The Bulls wrapped up the pre-All Star break portion of their schedule on a bright note, taking down the Memphis Grizzlies with a blowout victory and ending an 11-game home losing streak.  New Bull Otto Porter Jr. scored a career high 37 points, earning a dousing from his teammates during Steve Kashul’s postgame on-court interview:

UNPOPULAR OPINION WARNING: That Otto trade is looking like another great move by the much-maligned front office.  It’s popular and easy to rip on Gar Forman and John Paxson.  They’ve made their fair share of mistakes, particularly in regards to coaching decisions.  They’ve never landed THE big free agent.  They got owned on the 2014 draft night deal with Denver.  Critics would also suggest an L for the Taj Gibson/Doug McDermott trade that landed Cameron Payne  But they weren’t keeping Taj or Doug and took a flier.  Didn’t really hurt them.  Payne just didn’t pan out.  That’s acceptable.  They cleaned up on the Jimmy Butler trade.  And – here’s what is most important as we head into the draft lottery – they are among the best in the business in terms of draft analysis.  Many of their most vocal critics of today were ripping then in 2008 when they passed on Michael Beasley in favor of Derrick Rose.  Since then, they’ve drafted Taj, Noah, Jimmy, Niko, Portis, Valentine, Lauri, Wendell, Hutchison – many of them late in the 1st round.  Even misses, like McDermott, Tony Snell and James Johnson, have mostly grown into serviceable pros for other franchises.  If you support their firing, first let them make one more crucial draft choice, wherever in the lottery the Bulls end up.  D Rose was a top five player whose injury changed the course of the franchise just 8 years ago.  Tell me, if the Greek Freak went down for the Bucks, where would they be 8 years later?  Probably still in recovery mode, like the Bulls.  But I’ll take the Bulls roster right now, looking ahead to the future, over most every middle of the pack team in the NBA.  There’s a light at the Finnish of this tunnel.

It remains a joy to see Joakim Noah play at United Center, even as an opponent.  Without question one of my favorite Chicago athletes of all time.  Grit and will to win personified.  That’s Noah on the ground after fouling Cristiano Felicio.

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Jo clearly wasn’t pleased with the call:

The UC crowd showed him plenty of love.  A guy in the row behind us in a red #13 jersey yelled out in support every time Noah got a rebound or set a screen.  The only moment Jo wasn’t fully appreciated was when he sank the 2nd of 2 fourth quarter free throws, robbing the crowd of a free Portillo’s hot dog.

Bonus:  Cuppy Coffee won the Dunkin’ Donuts race.  I collected my prize today from a Dunkin’ drive thru on Western.  Hank was unimpressed.