Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Click-a-Bull (Reactions to Blowing 35-point Lead)

Here was my immediate reaction after the game:
Bulls up 35 ... EPIC FAIL!
Random thoughts/numbers from the Bulls collapse against the Sac Kings:

- Bulls had zero turnovers in the first quarter, then had 17 by the midpoint of the fourth quarter. That is 17 turnovers in 30 minutes of basketball.

- Bulls scored 38 points in the first quarter, then finished with 98. That's 60 points over the last 36 minutes of basketball.

Here was Kmart's reaction today:
*Panic Button Pushed*
Lots of columns/articles/blogs out today calling out not only Vinny Del Negro, but the entire core of the Organization Gar, Pax and perhaps most specifically Uncle Jerry - and with good reason too. Last night's loss was one of the most embarrassing things I've ever seen. Pretty soul crushing to the point where I tried talking myself into one of my friends getting rich enough to pull a Mark Cuban and buy a team that I can become a fan of, so I can finally burn the bridge to the Bulls.

I even started thinking that I wish we never had Jordan, so I would have never known what pure greatness and dominance felt like every single night. I immediately regretted this thought entering my mind, although the fact that I even contemplated it is a testament to how much my Bulls faith has been shaken. It's not fair. And while it's completely understandable to go on a decade+ long drought in Milwaukee, Memphis, or some other 3rd tier market, it's not in Chicago. It's completely unacceptable, especially when you have been the most profitable team in the league for the last 20+ consecutive years.

And here are a few other reactions from the interwebs:

Kings 102, Bulls 98: Organizations lose 35 point leads

Unfortunately I was out and had to watch this one with the sound off, so I wasn't able to devote my full attention to this game and the complete nuts-and-bolts to this collapse. But is there really any detail needed? maybe it's just...


Well, not entirely 'wow', since if I had to pick a team that would blow a 35 point lead, it'd be a team who has one of the league's worst offenses, a unit that could go completely in the toilet at any time.

The Bulls were never 30+ points better than the Kings, so the fact that they looked so good in the first half was a bit of a mirage. A lot of it can be attributed to Andres Nocioni in his return to the United Center, a -28 in 16 minutes, shooting as if he had something to prove against old pal Luol Deng, though it was just reaffirming what we learned last year: when he's not hitting shots he's useless. (again: this is the guy Bulls fans give a standing ovation to while Ben Gordon got booed whenever he touched the ball) And at 1-7 from the field, 1 rebound, and letting Luol Deng completely abuse him on the other end, it was one of those nights for Noc. But the Kings have a real coach who eventually got that and pulled him for the rest of the night.

And that was just a minor point where Paul Westphal proved the difference between him and Vinny Del Novice. It could've been how Vinny didn't give any of the starters any in-game rest during a game where they were up so big (and have a game tomorrow night for that matter). Or the usual lack of execution in close-and-late situations.

But it's bigger than that. The team is just poorly coached all around. They were able to (literally) run out to a lead off of Sacramento's first-half turnovers, but when it came time to run a real offense they had no clue. When it got close, one team knew they had a star guard who needed the ball at all times, and how to get it to him in the best place to operate, and that guard was Tyreke Evans and the team was the Kings. They similarly seemed to have little clue on defense as to how to handle Evans besides putting their 'stopper' (cough) Kirk Hinrich out on an island.

Del Negro Watch: A tale from Sloan

While Chicago Bulls fans try to digest the totality and the implausibility of their blown 35-point lead in Monday night's loss to the Sacramento Kings, here is a tale to help kill the hours (and the accompanying pondering of whether this is Vinny Del Negro's last game) between now and tipoff of their road game tonight at New York.

Once upon a time -- long before the Christmas Eve firings of Tim Floyd and Scott Skiles -- the Bulls had a guy in their head coaching position who would go on to have quite a bit of success in that field: Jerry Sloan.

Yep, the same Sloan who has been in command in Utah for so long (since 1988) that there have been an astounding 235 head coaching changes (including interim coaches) around the NBA during Sloan’s 22-season tenure with the Jazz.

But once upon a time, Sloan got the axe in Chicago. (Rod Thorn was the executioner, and he went 15-15 as the interim head coach before Paul Westhead was hired for the 1982-83 season. Westhead lasted just one year, Kevin Loughery then had a two-year stint, Stan Albeck held the job for one year and Doug Collins for three before Phil Jackson came aboard and stayed nine years.)

And when Sloan got fired, he knew it was coming.

The Bulls blew a 35-point lead last night

The evisceration should follow. It really should.

It wouldn't matter. Any pretense regarding any sniff of hope or potential or attempt at a warm glow gleaned from the idea of a Chicago Bulls team with a roster that slightly resembles this season's version somehow one day competing for a championship has been lost. Forever. Thing is, it ain't happening. Plug LeBron in, add a new coach? No way.

But that's not the battery acid spewing out of this battered esophagus. I'm not going to lie and pretend that I'm bemused by what happened Monday night, but I'm also not going to act like I didn't see it coming. I'm not going to lie and fake a haughty sense of indignity either, and I can't help but relay that after switching to watch a slate of other NBA contests with the Bulls safely up 30, I wasn't shocked in the slightest when I turned back to see the teams locked at 96 late in the fourth quarter.

Nor was I shocked to see how it all fell apart upon watching again.

Nor will I pretend like this doesn't hurt. Longtime readers know where my personal obsession lies.


Now, any fan of any team could probably look up their squad's third-leading scorer from 1995-96 on YouTube, and find a fair amount ... but we had something different.

We had the Bulls. The red and the black. The team that meant something. The team that every fan waited for, the squad that had to finish of its own accord. The team that won 72 of 82, and was one of six championship teams in that glorious run.

This isn't to say that Bulls fans in 2009 don't deserve to be treated better. Any batch of fandom deserves to be treated better than how Jerry Reinsdorf has treated the basketball end of his sporting endeavors.

We just know what it is to love, to love something special. Not to love something for being plucky or entertaining or right there. Or out in the second round.

This isn't to brag, but we know what it is to know dominance. Continued and unrepentant dominance. Dominance that made every game an event. And while I had to sound like the old man that I am, those games were events. Even to everyone else. The two best franchises of the post-1998 era haven't even sniffed that. That idea that every regular season game counted. That it was yet another chance to win by 35.

And if I have to shuffle off, only being handed that turn? I'm OK with that. I really am. I'll never forget that feeling. Knowing that you supported the best. Knowing that they were working to make themselves — and, by extension, you — proud.

This is why I can't forgive the current Chicago Bulls organization. It's why I see right through Reinsdorf. It's why I have no hope in the personnel department. It's also why I know that someone who is coaching for the first time in his life shouldn't try to learn on the job on the game's biggest stage, for one, but also why I know why a guy like Vinny Del Negro was given his job.

A nightmare loss: Kings 102, Bulls 98

Not again? How about never before?

With 8:49 left in the third quarter, John Salmons hit an 11-footer to help the Bulls go up 79-44 on the Kings. For those who enjoy simple math, that represented a 35-point lead with less than 21 minutes to go. Completely and utterly insurmountable, right?

Historically speaking, it should have been. But, of course, it was not.

Sacramento outscored Chicago an astounding 58-19 the rest of the way, including 33-10 in the fourth quarter. No home team had ever lost after building a lead that huge. It was the biggest come-from-ahead loss in Bulls franchise history. Conversely, it was the largest come-from-behind win in Kings franchise history. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it was the biggest comeback since Utah overcame a 36-point deficit to beat Denver on November 27, 1996.

That’s some pretty epic fail right there. As John Jackson of the Chicago Sun-Times said: “There’s no way of knowing for sure, but the Bulls might be the first team in NBA history to be booed off their home court in a game in which they had a 35-point lead.”

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