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.”
Beat the Pacers.