Three messages on my instant messenger when I got home from Monday night's Bulls win against the severly undermanned Suns:
-"Why would you want Brunson in the game?" -"Rick Brunson is the bane of my existence." -"ha did u throw a slushie at Skiles head?"
Does Scott Skiles see me in the stands and automatically call on #9? If any of you remember the last Bulls game I attended, I was extremely annoyed with the amount of minutes Rick Brunson got. Not only was Brunson in the game for 21 minutes, he played the entire 4th quarter. Both times Brunson got minutes due to a benching of Jamal Crawford. And in what has been the theme of the past week or so, it was because of Crawford not attacking the basket. In his 26 minutes of play, Crawford took 11 shots, and 8 of them were 3 pointers. He didn't go to the free throw line the entire game. The results were predictably poor, netting only 5 points before the benching. Needless to say that Skiles' reasoning behind the benching wasn't to put a better guard on the court, but to send a message to Jamal that this type of play is unacceptable. While this angers me as someone in attendance, as a Bulls fan I cannot complain with this move. In the long term, Skiles is thinking about Jamal Crawford's development above the performance of one game. While winning games this year is important (hell in the East they're not even out of it), if this benching makes Crawford a more complete scorer I'm all for it.
Hmmm....if you've been paying attention, you'll notice this is the opposite attitude than my opinion with Eddy Curry's minutes. And again tonight Eddy was taken out late for a more defensive lineup. So what is my real solution for this balance between development and winning? On the one hand, I want Eddy Curry in the game to provide scoring, yet on the other I don't mind when Jamal gets taken out when he's not playing up to his potential. Now while I do admit that benching Jamal in the 4th was a good idea, he should have been put back into the game when in the last 5 minutes. Maybe he can stay off the floor for punishment if he had a better backup, but it was obvious that Brunson was detrimental on both sides of the ball. By putting him back in to win the game I don't think Skiles would have cheapened the message of his benching, and maybe Jamal would've responded positively. That way the message can be sent, but also you don't need to put out a lineup that cannot score to save its life. Because in what is even more glaring in person, those lineups are terrible to watch.
But I will conclude with this: I trust Scott Skiles with this delicate process. And I can't say the same for when Cartwright was here.