As long-time fans of my-slow-descent-into-madness-due-to-this-team know, I try to watch nearly all Bulls games without the local TV announcing crew. This results in some uncomfortably long and lonesome nights of silence, but I think it's ultimately worth it.
A case towards this point happened early in the Bulls 88-79 loss to the Pelicans on Saturday night, when I mistakenly started the game with the full broadcast experience only to hear Neil Funk after Anthony Davis's first missed jumper say "might be stretching his range a bit, there" which is Funk-code for "::sigh:: why doesn't this guy take smart shots like Kirk Hinrich".
I put the game on mute, and Davis went on to hit 9 of his next 13 shots...including every single other jumper. A few dunks were nice too on his way to 24 points, next to his 6 blocks, 3 steals, 3 assists and 8 rebounds. Whenever a particularly exciting Davis play occurred, I'd skip back to hear what our guys felt about it. To their credit, they were appropriately impressed, with Stacey even giving his 'better bring it strong' pep-talk to the Bulls in response to a Davis block. As long as Neil felt bad about the whole thing, that's like a minor victory in this Bulls loss, right?
The only misstep by Davis in the game wasn't even his fault as it was his coach's decision to keep him off of Joakim Noah for most of the game. Noah was able to feast a bit on the Pellies' backup bigs (both Ryan Anderson and Jason Smith were out), though his final line was depressed a bit due to missing 4 of 8 FTs. Both he and seemingly-officially-new starter DJ Augustin had very good first quarters (Augustin was 3-3 for 9 points and 2 assists to open the game) which kept the game even. Then the second quarter required the Bulls depleted (not by injury so much as by roster destruction at this point) bench to play, meaning no field goals for 9 minutes and a 12 point deficit. That New Orleans lead stayed in double-digits pretty much throughout the rest of the game, and at times when the Bulls made it somewhat closer it was usually a Davis shot to put them back out of range.
Beyond Noah (who had 7 offensive rebounds and even busted his chin giving so much effort) and Augustin (a consistent revelation, this time with 23 points and 7 assists even though a cold 1-5 from three) there wasn't much from the Bulls. The upside of putting Davis on Boozer from the Pelicans standpoint was that Booz was a total non-factor, finishing 2-8 with 4 turnovers. Taj Gibson finished with a good line but a lot of his makes came in the final few minutes, which included a surprisingly early calling-off-the-dogs moment from Tom Thibodeau as he put in Toko Sheneglia out there for his first Bulls action. Though speaking of Thibs, one rotation quirk that still gets me is playing Hinrich at the 2 for any time at all, especially since it takes away minutes from Tony Snell. Granted, Snell hasn't been showing much at all lately (shooting 28% in last 8 games) and likely just doesn't have the trust from Thibs defensively, but it's more an indictment on Hinrich, who should be preserved for non-DJ point guard minutes only. If you're on Butler minutes-watch he notched over 43 (which more Snell could also 'help'), and shot pretty poorly.
For the Pelicans, their end-of-bench bigs actually shot very well taking advantage of the attention given to Davis. Their perimeter players did not, though while the finishing wasn't there I thought they took advantage of some poor perimeter defense from the Bulls in getting open looks (or at least forcing early rotations). They also had a lot of transition opportunities which maybe made things look worse (including a lot of backpedaling Mike Dunleavy) than they really were as the Bulls did not help their own defense by having 17 turnovers. Eric Gordon was 3-4 in the first quarter but finished the game 4-15 (and not a single FTA) with a variety of rushed jumpers and weird push-shots, so at least I'm guessing Neil Funk got some enjoyment out of that.