Honestly...how, after the longest coaching search ever, did Paxson wind up with this goof? The enormity of that mistake can be discussed some other day, I guess.
In the beginning, with Drew Gooden out, the Bulls rolled out Rose/Gordon/Deng/Thomas/Noah...and it was good.
Then Vinny got to coaching, which isn't his strongest suit.
A bunch of messed up combinations followed, including an entire 4th quarter where neither Thomas or Noah played. And as a reminder, Drew Gooden was hurt. So it was Rose/Hinrich/Gordon (or Thabo)/Deng/Nocioni...for the whole quarter. Just a complete joke of a lineup, especially considering how well the starting frontcourt was performing (not that one game should sway their PT either way...but I'm trying to see through Vinny's eyes here. It hurts.).
I was going on tilt. Giggling as the Bulls lost their lead as they couldn't secure a defensive rebound. Fun-bad, ya know?
But the Bulls still have Derrick Rose. And tonight it was the Derrick Rose of November: the one who can dominate a game. Combining that with the Raps not taking advantage of their tiny counterparts, despite whatever lineup shennanigans the game looked to be in hand.
But I was actually feeling conflicted: I like the Bulls and like when they win. I want the Raps to lose so they feel they need Nocioni (supposedly the Raps announcers were really playing up the floppy one. And he had a decent 31 (31!) minutes with enough gritty garbage to exicite some) and Hughes (DNP, cred to Vinny on that).
But damn….isn't it bad for Vinny to feel any vindication after perpetrating this atrocity?
I decided to still side on wanting the Bulls to win. No matter how embarrassing Vinny is (and each game is an opportunity to top the last), he’s not getting fired this season.
And with a tenuous 4-point lead in the final minute and a half, Vinny did bring Thomas and Noah back into the game. And they got two stops (Toronto got a transition layup when the tiny lineup wasn't able to be subbed out between timeouts, whoops!), a big one of those being Noah blocking Chris Bosh on a potential game-tying final posession for the Raps.
If that late sub didn't happen, and the supremely-tiny-ball lineup led to another loss, I would've advocated Tyrus and Noah skipping practice and eating PB&J 10 minutes before every game while sitting on Vinny's desk. But maybe Vinny getting those two in for critical defensive positions was enough to not completely lose them and their confidence.
Playing a sensible NBA lineup would've had them winning by 8, sure, but Vinny can thank Derrick Rose for pulling him out of that fire, even if this team is still no better than it ever was. Sort of like how November went.
Remember, it's all about the trade. So having the Raptors fall so far as to lose to the friggin Bulls (with Gooden hurt and Gordon having an off night, no less) may at least get that ball rolling. Unfortunately, it's yet again Pax's duty to make his team coach-proof.