Chicago Bulls fans have come to assume home games mean wins this season, but unfortunately that wasn’t the case Friday night. Lost in a sea of upsets nationwide was one of the most surprising upsets of the day. The Portland Trailblazers came into the United Center and knocked off the best team in the NBA, 100-89.
It may not seem like a huge upset, until you realize that Portland fired their head coach, Nate McMillan, just yesterday. That, and they traded two of their best players, Gerald Wallace and Marcus Camby. The players they received in the trade were not available to play (Mehmet Oker, Hasheem Thabeet and Jonny Flynn).
Their franchise center and #1 overall draft pick from 2007? They cut him yesterday after playing just 82 games in two seasons over the course of 5 years. Oden hasn’t played in a regular season game since 2009. Their 3 time All-Star shooting guard Brandon Roy… well, he retired days before the season was to begin due to multiple knee injuries.
Upset city, baby.
The interim head coach for Portland is Kaleb Canales. Who? Kaleb was hired as an unpaid video intern in 2005, and when Greg Oden was drafted, Kaleb was the team’s video coordinator. By 2010, Coach Canales had taken the reigns of the Trailblazers summer league team, and was an assistant under Nate McMillan. When his boss was fired yesterday, Kaleb was put in charge. Just 34 years old, he was a kid when Kurt “Big Sexy” Thomas began his career in the NBA. Friday night, he was barking instructions at Kurt.
The Trailblazers emotional “gut-check” win was certainly not welcome in the United Center, despite the wild circumstances behind the scenes. Just two days after beating the Miami Heat at the UC without Derrick Rose and Richard Hamilton, the Bulls failed to meet Portland’s level of intensity. Chicago allowed their opponent to shoot the lights out, going 50% from the field and 54% from 3-point range.
Bulls point guards CJ Watson and John Lucas went a combined 7-23 shooting, with just 7 assists total. Add an 8-27 mark from three, and even a +10 rebounding margin couldn’t save Chicago from the loss.
The Bulls are still without 40% of their starting lineup. Luol Deng and CJ Watson are playing injured, and it shows. They have played extremely well throughout the injury filled season, and still own the best record in the NBA, 36-10.
Their ability to grind out wins has been impressive, and the Bulls will be tested again tomorrow night when the Philadelphia 76ers visit the United Center. Chicago is 1-1 against Philly this season, and this will be their last meeting.
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