Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Under the Boards

You'll be happy to know, apropos of Bengo's comments below that we're already crafting an event at the mothership. It's currently slated for May 17th, more details to come.

Quick hit here. Reading Marc Stein yesterday I was pleasantly surprised to see him having Ben Gordon going to the All Star game. As guard-rich as the east is, I really have to agree. First, Stein points out that you can't really have teams in the top tier of the conference without an all-star (that is, team performance should be rewarded) and Gordon's one of the most electric players in the East, and also, I'd wager one of the more valuable. There aren't many guards who can fill it up like he can, and have such knack for clutch shooting. He's also greatly improved his defense and passing and cut down on the turnovers. I also feel pretty strongly that if BenGo doesn't make it, they'll be no Chicago representation in Vegas. For the first month of the season I thought Deng would be a shoo-in, but he's slowed down a bit, and become less agressive scoring the ball. My namesake will make an All-Star game before his NBA career is over. Mark my words. But it's clearly not happening this year.

Curious what other TYI'ers think.

(Anyone wanna start a pool on when I finally given in and purchase an ESPN subscription so I can read all those tasty morsels hidden behind the orange paywall?)

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Draft Series #1

I'll admit it. I'm an NBA draft junky. Even during this crucial stretch of the season, it's hard for me not to think ahead to what is the best night of summer. As part of an ongoing blog series, I thought it might be fun to do a quick evaluation of possible draft picks come June. Right now, I'm working under the assumption that the Knicks will stay around the 9th pick (TYI, TYI, TYI!) and the Bulls won't see a major roster shakeup. Obviously, all of this is subject to change: the Knicks could miraculously win the putrid Atlantic, the Bulls might swap for a PF, the lottery could get screwy etc. But for the sake of argument, I'll examine a few players that might be available in Isiah's/Paxson's area.

Draft Prospect One: Julian Wright

(Full disclosure: Wright and I attended the same high school and are friendly, which is not to imply that we are really tight. Giving Julian love is not the reason for the post. I promise).

Many Bulls fans might be pretty familiar with the local product turned Jayhawk who took his high school team to the state finals his junior season, only to be beaten by Shaun Livingston's Peoria squad. Illinois and Arizona were finalists in the recruiting sweepstakes until Self got back into the mix. As legend has it, Bill showed up in Chicago Heights and convinced Julian to enroll at KU in three hours flat -- JuJu had never stepped foot on the Lawerence campus. It's turned out to be a good decision. In his sophomore year, Wright (along with Chalmers and the widely overrated Brandon Rush) have lead the 6th ranked Jayhawks to a 19-3 record. Julian is putting up consistent numbers (11.1, 7.8, 2) and has shown flashes of brilliance, particularily in a win against the defending champs from Gainesville.


**Athleticism -- The thing that stands out immediately about Julian is his athletic ability. He is not a small kid (6'9" with an enormous wingspan) but he can do things with the ball most guys 6'4" wouldn't even try. He's quick, coordinated and has good bounce, which creates lots of matchup problems given his ability to play all five positions on the floor.

**Character -- Julian is truly a stand up kid. Read this profile in the Kansas City Star if you don't believe me. He's extremely friendly, down to earth, he works hard and he's a great teammate, something we all know Pax and Skiles value.

**Court vision -- Draftnet's first three descriptions all detail his passing: "For his size, he is a tremendous passer able to make impressive plays … Unselfish player who gets his teammates involved in the offense ... Excellent court vision, sees the floor with ease." There was a reason that Kaun got all of those easy buckets at the start of the last year. He would fit easily into the Bulls' motion offense.


**College -- The truth is that despite predictions as high as seventh in the lottery, Julian might not enter for another year. He and his mom are intent on earning that degree, which he should do in three years. While his family is certainly not rich, they appear to be financially stable, meaning they can afford another year of subsidized college life.

**Weight -- He's listed at 225, but that is a joke. Until he develops a little more upper body strength, he might face some problems establishing position inside.

**Offensive polish -- Unlike the equally athletic Tyrus, Julian is very skilled on the offensive end. However, his perimeter shooting is still inconsistent, despite his deceivingly high shooting percentage (54 percent).

While an inticing option, Wright might not be the best option for the Bulls. Like many guys on our roster, Julian could be an outstanding compliment to a good low post scorer, but he's not a guy with tons of available moves on the block. That being said, he's more gifted than anyone we have at the 4 and is smart and skilled enough to play within the offense. Either way, we might have to wait until 2008 to dream of Julian in red and black.

Late Night Bullets

** With Wallace or not, I'd say the Bulls should still go 4-3 on their upcoming West Coast swing. Road losses to Phoenix and Utah wouldn't be that unsettling, and I guess the Clips are playing better as of late, so that might be tough as well. But Seattle, Portland, Golden State and Sacramento are all winnable. I suppose I could live with 3-4 (which would be three times better than last trip out west) and I'd obviously be REALLY pleased if they can somehow manage 5-2. Color me ecstatic if they do better than that, and talk to me again about Gasol in another week and a half if they don't manage 3 Ws.

**About a week ago, I read Jack McCallum's book on the Phoenix Suns, :07 Seconds Or Less. I'd recommend it, if only because it takes 7 hours or less to read. Of all the players and coaches who star in it, my personal favorite was Suns' Assistant Coach Alvin Gentry, who comes off as an absolutely hilarious straight shooter. He's an NBA lifer, with a wealth of great stories, and my favorite was this one: He's talking with McCallum about psyching up players in the locker room, and he mentions this one time when he was an assistant with the Heat, and a 11th man enforcer/rebounder named Ledell Eackles hoped to inspire the team. He goes up to the chalkboard and writes "Know Your Role" on the board, only he spells it, "No Your Roll." Glen Rice just looked up at him and said, "Sit down, dumbass."

**Finally, there's a new book coming out this May that everyone will want to check out: Jeffrey Lane's Under the Boards: The Cultural Revolution in Basketball. (There's an Annotated Table of Contents here; look it over and tell me you're not interested.) I'm hoping we might be able to put together some sort of TYI "Blog Event" around it when we get closer to the pub date--an interview with Jeff at the least, or maybe, Jeff willing, some sort of seminar like the good folks over at Crooked Timber did with the dopest fiction writer alive today, China Mieville. This doesn't have to be just TYI posters either; if any of you kindly folks from other blogs are interested, let me know in the comments and maybe we can do a cross-promotional thing, get the whole synergy thing workin'.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Why I Can't Take Dave Berri Seriously

I was hoping Noce might comment on this fantastic FreeDarko post on Dave Berri's The Wages of Wins, as sussing out the points where economics becomes ideology is really his bag. But that post aside, there's a much simpler reason that I've decided not to invest any time reading The Wages of Wins: By Dave Berri's calculations, Chris Duhon produces more than 4 times the number of wins than Ben Gordon.

No. I'm serious. See for yourself.

You'll also note that his calculations predicted that the Bulls would win 64 games this year. (If they go undefeated from here on out, they'll win 63.) Now, in that graph's accompanying article, he makes the caveat that the Bulls probably won't win 64 games, only that the "evidence suggests the Bulls will be better next season." To which any Bulls fan off the street could have replied: "No shit, Sherlock."

None of this would piss me off that much if I hadn't read that his book concludes like so:

"Without statistical analysis, one cannot see how the actions the players take on the court translate to wins. One can play basketball. One can watch basketball. One can both play and watch basketball for a thousand years. If you do not systematically track what the players do, and then uncover the statistical relationship between these actions and wins, you will never know why teams win and why they lose. Staring at these players play is not a method that will ever yield the answers that the proper analysis of statistics will yield. And this is true if you stare for one day, or as we said, if you stare for a thousand years."

When you come across prose as hubristic as this, it makes you wonder if any of the Anti-Intellectualism in American Life might be well warranted.

And that's a shame. Because I imagine Dave Berri's work shouldn't be dismissed out of hand. Serious statistical analysis of basketball is really just starting to gestate, and that Berri's work recognizes the contributions of players like Ben Wallace, Adrian Griffin and, yes, Chris Duhon, in a way that other statsmasters might overlook is salutary. But a little humility is in order, as is ceasing the wholesale dismissal of players, like Ben Gordon, Melo, or AI, who don't fit neatly in your chosen metrics.

For my money, one of the best statisticians out there who fulfils all of these requirements is Kevin Pelton. Check him out.

Friday, January 26, 2007

We Don't Need a Low-Post Scorer

Folks. First of all, let me say: It's great to be here. I'd like to thank BenG007 for the password, CoachSkiles for the motivation (who else?), and Nocioni for the intangibles.

CoachSkiles, Forbes and I were at the game last night and needless to say, I am very happy with my 11 game package so far. The Mavs played well but we are just relentless on defense and not too many times when we're playing that well can other teams win games. Tyrus was, as expected, electric on defense, stuffing Nowitzki and making some impressive rebounds. Also, no paper has discussed it much but Ben Wallace had a fantastic game. Accordingly, Dampier was a non-factor with 7 pts and 6 boards while Wallace had 17 boards and 4 blocks.

The biggest thing to me last night was that, like the Mavs, we can really get baskets without a low-post scorer. Here's a great quote from Jerry Stackhouse:

"What they do, somebody is not going to be as effective," Stackhouse said when asked what Gasol might be like with the Bulls. "A guy like Deng cuts and slashes because you try to pay attention to their pick and roll. You throw a guy in the post and it's a different effect.

"Hinrich and Gordon, those guys won't have the ball in their hands as much and that's their strength, playing off the dribble. Pau's a handful, and he can cover a lot of ills, but you don't get a whole lot of defense with him."

Getting Gasol is going to change the on-court character of this team. On just an entertainment level, the Bulls are a brilliant team to watch. I'd hate to see some skinny, no-defense, finesse guy come in and make us have to start over.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Hey CoachSkiles

This is why I think you're an idiot. (See post below.)

You're not alone, though. Over at his place, Yglesias has a post where he says "Chicago's offense isn't middling because it's all from the perimeter, it's middling just because it's middling -- Ben Gordon is no Gilbert Arenas."

I'd agree, but not in the way Yglesias thinks. Check out the Weird One's stats, in particular, his third year: 19.6 ppg, in 37 minutes. Now check out Ben's, particularly this year, his third: 21.1 ppg in 31 minutes. (And please note that Ben's FG percentage is 6 points higher.)

Ben Gordon may not be Agent Weirdo yet. But at the same point in his career, the Weird-O wasn't yet Ben Gordon.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Sam Smith has made us all crazy!!!

Can we use some logic when discussing trade deals! Please.

Things we know about a possible swap for Gasol.

1. The Grizz want a guard.

2. The Bulls will not give up Ben and Deng.

3. Expiring contracts, picks and young players are the key to rebuilding.

4. The Bulls can't trade their '07 first rounder.

Noce seems to make a lot of sense at first, but he'll be a free agent at the end of the year, he's banged up and the Grizz are strongest at the 3/4 positions with Warrick, Gay, and Swift.

I have to think that P.J. will be included in a swap. He's a big expirer, and if the Bulls add Gasol there are too many guys at the 4/5.

So P.J. and ...

Gordon. I hate to give him away, but we can't add Gasol with dumping one of our core guys. Adding 12 million to the payroll and signing Deng and Noce is gonna be hard, but it doesn't make sense to keep the core for this year and not be able to re-sign them all.

So let's say P.J. and Ben for Gasol. And we throw in Boston's second rounder from Denver that came in the J.R. Smith trade.

Bulls -

B. Wallace/ Malik/ Sweets
Gasol / Ty
Sefo/ Grif

and that lineup could could squeak in under the cap next year.

Grizz -

Big Jake / Top three pick
Swift/ A. Johnson
Gay/ Warrick
M. Miller/ Dahntay Jones
Gordon/ Atkins

and a ton of cap space after this year. They can sign Ben to a big extension and still have 10 or so mil to chase free agents.

Tell me why I'm an idiot in the comments. I've got a good comeback waiting for you.

Monday, January 22, 2007

How Do You Say 'Rip-Off' in Spanish?

I'm glad the Bulls aren't willing to hear any talk of Gasol for Deng and Gordon, but Sam's musings of Gasol for Noce, Ty Thomas and Thabo seems too costly for me as well, to say nothing of Noce, Ty and the Captain. But maybe I'm underrating Pau. I mean, I think he's nice, but dude's never won a playoff game: How is he supposed to put us over the top?

Any one care to enlighten me?

UPDATE: Maybe I should clarify that I'd be willing to part with Noce, Thabo and someone like Sweets, PJ or Malik, or maybe even Noce and Ty, but given Ty's potential, adding in anyone else like Kirk or Thabo in that deal just seems way too high.

Ben's Blog

Ben Gordon--the real one--has a blog up on the Bulls' site, which he's been updating a little more frequently as of late. Check it out.

Nothing too mind-blowing, but I was impressed with his candor about Detroit's C-Webb signing:

I don’t know if Chris Webber is going to make much of a difference for the Pistons. I don’t seem him replacing the things done by Rasheed Wallace, Antonio McDyess or even Nazr Mohammed...

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Bulls on the back burner

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Where's The Love?

Deadspin, you got some 'splain' to do!

In their discussion of the three best Bulls blogs on the Internets, they put Matt and the Blog-a-Bull crew in first place. No beef with that. Them boys is dope.

But puttin' two defunct blogs in front of us?! To re-phrase the immortal words of Cipher Complete: That shit is hog/ It justifies blog on blog / That post couldn't slam if it alley-ooped to Alan Ogg.

I'm giving them 48 hours to rectify that mistake. After that, it's war.

UPDATE: I'm an idiot.

Random Thoughts

- The Bucks game was the worst called game I’d seen in a long time. Weak calls on Deng checking Patterson in the first 6 minutes and Ben got nothing all game. I mean he got killed a couple times, and at least 5 or 6 times Kirk or Ben nearly got tackled out top on pick and rolls.

- Duhon has to shoot the ball when he’s open. Sefo’s been great, he deserves Du’s minutes right now.

- Went to the Spurs game and was greatly pleased by the overall play. Ty’s a freak! I think that first goal tending call, which was a clean block, just took the refs by surprise. It was so quick they didn’t know what happened.

- The Bulls starters sign autographs for a few kids who are brought onto the court between the intros and the tip. It’s a nice gesture and I’m sure the kids remember it for a long time, etc., but doesn’t it come at a bad time? Maybe the Bulls are getting into a certain mental space that gets interupted by smiling for a seven year old?

- An interesting stretch coming up. The Jazz and Mavs will be great tests. The revamped Pacers lineup and the Heat should have Shaq back on the 27th are good tests versus division teams. And two chumps, Atl and the Clips, thrown in. If the Bulls can go 5-1, they’ll be 28-18 overall, that magic ten games above .500 mark that Skiles has mentioned, then I think they win the East. The Cavs have a significantly harder schedule the rest of the way.

- The Pacers trade was horrible. I guess more moves are to come, but their gonna stink in the interim. Adding Webber is a joke. Dumar’s plan for the Pistons is unraveling worst than the Bush administration’s plan for Iraq. They’re fucked when Chauncy B. bolts in the off-season.

- Looking beyond Oden and Durant, I’d be happy with a top eight pick from the Knicks. Check out this mock draft -
No Euro big guys please.

Central Division issues

The Bulls picked up another win in the vaunted Central tonight over Milwaukee, running their season division record to 7-1. They now stand just 1.5 back of Cleveland (although they are three behind in the loss column), and .5 game up on Detroit, 2 on Indy and 5 on the Bucks. In other words, they are in really good shape.

I was a little nervous pre-season about the strength of the division, but now it seems wide open. Michael Redd is likely out for another month and Charlie is banged up in Wisky, and you know you could be in trouble when Isiah is praising the Pistons' signing of C-Webb. While a great player, Webber is lazy on the devensive end, has a noted attitude problem, needs the ball in his hands (which won't jive with the now-healthy Chauncey) and will take valuable minutes away from Maxiell and McDyess, two of their most solid players up front. Not to mention that Detroit has already lost seven of 10.

Prognosticating about the other two challengers is a little more dicey. Cleveland can win at any time with LeBron, but have looked terrible on their recent trip out west after a really good stretch. Indiana, losers of two straight, completley retooled-- well, besides trading O'Neal -- so who knows. It's my gut (and not supported) reaction that Troy Murphy is not worthy of many minutes, even considering his grotesque contract. Dunleavy has been irrelevant since his time in Durham and Carlisle would be out of his mind to bench Granger instead. Ike is a beast and will be a good player and Pacers fans have to feel good about sendinng S. Jackson on his merry way, but giving up Al Harrington? I think this is a step in the wrong direction for Larry Legend.

What's all of this mean? The Bulls can rest on their laurels, play solid defense and with a little bit of luck, could coast to their first division crown since 97-98.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

You and me both, Kobe...

Monday, January 15, 2007


I'm hoping CoachSkiles is going to chime in with more--MoFo was at the game--but here are some quick thoughts on today's really impressive victory over the Spurs:

***It seems pretty obvious now that Kirk's groin injury earlier this year was REALLY bothering his game. I'm going to go ahead and admit now that I was dead wrong. Trading a Kirk Hinrich who can play like he's played the past three games strikes me as utter lunacy. His offense has been huge, but even before that came back, he was (and has continued to be) RELENTLESS on the defensive end. (That said, trading Ben Go would also be lunacy. I'm sad to say it, but I think that might leave Noce as the odd man out next year, unless Pax can pull off some cap mastery that's beyond me.)

***P.J. Brown did a helluva job on Duncan. You can see why Skiles wants to give him more minutes. It'll be interesting to see how many he gets when Wallace is back in the lineup, but I guess if Noce starts coming off the bench, then Brown's starting will take care of some of those minutes.

***But where does that leave Ty Thomas? I know he's rough--really rough--around the edges (as evidenced by at least one of the two goaltending calls he got whistled for against Duncan, as well as his offensive foul in the third), but part of me says you've just GOT to get him more minutes. The question, then, of course, though, is where (and from whom) do those minutes come?

Saturday, January 13, 2007

If We Lose Tonight... might be time to start thinking about a deal.

I know they've been playing better since Barone took over (and a healthy Gasol returned), but last night at a bar here in Memphis, I caught some of the 4th quarter in their home game against the T'Wolves. (It was "Faith and Family Night.")

Let's just say I was not impressed. If I had to put my finger on any one thing, it was probably the fact that Brian Cardinal logged some significant crunchtime minutes. (Also, I'm sure I was mistaken, but at one point I could've sworn Popeye Jones was on the floor for the Grizz. He can't still be in the league, can he?)

***UPDATE: Maybe it was Dahntay Jones. I can't tell for sure on the linked pic, but his ears look pretty big. Not Popeye-Jones-big, but not small.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

"Mellow Swag" But Still Enough

Picking up on Big Sweet's point about the 3rd quarter dominance of the Bulls of yore, last night was an object lesson in how not to come out of the half. It was a very, very frustrating loss. We managed to limit Agent Zero Weirdo to 20 points on 5-16 shooting (a performance that qualified, in his words "mellow swag.") And Kirk finally busted out of what had started to look like a season-long slump with an impressive 33 points on 6-12 shooting from behind the arc. But once again, we couldn't play through the whole game and come away with a win. A few observations. When teams d-up on the Bulls, it can suddenyl seem like the team has no offensive focal point. That's obviously due to the lack of star scoring, but if Ben Gordon isn't hitting his shot, or is turning the ball over, it can get downright scary out there. This is going to be a big problem in the playoffs and I'm flummoxed as to how to solve it, unless Gordon becomes a lot more consistent or Hinrich takes it to the next level (something I thought he had the ability to do at the beginning of the season, but I'm no longer so sure.) Also, every time the Bulls lose, I always feel like their problems are offensive in nature: not getting quality shots, shooting too many jumpers, and not hitting easy baskets. But in the games like last night and the loss to the Suns, they ended up scoring a perfectly good amount of points, but gave up a lot of easy baskets off turnovers and long misses: last night they turned the ball over 20 times. The team's half-court defense is very, very good, but their offensive dysfunctions are creating opportunities for easy scores that are just killing them by allowing teams to go on the kinds of runs the Wizards went on to start the second half last night.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Ball By Other Means

It's only tangentially related (at best) to our regular Bulls blogging, but EVERYONE should check out this. The money quote:

Here’s a newsflash: The Iraq War is not Michael Jordan, and the Congress doesn’t have to be Craig Ehlo - the Cleveland Cavaliers guard who got perpetually posterized by Jordan.

Monday, January 08, 2007


I didn't get to see the game tonight but it appears the Bulls couldn't hold on to another lead against a good team. Kirk and Du's combined 1-14 from the floor couldn't have helped. Wallace pointed out that the Bulls can compete with anyone, but they need to do a better job of coming to play every night.

"We've just got to come out there and work a little bit harder at it . . . Until we come out there and be a little more consistent, there's always going to be something missing."

If there's been a time all season to pick it up, it's now. Over the next 30 days, the Bulls will play home games against the Spurs, Jazz, Mavs and Heat and road games against the Bucks and Pacers before their second road trip out west (seven games, including battles with the Suns, Jazz, Kings and Clippers). And we all remember how their last trip to the left coast turned out.

But sitting here analyzing schedules and standings made me grin. I realized that after enduring seven horrid years and two teasers, the Bulls are finally back. Say what you want about their inability to close out games, but these Bulls are competing at the highest level in the NBA. The MO of the Bulls title teams was a dominant third quarter -- Phil and Tex would make adjustments at halftime and MJ and Pip would come out of the gate firing. Before you knew it, we were carrying a 25 point lead and Rodman was on the end of the bench icing his knees. When those guys left, the Bulls pulled a 180. They'd keep it close through two (if they we're playing well) and then the third would roll around and they'd get spanked. While the 06-07 Bulls aren't taking over games against title contenders, they are staying competitive every night. The big game experience will come with time. I'm starting to think that the ingredients are there.

Speaking of the horrible inter-dynasty period (yes, I'm working under the assumption that dominance is near), I found myself sifting through rosters on basketballreference tonight and thought it might be fun to highlight a few of my personal favorite Toros from 1999-2004.

PG-Rusty Larue
A three-sport star at Wake, Rusty was probably more cut out for football than hoops. He did last five years in the NBA, three in Chicago, and posted a career 5 ppg and a surprisingly positive assist-to-turnover ratio. He was just too slow and funny looking to compensate, though.

SG-John Starks
The four game, 82 minute experiment was well-publicized and strange to say the least. I can't remember why he didn't hang around longer after averaging 7.5 ppg and posting 11 assists to only 3 TO's in his stint. Maybe it was because he was a bastard.

F-Michael Ruffin
This big-eared defensive stopper was drafted by the Bulls and lasted two seasons. He has averaged just under 2 ppg in his career, but did come back to log some quality minutes against us during the Wizards playoff series. I'm sure he was invited to Agent Weirdo's birthday party.

F-Dalibor Bagaric
The second most-beloved Croat in Bulls team history was certainly a favorite of Johnny Redd, who yelled "DALI" whenever he did anything remotely positive. My brother and I will argue until death that he is the least skilled player ever to play in the Association; how can a 7-footer be a 36 percent career shooter from the floor?

C-Eddy Curry
I had to throw EC on there to rep my alma mater's conference, the always tough (and now reformatted) SICA East. One of the best high school games that I ever saw in person -- and I saw quite a few good ones -- was the 2000 Thornwood-HF showdown where Curry battled TJ Cummings into overtime. With time winding down, Curry knocked down two huge free throws for the win, something no Bulls fan would see in his four seasons on the Westside.

Two honorable mentions go to the always hurt, but hilariously electrifying, Eddie Robinson and Rick Brunson, the lefty version of Larue. Now let's all take a moment and thank Pax for complete reconstruction.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Take that Pistons

The teal jersey-era tempered my hatred of the Detroit Pistons, but they remain one of my least favorite franchises in sports. It all started back in 1989 or 1990, when I witnessed a Laimbeer-Pippen Chicago Stadium scuffle at the tender and impressionable age of five or six. It was rekindeled 15 years later, when I trudged out to the Palace at Auburn Hills (which if you've ever been, is NOWHERE near Detroit) in 2004 to watch a Pistons-Bucks playoff game. I sat in the upper tank with my brother and a good friend from school, a Bucks fan, and we watched the most obnoxious group of fans that I've ever seen operate. You couldn't escape Rasheed's whining, the gold chains, greasy hair, and unknowledgeable fans. The strange thing is that I have had great experiences with the actual residents of Detroit. But the nature of the beast makes it so they don't get out to the 'burbs very much for games, giving me even more reason to loathe those chumps. I wanted this game badly.

And what a game it was. Deng and Noce shot lights out, Wallace was solid on the glass (and in the lane a few times), and everytime the Pistons took a shot in the middle two quarters, it seeemed like they had a hand in their face. Rasheed was quiet, the Pistons looked flustered and the Bulls moved within a half game of the division lead. I'm pumped (even if I claimed earlier that this game didn't mean as much as either of the previous two losses, which I still stand by).

A few observations . . .

-Deng is so quick, both to the ball and to the rim. It makes him so hard to guard, because 4's can't stay with him laterally and 3's aren't nearly as long. He just exploded around guys down low tonight.

-Kirk looked extremely rusty and didn't get any help from the officials. I'm sure he will be better in the next few.

-Detroit misses Billups like crazy. Flip Murray can't effectivley run a good NBA team.

-Gordon's three in Prince's eye was just silly. My brother and I decided back in high school that a three to cut a lead from nine to six is the "biggest shot in basketball." That was one of them.

-The Pistons need to find someone to get on the class. Nazr ain't cutting it.

A great game. Good times.

Let's Give A Warm...

...TYI Welcome to our newest contributor, DengDengShotYouDown. The addition of DDSYD means that TYI now boasts the snazzy prose of two full-time professional writers (not to mention, our two professional freelancers and one professional editor.) Yeah, the good folks over at Free Darko may have been coopted by McSweeney's, but I'll take our starting five over theirs any day of the week.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Stat of the Day

Ben Gordon is now 8th in the league in points per 48 minutes at 33.6, or .7 pts per minute. Among Eastern Conference guards, he trails only Agent Weirdo, D-Wade and Michael Redd (by only .2 points). Of the others in the top 20 who play regularly, only two players---Pau Gasol (25.2) and Amare Stoudemire (29.2)---play fewer minutes than Ben's 29.8, and both of them are recovering from major injuries.

Noce, incidentally, is 34th. Deng is 50th.

Why Last Night's Devastating Loss...

...Doesn't Devastate Me One Iota.

About a week back, our homeys over at Blog-A-Bull gave a nod to John Hollinger's distinction between processes and results, particularly in regards to point differential. The money graph:

Normally, a team with Memphis' victory margin would have a record of 10-19 and a team with Miami's victory margin would be 9-18. That's right -- if you're looking at the process, not the results, the Grizzlies actually have played better than the Heat. The signature play here, of course, is the blind 3-point buzzer heave by Miami's James Posey in Memphis on Dec. 2 that handed the Heat an unexpected 98-97 win and the Grizzlies one of their eighteen losses by nine or fewer points.

I'd say last night's game against the Suns was an equally textbook example of when the outcome of the game doesn't match the flow and/or process of the game itself. It was the third game I've been to this year, and though the Bulls won the other two games (against Milwaukee and the Knicks), this was easily the best I've seen them play. If I'm not mistaken, the Suns' last lead before Barbosa's barbaric three was 8-6, about 3 minutes into the first quarter. And not only did the Bulls lead the entire game, they also completely controlled its pace and tempo, as Sam Smith pointed out today, in one of his more astute columns.

Aha, you say, but the Bulls blew another game late in the fourth quarter. That complaint is technically accurate, but it's not like the Bulls gave this one away to the Suns. There was no errant pass from Duhon or other bone-headed turnovers; Amare's offensive boards at the end were earned, not given; and though I would've like to have seen some more movement offensively from the Bulls late in the fourth, with BenGo being BenGo, that wasn't a huge problem either. Instead, Phoenix just played incredibly well at the end, hitting some remarkably clutch shots when they had to have them. The Suns have been there before, in the crucible, in the dwindling seconds of the fourth quarter, fighting for their playoff lives. These Bulls haven't (or hadn't before last night), but they are starting to now, and they are learning. A battle may have been lost last night, but you need to fight battles like that (and sometimes lose a couple) if you're ever going to win the war.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007


That was brutal.