I honestly thought today's game was at home, part of a kind of New Years Eve (day) tradition for the Bulls to host an afternoon game and get waxed. But it was in Detroit, and they not only didn't get waxed but thoroughly handled the Pistons, a pretty good and important win.
As long as no other Bull gets injured ever (since we don't have the depth or coaching to overcome such things) the team will be just fine. And by 'fine' I mean being in the low rung of the playoffs, not having a meaningful season or anything. As bad as they've been so far, the majority of their conference being absolutely terrible kept them above water, and having Tyrus Thomas back really makes the team whole again.
Thomas had 19 and 7 in 27 minutes, with a whopping 14 free-throw attempts. He can do things no other Bull can, and credit to Vinny (again!) for playing him more than Taj, though we can probably get those minutes up to 35+ by now? right?
(wait, I'm getting excited about Tyrus again! Can't do it. Bulls can't wait to trade him, and would've (for the likes of Yi according to reports) if another team felt he had any value. So sad. At least I can enjoy watching him while he's here.)
Thomas and Noah led the Bulls frontcourt in dominating their Pistons counterparts (especially on the offensive glass), who aren't formidable to begin with and I think either Ben Wallace hurt himself severely early, or he saw Bulls uniforms and had a suck trigger activated. I'm not sure we can take any Pistons injury seriously the way Rodney Stuckey was limping off not once but twice only to return, and a third time may have warranted the Paul Pierce ceremonial wheelchair.
There's something seriously wrong with the Pistons right now, who've now lost 9 straight (including losing to the Bulls at home!). I've mentioned the frontcourt deficiencies, but that was known going into the year. The real issue is seeing Tayshaun Prince and especially Rip Hamilton look terrible. Hamilton made me remember how much I hated the Pistons, with their classic sense of unearned entitlement as he jawed with Hinrich while playing absolutely terribly. Good for my guy Ben Gordon to have himself a game, though him sitting for Rip is almost as bad as watching Chris Duhon in the starting lineup. The anticipated BG-Kurt matchup didn't really happen very often, though when put on Gordon, Kirk did a fine job. Salmons, not so much, though it's his second straight solid shooting night.
But I won't pull a Neil Funk (hatred of BG permeating every call today...) and just rip on the opposition. There's a whole lot of bad in the conference, and the Pistons are a part of it. The Bulls are too, but proving to be in the upper echelon in that bad, as long as they're intact. Nothing is screwed, they're well on their way to a low playoff seed.
And most importantly, Derrick Rose is looking better by the game, getting to the line again with 8 attempts on his way to 22 points. These aren't the best tests of that aggression in terms of opponent, but if it was a mindset that was holding him back it looks gone lately. Now we just need to get a talent like that a real coach. Sure, Rose is looking better, but he's not really developing. And the Bulls record will be somewhat near expectations, but they still look bad.
It's truly a case where, with me anyway, Vinny can't win.