Bloodied Mike Dunleavy leads Bulls to victory

Bloodied Mike Dunleavy leads Bulls to victory

The Bulls and Rockets were both coming off tough losses on Tuesday. Chicago stormed back to embarrass an awfully good Rockets team while the Rockets got smacked around by a somewhat suspect Bulls squad.

Mike Dunleavy took a vicious elbow to the head while drawing a charge in the second quarter and had to get 10 stitches over half time. When the Bulls came out of half time nursing an eight point lead, I thought I don't know about him coming back into this game. I needn't have worried.

Dunleavy scored eight points and secured two boards as part of a 16-0 nothing run to start the third quarter. The Bulls lead swelled to the mid-20s and the Rockets went out with a whimper not even remotely threatening to do anything the rest of the night.

Dunleavy finished the night with 21 points to lead all scorers [tied with Jeremy Lin], and his 4/6 from beyond the arc helped Chicago earn their best performance behind the three point line of the season. Chicago's shooting can be awfully sketchy at times, but they were 14/24 beyond the arc as a whole due to Houston's porous defense and plenty of wide open corner attempts.

D.J. Augustin shot "just" 3-7 beyond the arc, but his first two makes were part of a key second quarter run when the Rockets had brought the lead down to a point. Augustin played at a very high level that second period with both his passing and shooting to bring the Bulls lead back up to eight at the half.

Hinrich knocked down 5-6 beyond the arc as well, largely in the second half, largely in garbage time, but made sure that Houston wouldn't consider a comeback. While it was a great shooting night for Hinrich, his play defensively, along with Jimmy Butler, on James Harden was more noteworthy.

Butler and Hinrich combined to completely take Harden out of the game, and the Rockets simply looked lost trying to create offense. Their sets rely almost exclusively on Harden or Howard opening up quality shots for the squad. The rest of the offense looked rather pathetic once those two were forced into poor nights.

Joakim narrowly misses a triple double again

The Bulls might have to pay the luxury tax if Joakim Noah makes the all NBA 1st team. I would have said there's no way he deserves it over Dwight Howard, however, there's a story forming around Noah. There's talks of him getting MVP votes. There's the fact that Joakim just outplayed the hell out of Howard head to head on national television.

I love Joakim Noah, but if I could swap out Noah for Howard, it'd be a done deal. That said, it will be interesting to see if the Bulls end up having to pay Noah that performance bonus this season. Noah fell just one assist shy of a triple double, and quite honestly, it didn't even look like he cared or was aware of how close he was.

It was totally different than when Luol Deng was struggling to get that final assist and the whole team conspired to try to get Deng the attempt. It's just not special when Joakim Noah is near a triple double anymore. He's been near a triple double a half dozen times this year where he didn't get one.

However, Noah's biggest contributions, much like Hinrich, go beyond what he did on the offensive end of the court. He frustrated and annoyed Dwight Howard into a seven turnover performance where he got up just seven shots. Howard made five of those, but the majority of his damage was done with Carlos Boozer defending him.

This was amongst the best I've ever seen Noah defend Howard. He got physically pushed around at times, but he stole the ball, did a nice job of denying the entry past, took charges, and forced Howard to give up the ball frequently. Dwight looked visibly frustrated for most of the night.

The only thing which could have made the night better is if Noah picked up a triple double on a pass to Jimmer Fredette who did eventually get into the game to raucous cheers.

Jimmer looks like a much better player than Tony Snell to me even though his playing time is very limited. At this point, I'd be a fan of limiting Snell's minutes to zero in favor of giving Jimmer a couple games with a look when it matters.

Tonight was a wasted opportunity to get Jimmer a look. The game was effectively over by the end of the third period. Chicago's lead had swollen to around 30 points [can't quite recall if they broke the 30 barrier] and Houston looked entirely listless.

Bulls holding their own against the elite so far

Chicago entered a tougher schedule towards the end of February. Since that point they've played a number of teams considerably over .500 and have gathered wins against Brooklyn, @Toronto, Golden State, @Dallas, Miami, and Houston with losses against @Miami, @Brooklyn, Memphis, San Antonio.

Against the best of the best, (Miami x2, San Antonio, Houston), they're 2-2. The Rockets had the most wins of any team in the NBA since Jan 1, and Chicago just wiped them out.

I still think the playoffs will expose the Bulls flaws. We all do. For good reason. However, I have to admit, there's a growing little part of me that is open to the possibility that Chicago could give a real series to the Pacers or Heat even if they lose.

Chicago's still got some tough competition coming up with games against OKC, a pair against Indiana, and one against Portland. However, after those four it looks like pretty smooth sailing the rest of the way.

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    Although, I'm really enjoying the Bulls play these days, I can't help but wonder how far they could have gone if they kept Andrew Bynum on the roster. If the Bulls have to face the Pacers in a 7 gm series, I could see Bynum's play as the difference.
    I wouldn't bet on the Miami Heat reaching the finals this year. The Bulls can beat this team, if they are able to hit their shots. And that's a big if. Dunleavy, DJ, Hinrich, Snell, and Jimmer could ruin the Heat's title hopes if they are able to put the ball in the basket. This will lead to all sorts of inside scores, and 2nd chance baskets by the Bulls front court players. The Heat are tired. It is no coincidence that they are losing games late in the season, and don't expect them to turn on the switch in the playoffs. Lebron has played more basketball in the past 4 yrs than any other NBA player, and Wade's knees will not be able to last through another 3 mths of intense playoff type basketball. Their ring run is over. I expect either the Wizards, Brooklyn or the Bulls to give them all they can handle in the 2nd round, and possibly a loss in that rd.

  • In reply to Michael Cunningham:

    The Bulls bring it in the regular season like no one else, but come playoff time, they are not close to the Pacers or Heat, certainly not close enough to where a depth player like Bynum would be the difference between winning and losing. They're not going to go 7 games or anything against those teams.

  • In reply to Roman F:

    Yep, very large talent gap that the Bulls make up for with effort in the regular season. But in the playoffs everybody is trying just as hard as they are most if not all of the time. That's why we are 9-6 against the Heat in the regular season and 2-8 in the playoffs. The guys doing the game last night mentioned how much of a difference effort makes during the regular season, how anybody can beat anybody on any given night, except of course the current Sixers.

    Obviously, everybody thinks that we might have a shot against the Pacers because they have less world class talent, and we match up better with them due to style of play and they lack offensive punch just like we do. A healthy Bynum might not have turned the series, but it would have helped us deal with their size advantage, which is now overwhelming, then again so would Omer Asik. I agree, I don't forsee any 7 games series, unless it happens in the first round.

  • In reply to Michael Cunningham:

    I can't imagine that Andrew Bynum would have made a lick of difference, and certainly wasn't worth the Bulls paying an extra 20 million or so to keep.

  • Strange game. Houston just never seemed into it, offensively or especially defensively. Bulls shooters were left wide open much of the time, and they did their job by hitting open shots. Hinrich 5 of 6 beyond the arc? Don't expect that again.

  • Maybe this has been covered already but I wonder if the Bulls would be even better if they hadn't traded Deng away. The trade seems to have energized them but I cant help but think they would be a legit sucker's punch contender with him.

  • In reply to takdan:

    The Deng trade needed to happen, mainly for the salary cap. However, they also got a few picks out of the deal, and the Kings pick and the 1st round swap option with Cleveland could each be worth something in the 2015 draft.

    So, even if the Bulls were better keeping Deng, they would be worse next year! Now they can at least work with a FA singing, provided they amnesty Boozer.

  • In reply to rustyw:

    How can you even suggest amnesty for boozer, he was the star of the game last night, he almost shot 50% from the field, a few more nights like this and he will be posthumously named to the all star team.

  • In reply to rustyw:

    Yep, just as I expected, Sam Smith is orgasming over boozers performance, even noting that Noah and boozer combined for 12 assists, I surprise that he didn't point out that together they had a triple double. boozer must slap a C note in Smiths palm everytime that he sees him.

  • In reply to takdan:

    Luol Deng is simply not a difference maker!
    So no, the Bulls would not be any better with Deng than they are now. Further, there was no possibility of keeping Deng beyond this season for anything approaching a reasonable salary. The few fans who don't recognize this need to get over Deng, and I think they will by next season as the Bulls FO has an opportunity to make some significant changes.

    If Cleveland makes the playoffs next season (only way Bulls can swap picks with Cleveland in 2015) and the Sacramento 1st comes to fruition by 2017, the Deng trade will have been an absolute steal given how coveted 1st round picks have become under this CBA. And a $20 million cash savings to boot! (and two late 2nd round picks). And remember, Bulls weren't ever going to resign Deng for the money he is demanding.

    That mid-season release option in Andrew Bynum's contract was a very unusual opportunity and Bulls FO took full advantage of it. Without that Bynum release option motivating Cleveland, Bulls may have been stuck with unrestricted-free-agent Deng for the rest of this 2013-14 season and gotten nothing in return.

  • In reply to Edward:

    Totally agree, can't believe that our performance since the trade hasn't proved to everyone that he was just another guy, a minute eating role player who can be replaced by just about any other guy. He's basically a boozer who acts like he cares about the game, is willing to attempt to play defense, puts forth a good effort just about every night and doesn't scream like a demented banshee the whole game.

    We need to stop massively overpaying for those guys. Hopefully, that hasn't already happened with Taj and won't happen with Jimmy. Taj looked like dogshit again last night, I'm starting to think that he might have mono, not just a simple case of food poisoning. I hope that it isn't that fatal disease known a bozohole poisoning.

  • In reply to Edward:

    I think it's unlikely (though not impossible) that the Bulls will get a "steal" in terms of what they received back for Deng. That said, it's obvious now that they made the right decision [I thought it was obvious at the time too, but if there were any doubters those should be cleared up now].

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Well, if we get a Sacto first(which I think is almost a certainty), it will be in the somewhere in the teens and if we get to swap with Cleveland next season(no where near a certainty), that would be another pick in the teens, instead of our pick which could/should be in the mid to late 20's then I think that you could call that deal a steal, especially under the new CBA and for a player like Deng

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Interesting to note that both the Bulls and Cleveland tried to trade Luol Deng this season - only about 6 or 7 weeks apart.

    With that unusual mid-season release in Andrew Bynum's contract motivating Cleveland, Bulls were able to extract:
    - a Sacramento 1st round pick (protected, but viable)
    - two Portland 2nds round picks (late 2nds)
    - a possible 2015 1st round swap (might not happen)
    - and save $20 million in salary and luxury tax.

    6 weeks later, Cleveland couldn't get a 1st round pick for Deng at the February trade deadline! To me that shows how big of a steal (potentially) that Deng trade was. Deng is an unrestricted free agent! Why would anyone give up much for him???

    Cleveland could have kept all the picks listed above and just cut Bynum! They would have been way ahead of the game because the only way they keep Deng is to MASSIVELY OVERPAY, which Cleveland could have done in free agency anyway without making the trade.

    That why I say the Deng trade was A STEAL.

  • In reply to takdan:

    You're suffering from a common illness known as "guy not here" syndrome. It convinces you that a guy your team let go is the difference between where your team is and where you want it to be. Many Bears fans suffered from it last year, crying out for an over-the-hill, washed up linebacker who no other NFL team wanted, and many insisted Urlacher's presence would have been the difference between a horrific defense and the outstanding defenses of prior years. You will hear the names Peppers and Tillman this year after each Bears loss, even though the Bears defense was awful last year despite having both on the team.

    Just on Tuesday, Doug accurately diagnosed what the Bulls need to be even better, and Deng does not fit the description at all.

  • In reply to takdan:

    I've always loved Luol Deng but have also always felt he was quite overrated. Doesn't create his own shot, doesn't score with efficiency. He does a bunch of everything, but other guys have simply picked up the things he used to do.

    He's a solid player, a very good player, but not a difference making player IMO.

  • Mike Dunleavy provides more than just 3 point shooting. He provides defense and hustle. The defense he gives is better than Korver and Belinelli combined. Plus he comes at an affordable contract. I'm all for keeping him next season instead of him being traded.

  • In reply to Tamaraw:

    Ah the ben gordon/carlos boozer theory. A guy scores a couple of points, shoots over 50% from the field and suddenly he is a candidate for defensive player of the year.

    While Dunleavy is not anywhere near as bad as either gordon or boozer on D, he is still not a good or quality defender. He tries his best(just like Korver did) and that is all that you can ask for. He sticks his nose in there on the defensive boards(just like Korver did) which is a very valuable contribution.

    I just don't see Dunleavy being all that valuable in the playoffs against quality defenses playing balls to the wall, just like Korver wasn't. Decent player on a decent contract, every team needs guys like that to get through the regular season.

  • In reply to Tamaraw:

    I think we'll definitely keep Dunleavy next season, and I think he's a good guy on his 3 million dollar deal. However, let's not pretend he's really a great defense/hustle guy. He puts forth effort, but he's very much lacking on the defensive end, and his hustle is pretty mitigated by his lack of athleticism. He doesn't do well in any hustle categories really even though he puts up the effort.

  • In reply to Tamaraw:

    Dunleavy obviously isn't any sort of lock-down defender, but you do have to give him credit for being 4th in the NBA in charges drawn:

    1 Kyle Lowry 28
    2 DeMarcus Cousins 24
    2 Shane Battier 24
    4 Blake Griffin 18
    4 Mike Dunleavy 18

    http://www.hoopsmanifesto.com/articles/basketball/nba-charges-drawn-totals-2013-14.html

    Drawing a charge is the same as getting a steal, with the added bonus of saddling one of the opponents' players with another foul.

  • It's all wishful thinking. I am a die hard Bulls fan but I know that we aren't competing for a championship until we get some more talent in, and I don't think that it's going to be a drastic upgrade like some fans are hoping.

    I really wish we could land Carmelo but in he end I believe he ends up staing in NY b/c it's his team now and they can offer the most money. Phil Jackson staying gives him a reason to stay (at least a reason to tell the media), and even if he wants to leave I don't think we wil land him b/c we will not pay him the $$ he is worth.

    I don't believe we land Stephenson either. In the end it's just too much money that the Bulls FO will not spend. There are still some good free agents that can improve the team in areas where improvement is needed. Jerryd Bayless, Xavier Henry, Jodie Meeks, Nick Young, Ramon Sessions, Caron Butler, Gordon Hayward, Shaun Livingston, Paul Pierce, Greivis Vasquez, Evan Turner, Rodney Stuckey can all be free agents this summer, and can really improve our team. These are the guys I think realistically as a fan we should be getting excited for, b/c I don't believe we land a big name. Too hard for this team that doesn't want to spend

  • In reply to muckfiami:

    You are probably right, not because the team is cheap, but because they don't want to allocate so much money to either Melo or Stephenson, which would force other key players off the roster. They also don't want to go deep into the luxury tax, but neither does any other NBA team, not these days.

    I don't think the Bulls would not pay any star what he's worth, but I don't think they'd pay what they'd have to pay either of those two guys They'd have to pretty well gut the roster to pay Melo what he's worth, and I don't personally believe Stephenson will be worth what he's going to be paid. .

    Given the choice, I'd take a shot on Melo, even if that meant losing everyone else besides Rose, Noah and Mirotic (likely a better value than Taj). I wouldn't blame the Bulls if they didn't want to take the shot on Melo though.

  • In reply to Roman F:

    Roman, you articulated what I was trying to say much better. I'm not saying they're cheap, just frugal lol. Skiles & Boozer have scared the team away from overpaying to try to take the team up a notch.

    While I believe it would be worth it in Carmelo, I don't think the team would take that risk especially when it means losing other valuable assets. Although Taj Gibson has been going through a little funk and probably smelling himself a little too much, he is still a valuable asset to a squad on championship run and he's on a reasonable deal.

    I also highly doubt that the FO amnesties Booz. Just don't think they're going to pay him to split.

    The person I think we should go after who's going to be much cheaper then the aforementioned Melo & Stephenson is Gordon Hayward. Although he's going to be a restricted FA, I think he fits our team the best and still gives us what we need. He has that workman like attitude and the same competitive spirit that this team brings nightly. He's been called a poor man's Manu Ginobili. He brings ball handling/playmaking, shooting, and above average D. I say we offer Utah a 1st (maybe two) and bring Manu 2.0 to Chi-town before his old coach gets a steal and makes him a Celtic.

  • In reply to muckfiami:

    I also have long doubted Rein$dorf would pay Boozer $16 million to not play, and for the opportunity to overpay a free agent. We'll just have to wait and see what happens.

    Personally, I believe Boozer will be amnestied only if Bulls score a significant free agent signing. In other words, the signing and amnesty will occur simultaneously, Bulls will not amnesty Boozer in advance. If no significant free agent signing occurs I think its likely Boozer returns next season and Bulls try to use Boozer to salary match a trade with draft picks.

    Bulls have a lot of options this off-season so I believe something interesting will occur.

  • In reply to Edward:

    I really can't see Boozer coming back next year. Bulls will try to unload him but I think they amnesty him if they can't. Obviously, we're all just guessing here.

  • In reply to Roman F:

    HIs rant on the team might gave him his ticket to leave town......sure he will get his money, but he will be sitting home next season watching Heat games.

  • In reply to Edward:

    If Rose can play a full season in 2014 /15...that would be interesting!

  • In reply to Edward:

    I doubt the Bulls amnesty Boozer unless there are luxury tax consequences to consider or they figure out some way to make a signing work that they want to do before the amnesty deadline.

    If neither of those things are true, it makes little sense to amnesty him. He's better as a fourth big than he is out of town. I'm not a big boozer fan, but he'll do more than the equivalent of nazr mohammed or whomever else the bulls sign at the minimum.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Doug, When is the earliest and the latest Bulls can amnesty Boozer for next season? I have no idea. How does amnesty timing affect Bulls dealings on draft night in late June, and free agency which opens in early July?

  • In reply to Edward:

    The amnesty period starts and ends in July, I believe it is only 10 days during that opening free agent period when you can talk to free agents but you cannot actually sign them, maybe July 1rst thru the 10th.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    The problem is he won't accept being a 4rth bigman and will become a team cancer ala Ben Gordon since he left Chicago. boozers ego is way too huge to accept not being the starter, never mind playing Nazr's role.

  • In reply to Edward:

    Your are right, that is the only and best reason to keep the Hole, to match salary in a trade.

    Since, the Kevin Love pipe dream isn't happening, whats left.

    Hey, we could use him to get Asik back, except that we'd have to take Jeremy Lin also to get the cap hits to match. Would the Rockets take boozer for a year at $16.8 million to get rid of the $30 million in cash owed to Asik and Lin. Is there any way that the Bulls would spend that much cash on anybody, nevermind those 2 guys. The Bulls would definitely be a better team with those 2 guys on the bench, even if they'd be the most expensive bench ever.

    Are the Rockets dumb enough to think that they are better with boozer next to Howard than the hodge podge of power forwards that they run out there now?

  • In reply to muckfiami:

    Boy, if ever there was a Bulls type of free agent, it is Hayword, and I don't mean that in a good way. However, if Utah doesn't keep him, then he is asking for way too much money, again, I've read $10-12 million. Either way, he seems like another guy that we cannot afford.

    Basically, we can only afford the $10-12 million guys if we amnestitze the GarbageHole and delay Mirotic for a year, since that is all of our cap space and we'd only have the room exception of under $3 million left.

    If we amnestitize the Hole and use cap space on Mirotic, then we only have $5-6-7 million left to sign a free agent plus the room exception for a guy like DJ.

    So, the real question we need to debate is who is going to be available in that price range or less. In other words more guys like Dunleavy or Korver. Someone brought up Evan Turner the other day, he seems like a guy in that range.

  • In reply to Roman F:

    I agree on both counts, Stephenson still only has a PER of 14 or 15 last I heard, despite his "breakout" season. No way is that worth $10 or $12 million per. He is probably worth no more than Taj or Jimmy, but will likely get paid a lot more based on hype.

  • If Noah wins an allstar bonus will it put the Bulls over the cap?

  • Sacramento has some pieces, they have some talent and the #7 seed (currently) in this 2014 draft.
    They are currently a .350 team, they need to become a .450 team (approximately) in one of the next 3 seasons (by 2017) for Bulls to get their 1st round draft pick. I think there's a decent chance that happens.

  • In reply to Edward:

    I say book it, there is a lot of talent on that team and another piece on the way this summer. There is no way they stay bottom 10 for 3 more years.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Yep, watching that Sacramento game I was impressed. They've got talent. If Cleveland can make the playoffs next season, WOW!
    That Deng trade will be looking BRILLIANT!

    And think about this, if Cleveland cannot retain UFA Deng, and they make playoffs next season. The Deng trade will have been absolute robbery, a felony, grand larceny.

  • OKC's coach has stated Russell Westbrook will not play any more back-to-backs this season as he continues to recover from his knee surgery. OKC plays Dallas on Sunday March 16th and Bulls on Monday March 17th. Which game will Westbrook play?

  • Reinsdorf always said he would pay for a champion. The Bulls may be close now with the right moves. /si niw we will see.

    Carmelo should come to Chicago. If the Bulls win a ring or two, Melo will earn as much here as in NYC because of endorsements. Plus he would be the big dog on a winner, which is a nice builder of self-esteem. So Melo would be smart to take $16 million per to come to Chicago.

    The Bulls do not need to trade with NY to land Melo, but it would save the team about $10 million ($16+ million less what he gets for signing somewhere else after the Bulls amnesty him). It depends on how many picks the Bulls would have to include to induce NY to take Boozer in a trade, and how much the Bulls feel those picks are worth. They could throw in Snell and Murphy.

    Either way, Taj has to be moved to add both Melo and Mirotic to the team. So, trade Taj and two picks to move up in the draft and grab Exum -- even throw in Snell and/or another piece in necessary. Now the team is:

    Carmelo
    Noah
    Butler/Mirotic
    Rose/
    Exum/Augustine

    Obviously, this team can win it all. It might have 5 Allstars! Of course, it will need a couple more pieces. Plus 2 1st round picks in are coming 2015 or soon after, plus the Cleveland pick swap. And, if there is no trade with NY, all it costs the owners is about $10 milion! Which they will recoup in one championship season.

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