Game Notes: Spurs at Bulls
Never underestimate the underdogs.
by Bryan Crawford and Quinn Peterson
Well, Jay-Z performed at the World Series last night, but me and B had other things to do. Cover this Bulls game. But don’t trip we still got a dose of Hov for you. So with no further ado, take it away B. “What We Talkin’ Bout”?
“Thank you” Q…
The vibe in the United Center on opening night was markedly different from the preseason. When you walked in, you could just feel that it was ‘on.’ The media presence was heavy. TNT was in the building and that meant Cheryl Miller, Doug Collins and Kevin Harlan were all roaming around the Madhouse on Madison.
The vibe in the Bulls locker room before the game was also different. It didn’t have the drab, low energy feel of the preseason to it. Guys were focused and they looked ready to go. It was about to go down, and you could see it on everyone’s face.
As the Bulls came out of the locker room to huddle up before hitting the floor, I heard Luol Deng saying some sort of Sudanese chant that I’m assuming is said before a battle. Tyrus Thomas was rapping, and Joakim Noah was saying something in French. As the Bulls broke the huddle, Joakim screamed, “The popcorn is popping!”, and the ’09-10 Chicago Bulls season was officially a go.
Yo B, I thought you said it was gonna be a blowout, especially after how the Spurs disrespected New Orleans in Wednesday’s opener…
That’s what I thought Q, but the Bulls looked “So Ambitious,” and the Spurs were dreaming of being “Young Forever.”
It was really a tale of two halves. It was good, solid, competitive NBA basketball in the first half. But in the second half….the Spurs looked like a 30 and over Men’s League team. And the Bulls, they continued to play good, solid basketball, even turning it up a notch. It was the Spurs second game of a back-to-back so fatigue could have been a factor, but they wouldn’t use that as an excuse. Meanwhile it was the Bulls season and home-opener and you could tell. Legs fresher than J’s straight out the box.
The first quarter was “Politics As Usual.” Typical methodical Spurs basketball with Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili combining. The man for the Bulls in the first quarter was Deng, who got his first regular season game action last March when he went down with a leg injury. He seemed to be fully recovered as he was very active on the block, posting aggressively and snatching boards, and stroked some jumpers from the outside as well. He would finish leading the Bulls with 17 to go along with 9 boards.
Deng looked good Q, but “Guess Who’s Bizzack”?
The prince of the Chi. D. Rose fam…
Rose, in his first game back after sitting out virtually the entire preseason, he had a solid game despite having a bad wheel. Wearing a bulky brace on his injured right ankle, he moved and made hard cuts with no ill effects and he made some pretty explosive and acrobatic plays. He also got where he wanted to go on the floor with ease. He also played good defense on Tony Parker and from a production standpoint, outplayed him as well.
To be honest, B, I though, he looked timid in the first quarter. He wasn’t making guys miss like Adrian Peterson and taking it to the cup with like it’s nothing.
True dat…He was back on his square in the second quarter, though Q. He finally woke up, scoring 9 points, knocking down a couple jumpers and making things happen. He was even moving without the ball and coming off screens which was nice to see.
“My ankle is feeling fine. It takes a little bit it to warm up, but I wasn’t worried about it. I got a little fatigued at the end, but I expected that to happen”, said Rose.
You may be right about D. Rose being an All-Star this year, B. He had an outstanding floor game, finishing with 13 points on 5-12. Seven assists and 7 boards. And just 1 turnover. And he’s not even all the way back yet, huh?
Nope. Don’t say I didn’t warn ya…
“He still doesn’t have that pop off the ankle… But I was pleased with his movement. I think he’s still a little rusty out there just by not playing and being in the conditioning that he was before he got injured. So it’s going to take a little time,” said Bulls Head Coach Vinny Del Negro.
Things were dead even after the first half as the Bulls led 46-44. The Bulls had a nice little run, but Pop took a timeout and the Spurs rang off an 8 straight. They had the momentum and it looked like they might getting ready to make their move going into the second half, but a Kirk Hinrich trey-piece as the clock ran out thwarted those plans.
Yeah the Spurs are so even keel, though. They always keep their cool, that’s what makes them so good. They’ll probably come out in the second half and get to work.
I was thinking that, too B, but they went 3 Stacks on us…
What you mean?
Man they got cooler than cool…
Yeah, what’s that?
Pop joked about Chicago italian sausages after the game, but from the way Spurs they came out in the 3rd, it looked like that have been their halftime snack.
The Big Three were as solid as can be in the first half for San Antonio, combing for 30 points. About three-quarters of S.A.’s points, right where it should be. But Manu and TP stunk it up from the 3rd on. They scored 2 points in the entire second half and shot 0-8. And the rest of the Spurs were no better.
What about Timmy D? What did he do?
Oh, he was still on Hov mode?
He had “99 Problems”, too?
Not at all, B. He talked Joakim Noah and said I’ma “Show You How.” Dude put on a clinic on the offensive end. In the first two quarters it was great footwork en route to easy finishes around the basket. In the third he was facing, banking shots shots like TCF. Clockwork.
Unfortunately for the Spurs, one guy can’t beat five, unless it’s LeBron. (And even that hasn’t been working lately.)
“They had more guys come to compete than we did. We had one guy come to compete and that’s not good enough,” Popovich said.
“He [Duncan] did a great job. We couldn’t help him out and that’s why we lost. In the NBA one guy can’t beat anybody,” Ginobili added.
The Big Fundamental put in work, B. 28 points, 16 boards. Chuuch.
As bad as San Anton’ was though, give it up for the Bulls. They did their thing. “Can’t Knock The Hustle”…
No doubt, B. You right…
Case in point, at the end of the first half, the Bulls out rebounded the Spurs on the offensive glass 10 to 1 which led to 19 second chance points to the Spurs’ 0.
Tyrus was a major spark plug. After a nonexistent first half, he came out on charge, with 10 points, 3 boards, and 3 blocks. From then on, the Bulls straight up just out-hustled the Spurs.
The Bulls looked good on offense and even better on the defensive side of the ball as their rotations were crisp and they did a fairly good job on the Spurs’ pick-and-roll. The effort and the energy was certainly there and made all the difference in the game.
“They played great, they really did. They got a lot of young bodies, very energetic”, said Duncan. “They’re young, athletic, they’re very long, and obviously as you saw tonight they’re very good on the glass. We played right into their hands.
Popovich “They kicked our ass, they were more aggressive. Loose balls, boards, the whole deal,” said Popovich. “We didn’t shoot the ball well, and that contributes to the loss, but I don’t really care about that because that can happen. Your hustle, your defense, your boards, you attention to detail is what sustains you on the road, and we didn’t have any of that as a group”, he continued.
Funny they said that, Q, ’cause Luol was thinking the exact same thing…
“I thought we played harder than them,” he added, “I’m not taking anything away from them, they’re a great team, but I thought we won the game because we had more energy.”
It was a good win for the Bulls who defeated the Spurs for only the fourth time since Michael Jordan retired bringing their record to 4-19. All five Bulls starters scored in double figures and they also get 14 points off the bench from Kirk Hinrich who is my darkhorse favorite for 6th Man of the Year (sorry Manu).
Interesting pick B…I like that.
I’m telling you, the white boy …
But as great as the win was, there’s 80 more to go. So while the Spurs look to get “Off That,” the Bulls are looking to get “On To The Next One.”
“It feels good to win, but as soon as you get out of the locker room you have to forget about it and move on,” said Noah. “I don’t think Boston really cares about if we won or lost this game. They’re going to come in tomorrow hungry and ready play. But we’ll be ready to play too and ready to compete. It’s exciting.”
Derrick Rose echoed that same sentiment as well. “The Spurs are one of the best teams in the league. So is Boston. But we’ll be ready.”
We’ll see. For the Spurs, they’ll take Kenny Smith’s advice. “Just go in the shower and was that one off”.