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Half Way To Where?

By Benjy Lipsman in News on Jan 24, 2008 3:58PM

2008_01_sports_bulls_half.jpgWith Wednesday night's win over the Indiana Pacers, the Bulls reached the half way point in their season on a high. Not only did they win the game, but they did so without Luol Deng, Chris Duhon and Ben Gordon, who are all currently injured.

But nights like that have been few and far between for a team many predicted to compete for -- if not win -- the Eastern Conference title. Instead, this team heads into the "back nine" with a 17-24 record.

Many factors helped lead to this dismal start: poor shooting up and down the roster, an ineffective Ben Wallace, erratic efforts by some of the younger players, injuries... the cumulative effect cost Scott Skiles his job on Christmas Eve, when the Bulls were 9-16.

After Skiles was replaced by assistant coach Jim Boylan, the Bulls have played .500 ball. Still not great, but some improvement. So is there any reason for optimism? We guess that depends on your definition of success.

Chicagoist expected this team to at least make the Eastern Conference Finals, so for us an 8th seed in the playoffs and an early exit certainly do not make for a successful season. We'd rather see them in the lottery and have a shot at another top pick.

We weren't the only one in town to predict a trip to the conference finals -- so too did the Trib's K.C. Johnson, who took the opportunity to revisit five questions about the Bulls from the preseason. The answers now are not what we wanted to hear.

Of course, there is still nearly a month before the NBA's trading deadline so John Paxson might make a bold move to shake things up. The window of opportunity for landing Kobe Bryant may be closed, but there are other stars who may be available. We've heard Pau Gasol's name pop up again. But even a super star might not make enough of a difference this year. Yet another home town team with high expectations that can't live up to the hype, proving that some higher being truly has it in for us Chicago sports fans.

Photo by AFP/Getty Images/File/Kevin C. Cox