So maybe we all can officially get excited now. The Bulls have a 4 game winning streak, their first since 1998, after beating the Portland TrailBlazers 92-87.
This was not a perfect victory by any means, yet the Bulls always seemed in control. They led the game big early after big starts by Kirk Hinrich and Antonio Davis only to have it slip away to a 1-point halftime deficit. The Bulls flipped the usual script of coming out flat to start the 2nd half, this time being the aggressors as Eddy Curry led them to a 10 point lead going into the fourth. The Blazers, who were without Shareef Abdur-Rahim today, managed to make it close, but late scoring by Ben Gordon put the game away. Gordon nailed a long 3 to complement a variety of floaters in the paint, and was scoring to the point where it was clear Portland had no answer for him - on his way to 23 points on 10-15 shooting. Even Eddy was converting his touches at the end of the game, and finished with a strong 18 and 8.
(Side note on Gordon: While he did play extremely well tonight and has emerged as the 'closer' this team desperately needs, this game still showed some weaknesses. First off he has to get to the line more, especially since he's such a good foul shooter. He has only attempted 43 FTA compared to 230 FGA before tonight's game, and had 1 FTA tonight. Also, his defense against opposing pgs need work, as Damon Stoudamire went off for 22 in 29 minutes.)
But while I'll have a little smile all day tomorrow after this win, I couldn't help but be a little miffed to read AP game report and Tribune headline focusing in on a face in the crowd: Michael Jordan.
I'm not gonna go off and claim that Jordan doesn't deserve to be a part of the organization, although there is a case to be made for that. I'm happy that seeing Jordan there got the crowd pumped, and seeing him there cheering his boy Ben Gordon did bring a smile to my face.
But I can already predict Jay Mariotti's column tomorrow proclaiming how Jordan being at the game signifies a brand new day of Bulls basketball. That his appearance validates the good feelings this team is starting to generate around them. But this win, this streak, and more importantly, obvious improvement in play, shouldn't be about Michael Jordan's enjoyment. It should be for Hinrich, Gordon, Deng, Coach Skiles and most importantly Eddy Curry and Tyson Chandler, who (for albeit a short time) seem to showing what Jerry Krause had crazily envisioned when he acquired them.
This is a new Bulls team, and its possible due to their youth and lack of talent they will not keep their winning ways. But if they do.... Michael Jordan, like us, is merely along for the ride.