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Bulls vs. Knicks game preview, injury report, lineups

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[Thanks to paddyfairview for today's game preview -yfbb]

Preview coming, but first:

About twenty-four hours ago in a Madhouse on Madison…

FRED WARS

[Cue/Hum John Williams Score]

On the night of December 18th, 2015, the CHICAGO BULLS were in a close fight with a division rival, when disaster struck: the entire UNITED CENTER was removed from existence with milliseconds left in regulation, and transported to a pocket universe as part of a SITH plot to force two teams to play the same overtime period again and again for all eternity.

The plan was foiled when the team’s coaches, flush with free time in a game they were CLEARLY UNINTERESTED IN COACHING, made a few calls and discovered (thanks to SportVU Tracking!) that EMPEROR STERN was sitting in the 300’s, wiggling his fat little fingers suspiciously. Nearby fans reported that a mysterious man, who "looked like DORK HARRISON FORD", arrived with BENNY THE BULL and managed to subdue Stern until JABBA VAN GUNDY arrived. "I’ll feed you to the Sarlac Pit!" Van Gundy yelled. "That’s what your wife calls your beer gut!" Stern howled, thrashing and biting at Benny’s arms. "Get this walking carpet off of me! And laugh all you want, Freddy, my scheme might have failed, but when it comes to crunch time, AT LEAST I HAVE ONE!"

Suddenly, DARTH SELIG and DARTH GOODELL appeared and pulled Stern into a waiting Tie-Fighter. "I’ll come up with a counter to this!" yelled Dork Solo, as the villains escaped. "It’ll probably be a lot of Isos! And it definitely won’t involve Joakim Noah!!"

In the end, our beloved Bulls players, and also Tony Snell, were returned safely. Unfortunately, they lost the game, Rose and Butler racked up 54 minutes each, Skeletor Gasol played a full 48, and Snell cut a back-door deal with Stern to be a permanent starter in Bulls Fan Hell. (He and Bogans are already working on their two-man game.) If that wasn’t enough, the team immediately had to fly to New York, where the hated Knicks are waiting…

I know what you're thinking, what a wild coincidence that this happened on Star Wars' opening night. But when multiple unnamed sources named Chris Broussard tell you a thing, that thing must be true.

Anyway, we've got another game tonight. With all the madness surrounding this team, I thought I'd catch a flight to New York and find out What the Hell's Really Going On. Here's all the totally factual stuff I learned:

COACH FRED: Hoiberg, who missed a crucial time-out call against Detroit in order to make sure Noah’s shoes were untied at sub-in time, has not been available for comment [Update: Here's his actual non-answery answers.] . "He went to MSG real early," says Taj Gibson. "He had a big jug of Gorilla Glue and kept asking about Jo’s favorite bench spot."

D-ROSE: I find Derrick in the locker room, where his brother Reggie is feeding puppies into a giant Rejuvenation Machine they just bought from Kobe Bryant. He’s drying himself off with a hair-dryer, still thawing from the Carbonate he freezes himself in for travel. "You can’t be too careful," he tells me. "I’ve got to save these knees for Pool Aerobic Hour at my retirement community." I leave.

JOAKIM NOAH: I look for Jo, but hear he’s had to make a run to Dick’s since his game sneakers were mysteriously replaced by monogrammed cinder blocks.

PAU GASOL: I find Pau and ask him if the flight was all right. "Oh, there was some trouble…I mean, Tony was at the wrong gate, and then the gate kept changing, and he was basically just one gate behind every time we rotated. And then he threw his ticket away, like, four times. I’m not even sure where he is now."

MIROTIC: Niko has a different story about the flight, but it takes us a minute to find the translator. Turns out the word he’s looking for is "arrested". Apparently while TSA was questioning him about the chainsaw he uses to trim his beard, they came in with Fred, who’d been trying to board with a nine-foot stapler as his carry-on. "He's been following Noah with it all week. He agreed to check it, but only if they promised to get it back to him by the fourth quarter."

GARPAX: Gar Forman and John Paxson have traveled with the team to New York. I bump into them and try to talk trades. Do they think the Knicks’ competence will keep Melo off the block? Are they fielding any good offers for Pau or Taj? "We like our guys," says Gar automatically, and fixes me with a dead-eyed stare. Paxson, appearing to fumble for something (a switch?) at the back of Gar’s head, adds, "I think Fred is still getting his rotation set. I went to talk to him about it, but he was busy." I ask who’s too busy to talk to their boss. "It was, uh…weird," says Paxson, then pauses to pound on his colleague’s head and yell, "Reset!" several times. He turns back to me. "He appeared to be stitching the number thirteen onto the back of a straight jacket. I don’t like that kind of website, so I left."

I return to the locker room to find Aaron Brooks and Bobby Portis climbing out of a suitcase looking dazed. One of the ball boys explains that Reinsdorf likes the smaller players and rookies to travel by checked bag to save money, and they’re just arriving after accidentally being routed through Durham and Knoxville. I’m told E’Twaun Moore is "probably leaving Montreal by now".

I look for Kirk, and complain to a trainer that I haven’t seen him all day. The trainer’s eyes bug. "Oh no, not again! Has anyone got any rope?" He tells me to call the Fire Department and runs off.

JIMMY BUCKETS: I walk out of the locker room and smack into Jimmy Butler. "Oh, hey! Any thoughts about today’s game?" Butler strokes his chin for a moment and considers. "Weeeeell…the Knicks scored 65 in the first half yesterday, but you can throw that out ‘cause they played Philly. They’re on a three-game win streak, but still a game below .500. Going into yesterday they were 20th in offense and 16th in defense, for a net rating of -1.8. Afflalo just dropped twenty-two, but again, Sixers, and he’s posting a PER of 13. Galloway can hit from three, gotta watch out for him. We’ll have to worry about Melo, and the Porzingis kid, ‘cause he’s averaging 2 blocks per game and almost 3 per 36. But there’s not a lot else there. Robin Lopez…eh. We’re wiped, but they’ll be tired too, since they were on the road last night." He pauses, looks around the room and frowns. "Say, you didn’t see Fred go by with, like, a really huge roll of duct tape, did you?" I say I did not. "OK. Well, look. What you really need to ask yourself is…do you think Jimmy’s got it in him to get this fucking clown car in some sort of order, and take it to the Knicks on short rest? Do ya?"

"Uh…I think, I mean, I hope you can?"

"Search your feelings, you know it to be true!"

"Alright! Yeah! I believe it! Fuck the Knicks! I hate the fucking Knicks! I hate fucking losing in quadruple-overtime on a fucking Friday, it’s awful! I wanna win! I believe! I believe the Butler can do it!"

"Attaboy."

JOAKIM NOAH: I’m ready to leave when Joakim finally walks in the door. He’s eating one burrito, and tosses another to Dougie. "Oh thank God, Jo. I was starting to get seriously worried that, like, Fred lured you into a bank vault or something. So tell me – Saturday night, MSG, your hometown. What’s going through your head?"

Jo pauses.

"Sure hope Taj got that tractor beam out of commission, or this is gonna be a real short trip."

OK, I'm done. Game’s at 6:30 on WGN

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See Red!!