Friday, December 05, 2003

"National Showcase" I'm sure that TNT execs were thrilled to see Linton Johnson on the court to open a nationally televised game. In fact, I should've known right then to not watch. Last night's loss against the undermanned Sixers was just one of those games you hate to give away. The Bulls had this game under control but blew it at the end, to a team that was not playing well and is one of those weak east teams that the Bulls HAVE TO START BEATING. The backcourt of Hinrich and Crawford was a bright spot, especially Kirk who hit some key 3s in the 4th. But I will focus on the negatives, fitting the negative theme of this loss. Injuries: Their top 2 Small Forwards were hurt. E-Rob had the Flu and Scottie Pippen was lost in Walgreens looking for various geriatric medications. So that is why the aformentioned Linton Johnson was starting. Even newly aquired Chris Jefferies got some action, going 0-1 in 5 minutes. Take this along with Tyson Chandler being on the IR and Marcus Fizer...well I don't know why Marcus didn't play...and that's a really weak lineup. I can't believe I'm saying this, but if E-Rob plays, the Bulls win the game. Skiles: I had a problem with some of the lineups he was putting out there last night. Granted he's new to the team plus there were the injuries, but for an extended period in the second half the lineup was: Hinrich/Crawford/Johnson/JYD/Blount. I'm sorry but that's an unnacceptable frontcourt. Now I'll admit I didn't know the foul situation at the time, but why wasn't Antonio Davis in the game? He should've been in that lineup and had Corie Blount play with Curry, so your 2 squads arent all-or-nothing as far as offense goes. It was during this time that the Bulls predictably stopped scoring and allowed the Sixers to hang around the whole half. And the final play: I'm sure this was obvious to most fans, but how do you have an undrafted rookie free agent in Linton Johnson throwing in the inbounds for a potential last minute game-winning play? Given 2 chances, he was unable to do the job. Meanwhile a player like Kendall Gill was on the bench. The New Guys: I tried to gather the pulse of the Toronto Raptors fan after the big trade last week, and they were very consistent in saying to expect nights like last night. Williams and Davis did not play well last night, but what was telling was 2 plays near the end of the game. One was Jerome Williams letting a rebound go through his hands and out of bounds. At the time (I believe) the Bulls were up by 3 and there was near a minute to play. Now I like Jerome, he tries hard and that was just one play, but there were several others where Jerome's...'awkwardness' caused missed rebounds and layups. Another play I think I'll have to get used to is Antonio Davis starting at the top of the key, dropping his head and shoulder, and just barrelling to the basket getting a foul one way or the other. Near the end of the game last night, he pulled one of those into Derek Coleman and got called for an offensive foul. And speaking of Antonio, here's a scathing post over at RaptorBlog. Given how Antonio felt about Toronto, this seems well deserved. All things considered though, the Bulls still showed that they can easily compete in this awful conference. Crawford and Curry look ready to breakout and a healthy Bulls team can be a force. At least Barkley and the TNT crew didn't rip on the organization too much. Barkley even went as far as to say that the Bulls have a 'very bright future'. Oh, and he liked the black uniforms too.