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Basketball Thu Mar 03 2011

Bulls Finishing Roller Coaster Week

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for chicagobulls.pngIt's been a bit of a crazy week for the Chicago Bulls, and they're about to head into one of their toughest weekends all season with games against the Orlando Magic and Miami Heat. Let's get our head right, as I'm sure some of you are probably still clearing the cobwebs away from that shocking collapse Wednesday night in Atlanta.

Monday night, the Bulls easily dispatched the Washington Wizards, 105-77. One of the worst teams in the Eastern Conference, the win shouldn't have given anyone too much excitement, but for a Bulls team that was only 14-13 on the road going into the game, the blowout was certainly worth a bit of attention. The biggest reason this game mattered though was the continued improvement in the play of Joakim Noah, who combined with Carlos Boozer for 31 points and 21 rebounds.

Wednesday, the Bulls signed Rasual Butler, recently let go by the L.A. Clippers. The eight-year veteran brings an outside shooting presence with him to Chicago, capable of hitting from range. He's also quite big for a shooter at 6'7, but regardless, coach Tom Thibodeau has made it pretty clear that he won't be stepping into major minutes anytime soon. To his credit, Butler appreciates that candor, and understands the unique chemistry of the team he's joining. A chemistry that Michael Wilbon of ESPN affectionately called "preposterously old-fashioned."

Wednesday night...well, I think we've all heard about what transpired Wednesday night. Thibodeau put the team through both a film session and practice on Thursday, and to a man, the players are refusing to sweep this under a rug or call it a fluke.

They'll have a chance to atone for their mistakes tonight, although against a team that just had the exact opposite sort of game last night. The Orlando Magic pulled off one of the biggest comebacks this year against the Miami Heat, going off on a 40-9 run in the last 15 minutes of the game to beat Lebron & Co. 99-96. As disappointed as the Bulls might have been Wednesday, you can bet the Magic will be just as confident hosting Chicago. Points-wise, a 24 point comeback might not be record-breaking, but against as talented a team as Miami, it's surely something to write home about. They've quietly built up a four-game winning streak, and they'll be happy to get the Bulls' scalps for number five.

Wrapping up this weekend battle at the top of the Eastern Conference is a noon CT matchup on Sunday against Miami. Hopefully you all remember how exciting the last episode of this series was just a week ago, so try and catch this one on national TV Sunday afternoon.

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