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Dogfights

January 13, 2012

By SportsFuntz

My Take: Jumping for John!

We should applaud the forty-five minute effort from a benchwarmer such as John Lucas III. Given the circumstances, our third point guard stepped up and delivered exactly what Thibodeau required of him. Granted, although Thibs probably ordered a dozen eggs, the Bulls needed to more than double that order in order to get our omelet/win.

But seventeen stinkers? Some pundits questioned whether heaving twenty-eight shots was a good idea.

The shots came within the flow of the offense. For the most part, Lucas took no attempts during the first ten seconds of the play, unless the Washington defenders had their back turned and penetration proved most prudent.

Indecision for a point guard, especially one required to run the offense for a majority of the game, can be a death sentence. Besides, Coach Thibs ordered Lucas to jack it up whenever he saw an opening. The post-game interview revealed that Thibodeau wanted even more shots in some situations.

We’re not looking for a Rose replacement. Most ones in the NBA lack the reigning MVP’s attributes, including his quickness and strength to finish close to the basket. The Bulls needed efficiency and decisiveness.

Yes, Lucas’ shot at the end of each quarter fell short. We all know jumpers require legs, and running a marathon after training for one milers serves as a shock to the system. But what were our alternatives? Watson’s elbow hasn’t healed. I admit, I screamed at the television to see Ronnie Brewer at the point, just to give Lucas a breather. But after watching Lucas handle himself, I have to tip my hats off to the man.

I also realize that the young Wizards were not world beaters. Which made a game plan to have an aggressive point guard less costly for the Bulls. The Wizards hardly worked an offense, which seemed to consist of Jordan Crawford grabbing the ball whenever possible and shooting as soon as he sees a flicker of daylight. Or John Wall bouncing around like a pinball hoping something would click. Speaking of pinball, Washington never seemed to earn that second opportunity, as evidenced by one sequence at the end of the game where the Bulls grabbed four or five offensive rebounds.

Hopefully by the time we play Boston, Rose’s sprained toe will be nice and healed. (For the love of God/Tebow it’s not turf toe. Bulls officials announced it multiple times). If not, Mike James could spell Lucas for more than 45 seconds.

If anything, Lucas hasn’t received enough credit. But I’ll keep the accolades for last night’s game. The counter returns to zero during the next tipoff.

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By Ross Mitchell

My take: Cozy Up To Scalabrine

First let’s welcome (back) SportsFuntz to PUP List Nation! The man behind the curtain no more! What does the future hold for the author whose first non-introductory posting centers on the exploits of one John “Journeyman” Lucas III? We can’t be certain, but unlike Lucas III Vince will have a guaranteed spot on our roster come May.

So, I’ve been called out for my “The Facebook” post questioning the “success” of J-Love 3. Love that the gauntlet has been thrown down. Love the debate. Here’s my rebuttal:

They were playing the Wizards.

I don’t need to elaborate, but I will.

They were playing the Washington Wizards, who are coming across win less frequently than the Washington Generals. Had the Chicago Bulls been playing a team the caliber of the Los Angeles Lakers, the Los Angeles Clippers, the Miami Heat, the Oklahoma City Thunder, even the Boston Celtics, I would have been satisfied with the win. But they weren’t. They were playing John Wall’s Zig-Tech All-Stars. They were playing a team who five months from now I predict will be cited as the reason Flip Saunders, “no longer has the same passion for the game [he] once loved”.

Now I don’t want to take anything away from John Lucas III. He played the game of his life, more-than-likely the game of his career. Lucas III is our third string point guard who was thrust into the starting role by a slew of injuries. His performance for a single game against the worst team in the league was admirable. He was a big reason the Bulls won by 14 points. He was also a big reason the Bulls won by only 14 point.

Again, John Lucas III is our third-string point guard. He took 28 shots on Wednesday, more than Carlos Boozer, Joakim Noah, Ronnie Brewer, Brian Scalabrine, Mike James, Taj Gibson, and Jimmy Butler combined. Of those 28 shots, he missed 17 including six from three-point land. No player in the league who isn’t named Rose, Bryant, James, Wade, Durant, or Ellis should ever miss 17 shots in a game. No player who is behind two other team members at the same position should ever miss that many shots in a week.

I will grant SportsFuntz that a point-guard who struggles with indecisiveness is a recipe for disaster. I will also grant SportsFuntz that coach Tom “Inhumanly Low Voice” Thibodeau wanted Lucas III to shoot frequently, but what would the outcome of the game have been had Lucas III had a poor shooting night? Oh wait, he did, but they were playing the Wizards, the one team in the league upset the lockout didn’t last until 2014.

But we’re also losing sight of what Lucas didn’t do. He didn’t pass the ball to open teammates (he had assists, it could have been 15). He prevented Boozer, Brewer, and Noah from ever establishing a rhythm to the point that Brewer was visibly frustrated at the end of the first half and Carlos Boozer refused to return to the floor during the 4th quarter. I mean when was the last time Boozer and Noah sat out the entire final twelve minutes?

(What? They did the game before? That was the third time this season? Huh…that’s not good)

Lucas III was also a liability on defense despite being +14, often getting abused by John Wall and Jordan “0 assists, -18 for the game” Crawford when Lucas was caught looking at the Wizards’ “offensive alignment”. Kyle Korver was +28. The last time Kyle Korver had that high a +/- ration Creighton was blowing out Drake. Should I bring up the Wall “and-1” dunk?

(Here’s what I would tell my players to guard the Wizards’ offense if I were an NBA coach, “If your man has the ball and they’ve crossed the time-line and there are under 22 seconds on the shot clock, he’s shooting.”)

I agree with SportsFuntz that Lucas III does deserve credit for his effort. I agree he exceeded my expectations and get the job done when he was called upon. He was put in a tight spot and he responded with a professional effort. But that’s his job and with C.J. Watson out, he needs know his role on the team. Pass first, shoot when the opportunities are there, and I’m sorry, but there aren’t 28 opportunities for him against anyone (who doesn’t call the nation’s capitol home).

I leave you with two things:

1. If I write this much about John Lucas III in the future, the Bulls are in serious trouble.

2. I refuse to call SportsFuntz “SportsFuntz”! His name is Vince! He’s snazzy dresser and went to Boston University then Seton Hall! I’m known him since I was nine years old and I’m pretty sure he’s still mad at me for slamming his hand in a car door ten years ago! And if there’s a response to my response I concede the point!

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