Thursday, February 03, 2005

Jamal Crawford update

Still miss him?

Following the latest Knicks debacle, a 96-76 flogging at the hands of 'Melo, K-Mart, and the rest of the Denver Nuggets, Knicks forward Jerome Williams told reporters that the Knicks are struggling to “play team basketball.” As if we needed the Junkyard Dog to tell us that.

Anybody not named Stephon Marbury, Isiah Thomas, or James Dolan saw this coming in the off-season when the Knicks traded for high-scoring shooting guard Jamal Crawford. Renowned for busting out for 30 points one night only to throw that many bricks the next, Crawford is one of the NBA's most notorious freelancers, a player with a preternatural ability to singlehandedly throw an offense out of sync by ignoring plays to force up ill-timed shots. Being that the Knicks already had one player that does that , Starbury, who just happens to be their point guard and anointed franchise player, adding Crawford to the mix seemed, well, odd and a bit risky.

It's proved to be worse than even the most doomsday-inclined of NYC tabloid hacks could've imagined. The defensively disinterested duo has combined to form the NBA's most sieve-like backcourt while teaming to turn the Knicks offense into a series of “random possessions,” as coach Herb Williams put it. With the loses piling up faster than fourth quarter turnovers by Marbury, the Knicks situation has gotten so bad that team apologists are pointing to the return of do-nothing Tim Thomas as a potential turning point.

Yeah, it'll be a turning point alright. It'll be the point at which the Knicks 2004-05 season becomes an out-and-out farce.

I know this isn't exactly the best audience to relay such a message, but there were countless Bulls fans over the summer who bemoaned the loss of their leading scorer. And the Knicks incompatible backcourt wasn't completely surprising.

I fear for Knickerblogger's sanity when I read today that Isiah may not be reluctant to trade Michael Sweetney.

Note: Lots of new links are up, so browse around. As you can see, nearly everyone has a basketball blog. Why, I remember the old days, when it was just Me, Tim, and Scott. Just kidding new bloggers, I know I probably speak for everyone when saying that all of these new blogs is only a good thing for the basketball blogosphere.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

All Official-Like

Just some odds-and-ends (and maybe a rant or two).

First off, some Bulls tidbits from

  • Scott Skiles won the NBA's Eastern Conference coach of the month for January. When asked about a possible (at the time) win, Skiles responded with:
    "Um, I would look at it as a reflection of my team. I was, uh, you know, never good enough to be much for the individual awards. I guess I haven't thought about it. I don't know. Sorry for such a lame answer. I should've had some words of wisdom."
    awwwww..come on Scott, you can toot your own horn a bit. You earned it.
  • Ben Gordon won the East's rookie award for the month.

 Moving on to another 'official' source, ESPN...

  • Watching the Illini game last night, couldn't help but cringe every time Dick Vitale brought up how recruits and underclassmen are jumping to the NBA, and how it's hurting the college game. I wouldn't mind if it was once in a while, but it was honestly once every 5 minutes. Get over it. College Basketball is as popular as ever, even though the talent may slip they still have Vitale and ESPN as a mouthpiece blaring its greatness constantly. Sure there's been some missteps by some kids leaving early, but to bring up LeBron James as an example.....I think that's one high schooler that's doing A-ok. To constantly bring up the NBA as the source of all evil in the world while College Basketball is this bastion of purity really irks me. If Stern ever gets his wish with the age limit (keeping youngsters in college instead of actually having to pay minor league players in...well...a real minor league), it would be fun to see a uber-talent give a middle-finger to Vitale, ESPN, and the NCAA by taking some cash-money in Europe. Obviously I could go on, but its been covered all over the place by similar-minded folks.
  • ESPN dope Dan Shanoff (best known for the-Worst.Column.Ever-Daily Quickie) takes the verbal ball-bat to Philadelphia Eagles (I hear they're in some bowl game this weekend) wideout Freddie Mitchell, naming him in several columns for his 'not' list. I can't help but run to Mitchell's defense. Not because I think he's a good player, but because he is a genuinely fun guy. You know, something that the N(o)F(un)L(eague) and its (figurative) cheerleaders hate. Especially in the bore-fest that is the 2-week SuperBowl hype, a guy like Freddie Mitchell at least keeps me laughing nearly every day on PTI. And I mean real laughing, not the kind you see on any NFL pregame show (that Terry Bradshaw is sure dumb, and bald! ho ho ho).

And finally, from the LA Times, (via hoopshype):

 When asked in an e-mail about any possible scenario in which he would return to the Lakers, [Phil] Jackson said: "[I am] mulling that over in my mind. Luc Longley and I are going for a swim this p.m. [in the] Indian Ocean."

No word on whether Michael Jordan was nearby, trying to throw a ball at Luc's face.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Not a good start

The Bulls lost to the Nets 107-97 in the first game of their 'test' in February.

I was too busy watching the Illini, so here's the AP!:

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- Jacque Vaughn moved into the starting lineup and tied his career high with 23 points, and Jason Kidd narrowly missed the 62nd triple-double of his career in the New Jersey Nets' 107-97 victory over the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday night.

Kidd had 26 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists, and Vince Carter had 31 points, six assists and five rebounds for the Nets, who won their season-high fourth in a row.

Kirk Hinrich had 18 points for the Bulls, who lost their second in a row for their first two-game losing streak since late December.

Vaughn shot 8-for-12 from the field and 7-for-7 from the foul line, providing the Nets with a much-needed third offensive option behind Carter and Kidd. Vaughn took over the spot in the starting lineup formerly occupied by Rodney Buford, who sprained his ankle in New Jersey's previous game at Utah and will be sidelined for at least a month.

The Nets used their 14th different starting lineup of the season.

Chicago led 49-48 at halftime behind 11 points from Ben Gordon, helping the Bulls to a 23-0 advantage in bench scoring over the first two quarters.

New Jersey didn't get a single point from any of its reserves until Jabari Smith sank a 19-footer midway through the third quarter as part of a 21-3 run that gave the Nets control.

Kidd began the run with a three-point play, hitting a 20-foot jumper as he was fouled after pump-faking Bulls rookie Chris Duhon into the air.

Carter, taking particular relish in going against defender Andres Nocioni, had a nifty spin move leading to a high-arching layup and three-point play that made it 62-51. He later sank a 3-pointer over Nocioni to make it 65-53.

Chicago pulled within eight points twice in the final quarter but got no closer, losing for just the third time in its past 15 games.

The game was on Comcast, so I couldn't record it. (Interesting note: I harassed the Comcast booth at the Cubs Convention, and they claimed a deal was in place with Dish Network, but Dish didn't want to deploy the channel yet to avoid paying a few months).

But it looks like the same weaknesses that the Bulls overcame the past few games are now starting to catch up to them. The starters were poor again, with a combined 36 points (and 18 of those from Hinrich). And the Bulls defense allowed the Nets to score 100 points. 3 out of the last 4 opponents have done that now.

A loonnnng break is coming, as their next game in Miami isn't until Saturday. Bulls Blog will not be taking a similar break though. I swear I will get links up one of these days!

Monday, January 31, 2005

A look back, and forward

Tomorrow will be the first day of February, closing out one of the best months in Bulls history, earning a record of 13-3. Here are some very standard (and un-worthy-of-APBR) stats:

Month W-L  FG%  3P%  FT%  RPG APG PPG
 In November 11 1-10 0.409 0.313 0.694 41.5 21.1 89.8
 In December 15 8-7 0.443 0.340 0.751 43.8 21.5 89.9
 In January 16 13-3 0.448 0.368 0.764 43.8 23.2 96.1

And if that wasn't impressive enough, it doesn't reflect the change in team defense, a defense that-and I like to mention this often- is 2nd in the NBA.

Sure they were healthy (when many of their opponents weren't), and they were playing a lot of weaker teams. But they won.

So what does this month bring? Well, in short, a much bigger test, as already projected by the Bulls Report:

It could be ugly ... Of the 11 games on the schedule, only 3 are at home. Those 3 games include Miami, Sacramento, and Washington -- all teams with winning records who are playing well right now. The 8 road game are against New Jersey (best chance for a win for weeks), Miami (tough), Dallas (tough), Houston (tough), Minnesota (tough), Toronto (should be a win, which will be a welcome break), Cleveland (let's spank them again), and Charlotte (definite win).

In a word: eek. I wouldn't even write home about that Toronto win just yet, as they are a pretty good home team (15-7). But I'm not forgetting of course that in the NBA season sometimes you win games you are not 'supposed to'. And while I'm not sure how good this team really is, at least there are a lot more teams the Bulls 'should' beat than before.

Leave your predictions here: I say they'll go 5-6. Because even when they were 1-10, I was an optimist. But not crazy. Remember, the Bulls don't have to be as good as Dallas or even Houston: they're in the East.