[Thanks to BigSmooveDucky for today's game preview -yfbb]
Blowouts for this Bulls team has been about as rare as finding an Entei in the tall grass in Pokemon Crystal. But that's exactly what happened Saturday in the Bulls' 103-78 win over Philly, and today they will attempt to ride that momentum as they host the Lakers tonight.
The team that for whatever reason starts Kirk Hinrich has gone 10-4 over their last 14 games (Kirk = anti-tank???) and 7-2 for the month of January. Despite a number of ugly wins against teams like Phoenix, Milwaukee, and Charlotte, the Bulls have proven they have no intention of tanking. Chicago has rallied behind the true leader and heart of the team, Joakim Noahh, and look to be playing re-inspired. Although this team seems abysmal on paper, they play with heart, passion, and tremendous amount of sacrifice. Even if they finish under .500 for the season and limp into the playoffs, the Bulls are still a very dangerous team.
Much of the same cannot be said for Lakers. Since the departure of Phil Jackson, this team (and franchise) has faced an identity crisis, and the injury, return, and re-injury of Kobe Bryant hasn't made things easier. Pau Gasol is the pseudo leader of this team and even he appears to be unhappy. They have played sloppy, undisciplined basketball all year, and it is hard not put some of the blame on Mike D'Antoni for this on-court atrocity. It looks like he has no control of his players and he has no idea what to do. For the first time in my, and most of our lifetimes, the Lakers have entered Basketball Peasantry.
The Bulls should be able to control the tempo from the get. The only way the Bulls lose this game is if they beat themselves by not executing. That means not committing silly turnovers by trying to do too much on offense, and staying diligent in their defensive rotations. The Lakers have not shown themselves to be a good defensive unit, and they are very thin in the front court which means Jo, Taj, and Boozer should have no trouble generating offense for themselves and the people around them.
The Bulls have a very special group of men, and they will display that again tonight.
Tip-off is at 7:00PM CT, WGN-TV and ESPN 1000AM