Streak-busters at it again

Tuesday night, the Bulls, in surprising and unexpected fashion beat the league-leading Golden State Warriors to end their 19-game home winning streak.

Last night, our streak-busting Bulls did it again. This time, they helped the Lakers end their nine-game losing streak.

It’s now being reported that the unexpected is expected with our Bulls. I will say, I finally watched the GSW game last night, and that was some kind of contest. And the Golden State fans know how to do it right and encourage their team. Note to UC crowd.

Evidently, the Bulls thought they were wearing their pajama top uniforms, because I heard they were sleepwalking through the Lakers game. They found a way to come back, and the game went into double OT, but our Bulls lost 118 to 123.

All the tweets on my Bulls team stream kind of summed it up (and I guess I can delete this one from the DVR):

“If we continue to start the way we’ve been starting, anyone can beat us.” [DRose]

“We’re not guarding anybody. That’s what you think when you think Chicago, how great we are on defense. We haven’t been that team.” [JB]

“Our defense is inconsistent. It’s disappointing. I have to play better defensively and do better for this team.” [Jo]

“Couldn’t get anything (to fall): floaters, threes, go to shots, but we were still in the game; just couldn’t pull it out.” [DRose]

On the upside, JB was named to the Eastern Conference All-Star team as a reserve, and scored 35 points versus the Lakers.

Pau Gasol got a warm welcome from the fans at the Staples Center, and a video tribute.

I made it to the gym this morning for practice, and since it looks like Thibs is on the hot seat, and might be leaving CHI sooner rather than later, I’m sure he’ll ask me to follow him to his new team.

Back to reality, though. Another west coast team tonight – Phoenix. I hope the Bulls slept fast, and rested even faster. I saw their plane landed about 2 a.m. local time.

See Red!

Go Bulls!

Beat the Suns.

Lu has memorable afternoon at the UC. Bulls not so much.

The Bulls’ afternoon at the UC on Sunday was forgettable. Blame it on the pajama top jerseys, the early start time, the snow, playing on Sunday, Kids Day at the UC, being distracted by Lu’s return. Pick any excuse. They were awful! Forgot one – the game was on national TV, so of course they played horribly.

Sam Smith, the Bulls’ official unofficial blogger reported in his latest entry, Bulls wilt against the Heat in 96-84 loss that the Bulls losing to teams with losing records seems to have become part of their strategy (and especially at home).

Now they take it on the road, and face none other than the league-leading Golden State Warriors, then the Lakers, Suns, Rockets, Pelicans and Magic. Maybe the Bulls will win some games since they’re away from the UC and playing winning teams.

I really wanted Luol to receive a warm welcome, and from what I have read, and seen in some of the coverage, he did. Here’s the tribute video they showed during the first quarter: Luol Deng tribute.

But I still wanted a Bulls win. I guess you don’t always get what you wish for.

And some guy off the Heat bench, whose name I want to forget (Hassan Whiteside) – had a triple double and blocked pretty much all of the Bulls’ shots in the paint.

Joakim didn’t play in the fourth quarter, and K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune tweeted that he was across the street shooting at the Advocate Center (Bulls practice facility) following the game.

I feel another team meeting coming on, but let’s face it, the heart and soul of the team (Joakim) can hardly move around the floor, and last year’s success was centered around him. Pau Gasol is an All-Star, but he didn’t get voted in for his defense. And it seems as if the opponents are reading the scouting reports and have figured out how to stop JB.

We’ll all put this one behind us, and given the next four games start at 9:30 p.m. CST, when I’m just getting into my cozy bed, at least I won’t have to suffer through the losses, and just catch up with the wins via my DVR the next night. And I hope there are a lot of them!

See Red!

Go Bulls!

Beat the Warriors (gulp).

 

Step aside Atlanta, the Bulls are on a streak of their own

Atlanta Hawks – 15 wins in a row.

Chicago Bulls – 2 wins a row.

But boy, did the Bulls need those wins! And not too shabby, either, with one W against the NBA world champion San Antonio Spurs, and the second, last night versus the Dallas Mavericks.

Neither team is easy to hate. In fact, with my college pal Katie Nelson’s bro Donnie Nelson as the GM for the Mavs, I like them more than most Western Conference teams. (And her Dad is none other than Hall of Famer Don Nelson).

The Bulls were at a turning point after the dismal loss to the Cavs on Monday. The Tuesday noon practice I reported in my last blog was cancelled at the last minute. Instead, Thibs held a team meeting, and every player was supposed to say something – anything.

Whatever was said what to whom – it’s working. Sean Highkin of Bleacher Report wrote in his article, Derrick Rose Has His Edge Back and the Bulls Are Following Suit, Derrick admitted they had never had a meeting like this in his time in Chicago. Now I find that hard to believe, but being a corporate consulting type, I have about 5-10 meetings/day, so it didn’t seem unusual to me.

“Do anything for the team,” Rose said of the meeting’s message. “Give yourself up for the team. The way that we’ve been playing doesn’t have anything to do with Thibs. He’s preparing us right. It’s up to the players to give effort.”

“It was a good meeting,” Pau Gasol reported. “Positive, important, where people just spoke up, shared their thoughts. If we want to get out of this slump, we’ve got to do it together. We can’t really do it individually. We have to do it together as a team, as a group. And that’s how you get through stuff, especially adversity.”

Ah, the adversity theme again. Gasol is channeling his Joakim Noah with the adversity talk. It must be a “Center” thing.

Oh wait, just found a Jo adversity quote. Equilibrium restored.

“I think when you go through adversity like that (six losses in eight games) you either go two ways,” said Joakim Noah. “You either come together or you start to point fingers. And that’s not who we are. At the end of the day, I think everybody wants to win here. It was definitely a humbling couple of weeks. We’re not satisfied; we know we have to get better. I think we’re all more than capable of doing that.”

So coming out of “the meeting,” the Bulls are on their way to giving Atlanta a run for their money with a big two-game win streak! That’s two wins on national TV, where they’ve been able to redeem themselves for games earlier in the month, which we’ll just pretend never happened.

The defense was there. Along with the camaraderie, the intensity, team effort and spirit. Oh, and they made some baskets.

DRose is getting back to his MVP self. He got his own rebound off a miss in last night’s game, threw it to Kirk, and the Bulls pretty much got the W at that point.

Joakim returned after missing four games, and it was reported that he was “amped” for the Mavericks game. These are the Bulls I love. All for one and one for all.

Neil (Funk) and Stacey (King) were back with the hometown call last night, and they reported that there were seemingly more Bulls fans at the game than Mavs fans. Either way, the UC crowd could sure take a lesson from Dallas. It was definitely a playoff atmosphere, at least, from my view on the couch.

And Sunday, it’s the Bulls vs. the Heat at the UC. It’s different now, when the Bulls play the Heat. You really can’t hate them any more, as one of our favorite former Bulls and all-around classiest guys, Luol Deng is with them now.

For a minute, I was thinking about making my way to the UC for the noon CST game. But then I heard it was “Kids Day” and I realized it would not be the game for me.

In other Bulls news, congratulations to Pau Gasol for being chosen by the fans as the starting center for the Eastern Conference All-Star team.

See Red!

Go Bulls!

Beat the Heat, but not Luol. He can have a good game.

 

 

 

 

The solution to all the Bulls’ problems

Just one word: Connecticut.

First of all, the Bulls need to spend some quality time with Geno Auriemma and the UConn women. Somehow, they manage to win by 30-50 points/game, and still manage to play defense.

Secondly, given my Christmas trip to CT resulted in a consistent string of Bulls wins (Raptors, Wizards, Lakers), it looks like I might need to alter my February Maui trip and bring it to CT instead.

Lastly, if we’re really desperate, Brooklyn-born but Orange, CT-raised Cinjo is ready to take the court.

All I can say, is following yet another loss, this time, to the hated Cavs, DRose was hoppin’ mad, leading to swears and the use of the “bleep” functionality when his post-game interview was played.

And Thibs called a practice for noon today (Tuesday).

It’s not how you start (the season), it’s how you finish. I am hoping this indeed holds true.

See Red!

Go Bulls!

Beat the Spurs.

Bulls Get a Win (Finally)

Let’s just pretend the five games prior to last night’s big win against the Celtics never happened. What games? Bulls vs. Wizards? Who? What? Bulls vs. Magic. I dunno. Jazz? I myself enjoy jazz, but not of the Utah genre.

Ah, so it was a sub-par team, the Celtics squad, with a losing record, but as I’ve heard it said, a win is a win.

A lot of stories have come out this week along the lines of, “another year, another knee,” and “Bulls finding surprising new source of stress.”

That would be Jo, and his surgically repaired knee, and his third sprained ankle of the season. As I alluded to in a recent blog, “as Jo goes, so go the Bulls.”

Well, he was out for last night’s tilt, and he still managed to affect the game. It will fondly become known as the “cashmere T.” In street clothes on the bench, he drew a technical foul for arguing with the refs.

Nick Friedell of ESPN Chicago tweeted post-game, “Noah joked that his technical got everything going.”

“That’s Joakim,” Rose said. “That’s Jo, man. We’re rolling with him. We understand him.”

Jo’s health is concerning, but as Thibs said, either at shootaround prior to the Celts game, or in the pre-game interview, we haven’t been at full strength for three years. Different year, different lineup, different injured, different street clothes.

Last night, it was Jo, Dunleavy and McDermott on the bench, one (Jo) in a sweater and the other two (Dunleavy and McDermott, in suit jackets).

But when it came down to it, DRose put on a show, with signature moves and drives to to the basket, and he even made 5 of 8 three-pointers. He had 29 points and 10 assists. And, no turnovers!

Pow! Pow! Pow! Pow! Pow! had another double double, with 20 points and 11 rebounds, and JB got back to his scoring ways (even though teams now seem to be reading the scouting report and found him in it), with 22 points and six steals.

Always wanting to cheer for the lesser-known-guy, my man E’Twaun (they call him Smooge) Moore came of the bench, and scored nine points – three three-pointers.

And in the closest we’ve probably seen to gushing when it comes to Thibs, here’s what he had to say following the big win versus the Cs:

“The energy was great. It was probably one of the best games we’ve played. Derrick was great on both sides of the ball. That’s huge for us. Jimmy stepped up and had a terrific game. Pau was great. And our bench was terrific.”

Thibs drank way too much Diet Coke. He’s all wound up.

Tonight, the Bulls are back at the UC to face a different kind of team. It’s the East-leading Atlanta Hawks. I’m kinda scared. But as Stacey King says, “If you’re scared, buy a dog!”

I’m not that scared. No dog. Just a win versus the Hawks.

See Red!

Go Bulls!

Beat Atlanta.

In the Circle

I’m in the circle, Thibs, I’m doing everything I can, but not even my “magic” can help your Bulls beat Orlando.

I practiced my layups, jump shots, free throws, and even passing two days in a row. I can’t feel my arms. Will look for you at the Advocate Center (Bulls new practice facility) when I come in for treatment later today.

I wore my Bulls shirt, even the questionable Bulls PJ bottoms, and Bulls sweatshirt while watching last night’s game.

The Bulls seem to fare better when I’m watching the games from outside CHI, so to that end, no worries, to help the cause, I’ll do whatever it takes, and have planned a trip to Maui in February.

What else can I do? I want to be in the circle, Thibs. Let’s go.

Per Sam Smith’s blog: “We’ve got to decide what we are going to be,” said Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau in terse postgame remarks. “If we are going to come in and just try to outscore people we are not going anywhere. I know that doesn’t work. We’re not sharp now, win one lose one. You can’t go anywhere like that. We have to decide what we want to be. There’s no shortcuts. If you don’t play with an edge you’re in trouble. If you want to do something special, there’s a serious price to pay. Either you’re in or you’re out; either you are in the circle or you are out of the circle. You want to be in, let’s go. You don’t want to be in that’s fine, too. Let’s go.”

And my going rate is a lot cheaper than the likes of a DRose or a Taj, or even a Pau.

The Magic deserved to win that game. They played their hearts out, they played as a team and they made a lot of baskets. In fact, they wouldn’t and couldn’t miss.

It’s not so fun being in fourth, behind the likes of the Wiz and the Raps, who are tied for third place in the “awful East.” And even worse, the Magic are the 28th in points/game in the league and the Bulls let them get 121! Someone check my facts, and my math, because NBA stats maven I am not. But I think they usually score around 98 points/game.

The Bulls should be up for Wednesday’s match up versus the Wizards. We can at least expect lots of skipping from the respective star point guards, DRose and John Wall. And that will be entertaining enough. But I’d rather have the Win!

See Red!

Go Bulls!

Beat the Wizards.

There is no “I” in Bulls, or in Basketball

Things got so bad with the Bulls vs. the Wizards last night, I was feverishly looking for a Knicks game. And I don’t mean an NBA Hardwood Classic game. I’m talking this season. ANYTHING would have been better than suffering through the pounding the Bulls took in DC.

I just had to look away. I mean, the loss to the Jazz on Wednesday was mind-boggling enough, but I figured, we’d cut the Bulls a break. It was below zero, and everyone was saying they went cold, just like the weather.

But the Wizards? Remember – we hate them! Nene, Gortat, and the worst of all – John Wall. I challenge you to name even one player on the Jazz. Really – I beg of you, try. Somebody? Anybody? The Jazz is not one of those league-leading teams. Yet the Bulls still found a way to lose.

I was not a happy camper, post Wizards loss, and of course, went into mourning and denial, and couldn’t handle any of the coverage following the loss.

Finally, I was able to read a few articles, and what struck me about the quotes – from the guys and Thibs, was the consistent theme about this bump in the road being on the team, not anyone in particular.

“It’s not mental, it’s physical,” said Rose of the Bulls troubles. “Guys got to get going; everybody, including myself. We’ve just got to get going, find ways to make the game simple. Guys were missing the shots they normally shoot; can’t do anything about that.”

“The way we’re playing is concerning,” admitted Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau. “You get into things together; you have to get out of things together. The challenge is to get ourselves right and get ready for tomorrow (Milwaukee Saturday in the United Center). It’s an unforgiving league. The games keep coming. We know what we have to do; we have to straighten it out and do it together.”

I’ve been thinking back to this point last season, when I believe the Bulls were in sixth place in the East. By early January, they had overcome the shock of losing DRose for a second season, only to be kicked in the gut with the Luol Deng trade.

Yet they always found a way. Why, this year, when on paper, the team has all of the best pieces, is it sometimes so hard to put it all together? Well, since I’m not a professional basketball player, I guess I dunno.

On paper, the Cavs look pretty good too, with that other guy, and everyone else in the league he decides to acquire – and look where that’s got them.

Still trying to find his way, and continuing to rehab his knee after surgery (which is hard to believe took place at the end of last season), Joakim summed it up best – “Just keep working. I’m a worker. And I’m never going to stop until I get it right.”

And we all know, as Jo goes, so go the Bulls.

See Red!

Go Bulls.

Beat the Bucks (which is not as easy as it used to be).

I just saw a pig fly

It’s cold in CHI, below zero, but despite that, pigs are flying. And other unexpected, improbable and unbelievable happenings have occurred in the NBA thus far this season. We’re saying things we never thought we would.

The Knicks have the worst record in the NBA, even worse than the intentionally tanking 76ers.

The Bulls just beat the Rockets!

The Atlanta Hawks sit atop the Eastern Conference.

Jimmy Butler is the star of the Chicago Bulls.

LeBron James’s Cavaliers aren’t looking like world champions.

A team from Oh Canada! is giving the Bulls a run for their money.

The Milwaukee Bucks are relevant.

The Bulls have become a Western Conference-like offensive force.

Thibs has calmed down (OK, that’s a stretch).

What’s not surprising is that our Bulls are finding ways to win, no matter who’s in and who’s out, no matter who is injured or sick.

One thing for certain is sure: We have more than enough.

See Red!

Go Bulls!

Beat the Jazz.

 

 

 

Bulls remain undefeated in 2015, behind Pau Gasol and his block parties

“We’ve got more than enough. Next guy get in there and get the job done.”

That’s what Thibs said after shootaround on Saturday, when it was announced the Bulls would be without two starters – Jimmy Gets Bucks, who is on bereavement leave, and Mike Dunleavy, Jr., who has a “jammed” ankle and is in a walking boot. [Note: This is the first game Dunleavy has missed since joining the Bulls in 2013. Yes, he is known as the ironman.]

Same story. Different year, with being shorthanded. But this time, we’ve got Pow! Pow! Pow! Pow! Pow!

Stacey King was thoroughly enjoying Pau’s blocks: during the Denver game on New Year’s Day, when he had nine; and last night, when the Bulls defeated the Celtics in OT (109 to 104), behind Pau’s five blocked shots.

Oh, and Pau had 29 points and 16 rebounds too (only the third time a player has attained those stats since 2012; the other two were Anthony Davis and Tim Duncan).

We heard a lot of this from Stacey “Welcome to the block party,” “Did you get your invitation to the block party?” and some new ones, something along the lines of, “Pau sent out invitations to the block party over the weekend. Welcome to yours.”

No, it wasn’t pretty. The rims were over the baskets again. The Bulls couldn’t buy a bucket in the first half, and to add to their offensive woes, it was turnover after turnover.

I put in a better performance at basketball practice on Saturday at EBC. OK, maybe not. But I think my shooting percentage was better anyway.

It got so bad, Sam Smith (unofficial official Bulls blogger) tweeted, “NBA Entertainment calls in thanks after 1st. With 13 combined turnovers and Bulls shooting 22 percent (0-9 3s), says plenty of material for a blooper show.”

Later in the game, it did improve, but not enough to Sam’s liking, “Bulls and Celts tied at 99 at end of regulation, but after combined 35 turnovers and 11-40 on threes fans vote for shootout to end it quickly.”

Despite earning their way into the NBA’s bloopers show with their two past performances, a W is a W, and the Bulls remain undefeated in 2015. They’ve advanced to third in the Eastern Conference, as some of the pretenders (Washington Wizards, Toronto Raptors) are finding out it’s not so easy maintain the momentum, and to my ultimate satisfaction, they’re starting to lose games.

It’s important to mention that the rookie, Niko Mirotic started for Dunleavy at small forward, which I guess isn’t his usual position, and put in a good performance, and Captain Kirk was in the lineup at shooting guard for Jimmy Butler.

One of my wishes did come true, as Taj was back to his old self. The Secretary of Defense had 12 points, and six rebounds, including five offensive, and seemed to have his swagger back.

It’s not going to be quite so easy to get a victory while shooting 22% or whatever, when the Bulls face the Rockets on Monday. Let’s hope they figure out how to score the ball and limit turnovers so Houston is not a problem. Sure, it’s easy for me to say.

See Red!

Go Bulls!

Beat the Rockets.

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