On Tap: The Chicago Bulls

Kurt —  December 9, 2005

The old gang is getting back together tonight. Michael, Phil and some other old Bulls are coming back to honor Scottie Pippen and retire his number 33.

I’m not going write an ode to Pippen, but if you want to read well done tributes to one of the top 50, Matt at Blog-a-Bull has done a couple of them. I will say this quickly: Saying Pippen just rode Jordan’s coattails is the same as telling me that James Worthy just rode Magic Johnson’s coattails. Just because you play along side a once-in-a-generation (maybe lifetime) player shouldn’t detract from your well-earned legacy.

The last time these two teams met the Lakers were in the middle of the “All Kobe Show,” with him getting 43 points and Chris Mihm being the only other Laker in double digits (it also was the game where Tyson Chandler had a key block on Andrew Bynum late). I’m curious to sees if the Lakers spread the ball and shoot better — last game between these two the rest of the Lakers shot 42.1% (eFG%) but they have been much better of late and need to be tonight. (By the way, Kobe shot 51.5% eFG that night, so expect the Bulls to focus more on him.)

The Bulls offense has been sluggish this season, in their last 10 games they have an offensive rating of 100 (points per opponent possessions), down from their season average of 102 (21st in the league). The biggest problem is they don’t get to the foul line — they are second to last in the league in the percentage of times they get to the line.

Last season it was the defense that led the Bulls to the playoffs, and that is something the Bulls have been getting back to. In the last 10 games their defensive rating is 101.9 (points per opponent possessions), 2.6 points better than their season average.

Last time these two hooked up it was Chris Duhon and Michael Sweetney who did the Lakers in, look for a little more defensive focus on them. Off the bench, Loul Deng has played well of late. Tyson Chandler, who has had shortness of breath issues lately, is expected to play. The other thing to watch, in the last 10 games the Bulls have shot 41.5% from beyond the three point arc.

I’m curious to see what Phil does with the starting lineup tonight — going smaller (with Odom at the four) has worked well the last two games, but doing that tonight could be more challenging. Essentially, you’d force a Sweetney/Odom matchup, giving Odom a big advantage on the perimeter but Sweetney is much stronger inside and could get good post shots and offensive rebounds.

The next two nights should be good tests for the Lakers, after winning three in a row they play pretty good but not great teams. We’ll learn something about just how much the Lakers have grown the on the rest of this road trip.

Kurt

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6 responses to On Tap: The Chicago Bulls

  1. couldn’t agree more…
    we’ve already played Chicago and Minny tough, and know we let 2 games slip away, shudda been “W”‘s. we know we can get a win against both these teams, so now it’s about the will to win, to fight hard on the road. if this team can manage to pull off a 5 game winning streak, just think what that’ll do for belief in this team!
    I have faith that PJ will enlighten this team that they are facing a eal challange, but that what they have to do is within reach, stay focused, stay tough, don’t quit, get a couple “W”s!

  2. I’m a big Rick Fox fan (the first NBA’er to ever email me), but if Scottie would have been able to skip off to the Lakers in the summer of 1999, instead of the Blazers, I’d have to put that 99-00 team right up there with the 67 Sixers, 96 Bulls, 87 Lakers, 86 C’s …

    Fox was great that year, did everything right, and Glen Rice had his moments, but Pip would have made that offense legendary — to say nothing of his ball-hawking.l

  3. i’ve never been a big fan of pippen, but i totally respect his basketball skills, which were tremendous.

    i saw a steven a. smith interview with him a few days ago. i was struck by the differences between him and lamar.

    steven a. brought up the 94 playoffs where scottie pippen wouldn’t go into the game at the end because phil hadn’t designated him to take the last shot. so he pouted on the bench and kukoc sunk it, egg all over his face.

    we all know lamar would never, ever do that. i wonder if that could be a reason he won’t be as great.

    bah. magic would never do that either.

  4. What people always forget about that game is how badly Toni muffed up the play right before the 1.8. Pippen had a clear out on the right elbow extended called for him, and Kukoc refused to give him space, breaking the play and hanging 5-6 feet away from Scottie.

    The result was a shot clock violation, Pippen was beyond pissed, and then had to watch as Phil called the last second play for Toni right after that. Yikes.

  5. what a TEAM. i expected them to be this good, but it’s amazing how that 2nd unit is producing.

    tonight it really struck me–kobe played like jordan, the championship version. there were a few times where it was eerie, the crosscourt passes in mid-jumpshot and such. just a fantastic sense of knowing when to move the ball around and knowing when to shoot.

    i think he’s just entered his prime. well, last game he was pretty masterful too.

    hopefullly they’re starving for revenge tomorrow.

  6. Wayne Larrivee, Bull’s announcer, right befor tip off said, ” The Lakers, wearing Forum Blue and Gold…”