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Tag:Chicago Bulls
Posted on: December 14, 2010 6:27 pm
Edited on: December 14, 2010 6:28 pm
 

3-Up, 3-Down: The top keeps rising

Posted by Royce Young



Three teams that are rising and three that are falling in this week's edition of our Power Rankings:

3-UP

Chicago Bulls (6): The Bulls are quickly becoming a strong riser in the East. They made the biggest jump going up five spots in the rankings. They're winning with a ton of defense and with Carlos Boozer back, are a cool 6-1 and winners of six straight. Now with Boozer playing at a high level, coupled with Derrick Rose's MVP emergence and the fact Luol Deng is a capable third scorer, the Bulls have every right to stake a claim as one of the East's true contenders.

Oklahoma City Thunder (10): Floundering a bit here and there, they have. While the Thunder just rose up two spots this week, they are definitely in the category of rising. Oklahoma City is playing better and have three more home games after blowing the doors off the Cavaliers Sunday by 29 (largest win ever by the Thunder in OKC). Expectations were a bit inflated before the season so some were a little discouraged with OKC's up and down start, but the Thunder appear to be settling in. Kevin Durant is regaining his scoring machine swagger, Russell Westbrook is tearing apart opponents and even James Harden is finding some offensive game.

Milwaukee Bucks (16): The Bucks were a big riser, going up five spots this week. A lot of that is because of their big road win over the streaking Mavericks, but the Bucks are winners of three straight and of four of five overall. Plus, the wins are against quality opponents (Magic, Pacers, Rockets, Mavs). At 10-13, Milwaukee has been disappointing after its playoff run last season, but it appears that the Bucks might be finding themselves a bit lately.

3-DOWN

Phoenix Suns (19): The Suns have slipped five spots and could be heading for an even bigger dip as the schedule doesn't get easy ahead. After a winnable game against Minnesota, the Suns play at Dallas, at Oklahoma City, at San Antonio and home against the Heat. Yikes. They've lost three straight and have fallen below .500 at 11-12. After next week, Phoenix could be multiple games under.

New Orleans Hornets (14): The fall continues. The Hornets are 3-7 in their last 10 and have dropped three straight. And this is after starting the season 8-0 and then 11-1. Consider this fun fact: The Hornets haven't scored 100 points in their last 13 games. Offense is a big issue late in games with Chris Paul desperately looking for scoring options. Trevor Ariza hasn't been the answer and coach Monty Williams continues to sit potential spark Marcus Thornton.

Denver Nuggets (12): This feels like a temporary fall, as the Nuggs have dropped three of four, but all were on the road against decently decent teams. They're quite inconsistent though, so Denver is certainly a candidate to drop multiple games. But at the same time, the Nuggets also look like one of the top teams in the West on any given night, so who knows, they could be headed up. But Chauncey Billups is now battling a wrist injury and with the Carmelo stuff reaching its apex, the distractions could weigh heavily on the Nuggets.

Be sure to check the full rankings out here.

Posted on: December 14, 2010 3:15 pm
 

Derrick Rose and the cult of contact

Posted by Matt Moore


It began with this, from John Hollinger at ESPN: 

Derrick Rose doesn't draw fouls. That's about all the negativity I can muster toward him in an impressive first quarter of the season, yet it remains an important distinction in evaluating his place among the league's elite.
via Chicago Bulls' Derrick Rose not yet an elite point guard - ESPN.


Then Bulls blog Bulls By The Horns chimed in:
 
No matter what some people say — that Rose doesn’t draw contact on his many drives to the basket — Derrick gets hit. Often. It’s just that, unlike most NBA players, he doesn’t flail or flop or scream when it happens. That fact, more so than his ability to absorb the blows and finish anyway, is what has prevented him from making more trips to the line.
via Game 23 Recap: Bulls 92, Pacers 73 » By The Horns.
 
Finally, Zach Lowe of SI delved deeper: 

But if Rose’s usage rate and free-throw numbers stay at their current rates, he’d become only the sixth player in three decades (since the introduction of the three-point line) to post a usage rate greater than 30 percent while attempting fewer than five foul shots per 36 minutes, according to Basketball-Reference.* The others: Ben Gordon, Chris Webber, Vince Carter, Baron Davis and journeyman Freeman Williams, who did it while playing for the Clippers in 1979-80.
via The Point Forward » Posts Why does Rose rarely get to free-throw line? «.


The debate revolves around whether Rose is bad at drawing freebies because he's not getting the calls for some reason, or whether he has issues with contact. Hollinger doesn't believe that Rose, a star the league is very much marketing towards in a major market, isn't lacking for the benefit of the doubt with the officials. Bulls by the Horns' Matt McHale on the other hand thinks that Rose's stoic handling of contact doesn't afford him the same results do to his lack of theatrics. So what's the answer? 

Watching Rose from an outside perspective, I've always been struck by his ability to avoid getting ensnared in collapsing interior defense. He weaves through contact and that's what allows him to create amazing shots off the high glass. But he does lean away from contact. He doesn't lean away from contact the way Vince Carter shies away from contact, he simply anticipates the hit and works to create space for his shot. That's an incredible skill. It also doesn't get him to the line. 

Following up on the data Lowe presented, Synergy Sports pegs Rose as the 40th best player with at least 50 possession in the pick and roll at drawing fouls. In isolation, he's 42nd among players with 50 possessions at drawing a shooting foul, and 27th in getting any free throws period. That's worse than Brandon Roy, who has no meniscus. He's also posting a 30+ usage rate, fifth best in the league. This isn't to say that he's not making the most of his usage, he is. He's brilliant. That three pointer which has so often flagged off and held him in check? It's falling, and in key situations. His jumper's still a work in progress but it's forgivable when you examine his ability to get to the rim. Quite simply, he's an elite player in every category except drawing fouls. And that category is one in which he is so bad it does impact his status. I won't go so far as to say he's not elite. He is. But he needs to learn to get those fouls, and that may mean absorbing more contact. 

Then again, Dwyane Wade absorbs a ton of contact and has his entire career. He's also missed hundreds of games due to injury. 

Maybe if we consider that something has to suffer for a player to be great, drawing contact is an acceptable limitation.
Category: NBA
Posted on: December 14, 2010 11:31 am
 

The Game Changer: Chicago keeps clamping down

Posted by Royce Young

Each game is made up of elements which help formulate the outcome. Monday through Friday, we'll bring you the elements from the night before's games in our own specialized version of the game recaps. It's not everything that happened, but it's an insight into what lead to the results you'll see in the box scores. This is the Game Changer.

THE BIG ONE: I DARE YOU TO SCORE ON THE Bulls

Let's go over a few stats from the Pacers-Bulls game. Indiana's field goal percentage: 35.7. Indiana's turnovers: 15. Indiana's points by quarter: 18, 23, 17, 15. Indiana's total points: 73.

The lesson here we're learning is, it's not easy to score on the Chicago Bulls.

The Bulls have won six straight and during that stretch are only allowing 88.0 points per game, and that's including an overtime win over the Rockets where Chicago gave up 116. In the last five wins, the Bulls are just allowing 82.4 points a game. Consider this: In games that ended in regulation, the Bulls have only allowed 100 points four times in their 23 games. And people didn't think Tom Thibodeau could transform the Bulls.

What makes the Bulls so incredible on the defensive end is their ability to help defend everywhere. Nothing ever goes uncontested. If the other team is taking a shot, you can count on a hand being in their face. The Bulls rotate as well as anyone, stuff the lane and force opponents to try and beat them with jumpshots. It's the classic Boston Celtic defense that Thibodeau became known for. And it's making the Bulls one of the premier teams in the East.

Since Carlos Boozer has joined the team after his injury, the Bulls are 6-1 with the one loss being to the Celtics in Boozers first game. Chicago is placing itself in the elite tier in the East and priming itself as a contender to the Magic, Heat and Celtics.

GO-GO-GADGET LINES

Zach Randolph gets the gold star as he Grizzly big man went for 25 points and 20 rebounds in a winning effort over the Blazers.

Dwyane Wade
gets a mention with 32 points on only 13 shots. Plus he added five rebounds just for fun.

Carlos Boozer continues to come around as he had 22 points and 18 rebounds for the Bulls in their domination of the Pacers.

Deron Williams and the Jazz cruised past the Warriors as Williams had 30 points on 8-16 shooting and 10 assists.

HEAT EAT UP THE Hornets

The Heat made it nine straight with a cruising 96-84 over the Hornets Monday night. And once again, Miami impressed. New Orleans was just overwhelmed by the Heat. Miami went on an 18-2 run late and completely took over the game. It just didn't seem like the Hornets could do anything to fix the Heat's run. Once Miami flipped the switch, it just felt like the game was over.

Here's what's most impressive about the Heat's winning streak. Every single game has come by double-digits. The last team to do that? LeBron's 2008-09 Cavs. In fact, the Heat are now just one off the record shared by five teams.

On top of that, all nine the Heat have held their opponent under 100 points. Against the Hornets, Miami gave up just 30 after the half and only nine points in the fourth quarter. Nine points for the Hornets in the last 12 minutes. That's just... insane.

Not to take anything away from the Heat's dominance, but what the crap is wrong with the Hornets and Chris Paul ? CP3 has completely disappeared down the stretch in games. He's not asserting himself into the offense and is completely drifting. As Paul goes, so does David West , Emeka Okafor and everyone else. Paul is fizzling late and it's killing the Hornets.

For more analysis on the Heat and Hornets, click here.

LEBRON GOES OVER THE BACKBOARD

No, he didn't jump over it. That hasn't happened, yet. But with the shot clock bearing down on him, LeBron got creative as he was forced deep on the baseline. He had a horrible angle on the rim, so naturally, LeBron improvised and shot the ball over the backboard. And of course, it went in.


THE Bucks STOPS HERE

The Mavericks winning streak is over at 12. Matt Moore with some thoughts:
Milwaukee badly needed the win, their third in a row, and needed to get their offense going. With both Jennings and Andrew Bogut scoring 20-plus and the Bucks dropping in a 114 efficiency mark, it's at least a step forward for the worst offense in the NBA. The loss will also do nothing to dispel the notion that Dallas still lacks the defensive acumen to compete in the playoffs. In truth, Dallas had the fifth best defense in the NBA coming into tonight. Just one of those nights, across the board, and an end to the win streak. During the streak, Dallas outscored its opponents by an average of just under nine points per game.

WHAT David Lee'S MANGLED ELBOW LOOKS LIKE

You've probably heard all about how serious David Lee's elbow injury was. And if you're like me, when you heard, "He could've lost his arm!" you thought, "I'm sure it was bad, but really? Because of a tooth?" But when you see what it actually looks like, it might make you think otherwise. Marcus Thompson of the Bay Area News Group took a picture of it. Yeah, I'd say David Lee had a pretty significant injury.



Lee injured the elbow when Wilson Chandler's face basically assaulted his elbow. Chander ended up breaking off a tooth in the collison and Lee had to have surgery because of an infection that followed. Lee's been wearing a pad to cover the, uh, cut, but obviously it's not a comfortable thing to play through.

PARTING THOUGHT

The Grizzlies have quietly won three straight to get back to within striking distance of .500. The wins aren't the most impressive (Clippers, Suns, Blazers), but Memphis is at least playing better. The defensive domination over the Blazers Monday night is something for the Grizz to feel good about and with two more winnable games before heading to San Antonio, Memphis could stretch this out a little further.
Posted on: December 11, 2010 12:58 am
Edited on: December 11, 2010 1:23 am
 

Derrick Rose makes own statement about torch

Derrick Rose delivers in the clutch for Chicago while Kobe Bryant is in a bit of a late-game slump.
Posted by Matt Moore

Kobe Bryant still holds the torch. He still has at least one more championship left in him, and Derrick Rose has much to learn about how to be a champion in the NBA. And Kobe definitely won't be passing Rose that torch any time soon, as he said earlier today .

But that might be okay, because it would appear Derrick Rose is well on his way to taking it, after a scintillating performance to close out an 89-84 win over the Lakers in Chicago Friday night. What's odd is that it was a similar game for both stars, both good and bad.

Both players had 5 rebounds. Bryant had seven assists to Rose's nine, while Kobe hada single turnover to Rose's four. Bryant's 23 points came on 23 shots, Rose's 29 on 25. So we're not exactly talking about hyper-efficient basketball. It was a defensive struggle on both sides, and one that the Bulls simply seemed to break away from in the closing minutes.

Rose hit a monster three-pointer falling out of bounds as the shot clock expired off an inbounds play with 5:30 left to push the lead to double digits. He also scored 5 points in the final 1:30 of the game while Bryant finished with two badly missed contested threes and two free throws in that same time span.

It was a continuation of a disturbing trend for the former MVP and five-time NBA champion. It's December, which means it's meaningless, and betting against Bryant in May is something you can go do all on your own, but it is a trend worth noting considering Bryant's no longer a spring chicken. Consider the following:
  • In LA's "too close for comfort" win over Washington, Bryant missed a 3-pointer with 1:28 remaining, which allowed the Wizards to close their deficit to a single-possession before closing it out. Bryant is still able to create fouls when he decides to play savvy instead of launching shots, as he did at the 1:02 and :10 mark. Bryant also missed a jumper in the middle of that time frame.
  • Bryant did seem to have it in LA's "seriously, too close for comfort" "road" win over the Clippers, nailing two huge shots in the final 42 seconds. Being guarded by Eric Gordon who is considerably smaller probably helped with that, but it's important to note that Bryant has played well inside of the final 1:30 of a close game lately.
  • The Rockets game was probably the low point of this stretch , where Bryant missed three three-pointers in the final 1:30. With 2:16 remaining, Bryant hit a second free throw to make it a three-point game. The Lakers would lose by 12. The big issue in this one was the same as in the Bulls game, with Bryant electing to take early-shot-clock loooong  threes. Those same shots he used to hit with amazing regularity.
  • Against the Grizzlies, it was bad-good-bad , with Bryant missing a three-pointer at the 1:34 mark, hitting a layup to close the game within 2, and then having significant trouble on the final possession. Mike Conley turned the ball over and Bryant got the outlet from Gasol. Getting to the lane, Bryant said later he lost his handle, which could be true. But even with a lost handle, he could have recovered for a shot had normally-earthbound O.J. Mayo not come up with a terrific defensive contest to force Bryant to kick to Artest who had a potential game winner blocked.
  • Against Indiana? A jumper with 1:10 to go, then three misses (two three-pointers, similar to the Rockets game in attempts), finishing 3-8 in the final four minutes.
  • Against the Jazz, Bryant was on fire, but then in the final 1:30, had one turnover and no shot attempts.
Was this the entirety of Bryant's play in the last two weeks for the Lakers? Surely not. The Lakers also obliterated Sacramento. Bryant has still been the featured scorer in all these games, if not the leading scorer. And let's stress this again: it's December . The Lakers are still arguably the best team in the league, and they could not care less about this stretch of games. They don't play for now, they play for June and the three-peat. Furthermore, they're in need of star performances because of their lack of depth due to Andrew Bynum's injury.

But the question has to be, does Bryant need  to be taking these kinds of shots? They're still in almost all these games, which shows how good the team is overall, and Bryant is definitely part of it. But at least right now  (not in June), it would appear that the Lakers would be better off focusing on creating quality shots rather than hoping Bryant bails them out with long, contested threes.

It should also be noted that a quarter of the way through the season, Bryant is shooting his lowest field goal percentage (44.1%) since 04-05, as well as his lowest three-point percentage (30.5) since 00-01. His free throw shooting (85%) is up 4% from last season, which has kept his true shooting percentage from being historically bad for such a stellar career.

It's entirely possible that Bryant's still recovering from surgery, or that he's simply in a standard shooting slump. If it seems like I'm hedging here, it's because, well, it's Kobe freaking Bryant. But there's no way of getting around the fact that Bryant has not been clutch during this bad streak of games for LA. Nothing to worry about in December, but something to note as we watch the season progress regardless.

As for Rose, the legend continues, and he is now shooting well above his career mark from the arc. Adding that element to his game makes him a much different player, even as his pull-up jumper still is in its infancy. After a drubbing by the Celtics in Carlos Boozer's second game back, the Bulls are now on a roll, and look deadly in every phase of the game.

Two careers, one filled with championship trophies and a history of clutch, the other just getting started. Even in a game where December contests go completely unnoticed, you have to wonder if this isn't the type that will be remembered when Rose's career is looked back upon. Each step is a legend, and all that.
Posted on: December 10, 2010 6:24 pm
 

Kobe's not passing (anything) to Derrick Rose

Posted by Royce Young

Everyone keeps waiting on the older generation of NBA stars to start passing the so-called torch to the younger, rising group of stars. The old dogs like Tim Duncan, Dirk Nowitzki, Steve Nash and Kevin Garnett hear a lot about all the up and comers.

No doubt there's a ton of talent in the league right now. And no doubt there's probably as much young talent as there's ever been. I mean, start going down the list. John Wall, Blake Griffin, Derrick Rose, basically the entire Thunder roster... the league's going to be set for a while.

But that doesn't mean the older players are ready to hand over the reins by any means. Especially Kobe Bryant. We should all know better.

After the Bulls lost a tight game to the Lakers last month, Kobe had a brief conversation with Rose. So a reporter asked Bryant if there was anything metaphorical to take from that. Anything to suggest that the torch is being passed to Rose. And Kobe answered in the only way we should've expected. Via K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune:

"Oh, sure, but I ain't passing s---." Then Kobe was asked if Rose has to come and take this torch from Kobe. Bryant grinned and said, "He can certainly try."

Obviously Kobe is one of the most hyper-competitive guys to ever play so it doesn't matter if he's 40, he's going to think he's still the best out there. Michael Jordan said a few years ago that he still thinks he could play with just about anybody in the league. That's how the great ones look at their ability and their grasp on where they stand in the game. It's not like someone's going to just come and take away their perch.

Though at some point, things will be about Rose, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, Griffin, Wall, Tyreke Evans and the younger class. But like Kobe said, there's no passing it. Those guys have got to come take it.
Posted on: December 4, 2010 12:09 am
 

Bulls show they're not quite 'elite'

Bulls, hammered by Celtics in second half, may have to realize they're not quite elite yet. 
Posted by Matt Moore




Instead of following up with caveats, let's start off with reasons why tonight's blowout of the Celtics over the Bulls should not be overly concerning for Bulls fans:
  • This was Carlos Boozer's second game back from injury, his second game this season, his second game with the Bulls. So a 12-points-on-10-shots, 2 rebounds, 2 turnover night from him isn't the end of the world, and a better performance from him would have gone a long way to closing the gap. 
  • It's still really early.
  • This was on the road against a rabid Friday night crowd in Boston who wanted this win against a team that very much seems like a rival to them. 
  • Seriously. Really early, still. 
With that out of the way and most Bulls fans probably on their way, we can continue. It wasn't necessarily the fact that Boston handled the Bulls so well, it was that it was hard to see where the Bulls could possibly find matchup advantages should these two teams resume their rivalry in the playoffs this spring. It was also hard to see what this team's blueprint is for reaching "elite" status. Because as currently constructed, even at their peak, they're simply not. 

This isn't to say they're not very good. They are. They could find themselves as high as the third seed in the East should things go their way. But the opening tip was a pretty big omen of how this one was going to go. The Celtics pushed the ball to Kevin Garnett, he worked over Carlos Boozer in the post, and drained a hook over him. From there, it was off to the races. 

Thing is, this game actually was close for the first half. Here's the first half game flow courtesy of GameTracker



Pretty close, right? Here's the second half:


So close... and then, not so much.  The second half was an absolute blitzkrieg from Boston, who responded with abject fury once they got rolling. The bench for Boston wasn't much, but they didn't need to be with the starters all landing in double digits. Rajon Rondo had another absolutely ridiculous night with 19 assists and Kevin Garnett dominated both Boozer and Taj Gibson

The Bulls were relying on their frontcourt to be more versatile this year. After all, the Bulls opted to push for Boozer instead of Amar'e Stoudemire (who dropped 34 on the Hornets tonight). The Bulls will likely play to a draw with Rondo, and lost at the small guard position with Ray Allen dropping in his threes. They'll have a hard time at the small forward position with Luol Deng being reliant on whether his jumper is wet, but they absolutely must have production from Boozer and Noah. As good as Joakim Noah is, he gets absolutely swalled up by Boston's revamped frontcourt with Shaquille O'Neal, and then having Garnett (who was injured for their 2009 playoff series when Noah shined) switch to him when the big fella is out. With Boozer and Noah both ineffective, the Celtics racked up 56 points in the paint to the Bulls' 40. 

The Bulls are a better team than they were last year at this time. Their performance on the Circus Road Trip shows that. And Derrick Rose is a phenomenal talent when it comes to getting to the rim for floaters and drive-and-kick assists. But the Bulls were hopeful of being an Eastern Conference contender coming into this season. From how they've done against playoff teams in the East this year (a combined 0-4 against Boston, Orlando, and New York), they seem to be miles away, with little room to target improvements. 

The Bulls very much are still a work in progress. 
Posted on: December 2, 2010 11:40 am
Edited on: December 2, 2010 11:47 am
 

The Game Changer: A lot happened last night

Posted by Royce Young

Each game is made up of elements which help formulate the outcome. Monday through Friday, we'll bring you the elements from the night before's games in our own specialized version of the game recaps. It's not everything that happened, but it's an insight into what lead to the results you'll see in the box scores. This is the Game Changer.

THE BIG ONE: BOOZER RETURNS, ORLANDO DOESN'T CARE

The Bulls were just coming off some of the best basketball of their season. They were returning home after a great road trip and were hosting one of the top teams in the East. They were ready to say something and to do so, they were finally getting the services of their biggest offseason acquisition.

Carlos Boozer was back.

Problem was, the Orlando Magic didn't care. They had business to take care of. And take care of business they did.

The Magic plowed the Bulls 107-78 in a game that wasn't really ever close. Even after the first quarter when it was 28-22, it felt like the Bulls were just hanging on. Orlando dominated everything. They outrebounded Chicago 44-21, (only 21 rebounds for Chicago!), hit 49 percent from the field, went 10-21 from 3, only missed one free throw and got 81 points from their starting five. One guy didn't stick out for the Magic. It was just a total team beatdown.

So maybe the Bulls aren't quite ready yet.

But how did Boozer do? In 22 minutes he went 2-5 for five points and two rebounds. It wasn't really the kind of game though where Boozer could make much of an impact though, so I wouldn't judge anything based off it. However, if you're looking for a crazy stat of the night, how about Joakim Noah - the league's second leading rebounder - not grabbing a single rebound in 25 minutes?

GO-GO-GADGET LINES

Tough to really single anyone out on this night with a number of big nights across the league. Russell Westbrook was an assist away from a massive triple-double as he went for 38 points, nine assists and 15 rebounds.

Westbrook's teammate Jeff Green had a career-high 37 on 12-21 shooting and 4-5 from 3.

Deron Williams went for 16 assists with ZERO turnovers. Impressive. Most impressive.

And Blake Griffin of course had another massive game, dropping 31 points with 13 rebounds.

CLIPPING ALONG

I went back and forth the entire fourth quarter. Are the Clippers really beating the Spurs, or are the Spurs just playing that bad? After watching Antonio McDyess brick a jumper that may have dented the backboard, Manu Ginobili airball an open 3 and Tim Duncan make two bad passes in traffic, I leaned toward the latter.

But then I watched Blake Griffin, Eric Gordon and even Baron Davis take over late in the game and close things out. So while it was probably a combination of the Spurs poor play and the Clippers doing well, I think the lesson here is to take that despite the still horrid record, these Clips aren't rolling over for anyone.

Griffin posted another stellar night, dropping 31 points, 13 rebounds and four assists, Eric Gordon had 21 points on 8-17 shooting, but it was really Davis who in his return, made the difference. In just 23 minutes, Davis had seven points and 10 assists, and really controlled his young team down the stretch against the veteran Spurs.

Still, it helped that San Antonio shot just 35.6 percent from the floor and missed 21 3-pointers. But that doesn't mean this Clipper win should be overlooked. In a week, the Clips have beaten the Hornets, who at the time owned the league's best record and now the Spurs, who currently sit atop the league. Granted, this makes L.A. just 4-15, but I get a Thunder-ish feeling from these guys. They're young, hungry and learning. They're working hard, have talent and given time, may start figuring out how to win.

Plus, having a piece like Blake Griffin in place helps quite a bit.

ONE OTHER THINGS FROM THAT SPURS GAME

Interesting note: Gregg Popovich sat Tony Parker for the entire fourth quarter, instead playing George Hill. Parker, who was healthy, didn't appear happy on the bench about it. Weird.

GRIFFIN (ALMOST) SMASH

LOTS OF FREE HOOPS IN JERSEY

There were 12 games in the NBA last night. All of them took the traditional 48 minutes to settle the final score. Except one. It took 63 minutes.

The Thunder and Nets played a triple overtime classic Wednesday with Oklahoma City eventually emerging as a 123-120 winner. The last 15 minutes and 1.5 seconds were an entire game in itself.

First, Anthony Morrow hit an awkward 3-pointer to send the game to OT. Then in the first period, the Thunder fought back to even get it to the second frame. In the second overtime, the Nets held a three-point lead with 6.2 seconds left. But an ill-advised Stephen Graham foul on Jeff Green as he was shooting a 3 (which rimmed in and out) put Green on the line where he coolly hit all three freebies. Third OT.

That's when Russell Westbrook took the game over. In the third extra period, Westbrook scored all 13 of OKC's points, two shy of the NBA record for points in an OT.

Kevin Durant sat the game out with a sore knee, so his two buddies picked up the slack. Westbrook finished with 38 points (21 after regulation), a career-high 15 rebounds and nine assists and Green had a career-high 37.

THE Lakers ARE GETTING GOOD AT LOSING

Matt Moore wrote on the Lakers losing a fourth straight and here's a juicy part:
The other trend that the 4-game streak omen is up against? Phil Jackson has never failed to complete a 3-peat. Given the fact that LA has five months to get it right, Andrew Bynum returns in a few weeks, and this team could not care less about the regular season and they're still only losing these games by a handful of buckets, we should probably bet on the latter trend holding up.

But it still should be noted that the Lakers right now? They're not very good at all.

WHIMSY

I was sent this picture yesterday by someone and it must be posted. It's titled, "Jazzketball."


PARTING THOUGHT

The Heat beat up on a bad team yet again, whooping the Pistons 97-72. But commend the Heat for not losing focus the night before the biggun against the Cavs tonight. They dominated from the opening tip and held every Piston starter out of double-figures.

The high scorer for the Heat was LeBron with 18, but really, this game was about the suffocating defense and not who scored what. If we could only figure out why they can't do this against good teams with good players.
Posted on: December 2, 2010 11:08 am
 

Phil Jackson not exactly "there" for Tomjanovich

Posted by Matt Moore

I have come to the conclusion that Phil Jackson is literally willing to disrespect anyone. You, me, the Pope, the President, your mother, his mother, Abraham Lincoln, Captain America, Jesus Christ, Chuck Norris, anyone. He really just does not care; his first priority is to make sure he maintains his lofty perch at the top.

Maybe the comments were taken out of context. Maybe he was ribbing an old colleague. Maybe it's not as bad as it sounds. But man, it doesn't sound good.

As noted this morning in Shootaround, the Houston Chronicle asked Phil Jackson about Rudy Tomjanovich's nomination for the Hall of Fame:

Lakers coach Phil Jackson said that it was "wonderful" that former Rockets and Lakers coach Rudy Tomjanovich was nominated for induction into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. Jackson offered a less-than-enthusiastic endorsement.

Asked if he thought Tomjanovich was deserving, Jackson said, "Well see. I'm not on that committee. I like all the coaches to get a chance to go in."Jackson agreed with the argument that the Rockets championships were tainted because Michael Jordan was out of the league for the first of their title seasons and much of the next."Definitely," Jackson said. "Without a doubt. Clearly, if the Bulls were whole, we would have won. Its pretty much registered by now. When Michael played, we won the championship."
via Rockets notes: Hall remarks about Tomjanovich | NBA Basketball | Chron.com - Houston Chronicle .

Couple of things here. Michael Jordan was the greatest basketball player of all time. No one is arguing this. Phil Jackson is either 1a or 1b in terms of greatest coaches in NBA history. No one's really arguing that, it just depends on "a vs. b" if you're in green or purple. This isn't questioning the greatness of the mid-90's Bulls or the legacy of Phil Jackson nor Michael Jordan.

But straight up, this wasn't necessary.

Rudy Tomjanovich coached for 24 years in the NBA as either an assistant or head coach. During that time he established a .559 winning percentage. He had only two losing seasons during that stretch run, a .567 playoff winning percentage in the playoffs, and oh, yes, those two championships, asterisks or no. Tomjanovich went on to coach the Lakers in a disastrous season while Phil took some time off to go dance or meditate or whatever Phil Jackson does when he's not calling timeouts to coach the best players in NBA history.

Tomjanovich stayed on with the Lakers as a consultant and scout,and that's what's so disheartening about this. Tomjanovich worked hard for the Lakers, despite the fact that Kermit Washington, who broke Tomjanovich's face with The Punch, was a Laker at the time. He always held himself with class and success. And whether Jackson likes it or not, Michael Jordan did retire those two seasons, and the Houston Rockets were the best team in the league for those two years. Furthermore, as great as Jordan was, and as likely as a Bulls victory would have been, to overlook the 94-95 Rockets is to ignore a priceless season from Hakeem Olajuwon who was no slouch, and a team rife with shooters, versatility, and stellar defense. Maybe Olajuwon's Rockets wouldn't have beaten Jordan's Bulls. But it would have been one heck of a match.

Beyond the questions here is the fact that Phil Jackson simply didn't have to say that. He had no reason not to simply say "I think it would be tremendous for Rudy to make the Hall. I respect him as a friend and colleague." It's true that we want coaches to be more honest. But being passive-agressive and not extending common courtesy? It just seems a bit out of line. It took more effort for Jackson to waffle on his endorsement, purposefully, than to simply extend a courtesy to a colleague.

But that's Phil Jackson.

Greatest coach on earth.
 
 
 
 
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