Friday , Nov , 16 , 2007 C.Y. Ellis

What Is Wrong with Da Bulls?

Are they irreparably soft?  Do they just need a little more experience?  Are they just trying to add drama? 

One of the funniest things I’ve ever seen was the SNL skit with the Chicago fans (Norm Peterson, Chris Farley and those guys) when Michael Jordan joins the guys.  This was after he beat the Lakers for his first ring.  Norm (I think) asks, “At what point during Game 1 did you decide to throw the game for the added drama?” 

Skiles was the Suns coach for a while, and earlier this week fan-favorite Dan Majerle said he did not “get along” with Skiles because he had poor communication with his players.  Thunder Dan said that some nights, Skiles would give him 25 minutes and on other nights, for no apparent reason, he’d be nailed to the bench.  I do not know if Skiles has changed that aspect of his coaching, but it seems symbolic of his stand-offish attitude on the bench (although he did “relent” and let Wallace wear that headband).   

  He also slapped down Sideshow Noah for piping up. 

I had mentioned in an earlier post my amazement that Wallace was trying to be a go-to post player in the Detroit game.  The numbers just do not justify that contract anymore, and his benching during clutch time is likely to make him pout even more.  Joe Dumars is looking smarter every day. 

The Bulls have enough young, talented athletic players to swarm over opposing teams like the Red Chinese pushing the US Army back to the 38th Parallel, but they still do not have that “go-to” guy (in the paint or on the perimeter) and Wallace certainly is not the answer.  Wallace was just as atrocious on offense tonight as he has ever been.  He has the worst looking jump hook I think I’ve ever seen.  The Bulls’ “points in the paint” stat was deceivingly high due to the Suns’ awful work on their defensive glass. 

Skiles seems to be fiddling with his line-up.  While it’s one thing to test out rotations and schemes early in the season, it’s quite another to be making changes based on the way the team is playing saying that, “Everything is in play now.”  Is he overreacting?  Maybe not, but why did he put Thomas Gardner out as a sacrificial lamb to be devoured by Leandrihno?   

At base, it seems Paxson and Skiles do not have the same vision.  Skiles says his team is soft while Paxson says he’s got a core of young players that are the next championship squad for Da Bulls.  I am not sure who is right, but Skiles is definitely misguided.  Between games, he is “punishing” his teams with three-hour practices and making wholesale line-up changes. 

Maybe my “Red Chinese” analogy is apt: They’ve got a lot of young, enthusiastic talent but can’t quite get it done.  We are not going to get the opportunity, though, to see if Skiles can pull off his march through the NBA’s Frozen Chosin. 

Coming into the game, the biggest question was which team has the most overpaid bench players?  Is it the Suns with Diaw at $9 million a years or the Bulls with Nocioni at $8.5 million a year?  I was going to throw in Tracy Morgan, playing the role of Marcus Clanks, as the tie-breaker with his $5 million a year to find in favor of Phoenix, but Skiles moved Nocioni into the starting lineup and rendered my burning question moot. 

Nocioni kind of reminds me of a skinnier “The Dude.”   

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If you don’t think so, imagine the Argentine with a few more years on the beach. 

The Suns, as they are prone to do, got out to an early lead and then decided to give the fans their money’s worth by letting the Bulls back into the game.  Sometimes they do that for drama – like Jordan did in Game 1 against the Lakers. 

Ben Gordon kept up his blistering pace against the Suns.  Entering this game, he was averaging 34 points a game against the Suns.  Tonight, he ended up with 24 points, but he, like the rest of his team, faded at the end. 

When push came to shove, a few missed shots and a few turnovers resulted in points on the other end for the Suns.  Importantly, most of the damage was done with Stoudemire on the bench after picking up his fifth foul.  I still don’t understand how the refs are calling the fouls with the alleged rebirth of the “rule of verticality” but his first four were dumb fouls anyway, so it kind of doesn’t matter. 

The Bulls took 11 more shots and pulled down 15 offensive rebounds but I’d be willing to bet most of those came before the last six minutes of the game.  In fact, they had 20 more shots than the Suns by halftime, so the Suns out-shot the Bulls by 9 attempts in the second half.  The Bulls also had 9 offensive boards by the first half.  I am not sure if the Suns started to tighten up on defense or the Bulls started to tighten up on offense.  At the end, despite the Suns’ best efforts to keep the Bulls in the game, the Bulls could not pull it out. 

They only thing I am sure about is that either Paxson or Skiles is right.  Do they need more time to develop (Paxson) or are they inadequate (Skiles)?  Skiles has a short fuse, so it’s hard to tell because he will not give them the time to develop.  His actions thus far have indicated that he is not even willing to wait until December.  Will he quit or get fired?  Was he trying to get fired by putting out a lineup in an attempt to out-small-ball the Suns?  Once he’s gone, though, we’ll be able to figure out who was right.