A Christmas miracle in OKC, followed by a disappearing act in Dallas

All I wanted for Christmas was for the Bulls to win games.

I sure got my wish on December 25, when the Bulls convincingly beat OKC. The proper terminology, when one team leads the entire game, is – wire to wire. I’m getting so fancy now that I’m coming up on three years writing soon-to-be-award-winning Bulls Banter.

So not only did the Bulls manage to win an away game on national TV, on a holiday, with an odd start time (1:30 p.m. CST) and wearing alternate (Christmas) uniforms, it was a wire-to-wire victory.

Everyone seemed to contribute in that game. The Bulls remembered how to play together, and the offense and defense both seemed to click (for the most part)…I’ll let the turnovers and bad passes slide given the significance of this win.

It sure is good to be on the victorious side of a contest, for once, and especially on a national stage.

Whereas I would typically feature a few quotes from our beloved Bulls players, in this case, I find it oh so satisfying to showcase the opponent trying to figure it out.

Kevin Durant: “”Man, we didn’t have any energy to start the game or to start the third quarter. And they got us.” When asked why, he replied, “I have no clue, man.”

Durant then said: “We just made dumb plays all night.”

Russell Westbrook: “Just didn’t play hard enough. We’ve got to play harder if we want to win games.” [Author’s note: He is sounding like a rocket scientist.]

One of my favorite moments of the game took place at the viewing party at my folks’ place in Orange, CT. When it got close at the end, and the Bulls really needed to score, I was screaming, “Somebody, anybody, get me a basket.”

My Mom rushed in from the kitchen to the den carrying a bread basket.

Whatever it takes.

The fact that the Bulls seemed to have forgotten how to play defense en flight from OKC to Dallas is a mystery to me. Poof! It was a disappearing act.

But I sure felt a lot better when I got up this morning and saw that those other guys (Cavs) got blown out by Portland 105 to 76. This warms my heart.

And Indiana lost too. He he ha ha ho ho ho.

In other basketball news, I was thrilled to see that the 76ers got their second win by beating the Suns, although it looks like their coach might be on his way out. Could Phoenix be Thibs’ next stop? He could do with a little sun anyway.

Looking ahead, we’ve got lots of Bulls basketball this week, three games at the UC, and one is sure to be a Bulls victory with their #1 fan, Cinjo in attendance (Bulls vs. Knicks on New Year’s Day). That game is preceded by Oh Canada! (Toronto Raptors) on Monday night and those pesky Pacers on Wednesday.

To end on a high note, I’ll leave you with JB’s post-game assessment following the Bulls’ loss to the Dallas Mavericks: “Lots of positives. We competed from start to finish. We’ll learn from this. It’s tough after playing like we did [against OKC], but that’s why we’ve got 82 of them. We’ll be all right.”

See Red!

Go Bulls!

Beat the Pacers!

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All I want for Christmas…is for the Bulls to win games

Well, the loss to those pesky Pistons on Friday night was not for lack of trying. Four overtimes, and 68 minutes later, having to count the effort as a loss is a heart-breaker.

But as Thibs used to say, “The games keep coming.” And the Bulls’ next opponent, the Knicks took a turn foaming at the mouth. There must have been a lot of “We gotta win this one,” and “He he ha ha ho ho – the Bulls have no sleep, no legs, and no Pow!”

We knew the Bulls would be up against it, having arrived at their NYC hotel at 4:15 a.m., and when they took the MSG floor in the pajama top jerseys – there really wasn’t a question. Not even sure Benny the Bull could have helped if he made the trip.

The big takeaway from the loss to the Knicks? Jimmy Butler pointing fingers at the new “save the world” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg. Great minds, and minds greater than mine have all written about the latest bump in the road that is he Bulls’ journey to Championship # 7. Just google “Jimmy Butler calls out Hoiberg.”

As reported by Chris Kuc in the Chicago Tribune, here’s the gist of it.

Jimmy Butler: “It’s not even about being coached a certain way for five years, it’s making everybody do their job. We weren’t doing what we were supposed to be doing — what we wrote up on that board before the game. Nobody spoke up about it. I did (but) probably not enough times. (Hoiberg) has to hold everybody accountable from the No. 1 player all the way down to however many guys we have. When you match up and do your job we’ll win the game.”

Forget the team grab bag. Looks like it’s time for a team meeting. There’s trouble in the paradise that is our beloved Bulls. But we do have something to look forward to on Monday. While I thought the Bulls were in my hometown Brooklyn to play the Nets, it looks like they’re back at the UC.

Looking ahead to Christmas Day – it’s time for everyone to e-mail their final last-minute wish list to Santa. Top on the list should be, “Santa, all I want for Christmas is for the Bulls to win games.”

On Christmas, while the Bulls play a team with a winning record (OKC), it is a holiday (bad), and even worse, they’re going to be in Christmas Day jerseys. On the upside, I am pretty sure they’re supposed to look like the picture below, so at least no sleeves. And given the game is on national TV, the Bulls have a fighting chance.

But contacting Santa is probably still a good idea.

Jersey

See Red!

Go Bulls!

Beat the Nets.

 

The latest from the Bulls: A haircut, a mask, and foaming at the mouth

So, when the Bulls were enduring their three-game losing streak, I was doing everything I could to come up to the solution to all of their problems.

And prior to the more recent resurgence with a HUGE two-game win streak, I had come up with the answer. I was going to call up NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and petition him to change the Bulls schedule.

Whereas in the past, as Silver was taking on his new role, and prior, with David Stern, the ask would have been for the Bulls to only play Eastern Conference teams on non-holidays, and not wearing alternate (i.e. pajama top jerseys) uniforms, the request has changed.

Now, for the Bulls to be successful and have a chance of defeating Golden State in the NBA Finals, the Bulls need to play at the UC, against teams with winning records, and also only on national TV. Actually, to achieve their true potential, the Bulls can only play games televised on TNT (not ESPN or ABC).

Naturally, I didn’t come up with this new-found strategy on my own. It came to me after reading a riveting expose by Jay Patt titled The Bulls don’t lose regular-season home games on TNT. In the article, he uncovered the fact that the Bulls have won 14 straight home games televised on TNT.

If I had been forced to reach out to Adam Silver to plead my case, there would have been trouble in Bulls Banter paradise. That is, I can’t even have the volume on when watching the TNT games. If there’s no hometown call on television, I will have to invest in a new radio so I can listen to the radio hometown call with Chuck Swirsky and Bill Wennington.

Thankfully, the Bulls managed to pull themselves together before it was necessary for me to take these extreme measures.

They beat the partially Blake Griffin-less Clippers (at home, on TNT), when Derrick played without his mask in the second half.

Then, on Saturday, even though the surprisingly hapless New Orleans Pelicans showed up (with a losing record, despite counting Anthony Davis as their star), the Bulls managed to beat them too.

A lot of time was spent during the game, and post game analyzing how Derrick’s haircut affected the Bulls’ play. Additionally, he once again was maskless, and this added to the cause and effect discussion.

But it seems to be coming down to pace and energy. The second unit, led by Joakim sets the tone and pace, and then contributions by AB (Aaron Brooks), Dougie McBuckets, Captain Kirk, and the mask-free DRose all contributed to the win vs. the Pelicans.

Here is what Coach Fred has to say about Jo: “The play he drove around [Anthony] Davis and dunked it, I thought he was going to run in the crowd and start chest bumping people. That’s what you need. That’s what you need when you’re going through the type of game that we had is you need a guy to pick up the overall energy of the team. He was coming over to the bench, he was yelling and screaming and foaming at the mouth. It was awesome. It’s exactly what we needed at that time in the game.”

“They were having fun out there,” said Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg of the closing group that had the ball moving. “It was such a grind out, ugly slow motion type game coming out of the gate (28-20 New Orleans after one quarter). And finally we got a little energy injected out there and those guys were moving it. It was fun, fun to watch, to sit there and see it as opposed to going down and moseying into our offense. A lot of times we couldn’t get the ball reversed because we were coming down so slow. It’s one we hopefully can build on.”**

Let’s hope the Bulls can continue the momentum tonight. It is, however, necessary to throw out a few cautionary notes now: The Bulls will face the poor 76ers, with their 1-24 record, and the game is definitely not on TNT.

Let’s hope the Bulls continue to foam at the mouth, leave the masks and home, and all get their hair did. Whatever it takes…as the Bulls do NOT want to be the second team to lose to the 76ers, even though I do feel badly for them…they sure do try, and I like the coach and all of the players. But I’ll put that all aside when I root for our Bulls and a convincing victory.

See Red!

Go Bulls!

Beat the 76ers.

**Source: Sam Smith, Offense clicks in fourth quarter to carry Bulls past Pelicans

The Bulls are singing in the shower again

OK, so maybe they’re not singing in the shower. But following the Bulls’ three-point victory over the Spurs on Monday, it was reported that the post-game celebrations are indeed picking up.

Jimmy Butler, speaking of Joakim, whose play was characterized as “vintage” and “throwback,” said, “He gets everybody hyped. Just having him make plays for us is big. He got his swag back. You can see the way he’s walking around back there in the hot tub/cold tub. He’s smiling. His spirits are high. That’s the Jo that we need.”

I didn’t make it home until halfway through the third quarter, and then re-watched the game again last night. The performance signifies why I love the Bulls. It was one for all and all for one. There was energy. They shared the ball. Jo was even strutting I think.

But it’s not all joy in Who-ville. Dun Dun is doing a worldwide tour trying to find any doctor who will tell him he can return from back surgery.

Captain Kirk, the butt of many old age jokes has a hip pointer injury. Evidently, you find that ailment more often at a convalescent home than the basketball court.

Aaron Brooks – hamstring. Jimmy’s got something wrong with his heel, but he’s playing through it.

And then there are the minutes. Jo wants more minutes. The rookie, Bobby “Crazy Eyes” Portis just wants to get in the game. I read he was launching a twitter campaign to enlist fans to petition GarPax about his predicament (permanent fixture on the bench).

Despite the injury challenges, and having way too many big men, and few too many guards, when the Bulls play the way they did versus the Spurs, fans like me have no choice but to have faith.

You know you’re obsessed with the Bulls when the classmates from your xx-year high school reunion think you work for the Bulls. Ah, if only.

What Derrick said kind of sums it up: “We know how good we are. We’re just coming out and getting used to playing a certain kind of way; it will take us a few more games getting used to playing an uptempo game…”

Tonight, there’a another chance to see just how good our Bulls are.

See Red! Go Bulls! Beat the Nuggets.

 

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