Stayin’ alive: Bulls 96, Bobcats 88

The good news: The Bulls pulled out a scrappy home win over the Charlotte Bobcats, thus living to fight another day. For a possible playoff spot, that is.

The bad news: The Toronto Raptors pulled out a scrappy win of their own, a 128-123 overtime win over the 76ers in Philadelphia. Despite leading by as many as 17 points in the third quarter, the Raptors almost let the game slip away. Unfortunately for the city of Chicago, Chris Bosh stepped up with a couple big shots down the stretch.

Said Bosh: “I wouldn’t want to imagine the [playoff] scenario if we lost that game.

As it stands, the scenario is this: The Bulls are still 1 1/2 games behind the Raptors with only six games remaining. In other words, the odds are against them and the situation is grim.

The funny thing is, you know who’s killing the Bulls right now? It’s not Bosh. It’s Sonny Weems. I’m being completely serious. Weems scored 18 points on 9-of-11 shooting against the Sixers. On Wednesday night, Weems went a perfect 8-for-8 for 17 points in Toronto’s win over the Los Angeles Clippers.

Sonny Weems. Go figure.

But enough about the Raptors. Let’s talk about the Bulls. This game was a prime example of what might have been had the team been a little healthier during the second half of the season

Joakim Noah, once again starting at center, had a strong game. Jo’s shooting (4-for-14) was as grim as Chicago’s playoff odds, but he finished with a game-high 16 rebounds, 2 blocked shots and one memorable posterization of former teammate Tyrus Thomas:

Speaking of Tyrus, I was really excited to watch the game-within-a-game between Thomas and Taj Gibson, a.k.a the man who made T-Time expendable. Taj seemed to have a little extra spring in his step to start the game. He was skying for rebounds early — I mean, he was really going up after them — and finished with 15 boards, including a game-high 7 on the offensive glass. Gibson also scored 14 points on 7-for-11 shooting.

Meanwhile, Thomas must have wondered whether he was back in a Bulls uniform. He logged only 16 minutes of playing time and the results were mixed. Tyrus blocked a couple shots and intimidated a few others. He started the game by posting Gibson for a short hook and a foul, then rolled in for an easy layup off a sweet dish from Raymon Felton on the Bobcats’ next possession.

But Tyrus went 2-for-5 after that, including an airball, and grabbed only 3 rebounds. Oh, and as I mentioned above, he ate that Wilsonburger served up by Chef Noah.

It was like he never left.

A few things worth noting. Taj obvious had a big edge in minutes played (42-16), but the edge was very minor in terms of plus-minus scores (+12 for Gibson versus +11 for Thomas). Do with that information what you will.

But in the final analysis, Gibson — while not as physically talented — is simply a better basketball player than Thomas right now. He plays smarter, he works harder and he usually makes the right plays. With Tyrus, you just never know. With Gibson, you usually do.

Said Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro: “[Gibson] is incredibly coachable. He comes to work every day, plays hard. He makes mistakes like everybody, but he plays so hard. If he has a fault it’s that he helps too much defensively, which is a very, very rare thing. Especially for a rookie.”

Del Negro continued: “Ever since day one when he got here, he works every day. Whether it’s in the weight room, whether it’s on the court. Pregame, halftime, he’s ready to go. And he’s such a great kid. It’s easy to root for a kid like that. You want him to do well, and he’s been a huge factor for us, no question, with everything we’ve battled throughout the year.”

Added Noah: “He’s always been someone who will always listen. He just works really hard. It’s not even just his rebounding. I think his positioning is really good. I think he’s relentless. He doesn’t give up just because somebody’s in front of him. He always keeps trying to go after that basketball. I think even offensively, he’s really getting better. He’s getting a lot of playing time, so he’s really making the best of his opportunity.”

In related news, Derrick Rose continued trying to back up his playoff prediction by scoring a game-high 26 points on 10-for-19 shooting. Rose was reasonably aggressive in seeking the rim, considering that nine of his 19 shots were layup attempts (including a couple acrobatic, Air Jordan-style circus shots). In fact, the Bulls attempted 33 layups versus 47 jumpers. That’s a much better ratio than they usually have…which is probably a product of how important they felt this game was. So was their 56-34 advantage on the boards.

While we’re handing out kudos, I’d like to give a gold star and a sheet of unicorn stickers to Kirk Hinrich. Captain Kirk might have been the best player on the floor. He scored 24 points while shooting a red-hot 9-for-12 from the field. For good measure, Hinrich added 6 boards, 3 assists, 2 steals and a blocked shot. He also had a game-high plus-minus score of +18, so you could say he had an impact.

The one blight on this game — other than a flurry of second-half turnovers that helped the Bobcats come back from a double-digit deficit and almost steal a win — was the play of Chicago’s bench. Brad Miller, Flip Murray and Hakim Warrick combined for 52 ugly minutes, during which they scored only 9 points on 3-for-17 shooting. In all fairness, Miller added some non-scoring value by snaring 5 rebounds, dishing a co-game-high 6 assists and (heh) blocking a layup attempt by Tyrus.

At any rate, it was a big win, and — one assumes — the kind the Bulls might have had a few more of minus an injury or two. But there’s nothing they an do about the past. All they can try to do is win out and hope the Raptors hit a rough patch.

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10 Responses to Stayin’ alive: Bulls 96, Bobcats 88

    GotNext April 4, 2010 at 8:07 am #

    Where are all the Thomas supporters now?? Taj has been tremendous, I love watching that kid play. Gets his points within the flow of the offense and has a great basketball IQ. If we could label Thomas’ IQ it would be Downs Syndrome. We all know he’s a gifted athlete and maybe coach Brown will light a fire under his ass. Maybe he’ll become the next Josh Smith but everyone Chicago knew he would have never reached his full potential here.

    Kirk Hinrich, another guy who gets his points within the flow of the offense. I’m a big fan of Kirk, he’s far from the offensive liability people like to say he is. He’s over paid sure, but who isn’t in this league?? On top of that, no one talks about his off the ball defense. Watch him get in front of guys when they’re coming off screens so the defender can recover. Stuff like that is never fully appreciated, but it wins games.

    Boppinbob April 4, 2010 at 3:42 pm #

    I am tired of hearing that Capt. Kirk is overpaid. When the Bulls were healthy, they did not start winning until Capt. Kirk began starting. He is the perfect complement to D. Rose. The defense is keyed by Noah and Capt. Kirk. If either one is out the defense fails. He contributes much more then BG in the overall scheme of success for the Bulls. The Bulls need to add an effective big man (Bosh or Lee) and a guard with a similar skill set to Hinrich’s. They may already have that guard in Acie Law but we may never know with the HC and management that the Bulls are operating under currently.

    Luke April 4, 2010 at 11:56 pm #

    After this game, it is time to put Charlotte on the radar for teams to catch. Looking at their next 5 games they could potentially go 2-3. The bulls, with a little bit of luck or a little bit of stars sitting, could go 4-1…. leaving the Bulls with one road game, in Charlotte, to tie with the bobcats….. and guess who wins the tiebreaker?

  4. big baller 86 April 5, 2010 at 5:43 pm #

    I kno this is totally off the subject bu could the bulls sign David Lee & Rudy Gay, trade Luol Deng and some picks to ATL for Joe Johnson and come with a team of:
    C- J. Noah
    PF- D. Lee
    SF- R. Gay
    SG- Joe Johnson
    PG- D. Rose
    Taj Gibson
    James Johnson
    Kirk Hinrich
    Brad Miller (Veterans Minimum)
    Flip Murray
    Acie Law
    1st round pick
    Juwan Howard (Veterans Minimum)
    that would be a top 2 team in the east with size, speed, shooting and athleticism…wat yall think???

    C-Lo_The_Great April 5, 2010 at 8:49 pm #

    why not keep lu instead of sign rudy gay?
    i like lu’s game better
    i got nba pass and started watching some memphis games ever since talks about him signing with bulls
    dude is pretty good but inconsistant sometimes
    i like lu alot

    Luke April 6, 2010 at 5:37 am #

    well my dream summer has involved David Lee and Joe Johnson for quite a while… I never had the thought about Gay. As far as inconsistency- I dont have league pass and therefore can’t comment on that- but I do get comcast sports net and know that Luol has been pretty damn consistent with his injuries… I like how he plays and don’t mean this as a stab at him, but the injuries are just too much. I mean, he’s said himself his one goal this year was to not get injured… and we all know how that happened.

    Noah, Lee, Johnson, Gay and Rose would be unbelievable… That’s literally 4 all-star caliber players with a possible 5th. Please Lord, let Paxson and Gar get this done.

  7. big baller 86 April 6, 2010 at 11:05 pm #

    The only reason I said sign Gay and trade for Johnson is because thats the only way we’d be able to get Johnson due to Deng making 12 mil. a year and Rudy Gay has so much potential and is a better matchup against Lebron which is something u have to think about being that the east will prolly go thru Cle. for the next 3-4 yrs once LeBron resigns. Also we’d get have a core of about 8 players (with the starters, James Johnson, Taj, and our 1st rounder) all under the age of 30. We wont have enough to sign Johnson and Lee anyways because keeping deng would also be great but Rudy Gay comes at a cheaper price and maybe a bigger pay off and Gay fits better w/ D. Rose. Just a thought Gar/Pax, hell sign me up for GM and I’ll make it happen lol

  8. TexasBullsFan April 7, 2010 at 3:09 am #

    “well my dream summer has involved David Lee and Joe Johnson for quite a while… I never had the thought about Gay”

    Ok, sorry, but I’m gonna have a snarky laugh or two at that. No offense, just made me laugh.

    Luke April 7, 2010 at 3:53 pm #

    Yeah… I don’t really want Lebron because I would rather have a team of guys a like rather than a bunch of sub-mediocre players with 1 Lebron. And please, please please do not trade for Wade. Since his championship he has been the only good player on that team and it has taken it’s toll. He has to beat his body up every night for those guys and I think he is wearing down.

    I love David Lee because he doesn’t need the attention, but he still has the potential to put up 20-20 as he has done a few times this year, or 20-15 even more.

    I believe that Noah, Lee, Johnson and Rose would work perfectly together because there isn’t one guy who absolutely has to have it his way. They all just want to win. That’s why it’s my dream summer.


  1. Derrick Rose’s awesome layup » By The Horns - April 4, 2010

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