What do you see as the reason(s) the Bulls seem to fall apart in the third and fourth quarter? They have a lead at the half or three quarters, and end up losing it in the fourth. Is lack of depth, conditioning, focus, leadership or what? Or do they just not know how to win? --Mike Becker, Villa Hills, Ky.
I'll take (E), all of the above, for $100, Alex. I think the biggest thing is that most of these Bulls are used to losing. So when any little thing goes wrong in the fourth quarter, you can see in their body language how much they collapse. That's the culture of losing that Paxson and Skiles are trying to change. Cartwright tried, too, but it didn't work. It's a tough process.
When John Paxson gutted the Bulls offense last November, the understanding was that the need for Jamal Crawford's scoring had become very important to the team. Yet Jamal now spends almost as much time on the bench as on the court. What do you think of Scott Skiles' approach of sitting Crawford for a quarter or half when Jamal makes a couple of bad shots or has a defensive lapse? I cannot recall a time when Crawford has had as many consistently bad shooting games as he's had in last month. And under Skiles he seems to be getting worse each game. If a player's game is going downhill instead of improving, don't you have to question the coach's approach? --Bill Kopta, Scottsdale, Ariz.
Jamal sat the entire fourth quarter of back-to-back games and then played the entire fourth quarter of back-to-back games. It's simple: Jamal will be evaluated on a game-by-game basis. Some games, Skiles will sit him because he thinks Jamal is hurting the team with his defense and shot selection. Other games, like [Tuesday night] against Detroit, Skiles left Jamal in there even though he was en route to a 6-for-20 night because they had nobody else to score. Such is the inconsistency of youth. I know it's not the best answer, but how else do you explain having Crawford look like an All-Star one night and an afterthought on another?
I think quite a few players are on the game to game basis and haven't earned the right to be full-time ballers, actually.