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Bulls Fri Nov 09 2012
That was a dynamic three and a two-third quarters last night for the Bulls. Up by eight, down by seven. Ball stolen from the rich, then given back because of poor ball handling. It was on a national stage, it was performance where the Bulls bravely chose to be vulnerable and honest concerning their flaws, it was a jarring reminder that this team is in need of a leading man to carry their play.
Last night's loss versus the Oklahoma City Thunder was a public showing of the Bulls beat themselves and a dead horse. Accessible points late in games are a handicap that this squad will rehabilitate from until a particular ACL is healed and trusted.
The Bulls we're collectively inconsistent, and let the consistent Kevin Durant decide the outcome by not being able to stop him from scoring eight points in the final three minutes after a relatively quiet 16 points scored in the previous 3 2/3 quarters. This is what superstars do, they outshine other matter regardless of time, space, and who's guarding them.
To say that Loul Deng and Joakim Noah are the carriers of this team during crunch time may be a bit of misnomer. They carry the team through tip-off, time outs, time ins, time and time again, crunch time, and ostensibly length of time. Both players are in the top seven in minutes played in the NBA. Using the PER 36 stat for Deng and Noah is unnecessary and insulting. They should restructure their contracts and become hourly employees -- they'd make overtime, weekly. Deng led the team against the Thunder in points scored while Noah led in rebounds, blocks, and assists.
Carlos Boozer goes into "I got this" mode when he's matched up with younger or less talented opponents. When he plays against a better, faster, stronger opponent he's a daft punk.
Taj Gibson was his usual self in relief for Boozer, though the two played at the same time when Tom Thibodeau went small ball most of the third quarter. When Gibson shoots, it makes Bulls fans nervous because he's not their to get his rebound, it's a catch-22 literally and figuratively.
The team needs more scoring inside. Nazr Mohammed is not the answer offensively or defensively, and it's slim picking on the free agent market. A few weeks ago I suggested half-jokingly on Twitter to the Daily Herald Bulls beat-writer Mike McGraw that perhaps the Bulls should give low-post scoring rube Eddy Curry a shot. At the time, the Bulls couldn't give a contract to anyone, but that time has since passed, allowing them to offer a pro-rated minimum deal to Curry who played OK on offensive for the San Antonio Spurs this preseason and the Dallas Maverick for two games. Before you email Gapers Block and demand I turn in my resignation, think about Curry in the Mohammed role. It'd be an upgrade.
It's not all bleak. So the Bulls suck against the NBA's Western Conference so far in the early going. There's plenty of upside. Jimmy Butler look likes he wants to be more involved on offense. He's active in their sets and crashes the offensive boards. Rip Hamilton is posting up and wants to score. Overall the shooting guard position, which is criticized as much as the Bears offensive line, isn't as bad as you think, and it's producing on both side of the court.
Chicagoan Barack Obama, who won big this week, has a new slogan that the Bulls can use: Forward. Indiana Pacers all-star captain Danny Granger will be out three months, leaving the Central Division up for grabs. The rest of the division is comprised of teams whose key players aren't too far removed from electoral college. The Bulls are elder statesmen. Moving forward they'll have to adhere to wordplay of an old Chicago political adage by giving themselves "votes of confidence early and votes of confidence often". Beating beatable teams, and don't give up on potential upset games like they did last night.