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Coast To Coast

January 20, 2008|Mark Heisler

Optimism flowers among the Bulls

Interim Chicago Coach Jim Boylan, counting his blessings after last week's 2-2 trip:

"We went to Philadelphia and saw the City of Brotherly Love. We went to Atlanta and got a taste of the South. We went to Orlando and saw Disney World. And then we went down to Miami and got a little bit of South Beach. So it was a great trip."

In Atlanta they lost by 21 after teammates voted to suspend rookie Joakim Noah an extra game for verbally abusing an assistant coach.

In Orlando, where they trailed by 28 and lost by 14, Noah reprimanded Ben Wallace for laughing on the bench and the two had to be separated.

Then they came home and lost to the Warriors.

Aside from that, things are looking up.

On the other hand, take the Heat, please

Having tried optimism through the first 38 games and having lost 30 of them, Miami Coach Pat Riley ran out.

With all his starters back, the Heat began a seven-game homestand in which it hoped to climb back into the race, and lost to the Bulls, 126-96.

In the really bad news, Shaquille O'Neal, looking revitalized, went for 24 points with 10 rebounds, Dwyane Wade scored 24 . . . and it didn't matter.

"Right now, tonight, at this moment, I have no answers," Riley said.

Asked if his players still care, Riley said, "You've got to ask them that question. I think they have the desire. They're just a bad team. They don't want to accept that."

In either case, it's not good.

Steph as Knicks MVP

New York's Stephon Marbury, who took a month off after his father's death, may take the rest of the season off, opting for surgery on bone spurs in his left ankle.

Suggesting his skepticism, Coach Isiah Thomas told the Knicks press corps, "You guys dig and you find every story so if there's a story here, all of you are equipped enough and dig hard enough, you'll find it."

Less than distraught, Marbury's teammates won three games in a row without him.

Big D as in depressed

If the Mavericks were humiliated in last spring's first-round loss to Golden State, at least none of them went to Mexico with Jessica Simpson beforehand, as Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo did before last week's upset by the Giants.

"He's still young and has a great career ahead of him," Dirk Nowitzki, the MVP who struggled last spring, said of Romo. "You can't just always look at the negative."

Unfortunately, Dallas fans can probably just look at the negative for a few more weeks.

"We know that the Cowboys are out of the picture now and probably a little more attention will shift to us and the [NHL] Stars," said Jerry Stackhouse.

"We were enjoying floating under the radar for a little bit but I guess that's over now."

Looks like an inside job

Before the Suns' win over the Lakers, slumping Leandro Barbosa got a call in his hotel room, informing him he had been traded to the Knicks.

In tears, Barbosa went to an assistant coach's room where he learned it was a prank.

Barbosa, who'd gone five for 19 on three-point attempts over three games, made three of four against the Lakers that night, scoring 22 points.

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