What you missed while pouring out a 40 for Nate Dogg…
Bulls 98, Wizards 79: And with that score, the Bulls move into first place in the Eastern Conference.
The game itself was pretty much all Bulls, they took an early lead on a 20-5 run (despite Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah being out), although the Wizards made a bit of a second quarter push behind Jordan Crawford (15 points in the quarter). But the Bulls defense tightened up in the second half and held Washington to 35 points for the final 24. Which seemed fitting because their defense is why they are on top in the East.
Some individual performances of note. JaVale McGee had 12 blocked shots, including a few out on the perimeter as he chased down blocks all over the place. (The Bulls grabbed the offensive rebound on 38.5 percent of their missed shots, which may have had something to do with McGee chasing down blocks.) Keith Bogans hit 5-of-10 from three and dropped 17 points for his best game of the season.
Pacers 119, Knicks 117: A pretty entertaining game, so long as you are not a coach in charge of either of these teams’ defenses. Second game of a home-and-home and you didn’t really see a lot of changes from the Pacers win Sunday. The Knicks don’t play defense but when they moved the ball and ran in transition they could outscore the Pacers. Tyler Hansbrough had 30, 15 in the third quarter when it looked like the Pacers would pull away. The Knicks fought back, had some questionable execution down the stretch and that opened the door for a dramatic Danny Granger game winner.
Hawks 110, Bucks 85: Joe Johnson was knocking down the jumper (8-of-15 on shots outside the key according to the shot chart, he finished with 36) and when he and his teammates are hitting from the outside they can beat anyone. The Bucks offense still sucks.
Trail Blazers 104, Mavericks 101: Dallas started out 11-11 from the floor and shot 74 percent in the first quarter — yet never led by more than 8 and it was just three after the first quarter. Close game at the end and the Mavericks had looks to tie but could not knock down shots like they could at the start. Big win for the Blazers playoff push.
We’ve now reached the “negotiate through the media” stage of J.R. Smith‘s free agency.
Everyone expects Smith to re-sign with the Cavaliers, but training camp opened without a deal. Reportedly, discussions are somewhere between $10 million and $15 million annually with contract length a roadblock.
Cavs general manager David Griffin, via Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com:
“As we have stated and coach has previously stated, we think very highly of J.R. and we love him as a member of our team, as a member of our locker room,” General Manager David Griffin said. “He was essential to our success and for that reason we have made an incredibly competitive and aggressive offer in re-signing him.”
I bet Smith’s agent, Rich Paul, would say his contract demands are perfectly reasonable, too.
The Cavaliers want to maximize chemistry as the they defend their title, and that means getting Smith signed as quickly as possible. But they also want to avoid paying Smith a large salary – and taking a big luxury-tax hit – as he declines into his 30s.
Something will eventually give, but first, Griffin is telling the world ending the stalemate is in Smith’s court – though not revealing the exact offer(s) to be judged publicly. We’ll see how Smith and Paul respond.
Phil Jackson said the Knicks aren’t concerned about the civil and potentially criminal rape allegations Derrick Rose is facing. Rose doesn’t sound concerned, either.
But is Rose just putting on a front?
Chris Mannix of Yahoo Sports:
For now, the Knicks wait – and hope. Hope that the civil suit is resolved quickly. Hope that Rose – who has been troubled by the uncertainty of his legal entanglements more than he is letting on, sources familiar with Rose told The Vertical – is able to block out the distractions and build on the progress he made last season.
Rose should be concerned. Whatever happened that night, the specter of criminal prosecution and/or civil judgment against him are daunting outcomes. He can try to put that aside and focus on basketball, but this is a major event in his life.
The Bulls reportedly has chemistry issues last season stemming from the Jimmy Butler-Fred Hoiberg relationship. Butler’s most public critique of Hoiberg came in December, when the wing said, “We probably have to be coached a lot harder at times.”
A reasonable criticism for the mild-mannered Hoiberg? Perhaps, especially for a team that responded so well to the hard-driving Tom Thibodeau for the better part of five years.
The best delivery? Probably not, considering Hoiberg was still trying to find his way in his first NBA season.
But Butler hasn’t changed his message.
Butler, via CSN Chicago:
“I told Fred, ‘As much as you can, use me as an example. I want you to really get on my tail about every little thing.’,” Butler said. “Because if Doug or Tony or whoever it may be is watching coach talk to me like that, it’s going to be like, ‘If he can talk to Jimmy like that, I know he’s going to come at me a certain way.’ That’s what I try to remind him every day. I think he’s ready for that. I’m a player. I’m coachable like everybody else. I want that. I need that.”
Tim Duncan was celebrated for years for taking the brunt of Gregg Popovich’s criticism in San Antonio, setting an example for younger Spurs. So much of what Butler has done lately has been spun into a negative, but it seems he’s really trying to sacrifice his pride to help teammates like Doug McDermott and Tony Snell.
If Hoiberg goes along, this could quiet complaints about Butler’s leadership and preferential treatment.
With Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah in New York, the Bulls are Butler’s team now. Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo have said as much.
It seems Butler is doing what he can to lead the Bulls – his way. The question: Does Hoiberg also think that’s the best way?
Jeremy Lin might want to move past Linsanity, but he’ll always be linked to that period in 2012. It was so enthralling for numerous reasons, including:
- Lin played unsustainably great basketball, leading the Knicks to a 7-1 record while starting with Carmelo Anthony injured and averaging 25.0 points and 9.5 assists per game in that span.
- Lin was excelling in New York, America’s biggest media market.
- The Knicks were desperate for success, having not won a single playoff game in the last decade.
- Lin was undrafted and relatively unknown before breaking out.
- Lin played at Harvard, which is universally known for academics and barely known for basketball.
- Lin is Asian-American, a rarity in high-level basketball.
Yes, that last factor mattered.
Lin, via Peter Botte of the New York Daily News:
“In some ways, Linsanity wouldn’t have been Linsanity if I was a different skin color, most likely, it wouldn’t have been as big of a deal, and that went to my advantage, too, but if you look prior to that, a lot of the obstacles to even get to that point where I could get to a position of getting on the floor, those were definitely obstacles that were very much stereotypes that I had to fight along the way. So I’ve always understood that there’s good and there’s bad and you have to take them together and just be thankful for it all.”
Linsanity was a culmination of all the elements listed above. Maybe it would’ve happened without one or two, but THE essential factor was Lin’s on-court production. Without that, he never would’ve become a national phenomenon.
Lin’s heritage – he was born in California to Taiwanese-born parents – accentuated his basketball skills, but the basketball skills were the base for his popularity.
And as Lin said, his race was a double-edged sword. It made him less likely to get the benefit of the doubt when rising through the basketball ranks. I believe that coaches, scouts and other players were less inclined to believe in his basketball ability because of his race.
But Lin overcame that and eventually reaped the awards of being an outlier.
Lin has long seemed to possess a keen understanding of himself and a willingness to discuss it. I think he’s spot-on here, and it leads to a better understanding of one of the biggest NBA stories in recent years.