All this about that
Okay, so they're 4-4 and if you told fans that before the season began, I have a feeling a lot of them would have been entirely okay with that kind of start to the season, given the new guys and the tough schedule.
Yes, there have been huge blips and some bad play but, as a football coach once said, you are what your record says you are and .500 today's not bad.
THREE THINGS I LEARNED
All in all, not bad
The second quarter was not good, that is for sure.
But other than that, I thought the way they defended was as good a job of playing and coaching as they’ve put on this season.
Giving up 29 points in the entire second half, holding Chicago to 40 per cent shooting for the game and 25 per cent from three and rallying on the boards to actually out-rebound the Bulls shows it’s there. It’s just a matter of bringing it every night.
And give Jay some credit.
In the first half, they went under just about every high screen set for Derrick Rose to mixed results, at best. Rose had eight points and five assists in that half and the Bulls shot 52 per cent.
In the second half, they switched more on the screens, taking away penetration, they rotated better and more quickly out of it to get to shooters and the Bulls were horrible.
A subtle change in strategy, to be sure, but one that worked wonderfully. And tells me that they’re not afraid to change in mid-stream and can be pro-active rather than sitting back and waiting for something good to happen.
Yes, one game, to be sure and we still need 15-20 games to see what they’re all about but a pretty good night nonetheless.
Bad, bad decisions
By those not actually playing the game.
DeRozan has that crazy dunk on the baseline to make it 70-63 Bulls with just under six minutes left in the third quarter. Toronto’s on a run, the fans, who had been booing about three minutes earlier, are on their feet cheering, the Bulls have to call a timeout and you can sense a huge momentum shift in the game.
So, the timeout’s nuts, right? Music. June Taylor Dancers dancing, fans really getting into the game.
It’s canned TV highlights that drain all of the energy out of the building. Followed, of course, by a promo for some contest for some hotel chain.
Yeah, the “entertainment experience” sure is something, isn’t it?
The Bulls are …
I’m not sure, exactly.
They can’t shoot, they don’t have great athletes, they aren’t big, they aren’t particularly deep and they don’t have a low-post scoring presence.
But I get a sense they’re just scrappy enough to stay in enough games to be right in the thick of the race for 7th or 8th in the East when April rolls around.
Not sure why, exactly. I do think Taj Gibson’s got some game, nice mid-range jumper, seems active on the boards and a pretty good rookie.
Still, they were entirely underwhelming in the second half and Joakim Noah, who was otherwise pretty good, might have committed the single silliest foul I’ve seen this season.
Bargnani’s on a break, about to lumber down the court and Noah grabs him for a clear path foul, which gives Bargnani two free throws and the Raptors the ball.
It’s Noah’s fifth foul with 5:15 left and he has to come out of the game, Bargnani makes both to put Toronto up 91-88, Jose hits a jumper on the ensuing possession and Chicago doesn’t score a field goal the rest of the game.
In other news …
Big Man Triple Double for Bosh, who had 28 points, 11 boards and 10-10 FTs.
I tell you, the kid is playing at such a level the danger is people might start taking it for granted.
Spurs 92, Mavs 83
Tim Duncan, DNP (ankle)
Tony Parker, DNP (ankle)
KC Johnson of the Chicago Tribune has this to say about that one.
Told you Reggie Evans was going to have an impact, even when he isn’t playing.
Evans, still out with a sprained mid-foot (and in case anyone’s wondering, there’s no timetable for a return – not that anyone would ask, of course) has become a de facto assistant coach these days.
He’s up on the bench after every possible moment, exhorting and cheering and talking. During stoppages in play and time outs, he’s a few feet on the court talking and in the huddles pulling this guy or that guy aside to give advice.
As any coach worth his Armani suit will tell you, it’s vital that the players police themselves so there’s a different voice to be heard and Evans is that voice with the Raptors.
The refs held their annual off-the-record pre-game session with the media last night before the game. They do it once every year to go over points of emphasis for the season and whatever rule changes there are.
As we’ve mentioned here before, a big point of emphasis this time around is making sure offensive players don’t impede defenders with moving screens on screen-roll action. Coaches were told that at their annual meeting with officials in the summer and the refs hammer that point when they meet with writers and broadcasters in each city.
Maybe all the offensive fouls we’re seeing this year – and anecdotally there seem to be more than the usual number – are just refs emphasizing points of emphasis.
Hopefully, the players get it.
Speaking of long games with lots of fouls, they got that one in last night in 2:16 with just 34 personals. That’s more like it.
Know what I wouldn’t miss if it disappeared tomorrow?
The incessant hand-slapping after every single free throw.
Make or miss, four guys leave their spots on the lane or the court, wander up to the guy shooting the foul shot and fist-bump him or slap his hand.
It’s become so routine even the players don’t seem to care.
You ever notice this?
Every time there’s an off-the-ball foul called – for something like grabbing a players’ jersey or some other indiscretion – as soon as the whistle blows, the offending player always is the first one to look at the ref, knowing he got caught.
And then he complains.
So we do these pre-game chats, right? And it’s pretty good so far, I think everyone’s having fun but at the end of each of them, I always get at least one, um, over-zealous reader complaining that his or her question didn’t get answered or picked or whatever.
Well, yesterday, we were on the air for about 42 minutes with more than 300 readers who sent in 204 questions and 44 got answered. You can do that math, there’s a good chance yours doesn’t make the cut.
Ah, frost on the roof and the windshields.
20 C in Los Angeles, about 27 in Phoenix yesterday.
Yeah, the trip’s looking better every hour.
Speaking of the trip, it's a long travel day so I'm not sure when I'll get to post the inevitable comments so if you don't see them right away, don't fret. We'll get to them when we can.