|Sun Sports HD|
|The Closer||PG||Chris Duhon|
|Sweet Lew||PF||Joe Smith|
|Big Baby Jesus||C||Ben Wallace|
The last time these two teams met was December 31st. Hedo Turkoglu's tough jumper won the game for us with just 0.7 seconds left in overtime. We overcame 39 points from Ben Gordon and held Luol Deng to 21 points on 7-of-18 shooting. It was an exciting game, and probably our best effort in recent memory.
Also notable about that game: Carlos Arroyo started, and played very well (14 points on 7-of-7 shooting in 21 minutes). Since then, his play has tailed off, and Jameer Nelson has reclaimed his starting role. Nelson provided a big spark off the bench in that first meeting, so it'll be interesting to see if he plays well against the same lineup under different circumstances.
All is not well with the Bulls. They're dead-last in the Central Division despite being preseason favorites to win the Eastern Conference, or at least contend for its crown. The most recent big news out of the Windy City is that Joakim Noah was suspended by his teammates for an outburst directed at Ron Adams, a Chicago assistant coach, in practice. The organization suspended Noah for one game, but his teammates decided that it wasn't enough. The two players who called him out were Adrian Griffin and Ben Wallace. Matt from BlogABull wasn't too thrilled with that development:
It was all scripted so well. The veterans band together and single out a young insubordinate for further punishment. Everybody on the same page, showing leadership, salvaging the season. Sit back and wait for glowing remarks on your behalf.
But see, if you're going to play this "galvanizing the team" game, it shouldn't be initiated by Griffin and Wallace: someone who doesn't play, and someone who can no longer play (and is known for clashing with coaches himself!). And then have it endorsed by a lame-duck coach.
No one knows for sure what exactly Noah said that so upset the coaching staff and his teammates, but the Blowtorch has an idea of what might have transpired.
So the Bulls have some chemistry issues, while we have some
suck defensive issues. We allowed each opponent on our Western road trip to score 100 points, and in the two games before that -- both home losses -- we surrendered 96 points each time. The poor defense has to stop. Earlier this season, we were in the top-5 in defensive efficiency. Now, we're 10th. Okay, being in the top third of the league in defense isn't awful, but the point is that we're underachieving, and Stan Van Gundy needs to get our guys more motivated defensively. I think Dwight in particular needs to step it up. He's turned into a pretty good shot-blocker, but opponents still aren't shy about shooting even with him in the lane.
Tipoff tonight is at 7, and the game is in HD, so you can see every lock of Joakim Noah's nappy hair.