Game 2 looked like a Chicago Bulls game.
Their defense just dominated the Atlanta Hawks, holding them to 73 points on 33.8 percent shooting. Then turn Derek Rose loose, and if he can get 25 points — even if it takes him 27 shots — that will be enough.
The key to Game 3 really is pretty simple — the Hawks need to find more offense from somewhere. Anywhere. Do that and they stand a chance. But teams have been trying to do that for a long season now.
Last game the only Hawk who had success was Jeff Teague, the backup point guard who was dramatically underutilized during the season but has exploded in two games against the Bulls. He had 21 points on 14 shots and he did that by getting to the rim (he was 4-of-6 inside 10 feet). The Bulls will look to secure their game inside, but if Jeff Teague is the guy that beats them so be it. That’s not their primary concern.
Nor is Josh Smith so long as he keeps shooting jumpers. We’ve gone into this already today, but the Bulls are playing off him on the wings daring him to shoot. And he is. And he’s missing. The Bulls are good with that, Smith needs to attack and be disciplined.
For the Hawks, this is about Al Horford. He was 3-of-12 in Game 2, but he is their best player. He is guy who has to win this game for the Hawks. They’ll get points from Jamal Crawford because that is what he does.
For the Bulls, they need Luol Deng to keep getting them buckets until Carlos Boozer arrives. Not sure when that will be, the turf toe is clearly an issue.
The Bulls are going to defend like they did in Game 2 the rest of the way. Rose will be Rose. For the Hawks to really prove they can win this series and didn’t just get lucky and steal a game on the road, they need a win Friday night. And they need a lot of Horford to do that.
Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker is just 20 years old. He’s a League Pass favorite, and indeed he should be a favorite in Phoenix for years to come. On Friday, Booker dropped 70 points — yes, 70 — in a loss to the Boston Celtics.
Booker’s 70 points is the best outing of the season. It also made him the youngest player to ever reach 70 points.
His final stat line, as you might imagine, was ridiculous. Booker shot 21-of-40 from the field, going 4-of-11 on 3-pointers and a whopping 24-of-26 from the free-throw line. The Suns phenom also grabbed eight rebounds to go with six assists.
Despite the loss to Boston, 130-120, it’s still an incredible milestone for Phoenix and for Booker. There’s a bright spot out there for the Suns.
Aaron Gordon may not have had the best dunk contest this year — apparently drones and dunks don’t mix well — but the guy can still get up and finish with the best in the league.
As he did on this alley-oop against Detroit.
Elfrid Payton had to throw a lob that would get over Andre Drummond, but how many guys in the league can get that high, reach back and finish that? Damn.
Former Atlanta Hawk Pero Antic is now playing for Turkish powerhouse Fenerbahce, in case you were not aware.
Fenerbahce was facing Anadolu Efes in a EuroLeague game, it was tight late and former NBA player Ekpe Udoh was at the free throw line for Fenerbahce. He missed his second shot, but the rebound caromed out-of-bounds off an Anadolu Efes player. Antic was pumped.
Maybe a little too pumped.
That was Nikola Kalinic, by the way, the guy Antic now owes dinner to. Kalinic would like the dinner more than the hug and kiss he got from Antic right after the play.
Also, Anadolu Efes held on to win 80-77.
(Hat tip to Ball Don’t Lie.)
The Lakers had been shopping Lou Williams around in the run-up to the trade deadline, the only question was would they get a first-round pick for him. Rumors around the league say that Houston had offered them one weeks before, it was on the table, but the Jim Buss/Mitch Kupchak front office held their cards close and hoped a better deal would come through.
While all that was going on James Harden decided to ease the process and did a little recruiting calling up Williams, the sixth-man guard told Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.
“When James called, he asked me if I was interested in playing with them,” Williams told The Vertical. “I told him that I loved the Lakers, but James and them have a group that fit my personality, fit how I play. He said he was going to make it happen.”
Williams then laughed, sitting on the edge of a visiting court following a recent practice. “I’ve heard that before, so I didn’t really put stock into it,” Williams told The Vertical. “I guess James did put the word in, and the team made it happen.”
We all know what happened, Jeanie Buss removed her brother and Kupchak a few days before the trade deadline, Magic Johnston stepped in, called around, and quickly pulled the trigger on a trade that sent Williams to Houston (the Lakers also got Corey Brewer). Williams has averaged 14.5 points per game and had some strong performances with the Rockets, although he’s still finding his groove with the team on the court. Still, he’s been an upgrade for the Rockets’ bench.
Harden knew he would be, so he did his part to make sure it happened.