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News » Circus trip could spell trouble for Bulls


Circus trip could spell trouble for Bulls


Circus trip could spell trouble for Bulls The Bulls won?t get many votes for the NBA?s most exciting team. Through nine games, their highest point total is 94, delivered in Saturday?s victory over Philadelphia.

The good news is by beating the 76ers, the Bulls (5-4) will carry a winning record into the annual circus road trip for just the second time this decade.

The other time it happened was 2005, when the Bulls left town with a 3-2 record, then split six games on the road trip. If the Bulls break even on this year?s six-game trip, it would be an amazing accomplishment.

When it comes to quality opponents, this is one of the toughest schedules they?ve faced on the circus trip. As of Sunday morning, the combined record of the six teams they?ll play is 36-20. Here?s a rundown:

Tuesday at Sacramento: This figured to be the easy win on this year?s trip, but the Kings suddenly have won four in a row, beating decent teams such as Houston and Oklahoma City in the last two contests.

Sacramento lost its top scorer, shooting guard Kevin Martin, to a broken wrist, but has played better without him.

Guard Tyreke Evans may be a distant second to Milwaukee?s Brandon Jennings in the rookie-of-the-year race right now, but he?s averaging an impressive 16.8 points.

The Bulls also will get their first look at old friend Andres Nocioni since trading him to the Kings in February. Nocioni has averaged 13.8 points since joining the starting lineup for the last five games.

Thursday at L.A. Lakers: Pau Gasol hasn?t even played yet because of a hamstring injury, but the Lakers are rolling along with a 7-2 record.

Kobe Bryant is back atop the NBA scoring list at 31.4 points, center Andrew Bynum is off to another fast start with 20.7 points and 11.9 rebounds, and Ron Artest hasn?t done anything crazy.

Saturday at Denver: This is a chance for the Bulls to avenge their loss to the Nuggets in last week?s "replay game," which ended with the referees waving off Brad Miller?s apparent game-winning miracle jumper.

The Nuggets played seven of their first nine games on the road, then returned home and beat the Lakers by 26 points.

One possible advantage for the Bulls is Denver plays the Clippers on the road Friday, while the Bulls are off.

Nov. 23 at Portland: The Bulls had nothing but trouble against the Blazers last season, losing in Portland 116-74 last November.

The Bulls had trouble matching the Blazers? size inside with Greg Oden and LaMarcus Aldridge, then had no one to guard 6-foot-7 guard Brandon Roy.

Maybe this year Joakim Noah can hold up a little better in the post and John Salmons will have a chance to slow down Roy. Portland has swept a road trip against Memphis, Minnesota, New Orleans and Charlotte, with one stop left in Atlanta tonight.

Nov. 26 at Utah: A rare Thanksgiving night game for the Bulls . Their luck may be due to run out against the Jazz, considering they won in Utah last year on Larry Hughes? shot at the buzzer.

Then rookie James Johnson threw in another buzzer-beater to win the preseason game in London.

Nov. 30 at Milwaukee: Admit it, Bulls fans ? you knew Scott Skiles was going to turn the Bucks into winners.

Actually, Milwaukee has played a pretty soft schedule during its 5-2 start, but there is no doubting the dominance of Jennings, who erupted for 55 points against Golden State on Saturday.

The Bucks are expecting to get Michael Redd back soon from an injury, but an argument could be made that they?re playing better without him.

So the Bulls have their work cut out on this year?s trip.

It will be time to see if their impressive defense can stand up on the road, if Salmons (.317 field-goal percentage) can snap out of his offensive doldrums, and whether Derrick Rose (13.8 points, 5.3 assists) still is recovering from his preseason ankle injury or if he?s having a legitimate sophomore slump.

The nine teams the Bulls already have played owned a combined record of 50-33 through Saturday. This has been a blistering opening schedule, with 12 of their first 15 opponents currently at or above .500.

When the trip ends, it should be about time for Tyrus Thomas to return from his broken left arm.

So no matter how bad things get on the road trek, things should only get better for the Bulls .

mmcgraw@dailyherald.com


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Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website: http://www.foxsports.com
Added: November 17, 2009

 

 
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