Bulls destroy Knicks, everyone does the wave, Thibs sits down

When I saw Bulls vs. Knicks on the schedule for my birthday game at the beginning of the season, I never thought the game would be like this. In the end, the Bulls achieved a UConn-women-like level of victory.

The Bulls led the whole way, and by double digits most of the way, and by 30+ at the end. Looking for something more exciting than the game, the fans began to do the wave. Jo and Jimmy had already taken their places on the bench by that time, and seemed bored, so they joined in too.

I can’t remember the last time I did the wave…

Two Kellies joined me at the game, and Benny paid a visit to our section. All in all, it was a great way to spend my 48th, and I’ll take the 111 to 80 victory.

Here are a few pics from Cinjo’s Birthday Game.

So, not the best shot of me, but DRose is in the pic, so definitely post-worthy.
So, not the best shot of me, but DRose is in the pic, so definitely post-worthy.
Me and the other birthday girl, Kellie "Chimmers." Her official day is none other than April 5 (Easter).
Me and the other birthday girl, Kellie “Chimmers.” Her official day is none other than April 5 (Easter).
The three amigos, the trio, Charlie's Angels, or just trouble.
The three amigos, the trio, Charlie’s Angels, or just trouble.
With a 30-point lead, even Thibs can sit down.
With a 30-point lead, even Thibs can sit down.

What do the Bulls and UConn women have in common?

First of all, 50-something.

On Saturday night, the Bulls managed to lose to the lowly Pistons 91 to 107, and were outscored 54 to 19 in the final 19 minutes.

Out East, the UConn women handily beat St. Francis Brooklyn by 56, with a final score of 89-33. Right, UConn had an off night again.

Secondly, clinched.

On Monday, with a win over the Hornets, the Bulls clinched a playoff spot. This happened without too much fanfare, and Aaron Brooks wondered when the Champagne showers would occur in the locker room. I think it’s going to take an Eastern Conference title (at least) for that…

And no surprise, the UConn women clinched a spot in the Sweet 16 by defeating Rutgers on Sunday. 91 to 55.

Thirdly, birthday games.

Looks like Saturday, March 28, my birfday, is a big game day all-around.

I’ll be at the UC with two Kellies for my Bulls birthday game vs. the Knicks.

And the UConn women face Texas for the birthday brunch game – 11 a.m. CDT on Saturday.

You would think there’s an equal likelihood that both of these games are winnable, but let’s compare notes post-game to see about those margins of victory.

Lastly, Bulls Banter is a big fan of both.

Go Huskies!

Go Bulls!

Spring has sprung, and so have our Bulls

It’s the first day of Spring, and I’m thrilled to report that the Bulls, in keeping with the season, seem to have the spring in their step…and their game as well.

With last night’s 108 to 92 victory vs. “We the North” (The Raptors), and building on Wednesday’s defeat of the Pacers, the Bulls now find themselves #3 in the East.

More importantly, when describing the Bulls win against the Raps, words like destroyed, demolished and dismantling were used. Not exactly what any of us could have said just one short week ago, when consecutive losses against the Hornets and then the Thunder might have caused some of us to spend the playoff game fund on some new Jimmy Choos (those are really nice and anything but inexpensive ladies shoes, for anyone who might not know).

Two words come to mind to summarize the Bulls’ performance against We the North – hope and joy.

Joy because we got Taj back, Nikola scored 29 (and had a triple double), Jo was two points shy of a triple double, and continued his likely unintentional quest to de-throne DRose of his point guard duties…as he excelled again as the point center.

Taj: “I was just excited to be back out there, see the fans, and even more to be out there with my teammates again. The whole time, in my head, I just didn’t want to mess anything up. I just wanted to do what I can do, just try to play the right way.The first couple of minutes I was excited and then that high kind of leaves you. But I’m encouraged. I had a great time; we got a win.”

Oh, and then Dun Dun “quietly” scored 21 and Pau had 11, The Snelly Cat chipped in 10, AB added 11.

Whatever will Thibs do when JB and DRose are back? Is there such a thing as having too much depth?

Here is where the hope comes in. “We have too much talent,” said Noah. “We have too many good players. The strength of this team is how deep we are and we have to use that to our advantage.”

Raptors coach Dwane Casey had this to say following the demolition: “They punched us and we never recovered. They had Mirotic at the four, Taj Gibson and Noah out on the floor. It was a tough match up for all of our big guys. Really, Noah is their quarterback. He is the point guard, basically. He gets out on the floor and does a great job of picking you apart. They came out and kicked our butt and dominated us every which way.”

Thanks to Coach Casey for the reminder that “dominated” should be added to the list of D words describing the Bulls’ big game.

So the reinforcements have started to arrive, and guys are getting healthy. Now everyone just needs to remain injury-free, Thibs needs to take some Valium, and the Bulls need to get ready to play lots of basketball in the lovely month of June.

Meantime, I’ll re-start the playoff fund and begin on the “Thibs – will you marry me, it’s my birthday” sign to display from section 106 row K seat 3 at the UC next Saturday.

Yup, it’s Cinjo’s birthday game, and the Bulls are going to decimate the poor Knicks, hopefully via a strong performance from a full complement of players, including Most Improved Player (at least, according to me) Jimmy Butler.

See Red!

Go Bulls!

Beat the Pistons (that game is tonight, BTW).

Playoffs, hurry up already, and how about those UConn Huskies?

Just managed to watch an entire Bulls game on national TV (ABC), and on the upside, the Bulls made it a game – until the masked man, Russell Westbrook took over in the final minutes.

Despite the Thunder’s uniform disadvantage – with the Bulls sporting their traditional sleeveless jerseys that read “Bulls” on the front, versus Los Bulls or Chicago Celtics, it wasn’t enough. OKC got the short-sleeved PJ jerseys, which successfully contributed to a close game throughout, but didn’t stop them in the end.

I was proud of our Bulls for competing in this one, but oh, how much greater it would have been to get the W. Yes, there are reasons to be upset. The Bulls are 4-7 since DRose went out, and they’ve lost the last five of six. Thanks goodness the 76ers are still in the league, as that’s the Bulls’ one lone win in the past few weeks.

Since I’ve returned from Hawaii, I’m trying to be more “chill,” and not get so wound up about everything. Yes, this includes our Bulls.

They’re going to make the playoffs, my friends. And today’s performance against the “Rising Thunder” showed what they can do, even without three of their best players.

It pains me more to watch a blowout, which was often the case last season, when the Bulls couldn’t even score 80 in a game, and when basket covers followed them around every arena they visited.

This year, there’s a sense of hope, knowing that DRose, Taj and JB are coming back. Quite a formidable trio, especially when healthy and well-rested.

If there’s any kind of silver lining, it has to be the emergence of Nikola Mirotic, along with solid play from Snelly Cat and the “Thunder-stopper,” E’Twaun Moore. And Jo put some points on the board today – with 15, so that’s encouraging.

And I take joy in knowing that unless the Bulls lose every single one of their remaining games (which, I guess, is possible, the way things have been going) – I’m going to make it to my first playoff game.

With that in mind, I started looking at possible opponents, and I’m not thrilled about any of them. Pick your poison: Pacers (too big, too pesky, too good and Paul George is returning), Heat (them again? just saying “Miami Heat” causes me to become angry, for all the games and series lost, although would be fun to see Luol), Hornets (the incessant buzzing they pipe into the arena where they play ought to be banned by Adam Silver), Wizards (seriously? Nene, Gortat, Wall, Paul Pierce. Absolutely not).

And then there’s the poor Bucks. In addition to the unsightly dark green uniforms, they would have no home court advantage versus the Bulls, since their “home court,” lucky for Bulls fans, is “United Center North” (the Bradley Center).

So I’ll take the Bucks, winners of the ugly uniform contest in the opening round. The Bulls need any kind of advantage they can get – it’s time to take no prisoners. United Center North, here we come. And besides, with close proximity, just a 90-minute bus ride (assuming no snow), it will save our Bulls from the inconvenience of flights and possible unstructured time in cities like Miami or DC, where there’s a night life, and the Bulls could get themselves into trouble if Thibs lets them out of the film room.

Thrill-Waukee – not so much. Enjoy the time in the hotel, and a possible excursion for some cheese curds and/or brats.

In other basketball news, the UConn men, behind Ryan Boatright manage to power their way to win after win. Wishing them another victory today versus SMU, although, in true Bulls-like fashion, they’re trailing by a lot at the half. Men, I strongly suggest you follow the lead of your fellow UConn women, not our come-from-behind Bulls.

And good luck to the UConn Women as well (although they don’t need it).

See Red!

Go Bulls!

Beat the Pacers.

Finding an identity

This season, “everyone” has been claiming that the Bulls need to find an identity. I guess they just don’t know who they are.

In the past, it’s been all about defense, holding teams to fewer than 100 points/game, and just being all-around pesky when it comes to defending, rebounding, getting to loose balls and hustling.

This year, not so much. For a few minutes, the Bulls found ways to score, and they seemed to be so busy kissing themselves for three-point field goals that they forgot about defense.

That’s a bit simplistic. But maybe it’s also because the Bulls’ best defenders – Jo and Taj have had injuries most of the year, and I might actually look like a strong defender compared to Pau.

But I contend that it’s impossible for the Bulls to “find their identity” when every night, they’re called something different, and have to play in pajama top uniforms one night, and the next night, they’re “Los Bulls,” following day, they have an 11 a.m. game start, following game they’re “Chicago Celtics” in green short-sleeved PJ tops.

I would be a bit confused too.

Following the Bulls’ loss to the Spurs, a game which started at 11 a.m. “old” local time before the time change, Sam Smith tweeted this quote from Jo: “We’re fighting for a high seed. You need to find a way to get yourself going, even at 11 o’clock in the morning.”

In all seriousness, when Derrick, JB and Taj all went out, there were about 22 games left in the season. I thought – if the Bulls can win half of them, they could still potentially maintain a spot in the top of the East and have home court advantage for the first round of the playoffs.

Well, they’ve won two games (Wizards and Thunder) and lost three (Pacers, Spurs, Grizzlies). Thankfully, next stops, Philly for the 76ers and then Charlotte to play the Hornets, or whatever they’re called this week.

Let’s hope they can win both of those before they head to OKC where the masked man (Russell Westbrook) is sure to be on some kind of streak.

Go Bulls, Los Bulls, Chicago Celtics. Whoever you are.

See Red!

Beat the 76ers.

Footnote – In other Bulls news, Thibs made a mistake. He had six guys on the floor at the end of the fourth quarter in the Memphis game (he was trying to sub Jo in and I guess he got confused, for the first time ever). So the Bulls got a technical and the Grizz got and made a free throw. It was not the Bulls’ best night, and the green uniforms brought anything but the luck of the Irish.

No DRose, No JB, No Taj, No Cinjo – No Problem

The undermanned, overachieving Bulls wowed the basketball world with two big wins this week. OK, maybe they didn’t wow the entire basketball world, but my world, and the Chicago world. It’s hard to say which one was more exciting or more significant. It’s all tied up in that department.

First of all, on Tuesday, they beat their Eastern Conference rivals, the Wizards 97 to 92. They held the feared Nene to 0 points, and he also fouled out. To say that this makes me oh so happy, joyful, thrilled would be an understatement.

This, of course, happened after he had told DC media “I don’t want to talk about Chicago. You know I hate them. You can put that.”

Flash forward to last night, Thursday, when Russell Westbrook, the masked man brings himself and his triple double streak to the UC.

Down by 16 points at the outset, I thought it was going to be a long, long night, and I felt an NCIS re-run in my future.

But behind your usual household names – Nikola Mirotic and E’Twaun (Smoodge) Moore, the Bulls pulled out a victory. Smoodge hit the game-winning three-pointer, and even got the post-game TNT interview with Craig Sager, who just returned from his 11-month leave to treat leukemia.

After the game, speaking of Westbrook, Thibs said, “We held him to 43.” And thankfully, Wesbrook’s triple double streak (enroaching upon MJ’s record of 7) came to an end and he ONLY had 8 rebounds and 7 assists.

Must have been just how Thibs envisioned it when he began his 2014-2015 season game planning last May – “I think I’ll go with Nikola and E’Twaun down the stretch in Q4 when the game is on the line, especially versus winning teams.”

When I left the office yesterday, my colleague and I were talking about the game. We agreed – given it was the Thunder, nationally televised on TNT, the Bulls have about half a team, and Russell Westbrook is seemingly unstoppable – that we just didn’t want a blowout, and losing by five points wouldn’t even be that bad.

We got more than we hoped for, and then some.

Thibs: “They’re fighters. Every time we’ve been down, they’ve responded. To me, it’s a testament to their character…We have a group of guys that are very unselfish. They’re very together.”

Jo: “The basketball gods were on our side.”

See Red!

Go Bulls!

Beat the Pacers.

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