It’s the NBA, and anything can happen

Last night (Wednesday), the Bulls beat the Warriors 103 to 83, the Cavs beat the Thunder, and the Nets lost by 44 to the Trail Blazers.

In other news, pigs flew, it was 60 degrees in Chicago, I balanced my checkbook and also assembled some furniture I bought from IKEA without dialing 911.

When it comes to our Bulls, Captain Kirk and his defensive moves held Steph Curry to five points, and the other half of the Splash Brothers, Klay Thompson only had eight. LOL.

Not to be boastful, but none of the Warriors’ starters scored in double figures. Contrast that to the Bully Bullys, with Dunleavy, Boozer, JB and Taj with double digit scoring.

To say that the victory was satisfying is an understatement. Hey, I’m pretty good too, as a non-moving shooting guard. As are many of these West Coast players, when no one contests them.

When the Warriors trounced the Bulls on a West Coast trip about which we’d prefer to disavow all knowledge, and which was on too late so I couldn’t watch anyway – evidently – Curry scored 34.

Payback time.

Taj described Kirk as relentless. “Kirk set the tone with his pressure and tenacity,” Joakim Noah said.

“He gives you that toughness all the time,” Thibodeau said. “That’s why I always say with Kirk: You can never measure his true value by statistics. He sets the tone for the team with his defense and ball pressure.”

And the fact that the Bulls won handily, by 20 points, with a total of 103, which is the Warriors’ season average. Well, this stuff just makes me way too happy.

On a lighter note, in this must-see video, Arena Link: Joakim Noah February 26, 2014, Jo talks about Kirk’s dominance in the Warriors win, and discusses his own nickname, “Stick Stickity,” which Shaq said he’s going to take worldwide. Jo also covers playing in the Polar Vortex (CHI), where, evidently, there’s lots of adversity.

Tomorrow night (Friday) the Bulls take their two-game win streak to Dallas, and I’m a little nervous because I’ll be out for a steak dinner and unable to watch the game until the second half. Let’s hope the Bulls can win one without me.

See Red!

Go Bulls!

No One Ever Said This Was Gonna Be Pretty – Part 29

The Bulls defeated the not-so-hot Hotlanta Hawks last night, 107 to 103, as those pretenders are being put back in their place.

This one was the opposite of pretty. Yes, downright ugly, and in this part 29, in honor of Jo’s 29th birthday, we saw lots of mistakes, mis-steps, bad inbound passes, stepping out of bounds, throwing the ball to a teammate on the bench. You name it, it happened.

But remember, this is the East. Yes, I know what you’re thinking – the records are just as ugly as the play. I’ve been trying to think of a pretty “finesse” team from our beloved Eastern Conference. Now just leave the 76ers and Bucks out of it. But would you call the Nets and/or their play pretty? The Cavs? Wait, I thought of one. The Magic. Big Baby Davis is gone, so will they be beautifying now?

Maybe Melo and his 40-60 points/night and the allure of MSG and Spike Lee and the upgraded menu and star sightings make the Knicks the pretty team. But they never really win, so…

When you’re with the Bulls, you trade your Prada for a lunch pail and your Dior for a hard hat.

The bottom line – the Bulls got the W, and both Thibs and the Hawks’ coach, Bud somebody used about 7 guys each. Budman actually spent significant time on the floor during the game in Q4, so they seemed to really have used 8 players.

With Lu long gone, Jimmy with his rib issue and Thibs refusing to play anyone named Murph or Toko, he decided to employ an effective and reasonable strategy of leaving Dunleavy in for 47:51 minutes. I’m sure he’ll have fresh legs tonight when the Bulls are at the UC to play Golden State.

Dunleavy joked about thanking Thibodeau for “resting” him for the final nine seconds of the first half: “That made a big difference.”

After seeing that, Jimmy is going to have to claim some of his other ribs hurt too. Bad. Real bad.

When it comes down to it, I don’t care how pretty is was. The Bulls won, on Jo’s birfday, and double figure scoring for everyone (except Big Naz). And while D.J. had a rough shooting night, as Thibs likes to say, “there’s other things you can do.” I think D.J.’s buzzer-beater counts. And if you ever lack enthusiasm, just listen to Stacey on this call, and you will have no choice but to feel at least a tad bit more enthusiastic.

Bulls win!

See Red!

Beat the Warriors!

I take offense to being called offensively challenged

It was looking winnable there at halftime, all tied up at 40-40.  Then, in the third, Things Fall Apart. It pains me to type this…Bulls lose to the Heat 79 to 93.

I have a question.

How come every time those other guys (the Heat) trot down to their end of the court, they get a basket, and every time our Bulls run down to their side of the court, one of two things ensues:

1.) Somebody misses a basket.

2.) The group manages to commit a shot clock violation.

The Bulls have watched way too much USA Men’s hockey over the past few days. Fellas, the goal is to get points on the board, not keep the score as close to zero as possible.

It just shows you how vulnerable our Bulls are. D.J. had an off day, and we’ve come to depend on his 20+ points/game. JB usually chips in about 15+, and he’s recovering from the rib contusion. Boozer only had eight.

Thibs played eight guys, and Nazr was only in for four minutes.

I don’t even want to think about what would happen if Jo got hurt. Maybe this is what Bulls management had in mind when they set out to tank.

But the team, Thibs and his staff will have none of that.

While the crew was probably looking forward to a night on the town in South Beach, not sure they’ll feel like partying anyway, so its on to not-so-hot-Hotlanta, where let’s hope they get a win.

Hey, at least we can count on two Sunday wins in the near future:

1.) Bulls vs. Knicks at the UC noon next Sunday. Why? Do I have to state the obvious? It’s the Knicks.

2.) Bulls vs. Heat at the UC Sunday, March 9. Why? Cinjo will be in the house doing some first-hand research for Bulls Banter. A win is a given.

While I worry about the lack of offense, one thing for certain is clear. The Bulls have grit. They’ll be back, just you watch.

See Red!

Go Bulls!

Bulls streaking their way to Hollywood

Or, perhaps, more correctly put, it’s Bulls take win streak to Hollywood (Miami) when they head to South Beach for Sunday’s nationally televised game vs. the Heat.

Oh, so many firsts, and oh so many achievements during last night’s victory versus the Denver Nuggets.

The Bulls enter the game injury-free (other than DRose), although they wouldn’t finish the game that way…Bulls manage to score 69 points in the first half alone…a season high, and more than they typically score in an entire game…the team is now 4 games above .500…they currently hold the longest win streak in the NBA, with 5…they were the ones causing the embarrassment, versus being embarrassed on national TV…having conferred with UConn women for advice, Bulls end up on the right side of a blowout…every player on the Bulls’ roster made it into the game…we saw Murph and Toko, and new-comer Jarvis Varnado…the bench scored a total of 65 points, a season high…fans earned their Big Macs [secured by those at the UC when the Bulls score 100 points] well before the close of the fourth quarter…the 117-89 victory marked the Bulls’ largest margin of victory this season…and in an unprecedented and once-in-a-lifetime move, Thibs sat down.

I haven’t yet been able to find a photo on Twitter, and the highlight didn’t make it to the game replay on NBA.com, but they showed Thibs several times during the local came coverage…sitting on the bench between the assistant coaches and some players.

But you knew it was too good to be true, with everyone being healthy. It lasted a few games, but JB took a hit last night, and left in Q1 with a rib contusion, and it’s not looking good for Sunday. He’s one of the Bulls’ best defenders, and gets the “pleasure” of a matchup with that other guy from Miami.

“It’s one of those things, with a rib we have to see how he is when he gets up tomorrow,” Thibodeau said.

Thibodeau said he’s hopeful Butler will be able to travel with the team when they fly to Miami on Saturday afternoon.

But that other guy has a broken nose, and since wearing a face mask might not be the right look for him, we’ll have to wait and see if LeBron plays or not. Jo said he hopes his nose is OK.

No matter what, we have more than enough, and that’s definitely what you need for a game in Hollywood.

See Red!

Go Bulls!

Beat the Heat.

Bulls defeat Raptors to win Eastern Conference Finals

The Bulls take Showtime North of the Border (NoB), to Canada, not Wisconsin, and win the Eastern Conference Finals by defeating the Raptors 94 to 92.

What? No? It wasn’t the Eastern Conference Finals? Well, it sure felt like it.

Just another Wednesday night post-All-Star break game, strolling through the park on a Sunday afternoon. Absolutely not.

Seven technical fouls. Two fights. Thibs surpasses Popovich’s season record for Ts. Jo gets 13 assists, the first time a center has done that since Vlade Divac in April 1996.

Jo has added a double behind-the-back bounce pass to his repertoire, and the jump passes, bounce passes, chest passes. Well, they’re just so everyday now.

So I’m not a Mom, and doesn’t look like I’ll be a Mom, but with my Bulls, I’m like a proud Mom. Boozer gets 20 points. JB gets the block at the end of the game against DeRozan to assure the Bulls a victory. Jo does it all (even laundry). Captain Kirk has 19, DJ has 19, JB adds 16, Taj 10. Dunleavy led the Bulls in rebounding with 11.

Remember that DJ was let go by the Raptors, so yes, he had something to prove. Boozer wonders what player the Raptors were looking at and calls him a “gem.”

Here’s what “proud Papa” Thibs had to say:

“DJ, he’s got a lot of courage. He’s not afraid, can shoot the ball. His teammates look for him. They know how to get him open. He’s knows how to get open, very clever, and he’s playing with a lot of confidence right now.”

“Carlos got us established in the paint early.”

“Joakim has gone to a completely different level.”

“I’ve said this all along: The only thing that’s important is what we think and what we believe,” Thibodeau said. “If we listened to what everyone had said from the start, the season would have been over. The last 25-30 games, I think we’re starting to believe we can be pretty good. If we do certain things, we have a chance to win no matter who or where we’re playing.”

Like Thibs, I still believe.

See Red!

Go Bulls!

All heart

Why do I love our Bulls?

They’re all heart. In fact, Sam Smith, the unofficial official Bulls blogger recently tweeted, “Bulls heart and soul tour moves to two over .500, 27-25, at All-Star break with 92-76 win over Nets.”

Yes indeed, Thursday night, on national TV, Rose-less, Deng-less, with less talent, lower total salary, and just nine guys in the rotation, the Bulls once again beat those Nets.

And perhaps a precursor to the first round playoffs, it also got chippy, with Jimmy Gets Buckets getting into it with Joe Johnson. Jimmy earns his first T, and the Bulls once again prevail against a far superior team. Joe better watch it, or the usually classy Bulls fans could stoop to the level of their Pacers counterparts and start cheering, “Not an All-Star.”

The fans didn’t get their Big Macs, Jo didn’t quite get a triple double, and it definitely wasn’t Showtime. But that’s not who the Bulls are.

It’s the Midwest. It’s CHI. Hard hat lunch pail here, one for all and all for one.

Boozer returned from missing three games, and scored 15 points. Future sixth man of the year Taj Gibson added 16 coming off the bench. Jo, Dunleavy and Butler were all in double figures. Captain Kirk, D.J. and Tony Snell chip in too.

The Bulls collectively may score as many points as KD or Melo score individually. But last I heard, this was a team sport.

And the Bulls are picking up steam, so the second half is looking good.

Now if only Jo survives his second appearance at All-Star weekend. It’s 5 a.m. on Saturday, and I’m guessing he’s still on Bourbon Street. Jo and his Wolf Pack. Will the Wolf Survive?

Here’s what Jo said at media day yesterday: “I think we are the team that definitely has gone through the most this season in terms of adversity,” said Noah. “We showed a lot of fight. I’m proud of that. Being able to be with that group of players with their hearts on their sleeves giving everything during a ballgame. That’s honorable. Win or lose to give everything. Nobody does that better than the Chicago Bulls. I’m so happy to be a part of that.”

“We think we’re the hardest working team in the NBA,” said Noah. “On the court, off the court the way we practice, how we carry ourselves. I’m proud we have an identity. When you play the Chicago Bulls it’s going to be tough. We might not have the talent right now. Our most talented guy is out. But at the end of the day I am proud of our basketball identity.”

We can all enjoy the break, at varying levels of intensity. Boozer is headed to the beach with his family I heard. JB told Chuck Swirzky (one of the Bulls radio guys) he’s coming to his house to watch movies on DirectTV.

And Thibs, in keeping with his love of film, said he’s going to a movie. “That one with a wolf in it.” And not sure we really want to know all the details of Jo’s schedule in the Big Easy. Let’s hope he’s still standing for the game on Sunday night. That is the point of the exercise, right? Maybe not. I kind of sense a wolf theme here.

Third place in the Eastern Conference is only a few wins away. Pacers or Heat – see you in round two of the playoffs. Bet you wish the Bulls weren’t all heart.

All is right in the world…or, at least close to it

Bulls beat the Hawks 100 to 85.

Jo gets a triple double (19 points, 16 rebounds, 11 assists), the fourth of his career.

Taj Gibson gets a double double (24 points, 12 rebounds).

And so does Jimmy Buckets (12 points, 12 rebounds).

Thanks to Jo’s made free throws at the end, resulting in 100 points for our Bulls, fans get free Big Macs!

Bulls surpass Atlanta, and temporarily land the #4 spot in the Eastern Conference, setting their sights on #3 …step aside, Oh Canada!

With the return to the UC and 7 p.m. CST tip-off, Bulls Banter author can watch the post-game show, Thibs’ press conference, and get to bed on time.

Brooklyn is in the house next, on Thursday. Can you same gimme?

See Red!

Go Bulls!

Welcome home.

It’s Showtime!

Bulls win! Bulls win! They beat the Lakers 92 to 86 at the Staples Center.

A Hollywood ending to not exactly a Hollywood story – the story being the six-game west coast road trip.

The Bulls escape with a 3-3 record, and that’s what the pundits (local media) were hoping for. “Best as can be expected.”

Not sure what’s most surprising. That the Bulls led for the entire contest. That they managed to do so on national TV. That they did so on national TV without wearing their Christmas pajamas. That they made all of their 17 of their free throws. Or, that they managed to win.

Well, that’s how you bring Showtime back to the Staples Center. 

But it’s not exactly the Show the Lakers fans were hoping for. Hey, at least you can count on the Bulls to provide some semblance of hope, as they managed to let a 19-point lead deteriorate to four.

There’s a lot of talk about the Lakers being down so many guys due to injury, but let’s remember that the Bulls only had 9 active players (Boozer out due to calf injury sustained while warming up in the locker room prior to the Warriors game on Thursday. The new guy, Toko Shengelia had to attend a funeral). And given Erik Murphy doesn’t play, that makes it 8 players.

I really don’t feel too badly for the Lakers at all.

Most importantly, and finally, at long last, the Bulls are coming home, and back at .500, with a 25-25 record.

I, for one, am happy this road trip is over. It’s killing me. All of the late starts and good teams. It’s exhausting. And I need to be rested and at the top of my game. I heard that Thibs is looking for a player. He’s not specific about what kind of player at all. I may have a chance: Bulls coach eager to add a player or two.

Quotable quotes:

Noah on his late jumper, reported by K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune: “I’m happy it went down because my shot is so ugly, it’s demoralizing for the other team.”

Sam Smith, unofficial official Bulls blogger on D.J.’s steal: “Turns out the D.J. in Augustin stands for Defensive Jackal with perhaps late game saving steal.”

It’s the Hawks on Tuesday and those Brooklyn Nets on Thursday. It’s good to be back in the not-so-wild East.

See Red!

Go Bulls!

Jo freaks, Carlos speaks, Bulls streak

Boy, am I ready for this West Coast trip to be over.

I can hardly remember who did what to whom and when. It seems that the pre-game show is just starting when I’m already getting my Bulls PJs on and heading to cozy bed.

Nonetheless, it was hard to miss the headlines.

On Monday in Sacramento, in a reprise of last year, the Bulls were sleepwalking, literally, at the Sleep Train Arena until Jo evidently went nuts on the refs – he lost it. Growing up, when I wasn’t having one my my best days, and threw a tantrum, we used to call those outbursts spastic fits.

Jo said, “It wasn’t a good look. I went crazy.”

He apologized and already made history by being assessed the first fine under the new League Czar, Adam Silver. In this rather hilarious video following the Bulls’ victory vs. the Suns the next night, the interviewers, including Ernie Johnson all agreed “it was French” that Jo was speaking to the refs: Arena Link Video – Joakim Noah, February 4, 2014.

There’s got to be something about the Bulls and Sacramento that don’t mix. At shootaround before the game, Carlos complained to the media about Thibs not playing him in the fourth quarter.

Oops. Carlos, this isn’t Cleveland. This is CHI. The Bulls have got class, remember, and they don’t air the dirty laundry, especially with the media.

Well, long and short of it, is that Carlos played in Q4 of the Suns game the next night, and got a big basket at the end (I, of course, didn’t see it b/c I already had retreated for sleepytime).

So the Bulls have got a big one-game win streak going now with the unlikely win against the Suns. And I indeed called it – the Bulls are winning the games they’re supposed to lose and losing the games they’re supposed to won.

Spurs – were supposed to lose, but won

Pelicans – were supposed to win, but lost

Kings – were supposed to win, but lost

Suns – were supposed to lose, but won

Tonight, it’s a 9:30 p.m. CST tipoff vs. the Warriors. And my prediction is the Bulls not only beat Golden State, but are also victorious on Sunday as they take on the Lakers on national TV (gulp, game’s on ABC, and football is over so someone might watch).

I heard the Lakers only had five players left for last night’s Cavs game, after injuries, guys fouling out, various and sundry. Let’s hope the Bulls can beat them. The Cavs sure didn’t. Poor Lu!

And you heard it here first – March 9. Bulls vs. Heat. Bulls Banter is taking the show to the UC. Section 110 row 1 seat 1. Despite my disdain for booing, there are always exceptions.

See Red!

Go Bulls!

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