ImposterBulls make unexpected end-of-year appearance

Mike Dunleavy showed up to last night’s game versus the Brooklyn Nets, and scored 23 points.

The rest of the team sent their respective body doubles from the ImposterBulls, and they only managed to score 82 points, and the Nets found a way to get 96 on the scoreboard.

I guess the Bulls players had to stay home to search their recipe boxes for their famous New Year’s Eve cheese dip, or had to make pigs in a blanket, or perhaps get fitted for a tux for the big NYE party.

But they were not at the UC. It was so bad, I had to turn off the game entirely, and I’ll also delete from the DVR inventory.  I would have rather spent the night at the dentist’s offic. And anyone who knows me knows I HATE the dentist.

Upside? Well, games like this were the norm last season. Now, they’re an anomaly.

Thibs said: “I thought we were flat from the start, our whole team. We were back on our heels. We have to play with more of an edge. Overall, I think we’re making good progress. But things weren’t going our way (Tuesday night).”

I believe the game marked the first time a Bulls player was ejected this season, as Aaron Brooks was dispatched to the locker room by the refs in the second quarter.

Jo summed it up perfectly: “We just laid an egg tonight.”

I’m looking forward to seeing the real Bulls in 2015, and am happy to bid adieu to the ImposterBulls.

See Red!

Go Bulls!

Beat the Nuggets.

And Happy New Year everyone.

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The Three Jimmys

The Bulls defeated the Pacers last night, 92 to 90. This was after having blown a 21-point lead! I was going to have to change the title of this award-winning (that’s a joke) blog to “Things Fall Apart.”

But thankfully, surprise – Jimmy Butler saved the day AGAIN, with a three-pointer and that was that. The Bulls are now on a seven-game win streak.

Everyone is running out of adjectives for Jimmy. You’ve got coaches (Dwane Casey of the Raps) with man crushes and everything. “I don’t think anybody projected him to be where he is now and my hat is off to him and the way he has worked and developed his offensive skills. I’ve been in love with him, a man crush on him for a while.”

Tom Thibodeau used to say of some of the players last year that they did everything – even the laundry. I think he was referencing Taj or Jo at the time.

That got me to thinking about Jimmy being everywhere and doing everything. We’re beyond a body double. Now we’ve got three of him. Kind of like “The Three Marias,” a maid service a friend of mine uses when her place needs some deep cleaning.

The Marias are evidently whirling dervishes. Kinda like Jimmy. He scores on one end, runs to the other end, steals the ball, and goes back and makes another basket. Or something like that.

Anyway, Neil (happy birthday, by the way) and Stacey were impressed with JB’s ability to do it all – even the laundry. And I don’t even think The Three Marias do that.

So what’s not to love about this team? Just one thing. I’m a bit nervous about Taj. The team is talking about how everyone has to make sacrifices for them to win the championship. It seems that Taj, who should be a starter, and who single handedly enabled the Bulls to even survive the playoffs last year – he’s not himself.

K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune tweeted last night during the game:

“Subtle thing but after Scola scored on Gibson at 3rd quarter buzzer, E’Twaun Moore noticed Gibson hung his head. Ran over and patted him on back.”

So here are my late Christmas and New Year’s wishes – that Taj gets back to his old self again, and gets the accolades he deserves, and Jimmy continues to play lights out, and makes the All-Star team.

Oh, and the Bulls make it to #1 in the East, and everyone stays healthy and we’re all at the Finals and June and the weather is beautiful (75 degrees and sunny) for the rally in Grant Park.

Here’s what Derrick had to say a few days ago, and he had a really great quote about how everyone on the team really likes each other too…but I can’t find it now. I really could use an assistant.

“I know my teammates, know how good they are individually, know how good we are as a team. It just takes us jelling, having that time to really play with each other, play through mistakes, play with different lineups.

“I’m seeing how guys are really professional. It goes from the rookies to the oldest vet. I saw that back when I first saw the team, practiced with the team.”

But back to last night. “The lesson we learned is you have to keep playing,” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. “No lead is safe in this league.” So they got that over with – the teachable moment.

This evening, it’s a return to the UC and another meeting with the (Brooklyn) Nets.  At least they won a game last night versus the Kings, so I won’t feel so bad when the Bulls beat up on them.

See Red!

Go Bulls!

Beat the Nets.

Quite a Successful Road Trip

Merry Christmas, Bulls fans, and you’re welcome.

Thanks to my Christmas in Connecticut road trip, during which the Bulls won three games, they’re now tied with the Suns for the longest win streak (5) in the NBA.

Wins against Eastern Conference-leading Raps at home, then the next night, the evil Wiz at their place, and a win on the big stage back at the UC on Christmas versus the Lakers.

Now, Kobe comes to us, although old age now prevents him from playing.

Lakers coach Byron Scott had this to say following the Bulls’ win vs. the Lakers. “They are the best we have played so far in the East. They are good. They have length and athleticism. They have two of the best passing big men in the game. They are unselfish. They have a rising star in Jimmy Butler. They have a great basketball team.”

We’ll take the three Ws, and my winning road record. Both were achieved in Orange, CT watching NBA League Pass and TNT, with #20 Art “Spin Move” Olsen. Possible winning formula?

A similar trip could take place around playoff time if the Bulls need an immediate boost of a few wins.

Or maybe it was just the UConn Huskies’ positive vibes, which envelop the entire state.

Now it’s back to CHI, with the comfort of the hometown call with Neil and Stacey, and back to basketball lessons and workouts.

After all, Thibs is really making it through the bench. He’s been calling E’Twaun Moore’s number.

I could be next. (Or not).

See Red!

Go Bulls!

Beat the Pelicans.

We the Bulls

Can it be characterized as an upset, the Bulls’ defeat of the Toronto Raptors last night, 129 to 120? Maybe not an upset, but a satisfying win against the team (surprisingly) sitting atop the Eastern Conference.

The victory also ended the Raptors’ six-game win streak.

I give these Raptors credit. And “We the North,” their grammatically incorrect slogan, has caught on. During the playoffs last year, fans filled the streets of Toronto for viewing parties. I’m impressed.

But the Raptors, aiming to even up the score after the Bulls beat them (rather convincingly) in November, evidently forgot that “We the Bulls.”

The Bulls #1 fan is out of her CHI comfort zone, where she’s all cozy with CSNChicago and WGN broadcasts, and the amusing and reliable hometown call of Stacey King and Neil Funk. Here in CT (visiting the folks for Christmas), in the land of the UConn Huskies, access to the Bulls vs. Raps game could be questionable.

A Christmas Elf (Dad) purchased NBA League Pass, and to our joy, we were able to get the CSNChicago Broadcast with Neil and Stacey, so no missing out on the “can I get some butter with that roll, the Secretary of Defense and too big, too strong, too fast, too good.”

While I heard a lot of “they don’t miss” from Dad, in speaking of the Raps, I tried to convince him (and myself) that the Bulls tend to sleepwalk through the first half, but following Thibs’ halftime speech, they would come out and dominate in the third quarter.

“The Bulls own Q3,” I claimed. Well, not so much.

This time, they saved it all for the fourth. Records were broken, with the Bulls scoring 49 points in Q4 alone – the most in Bulls’ history. New heights were reached, as Pau Gasol surpassed 17,000 points in his career.

DRose scored 15 points in the fourth. Aaron Brooks scored seven straight points. Jo had an easy basket on an inbounds pass when the Raptors forgot about defense. Niko (Mirotic) put on his usual three-point show.

“I think we’ve got a lot of weapons, a lot of guys who can score the ball a lot of ways. I think that we need to keep improving on our collective defense. We scored a lot of points tonight, though, and that’s a plus,” Joakim Noah said. “You see what Jimmy’s doing, Derrick back doing his thing, the sky’s the limit.”

Now “We the Bulls” have a different kind of problem. Last year, whether or not they could score 49 points in an entire game was questionable.

This year, it’s the challenge of finding time for all the stars. Pau didn’t even make it back in for the final quarter.

“I was planning on coming back with Pau, and it was Taj’s first game back and we’re still trying to work our way through things,” Thibodeau said, “and that group (with DRose, Aaron Brooks, Jimmy Butler, Niko and Jo) had a good run so I wanted to ride it as far as we could.”

“It’s always a good problem to have,” Thibodeau said of his depth. “When you have good players, it’s a good problem to have.”

Problems. Yes, we have them.

And tonight, when the Bulls visit the Wizards, who we all love to hate – that’s the biggest problem of them all.

The Raps. There’s really no reason to hate them. I don’t mind anybody on the team. The coach, Dwane Casey seems fine enough. I like Toronto – the people, the city. The Canadian National Anthem – love that too. I question “We the North,” but I don’t question the fact that the teams seems to be made up of quality guys.

Fast forward to quite a different kind of team (the Wiz) with Marcin Gortat, the hated Nene, not-so-well-loved Paul Pierce, plus John Wall. Ugh.

The Bulls and the Wizards do not like each other. We can expect boos and ejections, technical fouls and fights. Oh, I almost forgot about the head butts.

When the Bulls faced the Wiz in their first pre-season game this season, Jo got into a shoving match with Paul Pierce four minutes into the first quarter: Paul Pierce vs. Joakim Noah (2014 preseason game).

As Stacey King mentions, this was bubbling over from the 2014 playoffs, stemming from the Jimmy Butler and Nene head butting incident.

There’s really no love between these teams, and I don’t expect warm fuzzies, rainbows and puppy dogs by tonight’s tip off. Just not what you’d expect from a Thibs-led team anyway.

What we can expect is a Tuesday night WWF Smackdown in DC.

See Red!

Go Bulls!

Beat the Wizards.

The Butler did it again…and so did everybody else

You can imagine my surprise, when I found out the Bulls were beating the Grizz last night, when I finally got a chance to check the score following a dinner with some friends in the ‘burbs.

Someone in cyberville transposed the numbers, or the teams. How, pray tell could the Bulls be leading at halftime, to a Western Conference team, and on the road?

Last year at this time, this would have been considered a Christmas miracle. This year, it’s attributable to talent and a kid named JB.

Now they’re running out of ways to describe Jimmy Gets Buckets, and his All-Star season. Even Joakim is speechless. “Jimmy has been unreal for us this year. I don’t even know what to say. I remember him working out in the summertime and shots off one foot. And I was like, ‘Jimmy, what are you doing?’ You’re not going to shoot shots off one foot.”

Well, that’s just what Jimmy proceeded to do at the end of the first half vs. the Grizz: Watch JB’s One-Footed Shot.

In case you missed the headline – behind Jimmy’s 31 points, and 27 from the rook, Nikola Mirotic, the Bulls defeated the Grizzlies 103 to 97.

But flash back to Thursday’s game against a lesser opponent, the Knicks, when Jimmy scored a career high 35 points. That performance almost brought Thibs to tears.

Don’t you think he gets choked up in this video when he says, “Thank God for Jimmy Butler.” Tom Thibodeau press conference Bulls vs. Knicks Dec. 18.

“Jimmy is very versatile,” noted Thibodeau. “He’s a power guard; he can go off the dribble, post him, pick and roll with him, catch and shoot with him. He’s real smart. You can run offense with him; he can handle the ball. There’s not much he can’t do and defensively he is great. He’s as good as it gets in this league. I leave anything out?”

We need a dictionary with more adjectives.

There’s always Jimmy “MJ” Butler. I’m sure Sam Smith (Bulls blogger and award-winning author) already has the rights to JB’s story.

JB is not doing it alone. Mirotic has been a revelation, and now “they’re” saying he will be in the conversation for Rookie of the Year. Well, with 27 points, including 6 for 6 from three-point range, and 7 of 8 free throws in last night’s game, it’s definitely not unfounded. Nikola Mirotic is playing like a rookie of the year candidate.

Aaron Brooks continues his own personal circus trip, adding 15 to 20 points per game, with the most unconventional and seemingly unmake-able shots. He chipped in 17 points vs. the Grizz.

Joakim claims that following time off (he missed four games), having re-joined the team versus the Knicks, that he feels better than he has all season. He had a double double in the win against Memphis, with 10 points and 13 rebounds.

DRose contracted the flu bug (along with half of Chicago), and Taj still has a bum ankle, so neither have played the past two games. The Bulls aren’t even at full strength, and they’re getting the Ws.

What a difference a year makes. The days of basket covers (knock on the hardwood floor) seem to be over. Thibodeau, the mad scientist has oh so many offensive ingredients to stir up in those potions in his lab.

All that’s left is to make and keep the Bulls’ official New Year’s resolution (other than winning the championship). GET HEALTHY AND STAY HEALTHY.

See Red!

Go Bulls!

Beat the Raptors.

 

 

Christmas comes early as Bulls defeat the Trail Blazers

Last night’s convincing 115 to 106 victory versus the Trailblazers (from the Western Conference) has got to have Bulls fans everywhere rejoicing.

DRose was DRose. He scored 31, and once again, he made it look easy (Note – I had my second basketball lesson of the season today: it’s far from easy). The stat-minders report that he hasn’t scored 30+ points in a game since March 12, 2012.

In the fourth quarter, it seemed like all Derrick. Floater. Jumpers. Driving to the hoop. He couldn’t miss.

But then his sidekick, Aaron Brooks (AB) joined in on the fun. AB evidently is still on the circus road trip, because every attempt was a circus shot. He had 12 in the fourth quarter.

Commenting on the DRose + AB combined 20 straight fourth quarter points, Aaron said: “It’s like the two double running backs they use in the NFL.”

So we’ll take this early Christmas present, with the Bulls finally beating the Trailblazers, who for whatever reason, a Thibs-coached Bulls team hadn’t defeated since 2010.

So now they’re on a two-game win streak, having beat the Nets, also at the UC, on Wednesday. Watch out Golden State, the Bulls are on your heels.

I’ll admit, when LaMarcus Aldridge was playing the game by himself in the first quarter, I thought this could be another one of those East vs. Western Conference disaster. Why bother with teammates when you can score 21 points all by yourself? But the Bulls new-found offense, and re-invigorated defense, well, it was more than enough in the end.

And having DRose looking like DRose sure was a big part of the early Christmas present. “Like I said, even with this performance, I can’t be up on it. I know the next time I play it could be something different like who knows? My confidence level is very high, like it’s always been. My goals are still the same: stay healthy, keep stringing ‘em out, and win games.”

Sunday it will be bittersweet, as the Bulls find themselves in Miami, where they no longer have to contend with that rather well-known player named LeBron. Instead, it’s their friend and former classiest teammate of all time, Luol Deng.

“It’s crazy how everything works,” Jimmy Butler said. “Lu is the main one who always told me to be ready and keep working on my game and be confident. He told me I belonged here. Stuff like that goes a long way and that’s stuff that everybody doesn’t see and hear. Lu is a key part to me keeping my head into the game.”

“It’s going to be fun to go up against him, especially because I know what type of guy he is. He didn’t have to do what he did for me. But he wants everyone on the team to feel accepted and successful.”

That’s Luol. And while I do love and miss him…See Red! Go Bulls! Beat the Heat.

We’re better than we are playing

This isn’t where the Bulls expected to be come December. They find themselves sitting at #5 in the Eastern Conference, behind (horrors) – Cleveland – with three straight losses at home, and a losing home record (2-5).

Even worse than the home losses are the loss of defensive identity, which has always distinguished Thibodeau-coached Bulls teams.

“Defensively, we are not at our best; we are not where we want to be. It’s been too up and down; teams have gotten their way too easily against us and that has to change.” Pau Gasol said.

Sure, the Bulls almost beat the Mavericks earlier this week, in a stunning double OT thriller, which some journalists called the best regular season game thus far this year.

I would have to agree with them – if our Bulls had come away with the win.

Maybe they’re all off kilter due to the unexpected (yet welcome) offensive prowess? Too much time stepping back and kissing themselves when they make baskets? Getting points on the board, we all know, was a statistically validated impossible task last season.

The past few years, pick an excuse, and it worked. DRose injured. Luol Deng traded. Five players injured. Three players injured. DRose injured again. Jo playing on one ankle. Flu bug. Pandemic game.

But last night, during the Warriors game (I had to turn it off in the fourth quarter, and thankfully, I forgot to DVR it, so I’ll never have to watch it again), everyone was healthy; the starting lineup was intact. And they still lost!

Oops, forgot. Dougie McBuckets, with is bad “old” knee was out. So there you have it. Blame it on the McBuckets injury.

And/or Benny the Bull. I didn’t check the injury report for his status. Maybe he was on the bench wearing one of his best suits?

Can they turn it around?

“Tough night,” said Noah. “Defensively, not great; we’ve got to step it up. I have to step it up…a lot of guys are frustrated now. We’re better than we are playing, but we believe in each other and we’ve got to stay positive and keep grinding. We have a ways to go and we all know it, but we definitely have to change our ways because defensively we know it’s not where it needs to be.

But the fans certainly aren’t helping the Bulls’ cause.

“We definitely have to turn it around (at home),” Gasol said. “It’s becoming an issue. It’s not good to lose at home; you have to protect your home court. Your home should be a fortress. A team should be afraid of coming to play here and know they are going to have a long night. But now there is a certain level of confidence they are coming with, so we are going to have to change that quickly.”

“When we play home, it’s tough,” Gibson added.

Were the fans in comas last night? Still recovering from the after-effects of last week’s gobble ‘til you wobble? It’s the UC folks, not a library.

Maybe we’re (CHI fans) just spoiled because we’re so used to great basketball, the unbelievable MJ feats, and past track record of winning ways.

Sure, I’m disappointed, but as much as I’d like to do something about it…other than working on my game in case Thibs decides to add a 5’ 10” inexperienced shooting guard to the roster, who brings a history of stress fractures in her left foot, and who takes a lot of water (and coffee breaks), I guess we’ll leave it up to the players.

“There is a lot of work we have to do,” coach Tom Thibodeau said. “We have to build those habits in practice and carry them into the game.”

We can’t make any more excuses. This was supposed to be THE year. We’ll let the mad scientist Thibs go back to the lab and figure it out. And quick.

And remember – we still have reasons to be thankful.

  • The Bulls are not the Knicks
  • The Bulls are not the Bears

See Red!

Go Bulls!

Beat the Nets.

Reasons to be thankful

Thanksgiving may be over, but there are many reasons to be thankful when it comes to our Bulls…who returned from the Circus trip with a winning (4-3) record…and we can count the injured on one hand…one finger actually, as Taj remains on the list still recovering from a sprained ankle…but Tajjjy Woo (evidently, I’ve been spelling his name incorrectly all this time) is set to return soon…and knock on wood, let’s hope the only injuries anyone sustains for the rest of the season are due to signing autographs…or, more likely, eye strain from watching Thibs’ game film on tiny computer screens…thankful for Jimmy G Buckets, the G stands for gets, greatness, godsend, gonna get paid, going to play in the All-Star game…thankful for the ugly grey jerseys, the Bulls’ latest good luck charms, as both Boston and Brooklyn wore those ugly get-ups when the Bulls beat them…thankful the Bulls are back in CHI, at the UC…for the Circus trip book-end wins, the Clippers at the start, and the Nets at the end…for sacrifice, all for one, one for all, and that Kevin Garnett didn’t bite Jo’s hand off during the Brooklyn game…for Stacey King’s numerous food-related exclamations, which bring a smile to my face, with the reservations for three, no soup for you, can I have some butter with that roll?…that Thibs smiled…for Benny the Bull…that the Bulls have a winning record….and they’re perfect (5-0) with the “official” starting lineup…I’ll leave it at that, and hope the streak continues as tonight, the Bulls face those (horrors) Western Conference Mark-Cuban-owned and Donn “Donnie” Nelson-operated Dallas Mavericks. Shout out to Donnie’s sister, and my friend Katie Nelson-Nagel.

See Red!

Go Bulls!

Beat the Mavericks.

Uh oh. This just in – just saw a Tweet that Dougie McBuckets is out tonight. Bad knee. Looking forward to seeing what kind of suit he comes up with for his appearance on the bench.

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