Saturday, February 19, 2005

All-Star Festivities

Anthony Roche has stats and video clips of the Rookie/Sophomore game over at his blog. Reading that Kirk Hinrich went 0-7 from the field, can't help but think that the finger injury he suffered against Toronto is bothering him. Hopefully playing in the game will help him work his way back, not injure it more.

More for the 'praise' category, first from P.J. Carlesimo who coached in last night's game:

"What [Hinrich, Deng and Gordon] have done for Chicago is more impressive and more indicative of what they are capable of than what they did tonight,'' Carlesimo said. "Not that they didn't play well tonight, but the way they are playing for [coach] Scott [Skiles] tells you.

"I like Luol's versatility and I like Ben's confidence, and the fact that he takes and makes big shots. He comes off the bench, understands his role and does a great job for them. I'm very impressed with those two.''

And from Jay Mariotti, who managed to write a whole Bulls column without mentioning Jordan. I, for one, couldn't believe it.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Singing Praises

  • Scott over at Raptorblog has some nice compliments towards the Bulls after seeing them beat his Raps the night before.

How can the Raptors get where the Bulls are now? Well, Chicago needed six consecutive losing seasons before they finally broke their curse.

Well, I wouldn't necessarily say they needed it. And I wouldn't say this team is worth so many losses. But it's better than staying bad...or mediocre even. Riding a bandwagon is way more fun.

  • A great writeup over at the LA Times, an all encompassing story about all contributors to the great first half of the season, from Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf on down. The best part is they put in my favorite Skiles quotes in there, one of which you've probably noticed I pay reverence to in your browser window title.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Break time

The All Star break is here, and the Bulls improbably stand at 26-23 after a 121-115 victory in Toronto. After jumping out to an 11 point lead in the 1st quarter, and a 14 point lead in the 3rd, the Bulls managed to let the Raptors tie the game on both occasions before taking hold for good. While the Raptors did manage to go on these runs, the Bulls never relinquished the lead and always seemed to be in control, especially inside. Rookie Rafael Araujo had major problems against Eddy Curry, and the Bulls guards shot very well from the outside, hitting 11 of 15 3-pt attempts. Overall the Bulls shot 58% from the field.

Not that defense was much to talk about for both teams tonight (the Raps shot 51%), but it was good times watching Jalen Rose feign any attempt at defense. Not that Bulls fan needed many reminders, but it's glad to know that a guy who seems to enjoy letting people go by him so he can run back to the other end and shoot isn't on their favorite team anymore. Oh and of course his frustration after an opponent's easy basket, which usually was because of him. At one point he threw the basketball off of the backboard in disgust, but somehow avoided getting a technical. Maybe even the Refs stopped caring about him like much of the league has already.

And to think how excited I was when he came to town :-p

The Bulls don't play until next Tuesday against Miami, so there should be plenty more to discuss until then.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Home sweet home, if only for one night.

The Bulls returned home to the United Center after 15 days away, and gave the home sellout crowd a great coming home-present with a 107-102 victory over the Sacramento Kings. Hey, 100 points means free Big Macs!

In the first half, the Bulls looked like the high-powered offense instead of the Kings. On their way to 53 points and a 9 point halftime lead, the Bulls spread the offense around to all, while the Kings (and especially Chris Webber) were ice cold from the field. Tyson Chandler wasn't available (personal reasons), yet the Bulls didn't lose a beat defensively, or perhaps the Kings were just having a cold half, since all that changed in the 2nd.

After the half opened up with a 11-0 run by the Kings, Skiles tried a variety of combinations with varying results, while always staying within a few points with the Kings, finishing the quarter down by 1.

In the fourth, Eddy Curry and Ben Gordon turned in big-time performances. Eddy finished with 25 points (15 from the line) and 12 rebounds. He was catching everything that was thrown to him, his hands are so good it was forcing the Kings to send him to the line. I have said this a few times this year, but when Eddy Curry looks unstoppable like that, you just get crazy thoughts about him being a max-contract player for the Bulls through the decade. Gordon did what he does, hitting clutch shots and showing no fear.

Ben Gordon's play is pretty hard to figure out. If there was some way to track difficult shots per point, Gordon would have to be up there. He still doesn't get to the line often(although he did have 9 attempts tonight), and his size means that he rarely takes a shot without a hands in his face. Even his jump shots are after breaking his man down the dribble and quickly rising up too quick for his opponent to react. In the lane he uses a series of high arching floaters, possibly the most difficult shot in basketball. So its amazing that a rookie taking these shots is still shooting a respectable if not spectacular 43% from the field.

I'm assuming that most players find that making the more difficult shots comes after everything else. Yet Gordon seems to excel at these shots exclusively, and is evidenced by his performances at the end of games like tonight when a defense knows he's going to get the ball. Does this mean that Gordon has the hard part figured out and will be quick to pick up 'easier' ways to get points like being able to get more open off of screens and drawing fouls? Or is his charmed ability to make tough shots mask the fact that he is too small to get baskets any other way?

Tommorow the Bulls will be at Toronto, with Tyson and Antonio Davis hopefully back in the lineup. Remember to head over to the forum to fan the the flames.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Scott Skiles, will you be my valentine?

While the Bulls February schedule is only half over, they've managed to get through the first half (all road games) at 2-3. While not great, it is far better than 0-5. At least by having a surprising win over Dallas and a not-so-surprising win over the imploding Minnesota Timberwolves (more on their problems here, here, and here), it shows that the Bulls aren't entirely a fluke. There's still a chance of tired legs and inexperienced game keeping the playoffs from reach, but as of now the ship seems steady, and can tread water before the schedule becomes friendly again.

Tuesday night is the return to the United Center to face the Kings. After a tough start, the Kings have followed their usual formula to the middle of the Western Conference playoff race at 33-18. Some good news for the Bulls is that Peja Stojakovic pulled his hamstring on Sunday and will probably miss the game. This year the Kings are not nearly as deep as they were in years past (due to cap casualties and the yearly Bobby Jackson injury), so the Peja injury could hurt especially bad. But they still should have Chris Webber, Brad Miller, Mike Bibby, and new addition Cuttino Mobley. Losers of 4 straight before a win on Sunday, maybe the Kings won't be as tough of a matchup at home than was assumed at the start of the month. I do hope that there is a big UC crowd to welcome back the fellas home. And to see that Asian woman who stacks bowls on her head at halftime while riding a unicycle, that shit is crazy.

The following night is a game I've been looking forward to for a while, the first matchup of the season against the Toronto Raptors. This will be a road game and the wrong end of a back-to-back, but unless you've shut off all contact with anything outside of the American border you know that the Raptors have some issues as well. Although if you had shut off all contact that means you're not reading Raptorblog, and that is just plain wrong. Make sure you head over to the forum to get a perspective from behind enemy lines. Don't worry, just mention that I sent you, the fans are friendlier than their fight-seeking head coach.