The Bulls and Pacers agree they don’t like each other very much, but no one wants to admit that they’re rivals. Can you be rivals when just one team (the Bulls) feel that way and they other doesn’t?
It’s the same with those other guys (the Heat). They don’t want to admit the Bulls are rivals, but rather, say things like “we don’t like each other very much” or “we’re headed into enemy territory.”
But to me, it seems that these are two of the biggest rivalries in the NBA this season, and they’ve been brewing over the past several years. Last season, when the Bulls went to MSG, it was always the “Friday Night Fight,” but it’s hard to consider the Knicks rivals when they’re too busy choosing between an April 17 departure to Hawaii or Cancun. Or perhaps their new president will hold a retreat at his Montana estate for bonding and the like.
The Bulls came to play last night. On the first play, Jo knocked the ball away from Hibbert. And it kind of went on from there. Oh, and Jo is going to have to get treatment for all of the clapping.
Jimmy Butler, the new Ironman must have needed a bit of rest, and he got it with his three fouls, but that didn’t stop him from drawing a technical, along with his sparring partner, David West for some animated “chatting.”
But Taj really led the team to victory. He fouled out during the last game at Indiana, and then proceeded to accuse the Pacers of flopping. He was not a happy camper.
But in this game, his dunk off a Jimmy Butler miss and subsequent celebratory stalk down the length of the court kind of signified his overall performance. It was like that on every play. Taji Woo led all scorers, with 23, and grabbed eight rebounds. And that’s coming off the bench!
As Bulls radio play-by-play man Chuck Swirsky said post-game, “Just give him sixth man of the year right now.”
Great to see Taj get interviewed here: NBA Arena Link: Taj Gibson March 24, 2014. It’s not TMZ, but it’ll have to do.
As always, though, they needed everybody to get the 89-77 victory over the Pacers. Captain Kirk, bloody lip aside, grabbed the ball right outta Paul George’s hands, and he was just relentless, with 18 points.
While Jo might not have been in the spotlight quite as much given “Monster Taj,” he was no slacker. Jo had 10 points, eight rebounds, eight assists, four steals and three blocked shots in 35 minutes of play.
What? Only 35 minutes. Has Thibs forgotten how to count? Nah, foul trouble for Jo too.
Taj: “I was feeding off of Joakim. It’s a part of the game when you play a rival. I was just having fun.”
See, Taj admits it’s a rivalry. Call it what you will, Pacers. See you in the second round, or better yet, in the Eastern Conference finals.
Beat the Trail Blazers.
Game Notes: Stacey King had the both the poster machine AND the flop machine running during the game.