The Bulls have now won three of five games since Scott Skiles was fired on Christmas Eve
. Of course, it's worth noting that those wins came against the Bucks (12-19), Knicks (8-22), and Bobcats (11-19). At first, I thought John Paxson fired Skiles when he did because Chicago is a miserly organization and they probably didn't want to pay Skiles his Christmas bonus. But the reality is that the Bulls were about to hit a soft spot in their schedule. In addition to the previously mentioned powder puffs, the Bulls upcoming slate includes such heavyweights as the Kings (12-18), Knicks (again), and Sixers (14-18). Not to be cynical, but the best way to make it look like you were right to fire your coach is if your team starts winning, and the best way to make sure that happens is when they have a handful of "gimmie" games on the calendar. I guess what I'm saying is that I'm not a believer just yet. But if the Bulls manage to beat Portland (tonight) and Atlanta (January 13), I'll concede that they've improved somewhat.Scottie Pippen:
Last year he wanted to come back and play in the NBA, even going so far as to say
, "The fans who understand the game, the GMs and coaches, I think they'd rather have a Scottie than a Michael [Jordan]. Because I'm an all-around player. Coaches would rather have a Scottie-type player than a Michael. I was an all-around player. I made people around me better." Surprisingly enough, nobody -- and I mean nobody --
was interested in his services. Now he wants to coach the Bulls
. "What's my disadvantage? No NBA coaching experience? [Scott] Skiles' record with the Bulls wasn't that great. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to do what you've done your whole life. I've played basketball, run teams and won. They didn't put me at point guard because I could dribble good. They put me there because I could run a team. I wasn't the best dribbler, the best shooter. I wasn't a point guard. But I knew how to run a team." Actually, I seem to remember guys like John Paxson, B.J. Armstrong, Ron Harper, and even Steve Kerr playing point for the Bulls back then, but whatever. Pippen continued: "With a guy [Jordan] who loved to touch it and shoot all the time, I was able to keep him under control. That didn't come from the bench, it came from making the right decisions. You try to make the game fun for everyone and then we were able to find Mike. The games I felt he was getting off too much, I'd find a way to get other guys off. And then guys weren't running at him all the time and he could take off in the right place." Uh, yeah. I don't really want to hear about Pip getting other players off. Beyond that, his assertion that it was he, and not Phil Jackson or Jordan himself, that reigned Jordan in is patently ridiculous. As is most of everything else Pippen is saying these days. Particularly when you consider that, right after announcing he wanted to coach the Bulls, he started ripping into the players
. On Tyrus Thomas: "He doesn't know how to play the game. He's great from the neck down." On Ben Wallace: "You don't pay a rebounder $15 million. OK, they did. He doesn't know the game like Dennis Rodman did." On Kirk Hinrich: "He's not that talented...you can't have midgets running your backcourt." On Luol Deng: "he's trying to show 28, 29 teams what he's about instead of going out and playing." On Andres Nocioni: "He's turning into Rasheed Wallace with the kinds of things he does on floor." I don't care about his six championships or his place in the 50 Greatest NBA Players. He's an idiot if he thinks talk like that is going to land him a head coaching job anywhere in the NBA, let alone for the Bulls. Does he really think the players would listen to him after he blasted them in the press like that? Ben Gordon already isn't listening
. "I don't really care what Scottie has to say. Everybody's entitled to their own opinion, but it doesn't have anything to do with anything." For now, Pippen is off to Sweden and Finland to play some exhibition games for club teams. Let's hope he stays over there.Orlando Magic:
A one-point loss to the Nets (15-16) is bad enough, but the way it happend is even worse. The Magic got outscored 30-18 in the fourth quarter. One game after coach Stan Van Gundy said, "I've got to find some different ways to get [Dwight Howard] the ball; We're not getting it to him enough right now," Howard scored 13 points on only 11 shots. Of course, it didn't help that Howard missed seven of his 10 freethrows. But worse than Howard's offense was his defense. As Ben Q Rock from Third Quarter Collapse
put it: "Dwight Howard let Jason Collins score 10 points. 10! That's a week's worth of points for Collins, right? I can't remember every bucket Collins hit, but I do remember they all occurred in almost the same way: A Net would drive the lane, Dwight Howard would come over to try to block the shot into the 15th row, and Collins would be wide-open under the basket to get the missed shot and putback. On one play, Howard fell asleep so badly that he had no choice but to goaltend Collins' layup by pinning it against the glass. Goaltending Jason Collins!" You might be tempted to think that Ben is overreacting here, but I assure you, he's not. Collins scored 10 points last night on 5-of-5 shooting. To put that into its proper perspective, Collins is averaging 1.4 PPG and has gone scoreless in 18 of the 29 games he's played this season. Last night was Collins' first double-digit scoring game of the season. In fact, it was his first double-digit scoring game since December 26, 2006
. Prior to that, he hadn't scored in double figures since November 29, 2005
. Howard letting Collins drop a 10-spot on him is like letting the fat guy in jean shorts and sandals hit the game-winner over you in a pickup game. Embarrassing and inexcusable. Morever, a shambling mummy wearing Darrell Armstrong's jersey rose out of a casket behind the Net's bench to score 13 points on 6-of-7 shooting. If that was indeed Armstrong, who's averaging 2.3 points in the 19 games he's played this season, it was his highest scoring output since April 15, 2007
.New Jersey Nets:
The Nets won, yes, but it was thanks largely to the hot (and entirely unexpected) shooting of Collins, Armstrong, Bostjan Nachbar (5-10), and Malik Allen (6-10). The Nets' starters, on the other hand, combined to shoot 14-of-45 from the field. If they have to depend on 20 points a night and near-perfect shooting from a Collins/Armstrong combination, they're in trouble.Indiana Pacers:
The Memphis Grizzlies (9-22) have the fourth-worst record in the league and had lost five games in a row and 12 of their last 14. They felt a little bit better, though, after waltzing into Indianapolis and beating the Pacers by 18. How badly did the Pacers play? Well, they shot a season-low 31 percent from the field, and it was their lowest field-goal shooting at Conseco Fieldhouse since it opened in 1999. They scored nine points in the fourth quarter, which fewest points the Pacers have scored in a fourth quarter since joining the NBA in 1976. That's badness on a grand and historic scale right there. Said Indiana coach Jim O'Brien
: "Every loss is disturbing and painful." Well, yeah Jim, but this one was more disturbing than most.Andre Brown:
The Memphis forward and former D-League Player of the Week for the Sioux Falls Skyforce notched a one trillion
last night.Zaza Pachulia:
He played 4 minutes and 23 seconds in the Hawks 98-94 loss
to the Cavaliers. He didn't score a point, but he did manage to squeeze off five shots in those four minutes, going 0-for-5. Can you say "gunner"?Miami Heat:
They lost at home again, dropping their home record to 4-11 and their overall record to 8-24, worst in the East and a full seven games out of a playoff spot. The Heat are still playing without Jason Williams (sore left knee) and Shaq (old and decrepit), and Wade hurt his right pinky finger and right shoulder last night. I don't even know what to say about this team anymore. They're just depressing to follow, and even more depressing to watch. Making fun of them is like making fun of a retarded kid with a peg leg.Yao Ming:
Okay. I'm officially worried about this guy again. He was "okay" against the Celtics (19 points and 13 rebounds) and he even fouled out two Boston Centers (Kendrick Perkins and Scot Pollard). But he shot 7-of-20, committed 4 turnovers (to only 2 assists) and failed, once again, to take control of the game when his team needed him to. And that's the basic problem with Yao as a player: He gives you franchise numbers without being a franchise-type player. He can't lead and he doesn't inspire. Maybe there's a language barrier or cultural differences, but then again, maybe he's just not capable of being The Man. Tracy McGrady, who missed his fourth straight game due to a sore left knee, is much more of The Man than Yao is...but McGrady obviously has his own crunch time problems. As Confucius said: "Any team built on shaky foundation will suck."New York Knicks:
Yesterday, Isiah Thomas had this to say about his godawful team
: "I believe that one day we will win a championship here. And as I sit here and I say it today, I know people will laugh even more at me, but I'm hell bent on getting this accomplished and making sure that we get it done. And I'm not leaving until we get it done." Emboldened by their coaches strong words, the Knicks promptly went out and got blown out at home by the Sacramento Kings (13-18), who were without Kevin Martin, Ron Artest, and Mike Bibby. After the game, Thomas altered his stance ever so slightly
: "I don't necessarily just want to win a championship. I want to leave something that's going to stand for a long time. I want to leave a legacy, I want to leave tradition. I want to leave an imprint, a blueprint in terms of how people play, and how they coach and how they respond when they put on the Knick uniform. And I want to leave what I left in Detroit. Every person that walks through that door as a Piston, when they put on that uniform, there's a certain pride that they carry. And I want to put that here and I want to leave that here in New York. I want to leave a championship legacy." Seriously, who is he kidding?Marco Jaric:
The Timberwolves are so bad, and they have so many crappy players, that trying to pick the crappiest player on the team is like trying to figure out which Porta-Potty
has the worst pee and crap smell combo. On this night at least, I'm going with Jaric. He played 16 minutes and contributed zero points, zero rebounds, 1 assist, 1 turnover, and a +/- score of -13. A real bargain of a player for $6 million a year.Golden State Warriors:
They let a game that was really exciting through three quarters totally go to hell in the fourth, during which they were outscored 32-14. Their shooting was off all night (41 percent) and their defense was even worse (they let the Mavs shoot almost 54 percent). They also got pounded on the boards 50-35. There are various ways you could describe this loss, but "totally outplayed" just about covers it.Dallas Mavericks:
Yes, they blew out the team that upset them in the playoffs last season, but they typically put too much weight on a single regular season game. I mean, Dirk Nowitzki played really well -- 29 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists -- but he was the MVP last season, right? Shouldn't that kind of game be, well, expected
? Instead, the Mavs were treating it like Dirk just got let out of the psycho ward. Said Jerry Stackhouse: "He exorcised some of his demons. It's something that needed to be done." Maybe Stackhouse is right and Dirk got his mojo back by playing well against a team he's struggled against the last couple years. But just the fact that the Warriors had drilled themselves so far into Nowitzki's psyche is a perfect example of Dirk's general failing as an elite player. He's just doesn't have the mental toughness of an all-time great.Gordan Giricek:
Finally freed of the tyranny of Jerry Sloan, Giricek got the chance for a little payback against the team that let him go last night. Instead, he just showed why the Jazz let him go: 4 points (1-of-3), 1 rebound, 1 turnover in 12 minutes of "action." Meanwhile, his replacement, Kyle Korver, scored 14 points (3-of-4) in 11 minutes and hit five straight freethrows in the final 27 seconds to secure the win. Good trade. For the Jazz.Chris Kaman:
He's giving the Clippers everything he has and he's having a great season (18 PPG, 14 RPG). But a 1-for-10 shooting night will still get you a mention on Worst of the Night, especially when you're probably a lock to make the All-Star team.
Labels: Chicago Bulls, Chris Kaman, Indiana Pacers, Miami Heat, New Jersey Nets, New York Knicks, Orlando Magic, Scottie Pippen, Yao Ming
Pfft....did you even watch the game?!?! The mavericks were kicking thier asses throughout. How was that exciting?!?! The GSW got outplayed last night end of story. Do I think Dallas/Dirk would be able to beat them if they have to face off again in the playoffs? No.......but at least give Dirk some credit okay?!?!??!?!?!?!? At least he didn't make me cry inside for him last night!
Scottie may be borderline insane, but he's dead on about Ben Wallace. The contract he got was easily the stupidest thing I've seen since Keith Van Horn.
And to answer all those questions, we'll see what happens Friday when Lamar serves his suspension and the Lakers take on the Sixers at Staples.
Anyway, the guy's waiting was excellent (and the food was quite good), so we made sure to leave a generous tip.