This time when the Bulls fell behind by 14 in the first quarter, I wasn’t all that concerned. After all, the Golden State Warriors are undisciplined (at best) on offense and apathetic (at least) on defense. I figured that if the Bulls made even a half-hearted effort at getting back into the game, they’d win. And that’s what happened. Chicago pulled to within six by the end of the opening period, then outscored Golden State by 12, 7 and 11 points in the next three quarters to stampede their way to an almost-too-easy 110-88 victory.
Watching the Warriors play is always good for a few laughs. (Just ask Bulls broadcaster Stacey King, who chuckled in disbelief after almost every Warrior possession.) If Mike D’Antoni’s offense is called “Seven Seconds or Less,” then Nellie Ball could be referred to as “Four Seconds or Fewer” or maybe “One Pass and a Shot.” Don Nelson’s players sprint downcourt and shoot as soon as they can see the net, and sometimes even before that. Moreover, their approach to defense is, essentially, little more than a stare down. Let’s face it: When Brad Miller gets a quick first step on a team — several times, no less! — then that team’s D is mortally wounded and needs to be put out of its misery.
So this win was a stat-padder, no question about it. Six Bulls scored in double figures, led by newcomers John Salmons (23 points, 7-for-14) and Miller (19 points, 7-for-9). Joakim Noah had a double-double (14 points, 17 rebounds) to go along with 4 blocked shots. (I’ll try to overlook Noah’s 3-for-11 shooting.) Derrick Rose finished with 14 points and 6 assists (although he was only 6-for-14 from the field). Ben Gordon added 15 (6-for-15) and Kirk Hinrich chipped in another 13 (4-for-10) off the bench. The only guy left out in the cold was Tyrus Thomas (8 points, 4-for-10, 7 rebounds). Ty picked up a couple quick fouls and made a few early mistakes, mostly because he got into a little one-on-one duel with Golden State’s Anthony Randolph. That took Thomas out of his game, and he never really recovered.
It’s hard to derive anything meaningful out of this win. With the way the Warriors played, the game was little more than an glorified scrimmage. However, this Bulls victory combined with losses by the Bucks (in Cleveland) and the Nets (versus the Celtics) moved Chicago into a tie with Milwaukee and kept them a half-game up on New Jersey for the East’s eighth and final playoff spot. So Friday’s home game against the Bucks will be huge, a must-win, really, since the Bulls’ next four games are at Miami, at Orlando, at Philly and then back home for the Hornets.
Coaching wisdom: So sayeth the Notorious V.D.N.: “‘We need to get some sort of attitude or professionalism or whatever the word is to get going. We have it sometimes. We’re not consistent with it, and whether it’s because we’re young or we just brought in new guys or whatever, I’m not big into excuses. You’re paid to play, and you have to go out there and play.”
Quote of the night: Regarding the team’s up-and-down play on the road: “To tell you the truth, I really don’t know. We’ve been trying to figure that out the whole season. The only thing I can say is that we need to be consistent, no matter where we are at,here, Mars, anywhere, we still have to play more consistent and together.” Mars? I thought David Stern wanted to take the NBA global, not interplanetary.