When I was a young kid growing up in, I used to get in some fights. It was never anything big, just a few scrums on my street after a disagreement escalated with a friend. We were young boys, not mature enough to know how to diffuse situations calmly. So, whenever something came up, we threw hands to settle things.
Most of these fights happened in front of my house, where we all hung out since it was in the middle of the street. Any time I'd squabble with someone, eventually we'd get separated, and then I'd go into my house, upset because I had just fought someone I considered a close friend.
My mother didn't like it when I fought, for obvious reasons, so she would always let my father handle me at those times. My father was no stranger to fighting either. He was a strong, hardened man; who grew up in a tough town. Though he could be difficult and strict at times, he was always fair to me. He was wise, knew how the world worked, and tried to pass on the knowledge he obtained to me; including his thoughts on fighting.
The one thing that stood out to me was that as long as I didn't end up too hurt, he didn't care about the result. He'd always tell me "Son, I don't care about if you win or lose a fight; just as long as you put your heart into it. If you do that, then you'll have the other person's respect. Then, regardless of the outcome, it won't happen again."
The way my father didn't care if I won or lost a fight is the same way that I don't care if the Spurs win or lose a game. Of course I'd prefer they win, because that means they're in better standing for playoff seeding, or just gained a game on a team they're in a series with. But if the Spurs show effort, and still get molly-whopped in the process, it doesn't matter. There's always another game to look forward to.
That feeling applies to how the Spurs played in the first half. It wasn't a fantastic first half. Derrick Rose got off to an incredibly hot start, and Chicago had control early. The Spurs were able to bounce back a bit from that initial surge, thanks to Kawhi Leonard having an amazing stretch in the 2nd quarter. At the half, the Bulls lead by 6. It wasn't an ideal situation for San Antonio, but not an insurmountable lead.
The 2nd half is where the wheels fell off. The Bulls took off with a 7-0 run in the 3rd quarter and never looked back, pummeling the Spurs all the way through. As soon as he saw the Bulls pull away, Coach Popovich pulled the Spurs' key players, and lived to play another day.
Sometimes, when you lose a fight, it's not because you gave a poor effort. Sometimes the person you're losing to is just flat out better. The Bulls were just that.
Entering into this game, the Chicago Bulls had lost 6 out of their last 8. They had been dealing with injuries to various key players. Most Improved Player candidate Jimmy Butler had been regressing in the month of January after setting the league on fire in the first 2 months of the season. Their normally stout defense had become weak. Times had gotten hard.
After dropping a loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the previous game, Derrick Rose called out the entire Bulls team for their poor efforts, saying "I think communication is huge...We're quiet when we're out there, and it's leading to them getting easy baskets. We got to give a better effort. It seems like we're not even competing, and it's f---ing irritating."
The Bulls took their former MVP's words to heart. Their defense tightened up as soon as the ball tipped versus the Spurs. They didn't force many turnovers, but they didn't give an inch. San Antonio was forced into tough shots all night,and their field goal percentage suffered for it. The Spurs could have hit a few more shots. They could have had a bit tighter ball movement. They could have kept Rose out of the paint a little better.
San Antonio could have made the game marginally closer. But win the game? No. This was Chicago's night. Their leader called everyone out, and then he stepped up; with the rest of the team behind him.The Bulls played with a certain juice. No one was stopping them.
The Spurs put up a fight. It wasn't pretty, but they had their heart in it early. Chicago hit them with a haymaker after halftime, leaving the silver-and-black to lick their wounds and prepare for the next matchup before the game was over. There's always another fight coming up.
QUOTE OF THE NIGHT
Asked Pop if he had any thoughts on the Patriots' deflated balls. His response: "I'm sorry, are you on this planet? Isn't this an NBA game?"— Sean Highkin (@highkin) January 22, 2015
MVP OF THE NIGHT
Kawhi Leonard - 16 points on 5-11 shooting, 4 rebounds
Leonard scored great in the 1st half, providing when no one else could seem to turn it on. Unfortunately, Leonard was held scoreless in the 2nd half, as Chicago adjusted defensively and Leonard cooled off. Leonard wasn't able to get anything else going in other aspects of the game either, nor was the rest of the team. The Bulls beat the Spurs all across the box score columns, and thus, got the win.
NUMBERS ON THE BOARD
42: The amount of points the Spurs allowed in the paint. Allowing the opposing ball-handlers to get in the lane has been a recent issue for San Antonio, and it was again tonight. Derrick Rose was the main culprit tonight, as he slashed through the Spurs' rim protection early and often.
37: San Antonio's team percentage from the field. The Bulls played well defensively, and the Spurs couldn't hit shots. It looked like one of those nights for the Spurs.
17: Total rebounds for Pau Gasol. Some thought Gasol would decline after he went to Chicago in the offseason, myself included. He's done just the opposite of that. He's improved almost across the board from last season, and earned his first All-Star start due to his efforts.
Jan 25, 2015 Hey, Spurs, Thank you for that midrange shot! I am happy to take it! Best! Pau— Alex Dewey (@DewNO) January 23, 2015
Jimmy Butler in foul trouble and Kawhi knows it. Free food— Rudy Jay (@RudyJay711) January 23, 2015
Rough quarter, but Spurs go into halftime only down six. Kawhi lookin’ good with 16 points.— Pounding the Rock (@poundingtherock) January 23, 2015
People try and label Leonard as the Spurs' most indispensable or most irreplaceable without saying "he's their best player." Just stop.— Matthew R Tynan (@Matthew_Tynan) January 23, 2015
Spurs just went down 13, by the way. I’m trying not to think about it— Pounding the Rock (@poundingtherock) January 23, 2015
Pop’s not calling timeout, apparently. Gonna see how deep a hole these guys can make for themselves?— Pounding the Rock (@poundingtherock) January 23, 2015
JaMychal with the block off the backboard. Spurs' fresh-get-us-out-of-this-mess lineup on an 8-0 run. SA down 17.— Paul Garcia PS (@PaulGarciaPS) January 23, 2015
spurs on pace for their worst loss of the season -- current worst was a 17 pointer @ HOU early on.— Aaron McGuire (@docrostov) January 23, 2015
Bonner post up fadeaway he made it goodnight everybody— Matthew R Tynan (@Matthew_Tynan) January 23, 2015