Beating the Pacers isn't as good as beating the Heat, but it's fun to be a Bulls fan

Beating the Pacers isn't as good as beating the Heat, but it's fun to be a Bulls fan

Let the discussion begin. Are the Bulls for real? Common convention would say no. The Bulls have no chance against the Pacers or Heat in a seven game series right? It may not be so crazy as you think. Particularly against the Pacers, but unless Miami gets its head out of its ass, they're in trouble too.

However, the Pacers came in to Chicago looking for a win and to put a stamp on their dominance over Chicago. They left frustrated and pissed off after another chippy, physical contest. One they came out on the losing end of.

Chris Bosh noted that there's no passion for the Heat. Chicago doesn't have any such problems. I don't know if a team with Joakim Noah can have that problem, not unless something goes horribly wrong.

Noah, of course, had another near triple double with a 10/8/8 game, but he also had three blocks and four steals, and if it weren't for some foul trouble limiting his minutes, he may have been pushed over the edge.

Taj Gibson led the way for Chicago though. Every time Indiana was doing anything Gibson was there to knock down a jumper or throw down a dunk. He was jacked up after posterizing David West on a put back dunk that I thought his head might explode. If I ever gain about three feet of vertical and dunk a ball, and posertize someone, I'm doing the Taj Gibson run afterwards.

It was one of those games where Gibson's improvement on offense was on full display. His jumper has become so much smoother, so much more reliable. He's hitting contested jumpers at a good clip, and the uncontested ones are virtually automatic. Gibson has surpassed Carlos Boozer on both ends of the floor.

He has a higher PER, higher TS%, and his volume is almost up to Boozer levels (16.7/36 vs 17.2/36). With Boozer's TS% dropping below 50%, Chicago seems like a sure bet to amnesty or trade this off-season. His defense is so horrible that it's not worth discussing, and his offense is now well below the average NBA player as well.

The Bulls have needed his volume scoring at times, but he can't even provide that anymore. Not that I'm breaking any news with Boozer's play, but it's time for the Bulls to move on from the Booz cruise next season.

As for Gibson, last summer, Bulls fans were screaming bad contract, but Gibson put in the work and has rebounded nicely. He's in the midst of his best overall season, and I feel awfully good about the money Chicago is paying both Noah and Gibson. Two all-NBA caliber defenders with emerging offensive games both on very reasonable deals.

It's tough to get those sub-max deals right. Those guys almost always get overpaid, so good work by the Bulls front office to come to very fair terms with both guys.

When it wasn't Taj Gibson, it was Kirk Hinrinch

Hinrich had a big night with 18 points on seven for 13 from the field including three of four beyond the arc. I guess I don't expect much of Kirk these days because whenever he has a game like this I'm totally shocked.

It feels like Hinrich has shot the ball so much better the second half of the season, but he's still shooting under 40% from the field, under 50% TS%, has a PER at 10.8, and has a pedestrian three ball at 35% on mostly wide open looks.

Either Hinrich's really not shooting much better the second half of the season or his first half was so abysmal that a good half can't pull his numbers up. Overall, he's having a slightly better year this year than last though. His defense still aggravates, and he's managed to stay healthy so far which he hasn't done in years.

The one thing I'll say about Hinrich is that he's really improved with his ability to run an offense as he's aged. He doesn't over dribble as much, gives up the ball quicker, moves through the sets faster, feeds the post better, and overall looks more comfortable as a veteran leader.

That said, I'm not sure I trust him on anything but a minimum level contract next season. I don't trust the health despite this season and even though it feels like he's shooting better, his overall offensive efficiency is still eyepoppingly bad. Not Marquis Teague bad, but bad.

Speaking of Teague, he hasn't played much or looked all that great in Brooklyn, but he has raised his PER up to 3.6 and is no danger of having the worst NBA season in the history of the NBA for a guy playing a decent chunk of minutes.

Hinrich had one of the best plays of the game where he just grabbed the ball out of Paul George's hands as George went up on a fast break. Maybe Kirk needs a new nick name of 'weights' or 'weight room' since he's now ripped the ball out of both Paul George's hands this year and Chris Bosh's last season.

George thought he deserved a foul, and Hinrich definitely grabbed the ball with one hand and through George's hand to get the ball with the other, but I think in that scenario they say the hand is part of the ball and it's not a foul. Either way, to not only stop Paul George on a one on one fast break, but to rip the ball from his hands was pretty epic.

Lance Stephenson had a similarly explosive whiny moment near the end of the game when he was also cleanly stuffed driving towards the basket and felt he deserved a foul because there's no way he could miss. It was a great day overall for the Bulls defense.

What was that?

Jimmy Butler and David West were T'd up for a double technical in the third(?) period leaving everyone to wonder what happened. The replay showed the two guys just talking calmly next to each other while walking down the court.

They looked like two friends just hanging out, and when they were T'd up both guys had no idea what the heck just happened. Butler looked outraged and West just looked confused. Maybe the radio or other broadcast had some info on it, but Neil Funk and Stacey King had no idea what was going on either.

It was one of the more bizarre things I've seen, especially given how chippy this game got at various points where no technicals were called.

All in all, a win against Indiana doesn't stack up to a win against the Heat, but it's still a pretty damn good night to be a Bulls fan.

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  • After the comments of D-West on Taj being weak, I am so stoked to see D-West being posterized by Taj...

  • So, Taj is finally more valuable than his contract! Bulls need more of those guys, like Augustine, but they finally have one in the front court. Now get one for the backup C.

  • Taj for Sixth Man of the Year?

  • Yep, Taj was fantastic last night. He said afterwards that West, Hibbert and the Pacers bench were all talking smack so he was especially pumped after every big play he made. There was one play where he actually backed Hibbert down into the post, and then had a nice little turnaround score right in his grill. A year or two ago I could have never imagined him making that play, as well as having such an improved jumper. Good stuff.

    Also, on the pregame they talked a little about how Noah and Hibbert have had a beef going all the way back to AAU days. This type of stuff just makes the games more fun to watch for me as a fan.

  • Hate to be a buzzkill, but it seems like a prisoner of the moment kind of day here. I enjoyed the win, as surprising as it was, and like Doug said beating the Pacers is the next best thing to beating the Heat.

    However, my take away from this weekends 2 games against the Pacers is that we likely lose to the Pacers in 5 games in the playoffs, if we are fortunate enough to get there. If we end up with Brooklyn in the 4-5 matchup we will be fortunate to advance, 50/50 at best.

    As for Taj, he has been playing dumb,lazy and with a bad attitude for a while now. Rumor has it that he was admitted to Rush Presbyterian Hospital on Sunday for an emergency colorectal procedure to remove his head(and bad attitude) from his ass, a result of Fridays game in Indy. Apparently, it worked, at least for one game.

    While I agree with Doug's contention that he has now surpassed pieceofshitzer on both ends of the court, that isn't exactly saying much. Taj is a nice player, but then again so was Luol Deng, and Hinrich has been a nice player for most of his career, as is Jimmy Butler now. I like having the guy on my team, but lets not go overboard on what he is long term(already 29, for one thing). While he would be a serviceable starter, he is best suited to be a 6th man type on a team with championship aspirations. I personally prefer, humble hard working Taj, to the direction that he has been trending most of this season. I say, just shut up and play.

    As for Hinrich's shooting, there was an analysis a few days ago on ESPN that showed Hinrich as having the most improved shooting percentage in the league post all star game vs pre all star game. Noah was in the top 10 also. However, he(Hinrich) seems to have slipped of late again. He was awful in the first half last night, before redeeming himself in the second. At this point in his career, it can't be more than noise, he certainly isn't getting better, he is what he is, which to me is frustrating to watch most of the time, but a damn hard worker.

    Also, Noah's rebounding numbers have slipped over the past few weeks. He needs to keep his average above 11 to join Wilt, Kareem and Russell as the only 3 players to ever have averaged 12 points, 11 rebounds and 5 assists per game over the course of a season. That would be amazing company, although I imagine that this is one of those made up stats as those guys likely obliterated those numbers in at least one if not 2 of those categories.

    Stacey King brought up something last night that made me ask this question, has boozer even taken a single charge as a Bull. He certainly never seems to even try, as he usually steps away from contact as he escorts the opposing player to the rim.

    3 days off until we get another of those western conference teams that usually makes us look bad, Portland. Aldridge has missed some games lately, but I bet he makes it back for this game.

  • I'm glad Doug and other true die hards can enjoy Noah, Taj, Thibs and a gritty Bulls team. Me? They shot something like .400 I think for the game. Just not entertaining as in something I want to watch myself. Please, pick up some offensive talent.

    Kyle Anderson and T.J. Warren now appear out of reach with Anderson's play and UCLA's advance in the tourney along with Warren's late season scoring tear.

    It sure looks like we are a lock for Charlotte's pick. If they for whatever reason would move up as in lose some games say an Al Jefferson injury or something at No.12 say maybe we could trade that pick for a late teens and mid 20's pick. Of course nobody uses three draft picks. Odds are better to stay at 12 and go for best available. Two very quality offensive guys at PG and combo are Joseph Young Oregon and Marcus Paige North Carolina. But Rose will be back right..? Otherwise Rodney Hood could possibly fall to 12ish should the Bobcats pick rise. Just not past what 11? Whoops just jinxed us.

  • Side note: currently Young and Paige are not on boards, but if they declare then they will be first rounders come draft day IMO. Would love picking up Joseph Young, Marcus Paige, or possibly Shabazz Napier(more of a question for some) with one of the two picks. Not counting on Rose and we need depth as in any offensively talented guards we can get honestly IMO. Again, would Rodney Hood be worth taking a flyer on if he drops or is available at say 12 if Bobcats fall off/pick rises?

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