Bobcats Too Clutch for Chicago

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Bobcats march into Chi-town and outlast the Bulls 83-82 in a game that came down to clutch baskets and poor officiating.  Charlotte improves to 16-24, Chicago drops to 28-14.

AP Recap | Box Score

OBSERVATIONS

  • The Return of Gerald Wallace! Crash has looked rather ordinary since coming back from his on again/off again ankle injury but finally returned to the Wallace of old in the fourth quarter which featured a nice 7 point personal run highlighted by a textbook Crash putback slam.  A thing of beauty.  I haven’t seen Wallace elevate like that all season.  Good to know that he still has it in him.  Only 13 points but 16 big rebounds for the captain.
  • Stephen Jackson made some love to pressure with a beautiful top of the key fadeaway jumper that put the Bobcats up 81-80.  JAX followed that one by nailing two critical free throws to close out the game.  Another one of those weird Jackson games where he killed in the first quarter and then disappeared for the 2nd and 3rd only to come back and close out strong.  Sensing a pattern here.  Both Gerald and JAX shot an ugly 5-14 a piece but made shots when it counted.
  • Derrick Rose ain’t bad. Sure, his 28 shot attempts were more than the rest of the Bulls starting 5 combined but he hit half of ‘em.  Rose is such an athletic force at the point guard position and combined with the League’s rule change to prevent the hand check, has forged him into a near unstoppable offensive force.  Really like what I’m seeing from Rose in just his third year.  Easily a top 5 PG and definite MVP candidate.  Rose’s ability to get into the lane and not only get off good shots but rebound his own misses and see over the trees for the open man is unparalleled.  Can’t think of any other current point with his type of advantages.
  • Considering the size differential, Rose should be eating D.J. Augustin alive during their head to head matchups but that hasn’t been the case over their first three years in the League.  Augustin does a good job of staying in front of Rose and the Bobcats do a nice job of switching a bigger defender on him when Rose does get by.  Augustin has also historically made Rose work on the other end and did a decent job of it again tonight by dropping 15 points and hitting half his shots.  Coach Silas tried to mix it up a bit with Shaun Livingston in the 2nd and 3rd but while he has the length, I just don’t think Shaun has the lateral quickness to stay with Rose thus far coming back from the knee injury.  Will he ever?
  • Solid efforts from Diaw, Mohammed and the Bobcats bench in a near ugly game that had each team shoot (barely) 40% from the field.  Kwame Brown continues to boggle the mind. Three VERY PRETTY buckets in the first quarter and he looked like he was going to repeat the double double he dropped on Chicago back in CLT but was constantly out of position on the defensive end so Silas yanked him early and he never really got going again.
  • Finally, the officiating. In the first half you had two TURBO OBVIOUS travels by D.J. Augustin (on a fast break 3 & 1/2 step scoop to the hoop) and Boris Diaw.  Then in the waning seconds of the game, the tide swung the other way as the refs handed the Bulls not one but two additional opportunities after turning the ball over with just 8.7 seconds left on the clock.  Embarrassingly inconsistent and I hope the tapes are being reviewed as I type.

The Cats may or may not make the Playoffs.  They may blow up the team.  One thing is for certain: The Paul Silas Bobcats are a hell of a lot more fun to watch than they were under his predecessor.  Keep it comin’ Sugar Bear.

Until Next Time, Enjoy the Win Bobcats Fans…

-ASChin

Bobcats Knock Off Bulls In Impressive Fashion

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Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

The Charlotte Bobcats notched their best win of the season in defeating the Chicago Bulls 96-91 on Wednesday night at the Cable Box.  The Cats are now 15-21 overall and 6-2 since interim Coach Paul Silas took over.  The previous five wins had only resulted in tempered enthusiasm due the the marginal quality of the opponents; but the Bulls are a bonafide contender, and the Cats took them down.

AP Recap |  Box Score |  Highlights

The Bobcats came out red-hot to start the game.  Gerald Wallace looked good in his return from an ankle injury, DJ and Boris hit some early threes, and Kwame Brown (yes, seriously) dominated Kurt Thomas inside for 10 first quarter points as the Bobcats staked a 36-22 lead after the first frame. Now is a good time to note that the Bulls are playing without Joakim Noah, who’s in the midst of an 8-10 week hiatus after having surgery on a torn thumb ligament.

The Cats would go on to push that lead up to 17 early in the second, only to see it dwindle away.  The Bulls battled back behind Derrick Rose and Carlos Boozer and eventually took a 80-75 with 8 minutes left in the fourth.  From there the Cats ratcheted up the defensive intensity and DJ, Jack and Tyrus Thomas took the game over.

The most finish went like this: with the Bulls up 89-88 with 1:15 left, Tyrus Thomas hit an insane prayer of a reverse layup.  Calling it a reverse layup is probably kind; seriously, check the picture.  That shot went in.  Next play down DJ forced Derrick Rose into the teeth of the defense where Boris Diaw was able to get a piece of his layup attempt.  Now under a minute to go and the Cats iso Stephen Jackson in the post on Luol Deng; Jack comes through with a pretty turnaround J to put the Cats up three with 30 seconds to go.

The Bulls take a timeout and come out with their best play: give it to Derrick Rose.  But as they had done numerous times before, the Cats seemed to sense exactly when to give DJ help.  Jack collapsed on Rose while Tyrus Thomas moved into the lane to cut off Deng as he flashed to the rim; Rose then forced a bad pass behind Deng that was picked off by Diaw.  From there, DJ hit a few free throws to finish it off.

And so the Cats move into the 8th spot in the East with this, their fourth straight, win.  If nothing else, this little streak serves as vindication for Jordan, who made the undoubtedly tough call to stand pat with the roster and fire Larry Brown instead of listening to his calls for more trades. Jordan gets bagged on a lot for his track record in the front office (rightfully so, and he’s still going to have to make more difficult decisions about how to rebuild this team eventually), but he deserves credit for seeing that the Bobcats are much better than how they were playing under Larry Brown and that they needed to exhale with a player’s coach at the helm.

Notes

  • So DJ really seems to get up for playing against Rose, huh?  22 points (6-12 FG, 2-5 3PT, 8-9 FT), 12 assists/1 turnover for DJ tonight, while Derrick Rose was held to 17 points (5-17 FG), 7 assists/4 turnovers.  I seem to recall another time when DJ had a particularly stellar game against Rose — during their rookie year maybe?
  • Best game for Tyrus Thomas in a couple weeks: 30 minutes, 17 points (7-14 FG), 13 rebounds and 2 blocks.  Nothing like the little charge you get from facing your old team, huh?
  • Tweet of the night goes to Bobcats AP beat writer Mike Cranston: “Suggestion on press row next CHA ad campaign feature Augustin breaking out of chains and Jack driving a bus over LB’s body”  Sounds like a job for Mike and/or Deesdale.
  • Next game is Friday night in Boston to face the Celtics, who used to bring out the best in the Bobcats, but lately have just owned them.  7:30 PM ET start.

-Dr. E

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Bobcats Fall To Bulls In Regular Season Finale

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Charlotte Bobcats vs Bulls, 4/14/10


The Charlotte Bobcats wrapped up their regular season by losing to the Bulls 98-89 on Wednesday night at the Cable Box.  Derrick Rose led all scorers with 27 points.

AP recap here |  Box score here

Pretty simple analysis for this one, folks.  This game was completely meaningless for the Bobcats, but the Bulls desperately needed the win to secure the 8th playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.  The Bulls entered the night a game up on Toronto; had they lost and the Raptors won (which they did), the Raptors held the tiebreaker and would have snuck into the 8th spot.

Larry Brown paid some lip service to “playing the right way” and upholding the integrity of the league by not sitting any of his starters; however, it should be noted that they played limited minutes (no starter over 24 minutes) and never really came close to matching the Bulls intensity.

Tidbits

  • Perhaps the most noteworthy item to come out of this game was that Tyson Chandler was injured in the second quarter.  Chandler was intercepting a pass (after a successful Bobcats trap in the backcourt) but got tangled up with a Bulls player and landed hard on his side.  His hip and elbow took the brunt of the fall and he didn’t return to the game; however, it doesn’t sound as if the injury will hamper him in the playoffs.
  • Neither Nazr Mohammed (back) nor Tyrus Thomas (thumb) looked good.  Nazr looks very rusty, and Tyrus seems to be bothered by his bad thumb.
  • Is Taj Gibson the most unheralded, under-the-radar rookie in the league this year?  Dude had 13 rebounds, 7 offensive and caused problems for the Cats all night.  Mostly just useful in that role (energy, hitting the glass) for now, but if he continues to develop his mid-range game, I see a little David West in him.
  • Sorry for the lack of coverage on the Larry Brown kerfluffle yesterday.  Peter Vescey essentially regurgitated Michael Jordan’s comment from several weeks ago regarding the possibility of letting Larry Brown out of his contract early if his family situation (wife and kids are in Philadelphia) demanded it — and combined it with the rumor that Brown had sent feelers out to both the 76ers and Clippers regarding their pending coaching openings.  I hope Larry is around to coach the Bobcats next year, but I won’t be shocked if he isn’t.  I liked Scott Fowler’s take on the issue.
  • Per Rick Bonnell, here is the schedule for the Bobcats first-round matchup with the Orlando Magic.  Games 1 and 2 in Orlando on Sunday and Wednesday, then games 3 and 4 in Charlotte Saturday and Monday.  I always forget how long they stretch out the first round.
  • Stay tuned as we prepare for the playoffs — make sure you’re following me and ASChin on Twitter as well.

-Dr. E

Bulls Stampede Bobcats in Chicago

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Charlotte Bobcats @ Chicago 4/3/10

Without Stephen Jackson for most of the second half, the Charlotte Bobcats still managed to lead the game until midway through the 4th quarter but a motivated Chicago Bulls team stormed back from a six point deficit to win the game 96-88 to move just three games back of the Bobcats in the Eastern Playoff race.

AP recap here | Boxscore here

The Undisputed Alpha

Those of you who suffered along with me during the Bobcats Opening Night Massacre in Boston (92-59) will remember how painfully lost and dysfunctional this team looked pre-Captain Jack.  A team of selfless role players was in desperate need of an alpha.  Just a few games after he was acquired, Stephen Jackson assumed that role and the Bobcats never looked back, going 37-27 since November 22nd.  While Gerald Wallace might be the clubhouse leader and an NBA All-Star, there’s no doubting who is more irreplaceable.  During a three game absence in mid-March, the Bobcats beat the OKC Thunder and the Magic in Orlando as Wallace recuperated from an ankle injury.  Tonight against the Bulls, in a tough-fought game with postseason ramifications, the ‘Cats were without their Alpha for the final quarter when they desperately needed some clutch buckets to counter the Bulls run.  But they couldn’t do it.  Captain Jack was sitting on the bench, seemingly wrapped head to toe, nursing a variety of injuries.  Pressure was not made love to this evening.  Pressure had a TV dinner, a half-pint of Häagen Dazs and fell asleep reading a cheap romance novel.

Bullets

  • Just three home games and three road dates remain for the Bobcats.  None of them gimmes.  Home against the Hawks (tough), at New Orleans and Houston (not easy) on a mini road trip and then home dates against the Pistons and Bulls sandwiched by a final meeting with the Nets in Jersey.  Obviously, the Bulls season finale is important but if the ‘Cats win at least three of the next four, they should have their first Playoff birth locked up for good, regardless.
  • Kirk Hinrich torched the ‘Cats tonight with 24 points on 9-12 shooting but this was an aberration — Hinrich is only averaging 10ppg on 39% shooting for the year.  Still, if the Bulls could get Rose and Hinrich to play consistently together as they did tonight, they’d have a hell of a backcourt rotation.
  • Charlotte’s heralded free throw opportunity advantage disappeared tonight.  Chicago won the battle with 21-16 shots from the stripe.
  • If Larry Hughes is supposed to be Flip Murray’s replacement, he did a good job keeping up with him tonight.  Murray: 2-10 for 5 points, Hughes: 4-14 for 14 points.  Hughes won the headband contest as well 1-0.

Enjoy the Loss, Bobcats Fans…

-ASChin

Bobcats Hang On For Third Straight Win

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Charlotte Bobcats vs Bulls, 1/5/10

3-0 in 2010

The Charlotte Bobcats won their third straight by defeating the Chicago Bulls 113-108 on Tuesday night at the Cable Box.  AP recap here, box score here.  The Bobcats led by as much as 13 in the second quarter and 11 late in the third, but Derrick Rose almost singlehandedly brought the Bulls back.  The last of his 5 fourth-quarter buckets tied the game at 105 with two minutes left, but the Bobcats went 8-8 from the line from there to seal the deal.

Gerald Wallace led the way with 32 points (10-16 FG, 2-3 3PT, 10-11 FT), 9 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals and a block.  Yes, 32 points on just 16 shots.  Can we get this guy an All-Star jersey?  Over the past few games, Gerald has added a new wrinkle to his game that’s been surprisingly effective: he’s taking and making 18-20 foot catch-and-shoot jumpers curling off a screen like he’s Rip Hamilton or something.  He was 2-2 on that shot in this game by my count.

Stephen Jackson continued to “make love to pressure” by hitting 2-2 free throws with 17 seconds left after the Bulls had cut the lead to one; he finished with 25 points, 3 rebounds, 3 steals and 3 assists/0 turnovers.  Flip Murray added 25 points off the bench on 8-12 FG, 3-5 3PT and 6-7 FT.

Overall, the Cats continued to take better care of the ball, committing only 13 turnovers.

Bullets

  • The Bobcats are currently in 7th place in the Eastern Conference.
  • Like this idea?  I love it.
  • Statistical anomalies: the Bobcats only recorded 1 offensive rebound; Boris Diaw had 5 blocks.
  • Raymond Felton hit a half-court shot at the 3rd quarter buzzer — in a close game those three points ended up being huge.
  • I alluded to it above, but Derrick Rose was unstoppable for much of the fourth quarter.  He was cooking the Bobcats on the high screen and roll by getting around the corner and easily knifing through the rest of the defense for easy layups.  In the crucial closing minutes, the Bobcats did a better job of showing hard on the high screen and roll, forcing Rose to give the ball up.
  • In the 2013-14 season, Luol Deng is due 14.3 million — will that be the worst contract in the league by that point?  Very possible.
  • Surprisingly decent crowd on a frigid Tuesday night in Charlotte; still lots of empties everywhere, but there were butts in the upper deck seats.  This would seem to indicate that the casual Charlotte fan may be starting to notice that we’ve got a likely playoff team here.
  • Sorry about the lack of tweets, the wifi in the Cable Box was especially janky tonight, and despite the fact that there’s a huge AT&T building within a block of the arena, I get little to no signal in the building.  Ironic, huh?
  • Next game is Thursday night against the Knicks at MSG — 7:30 PM ET start.

-Dr. E

Charlotte Bobcats @ Chicago 4/11/09

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Ben Gordon goes off, Rose destroys DJ, Bobcats lose

The Bobcats celebrate being mathmatically eliminated from the Playoffs by dropping a winnable game in Chicago 113-106.  AP recap here.  Boxscore here.

1. This game came down to execution. (©®2005 Adrian Branch)
The Bobcats don’t seem to be very excited about playing basketball these days.  16 Turnovers (8 in the final quarter) and Shaq-inspired free throw shooting may have been the quantifiable sources of damage but in reality, it was the team’s “We have 3 meaningless road games remaining” attitude that did them in.  The adrenaline that had fueled the ‘Cats late season charge has joined Raja Bell on the inactive list.  The Bulls simply had more motivation to win.

2. Ben Gordon.
Ben Gordon had his yearly superstar game against the Bobcats tonight.  England’s favorite combo guard went for 39 on 13-25 shooting including 7-12 from the three point line.  I’ve been trumpeting an Iverson signing for the past month but if the team can’t pull off the AI move then perhaps Air Gordon makes for a good backup plan.  Ben is a real deal scorer who can kill you from the perimeter and has incredible three-point range.  My only issue is that he’ll probably demand a lot more money than he’s really worth.  Besides, the Bulls may decide to keep him after seeing how well that Gordon/Rose backcourt combo has worked this season.

3. Derrick Rose paid DJ Augustin back in full this evening with 22pts on 10-16 shooting and dishing out 7 assists – DRose was also largely responsible for putting the ‘Cats behind early by hitting his first six shots from the field.  While DJ hardly had a bad game (15pts on 5-13 with 8 dimes), it becomes very obvious very quickly who the better prospect is when seeing the two matched up against each other.  Rose has between 4″-5″ inches on DJ and a heck of a lot longer wingspan.  This allows Rose to drive into the lane and finish those runners that DJ often attempts and be a much tougher defender while guarding opposing PGs.  Rose blocked one shot (officially) and altered a few more from DJ and Raymond.  Great move by Paxson again for taking Rose over Beasley when need and logic dictated otherwise.

4. So at some point during the second quarter, the Bulls PA system started playing Janet Jackson’s “Alright” (from the Rhythm Nation album) and then the camera cut to Brad Miller guarding Juwan Howard and then cut again to Kid ‘n Play sitting courtside (ok, the first two things really did happen, I just added the third).

5. Bright spots for the Bobcats?  Well, during a lot of the second quarter and all of the third the team looked great.  Raymond in particular played well with 26pts (10-17) and 7 assists (5 TOs) doing something of a Ben Gordon imitation to bring the team back from the horrid first quarter.  Diaw looked great in the third quarter as he stretched out the Bulls D with a couple of 3s and some assorted Euro-Moves.  Is Diaw the “least cut” NBA player under 7-feet btw?  Any guesses as to the total amount of time Boris has spent in the weight room (lifetime)?  Under 20 hours?  10?  Anybody?

6. And speaking of Boris, I was going to hypothesize a potential friendship between the ‘Cats French forward and the Bulls half-French center before I remembered that Joakim Noah doesn’t have any friends and that nobody likes him.  Not even French people.  I say that we team up Joakim and Adam Morrison on the Clippers or Bucks and then have Adam pull his inevitable “school-shooting” routine and take care of both careers at once.

7. Lets talk about Dontell Jefferson for a moment.  As promising as young Dontell looked in the OKC game on Friday, he looked equally as horrendous against the Bulls on Saturday.  Technically accounting for only 2 TOs and 4 Personal Fouls in 13 minutes, Bulls color man Stacey King went as far as calling him “The Human Turnover.”

8. Speaking of Stacey King, he had another good one when describing Radman’s new beard: “Radmanovic lookin’ like he just entered the Witness Protection Program or somethin’.”

9. Back to that third quarter, not only did the Bobcats play proper basketball and take a 83-78 lead heading into the fourth BUT Gana Diop hit consecutive free throws!  Of course, all this did was offset the back to back missed technical free throws by DJ and Raymond.

10. And what about Mr. Diop???  What a strange player this guy is.  Looking at the stats, you’d think he’s pretty much the most useless player in the League but strangely – watching the game – you can see that he has a defensive impact.  Opposing players respect him and he provides very good insurance in case Emeka would ever go down with an injury.

11. The season is basically over but I’m optimistic for next year.
For one, unlike other crap lottery teams, the Bobcats always play better against good teams.  They don’t shrink when the pressure is on and that is a good sign for a team that should go into next year’s post-season with 45+ wins.
Also this team plays well DESPITE the fact that they don’t really have a FIRST or even a SECOND scoring option.  I mean as of now Raymond is the defacto scorer but he’s a 4th option at best on a good team.  Diaw is a great facilitator, GFORCE is a scorer who doesn’t need plays called for him, Okafor is a human double-double who doesn’t need plays either, Raja would rather find himself open on the perimeter…I mean, is this team tailor-made for Allen Iverson or what?  He’d get 28 shots a night, easy.
Regardless of the current horse-show road trip malaise, I applaud Coach Larry Brown and the Bobcats for providing Charlotte fans with the most entertaining product yet.

Enjoy the loss, Bobcats fans…

-ASChin

Charlotte Bobcats vs. Bulls 12/16/08

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DJ

1) Nice win for the Bobcats tonight, 110-101 in overtime over the visiting Chicago Bulls.  AP story here, box score here.  Bobcats break their seven game losing streak and move to 8-18, while Chicago falls to 11-13.

2) Without Gerald Wallace tonight (due to his father’s passing) the Bobcats started with a lineup of Felton, Bell, Diaw, Juwan Howard and Okafor.  That didn’t go so well, as the Bobcats quickly fell behind 17-5.  Raja Bell missed all five of his shots during that opening stretch, and in a strange moment, was ejected after “discussing” a foul with official Eli Roe.  Bell didn’t seem to be particularly upset or animated, but must have said some magic words, as Roe demonstratively ended the discussion by turning to the scorer’s table, calling the tech and motioning for the ejection in one fell swoop.

Bell lingered on the court for a few moments, but soon meandered off without any fuss.  Weird — if I didn’t know any better, I’d think he didn’t really want to play tonight.  Maybe he’s peeved that he couldn’t have just been traded straight to New York to reunite with Mike D’Antoni, and will instead have to parlay here in CLT for two months.

3) No matter, though, as DJ entered the game for Bell while Hollins relieved Howard, and the Bobcats began to dig their way out of the early hole — by halftime, the Bulls led just 45-42.  Ryan Hollins has really been a pleasant surprise so far this season.  When training camp started I had pegged him as a probable Larry Brown roster casualty, but he seems to be in coach’s good graces at this point, and for good reason.  He brings a lot of energy to the table, has cut down on his mistakes, hits his free throws, and has become relatively competent when taking open mid-range jumpers.  Tonight he had 8 points on 3-4 FGs, 2 rebounds and 3 blocks in 15 minutes.

4) The Bobcats really got it going in the third quarter with DJ, Felton, Diaw, Howard and Okafor all contributing.  They led by four heading into the fourth quarter, when both teams really turned it on and treated the Charlotte fans to the best finish of the year at the Cable Box.  Down 94-91 with just 20 seconds left, DJ Augustin missed a contested three-pointer from the wing, but drew a questionable foul on fellow rookie Derrick Rose on the follow-through.  Rose nearly erupted, and rightfully so — it could have easily been a no-call.  Augustin nailed all three free throws to tie the game.  Following a timeout, the Bulls put it on Rose to win the game.  Augustin played good enough one-on-one D, forcing Rose into a tough shot that Emeka Okafor was able to swat away at the buzzer.

In overtime, Okafor, Felton and Augustin combined for 16 points, while the Bulls could only muster 7.  Okafor had another big block of a Rose layup, this time with a minute left, that essentially had the effect of slamming the coffin shut.  From there, free throws provided the proverbial nails for said coffin.

5) DJ led the way with 29 points (6-16 FG, 4-7 3PT, 13-13 FT) and 7 assists/1 turnover.  He’ll have to share Player of the Game honors with Okafor, though: Mek had 20 points (7-12 FG, 6-11 FT), 13 rebounds (6 offensive), 3 steals, and 4 blocks (two of which were particularly huge, as noted above).  Felton had a great game as well, with 21 points (7-17 FG, 7-8 FT), 6 rebounds, 7 assists/3 turnovers, and 3 steals.

6) Juwan Howard ended up with 8 points and 5 boards in 26 solid minutes.  It’s been trumpeted that the guy is a consumate professional, and that was evident tonight in his first action as a Bobcat.  He picked his spots carefully on offense without disrupting anything, and seemed to always be in the right spot on defense.  With the acquisitions of Diaw and Howard in the last week, the Bobcats look to have significantly upgraded their PF spot over the combo of Sean May and Jared Dudley.

7) DNP-CD for Adam Morrison tonight.  Strange, as I thought that Andres Nocioni (whose game is aging precipitously) would have been a good matchup for him.  But Adam has been slumping, so Matt Carroll got all of the extra minutes at SG tonight (30 minutes, surely his most extended action of the season) and responded pretty well with 7 points (1-2 3PT), 4 rebounds and 3 assists.

8) Some quick comments on the Bulls:

a) Del Negro sure has a lot of support, with Del Harris and Bernie Bickerstaff as his top two assistants.  It’s almost like the Bulls were a little nervous about whether he was ready to be a head coach…

b) Maybe I just caught a small sample that doesn’t represent the whole relationship, but judging by a couple of interactions between Ben Gordon and Del Negro, I’d say the former doesn’t care for the latter much.  One particularly funny moment at the end of the first quarter: off a jump ball, Gordon controls the tap out on the wing.  He’s literally inches from his coach, who is clearly exhorting him to pass the ball out to Rose to reset the offense.  Gordon completely ignores this, calls for a big to come over and screen for him, gets a little daylight and drains a 17-footer.  Believe me, this was hilarious to see and hear in person.

c) I see that one of the storylines in the AP recap is how Augustin got the better of Rose in the matchup of lottery PGs, and he certainly did; but Rose is pretty special.  He’s as good as advertised, a prototypical NBA point guard, and should probably be penciled in as the starting PG for the East All-Star team for the next decade.

d) The Bulls still have the same problem they’ve had for the past couple of seasons: no low-post scoring threat.  Tyrus Thomas and Joakim Noah have burned through their upside, and look stuck at “role-player” status.  Drew Gooden is thisclose to being replacement level, and Aaron Gray ain’t going to cut it.  Meanwhile, the Bulls are paying Luol Deng superstar money and getting “solid starter” return on the investment.  Not good…

9) Next game: Friday night on the road at Memphis (mmmmmmm, Rendezvous Ribs).  We should have Gerald back and will be looking to snag a road victory against a young, beatable Grizzlies club.

-E