Taj Gibson hit 8-of-10 shots on his way to 17 points, seven rebounds, three assists, a steal and a block in 31 minutes on Tuesday night.
The Scoop:Joakim Noah was getting the night off for rest, which explains most of what you need to know about Gibson. He's going to be a must-start in daily leagues any time Pau Gasol or Noah are out, but should struggle with consistency when they're playing. He's still worth drafting in all leagues, but he'd be a much more interesting player to own if the Bulls wouldn't have replaced Carlos Boozer with Gasol last summer.
On Jan. 20, the Los Angeles Lakers visited the Chicago Bulls for their lone 2013-14 performance in the Land of Lincoln. The game worked its way into overtime, and on the final play, Bulls big man Taj Gibson worked his way past his defender and then around Lakers stalwart Pau Gasol to toss in a lefty layup at the buzzer to take the contest . The fantastic play, drawn up with less than a second on the clock, overshadowed a marvelous performance from Mr. Gasol – one that saw him pair his 20 points with 19 rebounds, three steals and five blocks. The weather, on that Monday, also helped mask the imprint of perhaps the nastiest winter in Chicago’s history. With a high of 37 degrees that day , the temperatures were actually above average, but that relatively balmy week’s respite was placed in between two of the bigger winter snowstorms that this Chicago native can recall – crippling a city that is used to repeatedly digging itself out of a snowy hole, working its own way past the third-coldest Chicago winter on record. The Bulls finally caught a break, it seems, with Gasol not visiting Chicago during those drifts in late December, mid-February, or even during mid-March’s freakish snowstorms. That break in the windswept action may have been the tipping point that convinced the free agent that it was just fine to leave the waves of Malibu for three potential seasons spent braving the Chicago elements. Whatever the reason, Bulls center Joakim Noah is ready to give Gasol some dap for his upcoming adventure. From Comcast Chicago : "Because it’s freezing out here," Noah said when asked why he thought the Bulls wouldn't land Gasol. "I think the last time he was here it was that polar, arctic thing. The polar vortex thing going on. It’s brutal. "So when you’re used to the beach every day, to pick the polar vortex says a lot." […] "I just thought there was no way we were going to get him, but I think it just says a lot about him as a player, about his mindset.” That’s completely true, but we’d expect nothing less from a person in Gasol who chooses to spend his summers doing charity work in Ghana for UNICEF or representing his country in international play rather than lazing about in Ibiza in July and August. To that end, this makes Gasol’s follow-up quote just as expected : "The change of scenery and being in a position where I feel like we have a great opportunity here," Gasol answered when asked why he feels a sense of refreshment in Chicago. "That’s refreshing, and seeing everyone’s excitement is really refreshing." (I love Pau Gasol.) Yes, that’s your typical Pau Gasol response. Cheery to no end, devoid of sanctimony or pretense, sincere as all get out. I half expect him to be out with shovel in hand to help clear the walkway as I make my way toward the press entrance to the United Center this winter. It’s true that Gasol has more than $22 million reasons to be happy to be in Chicago over the next three seasons, but all reports seem to indicate that the reeling Los Angeles Lakers were offering more money to stay in the 72 and sunny (save for this week, at least) place he’s called home since 2008. And because we’re projecting, and because the quotes above are from my two favorite basketball players, we also get the feeling Gasol took this gig as an experiment of sorts. There are better basketball teams to join, but the Chicago Bulls might be the most entertaining team in the league next season. To those that obsess over interior passing as performed by big men, at least. Again, I’m projecting. I’m allowed to. Jane Byrne was the mayor when I was born, I’ve made it through quite a few nasty winters and the Ben Wallace Era. Of course, this is the honeymoon period. Noah is recovering from offseason knee surgery, and it’s hard to think of another soon-to-be 30-year old center with more miles on his skinny frame than Joakim. Not even the presence of Gibson, last year’s shoulda-been Sixth Man Award winner, may be enough to make up for the expected injury absences of Noah. Not even the arrival of Nikola Mirotic, called by many to be the best international pro prospect yet to play an NBA game, may be enough to make up for expected absences from the 34-year old Gasol, who has missed a combined 55 games over the past two seasons. On paper, the Bulls are loaded. That mileage, those ages, those injuries, and the expected confidence and rust worries regarding Derrick Rose (who looked terrible last season and even worse during this year’s FIBA World Cup play) crumple that paper a bit. For now, though, all is beautiful. The Bulls tip off their exhibition schedule at home on Monday against Washington. Weather forecasts predict that the temperature will be in the mid-60s, with sunny skies. Around the NBA: - - - - - - - Kelly Dwyer is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at KDonhoops@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @KDonhoops
The Scoop:"We know how important Taj is to our team," head coach Tom Thibodeau said. Much was made of whether Gibson or Pau Gasol would be starting for the Bulls this season, but it is obvious that Gibson will see close to starters minutes regardless. This good be Thibs simply trying to keep one of his favorite players happy, as all signs point to Gasol starting at power forward next season.
The Scoop:"It was great to be amongst the names of guys like J.R. Smith, Jamal Crawford, Lamar Odom," Gibson said. "I was kind of disappointed I didn't win it, but that's more fuel for my fire to push forward." Gibson should still see solid fourth-quarter minutes this season, but we'd like his chances for fantasy success a lot more if he wasn't playing behind Pau Gasol and Joakim Noah.