Expectations Rise: Bulls 101, Bobcats 84

Michael Jordan thinks Derrick Rose is the “MVP of the season.”

Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf believes that, as long as they stay healthy, these Bulls could win “at least four championships.”

Members of the Celtics got to spend time with Barack Obama on Tuesday night before a fundraiser at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and the President wanted to talk about the Bulls. Specifically, Obama thanked the Celtics for “giving” coach Tom Thibodeau to the Bulls.

Talk about buzz.

With all that serving as a backdrop, the Bulls blew out the Bobcats in Charlotte, winning for the 11th time in 13 games, moving to within 1.5 games of the Celtics for the best record in the Eastern Conference, and clinching their sixth playoff berth in the last seven seasons.

Of course, no “dream come true” moment is complete without a sobering dose of reality. In this case, the reality check was delivered in the form of a flagrant foul by Kwame Brown that put Carlos Boozer on the ground and injured the big man’s ankle in the process.

The incident occurred with 4:24 left in the game and the Bulls leading 92-75. Considering the circumstances — Chicago was in full control and Taj Gibson (14 points, 6-for-7) was playing better than Boozer (10 points, 4-for-9) anyway — you have to wonder why Carlos was still in the game at all. But then again, Thibodeau has had a habit this season of leaving his starters in the game longer than absolutely necessary.

I’m not blaming Thibs. Not exactly. But Rose was sitting at the time. Why not Booz?

Oh well. No use crying over milk that’s already been spilled. Which means we have to move on to the more important subject: The extent of Boozer’s injury.

It sure looked bad, didn’t it? Boozer walked to the bench under his own power. But he declined to shoot his free throws — Kyle Korver knocked them down in his place — and limped gingerly to the locker room before play could resume. His night was over. And his season could be on hold for…nobody knows how long.

Said Thibodeau: ‘‘The X-rays were negative. It’s too early. We’ll just have to wait and see tomorrow what type of swelling he has. It’s his left ankle. He came down pretty hard. I’m hoping it’s just his ankle.’’

Well, that tells us a fat lot of nothing.

Said Joakim Noah (12 points, 13 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 blocks): ”[Boozer] said it hurts but it’s not too bad or broken or anything. Carlos brings a lot because of what he can do offensively. But we’re confident and capable. Taj is a helluva player. He’s someone you can rely on to step up and play physical and tough.”

Added Rose (20 points, 6 assists, 4 rebounds, 3 blocks, 2 steals): “It’s going to hurt us [if Boozer is out], but we still have to go out there and play the game. It’s going to take a lot more energy, a lot more focus going into games. And people are going to have to step up. If it happens, Taj did a great job when Carlos was out before. People are going to have to play big minutes. I think our team should be fine, but I hope he plays the next game.”

I hope so, too. But I also hope Taj is ready. Just in case.

Said Gibson: ”I’ve been in this role many times the last two years. I have to get my mind right if it does happen, and just play my game, play with a lot of energy, and just try to hold it down while he’s down.”

As for the game, this was one of those “take care of business” wins. The Bobcats were without leading scorer Stephen Jackson (hamstring), sixth man Tyrus Thomas (knee surgery), backup center Joel Przybilla (knee) and reserve guard Matt Carroll (ankle). Charlotte shot lights out in the first half, but Chicago held them to 35 points in the second half to win going away.

Ultimately, the Bulls wore the Bobcats down with their defense and depth. Speaking of which, the reserves poured in 51 points, led by Kyle Korver (20 points on 7-for-10 shooting), Gibson (who, again, scored 14 points on 6-for-7 shooting) and Ronnie Brewer (10 points on 4-for-8 shooting).

Said Thibodeau: ”We needed them. The first half, offensively we were good, defensively we were poor, very poor. The second half, the defense started coming around, and the bench was great. Carlos got in the early foul trouble, so that hurt us, but Taj came in, did a great job. Ronnie was playing really well, and, of course, Kyle, so they did a great job and C.J. was running the team well.”

The bench has been great this season. It really has. And it’ll have to be even better if Boozer has to miss many games. Okay, “have to be” may be overstating things. But the Bulls are trying to hold onto the second seed in the East while setting sights on the first seed. So, assuming the expectations remain high, the reserves will have to help carry the team through this crucial late-season stretch.

Jerry Reinsdorf, quote machine:
“If you don’t see something special in Derrick Rose, then you’re blind. We have an outstanding coach, an outstanding bunch of players, the team is deep, and if we stay healthy we have an awfully good chance of winning at least four championships.”

Michael Jordan, quote machine:
“[Rose] deserves [the MVP]. He’s playing that well. He deserves it. Without a doubt. And if he doesn’t get it, now he’ll see how I felt a lot of years.”

Extras:
Recap, Box Score, Play-By-Play, Shot Chart, Photos.

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24 Responses to Expectations Rise: Bulls 101, Bobcats 84

  1. Trey March 10, 2011 at 12:57 pm #

    We all know when you’re winning you get the benefit of the doubt, so that’s what I’m going to give Thibs on leaving Boozer in. It seems like Boozer has been in a little bit of a slump and getting in some garbage time to help with the funk might have been what he needed.

  2. Inception March 10, 2011 at 2:38 pm #

    look at the positive, at least it wasn’t Rose who got hurt *knock on wood* ….i’m not sure what it is with Boozer and handling his body….he obviously has a past history with injuries since his days with Utah, and now it’s carried over to CHI….is it just a physical/biological thing where his body is not made of steel like other NBA stars? or does he not know how to prevent himself from getting this injuries? MJ was the master of avoiding injuries…he was smart….now Boozer is a PF and has to deal with the dirty work, but still, this is getting frustrating to see it happen regularly.

  3. kuwabarra@mail.ru'
    Mr Bull March 10, 2011 at 4:41 pm #

    God I hope Booz will be ok.

  4. inkybreath@gmail.com'
    inkybreath March 10, 2011 at 4:53 pm #

    I’m not saying we are going to be better off, in the long run, at all.

    But, I had an interesting reaction when it happened.

    Oh no!

    Hmmm.. hope he is okay.

    Wow, that looked bad.

    He could be out for awhile.

    Man, our defense is going to hum while he is gone.

    ….

  5. Inception March 10, 2011 at 5:10 pm #

    Matt – what are your thoughts on Reinsdorf’s comments about this team winning at least 4 titles…Wilbon ripped it…personally, i don’t like it as well….if you’re the owner, and you know your star player loves the “underdog” role, why make these comments?

  6. cliniclysick March 10, 2011 at 5:20 pm #

    Inception, imo Booz’s latest setback can hardly be attributed to his injury-proneness. Getting hit like that while going in for a simple layup can happen to anybody, it just happened to be one of our guys again. Although Kwame Brown played a decent game, this incident confirms for me this guy shouldn’t be in the league. It all stems from lack of a college education.

    Inky, I thought exactly the same. Booz was slumping lately and I believe the defense will thrive. Taj played great and will continue to do so. And now we can get Kurt’s rusty knees some playing time, we may need him in the playoffs to dish out some pain of our own.

    So Kyle’s shooting troubles weren’t in his head, they were on his head. Funny what a visit to the barber shop can do. I was hoping he’d find his stroke again, but 20 points, wow. He was running around screens again all night, making some really nice shots.

    Lastly, Derrick has been practicing his threes these last few days, wouldn’t you say?

    Bring on the Hawks, time for payback on Friday!

  7. enigmatik.inviktus@gmail.com'
    Enigmatik March 10, 2011 at 5:45 pm #

    Let’s hope he isn’t out too long.

    Talking heads are going bonkers over Reinsdorf’s comments, but it’s not like he guaranteed the next four in a row or anything. I guess people don’t like when you quantify your championship aspirations. Anyway, good win.

    Next up, those bleepin’ Hawks who are owed a butt-kicking.

  8. reggiemcglory@yahoo.com'
    chitown4life March 10, 2011 at 5:52 pm #

    Wow cannot believe some of the comments last night that looked ugly in the replay when booz got hurt.This is something i think we as fans should not be second guessing about his toughness , boozer is being paid a kings ransom and his play has been above average yet he still gets bad marks from ppl. this is something we as fans need not do too much there is a reason he is getting paid so much he brings the low post threat which allows others to have clear open shots on the ouitside so you best hope his injury is short lived . Yes sometimes his D his none existant yet he does play hard he hits the boards and does play physical, something we need to keep the other teams honest. Lrt us not forget our team has not had a low post true scorer in a long long time. I myself hope that he gets back on the cort as soon as possible and this is a game ppl get hurt plain and simple..Peace

  9. contrerasadvocates@yahoo.com'
    Savage March 10, 2011 at 6:22 pm #

    Agree with you 100% chitown4life, well said.

  10. Inception March 10, 2011 at 6:41 pm #

    no one is questioning Boozer’s toughness…i’m questioning his “injury-prone” label….the makeup of his body does not fall under “toughness”, nor does his ability to avoid injury.

  11. Noah's FT Ark March 10, 2011 at 7:03 pm #

    i agree with trey. boozer needs to get some fire lit under his butt. we didnt get boozer to be our 4th best player. right now i think deng and noah are really out-preforming him. this is what i was worried about in boozer. no heart at all. he looks like he’s just there cus he’s getting paid to be there. i was hopin joakim’s fury would rub off on him, but i havent seen it yet.

    even on offense, he kinda looks like he’s just passively waiting for a pass. if this is his attitude when the bulls are this hot, how’s he gonna be if we ever get into a slump?? i could see him getting really disinterested

  12. choyle@bpu.com'
    Chuck March 10, 2011 at 7:13 pm #

    I have no problems with Booz as he plays hard every game and brings professionalism to the team. He hold himself and others accoutable. His stats are down, but he is on a better team where he does not have to put up gaudy stats for the team to win. That is what it is all about anyway. Winning. I have absolutely no doubts that the team record would be worse if Booz was not on the team.
    Bad teams have players that complain about PT and stats. Good teams have players that care about winning.

  13. bullsbythehorns@gmail.com'
    Matt McHale March 10, 2011 at 7:37 pm #

    “Matt – what are your thoughts on Reinsdorf’s comments about this team winning at least 4 titles…Wilbon ripped it…personally, i don’t like it as well… if you’re the owner, and you know your star player loves the ‘underdog’ role, why make these comments?”

    Let me put it this way. I was a big fan of the St. Louis Rams when Kurt Warner was there (assuming they weren’t playing the Bears of course). But I’ll never forget an interview Warner did right before the 2001 Super Bowl in which he predicted the team would win “four or five” Super Bowls. As we all know, they went on to lose to the (then) underdog Patriots and never made it back to the big show (although Warner would make one more SB appearance with the Cardinals).

    I hate title predictions. Hate ‘em. Don’t care if it’s a coach, players, the owner, etc. There are too many variables involved. For further proof, I submit Boozer’s latest injury. People ca say what they will about Booz, but the Bulls absolutely need his inside scoring presence to contend.

  14. Inception March 10, 2011 at 7:53 pm #

    agree – we need Boozer (18 pts and 9 rebounds a game)…let’s no kid ourselves….title hopes are out the window this year if he’s not in the starting lineup.

  15. inkybreath@gmail.com'
    inkybreath March 11, 2011 at 12:13 am #

    I am not knocking Boozy at all. I’m was just feeling that, now that he is injured (which I would never wish on him), I may expect a harder nosed defensive effort through his position for a few games.

    I like the guy. He has melded well with the team. He rebounds with consistency. And, I think we have enough above average defenders on the team.

    Honestly, I love hearing Boozer’s screams throughout the game. He expletived so loudly, it came through the telecast last night on a play where he thought he was fouled. Rose is quiet, Deng is quiet, Bogans is quiet. Our big men make some noise… works for me.

    Finally, I don’t see how you question his toughness of that play. He got whacked hard and awkward and that landing did not look pretty.

  16. yomammy@hotmail.com'
    Scottie Pimpin March 11, 2011 at 2:23 am #

    lucky its only a sprained ankle. that fall did not look good.

    but whats up with the booz scoring only 10 , 12 points the last few games ? when the big guy comes back they need to do what thibs says and feed him the ball. in the meantime though….

    its Taj time baby !

  17. chilandwong@gmail.com'
    alex March 11, 2011 at 2:40 am #

    Hey,

    I just did a podcast with Justin Rao (who collaborated with Matt Goldman on the “He Got Game Theory? Optimal Decision Making in the NBA” paper that was presented at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics conference). We discussed his paper and other general questions related to statistical research and where it’s going. Since I follow all you TrueHoop bloggers religiously, thought you may be interested in hearing it

    Direct link: http://www.mediafire.com/?33dcg7ys3l8gdv3

    Site link: http://www.stevenlebron.com/2011/03/podcast-justin-rao.html

  18. inkybreath@gmail.com'
    inkybreath March 11, 2011 at 3:43 am #

    Damn, Miami won… Phil talked too much shit before the game …

  19. cliniclysick March 11, 2011 at 4:08 am #

    Really sloppy second half by both Miami and the Lakers. The Heat played like they always did (aside from Bosh) and the Lakers just gave the win away.

  20. reggiemcglory@yahoo.com'
    chitown4life March 11, 2011 at 6:02 am #

    @ inky not sure about the heat win i saw the game and man there were alot of missed or no calls, that should of went agist the heat this game is like the one the college refs messed up. What is this if the players question the refs calls after game interviews
    they will be fined shoot the refs aint perfect and if they mess up who holds them accountable should not the players be able to speak there mind if they feel the refs were wrong. Something else stinks about tonights game vegas had the spread a 2 and the heat winning what, that is kinda like strange considering the heat lost last five game and the lakers won the last eight right.Anyways just saying don’t want to lose the confidence i have in the integrety of the game but one ref was already caught cheating, i kinda get the feeling he was not the only one doing that just saying one has been caught has to be more tell me what you think people… Get well soon Boozer we need you..Peace

  21. Inception March 11, 2011 at 1:34 pm #

    Phil has nothing to lose at this point…this is his last season, and he’s just shitting on the MIA heat with his comments lol…i’m sure he’s not expecting MIA to make the finals, which would probably explain his candidness about the Heat in the media.

    we shall see though…

  22. Trey March 11, 2011 at 8:05 pm #

    I just wanted to clarify that I’m not in agreement with the guy who questioned Boozer’s effort, I just think he happens to be in a slump at the moment and I like the idea of him grinding it out on the court, even if it is in garbage time.

  23. inkybreath@gmail.com'
    inkybreath March 11, 2011 at 11:25 pm #

    I didn’t see that Deng was a little hurt until just now. Give him the day off!

    We are deep enough now to give the poor guy a break. Maybe Butler can get into this game and get a real taste.

    And, Taj has shown enough post moves and jumpers lately to show that he can add 15 pts to the roster.

    We will be ready to get revenge on this team, no matter who is playing.

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    [...] Chicago fans are wondering why Carlos Boozer was in the game Wednesday night against Charlotte when the Bulls were up by 17 [...]

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