It’s usually the Bulls’ west coast trips which cause concern, as they take the show on the road when the circus and Disney on Ice take up residence in the UC.
But this six-game home stand has generated almost as much buzz, given the Bulls played host to 5 Western Conference teams and those other guys (the Heat). Surprising to some, but not to yours truly, the results are turning out to be more successful than anyone could ever have imagined.
Your Chicago Bulls have won 3 and lost 2, with just one game left – the “easy” finish against OKC on St. Patrick’s Day, green Bulls’ jerseys and all.
So they beat the current NBA Champs (Miami), the Houston Rockets, and most recently, last night, the Sacramento Kings. The losses were to the Grizzlies (that one the Bulls coulda woulda shoulda won) and the Spurs. Not too shabby an outcome, given the caliber and standing of these teams.
The Bulls tend to lose to the Kings on the road, by anywhere from 30 to 40 points, playing at the Sleep Train Arena. I contend that’s the reason right there. Seriously? No wonder they keep the name of that place intact. How do opponents even stand a chance?
Last night, Bulls vs. Kings at the UC, I was trying to follow the score on my iPhone while in the midst of a world-changing game of Pay Day. I went over to “help” my friend Deborah babysit for her niece and nephew.
My contribution was bringing the Mandy B’s cupcakes and providing the entertainment, following the Pay Day game, when I tried to name the artists/titles of songs the 11-year old girl played on Spotify. My answers were limited to Pink, Rhianna, Lady Gaga and Robin Thicke and “I have no response to that” when it came to the song titles.
It looks like the Bulls found a way to win without me, and as I re-joined the game, already in progress with two minutes left in the third, I was happy to see they were keeping it close.
As with the Rockets, and even the Spurs, I really have no reason to hate these Kings. They’re just big, and I would venture to say Thibs would say “he’s a load down there” when speaking about any of their big men in the post.
It felt a little like the UC transformed into the Sleep Train, with the slow pace and all of the fouls. But given the crowd had been out celebrating St. Patrick’s Day since 8 a.m. or maybe 10:30 a.m. at the latest, perhaps the slow pace allowed them to keep up.
What can you say about Joakim? Finally, a Bulls storyline that doesn’t include “DRose” or “out for the season” in it. Jo, the consummate professional, leader and true team player always deflects the praise away from himself, and says he doesn’t like the MVP chants.
So there’s been talk of chanting his nickname, “Stick Stickity” instead. I kind of like it.
To beat the Kings, it did take more than Jo and his 23 points, 11 rebounds, 8 assists, 5 blocks, 3 steals. It took Taj, back to his old self following the food poisoning, who cleaned the glass as they like to say, and contributed 19 points and 9 rebounds. Dunleavy had 16, DJ added 12 and Hinrich 10.
“Statistically, you can’t measure [Jo’s] true value to our team,” coach Tom Thibodeau said. “All the things he does helps us win. That’s the most important statistic there is.”
In all of the post-game stories (Sam Smith, K.C. Johnson, CSNChicago), there was a common theme, when it comes to the Kings. Words like lollygagging, casual, distraction (DeMarcus Cousins); selfish, score-first (Isaiah Thomas – no relation to former Pistons Bad Boy Isiah Thomas). And to describe the team itself, words like immature and boneheaded.
The Bulls, with their team first mentality, and since the calendar turned to 2014, their winning ways, are anything but selfish, casual and boneheaded.
They’ve brought one of the most unexpected and inspiring turnarounds to a season the media, and fans alike wrote off as lost. I guess somebody forgot to tell Jo, our MVP. Oops, I mean, Stick Stickity.
The Bulls are quietly, or not so quietly, climbing their way to #3 in the Eastern Conference, and have the reputation for being the opponent no one wants to meet in the playoffs. Not a bad place to be, for the team which was slated to begin planning its mid-April trips to Cancun and Maui, along with counterparts from the Bucks and 76ers.