Chicago Bulls

Noah, Robinson help Bulls grind out a win over the Pistons

988447.png

Noah, Robinson help Bulls grind out a win over the Pistons

Perhaps no team deflects more individual praise than the Bulls and while they couldnt have come from behind 17 to defeat the Detroit Pistons 85-82 extending their winning streak over their Central Division rivals to 17 without the collective efforts of the team, its clear that the energy of Joakim Noah and Nate Robinson continues to be an asset as valuable as any they possess.

Down 68-57, Robinson scored nine straight points during a 22-5 run to start the fourth period.

While his shot selection has been questioned at times, his effort, heart and intentions are always in the right place. On nights where he has it going, hes capable of a scoring outburst that only feeds his undeterred confidence.

Thats Nate, Thibodeau said. He made a lot of big time plays for us. Hes not afraid and I like and respect that about him.

Robinson finished the game with 11 points, seven assists and played the entire fourth quarter.

For me, my biggest asset to the game is energy, Robinson said. Thats something that I always pride myself on doing is playing as hard as I can and bringing the energy no matter if the place is rocking, or the place is dead. For us, we needed the lift. I just had to force the crowd to get out their seats and give us a little boost.

Its that Peter Pan theory: you cant fly without happy thoughts, he continued. "For me, I just always think about my kids, even though Im supposed to be focused on the game. For me, any little happy thought I can get. I just feel like Im invincible and unstoppable.

Added Noah on his neighboring locker room teammate: We need Nate to be aggressive offensively. This is not the first time hes carried us offensively in situations like that. I think that the more pick-and-rolls we put him in, especially when were getting stops, than hes able to do his thing. I think everything was about this game was flat. The energy in the building was quiet and Nate came in, did his thing and really got us going. This isnt the first time hes done it. Hes won a lot of ball games for us."

Noah played the entire second half and finished with 10 points and 18 rebounds, while having his hands full with Detroits frontline of Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond.

It was Noahs hustle to save a loose ball from going out of bounds, off a bricked Marco Belinelli shot, to a driving Belinelli for the games winning shot and ensuing free throw.

I stayed with the play, Noah said. The basketball gods were on our side, we got a little lucky. Something thats not really a great play, because if Detroit gets it, its a four-on-five fast break. But I kept it in play and fortunately we got it. I didnt really see it but I had the cheerleaders pom-poms in my face. Marco made the layup to seal it.

The Bulls were so caught up in Belinellis score that they didnt even think to go help up Noah, who stayed courtside, waiting for his teammates to come help him up. It took forever, right? Noah joked about his teammates slow reaction to help him upright.

Incredible, quite frankly, I dont know how he got to it, Thibodeau said of Noahs save. Jo was something. 18 rebounds, he didnt come out in the second half, great hustle plays. I thought our team spirit was terrific. The way that unit was finishing the game, it inspired everybody.

With the coaches votes for All-Star reserves being announced on Thursday, the Bulls have three potential candidates in Carlos Boozer, Luol Deng and Noah.

Never one to harp on individual praise and recognition, Noah wouldnt say if he felt he had earned a spot, but said he would be honored and only time will tell.

Robinson was more forthcoming.

Definitely. He just plays hard, Robinson said. His game might not look All-Star material, but hes a hell of a player.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Bulls the worst team in NBA?

bulls.jpg
USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Bulls the worst team in NBA?

David Haugh (Chicago Tribune), Nick Shepkowski (670 The Score) and Dan Cahill (Chicago Sun-Times) join Kap on the panel. Jake Arrieta will return to the rotation to face the Brewers. Can he recapture his pre-injury form? Mike Glennon gets another start Sunday but should he get the hook if he struggles again?

Plus, the guys discuss the one metric that says the Bulls are the worst team in the NBA.

A 'woke' Doug Collins returns to provoke thought — and we'll find out who's asleep in Bulls' front office

A 'woke' Doug Collins returns to provoke thought — and we'll find out who's asleep in Bulls' front office

Doug Collins made it clear, that his return to the Bulls organization won’t result in a return to the sidelines as head coach, meaning Fred Hoiberg has nothing to worry about in the way of looking over his shoulder.

What Collins did admit, though, is he’s back with the Bulls to provoke thought. Anyone who’s listened to Collins as a broadcaster for ESPN or Turner Sports, or talked to him in any basketball capacity, knows he’s not only a hoops lifer but also someone who can have strong opinions, capable of quick dissection of a complex picture in a moment’s notice.

“I’m not here to be a decision-maker. I want to provoke thought. My mind is very active,” Collins said Tuesday afternoon at the Advocate Center. “And I think to get into a room and to bounce ideas off each other or whatever, at the end of the day, Gar, Michael, Jerry, Pax will make those decisions. The beauty of it is is that when there’s a level of trust when you’re talking about things, you can speak openly and honestly with people knowing the only thing that matters is that whatever happens is the best for the franchise.”

Announcing Collins as a senior advisor to executive vice president John Paxson adds another voice to the Bulls’ braintrust and is probably an admission this rebuild will require more than what the Bulls already have, be it in terms of connections, observation and even innovation.

Collins’ connection to Paxson and Jerry Reinsdorf, a growing relationship with Michael Reinsdorf and ability to relate with Hoiberg due to the misery of coaching should align a front office to the floor in ways that has been in doubt for the past several seasons.

“Given Jerry's relationship and my relationship with Doug over the years, we thought, hey, let's see if maybe this isn't a good time for Doug to come back into the fold,” Paxson said. “So we approached him and it was very casual, no expectations other than he's been a friend of ours for so long. But the more we kind of dug into the prospects of this and what it means, the more we kept asking ourselves, why wouldn't we do this?”

Collins made it clear he won’t be giving up his family life, as he already has residence in Chicago and his son Chris is coaching Northwestern and a son-in-law coaching a high school team outside Philadelphia.

“The hours and the time commitment that Fred Hoiberg puts in on a day and the energy that he spends and being on the road and being away from his family,” Collins said. “(This) worked perfectly in my schedule when I talked to Pax that I could be a part of something special, the Chicago Bulls, and I love the Chicago Bulls.”

His energy and passion can light up a room, and though he tried his best to say that’s died down at age 66, claiming “I can sit and do a crossword puzzle for three hours now”, people wired like Collins don’t lose their fervor for the game.

“I think there’s this feeling that I’m a guy who’s always on and fired up,” Collins said.

But that fire and passion and presumably a willingness to be uncompromising with the truth should be something that’s welcome inside the Advocate Center. In addition to his acumen, one of Collins’ greatest strengths is his fervor, and it shouldn’t be scaled back.

That’s not how rebuilds work successfully. Lines have to be crossed and people have to be made uncomfortable in their line of thinking, even if it’s Paxson or Hoiberg or general manager Gar Forman.

It’s not hard to see the Bulls following the thinking of the Golden State Warriors when they added Jerry West in an advisory role years ago, resulting in several key moves being made, most notably West’s objection to Klay Thompson being traded to Minnesota for Kevin Love before Love was eventually moved to Cleveland.

West’s guidance played a part in the Warriors’ upward trajectory to championship status, and he hopes to have a similar affect with the Los Angeles Clippers.

Comparing West with Collins on its face is a bit unfair, considering West’s experience as an executive and championship pedigree dating back to his days with the Lakers.

At least with West, he’s not trying to convince anyone he isn’t anything but a tortured basketball soul at age 79. Collins reminded everyone he’s a grandfather of five and at a spry 66, West would call Collins a “spring chicken.”

What Collins can bring is a keen eye for observation, and expecting him to be a passive personality doesn’t quite seem right, especially leaving the cushy job at ESPN that allowed him maximum exposure and a schedule to his liking.

Perhaps the way Collins left the NBA, with a massive gambit in Philadelphia falling flat when Andrew Bynum’s knees rendered him useless and sending the 76ers franchise into “The Process,” left him with a bad taste in his mouth.

Maybe his competitive juices got him going again and the broadcast booth just wasn’t cutting it, along with having a front seat to the injury that changed the course of the Bulls franchise when Derrick Rose tore his ACL in 2012 against Collins’ 76ers.

Maybe the crossword puzzles just couldn’t get it done anymore. After all, the man once cried on the sidelines as his Detroit Pistons beat the Bulls in a regular-season game in 1997. Curbing that passion would be a disservice.

“See how things quickly change? The NBA is cyclical now,” Collins said. “Other than the San Antonio Spurs, over the last 20 years, every elite franchise has gone through this moment. And so now what you got to do, you got to dig yourself back up.

“We got to start doing all the things that are necessary to gain assets day by day, to put all the work, so we’re going to give ourself a chance, when we continue to get better players and more talent, that you’re going to win more basketball games.”

Collins said he has old-school values, all while being caught up with the times that he called himself “woke” as a nod to the current culture.

If he truly is, we’ll also find out who’s asleep in the front office, in desperate need a loud wake-up call.