Bulls taking an early haircut against Warriors


Dec 26

The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Chicago Bulls. All opinions expressed by Sam Smith are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Chicago Bulls or their Basketball Operations staff, parent company, partners, or sponsors. His sources are not known to the Bulls and he has no special access to information beyond the access and privileges that go along with being an NBA accredited member of the media.

So it’s Game 2 of the 66-game sprint, and it’s not that I’m bored. I’m not, but sometimes you have to go beyond the box score.

And, sure, Luol Deng had a huge impact on the big Christmas Day win over the Lakers Sunday, getting 21 points, seven rebounds, four steals, including the big one late off Joakim Noah’s pressure on Kobe Bryant and one block, Deng’s last one to clinch the win on Bryant.

So I began to probe with Lu, as they call him around the team, before Monday’s game with the Warriors.

So Lu, I wondered, is it the growth of hair now as well as the additional facial hair, sort of a Sampson effect?

“I definitely don’t think it’s the hair,” Deng said after examining me a bit. “I think people paying attention, if they know basketball that I’m the same player and not to get caught up in the hair style.

“I have been getting calls from hair stylists,” Deng did add playing along.

Yes, the Bulls are being watched, and Deng and his teammates know.

“There are teams chasing us,” Deng noted. “They watch ESPN. But you can’t get caught up in the hype. Guys are coming at us with their best. But we cannot get caught up in that. We still have to do what got us here.

“You put us on paper and it sounds great,” said Deng. “Last year we worked well together and coming into this year we know it works. AT some point in (last) season we realized we could play with anyone. We were beating all the teams and realized when we play our best we are hard to beat.”

Asked about so many picking Miami to win, Deng said: “They have three great players who have done so well individually and then come together, so the attention will be there and they will be picked by a lot of people. That’s OK with us. It’s not about picking who and all that. But at the end of the day you are talking about the team that eliminated us. At some point you have to have the mindset that you will meet them again.

“As a competitor, all the little things motivate you,” said Deng. “Miami getting all the praise and attention. That has nothing to do with us. We focus more on what we have to do on the court and how we respond and play.”

It wasn’t that well to open in Oakland Monday, though the Bulls did get a bit more going for Richard Hamilton.

This is growing into a concern as the Warriors showed too much offense for the Bulls early.

Hamilton was supposed to answer that issue.

“We weren’t able (in Game 1) to get him into rhythm to put pressure on their defense,” said coach Tom Thibodeau. “It’s something we have to work on. We have to get him some shots, into the flow of the game.”

The Bulls did that early with Hamilton going against Monta Ellis and getting a pair of jumpers and a post up as the Bulls went at the smaller Ellis, even later in the quarter with the usually offensively challenged Ronnie Brewer.

It was tied at 16 and Hamilton had six when Thibodeau went to the bench. But Ellis got going, more against Brewer, and showed that explosive offensive ability that the Bulls have yet to find.

And were still looking for as the Warriors began to blow open the game in the second quarter with shot making the Bulls have yet to find. The Bulls tried to respond with Derrick Rose hitting a three in transition and scoring on a fast break layup, finally, as for some reason the Bulls have walked into this season with a deliberate offense despite having Rose. They need to run more, as the Warriors were showing them ahead 57-41 at halftime, with the offensive options they have.

OK, Monta for…

What do you think? Leave a comment below: