I want desperately to begin with some piece of good news that will make the awfulness that was this game seem less awful. Unfortunately, as far as I can tell, that good news does not exist.
Look, we've been over this in the past: This team makes no freaking sense. They win games they have no business winning — witness a pair of wins over the New York Knicks on the road and another against the Miami Heat, also on the road — and lose games they have no business losing — witness losses to the Charlotte Bobcats and New Orleans Hornets at home. They bounce between potential serious contender for a championship and potential serious contender for the top pick in the NBA draft on a game-to-game basis, with no real rhyme or reason to which games they lose and which they win.
The last few weeks show this in stark relief. The Bulls blew out the Boston Celtics at home on Tuesday, December 18, then went to New York and beat the crap out of the Knicks. The night immediately after the Knicks game, they got blown out by the Atlanta Hawks. Then they came home and got the crap kicked out of them by the Houston Rockets. They beat the Washington Wizards at home that Friday, the 28th, before losing to the Bobcats at home. Then they went on the road and beat the Orlando Magic without Joakim Noah and followed that up with an extremely impressive win over the Heat in Miami. Then they came home and beat down the Cleveland Cavaliers before getting hosed by the Milwaukee Bucks. Then they beat the Knicks on the road a second time before coming home and throwing up another stink bomb.
I mean, how the hell does any of that make sense? Name one other team that has taken their fans on a roller coaster ride like that one in the history of the NBA. Go ahead, I'll wait.
The Bulls miss Derrick Rose. That's obvious. But they miss the Bench Mob almost as much, if not more. How many times over the two seasons of their existence did the bench come in and rescue the Bulls after the starters got off to a sluggish start? I don't have an exact number for you, but I'm guessing the number is pretty high. The supposed "Bench Mob 2.0," which fellow Bulls 101 writer Avi Saini dubbed the "Bench Sob" around the same time I nicknamed them "Bench Mob Vista," is not set up that way. One thing you could count on from the Bench Mob was that as soon as they came in, the other team would promptly stop scoring. Omer Asik and Taj Gibson were just about the best defensive frontcourt in the league, and Ronnie Brewer, Luol Deng and CJ Watson joined forces with them to terrorize teams defensively. Let's just say that Nazr Mohammed, Nate Robinson and Marco Belinelli don't do that, as good as Gibson and Jimmy Butler are.
The fact is that this team is severely flawed without Rose and only somewhat less flawed with him. And there's still three months left in the season. Sigh.
Anyway, I'd like to end this by making sure you all know I told you so.
Last time the Bulls beat the Knicks at MSG, they went to Atlanta and got their asses kicked. So they'll probably lose to the Suns tomorrow.— Bulls 101 (@Bulls_101) January 12, 2013
Player o' the Game: Jimmy Butler (13 points, 5/7 FG, 3/3 FT)
Jimmy gets this by default, as he was the only Bull who played anything like a good game. He did his job, even if the rest of the team really didn't. He even threw down some impressive dunks, which were basically the only times the game was actually interesting.
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