April 15, 2013
MVP (Most Valuable Player): This feels weird to type, but Carlos Boozer, Kirk Hinrich and Luol Deng all played well in this one. Boozer (22 points, 4 assists,) made a couple of great passes, Hinrich (14 points, 4 assists, 3 steals) was finally knocking down shots, and Deng filled up the stat sheet (18 points, 4 rebounds, 8 assists, 2 blocks).
LVP (Least Valuable Player): Let’s take a look atRip Hamilton’s first quarter stats: two missed shots, two dropped passes and one air ball. He did not record another statistic in the first frame. It didn’t get much better the rest of the way, as he finished 1-5 from the floor with one assist. Can he get suspended again?
X factor: The Bulls, normally one of the lesser three point shooting teams in the league, went 9-17 from beyond the arc (52.9 percent), led by Kirk Hinrich, who hit 4-6. That 9-17 includes misses from both Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson. Orlando went 2-10.
That Was … convincing: After dropping their last three games to lottery teams, the Bulls finally pulled out a convincing win against a lesser opponent. It was also nice to have the likes of Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson back on the court, even if Noah played quite poorly.
April 9, 2013
Time isn’t the friend of this M.A.S.H unit known as the Chicago Bulls.
There are six games left in the regular season and there are more unhealthy bodies than healthy ones.
Derrick Rose (left knee rehab) is still in the “out indefinitely” category. Rose says he’s still open to playing this season, but a return at this point feels very unlikely.
Rip Hamilton (back spasms) reportedly practiced yesterday with no setbacks, but Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said last week that Hamilton is “not real close” to returning.
Taj Gibson (sprained left knee) also practiced without any issues yesterday, but he remains out indefinitely. That Gibson didn’t tear his MCL may have been the best news the Bulls have had this season — it’s been that kind of year — but there’s been no indication when he’ll start playing again. I’ve heard everything from “not until the playoffs” to “could be this week.”
Thibs says that Luol Deng’s sore hip is “better,” although Deng will probably sit out tonight’s game against the Raptors. The Bulls seem intent on giving Deng — who leads the NBA in minutes per game (39.2) — some rest and relaxation before the playoffs.
Said Deng: ”I feel like I need it, especially because I think we learned a lot from last year. Fatigue toward the end of the year makes it easy to pick up injuries. We don’t want that with everyone coming back. We just want to be as healthy as we can.”
Marco Belinelli (abdominal strain) said he woke up with pain after playing in Detroit on Sunday and has acknowledged that he will simply have to play in pain until the offseason.
Then there’s Joakim Noah.
The plantar faciitis in Noah’s right foot hasn’t gotten any better, and it probably won’t until he has extended time off. In other words, after the Bulls’ season has ended. Even worse, Thibodeau says that Noah suffered “a little bit of a setback” when he played against the Pistons on Sunday.
Said Thibs: ”It’s a tough one. You never really know with that type of injury.”
And it’s not for a lack of trying to heal on Noah’s part. He’s done about everything short of consulting a witch doctor, and that includes getting an injection of platelet-rich plasma. Said Noah: ”I’m doing everything: Massage, sleep in a splint, ice … If you got any remedies you want to give me I’ll probably do it.”
Maybe Noah should ask Bill Walton about that special rock in the Philippines that breaks curses.
All the Bulls can do right now is rest the guys who are hurt and play the ones who can still walk straight and breath relatively normally.
Said Thibs: ”We don’t want anyone to play who is injured. At this time of the year, there are a lot of guys that are hurting that will play, but if a guy is injured we don’t want him out there. … Whoever we have, that’s who we’re going with. We have more than enough to win.”
I think we all saw that last part coming.
March 30, 2013
There were so many compelling story lines in Chicago’s victory over the Heat the other night. There was Miami’s 27-game winning streak. Thrilling dunks on both sides. Amazing steals. Ferocious rebounds. Spectacular plays.
It was gripping basketball. About as gripping as it gets in the regular season.
But oddly enough, the lingering discussion regarding this game is all about LeBron James’ assertion that he was victimized by hard fouls.
Said LeBron: “Let me calculate my thoughts real fast before I say [what I want to say]. I believe and I know that a lot of my fouls are not basketball plays. First of all, Kirk Hinrich in the first quarter basically grabbed me with two hands and brought me to the ground. The last one, Taj Gibson was able to collar me around my shoulder and bring me to the ground. Those are not defensive … those are not basketball plays.
“It’s been happening all year, and I’ve been able to keep my cool and try to tell Spo, ‘Let’s not worry about it too much.’ But it is getting to me a little bit because every time I try to defend myself, I got to face the consequences of a flagrant for me or a technical foul, whatever the case may be. It’s tough. It’s tough. It’s very tough, and I’m not sitting here crying about anything because I play the game at a high level. I play with a lot of aggression, and I understand that some of the plays are on the borderline of a basketball play or not, but sometimes you just got to … I don’t know. It’s frustrating.”
Kirk Hinrich’s response to his so-called tackle on Lebron was brief and to the point: “I was just hanging on for dear life and didn’t want to give up the and-one.”
For his part, Taj Gibson was somewhat taken aback by LeBron’s comments: “I think he’s too good of a player to do that. You just play, two teams really going out there and play hard, going to the basket extremely hard and physical. I didn’t try to collar him. I just fouled him. It wasn’t intentionally.
“I just tried to make a play on the ball, but I fouled him. When he fell, it looked like I collared him. I was really trying to grab him, just not hold him up. Nobody was intentionally trying to hurt anybody out there. When he said those comments, I was really shocked. But it’s part of the game, I guess.
“Carlos [Boozer] was getting hit the same way all night. We have to guard them and do our jobs. Me and Kirk, what he said about us, it was crazy. Kirk wrapped him up, first off. He was trying to make a play on the ball. He wrapped him up to not try to hurt him intentionally, so he won’t get an easy layup. He’s a dominant player. You just try to slow him down. We’re not trying to intentionally hurt him.”
Things didn’t stop there. They kept going. And took a turn for the weird.
Boston Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge made the following comments on WEEI Radio: “I think the referees got the calls right. I don’t think it was a hard foul. I think the one involving LeBron against Carlos Boozer [in which LeBron lowered his shoulder into the Bulls’ forward 10 seconds after Gibson’s foul), that was flagrant. I think the officials got it right. I think that it’s almost embarrassing that LeBron would complain about officiating.”
This elicited a rather profane reply from Miami Heat president Pat Riley: ”Danny Ainge needs to shut the f— up and manage his own team. He was the biggest whiner going when he was playing and I know that because I coached against him.”
Naturally, Ainge had a quick response to this: ”I stand by what I said. That’s all. I don’t care about Pat Riley. He can say whatever he wants. … Pat Riley’s right. I should manage my own team. I complained a lot to the officials. And I’m right, LeBron should be embarrassed about how he complains about the calls he gets.”
Talk about drama.
Meanwhile on TrueHoop, Henry Abbott published an article called Tackle Basketball for the win in which he wrote:
Before the game, Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau predicted a “cage match.”
Physicality, in other words, would be Chicago’s solution to Miami’s big, strong and super-quick LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, who tend to make layup after layup. Good, solid defense doesn’t cut it against those two. The recipe? When they get a step on their defenders, when layups and dunks look likely … tackle them, hit them, bring them down out of the sky.
It started a few minutes into the game, when an eager Kirk Hinrich, despite having perfect defensive position, crashed into an open-court James rather than attempt to strip the ball, draw the charge or contest at the rim. Minutes later, Hinrich was directly in James’ path, in position to draw a charge or try to poke the ball away. His move? A bear hug that ended with his own head whacking the floor hard.
Moments later, James was zeroing in on a reverse layup or dunk, and the Bulls’ Taj Gibson — in no position to touch the ball — swung hard and connected with his hand directly to James’ head. Instead of dunking, James ended up on the floor, checking his teeth. And that was just the first quarter.
Why, again, is this fun to watch?
This post was followed by one about the origin of the “no layup” rule of the late 1980s and 1990s and how it is still allowed and rewarded in today’s game. After all, the Bulls used it to end Miami’s historic winning streak, didn’t they? Tackle basketball for the win, right?
I don’t know about all that.
For starters, I’m curious where all this outrage was when Dwayne Wade pulled Rajon Rondo to the ground and dislocated his elbow in the playoffs a couple years back. Or when he intentionally kicked Kevin Garnett during a layup attempt. Or when he broke Kobe Bryant’s nose at the All-Star Game. Or when he threw Rip Hamilton out of bounds. Or took another cheap shot at KG. Or tried to run through Paul Pierce. Or perpetrated a dangerous take down from behind on Maurice Evans during the playoffs. Or viciously and intentionally drilled Darren Collison from behind during another playoff game. Or kicked Ramon Sessions between the legs.
Why, again, is all that fun to watch?
But I digress. Let’s stick to this particular game.
According to Hoopdata, the Heat went 23-for-32 at the rim in their game against the Bulls. That’s a conversion rate of 71.9 percent.
So much for a no layup rule.
LeBron — whom we are being told was the hapless victim of something akin to Bill Laimbeer’s Combat Basketball — went 8-for-9 at the rim.
Dwayne Wade — who, according to Abbott’s post, “was sent sprawling to the floor spectacularly and regularly” by the Bulls — went 4-for-5 at the hoop.
Chris Bosh was 5-for-7 from point blank range.
For those of you who enjoy simple math, Miami’s big three were 17-for-21 on layups and dunks during a game in which they were apparently being tackled, hit and brought down out of the sky any time they attempted an attack on the basket.
Something doesn’t quite add up here.
If the Bulls were employing Tackle Basketball, how could Miami’s three primary offensive weapons end up with 17 conversions out of 21 attempts at the rim in a game with playoff-like intensity against one of the best defensive teams in the league? That makes the kind of sense that doesn’t.
Were there hard fouls?
No question about it. And the Bulls were penalized judiciously by the officiating crew. LeBron attempted a game-high 11 free throws. Wade came in second with seven foul shots. Bosh was tied with Jimmy Butler for third with five freebies.
What’s really strange about all this is that the most obviously intentional foul of the game — when LeBron rammed his shoulder into Boozer and then swung his elbow near Boozer’s face – did not even warrant a mention in any of the articles about the dangers of intentional fouls.
Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk provided some much needed perspective:
LeBron can be frustrated if he wants — the referees certainly let the game get more physical than most regular season games. And to my eye, if Gibson’s foul didn’t cross the line into flagrant neither did LeBron’s shoulder.
But he can’t have it both ways — he is often a “bully scorer” who simply overpowers opponents on his drives in the lane. LeBron can score a lot of ways but he isn’t afraid to use his physicality to his advantage. But that means he can’t then turn around and say “hey, they are being too physical with me.”
Compared to the 1980s this was not that physical, but the league has moved away from that model… at least until the playoffs start. Wednesday’s game in Chicago had the physicality of a playoff game, something LeBron should get used to.
LeBron initiated the contact with Hinrich, he tried to bully past him, Hinrich just wrapped him up. That was a basketball play to me. Gibson was on the bubble of flagrant, but LeBron lives in that zone.
Personally, I don’t believe there is a dangerous epidemic of intentional fouling going on in the NBA. Nor do I think the Bulls were channeling their inner Bill Laimbeer in that exciting win over the Heat. They committed a handful of hard fouls and were justly penalized for them. End of story. Anything else is just much ado about nothing.
February 26, 2013
The Basketball Gods giveth…and they also taketh away. To wit: The good news of Derrick Rose dunking in warm-ups (click here for video) has been tempered by an injury to somebody else.
ESPNChicago’s Nick Friedell writes: “An MRI on Taj Gibson’s left knee revealed a sprained MCL on Monday, according to a league source. The timetable on his return to the Chicago Bulls’ lineup is uncertain. The veteran forward injured his knee in the second half of Sunday night’s loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder and spent some extra time in the training room having it checked out.”
As the Chicago Tribune’s KC Johnson points out, at least it wasn’t a torn ACL, but Gibson will be on the shelf for at least a couple weeks. Meaning the shorthanded Bulls are even more shorthanded. And this team was already thin in terms of frontcourt depth.
Tom Thibodeau’s response was predictable.
Said Thibs: ”We’ve got enough. We have to do our jobs. We’ve shown when we do that, we’re capable of beating anyone.”
Conversely, the Bulls have also shown they’re capable of losing to anyone, as evidenced by a disappointing collection of losses to the likes of the Bobcats, Bucks, Hornets, Suns and Wizards.
And the Bulls don’t have an easy schedule coming up. Their next two games — at home against the Cavaliers (18-38) and 76ers (22-32) — aren’t terrifying. But after that they have a home game against the Brooklyn Nets (33-24) followed by a two-game road trip to Indiana (35-21) and San Antonio (45-13). They then come home for a game against the Jazz (31-26) followed by another three road games against the Lakers (28-30), Kings (19-38) and Warriors (33-23). Then there’s a three-game home stand against the Nuggets (36-22), Trail Blazers (26-30) and Pacers.
There aren’t many breaks in this stretch. And the injuries aren’t helping. But that’s just life in the NBA.
October 29, 2012
The Oklahoma City Thunder have traded super sixth man James Harden (along with Cole Aldrich, Daequan Cook and Lazar Hayward) to the Houston Rockets for Kevin Martin, Jeremy Lamb, two first-round draft picks and a second-round pick.
In Thunder GM Sam Presti’s perfect world, this trade never would have happened. Had things gone Presti’s way, Harden would have signed an extension with Oklahoma City and joined Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook to form the team’s core for years to come.
Unfortunately, Presti’s hand was forced by monetary constraints. Harden wanted a max deal and Presti — due the potential crippling luxury tax penalties — could not give it to him. The max deal would be around $60 million. Thunder management reportedly believed the highest they could go would be around $55 million.
That $5 million made all the difference. To both sides.
Said Presti: ”We wanted to sign James to an extension, but at the end of the day, these situations have to work for all those involved. Our ownership group again showed their commitment to the organization with several significant offers. We were unable to reach a mutual agreement, and therefore executed a trade that capitalized on the opportunity to bring in a player of Kevin’s caliber, a young talent like Jeremy and draft picks, which will be important to our organizational goal of a sustainable team.”
In all likelihood, Harden will receive his max deal from the Rockets, although teaming with Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik won’t bring him the team success he enjoyed with the Thunder.
That’s simply life in the NBA. It’s business, as they say.
Which brings us to the subject of Taj Gibson. The Bulls have until Wednesday to work out an extension and thus prevent Gibson from becoming a restricted free agent next summer.
If the Asik situation taught us anything, it’s that restricted free agency can be deadly to a team that wants to retain its player. After all, the Bulls entered last summer with the firm stance that they would pay top dollar to retain Asik. Then the Rockets offered Asik upwards of $25 million for three years, which included a “poison pill” third-year salary of around $15 million.
That savvy move by the Rockets — who clearly wanted Asik badly — effectively cost the Bulls a valued player. It’s not a stretch to imagine the same thing happening with Gibson.
According to K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune:
Talks between the Bulls and Mark Bartelstein, Gibson’s Chicago-based agent, continue. Sources said the roughly $8 million gap over four years isn’t atypical for this stage of negotiations.
The Bulls want to avoid having Gibson become a restricted free agent next summer should they fail to reach an extension, particularly since they were burned when Omer Asik reached that status. But they also have no plans to commit $10 million annually to Gibson, 27, when Derrick Rose, Carlos Boozer, Luol Deng and Joakim Noah all average north of that figure.
It’s a difficult situation. On the one hand, Gibson is a fantastic defensive player and the de facto leader of Chicago’s second unit. Yet his Player Efficiency Rating last season was 16.9, which ranked him 26th in the league among power forwards. That was just a hair above guys like Gustavo Ayon and Jason Thompson.
I’d be willing to bet you just thought: “Who are Gustavo Ayon and Jason Thompson?” To which I would have replied: “Exactly.”
The biggest worry about Gibson’s game is his offense.
According to Hoopdata, Gibson converted 65.7 percent of his shots at the rim last season, which is excellent. Unfortunately, a great many of those attempts came off uncontested dunks, layups and putbacks. Gibson doesn’t have many post moves and rarely creates his own shot.
Even more unfortunately is the fact that Gibson shot only 34 percent from 16-23 feet which — based on number of field goal attempts per game — is his second favorite location to shoot from.
A quick stat check also shows us that Gibson’s True Shooting Percentage of 52.2 percent ranks him 45th among the league’s power forwards.
Further, according to John Hollinger’s stats, Gibson ranks 26th in both Value Added (the estimated number of points a player adds to a team’s season total above what a replacement player would produce) and Estimated Wins Added (the estimated number of wins a player adds to a team’s season total above what a replacement player would produce).
Mind you, I’m not saying any of this to undersell Gibson or understate his value to the Bulls.
However, some perspective may be necessary. Gibson is a very popular player among experts and Bulls fans. And rightfully so. But while we’re extolling his virtues — which include stellar defense, consistent effort and being a fantastic teammate — it’s also worth looking at his shortcomings. Especially considering that, at 27 years old, Gibson’s game is unlikely to change greatly going forward. In other words, people expecting him to suddenly become a much stronger offensive player are likely to be disappointed.
Which may be an important factor when estimating his dollar value worth to the Bulls.
And that’s what it’s all going to come down to in the end. Like the Thunder, the Bulls will have to make a decision regarding what Gibson is worth based on a) what they have to offer under the current salary cap and luxury tax situation and b) what Gibson is worth relative to other players around the league.
As much extending or re-signing Gibson seems like a no-brainer, it may not be that simple. The Bulls learned this with Asik last summer. The Thunder just learned that with the James Harden situation.
And it could happen again with Taj.
October 3, 2012
K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune writes:
In the first practice of training camp, Gibson logged some minutes at center, a move coach Tom Thibodeau hinted at during the offseason. Gibson happily reported he blocked one of Joakim Noah’s new sky-hook attempts.
If the Bulls go small at times, Gibson is eager to help.
I’m excited to see Taj get more burn at center. According to 82games.com, Gibson did pretty well when playing center, posting PER of 26.2 per 48 minutes while holding opposing centers to a PER of 6.6. I realize the sample size is small — Taj spent most of his time at power forward — but the overall results seem promising.
Said Gibson: ”I feel great about [playing center]. I played it today against Joakim … I had a great first day playing center. I look forward to playing it some more. As long as my teammates have confidence in me and we play solid defense I don’t have a problem playing (center).”
With Derrick Rose out indefinitely, the Bulls obviously would like Gibson to score a few more points than last season’s 7.7 PPG average. And it appears Gibson has been working on his offense during the offseason.
Said Gibson: ”I just tried to get more consistent with my jump shot. Worked a lot with Thibs right before USA camp, just trying to get more fluid with post work. Get more confidence, get stronger because we lost Omer in the off-season, try to just get more physical.”
I’d definitely like to see a more physical Gibson. I’d much prefer him doing his damage around the basket (where, according to Hoopdata, he converts 65.7 percent of his field goals) than shooting jumpers (where he hits 37.2 percent from 10-15 feet and 34.0 percent from 16-23 feet).
I really can’t get behind the concept of Gibson as a jump shooter. He can hit outside shots…but not efficiently. Back to the 82games.com data: Last season, 54 percent of Gibson’s shot attempts were jumpers. And 83 percent of those attempts were assisted. Unfortunately, his Effective Field Goal Percentage on those shots was 37.4 percent.
So I’m glad Gibson worked on his jumper, because he needs to be able to hit them, but what he needs is more attempts where he at his most effective and efficient: around the basket.
As for the elephant in the room — the Bulls have until October 31 to sign Gibson to a contract extension or else he will become a restricted free agent next summer — Taj claims he’s not worried about it.
Said Gibson: ”I can only worry about basketball. I can only worry about what I can take care of on the court. I’m listening to my agent Mark Bartelstein and I’ll let (Bulls GM) Gar Forman and (Gibson’s agent Mark Bartelstein) worry about that. Right now I’m just worried about getting better with my teammates, and so far it’s been great. … Right now I’m not even thinking about [the contract situation]. I’m thinking about wearing the Bulls jersey for as long as I can. Right now that’s the only thing I’m worried about.”
As to whether the Omer Asik situation has affected his thinking — Asik signed that huge offer sheet with the Rockets over the summer and the Bulls declined to match it — Gibson said: ”I’m just happy for Omer. He really just let his game speak for itself. He really didn’t get into, ‘Oh, he wants to leave,’ or anything like that. He just let his agent handle it and let things fall into (place) but right now I can’t focus on that. I can only focus on what I can take care of and that’s basketball and worry about the things that are going (happening) on the basketball court. I can’t worry about things with my agent, what Gar’s going to say about money. I can’t worry about those things right now.”
It’s great that Gibson is talking that way, and it keeps with the current regime’s no-nonsense / all-business attitude, but it would be naive to think that the situation is not on Gibson’s mind. It’s his future, after all, and there aren’t many people who would be able to wipe that from their minds completely.
Said Bartelstein: “At the end of the day, your value’s always what someone’s willing to pay you. So I think there’s no question he’d like to be a Bull. He loves it here. The fans have treated him great.”
“This is obviously a really important contract for him. He’s in the prime of his career. He just wants to make sure when it’s time to sign something, there’s no regrets. He doesn’t look back and say, ‘What if?’ or anything like that.”
Translation: This is business and loyalty likely won’t sway Gibson if he has the chance to make more money elsewhere.
A quick peek at the ShamSports salary numbers will show you that the Bulls have almost $60 million committed to four players next season — Carlos Boozer, Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, and Luol Deng — which means extension money will be tight…even if the Bulls use the amnesty clause to dump Boozer’s contract.
The good news is that the Bulls won’t get their hands tied in quite the same way they did with Asik this season. Mike McGraw of the Daily Herald explains:
One significant difference with Gibson is he was a first-round draft pick and is playing his fourth NBA season. That gives him “Bird Rights,” which means the Bulls can exceed the salary cap to re-sign him. They can basically pay Gibson anything up to the maximum salary.
Asik was a second-round pick who had played in the league just two years. That made him what’s known as an “early-Bird” free agent. Since the Bulls were over the cap, they could re-sign him for no more than $5 million and $5.2 million over the first two years of the new contract.
Houston was under the cap and therefore able to tack on the balloon payment. The Bulls could have matched the deal but would have owed a huge luxury-tax bill — quite a price for a backup center.
The reality is this: The Bulls are very nearly a mortal lock to re-sign Gibson, whether it’s this fall or next summer, if for no other reasons than his value (and his perceived value) is high and it’s something of an open secret that the Bulls are simply waiting for the opportune moment to amnesty Boozer’s deal.
It’ll be interesting to see if the situation gets resolved by the end of the month.
May 17, 2011
According to Deadspin’s Emma Carmichael, this photo of Taj Gibson posterization of Dwyane Wade will replace Bruce Lee posters across America. Personally, I’ve replaced every contact photo on my iPhone with this picture. So if you call me, this is what I’ll see:
January 5, 2011
As I’ve mentioned before, blowing out bad teams is a key quality of truly good teams. Well, that’s what the Bulls did last night, addressing their recent so-so play in the process.
The Bulls dominated pretty much every meaningful statistical category. They shot 53 percent from the field. They won the rebounding battle 44-33 (including a 13-8 advantage on the offensive glass). They had 20 fast break points. They outscored the Raptors 58-38 in the paint. Chicago’s bench outscored Toronto’s reserves 52-22.
If you check the Basketball-Reference box score, you’ll see that the Bulls swept the Four Factors and finished with an Offensive Rating of 118 and a Defensive Rating of 96.8.
Coach Tom Thibodeau got strong play out of the usual suspects, by which I mean Derrick Rose (19 points, 7-for-11, 6 assists), Carlos Boozer (12 points and 13 rebounds) and Luol Deng (a game-high 24 points). But the bench made the biggest difference.
Chicago’s reserves actually had a triple-double of 52 points, 26 rebounds and 11 assists. Ronnie Brewer had a strong game (12 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals) and Taj Gibson finally broke out of his post-concussion slump (16 points, 8-for-11, a game-high 14 rebounds). Gibson attacked the boards and the rim in addition to playing great defense. And then there was Omer Asik (career-high 13 points, 5-for-6, 7 rebounds, 5 blocked shots).
Asik’s numbers only tell part of the story. He came up huge during the pivotal second quarter, during which the Bulls outscored the Raptors 30-14. Omer took advantage of a mismatch against Leandro Barbosa and hit a layup. He fed Luol Deng for a layup that just beat the shot clock. He grabbed rebounds at both ends. He blocked and intimidated shots. And even when Asik wasn’t making plays around the ball, he was moving, setting picks, getting into excellent position.
Asik is a smart basketball player and he works hard. He played great last night. Almost everybody on the bench did.
Said Boozer: ”Most times, games are close and they don’t get a chance to play like this. But in games like this, you see just how talented they are. You see how talented Taj is, you see how talented O is. The more time you get, the better you become. These guys are stud players.”
The best part is that the Bulls — who play tonight in New Jersey as part of four games in five nights — were able to rest Rose and Boozer during the fourth quarter.
Or maybe the best part is Chicago’s record (23-10). The Bulls have now won five straight and 14 of their last 16 games. They are now 18-1 against sub-.500 teams.
And here’s more good news if you can believe it: According to ESPNChicago’s Nick Friedell, Joakim Noah has started working out with the team. Noah’s cast will come off next week.
Said Noah: ”I’ve been running. I’ve been doing some conditioning and doing some lifting. A lot of core work. A lot of leg strengthening. It’s hard to make everything game-like. There’s nothing like playing in a basketball game. There’s nothing you can do to simulate a basketball game. But I’m doing the best I can, even with a cast on.”
Things just keep getting better.
Recap, Box Score, Play-By-Play, Shot Chart, Photos.
December 20, 2010
ESPNChicago’s Nick Friedell writes:
“Chicago Bulls forward Taj Gibson sat out practice on Monday because of a concussion he suffered in the third quarter of Saturday’s game against the Los Angeles Clippers. Gibson is listed as doubtful for Tuesday night against the Philadelphia 76ers at the United Center.”
Talk about bad news. The Bulls are already without Joakim Noah — who was playing like an All-Star — and now Taj is out for at least one game. Maybe more.
What’s worse: The 76ers could be trouble.
Their 11-16 record may not seem intimidating, but Philly opened the season 3-13 but have won eight of their last ll games. And they were one amazing last-second play away from beating the Celtics and making it nine wins in 11 games. The Sixers have held their opponents under 100 points in 11 of their last 12 games, including three games in which their opponent scored fewer than 80 points.
All I can say is Omer Asik and Kurt Thomas had better be up for the challenge.
November 22, 2010
Last season, it was plantar fasciitis in both feet.
This season, Taj Gibson apparently has a pinched nerve in his right foot.
According to K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune: “Taj Gibson didn’t practice Sunday after suffering what he called a pinched nerve in his right foot. Gibson suffered the injury during slide drills at the start of practice and limped out of Staples Center.”
Insert “agony of the feet” joke here.
Said Gibson: “It’s real sore. I don’t know if I’ll be able to play Tuesday (against the Lakers), but at least we have two more days to let it heal.”
This is lousy news, and not only because Taj is coming off what may have been his best game as a pro — 17 points and a career-high 18 rebounds plus his first ever three-pointer in a Bulls win over the Mavericks in Dallas.
The Lakers’ frontcourt — do the names Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol ring any bells? — is huge. If Gibson is out, Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau may have to start Joakim Noah at power forward and Omer Asik at center.
And, gulp, maybe even go to Brian Scalabrine early and often.
This isn’t exactly encouraging news for a team that’s heading off to face the defending champs in their building.
Anybody know any foot healing voodoo magic?