Drink: Korbel California Champagne, Brut
It’s the last game of this fricking bulljive road trip! Champagne? Champagne!!!
Derrick Rose missed the last game against Denver, and he reminded Bulls fans exactly of what he brings to the court. Rose slashed, hit floaters, and knocked down a three for 12 first quarter points. However, the Bulls were also called for a ton fouls, resulting in an 11-3 free throw differential in the period. The free throws were too much to overcome, leaving the Bulls with a seven point deficit to end the first.
The second warmed up to a whole lot of scoring, back and forth, until it was just the Kings putting up points. WHY DO THE BULLS HAVE A FETISH FOR HUGE FIRST HALF DEFICITS?! And whatever happened to Deng’s shot? 1-5 on some very open shots. Judas Pato angry! Ugh! Halftime, trailing: 57-44.
The third started looking promising for the Bulls. They defended well in the early going, yet… were anemic on the offensive side, making a run very handicapped. The Kings were building on a lopsided block ratio in this quarter that had some suspect no-calls. After one such no-call on Rose, the All-Star fouled on a transition pass that appeared to be intentional, brewed from frustration. One has to wonder, what does Rose have to do to get calls? More importantly, I have mentioned before that Rose no-calls are not even the biggest no-call travesty on this team. Near the end of the third, Joakim Noah went for a lay-up and had the boom lowered on him. A no-call and subsequent technical on Noah quickly followed. Since Noah is a hard nosed, physical player, he gets even less calls than Rose – which is quite the statement. Despite all of this, the Bulls closed out the quarter with an inspiring performance, down by only seven.
The Bulls came out of the break with some momentum. The Bulls energy and rhythm stymied the Kings, leading Sacramento to make sloppy passes and poor decisions. Noah’s third quarter technical seem to aid their run, as the refs looked like they got a bit of a message. This all summed up to an even score within the first few minutes of the fourth for the first time since the opening of the first. After tying, there were a few traded blows before the Bulls pulled away and gave the big middle finger to the Circus Road Trip. If you are having trouble picturing any of this, just consult any Rocky fight (save the first movie): overwhelmed in the early rounds, rally to get back in it, blow-for-blow later on, then Rocky/Bulls pull away and seal the deal.
Early on, it looked like the Champagne celebration was a poor choice for your humble NB journalist. Yet, the Chicago Bulls did their usual dig-a-huge-hole-then-have-to-get-out-of-it thing, and won. Yes, ladies and gents, this is the first Circus Road Trip to end with a winning record since the Jordan Era. It is a shame that they were a Melo last-second shot away from a 5-2 circus record, but few will complain with a Boozerless (and at times Roseless and Gibsonless) 4-3 record. This team was far from flawless (a Circus Road Trip final report is forthcoming), but a 9-6 post Circus Road Trip is a welcomed sight! Bull-Down, Chicago Bulls!