Buckle Up for Bulls' Roller Coaster Ride


Buckle Up for Bulls' Roller Coaster Ride

Sunday, Jan. 24, 2010
7:28 PM

by Mark Schanowski

Okay, so my prediction of a 3-4 road trip for the Bulls is still looking good, but I never would have guessed they would find a way to beat the Suns and Rockets after looking so bad in losing the first two games to Golden State and the Clippers.

Does anyone out there have an idea of what to expect from the Bulls from game to game? Frankly, I have no idea whether this is a good team that sometimes plays down to the level of its competition, or a bad team that sometimes catches the opposition on the right night or looking ahead to more important games on their schedules. The Bulls 20-22 record accurately shows what we've seen so far.......some great wins over NBA heavyweights like Boston, Cleveland, Orlando, Atlanta and San Antonio to go along with maddening defeats to the likes of New Jersey, Sacramento, the Clippers and Golden State.

Saturday's win over Houston may have been the most unlikely of the season. The Bulls didn't get to their hotel until around 4:30 a.m. after their win in Phoenix late Friday night, and they found out 10 minutes before tip-off that they would be without the services of their number one energy guy, Joakim Noah, who's battling a case of plantar fasciitis. But somehow, Brad Miller, who's having a terrible season, found a way to turn back the clock and score 25 points against his old coach in Sacramento, Rick Adelman. Miller made big play after big play down the stretch, hitting two huge three pointers, and making a beautiful feed to Taj Gibson for an important dunk. Gibson, the rookie from USC who's also been hampered by plantar fasciitis lately, picked up the slack for Noah by posting Joakim-like totals of 14 points and 16 rebounds.

And, let's not forget about Derrick Rose, who followed up his 32-point performance in Phoenix by scoring 20 against the Rockets, including a clutch jumper with about 30 seconds to go that pretty much sealed the win. Rose certainly improved his All-Star prospects with that big game on national television in Phoenix, including what might have been the best dunk of his young career over Goran Dragic late in the game. Rose still faces an uphill battle to get to the game in Dallas on February 14th now that Allen Iverson has reversed his position, and says he will play in the game. That leaves only two or three spots for back-up guards in the East and Atlanta's Joe Johnson is sure to get one of them. That could mean conference coaches will have to choose between Rose and Rajan Rondo, but if it were up to me, I'd find spots for both players on the East team.

Back to the Bulls, who knows what to expect in this week's games at San Antonio, Oklahoma City and New Orleans? The Bulls beat the Spurs in the regular season opener at the United Center back on October 29th, and San Antonio has been inconsistent all season while battling injuries to Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker. The guess is the Spurs have too much firepower for Vinny's guys, but if the Bulls play like they did in Phoenix and Houston, they certainly have a chance to steal another win. Noah says he will play before the trip is over, and knowing his desire and work ethic, I wouldn't be surprised to see him out on the floor against Tim Duncan Monday night.

In years past, a game in Oklahoma City would look like a great chance to grab a "W". But the Thunder are one of the league's biggest surprises, led by scoring sensation Kevin Durant and versatile point guard Russell Westbrook. OKC beat the Bulls at the UC earlier this month with Westbrook getting the better of his match-up with Rose. Thunder coach Scott Brooks shifted 6'7 former Bull Thabo Sefolosha on to Rose in the 2nd half of that game, and Thabo did an excellent defensive job on the Bulls' young star. Look for more of that strategy on Wednesday night. The Bulls will probably try a variety of players on Durant, starting with Luol Deng and then possibly going to Tyrus Thomas or John Salmons.

The finale in New Orleans will give the Bulls a chance for another win. Chris Paul is back at full strength after an early season ankle injury, and Emeka Okafor is starting to play better in the middle after a rough adjustment early in the season. The Hornets also have 2-time all-star David West and a streaky shooter in guard Devin Brown. But the Bulls totally outplayed New Orleans in a win at the UC last month, and if they're not worn out from nearly two weeks on the road, they should have a good chance to beat the Hornets again.

Bottom line, forget about trying to figure out this Bulls' team.......they are totally unpredictable. That can make for some agonizing nights when they lose to bad teams, but it's also a lot of fun when the offense is clicking and they outscore teams like the Suns and Rockets.

I'll see you Monday night at 7:00 for Bulls Pre-game Live, just ahead of the Bulls-Spurs game on Comcast SportsNet at 7:30. You can watch all three games this week on CSN. Win or lose, this team is a never-ending roller coaster ride............ so just buckle up and enjoy the hoops!

As always, your comments and suggestions are welcome.

Mark Schanowski hosts our Bulls pre- and postgame studio coverage with 15-year NBA veteran Kendall Gill. You can also watch Mark on SportsNite, Sunday through Thursday at 6:30 and 10.

Bulls: Fred Hoiberg, Dwyane Wade soak themselves in Cubs fever

Bulls: Fred Hoiberg, Dwyane Wade soak themselves in Cubs fever

The party that started Saturday night on the north side of town had vibes that stretched all the way west of downtown, as the Chicago Bulls players and coaches soaked themselves in Cubs fever.

Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg has been a lifelong Cubs fan due to growing up in Iowa and of course, Dwyane Wade came back home at the right time to witness the Cubs winning the pennant for the first time since 1945.

“It’s been fun, it’s been fun to watch. I’ve talked about how together that team is, how much of confidence, how much of a swagger they play with,” Hoiberg said. “It’s just a fun team that looks like it has unbelievable chemistry.”

Playfully, Hoiberg admitted he went streaking in Wrigleyville after the Cubs finished off the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series at Wrigley Field—although if he actually had been streaking, Hoiberg probably would’ve blended in with the deliriousness that took place well into Saturday night.

Seriously, though, Hoiberg admires the unity and joy the Cubs have played with all season—embracing the expectations without letting themselves get engulfed in them.

“It’s a team that I think you can learn from with what they’re doing and the backing that they have from the city,” Hoiberg said. “Cubs fans, from the time they’re born like myself, they’re just, it’s been awesome to watch and see the celebration after the game.”

Wade agrees, and having been part of three championship teams, knows chemistry when he sees it.

“That team has figured out a way, even during this series when it looked like their back was against the wall they came out swinging. They stuck together,” Wade said. “You have to support each other. No matter who’s on the basketball court for us, who’s on the bench, it’s all about supporting each other and really caring about the other guy. When you start caring about the other person, you don’t want to let that other person down on the court. You become a better team because of that.”

With the World Series starting Tuesday in Cleveland, Wade and good friend LeBron James will likely make a friendly wager, with the two exchanging playful tweets after the Cubs’ clincher.

“It’s been a long, long, long time, and just obviously I felt the buzz when I got back to the city, and everyone thinking that this was the Cubs’ year,” Wade said. “And they’ve been obviously playing amazing, so it’s great. It’s great to be in Chicago at this time with the Cubs being as successful as they are so far, and so it’s good to be here and it’s good to be a sports fan at this time in Chicago, so it’s good.”

Cleveland has gone from a national sports joke to one with an embarrassment of riches in the past six months, while the Cubs are trying to end the longest championship drought in the four major sports.

“Just pride in your city. Cleveland has obviously had droughts in sports and then he went back there to change that drought from the standpoint of basketball, and they accomplished that,” Wade said. “And now Cleveland is trying to do the same, and they got to a World Series, which has been a drought for them.”

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Luckily for the Bulls—or any Chicago sports fan for that matter—Thursday’s season opener doesn’t conflict with a game, but fans won’t be so lucky next Saturday night. The Bulls will play the Indiana Pacers while the Cubs will host Cleveland for Game 4. Wade doesn’t think he’ll have trouble getting into Wrigley Field, but after Scottie Pippen’s unfortunate rendition of “Take me out to the ballgame” Saturday night, Wade wants an opportunity for a reprieve.

“I know Scottie butchered the 7th-inning stretch. I think me and Jimmy (Butler) and (Rajon) Rondo could do a good job together if they ask us to do it,” Wade said. “It’s just cool to be a part of it.”

Hoiberg summed it up succinctly, likely echoing the beliefs of many long-suffering Cubs fans.

“Four more to go,” Hoiberg said. “I like their chances just because of how confident they’re playing.”

Doug McDermott, Kyle Korver return to Creighton for NBA preseason game

Doug McDermott, Kyle Korver return to Creighton for NBA preseason game

Competing in Nebraska may have been foreign for most Chicago Bulls and Atlanta Hawks players, but Doug McDermott and Kyle Korver were right at home. 

The veterans, who both starred at Creighton University in Omaha, Neb., returned to their college stomping grounds for NBA preseason action Thursday night. Korver's Hawks got the best of McDermott's Bulls, 97-81, on Creighton's home floor.

Both had illustrious careers for the Blue Jays basketball squad. McDermott, who graduated in 2014, won the Wooden Award his senior season and is the all-time leading scorer. Korver, as you may have guessed, holds the school record for most three-pointers made. Fans at Thursday's game got a flashback from these glory days, as both logged significant minutes and put up offensive numbers. 

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McDermott didn't have his best shooting night, but knocked down two triples and finished with 16 points. Korver also scored 16, splashing in four from beyond the arc. 

Afterwards, McDermott thanked the Omaha faithful via Twitter. 


With the loss, the Bulls' preseason ends with a record of 3-4. They open regular season play on Oct. 27 against the Boston Celtics.