”

Indeed, so do I, but just in case additional help is needed, at yesterday’s basketball practice, I learned how to rebound, and created a new position, which I believe will be a great complement to what the Bulls are already doing.

It’s the NMSG – non-moving shooting guard. I’m pretty fierce when I can stand in one spot on the court, just outside the paint and shoot jumpers. Just don’t make me run, and please, don’t defend me. You interested Thibs? I promise, I can give you two good minutes.

So now it’s on to Brooklyn for what we hope is a Christmas miracle as the Bulls face the Brooklyn Nets for an 11 a.m. CST start. Ouch. We know our vampire Bulls have a difficult time in general, but if the game doesn’t start at 7 or 7:30 p.m. local time, well, it’s like that book “When Bad Things Happen to Good People.”

You hate to see a player out for the season, but I’ll admit, I am feeling a twinge of gratefulness that the playing field is at least a bit more level since the Nets lost Brook Lopez for the season.

Merry Christmas, and See Bulls Red!

Jo – All Star, leading scorer, actor and now PR man…

In what’s becoming less of a surprise and more of an everyday or every night occurrence, our Bulls lost to the Thunder on Thursday. Sigh. Again.

I was at a holiday dinner at BellyQ with my pals Lola and Sonal, so I missed the first half. Evidently, in the course of that timeframe, Luol was scratched from the starting lineup (Achilles) and Jimmy managed to sprain his ankle.

I’m glad I was at BellyQ, which, incidentally, in keeping with the Bulls Banter theme here…is located in the building which used to house the restaurant one sixtyblue, owned in part by Michael Jordan.

So to sum up where we are with Bulls players

DRose – out

Luol – out

Jimmy Gets Buckets – out

Captain Kirk – out

Taj Gibon – about to be out due to wrist sprain

So DRose’s backup (Kirk Hinrich) is out, and his backup is DJ Augustin, who the Bulls signed less than a week ago. Welcome to the Bulls, my friend! You interested in playing 48 minutes a night, a la Luol?

Rumor has it that the backup to the backup to the backup point guard, Mike James, who they let go on Monday is coming back…and Marquis Teague, who they tried to send to the D League one Tuesday morning is backing up all backups. He, of course, was recalled the same day he was sent away because Mike James, who was still with the team at the time had a bad knee (or, just insert another injury here…).

Marquis earned his money that day just taking the commuter flight from CHI to Iowa (done it, and it’s neither a pretty nor a smooth trip).

Despite these challenges, the Bulls actually stayed in the game against KD and company, and for a while there…wait, hold on…it seemed as if they could tie the game.

Ah, but that would be too much. A win, and on national TV no less?

Joakim, in an effort to take on a new role in Bulls public relations, successfully managed to deflect all conversation about the Bulls and their downward spiral of a season when he got tossed out of OKC’s locker room by Thunder player Kendrick Perkins – Perkins, Noah exchange words.

This, of course, builds upon his acting career, as evidenced in two recent commercials: NBA ESPN Thinking Out Loud in Sleep and BMO Harris Weekend.

Oh, and about the OKC game. Jo was his usual All Star self, leading all Bulls with 23 points, and adding in 12 rebounds. Indeed, yet another double double.

It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog. But we could use more than a few healthy dogs in order to win the fight.

See Red, and Go Bulls!

Top 10 Reasons Why Bulls are Struggling (Unofficial Version)

10. Only player who has consistently attended Cinjo’s layup clinics is Murph. Who? Erik Murphy, one of the rookies. He doesn’t really play. Oh…

9. Thibs too busy interviewing for Knicks head coaching job.

8. Neither Jo nor Jimmy can concentrate given the recent notoriety resulting from their starring roles in the commercial Weekend.

7. Overwhelmed and overworked given number of bad games and plays he has to splice together, the staff member responsible for all of “Thibs tapes” quits.

6. Playing Bulls body doubles until All-Star break, when “real” Bulls return to win remaining games, ascending to #3 in Eastern Conference.

5. Too many nights hanging with DRose at his penthouse in the Trump Tower leaves no time for sleep.

4. Trying to win record for team to score less than 80 points the greatest number of times in one season.

3. Someone misplaced the cones, so cannot do any drills at practice.

2. Nate Robinson put an “I told you so” spell on the Bulls since he’s still bitter about being traded.

1. Intentionally failing miserably so Thibs eventually has no other choice than to meet team’s demand to add Cinjo to the lineup.

In all seriousness, all I’m hoping for is improvement. OK, vast improvement. But at this stage, just a win. A win by one point, or a half point.

And please, please, let’s not be embarrassed on national TV, tonight, or tomorrow.

Go Bulls!

Oh Canada…

So while the Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks were up in Toronto getting blown out, yes blown out 7-3 by the Toronto Maple Leafs, our Bulls took the rap from none other than the visiting Toronto Raptors. Indeed, another loss, this time by 22 points! And the Bulls didn’t even manage to score 80 points in the 99-77 fiasco.

I don’t like Canada so much anymore.

It’s time for a team meeting, which seems to have started, post-game in the locker room by none other than Jo.

“[Losing] also shows people’s true colors. Who’s willing to keep fighting through the adversity or who’s going to say, ‘You know what? I don’t want any part of this and I’m just going to take bad shots and just not care at all about making winning plays and playing defense,’ and things like that. So everybody has to stick together, everybody has to jell and keep fighting together.”

“I think everybody will [keep fighting]. That’s the makeup of this team. Everybody has high character,” he said. “It’s tough to lose, but it’s all about how you deal with adversity.

“No excuses. But I know that we’re capable of a lot better than that. We can’t get frustrated. Our effort has to be a lot better to play winning basketball. But it’s going to come,” Noah continued. “I felt like our effort was good in spurts, but not throughout the game, not as good as it has to be to win a basketball game, so that’s disappointing. We don’t say that too much. But we’ve just got to keep grinding and get better.”

Yeah, what he said.

Here’s what another co-captain, or tri-captain, whatever, here’s what Luol said.

“I’m definitely confident. I think we’re going through it right now, up and down, guys getting hurt. We’ve had seasons here where everybody was healthy and at the end of the year, everybody got hurt. So hopefully this year, it’s the other way around. We’ve just got to stay positive. I think we’re going to get better as the year goes on. Hopefully guys can stay healthy. It’s a long season and we’ve learned in the past that it’s really who’s the healthiest team and the team who has the best rhythm at the end of the year, most of the time, that’s who’s going to win it.”

“You’ve got to be an example. Guys are looking at you. You’ve got to be positive. You’ve just got to talk to guys and just staying positive and sticking with it, it’s not always going to go your way, but being on both sides, the winning side and the losing side, you’ve just got to stick with it. When things aren’t going your way, you work harder and try to get things right. You can’t just let it beat you up. Whether you get in the gym, watch film, try harder and harder until you get it right.”

So it’s back to the gym, and to watching tape, and to imploring the basketball gods for mercy. It appears that the Devil is not a Bulls fan.

On the upside, I had considered attending the game, to build on this winter’s Canadian theme I started with the Thanksgiving trip to Toronto. So in retrospect, I guess it’s fortuitous that I got a nasty flu bug and couldn’t make it. And that’s about the only silver lining to this entire disaster.

Or, perhaps I was just hallucinating, and the nightmare I thought I saw was really just a feverish dream.

Eagerly awaiting the return of our real Bulls, and anxious to say au revoir to the ImposterBulls.

Monster Jo leads Bulls to Finals Win

Wait, hold on, it wasn’t an NBA Finals win?

Oh, so it was the Eastern Conference Finals?

It was neither. The Bulls simply won a regular season game against the worst team in the league (Milwaukee), and you woulda thought they won it all.

I seem to be saying it every game, but they needed this win!

“Joakim was a monster throughout the game,” Thibodeau said afterward.

Jo was everywhere. It was as if he has had just about enough. The emotional leader had indeed been in a funky slump since DRose was lost for the season.

You saw glimpses of Jo greatness, the energy, enthusiasm, hustle and never-say-die attitude in the last few outings, but then he missed the last Milwaukee game with an injury. And Jo was none too pleased that the bottom feeders took a game from the Bulls at the UC.

Fast forward four days to “United Center North” (the Bradley Center in Milwaukee), where Bulls fans outnumber Bucks fans, and the place is maybe 2/3s full.

Jo lit it up: 21 points, 18 rebounds, five assists, three blocks and three steals.

As the leader goes, so goes the team.

Jimmy Butler returned (hallelujah), and scored 16 points. Hinrich found a way out of his slump, and added 13. Boozer, aka Mr. Consistent, with a double double (again), and 14 points.

And what can you say about Mike Dunleavy Jr. “Don’t leave me open Mike,” with 12 points. But most importantly, he hits the 3-pointer to win the game.

By the way Stacey King called it, and by the way the guys on the bench stormed the floor and practically put Dunleavy on their shoulders, you woulda thought they won the whole thing!

Hey, it’s a W, and it’s a W the Bulls really needed. So they advance to seventh place in the Eastern Conference, and with a win tonight vs. the Raptors, and a Bobcats loss, they move up to six. Sadly, I’m spending way too much time monitoring the Eastern Conference standings…

Things are sure looking a lot better here in Bulls Land than they did just two days ago.

Quotable quotes:

Noah: “We’ve been through a lot. When you are playing shorthanded every game it’s a battle. It’s never easy. Just got to keep fighting, stay strong and tonight the basketball gods were on our side.”

Butler: “Jo was phenomenal. He’s huge and does so much that doesn’t show up, deflections, big stops, being a great leader.”

Thibs: “We had a lot of guys step up. They have great belief. I think you need to have that. We can’t get comfortable; we’ve got to fight, scratch, endure and keep battling. And if we keep doing the right things we’re going to have a chance to win. Now as we start getting players back, I like our team. I like our team a lot.”

See Red and Go Bulls! Beat the Raptors.

In the heart of NYC, the Bulls show more heart, but it wasn’t enough

Heart alone doesn’t win you games. But it sure did make a big difference, as the Bulls rallied with a series of steals and scores late in the third. For a quarter there, we had a game!

During the second, I thought I would have to write that Thibs decided to tank the team, because nothing was going right.

It’s been difficult for your faithful Bulls blogger to get up for writing about these losses, just like it’s hard for our guys to get up for playing a team like the Milwaukee Bucks.

But sigh, they lost to them too, on Tuesday, a battle of bad. And by bad, I mean bad, not, well good.

I keep wondering how the winning teams, the likes of OKC, the Pacers, Heat and Spurs would fare playing night in and night out with one starter, maybe two. Hmmm.

When Carlos Boozer is your healthiest player and Mike Dunleavy, Jr. is your leading scorer, well, that kind of says it all. Not an ideal Bulls world. The Bulls really don’t have enough to win with right now, but reinforcements, and a new player (D.J. Augustin) will arrive soon…and I promise you, they’ll be back to their winning ways.

Remember, I set a goal to attend a playoff game this year, and I will, let’s just hope the Bulls can make it into slot 4 or 5 to avoid the you know who’s. [Hint, one team is made up of giants, and the others are Hollywood.]

For once, it was nice to be on the other side of a meltdown at Madison Square Garden, just wish the Bulls found a way to make enough baskets to get the W.

So it’s Thrill-waukee for another chance at the bottom feeding Bucks on Friday (away at United Center North), and then Saturday vs. Toronto at home, and yours truly could find her way to that game…it’ll be a gametime decision.

Have Heart. See Red, and Go Bulls!

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