I had thought crappy Bulls team minus injured best players plus road game in Portland would equal shit sandwich.
But no, tonight the team played with the spirit and vigor of the departed Viktor Khryapa, and made it a fun one. A loss, sure, but eh.
(Side note: This "Veektor just hopped on a plane to Russia" story is yet another bizarre point in the Bulls season. Top comments in the game thread tonight: "The Hunt for Red Veektober" and "Air Krhap One")
The outmanned Bulls did what they could to stick around the whole game. Nocioni was chuckin but finished 4-8 from three, Joe Smith was 7-13 from the field, and even Ben Wallace was attacking the rim when he got the ball. Team defense and rebounding (can't get outrebounded by the Blazers) was sporadic, with a lot of leadfooted Wallace and overhelping Nocioni. But on offense they were altogether competent.
Thabo Sefolosha looked great, and even though Brandon Roy was having a fine game himself, Thabo at least made it try to look tough. He had a one of his best nights ever on offense, and although his shooting stroke suggests the fastest way towards the bucket is a straight line, he was making them.
The best part of the night was the 4th quarter, when Thabo and Tyrus Thomas were each big contributors. Kudos to Boylan for letting Tyrus stay in the game, as he made up for a (too short) poor first-half stint to finish perfect from the floor (2-2 from the field, 4-4 from the line), and the two baskets were on a spin move and a jump shot. (the latter Red Kerr embarrassingly screamed 'noooo' when it was released. Go back to making your Aaron Gray mixtape, Red) He showed versatility on defense as well, both blocking a Travis Outlaw dunk attempt and a Steve Blake 3-point jumpshot.
The Bulls never led, and although it was real close it was rarely within one possession. So it was yet another game the Bulls couldn't close out, but I will say the end-of-game situations were more interesting without seeing the stand-and-watch-Gordon play over and over.
Not that I don't want him (and Deng, and Hinrich) back soon. If Thabo and Tyrus can contribute to the 'real' squad, efforts will turn into wins.
(Now that the good feelings are out, I should say I'm fully expecting a complete letdown against the Warriors tomorrow)