Here we go again. MVP! MVP! MVP! Those were the chants throughout the United Center directed at the “Heart and Soul” of the Bulls according to Sacramento Kings center, DeMarcus Cousins. When was the last time that man had a nice thing to say about anyone? I’ll wait. The Chicago Bulls are 3-2 on their home stand after defeating the Sacramento Kings 94-87 Saturday night. The win avenged one of their worst losses of the season back in February when the teams met in Sacramento. I cannot lie, after getting lambasted 99-70 last month I really thought this team was done. They shot 28 percent from the field, the 70 points were a season low and top it all off Jimmer Fredette came off the bench in the 4th quarter for the Kings and lit the Bulls up going 5-5 from the field. Maybe that’s why the Bulls signed him. The Bulls didn’t shoot as bad, but it still wasn’t good, only shooting 40% from the field from the game. The Kings shot only 37% so I guess we all know this was an ugly game to watch. Joakim Noah however provided some fireworks.
Joakim Noah has stated that he does not like the MVP chants from the crowd. He wants the focus to be on the team. I love this dude. So called leaders on bad teams should take notes from this guy. Well if he keeps this level of play up, he going to have to learn to live with it. Joakim Noah went off last night scoring 23 points, grabbing 11 rebounds, dishing out eight assists, blocking five shots (impressed yet? I’m not done) and three steals in 33 minutes. Combine all of that with the normal anchoring of the defense that held yet another opponent under 90 points, I have this to say…MVP! MVP! MVP!
Joakim welcomed back an old friend that had been missing for the last couple of games. Taj Gibson was back to his old lane wrecking self scoring 19 points including seven huge points down the stretch. he did his thing too, grabbing nine rebounds and blocking three shots. Taj was very aggressive last night crashing the boards and making great defensive rotations. I think Taj was a little tired the last couple games and it showed. No shame in that, this is a long season. However it is very nice to see Gibson back to his old self again. After yelling “Cut me Mick!!” Mike Dunleavy scored 16 points despite having a swollen eye that was noticeably black and blue. DJ Augustin finished with 12 points rounding out a very strong bench performance.
This was a win that the Bulls needed but it wasn’t a game without concerns. Isaiah Thomas gave Kirk Hinrich and DJ Augustin fits on the defensive end scoring 26 points and getting BOTH players in foul trouble. Hinrich had four fouls and Augustin five. This is an issue that must be cleaned up. The playoff contenders all have very quick guards that is the Bulls’ Achilles heel on defense. Oh by the way, I heard Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder has a little bit of quickness as well. Something to watch for on Monday. Another issue that needs to be cleaned up is the Bulls’ ability to put together 48 minutes of consistent basketball. The Bulls had the Kings were on the ropes in the third quarter only to let them back in the game with turnovers and missed lay-ups. Mike Dunleavy blew a lay-up following a beautiful lead pass in the half court by Noah and Jimmy Butler blew a lay-up after collecting a steal. Not to be outdone DJ Augustin blew a lay-up in the lane as well. In total the Bulls only scored 16 points in the third quarter. Chicago’s only saving grace was the Kings’ 16 turnovers which opened up the Bulls fast break to the tune of 20 points. The Kings also stunk at the line hitting 23-37 free throws. The Bulls have to have the same fire and determination with teams not named the Miami Heat.
Jimmy Butler caught whatever Taj Gibson had for the last two games. He was terrible going 1-11 from the field including 0-4 on three pointers. Jimmy Butler is about taking the ball aggressively to the basket. He now looks like he has lost confidence in his jump shot at least on this night. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…Jimmy stop shooting threes! When your jumper is not falling take your problems inside. He may be hitting the wall. He’d better get some rest, Kevin Durant might be the guy Butler will be chasing on Monday.
Ah the Carlos Boozer report. He scored nine points on 4-10 shooting, grabbed five rebounds and four assists and he STILL didn’t play in the 4th quarter. Rumors are starting float around like the singing group “The Floaters” that he’s becoming a distraction. I’m not going to get into all that because I had my say earlier this week. Get on the Pippen Aint Easy to read all that. But I will say this, Carlos if you are being a distraction, I’d stop it with the quickness because these numbers don’t warrant the belly aching.
I have one thing to say about DeMarcus Cousins. This guy is a mercurial talent. He scored 25 points and grabbed 14 rebounds and the whole night he looked like he had lost a bet and had to play. Everyone needs to know that this is a shame. If he had really been engaged he would have destroyed the Bulls frontline. He could have easily gone for 40 points and 20 boards. He’s that talented. If you are a real basketball fan, join me in hoping that he can turn this anger thing around. It cost him an All-Star bid and if he doesn’t get his attitude adjusted it’s going to cost him more than that. How bad could this get. He could go down in history being compared to Derrick Coleman. Remember him? A guy out of Syracuse who bled talent who just didn’t combine professionalism with his great gifts.
The Bulls are off Sunday. The Thunder come to town on Monday. The game will be on national television for St. Patrick’s Day.