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.

Thursday, December 04, 2003

Well, I care what Chad Ford thinks. Here's the juicy part of today's chat:
"Kevin (Chicago, IL): How well do you see the Bulls doing the rest of the year? When do you think that Scott Skiles can have these guys in the playoffs? My new favorite player is the 'Junk Yard Dog'!!! Chad Ford: I think Skiles will help with the toughness. So will Antonio Davis and Jerome Williams. Those guys are both past their prime, but they do hustle and work hard . . . something the Baby Bulls have never done well. I think scrapping the triangle will be a big help to guys like Jamal Crawford. I expect Crawford to put up big numbers now that he's moving to the two and will be freed up to take some shots. I still believe the Bulls will be in the playoffs by the end of the season. Robbie (Thornhill, Ontario): What do you think about the Raptors deal to acquire Jalen Rose, Donyell Marshall and Lonny Baxter. Based on the Raps' performance the past two games and with so many offensive threats, the Raptors have seemingly vaulted themselves towards the top of the Eastern Conference. How good do you think they truly are and do you think GM Glen Grunwald's wheeling-and-dealing is done? Thanks. Chad Ford: I'm not sold yet. Donyell Marshall is playing out of his mind and that's the big reason they've won those two games. They still need a center. I love Chris Bosh, but he isn't a center and will eventually get exposed in the middle. If they can move Morris Peterson for someone like Michael Doleac, I think they'll at least contend for a playoff spot. But if the teams stays as is, I see them hanging around in the lottery another year. "
I put that Toronto question in there in case anybody was flipping out over the fact that the former Bulls are tearing it up for them in their past 2 wins. I wish them well and all, but they will be one of the teams competing with the Bulls for those coveted Eastern Conference playoff spots, so it's good to know that they have faults as well. Then again, who doesn't.

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Nothin Doin' not much today. (check the updates below if you haven't) -There's a very good article in the Sun Times about 2003 second round pick Mario Austin and his exploits in Russia. There are stolen passports and collapsed lungs and weird hospitals involved. Interesting stuff. -Nice to see the former Bulls perform well in their Toronto debut. They beat the Sixers on the road, with Donyell Marshall scoring 27 points and Jalen Rose chipping in with just 6 points but had 8 assists. I'm starting to think that this team may work out for Rose because despite his own misconceptions in skills here, he has to know what he's not the best player on the Raptors. That will *force* him not to take as many shots.....right? -There are actual trade rumors around that the Bulls are interested in re-aquiring Rick Brunson from Toronto. Probably dealing Roger Mason to do so, Pax feels they need a more experienced point guard on the bench. And especially experienced at towel waving and butt slapping. UPDATE(9:23pm): Tip of the cap to my Dad (My favorite reader, and not just because he gives me money for booze) for mentioning that Rick Brunson is actually expected to be waived shortly by the Raps. (its at the more analysis here) Perhaps a little under-the-table agreement as part of last week's trade? UPDATE2(12/4 2:16am): Alrighty theres more. According to today's (tommorow's) Trib, Brunson(who's not traveling with the team) will in fact be traded on December 15th to the Bulls for Roger Mason. I guess they have to wait to the 15th since Brunson just singed with the Raptors this year. Its odd how its mentioned in the article: no header to it, or even a bullet point. Just part of the article about Scott Skiles. I mean Brunson may actually get some minutes with this team.

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

I LOOOVVVEE Honeymoon Games Actually, coach Skiles explicitly said that last night's game wasn't a honeymoon game, but obviously we'll have to see the next few games to be sure. Just remember that the Bulls won their first 2 games after Cartwright became coach, and first game after Jalen Rose got traded to Chicago. All that aside, It was a very fun game to see, new coach, new frontcourt, new defense, new energy....and new is always fun. Especially when the team wins a game it's supposed to. Playing the Milwaukee Bucks without Tim Thomas at home should be a win, so it's good that the Bulls didn't squander this one. And the best part was I actually got to see the game for once. Nearly all the Bulls players put in a solid performance (except Corie Blount), but beyond the game leaders I liked the effort put forth by Kirk Hinrich and Eddie Robinson. E-Rob looked really good last night, and he claims it's because of the new coaching staff ditching the triangle, which he says made him stand around too much. I don't exactly buy that excuse (the triangle was rarely run this year anyway), but if that's what was needed to get him going, well that's fine by me. And the new guys? I fully expect Bulls play-by-play man Tom Dore to run out to Springfield, Mass. to construct the Jerome Williams wing at the Basketball Hall of Fame. I swear he couldn't get enough of that guy. And neither could Norm Van Lier in what I like to call "The Jive-iest Damn Pregame Show Period" (TM). But the "JYD" sure played as advertised last night, getting a double-double and really energizing the team with his defense. Antonio Davis played pretty good too, but I have tempered enthusiasm with him knowing that some days those 17-foot shots aren't usually going to fall. And the other newcomer Chris Jefferies looked pretty(if not a little stoned) in his warmups. In the bad (yet expected) news department, Tyson Chandler was placed on the injured list yesterday to rest his back. Linton Johnson was activated, and played pretty much like the undrafted free agent he was last night. Tyson actually hasn't played since 11/25, so after 5 games on the IR that will mean he has a minimum of 18 days to rest. Hopefully that will be enough, but thankfully after this trade if Tyson needs more time the Bulls won't suffer as much in his absence. The next game is the one time the Bulls are on national TV, thursday night on TNT against the Sixers. Usually when the Bulls are on TNT, they lay an absolute suck-bomb on the court and Barkley just rips on them. Hopefully this will be different. I hope that the networks are happy that they have all these Orlando Magic games lined up to compensate for the lack of Bulls love. One final thing, a welcome back for The Bulls Reporter from his hiatus. One day perhaps I'll let more important things take me away from this site.....but probably not.

Monday, December 01, 2003

Will the New Bulls Play Tonight? Tonight's game against the Bucks should be an exciting one to watch. Well exciting if Davis and Williams are able to play. Apparently that's not a certainty:
It's not certain if the players acquired in Saturday's trade will be available to face the Milwaukee Bucks. Antonio Davis arrived in town early Sunday and stayed with his in-laws at their Naperville home, while Jerome Williams arrived late Sunday afternoon and stayed at a hotel. Those two, as well as Chris Jefferies, can't take a physical until the trade is approved when NBA offices open this morning. ''They very easily could be in uniform if they pass their physicals,'' Paxson said. ''The problem is they won't have had a practice.'' None of the players will be able to go through the morning shootaround, but if they're ready, Skiles said they'll play. ''I don't think I would have any fear of putting either [Davis or Williams] in the game, if it's called for,'' Skiles said. ''They're veteran players. Hopefully, I would be able to do it during a timeout, diagram one simple play and run that confidently and rely on their defensive hustle. I wouldn't worry about that.''
It looks like Tyson Chandler may be shut down for a while, another positive from this trade(well if his back heals). He's not scheduled to play tonight, which now could mean "At Forward, 6'10", from Cincinnati....Corie...Blount!!!" . The rest of the projected lineup has Crawford, E-Rob, Gill, and Curry. A new coach may be Robinson's chance to finally show something on the court besides his fancy jewelry. We've all been waiting for about 2 and half years. I'll leave ya with this anecdote from the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:
In his first meeting with the team, new coach Scott Skiles walked into the room and drew two columns on a board. In one column, he listed adjectives relating to the players: lazy, immature. In the other, he listed adjectives relating to himself: angry, disciplinarian. He then wiped the slate clean. "I told them I am judging you guys from this day forward," Skiles said.
cute huh? Enjoy the game tonight, and if you havent check out my needlessly long trade analysis below.