Neil Funk and Stacey King bring you behind-the-scenes insight and commentary on WGN's Chicago Bulls "BullsEye" blog. Also check out video of player interviews, photo galleries, and unique Bulls statistics from STATS, Inc.

March 2010 Archives

Some Thoughts on the West

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We talk about the Bulls and the Eastern Conference race every game, so tonight with the Phoenix Suns in town, I thought this would be a good time to talk about the Western Conference play-off match-ups.

The Los Angeles Lakers looked untouchable at the start of the season, but maybe it was because they had so many home games.   Earlier this month they lost 3 straight to Miami, Charlotte and Orlando and just recently lost two of 3 to Oklahoma City and New Orleans.   Now, there was a 7-game win streak in between those "losing" streaks, but the point is that seeing the defending champs struggle gives some of the other teams a little confidence.   Dallas, Denver, Utah and Phoenix are all teams that I think could make a run at the Lakers.   And don't forget the Spurs, who are in the 8th spot.   Their window may be just about closed, but don't discount the experience and play-off knowledge of the veterans on the Spurs.   There are no back-to-backs in the play-offs and that can give aging legs some rest that they don't get in the regular season.

The Western Conference is loaded.   You could have 6 of the 8 teams...and maybe even all 8 play-off teams...ring up 50 wins before the season is over.

                                                             -Neil Funk

Vinny Tossed, Bulls Win

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As good as it was to see Joakim Noah and Derrick Rose back on the floor on Saturday in Philadelphia for Bulls' fans, it had to be doubly good for Vinny Del Negro and the rest of the Bulls team.    I thought Noah ran the floor freely; his foot did not seem to bother him during the game, but with this injury the worry is how would it feel the next day.    Fortunately, the foot felt good afterwards and we all know that Joakim wants to be out on the floor as soon as, and as much as possible.  The decision on his minutes will be made collectively between Vinny Del Negro, the medical staff and Joakim.   The challenge for Vinny Del Negro will be to reserve the minutes that Joakim can play for the critical parts of the game when the Bulls need rebounding and defense.

As far as Derrick Rose goes, I thought it looked like he had never missed a beat.   There was some discomfort and he got bumped on the wrist a couple of times, but Derrick is a tough kid and his injury is the kind that will improve every day whether he plays or not.

This is the time of the year that players' legs get tired and bodies need rest.   It may turn out fortunate for the Bulls that these injuries occurred at this time of year as it gave two of the Bulls' best players a chance to rest and still get back on the floor with enough games left to make a run at a spot in the play-offs.

                                                                       -Neil Funk

Rose And Noah Return - Stacey King

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With thirteen games remaining in the season the Bulls find themselves on the outside looking in. The fact that two of the most important players are returning to action might  help the Bulls creep back in the playoff picture.
My thought process, following the Philly game, was that Chicago would need to go at least 10-3 to have a shot at the playoffs. The scenario could also change with some of the other teams in the 6-7-8 spots going on losing streaks. The first part of the March schedule was a monster. Not only was the competition tough but they played without three of their starters. Noah will  return with very limited playing time, and Derrick coming back to his starting position it could give the Bulls a little hope in their quest for the playoffs. Be sure to watch the Bulls take on the Houston Rockets tonight on Bulls Net (Channel 26 for our Chicago viewers).


-SK

Game Notes For Monday vs. Rockets

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stats inc.jpg* The Bulls have won their last two games against Houston, Chicago's first multi-game winning streak in the series since January 2003.

* Houston overcame a 17-point deficit on Sunday to win at New York, 116-112. The Rockets scored 45 points in the second quarter, their highest-scoring period since February 1995.

* The Bulls broke their 10-game losing streak with a 98-84 victory at Philadelphia on Saturday. It was the fewest points allowed by Chicago since January 14.

* Kevin Martin has scored between 26 and 30 points in each of his last five games against the Bulls. He's averaged 28.2 points while hitting 55.8 percent of his shots over that span.

* Joakim Noah returned to action on Saturday with seven points and four rebounds in nine minutes on the court. For the season overall, Noah's average of 11.2 rebounds per game is the highest by a Bull since Dennis Rodman in 1997-98 (15.0).

* Brad Miller's 25 points against the Rockets on January 23 represent his season high. He's averaging 13.0 points per game in March, his highest monthly average since last March.

Game Notes For Wednesday @ Dallas

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stats inc.jpg* Dallas defeated the Bulls on March 6 by a score of 122-116. The victory improved the Mavericks' record in the series to 20-3 since March 1998.

* Losers of eight straight games, the Bulls will be looking for their first win since February 26. Chicago has surrendered at least 100 points in 11 consecutive games, its longest such streak since March 1986.

* The Mavericks' 13-game winning streak ended with a thud when Dallas was routed by New York on Saturday, 128-94. The 34-point loss was the Mavericks' largest at home since December 1996.

* Last night Flip Murray and Hakim Warrick each produced their highest-scoring games since joining the Bulls, with 25 and 22 points, respectively.

* Jason Kidd had 15 assists and 11 rebounds against the Bulls on March 6. His career average of 9.7 assists per game versus Chicago is the highest by any active player (minimum 10 games).

* Rookie Rodrigue Beaubois is averaging 17.2 points over six games in March. He had entered the month sporting an average of 4.9 points in his first 36 games of the season.

Game Notes For Tuesday @ Memphis

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stats inc.jpg* Memphis has won each of its last two meetings with Chicago overall and four in a row at home against them. The Grizzlies last home loss to the Bulls was back in December of 2004.

* The Grizzlies saw their three game winning streak come to an end in a 125-108 loss to Denver on Saturday. Memphis has won two of its last three home games after losing its previous eight there.

* The Bulls have dropped a season-high seven consecutive games and will be looking to avoid losing eight in a row for the first time since December 20, 2005-January 4, 2006.

* Derrick Rose missed Friday's contest due to a sprained wrist and is questionable for tonight's game. Rose is averaging 19.3 points in three career games against Memphis.

* Chicago is averaging an Eastern Conference-leading 44.4 rebounds per game this season, however, they have grabbed 37 boards or less in each of its last six contests.

* O.J. Mayo is averaging 23.5 points and shooting 56.3 percent from the field in his last two home games after averaging 13.3 points on 39.5 percent shooting in his previous three there. 

Coach Vinny Deals With Injuries

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Injured Wrist Sidelines Rose

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Game Notes For Tuesday vs. All That

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stats inc.jpg* Utah won the first meeting between these teams this season, 105-86, back on November 26. However, the Jazz have dropped four of their last five trips to Chicago, including two in a row.

* The Jazz have won eight of their last 10 road games and 21 of their last 26 games overall. Utah is averaging 118.7 points in its last three wins.

* Chicago has dropped each of its last four games after winning six of its previous seven contests. The Bulls have made the fewest three-pointers in the NBA this season (245).

* Derrick Rose is averaging 27.6 points and shooting 55.7 percent from the field over his last five games, while scoring at least 33 points on two occasions.

* Deron Williams has recorded 10 assists or more in 11 of his last 12 games.

* Mehmet Okur has scored in double figures in each of his last four games and is averaging 25.5 points over his last two contests.

Johnson Up Close With The Dolphins

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Game Notes For Thursday vs. The Griz

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stats inc.jpg* Memphis and Chicago have split their last eight meetings dating back to the 2005-06 season with the home team winning each contest.

* The Grizzlies will look to win their first back-to-back games since January 25-27. Memphis has gone 5-5 in its last 10 games (LWLWLWLWLW).

* Chicago has won four of its last five home games averaging 113.4 points per game in the process. The Bulls are 10-1 this season when scoring 100+ points at home.

* Taj Gibson is shooting 59.0 percent from the field since the All-Star break, the third highest field-goal percentage in the league (Minimum 75 FGA).

* Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph both recorded double-doubles yesterday, the two players have combined for 17 double-doubles since February 1.

* Derrick Rose has scored 221 points over his last 9 games, the fifth most in the league since February 16.

Noah's Arch

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Joakim Noah's plantar fasciitis in his left foot is something he and Bulls are going to have to contend with for the remainder of the regular season, and probably into the play-offs.

The plan, as recently as last week, was to pinpoint games that the Bulls thought they would match up favorably without Noah, and hold him out of those games and save what minutes he had in him for stronger rebounding teams.    Before tonight's game, Coach Vinny Del Negro did not sound optimistic about Joakim's return, saying that it's a day-to-day condition that could improve, or not improve anytime soon.

That being said, I think the Bulls can still be a running team without Joakim.   Hakim Warrick will be a big part of that.   He's a good rebounder, he runs the floor well and he defends well.  Vinny has done a good job of trying to fill in guys for Noah, but Noah's absence does limit the rotations and Brad Miller's minutes are starting to accumulate.  

It's very unfortunate because Joakim is good guy who put in a lot of work to elevate his game and it has shown on the floor this season.

 

                                                                           -Neil Funk

Down The Stretch - Stacey King

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Today's discussion will be about the Bulls remainder of the season. Chicago had a great month of February with an 8-6 record. They did what they were supposed to do, beat the teams that they should have and put themselves in a position to move up in the standings. At the beginning of February they were a team just fighting to make it into the 8th playoff spot and as of today they have a chance to move into the 5th spot. If they get on a roll, like they did last month, there is an outside chance of making it to the 4th spot. The month of March offers the Bulls some major challenges. They are playing against a bunch of playoff teams, Dallas twice, a young Memphis team, Boston and the Hawks tonight. The advantage that the Bulls have is that they play 9 home games in the month. That will be huge because it feels like we have been on the road for two straight months! Another key factor will be the health of the core of the team. Joakim Noah's foot is a concern. Derrick Rose banged his knee on Saturday in Indianapolis. Luol Deng is also battling a knee injury but has been gutting it out playing with pain. The Bulls must keep everybody healthy for the push in the last two months of the season.

Watch the Bulls tonight on WGN America at 7pm ct. Thanks for reading and keep the comments coming!

- SK

Game Notes For Monday vs. Hawks

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stats inc.jpg* The Hawks have won six of their last seven games against the Bulls, including two of the three meetings between the teams this season.

* The Bulls have outscored their opponents 118.8 to 99.0 during their current four-game home winning streak. Chicago has split its last four games overall.

* Atlanta has won three of its last four games, with each of its last two contests being decided in overtime.

* Josh Smith has recorded a double-double in each of his last three games, averaging 22.3 points and 12.0 rebounds in that span. Smith had 18 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists in his last game against the Bulls on February 5.

* Derrick Rose is averaging 30.0 points and shooting 61.5 percent from the field over his last two games. Rose has scored over 25 points in two of his three career home games against the Hawks, including 32 points in his last home contest against them.

* Chicago has made the fewest three-pointers in the NBA this season (233) and is just 4-for-19 from three-point range over its last two games.