Sunday Morning Ramblings


I like to get up on Sunday mornings and ramble about basketball. You like to read it. Pretty neat relationship there, kind of like Ike and Tina minus the beatings and short skirts.

Not going to be Simmons and throw paragraph after paragraph, post after post about the Blazers…but the fact that they beat Dallas for the first time since I was in high school makes me smile. Enough said.

There can’t be enough said about how bad the Bulls are struggling right now. The Thursday night win over the Pistons was fool’s gold. The Bulls are 1-5 on the year, 1-3 at home and are about to engage on a make-or-break six game road trip. They don’t play again until Thursday but then their slate includes Phoenix, Clippers, Lakers, Nuggets, Knicks and Raptors. Mark my words: that game in LA will be big for them as a team. Just for karmic purposes, if they can beat Kobe (the guy’s who has indirectly messed up half their teams head) and the Lakers in LA maybe they can shake that part off. Probably not though the way the Lakers are playing.

Chicago’s struggles are two-fold. One part is manageable; they are playing poor basketball right now. Everyone’s numbers are down across the board for the most part, but I point the gun at Gordon, Deng and Hinrich. Hinrich for one is the team’s PG and is struggling not only with his shot (31%, 15% from deep) but his decision making as well (3 turnovers a game). Gordon is taking a lot of jumpers and Deng is not only struggling with his shot but struggling to get to the line. I don’t know if that’s just the Bulls being out of sync or if Deng is tired from hooping on the UK team or just emotionally drained by the Kobe ordeal. Tyrus Thomas has been a bright spot, but I wonder how starting him helps the Bulls overall as a unit. Does anyone know where Ben Wallace is? Remember that Chicago defense last year that was one of the tops in the L, 6th in opponent PPG and 2nd in opponent’s field goal percentage. They’re letting their opponents score .1 less than the Bobcats right now. Also their offense right now is ranked 29th in the L in PPG (86.5).

The other half of the equation is purely mental. This is a basketball team that is absolutely down in the dumps. This is a basketball team that is beaten down mentally. And the worst part for them is they don’t have a leader to bring them together. They are a group of great basketball players but they don’t have THAT guy to really rally the troops and brush this off. The Bulls are kind of like what the Pussycat Dolls would be without the one who can actually sing. I mean read some of these quotes from players after last night’s devastating 101-71 loss to the Raptors (Courtesy of the Daily Herald)

“I can’t remember it being that bad, even since I’ve been here,” said Kirk Hinrich, who endured a 23-win season as a rookie in 2003-04. “I’m sure frustration is at an all-time high here right now.”

“It’s disappointing,” added Luol Deng. “I think since I’ve been in the NBA, this is the lowest I’ve felt. We’ve got to rebound from it.”

“That definitely hurts,” Deng said. “As hard as we work, as hard as we work as a team, to hear the boos and the Kobes and the waves going on while we’re losing by that much, it definitely hurts.”

These guys are in trouble and there has to be something going on that isn’t necessairly out there. Remember when this team had great chemistry? Not so much. Remember, the biggest question that I had (along with others) was could the Bulls handle the raised expectations? They weren’t just a group of young guys who played well and just had to raise the Bulls to the playoffs for people to be happy. No, they raised the expectations with that win over the Heat. Now it’s title talk, Eastern Conference Finals or bust. The thing is…this Bulls team looked sluggish in the preseason. They didn’t seem like their normal, hustling, smiling, hard-working selves. And that has carried over to the regular season. Teams have slumps that is just part of the up and down nature of an 82 game season. The Bulls however had a fundamental issue emotionally. Right now they are hurting in a bad way, and they may be able to play better on the court but mentally can they get it together to make a run. We’ll see next week, that six game road trip will tell us a lot about this Chicago team.

Phoenix beat on Orlando last night and a lot of people played the ‘Grant Hill went back to Orlando’ card. I’m looking at you and you. Why is no one talking about how Dwight Howard demolished Amare? Amare had 5 fouls and finished with 13 and 6. Dwight finished with 33 and 18. Say what you want about Phoenix’s strategy to deal with big guys (aka let them score and shut everyone else down) and whether that is true or just an excuse…but for a team that is going to have to go through Duncan and co. I can’t be encouraged. He didn’t prove he could score or stop or really do anything. Also good to see Rashard Lewis coming back to earth with a 3/14, 7 point performance.

Denver barely squeaked one out in Indiana, but has continued to play nothing resembling defense. For pete’s sake they gave up 46 to the PACERS in the first quarter. Let that sink in for a second. By the way, how do you score more in the first quarter than you do in the 2nd half. I mean honestly, how do you lose after a 46 point first quarter? I didn’t even think it was possible.
Overall the Pacers are just a confusing team. So is Denver actually. Inconsistency killed the neighbor’s cat. No it didn’t that’s not possible, but didn’t it sound like something an old wise man would say?

The Jazz demolished the Grizzlies 118-94, they beat them so bad even Mike Conley got to play. HIYOOOOOO! No? Anyways you look at the box score and you grin…23 minutes, 10 points, 9 assists. Someone wants some PT. It also doesn’t hurt that Damon and Kyle Lowry combined for 9 turnovers on the night. Right? Wrong. If you watched the game (or read this write-up) you’d; know that Conley was far more shaky with his two turnovers coming with the game still somewhat in reach. Also Deron Williams demolished him, scoring 15 points on him in the first half. Yeah…his time isn’t now.

Sacramento picked up their second win of the season which means the teams they have beaten include Seattle and Minnesota. Both teams who haven’t won yet but I disgress. Anywho, I guess there are some positives for Minnesota fans. Here they are.

  1. Antoine Walker isn’t playing, which will be good until he either weighs 310 pounds, starts crushing your young guys hopes and dreams or punches Randy Wittman in the face.
  2. Al Jefferson is averaging 19 and 12 a game so there is your franchise right there. Disregard the fact that he’s averaging just about 17-18 field goal attempts a game while having shot 13 free throws on the season. Always good to build around a big man who can play 30+ minutes and not get to the line once.
  3. Sebastian Telfair isn’t starting anymore….but then again he did lose his spot to Marko Jaric. Plus Bassy is still getting a lot of PT….and shooting a lot. He has 23 assists on the year which would be alright except he’s taking 52 shots and is shooting 30 percent. Yuck.
  4. Theo Ratliff is at least EARNING his paycheck this year. 14 points, 7 boards and 6 blocks last night. Have fun when he realizes he’s having a good yea
    r and has done enough to get another paycheck and he gets an “injury”.
  5. Corey Brewer…oh wait that is an actual positive how the heck did that get on the list.

Someone tell Mike Bibby to watch out…Beno Udrih is in town. Yes I just typed that sentence and no I wasn’t being serious. But if you ran the Kings wouldn’t you just try and trade Bibby, Artest and Brad Miller to see what you can get. Then you’d have Salmons, Kevin Martin, Brad Miller’s son and whoever you got in those trades. I mean if you’re gonna blow it up…blow it up, don’t keep trotting Kenny Thomas out there.

Boston is 5-0 beating New Jersey on the road. Fun fact: It took 6 games for Vince to get hurt AFTER getting the big paycheck. New record? I wonder what J-Kidd thought when he saw Vince go down. “Come on man…it’s not even January”. We did have a BIG BABY SIGHTING> 17 minutes, 6 fouls. HIYOOOOOOO. No, he had 6 points and 8 boards and on every SportsCenter highlight seemed to be getting yelled at but some Celtics coach. The Celtics should trade for Steve Novak or Pat Garrity or some sort of white shooter that can stretch the floor. If they did that I’d crown them champs right now.

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