COMMENTARY | With two minutes left in the third quarter of Monday's Bulls-Bucks NBA game, I left the upstairs press box at the United Center to make my way down to the press room in order to write my post-game report. The Bulls were winning by 27 points at the time.
A colleague got into the elevator with me and asked "Have the Bulls had a blowout win this year?" I told him it didn't matter, because they would end up winning the game by no more than six points. What was I thinking?
The Bulls didn't even bother to win the game. The Bucks scored 19 straight points between the end of the third quarter and the first few minutes of the fourth, and ended up taking a 93-92 decision that ended a nine-game losing streak for the Bucks against the Bulls dating back to April of 2010.
Why does this matter? It doesn't actually. Neither the Bulls nor the Bucks are going to do anything noteworthy this season. The Bulls are in a season-long holding pattern waiting for the return of Derrick Rose from injury, and the Bucks don't have any star power to build on.
The fact the game is meaningless doesn't mean there isn't stuff to talk about, however.
For instance, as the Bulls were letting their lead slip away, every single reporter in the United Center was thinking back to Dec. 21, 2009, when the Bulls, then coached by Vinny Del Negro, let a 35-point lead disappear against the Sacramento Kings and lost by six points. And the Bulls had Derrick Rose for that game. Del Negro never lived that game down while he was with the Bulls.
Nobody wants to equate the coaching of Tom Thibodeau to that of Del Negro, but the similarity was immediately noted.
For some reason, Thibodeau played only eight players the entire game. In the 13th game of an 82-game schedule, when his team built a 27-point lead in the second half, he could not find time to play Marco Bellinelli or Nazr Mohammed or Marques Teague. Instead, he played Luol Deng more than 47 minutes, Carlos Boozer 39-plus and Joakim Noah 38 1/2. How does that make any sense?
The Bulls wasted a 30-point game from Rip Hamilton, as well as Boozer's fourth double-double in five games. They have now lost four of their last five games. This was the first game back from a five-game road swing. Their fans deserved better.
I would tell you that the NBA rarely has blowout games. I'm sure the percentages say most games are decided by single digit margins. But then, Oklahoma City blew out Charlotte by 45 Monday, so what do I know?
There are people who mock the NBA because games like this take place, where a team builds a 27-point lead and then can't score a basket, get a rebound, avoid a turnover, and the team that was down 27 wins. I understand their frustration.
The Bulls-Bucks game Monday doesn't mean anything in the long run, but it also doesn't make any sense in the short run.
Kent McDill has covered the Bulls for three different companies: for United Press International from 1985-88, for the Daily Herald newspaper in Arlington Heights, Ill., from 1988-99 and currently for NBA.com. He has written two books on the Bulls, including the new title "100 Things Bulls Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die'' published by Triumph Books.
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