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updated: 1/26/2010 5:06 AM

Bulls' weekend road sweep not the only NBA surprise

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  • Brad Miller, left, hit 25 points to help the Bulls beat the Rockets on Saturday night.

      Brad Miller, left, hit 25 points to help the Bulls beat the Rockets on Saturday night.
    Associated Press

 
 

The good theme to the current NBA season would be, "Don't be so quick to judge."

The Bulls kept up with the slogan this weekend by pulling off surprising wins at Phoenix and Houston. An 0-7 road trip seemed possible, if not likely, when they started with losses to Golden State and the Los Angeles Clippers.

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But then, who knew veteran center Brad Miller would erupt for 25 points while Joakim Noah rested a foot injury and help beat the Rockets?

In the past two games, the Bulls demonstrated what can happen when Derrick Rose is aggressive, they get scoring from both Kirk Hinrich and John Salmons, and someone steps up with a good performance off the bench.

The three remaining games on the ice show road trip - San Antonio, Oklahoma City and New Orleans - will be tough, but maybe another win is possible.

The unexpected developments are spread across the league, though, so here's a list of apologies at the midway point:

Memphis Grizzlies: Several times, this space was dedicated to ridiculing the Grizzlies' decision to trade for Zach Randolph last summer, giving Darko Milicic to the Clippers in return.

There seemed to be enough logic to support the argument. Throughout his career, Randolph has produced good stats, but few wins. He also makes nearly the exact salary as Pau Gasol, who was given away by the Grizzlies two years ago in a cost-saving move.

Memphis seemed well on its way to a teen victory total when it started 1-8. Since then, however, the Grizzlies are 22-11 and Randolph figures to get serious all-star consideration, averaging 20.9 points and 11.4 rebounds.

Apologies are probably due to Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley, the St. Charles resident who supported the addition of Randolph.

1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers: When the Bulls lost to lowly New Jersey at home on Dec. 8, I wrote that the Nets were far from the worst team in NBA history.

Not so fast. New Jersey is now 3-40 and still hasn't caught up to the 9-win pace set by the Sixers in the 1972-73 season.

It's tough to understand why the Nets are so pathetic. They might have the second-best center in the Eastern Conference in Brook Lopez, point guard Devin Harris was thought to be a rising star as recently as last season, while shooting guard Courtney Lee started for Orlando in last year's NBA Finals.

Larry Brown: The coach who could win with any team finally met his match in the New York Knicks a few years back. Several teams ignored him and Brown settled for Charlotte as his bounce-back job, but the Bobcats seemed to be a lost cause after winning 35 games last season.

Now they're 21-21, good for seventh place in the East, even with center Tyson Chandler missing 17 games and not playing well when he is healthy.

Jamal Crawford: He started his NBA career as a point guard with the Bulls, then turned into an avid shooter. Now with Atlanta, he's averaging 17.3 points and is probably front-runner for the sixth man award. He also appears ready to make his first playoff appearance in 10 pro seasons.

Maybe since he's played so well, the Hawks will see Crawford as a full-time shooting guard if Joe Johnson leaves as a free agent.

Jason Kidd: Acquiring Kidd, who is 10 years older than Devin Harris, two seasons ago seemed to be a bad idea that would rob the Mavs of their future. But it's tough to second-guess when Dallas is third in the West and Harris' team is 3-40.

Anthony Parker: The Naperville native is arguably a more valuable addition for Cleveland than Shaquille O'Neal. Parker is shooting 46.3 percent from 3-point range and playing an important defensive role for the Cavs, who might be ready to pull away from slumping Boston and Orlando in the standings.

Derrick Rose's durability: While we're at it, might as well thank Rose for avoiding the No. 1 pick injury bug. In two of the last three years, top draft picks Greg Oden and Blake Griffin missed their entire rookie season.

Rose has missed one game in two seasons and keeps getting better. If there's any justice, he'll snap the Bulls' 12-year all-star drought and be selected as an Eastern Conference reserve on Thursday.

Bulls @ San Antonio Spurs

Time: 7:30 p.m.

TV: Comcast SportsNet

Radio: WMVP 1000-AM

Update: The Spurs (25-17) won 20 of 27 games between Nov. 21 and Jan. 13, but have since lost four of five, including consecutive home games to Houston and Utah. Tim Duncan is averaging 19.9 points and his field-goal percentage of .542 is close to a career-high. PG Tony Parker is at 17.0 points, while Manu Ginobili and Richard Jefferson are both averaging 12.8 points, well below recent seasons. Michael Finley is out with an ankle injury. The Bulls have lost nine of their last 10 in San Antonio.

Next: Wednesday vs. Oklahoma City Thunder at the Ford Center, 7 p.m.

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