Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports
The current Chicago Bulls don't remind anyone of Michael Jordan's dynasty, where it seemed like every person in the planet knew who he and they were. Their popularity rivaled the Lakers and Celtics at their peaks, and bought years of goodwill from their fans. Their attendance hasn't declined much (still average over 20,000 people per game), and after disappearing into irrelevance in the 2000s, they landed the top pick in the 2008 draft, the explosive talent that is Derrick Rose, which changed their team for the better. Ever since he and Coach Tom Thibodeau joined the Bulls, they have been a lock for the playoffs, advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2011 season. This year, they are in the top 6 in the East and await their offensive leader to guide them through the end of the season and into the playoffs once again.
The Spurs were in Chicago last night, on the second night of a back to back, after soundly defeating the Nets in Brooklyn 111-86. They faced the Bulls, a surprise out East, sitting near the top of the Eastern Conference without their MVP, with a very respectable 30-20 record. Luol Deng and Joakim Noah have also been out for extended periods of time, but Tom Thibodeau's defensive schemes of overloading the strong side have allowed them to stop the offensive flow of their opponents, to the tune of the 3rd best defense in the league. If the Spurs and Bulls were at full strength, this would be an extremely fun game to watch, with the Spurs excelling at both the offensive and defensive end, coming against a tough defensive squad. Unfortunately, the Spurs were missing the Big Three and Stephen Jackson, while the Bulls were without Rose and Kirk Hinrich. This likely means a low-scoring affair, due to not many people being able to create shots by themselves, and lots of playing time for both teams' benches.
The Windy City, White City, Deep-Dish City, it's a lot of cities
- Chicago sports teams have had relative success these past couple of decades, with the aforementioned Jordan Bulls winning 6 championships in the 90s and the Chicago White Sox winning the World Series in 2005. The Cubs have not been so lucky, and currently have the longest championship drought of any of the four major North American sports teams, having last won a championship in 1905.
- The World's Fair was held in Chicago in 1883 for the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus landing in India, I mean, North America. Chicago beat out other prominent cities such as New York City and Washington, D.C., for the honor of hosting the world's advances in arts, architecture, technology and industrialism, showing the rest of the world what America had in store for the next century.
- The Wieners Circle is a famous hot dog stand in Lincoln Park, Chicago. All you need to know is here.
- The famous 'Nighthawks' painting resides in The Art Institute of Chicago.
- Birthplace of corporate giants, McDonalds, and Wrigley's.
- The Chicago River is unique due to its manmade reversed flow, done in 1900 in order to increase the flow from Lake Michigan and help its port.
The Next Big Three Hash
I really liked how Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard responded to the responsibility of being THE GUYS for this game, They shot 16-28 (57%) and scored 44 points, nearly half of the entire team's output. They were also +22 and +24, respectively. Nando de Colo didn't shoot well, but dished 7 assists while only turning it over twice, once in the meaningless final minutes. With Tony out of the lineup, I was worried about who was going to handle the ball, and was surprised to see Nando getting the start against a legitimate playoff team. I guess Pop thought Nando could handle Nate Robinson.
Quote of the Night
Bulls announcers with this quip during the second half talking about the Rodeo Road Trip:
"It looks impressive at first, but they've been doing it 11 years. It's actually not."
Even though he had 14 points and 8 rebounds, decent enough stats, he played less than 30 minutes and turned it over three times, more than any other player on the Spurs. He also had the worst +/- in the game, clocking in at a -24. When he was on the floor, the Bulls did poorly on the defensive end.
Numbers of Note
- 8 - Spurs Turnovers. Keeping them low on the RRT, averaging 8.25 per game.
- 49 - Bulls' Rebounds
- 26 - Spurs' Rebounds
- -23 - The largest deficit in rebounding margin the Spurs have had the entire season.
- 17% - Bulls' 3pt percentage, showing how effective the Spurs are at running shooters off of the point.
- 32-1 - The Spurs have this record after leading at halftime.
- 2 - Number of players to have played in every game this season (Tiago Splitter and Boris Diaw).
- 50.5 - Points the Big Three contribute per game, and how big a hole that was going to leave in the offense.
- 44 - Points Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green scored, guess they don't need the Big Three after all.
Odds & Ends
- This was a great game, mostly because I'm glad our guys stepped up to the challenge. They got pounded inside, but they played aggressive defense and were pretty unselfish on the offensive side, enabling them to make up for their terrible rebounding margin.
- I think Danny Green has really been growing up these past few weeks. With Timmy out of the lineup, he and Kawhi became the next go-to guys in the lineup, and Danny has responded well, shooting the lights out.
- Aron Baynes cannot not foul.
- When Nate Robinson is the only guy on your team that can create his own shot, you've got a little bit of a problem.
- Kawhi's jam off the fast break was so Spurs-like: he barely jumped, didn't show much emotion, and just ran back instead of celebrating. It was also nice to see Tim's reaction on the bench.
Onto the Wild West
Open the image in a new tab to get a closer look.