Friday, December 30, 2011

Bulls Outrun the Kings, 108-98

By Sean Mackey

After the lackluster performance Monday night against the Golden State Warriors, the Chicago Bulls revved it up to 11 for a win against the Sacramento Kings, 108-98. Carlos Boozer lead the way for Chicago with 16 points and 15 rebounds. Derrick Rose wasn't a slouch either, scoring 19 points and dishing out 8 assists. However, the real hero of the game was CJ Watson who came up big when Rose was in foul trouble. Watson tallied 8 points, 9 assists and 5 rebounds. Demarcus Cousins lead the way for the Kings with an impressive 15 points and 12 rebounds. Rookie Jimmer Freddette chipped in 14 points. Marcus Thornton had 20 points and 5 boards. The Bulls improved their record to 2-1.

This was a refreshing win for Chicago. After the miraculous Christmas victory over the L.A. Lakers, the Bulls struggled against Golden State on Monday night. It was one of those losses that just took the wind out of your sails. Rose was too focused on getting his teammates involved, shots weren't falling and the Warriors backcourt of Monte Ellis and Stephen Curry totally ran over Chicago.

Last night's game against Sacramento was a game the Bulls needed to win to get back into their groove. On paper the Kings look great, they have Tyreke Evans, Demarcus Cousins, Marcus Thornton and rookie PG Jimmer Freddette. If the Kings choose to keep their young studs, they might have a decent playoff team in a few years. However, the Kings couldn't catch up with the Bulls who ran almost the entire game and played some fantastic defense in stretches when they weren't fouling. Unfortunately, I doubt the Bulls will be able to repeat the running they did last night for the remaining 63 games. I was pretty surprised to see how well Rip Hamilton was running the floor last night. He had an ideal game for his role on the team with 16 points and 4 rebounds. Rose was back into his MVP mode, just slicing and maneuvering around whatever the defense threw at him. I think Rose knows that he's going to have to continue to shoulder the load on this team and it's not going to be as easy as last season was.

The Bulls kind of snuck up on everyone as a sleeper in the east and ended up with the leagues best record. Every team now knows that Chicago means business but they still have many holes in their game. It's easy to say that the lock down defense and Derrick Rose were enough last year but one forgotten factor is missing and that's the outstanding play of Kurt Thomas. Thomas was the enforcer on the Bulls last year and was able to step into either the PF or C position at any time and played solidly the entire season. Osik and Taj both foul way too much and are still pretty soft. Hopefully the Bulls front court will start playing a little smarter or maybe they could find a free agent who could slide in and take the Kurt Thomas role.

The Bulls play again tonight against the Los Angeles (Lob City) Clippers to a national television audience at 10:30 p.m. on NBATV. The Bulls need to replicate their performance last night in tonight's game against this fast paced Clipper offense.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Bulls Sign Richard Hamilton

By Sean Mackey

The Chicago Bulls officially signed former Detroit Piston's all-star, Richard Hamilton Wednesday afternoon. The 33 year old shooting guard signed a 2 year, $10 million contract with a 3rd year team option. This signing puts the Bulls roster at 14.

While this signing was a no brainer, I can't help but feel like the Bulls may have missed out on possibly a younger back court running mate for Derrick Rose. Unfortunately, J.R. Smith is stuck playing in China and Arron Affalo and Nick Young were both restricted free agents so Rip was the only real option besides Jamal Crawford and Jason Richardson.

The good thing about this signing is that Rip brings a ridiculous amount of veteran championship experience to the Bulls. On paper it looks like the right fit, however Rip is 33 years old and coming off his worst NBA season since his rookie year. Does Rip still have something in the tank to guard the likes of Dwayne Wade in the playoffs? Who knows. I sort of look at this signing as a temporary fix to the Bulls shooting guard problems. I have strong doubts that the Bulls will keep Rip the entire 3 years if they haven't made it to the NBA Finals by 2013.

I've always felt that J.R. Smith would be the perfect backcourt partner for Rose and it's definitely a possibility in the near future. I also think they should may a strong push to sign someone like Eric Gordon after Carlos Boozer is off the books. However, for some reason stars don't seem to really want to come to Chicago. I don't know if they're bitter about the 6 championships in the 90's or that Derrick Rose doesn't wanna be buddy-buddy with any of them. Regardless, the Bulls championship dreams should look brighter with Rip coming on as an obvious upgrade over Keith Bogans.

The Bulls 2 game preseason starts tonight against the Indiana Pacers. The Bulls will also play Indiana on Tuesday (12/20). The Pacers have added some decent players this offseason including David West and George Hill. Their playoff shooting guard, rookie, Paul George also grew 2 inches in the offeseason putting him at 6'10. I imagine Frank Vogel will likely start running him at the 3 this season with George Hill as the starting SG. The Pacers are going to be incredably deep this year and will contend for the Central Division title with the Bulls. After a heated first round exit, I'm sure Indiana is going to come out strong against Chicago tonight. Should be an interesting/sloppy game. Tipoff is 7:00 p.m. and the game will be televised on WGN Chicago. NBA basketball is finally back. Go Bulls!