11:30 AM EDT, April 9, 2012
The Bulls finally had their full roster for Sunday’s game against the Knicks in New York. Fat lot of good it did them.
Their offense looked worse than ever and their help defense was a joke. I mean, by the end of the first quarter, I wanted to stop the game and hold up an orange sphere and say, “Gentlemen, this is a basketball.’’
But that’s the good news, and here’s why:
Everybody knew it would take time for the Bulls to look like the Bulls after Derrick Rose came back, so, to play that horribly, to go down by 21 with Rose stinking it up early and to still take the lead on the road tells me the Knicks are a Bulls playoff sweep waiting to happen.
The Bulls’ best players, Rose and Luol Deng, the guys most likely to have the ball at the end of games, missed free throws down the stretch. The Bulls’ big men gave up a pile of offensive rebounds at the end --- four on one possession when one measly Bulls board would’ve ended matters. The missed free throws are more glaring and embarrassing, but the lack of rebounds is a greater failure for the way this Bulls team is constructed and coached. In all, that’s choke-type stuff. For that one game. Repeating: for one game. Because look: If you’re worried about that, if you think that will continue, then the Bulls were never as good as you thought.
Wait, Tom Thibodeau wanted his players to make Carmelo Anthony drive instead of taking a shot way beyond the three-point line? Quick, someone explain percentages to the coach.
Richard Hamilton didn’t play in the fourth quarter or overtime. He didn’t reach the 20 minutes that has been his limit since returning from his shoulder separation. Hard to tell if he was hurting as much as he was hurting the Bulls.
When Alfonso Soriano shows better hands than Joakim Noah . . .
Is Noah even paying attention?
The Bulls have played badly in afternoon games this season, going 2-5 without naps. I seem to remember a lot of weekend playoff games starting in the afternoon. Fix this.
ABC analyst Magic Johnson --- or is that ESPN analyst Magic Johnson? I know it’s one of those Disney subsidiaries, so we’ll say that Mouse analyst Magic Johnson had the Bulls as the best team in the league, followed by the Heat, which he calls the most talented team in the league, and then the Thunder, Spurs and Lakers. This is just for the regular season, right? Because depth matters less and superstars count more in the playoffs. Miami has two, the Bulls have one, and he’s nothing close to that right now. Do the math, people.
No, wait, don’t. Not yet. Not ‘til Hamilton gets to play with the popular kids in the fourth quarter. that changes the equation. How much that changes the equation, I’m not sure, and besides, we’re not at the Eastern Conference Final yet, and Dwyane Wade is lucky that’s the case.
Only ESPN would note relentlessly that this marks the first time since 1966 that the Yankees and Red Sox each started 0-3. The Yankees and Red Sox, by the way, will be the halftime act when for the Bulls-Knicks rematch on Tuesday broadcast on the channel known as "the worldwide leader in Yankees-Red Sox breathlessness and saying Tim Tebow’s name.’’