A happy return: Bulls 98, Sixers 84

There’s not much to say about Friday night’s home loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers. The “Bulls” — minus Derrick Rose (sprained wrist), Joakim Noah (plantar fasciitis) and Luol Deng (strained calf) — fought the good fight and (shockingly) took a brief fourth quarter lead before LeBron James decided to start taking the game seriously. Once LeBron did that, it was over.

An imperfect 10. Losses in a row, that is.

But on Saturday night, the “Bulls” started looking like the Bulls again. Rose and Noah returned — at long last — and the losing streak was finally, mercifully, and wonderfully snapped. Insert huge sigh of relief here.

Noah only played nine minutes off the bench, but he squeezed 7 points (1-for-4 FGs, 5-for-8 FTs) and 4 rebounds into his limited playing time. And there was one great sequence with about eight and a half minutes left in the game when Joakim rebounded a Philly miss, shuffled the ball to Rose, and then beat everybody down the court before drawing a foul from Jodie Meeks.

That was nice to see.

But nothing looked any better than watching Rose return and dominate. Derrick played 37 minutes and scored a game-high 23 points on 9-for-16 shooting. He was 7-for-12 on jump shots and an amazing 4-for-6 from downtown. Mind you, Rose entered the game having made only six three-pointers on the season. The kid was sizzling.

Said Rose: “I got a lot of open shots. It seemed like they were giving me the shots. I was open. I had to take them.”

I bet the Sixers wish they would have given somebody else those shots.

It was also good to see some defense. Before the Cavs game — a 92-85 loss — the Bulls hadn’t held an opponent below 100 points since February 20. That was a span of 12 straight games. But Philly managed only 84 points on 40 percent shooting while missing 16 of their 17 three-point attempts.

Said Philly coach Eddie Jordan: “We just didn’t have it.”

Now, although this win made relief wash over me in an awesome wave, it’s important to keep things in perspective. The 76ers have lost 12 of their last 14 games and are only 11-23 at home. In other words, they aren’t exactly a championship contender.

But at this point, any win is huge. And getting Rose and Noah back was really huge.

Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro: “Having Rose and Noah back really helped. It was a nice win, knowing what we’ve been through.”

It’s still a long road to the playoffs — the Bulls are now 2 1/2 games behind Toronto for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference — but with Derrick back (in a big way) and Noah easing back into the fray, there’s at least some reason for optimism.

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5 Responses to A happy return: Bulls 98, Sixers 84

  1. Bullsfan22 March 22, 2010 at 4:48 pm #

    First off, I think this has been one of the craziest, if not THE craziest Chicago Bulls season that I have followed. From a 10-17 start and the 35 point lead debacle, to the 5 straight road game winning streak to the injuries and the 10 straight losses, to the untimely trades (which could turn out to be good?), to where we are now. WOW, is all I can say.

    There is still a chance that the Bulls make the playoffs, people say that they would need to at least get to .500 in order to get there, and I agree. It is clear that they want to win and get to the playoffs, if they get in, and knowing the playoffs, nothing is guaranteed and expect the unexpected. The Bulls have to make the final push though, and after a long, tough season, that is hard, but hopefully Rose, Noah and maybe even Deng give the Bulls some extra fresh, pumped up legs and they finish the year strong and make the playoffs where they could make themselves a nuisance to the top teams.

    I am also hoping that in the offseason, management takes a serious, and I mean SERIOUS look at this season and make sure that whatever good they find from it, the build on it for next year, get everyone healthy, make the necessary trades and go from there. The end of this season and next year are absolutely key in establishing the next era of Bulls basketball, in my opinion. They will either take a major step forward in establishing a contender or mess it up again and stay where they are now, a pretender with (perhaps) only a first round playoff guarantee. Or worse…

  2. PTFC March 22, 2010 at 5:02 pm #

    The Bulls need to just take care of business on their end and I believe they will also get some help from Toronto. Toronto, believe it or not, has actually had a worse past 3 weeks then even the bulls. They lost 10 straight pretty much during the same span (including struggling against the Nets this past Saturday) WITH their squad intact (at least the bulls have an excuse). Hopefully Toronto’s crappy play continues.

  3. Ryan March 22, 2010 at 7:00 pm #

    Don’t forget about Charlotte. They have been losing major ground and are only 3 games ahead of the Bulls as well. I would almost think the Raptors might move past them for the 7th seed and it may come down to the last game of the season – 4/14 against Charlotte.

  4. chad March 23, 2010 at 2:38 am #

    6 million for Salmons “Mr. Second Half” that’s a steal. We can still catch Toronto or Charlotte if we win most our games. But only if Rose plays. Won’t be easy to beat Miami next game. We’re never good against Toronto or Charlotte either. Lose those games and we’re done.

  5. sportytomboy1212@aim.com'
    DJ March 23, 2010 at 4:21 am #

    Lets hope so Matt

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