If winning isn’t everything, why do they keep score? -Vince Lombardi
Hello sports fans, Carlos here with the latest Windy City Sports Report. In this edition, the Bulls ride a topsy turvy wave; Bears are still looking for a coach; finally we will have hockey!
The Bulls started out their week playing the Cleveland Cavaliers at the United Center. As has been the case this season, they played down to their competition. They found themselves down by 10 early on, but straightened themselves and pulled away in a 118-92 rout.
Carlos Boozer continued his superb play, leading the Bulls with 24 points and 11 rebounds. Joakim Noah added 11 points and 11 rebounds, and Luol Deng had 19 points and 7 assists.
The Bulls are showing that when Boozer and Noah are rolling they are unstoppable. They are 11-1 when both have double/doubles. Also, the bench, which has been a weakness since the breakup of the Benchmob, came through. Taj Gibson came off the bench to score 18 points and Marco Belinelli scored 15. They helped the team get over its sluggish start to dominate the boards and get the blowout win.
After a day off, the Bulls hosted the Milwaukee Bucks. The last time the two teams met, the Bulls blew a 27-point lead and lost. This time, they did not blow a big lead. They did have a 10 point lead after one quarter, but after that it was pretty much all Milwaukee, and all Brandon Jennings in particular.
Jennings poured in 35 points, 20 of them in the third quarter, and he led the Bucks to a 104-96 win over the Bulls.
Once again, it was Boozer who led the Bulls with 22 points and 11 rebounds. Nate Robinson scored 19, but he could not stop Jennings, and looked out of breath in the end, having had to play 43 minutes because of a Kirk Hinrich injury. At the end of the game, Jennings went over to midcourt and danced around celebrating. I am sure Mr. Derrick Rose took note of that.
On Friday, the Bulls traveled to New York to face the Eastern Conference’s 2nd seed, the Knicks. Another big game for the Bullies, and another great effort put forth in a 108-101 victory. As was the case the last time the Bulls played in New York, they dominated the game, holding a 20+ lead for most of the game, until the Knicks used a huge 4th quarter to make it look respectable.
Deng was magnificent again playing against the Knicks. He has had games of 22 points and 29 points in the previous two games, and on Friday he continued the uptick by scoring 33 points. He was also dominant on the defensive end, covering Carmelo Anthony. Anthony started the game shooting 4-14 (after a 1-11 start) in the first half when the Bulls built their big lead and never looked back.
Noah had 9 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists playing at home in front of his family and friends. He could not contain his smile as he loves beating his hometown team. “I think it was a big game. A lot of people watching and everybody was saying the Knicks were going to get revenge for what happened last time, nah, nah, nah. And we came back, held it down again.” he said.
After a big win on Friday, the Bulls went back home to face a struggling Phoenix Suns. The Suns were looking to win for only the third time this season, and wouldn’t you know it, they got it, a 97-81 victory.
The Bulls continue to play down to their opponents, especially at home. They are now 10-10 at home, with losses to Charlotte, Milwaukee, and Phoenix. This is where not having Rose hurts the team. They have to work hard every game, so they cannot look at any opponent and think the game is a gimme. Rose is the leader who can step up and get the team going when they struggle. They do not have that right now.
Speaking of Rose, there were shots of him working out on the court before the Knicks game. He was seen dunking and joking around with players. He traveled with the team once again, and he even sat at the bench for a while. He was not there in the 4th quarter, many joking that he left because he figured Coach Thibodeau would look to put him in.
Given what the timetable was for his return, it appears as if Rose is still about a month from returning, but nothing is sure since the Bulls are keeping his progress a closely guarded secret. One thing for sure, though, The Return is close and the fans feel it.
After a 2-2 week, the Bulls now have a 20-15 record, and find themselves in second place in the Central Division, 1 ½ games behind the Indiana Pacers. They are also now seeded sixth in the Eastern Conference.
This week the Bulls have four games. They play Monday night at home against the Atlanta Hawks. Then they travel to Toronto to face the Raptors on Wednesday. On Friday they go to Boston to go up against the Celtics and they come back home on Saturday to take on the Memphis Grizzlies.
Over at Halas Hall, the coaching interviews continue. On Sunday, they were to interview Indianapolis Colts’ Offensive Coordinator Bruce Arians. He is the 13th KNOWN candidate to interview, and many think there were a few others conducted without the media’s knowledge.
General Manager Phil Emery said he was going to be thorough in his search and it appears as if he has. He had looked to previous coaches, coordinators, and even a Canadian Football League coach. One of the candidates was Mike Singletary, a Bears’ legend and former coach of the San Francisco 49ers.
That Canadian coach is Marc Trestman. He does have NFL experience, having been a Dallas Cowboys assistant coach under Jimmy Johnson. Johnson tweeted recently that Emery favored him, but it just appears that was just what Johnson wants.
A rumor that has come out with Trestman has an ugly ramification. There is word that Trestman would like to have Tim Tebow and try to work with him. I am sorry, but if there is any chance Tebow comes to Chicago because of Trestman, then I do NOT want to see him manning the sidelines at Soldier Field.
I believe Emery has finished his first round of interviewing and has already started his second round. I do not mind him taking his time in making a decision. This could be the biggest decision in his career in Chicago, one that could make him a legend, or one that could doom him. His is not rushing, he is doing his due diligence. Adam Shefter reported that two candidates told him that they had never interviewed with someone as prepared and detailed as Emery. This is a great sign. We are still awhile away from the draft and free agency so there is still time. I will keep you posted on the search.
Yes, there will be hockey! The owners and players finally agreed on a new CBA and saved the season. Though we will have a partial season, there will not be another canceled season.
The NHL starts the regular season on Saturday, January 19th. The Blackhawks will be on the road that day, facing the Los Angeles Kings. Their home opener will be on the 22nd against the St Louis Blues.
The season will consist of 48 games in 98 days. It will be similar to the 66-game condensed schedule the NBA went through last year. We will see if the injuries start to pile up the way it did for the basketball players.
Well, that is it for this week. Enjoy the start of the NHL and prepare for THE RETURN!