March 4, 2010
Bad news of the baddest kind…Joakim Noah will be out for a while: “Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah will miss three weeks because of plantar fasciitis in his left foot that has been bothering him since mid-January — a blow as his team starts a brutal stretch of games against some of the NBA’s better teams. … The injury has interrupted a breakout season for Noah, who is averaging 10.7 points and 11.4 rebounds. He has missed 10 games in all because of the condition and will likely miss at least 10 more, with no guarantee the time off will cure him.”
Huh. So that’s what it tastes like when you throw up in your own mouth. I don’t like it.
Said Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro: “It’s a very difficult injury. It’s very difficult to treat. He might rest for three weeks, he might rest for two months, come back and it’s still bothering him. Rest will help usually, no question, but he’s got to come back, fight through the pain. Give him a few weeks (and) hopefully, he reacts better to that.”
I’ve already discussed the brutal stretch the Bulls are facing: eight more consecutive games against potential playoff teams. Not a good time to lose your leading rebounder and best interior defender. Especially tonight, when the Bulls face a huge Memphis frontcourt of Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph and Rudy Gay. Those guys are averaging 55.7 PPG and 27.0 RPG. They could end up with 70 and 35 with Noah out. At least.
To (somewhat) counter the loss of Noah, the Bulls waived Lindsey Hunter and signed Chris Richard for the remainder of the season. Said Del Negro: “We’re going to bring Chris Richard back and bring another big guy back, hopefully [Wednesday]. But we need our guys to get healthy. One guy’s not going to control the glass for us. I think it’s going to help. Chris did a good job when he was here. He knows what we’re doing. He’s a good kid. So we’ll get him back in here [Wednesday].”
Let’s hope Richards can rough some people up tonight.
To make these grim matters even worse, Derrick Rose and Luol Deng are questionable for the Grizzlies game due to knee injuries. If they miss the game, prepare for an ugly loss, folks. I’m not trying to be a pessimist…but come on.
February 9, 2010
Deng expected to play tonight versus Pacers:
Somewhat lost amidst all the drama surrounding Tyrus Thomas was the fact that Luol Deng missed practice on Monday because of tendinitis in his right shoulder. However, he’s expected to play tonight against the Indiana Pacers. Deng missed 33 games last season thanks to a stress fracture in his right tibia, but he’s been an iron man this season, appearing in all 49 games despite playing with a fractured left thumb.
Remember what Deng said earlier this season: “Last year when I was sitting, I made a commitment to play all 82 games this season. Even though it wasn’t my fault last year, I didn’t want anyone to say anything about me being soft anymore. That’s why I don’t want to take any game off all year. I just want to do my job.”
The Bulls do not heart Indiana:
The Pacers (18-33) aren’t a very good team. In fact, they haven’t been a very good team since The Malice at the Place. Not that Indy’s descent into mediocrity and worse has benefitted the Bulls at all. Since it opened in 1999, Chicago is 3-17 at Conseco Fieldhouse…and the Pacers’ winning percentage in these games (.850) is its best over any East opponent at home during that stretch.
Last February, Derrick Rose had one of his worst-ever games as a Bull, scoring only 3 points on 1-for-9 shooting.
Joakim Noah starring in remake of “Das Boot”:
Okay, that’s a bad joke from my freshman year German class. At any rate, the Bulls medical staff is trying to speed up Joakim’s recovery from plantar fasciitis by having him wear a protective boot and undergo both massage and electric stimulation. He also had blood was taken from his arm and injected into the foot.
I swear that last part isn’t a witch doctor cure.
According to John Jackson of the Chicago Sun-Times: “Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy — used in plastic surgery since the 1990s — has gotten more popular among athletes, getting a push when Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward credited the treatment with getting him on the field in time for last year’s Super Bowl, said Martin Leland, an orthopedic sports medicine surgeon at the University of Chicago Medical Center who is not working with the Bulls.”
Vinny tepid on Tyrus Thomas’ return:
Regarding “Tirade” Thomas’ return to Bulls practice, Vinny said: “What happened, happened. It’s over with. Hopefully, Tyrus learns from it and gets better. But, it’s not the first thing that’s happened with Tyrus. He’s got to be smarter and he’s got to be committed to the team. Today was a good practice — not for him, but for everybody and now we’ve got to move on.”
On how Tyrus can earn more playing time (emphasis mine): “Tyrus has got to run the court. Play hard. Execute the game plan. Hit open 15-foot jumpers. Be committed to the team. Same thing everyone else does. Everyone has a job on this team. Certain guys do different things better than others. Everyone knows their role, knows what they need to do and now they have to go out and do it. And the guys that go out on a consistent basis and are coachable and want to buy into the team and give us the best chance to win — those are the guys that are going to be out there. It’s a very simple process.”
Well, I guess VDN actually wants Ty chucking up jumpers…
Barkley high on Del Negro, low on Thomas:
Even though Vinny has apparently given Thomas a green light to shoot, Charles Barkley is still campaigning for Del Negro. Said Sir Charles: “If he gets the Bulls back to the playoffs, Vinny Del Negro should be NBA Coach of the Year. Derrick Rose was hurt. Tyrus Thomas was hurt a lot and crazy a lot. If he gets that team back to the playoffs after losing Ben Gordon, I think that’s a hell of a year.”
Regarding what to do with Thomas after his blowup at Vinny: ”What I would say to him? Uh, listen, say it just didn’t work out here. ‘You’ve been traded to, uh … (laughs).”
Bulls earn C+ last week:
From Pippin Ain’t Easy: “The win against Miami was big, but the 3 straight losses just helps to emphasize the Bulls inconsistencies coming off a 5-game road winning streak.”
Memo the the Bulls — Crash the boards:
According to Mike McGraw of the Daily Herald, from December 11 through February 2, the Bulls beat their opponents on the boards in 21 of 26 games. Now — with Joakim Noah first limited and then sidelined by plantar fasciitis — they’ve lost the rebound battle in three straight games. Enter Chris Richard.
February 8, 2010
The Bulls weren’t exactly forthcoming about why they suspended Tyrus Thomas for Saturday’s game against the Miami Heat, but it didn’t take a huge, throbbing brain to figure out it probably had something to do with the 16 minutes of playing time Thomas logged in Friday night’s loss to the Hawks in Atlanta.
Sure enough, it appears a “profanity-laced postgame outburst” at Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro was the cause of Ty’s one-game vacation. It’s yet another chapter in the Saga of Tyrus. It’s a story that seems destined to end badly. At least so far as his career with the Bulls goes.
Thomas is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma. He has infinite potential and unlimited immaturity. He’s a team-first player as long as he gets his minutes. He’s a big man who converts only 53 percent of his shots at the rim and would much rather take jump shot after jump shot than bang bodies down low. In fact, over half his shots are chucked up from the outside. Which is how he likes it.
As Tyrus put it last November: “I shoot a lot of shots a day, so when I’m in the game and I feel like I want to shoot the ball, I’m going to shoot it. I’m not going to take a shot I haven’t worked on, so whatever I shoot is a shot I know I can make, and if I miss it, oh well.”
That quote has been festering in my Bulls notebook all season. To me, it says almost everything you need to know about Tyrus Thomas the basketball player. But it’s also worth pointing out something about Tyrus Thomas the human being. Namely, this: Although Ty grew up in what was, by all accounts, a loving and supportive home, he may well be living in the shadow of a father who was in and out of prison for most of Thomas’ youth.
This manifested itself in a sometimes troubled adolescence. As Tyrus once put it: “I just couldn’t take other males telling me what to do. I’d be like, ‘You’re not my dad. You can’t tell me this. You can’t tell me that.’ It was kind of like a rebellious stage in my life.”
That troubled childhood has transformed into troubled adulthood. Even now, Thomas is still rebelling. Vinny Del Negro is not his dad. He can’t tell Tyrus what to do. The question is: Who can?
Maybe nobody. Or maybe a stronger coach could, someone capable of being a supportive father-like figure. Or maybe it’s impossible. Maybe the bad habits are set in the stone of Thomas’ stubborn personality. After all, he knows what shots he can hit, and if he misses, oh well.
K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune seems to believe that these problems could be solved by simply starting Thomas and bringing Taj Gibson off the bench. Is PT the correct method of therapy for a player who doesn’t get it and seems as though he never will? It’s a thorny situation. And anyway, what kind of precedent would the team set by giving in to an underperforming player who is determined to do things his own way. Remember, players earn minutes by accepting their role, making smart decisions and performing to the best of their abilities.
When has Tyrus ever done that on a consistent basis?
Even more damning to Thomas and his situation is the re-arrival of Chris Richard, who was waived before the season started but whom the Bulls signed to a 10-day contract after shutting Joakim Noah until after the All-Star break. Richard came dutifully off the bench against the Heat, snared 7 rebounds, blocked a couple shots, and banged every opposing body in his general vicinity. When he left the game, there was blood on his jersey. The crowd ate it up.
Said Richard: “I know what my role is no matter what team I’m on. I’ve just got to bring energy, defend, rebound, help, whatever I can do. I figured if I get lost on the offensive end, I can just go set a random screen. That’s a great thing about being a big.”
Imagine what Tyrus could accomplish with that attitude.
Potential can sustain coaches and fans for only so long. Eventually, a player must either perform like an All-Star or kill themselves for the team…or they will wear out their welcome. Thomas will return to practice today. Unless he pulls off a Hollywood movie-like transformation from heel to hero, he may discover the Windy City has pulled its welcome mat off the stoop.
Come to think of it, that may have already happened.
February 7, 2010
I guess white men CAN jump.
With Joakim Noah sidelined by plantar fasciitis, the last thing the Bulls needed was for a player to go rogue and put himself before the team. And yet that’s apparently what Tyrus Thomas did prior to Chicago’s home game against the Miami Heat. And Thomas was suspended for…whatever it was he did.
Said Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro: ”It’s an internal matter. [Bulls GM] Gar [Forman] and myself will handle it. … It’s unfortunate timing, but in the short run there’s a responsibility. No one player is bigger than the team, and there’s a responsibility to do things right. And I think by handling the situation the right way, which I think we are, I know we are. It’s not one person. It’s a group. And you have to be committed to your teammates, your coaches, the organization. That doesn’t go just for Tyrus. It goes for everybody. The guys know how things run around here. That’s how it’s going to be.”
At least one thing is clear: That’s how “it” is going to be.
As for Thomas, shouldn’t we have seen this coming? After all, Tyrus had sky high hopes for this season. In case you don’t remember, Thomas believed he had a very real chance to become a 20-10 guy this year. This is what he had to say about that possibility last October: “First, I have to figure out my role as far as the offensive end. I have to figure out where I’m going to get my shots. But on the defensive end, definitely 10 (rebounds a game).”
Ty’s current averages: 8.5 PPG and 6.2 RPG. I guess you could say things haven’t quite gone according to plan.
Since that bold prediction, Thomas has fractured the radius bone in his left forearm during a weightlifting session at practice, missed 23 games, lost his starting job to rookie Taj Gibson, endured a constant stream of trade rumors, and watched his minutes slowly dwindle to the point that — even with Noah shut down until some time after the All-Star break — he logged only 16 minutes of PT in a loss to the Hawks in Atlanta.
Make no mistake: Thomas has the physical tools necessary to be an All-Star-caliber player. However, whenever his future is discussed, words like “enigmatic” and “mercurial” always pop up. Tyrus has over halfway through his fourth season as a pro, but the Bulls still have no idea what he’s going to give them on a nightly basis. He might score 20 points and grab 15 boards. He might go 2-for-13 from the field and finish with more turnovers and rebounds.
If it seems as though the coaching staff has lost faith in him, it’s probably because they have. There simply is no other way to explain his sporadic appearances. And whatever he said or did behind the scenes isn’t going to help his standing with his teammates, coaches or management.
Meanwhile, the Bulls — losers of three in a row — had a basketball game to play. And they had to squeeze 20 meaningful minutes out of Chris Richard, whom they waived in October but recently signed to a 10-day contract. Richard, who no doubt can be counted on to bust his butt without complaining about minutes, responded to his big chance with 7 rebounds (including 4 on the offensive end), 2 points, 2 assists, 2 blocked shots and a steal.
Just imagine if Richard had Thomas’ raw talent.
Richard wasn’t the only Chicago player who came up big. Luol Deng earned a game-high 11 free throw attempts and finished with a game-best 25 points. Derrick Rose added 24 points and made some big plays down the stretch. John Salmons came off the bench to score 15 points and dish out a team-high 5 assists. And Brad Miller chipped in with 13 points, 8 boards and a career-best 5 steals.
All this on the second night of back-to-backs after traveling back to Chicago from Atlanta. It was a real gut check. And it turns out the Bulls still have their guts intact.
Said Rose: “Definitely, we needed this one. It gives us more confidence. Our locker room was way more cheerful than it was the past couple of games. Now, we just got to keep it going.”
It won’t be easy. There were signs of trouble in this game, like how Chicago got outrebounded 52-41. However, they did have the edge in second-chance points (19-15), points in the paint (38-30), fastbreak points (20-12), points off turnovers (21-16) and free throw attempts (35-19). Both teams wanted this game…but the Bulls wanted it more.
Too bad Tyrus couldn’t be a part of that.
1st timeout: Deng was fouled before the timeout (1-for-2)
2nd timeout: Bulls forced Miami into a turnover
3rd timeout: Udonis Haslem hit a jumper
4th timeout: Salmons missed a 14-footer
5th timeout: Deng was fouled (2-for-2)
6th timeout: Deng was fouled (2-for-2)
Vinny called one timeout after the Heat had already committed a fouls. He called two timeouts immediately after a Miami timeout when the Heat had possession of the ball. The final timeout was called at a point when Miami was forced the fouls. So the Bulls had only two offensive possessions coming out of a timeout. One resulted in a missed jump shot, the other in two free throws for Deng (thanks to a sweet feed by D-Rose) that put the Bulls up by five points with 37 seconds left.
Recap, Box Score, Advanced Box Score, Play-By-Play, Shot Chart, Photos.
October 15, 2009
Let’s hear it for your 4-1 Chicago Bulls. Can we carry over the preseason record? No, probably not. Anywhere, here are some high and lowlights from last night’s 99-94 road win over the Timberwolves.
Guys who looked good:
The Player of the Game? Actually, it might have been…Chris Richard. No, really. Richard came off the bench to score a game-high 17 points and grab a co-game-high (with Kevin Love) 13 rebounds. He even added 2 blocked shots for good measure. I don’t know (and kind of doubt) whether we’ll see Richard wearing Chicago red when the season opens, but he played his butt off last night.
Joakim Noah continued his strong play with 14 points on nearly perfect 7-for-8 shooting to go along with 7 rebounds. His offense has looked really good the last couple games. Unless my eyes were deceiving me, he even stuck a jumper or two last night. He also didn’t have any blocked shots, which was weird. Okay, who is this guy and what has he done with Joakim?
John Salmons (16 points, 7-for-14, 4 rebounds, 3 assists) and Luol Deng (14 points, 5-for-10, 4 assists) broke out of their mini-slumps. Of course, Luol had both a dunk and a layup blocked, and he missed another layup, plus four of his five field goals came on long jumpshots. Just little observations that could become mild concerns. I would like to see more slashing to the hoop from Deng this season. For the record, I’d like to see more to-the-rim action from Salmons too.
Guys who looked both good and bad:
Overall, Kirk Hinrich’s shooting wasn’t great (3-for-7), but he was 2-for-3 from three-point range and finished with 4 assist and a game-best 4 steals. (For comparison, the rest of the Bulls had 2 steals.) But, gak, he also committed a game-worst 4 turnovers.
Taj Gibson came back down to earth for a night, shooting only 2-for-6 and finishing with 6 points before fouling out in only 22 minutes. He’s a rookie. But…he did have 6 boards (including 3 offensive) in limited PT.
The other rookie, James Johnson, nearly had a double-double (10 rebounds, 9 points), but shot 3-for-9 from the field.
Guys who looked bad:
Jannero Pargo is not afraid to shoot, no matter how often he misses. The latest brickfest was a 3-for-13 performance, which included 0-for-3 from downtown. Once again, his 4 assists were nearly offset by 3 turnovers. He did have an above-average (for him) 4 boards, though. Still, that wasn’t enough for me to overlook his misdirected shooting.
Guys who didn’t play:
Derrick Rose (right ankle), Tyrus Thomas (right hip), Brad Miller (more flu-like symptoms).
Reasons for optimism:
The Bulls held their opponent to 39 percent shooting (including 2-for-18 from three-land) on the second night of back-to-backs. They also won the rebounding battle 50-46. That number included 15 offensive boards.
Reasons for concern:
More turnovers! There were 21 this time, which meant and extra 28 points for the Timberwolves. Also, despite outrebounding the Timberwolves, the Bulls still gave up 14 offensive rebounds. Remember: keep an eye on Chicago’s defensive rebounding this season. The Bulls were one of the worst defensive rebounding teams in the league last season and it cost them several games. Oh, and one other thing. This isn’t game-related, but the Bulls have a league-high 22 sets of back-to-back games this season.
Said Noah: “It’s always a good feeling to win, but we know it doesn’t really mean that much because it’s preseason. It’s all about improvement. It’s our first back-to-back and having two wins in a row and having the right mind-set, it’s important.”
Deng jammed his finger on his left hand while trying to catch a pass in the third quarter. However, he should be fine. Rose and Thomas are expected to return to practice today. Additionally, if Salmons’ wife doesn’t give birth to their second child by Friday, she might be induced. If that happens, he might miss Friday’s home game against Minny.
Recap, Box Score, Play-By-Play, Shot Chart, Photos.