Bulls high on effort, low on results

What do you do when half the team has the flu, Deng can't go, Kirk can't go, Nate Robinson is throwing up in a bucket during timeouts, and you're playing a team with more talent than you have already? Well, you take them to the brink and fall just a bit short.

There's no such thing as a moral victory, and there sure as hell isn't such a thing in the playoffs. Much like game five, the Bulls scrapped and fought. They kept it close. This time they didn't drop the rope at the end. They had a pretty good look for Marco Belinelli to tie that was off the mark, and Joakim Noah stepped out of bounds chasing the rebound to give them a second chance.

Both teams looked smooth for a half and fell into ratchety, mechanical offenses prone to large slumps in the second half. I'm not going to rip into this Bulls team for losing last night. I'm going to go ahead and disagree with Tom Thibodeau who said they had more than enough to win between the third and fourth quarters.

This team gave you everything last night. Everything they had. Sometimes that's not enough. Sometimes the ball doesn't bounce your way. That was the case last night for Chicago.

Sometimes life tells you it's not meant to be

Do you get that feeling with this Bulls team? If this season were a play, it'd be a great tragedy. They keep bouncing back, bouncing back, but every time they get close to a happy ending they watch it ripped away from them with more bad news.

It started with Derrick Rose's ACL and lack of comeback dashing any real hope in the playoffs. Then Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson suffer injuries that make their ability to play questionable. Chicago fights through it with gutsy effort after gutsy effort to take control, then Kirk Hinrich goes out possibly for the series.

You get to game six and already down a man half the team comes down with the flu. I asked how Brooklyn could get off the mat after a game five collapse and well, one method is for the Bulls to suffer more injuries, more illnesses, and have to their talent pool stripped even more. I'd say I don't want to take anything away from Brooklyn, but honestly, I do.

If I owned the Nets, I'd be giving them the "if you had half the heart of Rudy you'd have made all pro" speech by now. Looking at the teams on paper with whom can presently suit up, it's ridiculous that Chicago can even keep it close.

How will the story end? It seems like every day as a Bulls fan you figure things can't get any worse. You actually expect them to get better. You figure, someone has to come back from injury this game. We've already had as much bad news as we're likely to get. Famous last words.

Well I feel that way again now. I feel like it can't get worse. I feel like it will get somewhat better by Saturday, and you know what. I think the Bulls can win. This Nets team is soft, and say what you want about the Bulls, but they're Chicago tough.

I've typically been pretty pessimistic about the teams chances to do anything this year. I've picked against them in nearly every big game, every big moment, I thought they'd win far less [and that was before everyone got hurt], and I didn't think they had it in them.

But they proved me wrong. Over and over again. They proved me wrong against Miami. Twice. They proved me wrong against the Knicks, four times. They proved me wrong against this Nets team several times. If the Bulls are down to Teague, Belinelli, Hamilton, Radmanovic and Mohammed next game and all five have to play 48 minutes, I still think they'll find a way to win Saturday.

After a season of non belief, after watching this tragedy unfold, through the tough losses and incredible wins, this team has won my heart and my faith. They don't have more than enough to win. They don't have remotely enough to win, but that's never stopped them from winning before.

CHICAGO TRIBUNE VIDEO

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    Response to Bigway, just because people defend Boozer against your incessant abuse does not mean they are in love with him. Why people defend him him is because you are an extremely toxic presence on this board with your Boozer tirades. Its getting old. Every game you come with the same tired script, 1) childish nickname 2) 2 examples 3) childish nickname 4) self congratulatory comments about your basketball insights. You are so repetitive you don't even distinguish between large differences in games, for example who the point guard, which obviously matters to a guy who has difficulty with his own shot (yes 1 of many Boozer weaknesses, the worst one is that he's overpaid). Just let it go already, or go back to your insinuations that Deng has a fake birth certificate.

  • In reply to Ripper:

    You Boozer lover! ;-p

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    In reply to Roman F:

    Lol! Only imagine if we had Amare!

  • In reply to Ripper:

    By the way, did you learn the term "toxic presence" in your first or second therapy session. Just another sign of the massive decline of our formerly great society into a culture of cry babies, wimps and pussies. No wonder you like boozer.

  • In reply to Ripper:

    Poor Bozo, he needs you to defend him, and he can't show up for a clinching playoff game because Kirk Hinrich can't play. I think your comment proves my point about him, he is nothing more than a worthless, useless appendage.

    and no he worst weakness is not his contract, it is his character or lack thereof as reflective by his disgusting lack of effort 80-90% of the time that he is on the court. In fact, I would argue that he never puts out 100% or nevermind the proverbial 110%, which is why I despise him. I like guys who try to give it their all, all or most of the time, you know like the guys that I have rooted for all my life, starting with Jerry Sloan and Norm Van Lier, up to today's effort guys, Noah, Gibson, Butler, Nate, and even Hinrich or Deng for that matter. I've never been in love with either of the last 2 guys, but I've never hated them either, becasue at least they give us everything they've got.

    and that is why Bozo deserves my(or anyone/everyone elses) contempt and why I am totally justified in my "incessant abuse" of him. and finally, I am sick and tired of hearing about how great he is when he scored 2-3-4 extra buckets and nothing when he returns to his normal output but excuses for all his shortcomings everytime that he fails to perform/compete.

    I only attack people who have earned it by their behavior and actions, and Bozo richly deserves it, far more so than any current Bull and just about any Bulls player since I started watching/following them in 1970.

    Finally, if you are going to be a fake allstar why not have a fake birth certificate. Although to be truthful, not that you are interested in that, but I never said he(Deng) had a fake one, I just said that given his background, it wouldn't be a shock if his was incorrect or inaccurate.
    I mean that sort of stuff just never happens to people who are refugees from 3rd world countries, this would have to be the first time in the history of the world.

  • I'm really disappointed in DRose for not at least playing 10-15 minutes when Nate is pucking in a bucket and playing his heart out as our his other teamates! This was a golden opportunity at home to wrap up the series and advance to the 2nd round, not 2 years in row due to Rose not playing we will be eliminated in the 1st round! If Rose had even 1/2 the heart of Nate we could be very proud of him! We still almost pulled off the win against the huge odds against us last night! Darn couldn't we have given the whole Nets team the flu? Some biological warfare there! Everyone touches the ball spreading the germs! ;-)

  • In reply to smiley:

    Man u are beating a dead horse with the Rose comments. Just let it go man, hes obviously not ready to play nor should he. He's been out all year and cant be in no kind of real game shape, that right there is just asking for Rose to re injure himself. Tjis season has been a throw away season and for the fans in Chicago to keep clammering for Rose to come back and play 10 to 15 minutes in the playoffs is just stupid. I will be so happy when this Bulls season is over because of all of the injuries to players and now with all of the illness to key players during the playoffs. This entire season has been one big tragedy and train wreck and some of these injury plague players for the Bulls needs to be gone one way or another cause this has been going on every year for the past 3 to 4 seasons and something has to change. I mean it's gotten to the point that the bulls need players that have some good endurance cause again, and i know injuries are a part of the game but this is past ridiculous...not enough talent and injuries every year wont get the Bulls nowhere.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    Oh and good luck to the Bulls in trying to win game 7 in Brooklyn with all of their health problems...they'll need all the good luck they can get, but i will be glad when the Bulls season is over!!!

  • Well said Doug! I feel the same way although I wouldn't expect them to win with a Teague, Belinelli, Hamilton, Radmanovic and Mohammed lineup... But I get your point.

    The Nets seem to play like they have no heart it is really wierd. Bulls were in the whole game and you could tell it was everything they had just to keep it close. Gotta love players that leave everything on the court can't blame them if they lose the series.

  • In reply to Chad:

    I've loved watching this playoff series after the first game. Even though they lost the last two, I didn't feel disappointed in the team, only the result.

    They've played tough, they've given you everything. They haven't left anything on the floor. I don't ask for more than that.

  • I think they'll win too. No matter how decimated they might be, it's hard to see these Bulls losing 3 games in a row.

  • In reply to Roman F:

    Unfortunately, 4 is the magic number, as the Bulls haven't won or lost 4 games in a row all season, it was some kind of weird Elias sports stat.

  • Why does every bulls season seem to end this way? Losing after up 2-0, then losing as a 1 seed, now losing up 3-1. Always insane amount of injuries and bad luck. It sucks ass. Is it all around bad player evaluation? This team is not only comprised of all great-teammate/effort low talent guys in the sense that individually they are not highly skilled, these guys are also badly evaluated from a physical standpoint, as they are all extremely injury prone. Being durable is a type of talent, in that it has to do with genetics (look at goddamn lebron who rams into people like a train yet is never injured). Bulls management seems to be constantly missing on this point with their acquisitions. Actually, the bulls most durable player has been the one guy everyone thought was injury prone (boozer of course). I'm thinking the guys on the bulls are all really good teammates, humble and play hard cause there is a humility that comes with being vulnerable to injury/superior talent. A lot of these arrogant knuckleheads are that way cause they feel more invincible than the average man, and in a way they are. So let's bring some of those fools in, at least they can stay on the floor and maybe thibodeau can get them to play like a team.

  • In reply to ixonflex69:

    I couldn't disagree more. Last night's game is the reason why I love the Bulls more than any other of my favorite teams in other sports. The heart, intensity and passion for the game makes me love this team.

    Remember how almost every fan was asking for a "offer everyone but Rose for Dwight Howard" trade. I wonder how many people still feel that way. I'm not sure that Howard has a bigger impact on the court than Joakim does. IMO I wouldn't trade Jo for Dwight straight up. He really needs to start being in the discussion for the best C in the league (I'm not saying he is, but he needs to be in the discussion).

    After this year's postseason, how many fans aren't psyched to see a liineup of Jo, Boozer (who has looked to be much improved when dealing with a PG that actually tries to get him the ball in his spots), Luol, Buckets & Rose. I know I am!. This season, win or lose on Saturday has been a success in my mind b/c we have shown that we are the toughest team in the league. When we get guys back healthy next year, and hopefully Thibbs can manage reg season minutes better so the health can be there for the postseason, I don't see a team we can't beat.

  • In reply to muckfiami:

    And by the way Jo was robbed for the DPOY award. Marc Gasol winning that is a joke to me!

  • In reply to muckfiami:

    Thank if Jo was healthy all year, he'd have won. I think the injury definitely hurt a lot especially the timing because it was right around when people were voting.

  • In reply to muckfiami:

    why do you believe these guys wll be healthy next year? they never are. that's my point. Physically they are no match for the lebron's, carmelo's of this world. I love these guys too, but I don't like these endings to the season every year... you always say with these guys: "next year when they are healthy, i can't wait"... you might wait forever

  • In reply to ixonflex69:

    Yeah, it' shard to believe these guys will ever be healthy. There are plenty of reasons to suspect they won't.

  • In reply to muckfiami:

    Agree completely MuckFiami! I just want one more series this year, want to see them go up againt Miami, even if it won't be pretty at times. But yeah, pretty damn excited about the lineup next year. Buckets & Rose can do a lot of running together, & I think Jimmy continues to improve his jumper. All I ask for is a quality backup for Noah. I'm actually amazed Noah lasted as long as he did with no real center behind him. I would love to trade up to get Alex Len out of Maryland.

  • In reply to muckfiami:

    It's hard not to admire these guys with how hard they fight out there and the way they don't ever use any excuses not to win. I would have traded the house for Dwight but he's no longer a guy I would really want to build around.

  • In reply to ixonflex69:

    Or that Russell Westbrook, who has never missed a game in high school, college, or in the pros, oh wait...

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    that's not a predictable injury related to body type and fatigue, if someone smashed his shoulder into the side of your knee I bet it would get fucked up too.

  • In reply to ixonflex69:

    look at Kobe, it took him 17 years to sustain a serious fatigue related injury. That's great preparation but also great talent.

  • In reply to ixonflex69:

    and it's also talent to be a natural athlete, whereby you naturaly know how to move your body efficiently in order to prevent unnecesary stress and extreme changes in force in your muscles and joints (i.e Derrick Rose).

  • In reply to ixonflex69:

    I actually mostly agree with you, just making a joke. But injuries do happen, and can happen to anyone. And we remember what has happened most recently, and the last 2 post seasons, umm, not so good on that front. I do remember being mostly healthy for that 2011 Miami series. I really only see Noah as deserving of the injury prone label, but he is so valuable when he is near 100% that I think he's worth it. The problem is he does not have a great backup. Quality 7 footers don't grow on trees, and that's why I'm still mystified that the Bulls wouldn't match on Asik. You can never have enough big men, and would have kept him, even if it meant choosing him over Gibson.

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    Actually, there was an ESPN insider article right after the Westbrook injury that took a look at a European soccer study on fatigue and injuries and found a huge correlation, especially to so called freak injuries. Appartently as a result a lot of European soccer teams barely practice or do anything on days off between games.

    The basic gist of the article/study was that the muscles and attendant soft tissues get to a certain point where fatigue cause them to be susceptible to injuries when they otherwise wouldn't be.

    If accepted in American sports, it would radically change the landscape.

  • In reply to ixonflex69:

    Boozer is always healthy now because he's not one of the 'great effort' guys. Fans are only saying now that he's playing so well because his 15-foot jump shot happens to be falling more often than it has in a couple years. Other than that and a couple offensive rebounds, what exactly is he doing for this team?

  • In reply to Hunter:

    i'm not saying boozer is good, I'm saying he's not injured. that's all.

  • In reply to Hunter:

    Actually, he shot a career low 47% this season vs 53% for his career and past 2 seasons with the Bulls, so even that is a mirage created by the magic of diminished expectations.

    But your right playing on cruise control as Jeff Van Gundy suggested that boozer does can certainly help save you from injury and after 3 years apparently endear you to many Bulls fans.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    I was thinking of this playoff series. Boozer's FG % was atrocious for someone who came billed as a low post scorer. Both Deng and Boozer didn't uptick their scoring this season (without a 25 ppg scorer on the floor) and their shooting percentages went down. If anyone thinks players with that track record are your second and third best players on a championship team, they're wrong.

  • boozer, nate robinson and jimmy butler have been durable. I think many people overlook the fact that Thibodeau wants a maximum physical basketball game and I'm not sure guys like Noah, Gibson and Deng...skinny-medium finesse players are built for that. He also has tough practices that are long and sometimes wear on the players.

    Thibodeau is the regular season Champion who unfortunately seems to have some of his core players crippled at the finish line and we've seen the results the last few year with first round exists?. Maybe he needs more physical smash mouth players like ron artest in the lineup or he needs to use more depth to balance the load of the physical basketball game demanded. Playing Noah and Deng over 40 minutes a night is just not going to do it next year. The Bulls have to get a little more depth and hopefully guys like Paul Pierce or someone else being bought out can give the Bulls some opportunities, they love bargain hunting and are pretty good at it......they just seem to suck at the midlevel type deals.

  • In reply to Defense-Rebound13:

    This goes back to the owner and management when it comes to adding quality depth on the Bulls team. Thibs play the guys on the team big minutez cause he has no other choice. This is what the management and ultimately the owner has given Thibs to run with over a 82 game season. But this Bulls team ultimately needs more talented players that has some level of quality endurance to go along with quality depth forThibs to have some level of success during the long zeason and the playoffs. Changes need to be made to this Bulls roster cause like I've said in my earlier posts, the injuries to basically every key player every year is past ridiculous and if that means trading a couple or a few of the core guys of this bulls team then that's what need to be done. The type of coach that Thibs is, he need the right players that can endure his coaching style cause Thibs is not the problem, its some of players that he has.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    there's some quality vets who can still move and score that can be had for cheap like antwaun jamison. it seems he won't resign with lakers and would be a nice backup to deng/boozer at the 3 and 4. paul pierce might be bought out so we'lll see if garpax can have some magic since they won't be able to afford the younger players.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    Let's just make things up so we can blame the owner. Lack of quality depth, are you serious? Bulls had the best bench in the NBA last year and a pretty darn good one this year. Thibs had zero excuse not to play the bench more last year and not a whole lot more to not play it this year.

    I think you're on to something when you change gears and blame the starting lineup for being injury-prone.

  • In reply to Roman F:

    I'm not blaming management or the owner just to say it, why can't you understand that the owner took the cheap route this year. I understand letting Watson and Brewer leave for nothing but to let Mother and Asik leave for nothing was being just plain cheap. Korver is still one of the top 3 point shooters in the leaguethat should've been resigned and I don't even want to mention how good Asik has been playing for Houston as a starter. The Bulls management could've matched Asik offer from Houston and just worried about that 3 rd year later but they didn't. So I understand you wanting to have excuses for the owner but in this case, there are none so sorry they were just being conservative and cheap like they always have been.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    And sorry bout the typing error but I meant to say I understand the Bulls letting Watson and Brewer leave.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    If the drop in bench quality is the reason, then you're saying Thibs didn't play and push his starters too much last year. We're going to have to disagree there, Thibs has always played Deng too much and pushed his starters hard, even when he had the best bench in the NBA.

  • In reply to Roman F:

    Deng has always played a lot of minutes because of the production in scoring when he wasn't in the game. Brewer lazt year was a scoring liability at small forward and Butler was a rookie learning and not getting much PT so there's the reason for Dengs high minutes. Same thing this year not as bad as previous years because of the growth of Butler. The Bulls problems have always come from lack of scoring production which is nothing new.

  • In reply to Defense-Rebound13:

    Sorry to say, but beginning next season Taj Gibson at $8 million per year is going to be an albatross contract the next 4 years. He's a solid role player without the offensive talent to be a starter on a championship level team.

    At end of next season (2013-14), Jimmy Butler will be due his contract extension. Again he's a solid player, but not offensively talented enough to be a starter on a championship level team. So will he demand $8-$10 million per year? If Butler's ask is too high should he be traded? Realistically, both Taj and Butler are at most MLE value guys.

    A championship level roster cannot be built by paying role players like legitimate starters, and playing starters nearly max contracts when they are not difference makers/go-to-guys. This is a difficult problem for Bulls management to navigate, there is no easy solution.

    Aside from the 1-year, 2-year and rookie deals, Noah's may be the only good value long-term contract on the roster. Even Rose's contract, with that extra $3.5 million above the new max amount due to the Derrick Rose Rule, handicaps the team a bit. It is very difficult to retain good talent at fair prices. Look at Miami's roster and aside from the Big 3 everyone else is low-paid giving them an advantage.

  • In reply to Edward:

    I'm hoping Jimmy, assuming he's still playing at the level he is now (it's way too much to ask a 23-year-old 30th pick of the draft to get considerably better than he is - but he should become more assertive with the skills he does possess) will be an MLE guy. They did pay Taj too much. I'll admit I didn't know it at the time, but the guy they should have kept (and given an early contract to) was Asik. Who knew they'd just let him walk for nothing after protecting him in trade after trade for what would have been starting-caliber two guards. What would Taj's value be now? He doesn't have great size, very little offensive game and he's often injured for the playoffs. That's not worth 8 million unfortunately.

  • In reply to Edward:

    that gibson contract isn't looking good but don't you worry mr. edward, the Bulls will find a way to ship off a big productive contract in order to get a less productive smaller contract(boozer for bargnani type deal) The Chicago Bulls are financial champions year in and year out. Seriously, I think that Taj Gibson contract means the Bulls will move a big contract this summer, either Deng or Boozer. I'm sure they have various "basketbal decisions" aka financial decisions that they can move on.

  • In reply to Edward:

    The Bulls chose Taj Gibson over Omer Asik, and one year later, I think we can all agree that they made the wrong call. Prior to this year, though, I think there would have been a lot of disagreement over which guy to keep.

    Losing either of them would have generated complaints and cries of cheapness. I think it's unlikely and difficult for any NBA team to carry 2 big multi-year contracts on its bench, so crying "cheap cheap cheap" seems extreme to me when almost no teams do that.

    However, a team that makes as much money as the Bulls should do things other NBA teams don't every now and then.

  • In reply to Roman F:

    I agree with you 100%, except that even though I love Taj, I always said that if you have to chose between the 2 you go with the legitimate 7 footer over the undersized power forward. Did anyone notice that Asik had 21 & 11 the other night in Houston's win over OKC and he hit something like 9-12 free throws.

    I agree with Edward that we overpaid Taj(I think he is a 5-6 million per guy in todays market/cap place) and underpaid Asik(we should have matched his contract and worried about the money in year 3 in year 3.

  • In reply to Roman F:

    Ever watch the Charlie Rose TV Show on PBS? It has excellent, candid, in-depth interviews. This week David Stern and Adam Silver were guests. This was due to the gay announcement by Jason Collins which was a big story, as well as Adam Silver signing his contract to become the next NBA Comissioner. The show is taped in NYC so it was just a cab ride away for Stern and Silver.

    During the interview Stern stated: during the recent CBA negotiations the owners/league tried for a hard-cap, didn't get the hard-cap but got significant increases in luxury tax penalties, will try for the hard-cap again in future CBA negotiations. In other words, the hard-cap is coming....

    IMO, Rein$dorf is simply biding his time until a hard-cap is implemented. He will never spend above and beyond other owners to bring another ring to Chicago. Rein$dorf doesn't need any more rings, because he owns a gold mine!

    Watch the interview here:
    http://www.businessweek.com/videos/2013-05-01/nba-commissioners-david-stern-adam-silver

  • In reply to Edward:

    I asked that question earlier this season when Jimmy started playing extended minutes and playing well. Was he a mini Taj, as I thought last season, or is he a better version of Taj, and if so, how much is he going to cost us.

  • In reply to Defense-Rebound13:

    Nate is built like a mini tank and has played like one, everyone else on the team would have their careers ended if they ended up on the ground as much as he does.

    I've been a little worried about Jimmy since he started playing extended minutes, he always seems to be flying around without regard for his body, often landing awkwardly. Hopefully, he is blessed and nothing will happen to him.

  • It's tough to watch Shumpert make such an impact in this series for the Knicks. He tore his ACL at the same time as Derrick (plus his MCL - unlike Derrick) and has been back since January. He started out rocky, but I think his 'muscle memory' has rounded into form, the way it should, via actually playing in games.

    It's also been difficult to watch the Rockets play (won't have to anymore) and see all the guys they have that can drive and score off the dribble. Will the Bulls ever manage to find players with that skill set?

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