1. Given the breakneck speed at which this season has been unfolding, The Notebook has rarely been at a loss for material. This week was a bit different, though: after Sunday's loss in Boston -- a game which warranted 2,000 words of its own -- the Bulls had what amounts to winter break. Their nine game road trip was over (they went 6-3), a six-game homestand was just beginning, and the Bulls only played two games the rest of the week. This column was starting to look at bit thin. But then, just as I was settling in to watch Bulls-Celtics on Thursday night, a friend called and offered me a ticket to the game just before tip-off. We raced to the United Center and got there just before halftime.
Here are some observations from way up in the nosebleeds:
Rondo in person: Getting B-a-B Matt to Twitter link my Rondo love letter on Monday is probably one of the top 20 moments of my sports blogging career. Mom and Dad were (presumably) very proud. Yesterday was the first time I've had to the pleasure to watch Rondo's knees bend in person, and, as you might imagine, I was pretty excited.
I walked into the 300 level with a shade under 2:00 minutes left in the first half, and, on cue, Rondo drives to the basket, does his signature one-arm ball fake, and dishes it out to an open man. I'd tell you what happened on the rest of the play, but I think I momentarily blacked out. Sports are so great, you guys.
Not to get all Bill Simmons on you, but seeing the way Rondo is defended in-person adds to the comedy about 60%. When Rondo was taking the ball up the court to start the second half, C.J. Watson's heels were touching the foul line. You can't give Steve Nash an inch, or he'll pop a three-pointer. Hell, you can't Jeremy Lin an inch. Rondo? GIVE HIM 10 FEET.
The bro plays basketball upside-down. I understand the hate, but I'll never agree with it.
Boozer's lack of hops: Carlos Boozer dunked the ball with two hands in the third quarter, which is the 2012 equivalent of seeing a ghost. That never happens. I would guess that it's happened less than five times this year.
/checks CBS' dunk counter
What. Carlos Boozer really has 13 dunks this year? How is that even possible? I call shenanigans.
Just minutes later, though, the real Boozer reared his ugly, spray painted head. The Bulls got out on the fastbreak and the ball was pushed to Boozer with no one in front of him and a Boston defender chasing from behind. Instead of going up and dunking it like
a man an NBA player making $75 million, Boozer threw up some fruity layup (this was a breakaway!!!) that careened off the rim. The entire United Center did a collective "UGH", like after a blow out Bulls victory in which they only score 99 points. As the old saying goes, Alaskans can't jump.
We talkin' 'bout FINGER GUNZ: In the fourth quarter, the Bulls' resident Celtics hater Joakim Noah hit a 15-foot jump shot, backpedaled down the court, charged up his finger gunz, and fired them into ground. I'll tell my grandchildren about it someday.
With six minutes left in third quarter, the moment we've all been waiting for: The Dunkin Donuts race.
Kyle Korver nailed it on both ends last week: a) the UC crowd really does go apeshit for the Dunkin Donuts race -- pitting a coffee, a doughnut, and a bagel against each other in a race to the death on the jumbotron, and b) coffee always wins. Both definitely happened on Thursday against the Celtics. It was the loudest the stadium got all night, no joke.
Best part: the two girls we went with were off grabbing a beer when the race went down, and when we told them they missed it, they were deeply, deeply disappointed. It might have ruined their night.
Bulls games, man. Come for the Dunkin Donuts race, stay for the free Big Macs.
"Rondo Sucks": Yeah, there was a "Rondo Sucks" chant late in the fourth quarter. So far as United Center chants go, I'd rank them like this:
1,000. "Rondo Sucks"
And I didn't even get an "earmuffs" warning. You're skating on thin ice, United Center.
Scal: The Bulls were up 10 with four minutes to play. You know what that means, right? SCAL CHANT.
I did not participate. Just judged my peers silently.
2. The game against the Celtics was the fourth straight game Derrick Rose has missed with back spasms, and ninth game he's missed this season. This week did bring some encouraging news on Rose's health, though: an MRI revealed there's no structural damage to Rose's back. The early diagnosis of back spams was spot-on. The news was a cause from celebration at Blog-a-Bull:
The latest on Rose's injury is that he's almost pain-free and continues to be day-to-day. Given everything we know about our little homegrown MVP, I found this tweet from the Sun-Times' Neil Hayes hysterical:
Derrick Rose when asked if he took an epidural for pain: "That came up but I’m scared of shots. There’s no way I could’ve done that."— Neil Hayes (@bynhayes) February 15, 2012
3. By virtue of securing the best record in the Eastern Conference, Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau earned the quote-unquote "honor" of coaching the East squad at the All-Star Game later this month. The Bulls had some fun with it:
Just now in the locker room Noah said, "Hey Thibs! Congrats you're going to the (bleeping) All-Star game."— jon greenberg (@espnchijon) February 15, 2012
Korver on Thibs coaching East All-Stars: "It’s great. I just hope he doesn’t play Lu and Derrick 40 minutes." Yes, he was laughing. #Bulls— K.C Johnson (@KCJHoop) February 15, 2012
Korver can laugh all he wants, but why wouldn't you think Thibs will play Deng 40 minutes in the All-Star Game? It's in his blood.
The cruise control nature of the All-Star Game really is the perfect mismatch for Thibs. I can't wait until he's running onto the court to help trap Chris Paul. Should be fun.
4. Carlos Boozer's hair is the talk of the town, and by town, I mean Internet.
With #hairsanity taking over the world, ESPN Chicago columnist Jon Greenberg dug up this training camp gem on Boozer's hair from the always adorable D. Rose:
With that in mind, Rose said his teammates looked like they were in good shape, though he was surprised that Luol Deng showed up with a mohawk.
"I guess everyone is getting new hairstyles," Rose said. "Carlos got hair, that's kind of amazing."
It really is, Derrick. It really is.
5. Finally: Happy 49th, MJ.