Bulls 85, Timberwolves 75

October 23, 2008

The last two times I’ve covered an event at Target Center, a player has left the court with a significant injury. Coincidence? Likely.

The Bulls had to hang on Wednesday night after jumping out to a 22-point lead in the second quarter, so in all honesty neither team played that well. My favorite part of the game was when Brian Cardinal played for less than a minute, earning himself two fouls and a seat back on the bench. The human floor burn? Perhaps the human saddle sore may be more appropriate at this point.

http://scores.espn.go.com/nba/recap?gameId=281022016

NBA tidbits

February 22, 2008

Well, I wanted to post something yesterday, but wound up covering the blockbuster Gerald Green trade for the Associated Press yesterday, so didn’t quite get around to it. But now that all the trades are in and I just watched the Spurs squeak by the Timberwolves on Thursday I’ll just throw together a hodgepodge in hopes of covering all my NBA bases.

 

 What are the Bulls thinking?

I understand that you want to get out from under a bad contract with Ben Wallace, and with this team nowhere near championship contention I can understand moving him. But with the pieces they got in return, I agree with Chris Broussard that they are simply running in place. And now they are doing so without a legit center – no offense to rookie Aaron Gray. Between Joakim Noah, Tyrus Thomas, Andres Nocioni and newcomer Drew Gooden, the Bulls will have to keep three of them on the floor at all times just to make up for deficiencies at the center position.

As for adding Larry Hughes, I couldn’t be less excited. It’s even more of a disappointment because it signals the end of Ben Gordon’s run in Chicago, as the Bulls aren’t going to pay Ben big money with Larry already eating up a solid chunk of the payroll at the shooting guard spot.

For fantasy purposes I think Hughes actually takes a step back this year because of Gordon and Luol Deng’s presence. Larry could be the No. 2 scoring option on any given night for the Cavs, but he’ll be no better than a No. 3 at best for Chicago.

The big winners in terms of fantasy production will be Thomas and Noah. Both will see more minutes with Wallace and Joe Smith out the door and will see their stats jump accordingly.

I’m curious to see how Cleveland uses Zydrunas Ilgauskas along with Wallace. Will they play together with Ben at power forward? Will Big Z come off the bench? Will Wallace come off the bench? This is the kind of move that I think could re-energize Big Ben a bit and give him a boost in fantasy value, but Ilgauskas definitely takes a hit in that department regardless of how coach Mike Brown chooses to utilize Wallace.

 

Manu Ginobili = Zach Morris

All of you 20-somethings out there are well aware of the powers that Zach Morris possessed back in his Saved By The Bell years. I’d argue that his biggest talent was his ability to call timeout and make everyone else in the room freeze while he could do whatever he pleased. This is where the Morris to Ginobili comparison comes up. I just watched Manu drop a 44-spot on Minnesota last night, two games after pasting Cleveland for 46. Ginobili was dropping threes like they were going out of style in both games, combining for 15 treys. But I was even more impressed with the way this guy gets to the rim and can create space for himself. He’s certainly not the quickest guy on the court and he doesn’t have any ankle-breaking moves, but he never has a problem getting by the defense. My only explanation for this is that he has Morris-like ability to call timeout and freeze everyone on the court for just long enough to get by them. I don’t think he always uses his power for fear of getting caught, but he uses it enough that he’s suddenly one of the best scorers in the league.

Manu made no mention of such power after the game (although I didn’t specifically grill him on the subject), and instead gave this reasoning for his recent success.

“When my shot is really falling it makes everything else so easy. It’s not my kind of game – I’m not the best shooter in the league. But if that is going well, the defense has to get close, I get to the line more often, I can penetrate – everything changes. In the last four or five games I’ve been doing really good with the shot.”

Comedy hour

A couple of entertaining nuggets from the Spurs’ locker room post-game. First, deadpan comedy from Tim Duncan:

Q: Do you see a little bit of yourself in (Al Jefferson)?

A: No, I don’t think I’d disrespect him like that. I think he’s a little better than me.

 

And finally, this back-and-forth between coach Gregg Popovich and San Antonio’s one beat reporter who was at the game. 

Reporter: At the end there you did want (Manu) to take the shot? 

Popovich: Yeah, why do you guys always ask stuff like that? No, we wanted him to pass it three times and were hoping that Timmy would shoot a hook from three. We run the play and then you ask, ‘did you want him to shoot it?’ You guys do that all the time.

R: It’s what we do.

P: Do it better.

Well, I’m on the docket for two more girls state tournament hockey games this morning so I better get preparing. At least this time it’s for the AP and not for the GFH, which I mentioned I wrote for the other day. It’s always a blast when you write what you think is a pretty good story and send it off, only to see a typo edited into it a mere four words into the final version. But I’m not bitter…

Unwatcha-Bull

January 31, 2008

chicagobullslogo.jpg

It’s certainly been a rough year for my favorite NBA squad. Yes, the underachieving, oft-injured Chicago Bulls fell in an ugly way to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday night, scoring a season-low 67 points and failing to capitalize on the Wolves scoring just eight points in the first quarter.

The one bright spot for Chicago recently, at least from a fantasy perspective, has been Kirk Hinrich. With Luol Deng sidelined due to an Achilles injury, the strain on the Bulls’ offense was evident, but since Ben Gordon went down with a sprained wrist, Hinrich has taken the offense squarely on his shoulders. The fantasy digits in the five games missed by Gordon certainly haven’t been bad:
PG Kirk Hinrich, Bulls (Game Log)

Date Opp Min Pts Reb Ast Stl Blk 3PM FG% FT%
Jan 30 MIN 41:00 14 3 9 0 0 1 29.4 75.0
Jan 29 MIN 43:52 27 3 6 2 0 2 40.0 81.8
Jan 27 PHO 40:24 31 5 3 1 0 0 52.2 87.5
Jan 25 CHA 44:00 14 4 8 2 1 0 37.5 100.0
Jan 23 IND 40:54 38 7 10 2 0 4 66.7 100.0
Average 24.8 4.4 7.2 1.4 0.2 1.4 46.4 87.1

Thanks to scientist CP for the html table, by the way. Hinrich is averaging 42 minutes per game over his last five – eight minutes above his season average. He’s shot no better than 40 percent in three of his last four games, which isn’t helping his already career-worst shooting percentage. What’s worse, it seems that the cavalry is not coming to save him. The Bulls have the second least average NBA experience in the league, and are sixth youngest overall. That youth and inexperience is showing – coach Jim Boylan himself told the cadre of reporters that his team “just shut down” and acted “childish” in the second half. Hinrich is having a tough enough time on his own, he doesn’t need the additional burden of trying to straighten out guys like Tyrus Thomas (OK, Boylan didn’t mention him specifically, but after watching the game I’m going to read between the lines) as well.

Eventually Gordon and Deng will be back – Ben said in the locker room after the game he’ll probably be back on Saturday – and that will be less pressure on Hinrich. But that will also mean fewer minutes (ideally, if he doesn’t want to end up missing time with nagging injuries) and worse fantasy digits. So if you’re looking for a guy to sell high on, Hinrich is probably a good candidate.