That's right, a two-game win streak after the Bulls held off the Raptors tonight. The Bulls actually have looked like a decent team beating two fading eastern teams in the Raptors and the Celtics. Tonight's game could've ended like so many before it, with a late comeback by the opponent, but Vince Carter couldn't even get a shot off in the Raps final possession. The team did only score 29 points in the second half, which is...well, awful. But, a win is a win, and for the team to for once hold onto a late lead
I've been neglecting the team on the floor for a while, focusing mostly on what was going on around the league as the trade deadline approached (it's Thursday afternoon btw). But its time to look at the players on the floor now and recognize who's been playing better lately. The record notwithstanding, the team has at least looked better on the floor since Tyson Chandler's return Jan 31st.
- Eddy Curry has continued to play at as high a level as he has all season. He came out smoking in the first quarter tonight against an undersized Raptors' front line. He kind of faded after that, but still finished with 15pts 9rebs before fouling out with 5minutes to go in the 4th. That final foul call was complete crap as well, Alvin Williams deserves an Oscar.
- Kirk Hinrich saved the game for the Bulls in the 4th. It was his defensive stops that kept the Raptors at bay while the Bulls continued to shoot terribly down the stretch. He also made 2 key jumpers off of consecutive screen-and-roll plays that never allowed Toronto to tie the game. It's come to the point where the Bulls need him on the floor as much as possible.
- Speaking of defense, Eddie Robinson did a nice job (along with Crawford), on Vince Carter. Keeping him from truly getting into his game, and harassing him enough in the final possession to cause Vince to lose it out of bounds. I actually think he's finally starting to find a role on this team. And I can't believe I'm saying this, but I don't even want him (and his contract) traded anymore. Getting Aaron McKie from the Sixers would still be nice, but there's nothing wrong with E-Rob coming off the bench, running the floor, using his length to guard, hitting those 15-foot jumpers, and occasionally jumping over people and dunking on them.
- Tyson Chandler is still looking a little rusty, missing his shots occasionally under the basket. All that considered though, it's nice to see him doing the things Tyson does: rebounding, contesting shots, and just creating havoc in the paint.
So not all Bulls news is trade rumors and speculation. While its hard to believe when you see only 15 wins, but the Bulls look to at least do what they've been doing these past few years: getting hot down the stretch of a meaningless season. Whether its another tease or really the start of something special is up to Scott Skiles and John Paxson. And the deadline in 2 days will determine how they both really feel about the recent 'success'.
UPDATE(2:10pm): Scott at Raptorblog is understandably upset over losing to the Bulls, but sees in the Bulls what we've been seeing all year:
The Bulls remain a fascinating team to watch despite their ongoing incompetence. Eddy Curry and Tyson Chandler were impressive early on and it was hard to understand how a team anchored by these twin towers could have such a poor record. Then Curry started forgetting to box out, Chandler started biting on every pump fake and both of them committed multiple stupid fouls. Suddenly, Chicago's bottom-dwelling made sense. These two would compete for Man of the Year at a Dumb Guys Convention.Yeah...that's about right.