Omer Asik

Thibodeau defends Asik’s play


After Chris Bosh got injured in a collision with Chicago Bulls forward Omer Asik during Saturday’s game, he was critical of Asik after the game for diving after a loose ball that was close to Bosh’s legs. Asik didn’t come all that close to the ball, but he did end up making contact with Bosh’s leg and causing the Heat forward to sprain his ankle. After the game, Bosh was of the opinion that Asik should have stayed on his feet instead of laying out for the ball:

“C’mon, that is how guys get hurt, that is how serious injuries happen,” Bosh said. “You’ve got to watch people’s legs. I know guys want to hustle and everything but we all want to play and provide for our families and have a job.

“We all want to be healthy and that is very important,” Bosh said. “If it is by somebody’s leg, don’t dive for the ball, it’s too close.”

Like Bosh’s “coach wants to us to work, we want to chill” quote from earlier this season, Bosh’s comments are both completely understandable and demonstrate a remarkable ignorance of what sports fans want to hear from professional athletes. Bosh is a skinny guy, his ankles and knees are the most vulnerable part of his body, his teammates are counting on him, and it only takes one awkward collision to end his season or keep him from ever being the same player again. Given all that, it’s understandable for Bosh to be a little mad at the guy who collided into him. But to saying that you are, in essence, of the opinion that NBA players should hustle less is never, ever going to go over well with the fans.

Even though most fans and media members were already on Asik’s side in this little “debate,” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau made it clear that he doesn’t think Asik did anything wrong on Saturday during a pre-game media session on Monday. ESPN Chicago’s Nick Fridell has the report:

“I didn’t see it that way,” Thibodeau said of Bosh’s comments. “I saw it as a great hustle play. Omer’s not that type of guy. He’s not going to ever try to take somebody out. He plays hard, he plays clean. He wants to win. Sometimes people say things [in the] heat of the moment after a game so … And Chris is a tough player. Actually, he hit the floor in the first half in a similar play with Derrick, so I didn’t see it that way.”

Good of Thibodeau to stick up for his rookie center, and to give Bosh something resembling the benefit of the doubt regarding his comments. Once Bosh has had some time to heal his ankle and think about his comments, I’m sure there won’t be any lingering bad blood between Bosh and Asik over the collision.

DeMarcus Cousins out for Kings vs. Warriors Saturday

DeMarcus Cousins, Nicolas Batum, Marvin Williams
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As if Golden State was not already a prohibitive favorite Saturday night.

DeMarcus Cousins, who has missed the last two games for Sacramento with a strained back and that will continue Saturday. Our old friend Bill Herenda tweeted it first.

Not only are the Kings 1-6 without Cousins, but they were also on their way to beating Charlotte Monday until Cousins had to leave the game.

Golden State will likely be without Harrison Barnes in this game after spraining his ankle in the last game. Expect Andre Iguodala to get the start, or if interim coach Luke Walton doesn’t want to mess with the bench rotation he could go with Brandon Rush.

Good news: Anthony Davis listed as probably vs. Utah Saturday

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Watching Anthony Davis fall to the court clutching his knee, not being able to put any pressure on his leg as he was helped to the locker room, it was frightening Friday night in Los Angeles.

It turns out it’s not that bad. After the game the injury was described as a “knee contusion” and not the serious damage that was feared. Saturday the Pelicans said Davis was good to go.

Whew. Nobody wants to see Davis miss time.

The Pelicans had won three in a row until they ran into the Clippers Friday night. Davis has played better of late — the New Orleans defense is 7.2 points per 100 better when he is on the court — and New Orleans has gotten better point guard play out of Ish Smith.

Stephen Curry abuses Sun’s Price with behind-the-back, pull-up three (VIDEO)

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That is just cruel.

An on-fire Warriors team dropped 44 on the Suns in the first quarter Saturday, and Curry had 19 of those points going 5-of-6 from three. The Suns’ had no defender who could begin to hang with him. Certainly not Ronnie Price, who came in off the bench and got abused for his efforts.

Curry finished with 41 points, never had to set foot on the court in the fourth quarter, and the Warriors improved to 17-0 on the season. Just another day at the office for them.

Philadelphia has dropped record 27 in a row dating back to last season

Brett Brown

We tend to think of record streaks having to be in one season, not broken up across two.

But if you can suspend that, the Philadelphia 76ers are now the owners of the longest losing streak in NBA — and major professional sports — history.

With their tough two-points loss to Houston Friday night, the Sixers have lost 27 in a row. The Sixers dropped their final 10 last season and with the loss to the Rockets are 0-17 to start this one.

That bests the 26-game losing streaks of the 2010-11 Cleveland Cavaliers and these same Sixers from 2013-14. Looking across sports, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers of 1976-1977 also lost 26 in a row, which when you consider the length of the NFL season is pretty embarrassing.

The Sixers struggles are born from a plan by GM Sam Hinkie (and approved by ownership) to get better long-term by being bad now and hoarding draft picks. It’s a strategy that can work if Hinkie nails the draft picks (the book is out on how Hinkie is doing on that front). And they are committed to it through at least this draft.

But don’t think for a second the players and coach are trying to lose.

If you have watched the Sixers play their last few games you know the players are trying hard to get that victory (and almost have a couple of times). The effort is there, they are just outmatched and lack the kind of presence at the end of games to execute under pressure (something a couple of quality, regularly-playing veterans might help, but that’s another discussion). They have the point differential of a team that should have a couple wins; they just haven’t been fortunate. It happens. Go ahead and blame management if you think this plan is an abomination. Just don’t question the desire or effort of the players or coaches, that is not in doubt.

The Sixers play at the Grizzlies Sunday, then have maybe their best shot at a win for a while when they host the Lakers on Tuesday.