Schanowski: Bulls Missing Tyrus on Circus Trip

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Schanowski: Bulls Missing Tyrus on Circus Trip

Tuesday, November 24th

By Mark Schanowski
CSNChicago.com

After watching the Bulls get dominated in the paint against the Lakers, Nuggets and Trail Blazers, one thing is obvious........they really miss Tyrus Thomas! I know I've criticized Thomas in the past, and it's obvious the Bulls would have been better off keeping LaMarcus Aldridge on draft day back in '06, but Thomas' ability to block shots and hit the offensive glass would have been a big plus over the last 3 games. Joakim Noah's done a great job this season, but he was overmatched against the likes of Andrew Bynum, Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom in L.A., Nene, Kenyon Martin and Chris Andersen in Denver and Greg Oden and Aldridge in Portland. Tyrus could have helped change the momentum with a blocked shot or a tip dunk, and helped Noah control the defensive boards. He's still probably two weeks away from returning to action after breaking his left forearm in a weight training accident, and the Bulls will be a better team once Tyrus works his way back into the starting line-up with rookie Taj Gibson becoming a reliable big man reserve off the bench.

Which brings us to one of the many problems facing Vinny Del Negro and his staff these days. With Lindsey Hunter basically a coach who wears a uniform, and top draft pick James Johnson a non-factor, the Bulls only have 8 players in their rotation. Certainly injuries have been the main reason for the Bulls being so short-handed, but NBA rules allow teams to carry 15 players on the roster, and right now, the Bulls only have 13, and that includes mystery man Jerome James, who basically hasn't played in 2 years. I know the luxury tax is the reason behind the Bulls not adding another player or two, but would it bankrupt the franchise to add a minimum salary guy like Chris Richard or Melvin Ely? Vinny could really use another big guy to play 10 minutes a night, knock some people around and grab a few rebounds. Aaron Gray might be that guy when he returns from a leg stress fracture in the next week or two, but the Bulls might be better off with a more active big like Richard, who showed some pretty good versatility during the pre-season schedule.

Either way, it looks like adding a big man is the way to go for the Bulls down the line. Noah might be better served playing some power forward alongside a bigger NBA center. Vinny has tried playing Noah and Brad Miller together, and that line-up has worked at times. But Miller can only play well in short spurts, and the coaches have to be very careful about match-ups when they put the veteran center in the game. Miller is a good passer, and occasionally a decent outside shooter, but his best years are well behind him, and he has trouble blocking out younger, quicker players. At this point in his career, Miller is not a good defensive rebounder, and that weakness has hurt the Bulls in several games already.

So what can the Bulls do to fix the problem? As I've written before, they're not likely to make a major trade which would use up their cap space for next summer unless Chris Bosh or some other superstar becomes available. That means the coaches have to count on Tyrus to make an impact when he comes back, and hope Miller can hold it together for the rest of the season. We've heard a lot of talk about the Bulls being in the running for LeBron James or Dwyane Wade next summer, but if that isn't realistic, maybe they should target Amare Stoudemire, who's playing well again after eye surgery, and will be a free agent next summer. John Paxson and Gar Forman have a lot of balls in the air right now, including John Salmons 6.7 million dollar player option for next season, which could go either way. Because if Salmons decides to exercise that option for another season in Chicago, the Bulls won't have enough cap room to offer a maximum contract to a free agent anyway. Hey, no one said it's easy being an NBA general manager!

What would you do? Would you keep the team the way it is and put all your eggs in the Free Agent 2010 derby? Or, would you cash in your expiring contracts now and make a trade for a veteran big man who could help the Bulls right away? Or would you go for a proven scorer like Tracy McGrady, who is available, and has a big expiring contract for next summer?

Please enter your comments in the section below or drop me an e-mail.

Wishing you all a happy and blessed Thanksgiving with family and friends, and don't forget the Bulls play Thanksgiving night at 9:30 in Utah! Our next game on Comcast SportsNet is Monday, November 30th against Brandon Jennings and the Bucks. Kendall will jon me in studio on SportsNite at 6:30 to preview the game.

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

Dwyane Wade tweets apology to fans after Bulls' lopsided loss in Atlanta

Dwyane Wade tweets apology to fans after Bulls' lopsided loss in Atlanta

For the opening three quarters in Atlanta, the Bulls were off. 

So off, in fact, that Dwyane Wade tweeted an apology to Chicago fans after the game. 

Thanks to a furious run by the Bulls' bench, the final score ended at a respectable 102-93. In reality, though, the Hawks dominated. 

Wade and company trailed by 29 points at half and 30 at the end of three. The 35-year-old shooting guard finished with a minus-18 and just four points while All-Star starter Jimmy Butler posted a team-low minus-22.

The Bulls will look to shake off their lopsided loss against the Sacramento Kings on Saturday. 

 

Fred Hoiberg after Bulls' embarrassing loss to Hawks: 'We're gonna look at everything'

Fred Hoiberg after Bulls' embarrassing loss to Hawks: 'We're gonna look at everything'

The bus was warm before the game started, as the Bulls looked like they wanted no parts of the Atlanta Hawks.

It was evident from the jump that playing with a full and healthy squad for one of the few times this season wasn't enough to arouse their competitive juices, as they put together arguably their worst 48-minute showing in a 102-93 loss at Philips Arena, dropping them to 21-23 in a game they trailed by as many as 34 points.

The practices have apparently been the sterling jewel of effort and competitiveness for the Bulls but it hasn't carried over through the season as the inconsistency continues to be maddening — one that seems to go beyond the "growing pains" mantra that's been fed by all involved so far this year.

"It could be things but I don't want to share it with the media," a sunglasses-clad Dwyane Wade said outside the locker room, in a rare mood of not being elaborative following a loss.

It appears even the professional's professional has gotten a bit more frustrated than usual — understandable considering the way the starters came out with a lack of energy, with more turnovers (eight) than field goals (six) in the first quarter.

"Continue to try to lead behind the scenes," Wade said. "Can't stop when it's bad, when it's good. You gotta be the same."

Fred Hoiberg, fed up with the starters, ran with the reserves for the fourth quarter and outscored the Hawks by nearly 25 points, bringing the lead to 95-90 with a minute left before a Dennis Schroeder jumper restored order with 52.6 seconds left.

Four Hawks scored in double figures led by Schroeder's 25 points and six assists and Paul Millsap scoring 14 while making all four of his shots in just 22 minutes of run.

[MORE BULLS: Dwyane Wade not buying into the Bosh to Bulls speculation]

Perhaps it's the Hawks being the same kryptonite to the Bulls that the Bulls are to the Toronto Raptors — except the Bulls simply frustrate the Raptors, not embarrass them.

"I have been, we have been, tired of this. I gotta come out better," said Jimmy Butler, who led the Bulls with 19 points in 29 minutes. "I gotta play better from the jump, 48 minutes. That's not the way we're supposed to play. 

"The way we practice is not the way we play in the game. Don't ask me why, I don't know. Starting with me and going down the line, we gotta be better as a whole. Otherwise we'll keep getting our asses beat and it's bad."

The Hawks shot over 60 percent for most of the night until the game devolved into what amounted to a pickup game late. After all, the Hawks seemed to be battling boredom by half, leading 65-36 and shooting 68 percent from the field and hitting 67 percent from three.

"We're gonna look at everything and we'll see how we go out and start tomorrow and a couple days after that, hopefully we figure some things out," Hoiberg said. "They shot over 70 percent in the first quarter and you dig yourselves a hole and it's impossible to get out."

Hoiberg said he would evaluate everything leading into Saturday's game at home against the Sacramento Kings, but Friday didn't seem to present any realistic lineup changes based on performance.

Bobby Portis scored 10 with seven rebounds off the bench, with Jerian Grant scoring 12 and Paul Zipser 10. Doug McDermott and Nikola Mirotic combined to shoot two for nine, so one wonders where Hoiberg can go.

"I don't know. Practice is good. Practice is great," Butler said. "Practice is not gonna win you games. We gotta take what we do in practice and take it over to the game."

The Bulls weren't about to make it any more suspenseful than it had to be, as they started off missing their first 11 3-pointers, often missing multiple open looks on the same possession.

It wasn't relegated to just shooting as the Bulls squandered easy opportunities in easy situations, like Denzel Valentine turning a three-on-one fast break into an airballed finger-roll attempt that he caught himself — a violation, of course.

"I don't know, I can't put a word on it. Because it's just talk," Butler said. "Doesn't matter what you say, if we don't go out there and do it, what the hell is talking gonna do? We've been up and down all year. If we don't guard and turn the ball over, games get out of hand very quickly."

This one was over a few minutes into it, as the Bulls looked like a lifeless squad with no direction and very little fight, short of a minor dustup between Dwight Howard and Robin Lopez in the third quarter.

At that point, though, all Howard had to do is point at the scoreboard, where a 30-point lead did all the necessary talking.

The Bulls trailed by 20 even before Tim Hardaway Jr. hit a 35-footer to end the first quarter, sending the Hawks off on a high and seemingly demoralizing the Bulls.

Even Butler's 19-point night, hitting six of his eight shots in 29 minutes, rang hollow. The Bulls could've trotted out a D-League team for the second half to gear up for Saturday's game against Sacramento and been better off than how they performed Friday night.

And for the Bulls, they can't simply just go back to the drawing board. There looks to be something fundamentally wrong with this bunch — either that, or the Atlanta night got the best of them Thursday.