Thursday, November 13, 2003

Three Road Wins Almost Seems Worthy of a Grant Park Rally And at the rally Jerry Krause can be there to get booed. good times. Well that was a fun game to watch last night, the Bulls played a pretty solid game (and even some defense!) to get their third road win of the year already, matching their total from last year. The Bulls were shorthanded, with Tyson not even making the trip, and Corie Blount in street clothes with a bum knee. Luckily that size wasn't exactly needed going against an undersized team like the Celtics. They were aggresive in guarding Eddy Curry though, fronting and occasionally doubleteaming him. Curry had a nice game though, especially with the 14 rebounds. I still didn't see him working hard enough without the ball to get position. He should have gotten more thatn 7 attempts with the size advantage he had over his various defenders. Another thing of note was Scottie Pippen's play in the 2nd half. Pippen can only play in spurts, and he's obviously not the player he used to be, but one thing he gets is calls. The refs respect him and give him the benefit of the doubt when he takes a charge, or when he got fouled taking a three by Vin Baker. Nobody else on the Bulls the past 5 years have gotten much respect from the Refs, its nice to see that maybe that'll be changing. And we won't have to see Jalen standing on one end of the court whining while the rest of his teammates are playing defense. Speaking of Rose, he was back in the starting lineup last night, but Jamal Crawford wasn't, passed over again for Kirk Hinrich. Hinrich still had only 3 assists to 5 turnovers in 28 minutes, but he looked better out there last night then in previous efforts. While he's not a better player than Crawford, you can see why Cartwright likes him, he pushes the ball up fast and doesn't wait to start the offense. And Cartwright claims his main reason for benching Jamal still is his defense. However while only playing 20 minutes, Jamal was part of a big run in the second half, and hopefully that will go appreciated. But this has been 3 games where Crawford has been benched, and its looking less and less like a wakeup call and more and more like an extended stay in ole Bill's doghouse. Chad Ford today dedicated his column to Crawford's plight this year:
Crawford knows that when a team struggles early, it's often the point guard who takes the blame. He knows that winning is more important than individual stats. And he believes, deep down, that his return to the starting lineup will happen soon enough. He knows that his insecurity has gotten him into trouble. That his words, spoken in the heat of the moment, have made him look selfish. He says he regrets lashing out when he found out he'd lost his starting job. He also claims to be misunderstood. Talk to Crawford a little longer and his perspective starts to come into focus. He's been fighting adversity his entire basketball career -- an NCAA suspension his freshman season; riding the bench his rookie year in the NBA; a serious knee injury in year two; a year-long position battle with rookie Jay Williams in year three; and now yet another position battle, this time with rookie Kirk Hinrich, during his contract year. Every time Crawford appears ready to break out, an obstacle gets thrown in his way. Forgive him if he thinks the world, or the Bulls, are out to get him a little bit. Nothing has come easy for Jamal. Sometimes, even the simplest of gestures gets filtered through Crawford's experiences as a plot to bring him down. "Just look at everything objectively," he says about his problems with the Bulls. "I don't want to bring everything back up. I'm trying to get past it. . .But just look at it objectively. All anyone wants is a fair shake."
I was too hoping that Crawford would finally be given the chance to just play and not have to look over his shoulder. I want to say that Bill should fit his scheme to Crawford's gifts as a scorer, and not try to force him to be John Stockton (which may or may not involve turning him white). But if this helps Crawford's game by by having him focus on his playmaking and defensive duties as a point guard, then this benching truly is for the best. So I'm in Cartwright's corner for this one, but I have to wonder how Crawford is going to be given a chance to redeem himself. By making him constantly worry about mistakes, it can only hurt his game to think Hinrich is going to take all of his minutes. Tonight's game is at home against the Timberwolves, a real NBA team...from the West. Scary. And while last night was fun, its important to note that the Celtics were on the wrong end of a back-to-back, and undoubtedly a little drained. The Bulls will probably be feeling the same tonight, and I think they need a healthy Tyson Chandler to make it a game.

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

On Bill and the Boys... Thanks to that minor league hockey team called the "Blackhawks" (I think that's the name), I wasn't able to see the Bulls game last night. I guess that's a good thing, cause losing at home to the Nuggets is something I probably wasn't ready to take. I was trying to follow along on the game cast, and that was sad enough. Lookin through the boxcore, the first thing I noticed was free-throw differential. (12-16 Bulls, 33-41 Nuggs), and then of course the 24 turnovers. But the big story was seeing Hinrich and E-Rob in the starting lineup again in place of Rose and Crawford. They both seemed more resigned after last nights game judging by the post-game comments, and that has to be expected. After all, this kind of thing happens to every NBA team, and has happened to Cartwright before. And is a main reason why college coaches can't hack it in today's assocation, even the great Phil Jackson has to deal with the Egos. I would be all in favor of backing the coach in this kind of situation if only I was sure Cartwright is actually a good coach. He hasn't proven that yet, and he needs to think about winning games. And after looking at the alternatives, that means getting Crawford and Rose back on the floor. The message has been sent to them, and its time for both sides to get over it and play on. Tommorow's game is on the road in Boston. Go check out Celtics Blog and read up on the opponent. Tyson should be healthy for that game, and despite the loss last night, the team is at least looking better. Hopefully I can actually see this game. Update well...looks like Tyson will probably sit. However, good news I forgot to mention earlier was that the Celtics will be on the wrong end of a back-to-back, they beat Indiana on the road tuesday night.

Monday, November 10, 2003

Jalen Rose Other News: Sun Will Rise From the East Tommorow Wow, big-time soap opera action goin on in Bulls-land. Another bad bad loss to the Sixers on friday. I wasn't able to see the game because it was exclusively on media powerhouse WCIU. Saturday's game against the Hornets will be remembered for some time. Either for turning the corner on the season by beating a quality team on the road, or for starting the in-fighting that could sabotage the season. I missed the first few minutes of the game, and when I came in, I assumed that Crawford and Rose were in serious foul trouble cause E-Rob and Kirk Hinrich were in the game. But I soon found out that they started. Basically Cartwright's saying it was change for the sake of change, but Crawford and Rose viewed it as being scapegoats for the team's poor start. Its really a combination of both, because while SOMETHING had to be done, choosing those particular players to bench shows once again Cartwright's insistance on defense. Did it work? Well both players played well enough off the bench to the extent that they played the entire fourth quarter and helped pull out a nice road win (already 2/3 of the way till last year's total). But did the benching actually help the team? I'm not so sure, unless the benching truly made Crawford and Rose play harder, in which case the move was completely justified (they should be playin hard anyway). The move also seemed to inspire Eddy Curry, who put in a solid game. Other observations include Pippen's nice cream-colored suit, and Kirch Hinrich looking completely overmatched. He had 9 turnovers in 27 minutes, and missed a key free throw in the final minute. The shot would've made it a 2-possession game, and for some reason when Hinrich made the 2nd one, Wayne 'I'll work any game' Larivee enthusiastically remarked "way to go kid!". whatever that was supposed to mean. So Rose is upset that he ends some meaningless streak for consectutive starts he had, but who cares he's always upset. And Crawford is upset and saying "the writing's on the wall" as far as returning, but hey, that isn't really up to him. It's up to Pax to wait and see if Crawford is worth the money that he most likely won't get anywhere else. So as of now all this is overblown. However if the same starting lineup is out on the floor tonight (Cartwright has inferred it may be), and the players start taking sides, things could get ugly. You'd like to think that the players wouldn't care about the starting lineups as long as their winning (and they're still getting a lot of minutes), but as we know it doesn't always work out that way. This is a big risk by Cartwright, and has Sam Smith even requesting that he gets an extension, as a was to not allow the 'inmates to run the asylum'. I'm hoping that the move was a one-time deal to give the team a wakeup call, and that a motivated Rose and Crawford are back in the starting lineup tonight. Along with the day-to-day Tyson and Pippen. Cause while its nice to shake things up once in a while, having your best players off the court in the beginning of the game can't be a long-term solution.