Short-handed Bulls blow out MJ’s epic losers
BY NEIL HAYES firstname.lastname@example.org April 18, 2012 10:32PM
Richard Hamilton, Gerald Henderson
BULLS AT HEAT
The facts: 7, TNT, 1000-AM.
Updated: May 21, 2012 8:48AM
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Michael Jordan is still helping the Bulls all these years later.
His former team limped into town with its two best players injured and with its collective spirit down after one of the worst losses of the season, but Jordan’s Bobcats proved to be an ideal remedy for a team that has been sputtering instead of soaring down the stretch.
A player known perhaps most of all for his immense will to win is now chairman of one of the worst teams in NBA history. A 100-68 Bulls victory on Wednesday night at Time Warner Cable Arena extended the Bobcats’ franchise-record losing streak to 18 games. At 7-54, they are assured of owning the worst record in the league this season. They would end up with the lowest winning percentage in league history if they lose their five remaining games.
Rip Hamilton had 22 points and six assists for a team that took care of business after a deflating loss to the lowly Wizards on Monday night.
“I always feel I can make them from the corner,” a grinning Hamilton said after going 4-for-5 from three-point range. “When I’m making them from the top, that’s something different.”
Playing against a team that was ranked last in the league in points per game, field-goal percentage, three-point field-goal percentage and rebounds per game was just what the Bulls needed with Rose missing his 25th game with a foot injury and Deng his 11th with sore ribs.
Both players are game-time decisions for Thursday’s game against the Heat, although it appears Deng is more likely to play. The Bulls have a 21/2-game lead on Miami for the best record in the Eastern Conference.
“We’re going to re-evaluate it in the morning, but most likely I’ll be ready to go,” Deng said after the game.
Hamilton has scored 44 points in his last two games. His 22 against the Bobcats came in 24 minutes. John Lucas III and Joakim Noah had 12 each, and Omer Asik added nine points and 15 rebounds.
Kemba Walker had 16 points for the Bobcats, who shot 29.8 percent from the field.
“[Hamilton’s] last two games have been great,” Carlos Boozer said. “He’s playing great, shooting lights-out, being super aggressive. That’s the Rip I’ve been playing against for a long time.”
The Heat rested Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Wednesday night’s win over the Raptors, but both are expected to play against the Bulls as the Heat makes its final push to regain home-court advantage from the Bulls.
That puts coach Tom Thibodeau in somewhat of a bind. He wants to win the game, but ensuring that Rose and Deng remain healthy might be more important in the long run.
“I always think if you can get it, you get it, and if not, whatever your circumstances are, you make the best of those circumstances,” Thibodeau said. “We’re young and I want us to continue to improve, learn how to win. Last year, I thought home court helped us a lot. But if you don’t have home court, you don’t. You have to win more on the road, that’s all.”