[Thanks to Prevenge for today's game preview. -ed.]
Or, as it is otherwise known, "The Return of Crazy Pills".
You may have heard of the Los Angeles Lakers. They're a pretty good basketball team. Have one or two good players.
Well, then they have Crazy Pills, or [as he is otherwise known] Ron Artest, the man who is changing his number to 37 because that's the number of weeks Michael Jackson's 'Thriller' was number 1. Apparently, the Lakers thought that Trevor Ariza wasn't worth the same amount of money as Artest, despite Ariza proving in the playoffs that he was a very good role-player and defender who could hit the open 3 and dunk [and also come up with key steals].
This is both good and bad for us. It's good because Ariza is playing pretty well in Houston, and Artest is both regressing and in the first year of a 3-year deal. Think of Ron Artest as the Lakers' answer to Andres Nocioni, bad-signing-wise: only they could've had a cheaper and better version of him for the same price. He's good, but he's not worth that money when he's so inefficient. Maybe, when we're peaking in two years with Joe Johnson and Rose in our 4th-seed-at-best lineup monstrosity, the Lakers will be weaker.
So we basically did the same thing the Lakers did. But at least we had a semi-plausible reason to get rid of Ron Artest, which is that he's crazy. [Brad Miller, well, that's another story.]
Did I mention this yet?
Here's his Wikipedia Page. Some bullet points:
-He was suspended for two games in the early 2004–05 season by Pacers coach Rick Carlisle after he allegedly asked for a month off because he was tired from promoting an R&B album for the group Allure on his production label.
Oh, yeah, and he was kind of involved in this. [That's the brawl, in case you were wondering.]
The last time the Bulls played the Lakers was in March of last year. We lost by 8 after building a lead. However, that game was at home, with Tyrus Thomas and Ben Gordon both contributing [Salmons, too].
Pau Gasol is back for this game after his CSI-induced vacation. Hopefully he's gotten cehmically addicted to something, because otherwise ... let's just say that Taj Gibson has big problems against Jason Thompson, and while Thompson's good, he's not Pau Gasol.
[Sidenote: Gasol wasn't as good on the Grizzlies as he is on the Lakers. He's hyper-efficient, and even a bit strong.]
Matchups to watch
There's a bunch.
- How will Noah do against either Bynum or Gasol [or both]? Noah's the leading rebounder in the NBA, so we at least have a chance down low.
-How will Taj do against either Bynum or Gasol? Or Odom? Uh, I'm just gonna file this under 'problems the Bulls are going to have'.
-Oh hey, we have this great shooting guard who will match Kobe Bryant shot for shot! ...
Problem #2. At least Salmons' crappy help D [I've heard but haven't really seen] won't be exposed, because Kobe likes to iso.
-If Derrick Rose doesn't explode against Derek Fisher, it's the ankle. I mean ... look at Derek. He can't guard anybody, and he can't shoot! He's basically like our own Derrick, only if you had him sprain BOTH ankles, and maybe kicked him in the crotch a couple times to slow him down.
Wait, that didn't work for the Warriors. Hmm. Maybe he just needs to get revved up. I've heard that Shannon Brown can jump pretty high, and I'm sure he can kick.
[Sidenote: Whoever does the next Bulls-Warriors game has to use that video.]
-How will Luol Deng respond knowing that the man across from him on the court may be criminally insane? Win? Lose? Go crazy? Both? Neither?
- WWRD? [Or, 'What Will Ron Do?' This can also be used for Ron Paul.] We know he's crazy. He's kind of mellowed out, except for the times where he's crazy. So what's Artest going to do?!? If we had more crazy people on our team, this game could get really fun. I don't think anything's going to happen, though. Our only enforcer [a pseudo-enforcer at that: I'm talking about Brad Miller] has played with him for a long while. And yes, this means the SF matchup is two matchups. One is Luol Deng vs. Ron Artest. The other one is Ron Artest vs. Ron Artest. Maybe Joakim will bother him with all the yelling.
So. A prediction. I don't think we're going to win. Rose is still battling an ankle injury, and the Lakers are the Lakers. But more surprising things have happened [who thought Milwalkee'd have a record over .500?]. The Lakers have looked pretty bad in the stretch before the Pistons game, and should've lost to the Thunder [the only game this year I've followed]. Not that we've really looked any better. And they are 8-3, while we're ... 6-4.
Pretty meaningless game against a team that's better than us, and it's on the dreaded circus trip [so named because the Ringling Bros. circus moves into the Bulls' players' favorite riverfront casino, forcing them to travel the road in search of other ways to gamble. This is why everyone dreads those away games at Utah].
Lakers by 10, but I'm crossing my fingers for Bulls by 3.
*update* Multiple people have pointed out that Ariza signed for basically the MLE [the Injury Exception], and that Ariza's agent was playing hardball trying to get them to offer $8 million per [and then rising]. Also, Artest's contract is $18 million over 3 years [it declines], not over 5 years. Fxed/updated/etc.