When they came out of Florida, Al Horford was considered a better prospect than Joakim Noah. And with good reason, Horford has been the better all-around player as a pro — an All-Star with offensive game inside and out plus he is a quality defender (one of the better help rotating bigs around).
But this series, Joakim Noah has outplayed him. And if the Hawks are going to even this series and give themselves a chance to win it, Horford will have to change that.
Noah has pulled down 15 offensive boards over games two and three, and he has 29 boards overall through the two. He has been the most dominant force on the front line and it has swung the series.
The one game the Hawks won they had Joe Johnson hitting shots from in close, beyond the arc, Oak Park and everywhere else the Bulls left him open. They are going to need more of that, they are going to need Horford, they are going to need it all.
The Bulls just need Derrick Rose, whose ankle looks just fine aas he dropped 44 last time out in an epic effort. They also will need some points from Luol Deng and Noah to be Noah.
They shouldn’t expect much from Carlos Boozer, who confirmed that he has torn ligaments around his big toe (an injury commonly called turf toe) that is painful and will continue to slow him down for a while.
The Bulls defense the last couple games has really shut down the Hawks, and it’s hard to see how that is really going to change long-term in this series. The Bulls are the better team. But the Hawks can make it a three-game series with a win, and there they stand a puncher’s chance.
The Cavaliers are clearly frustrated.
Did someone in Cleveland take out that frustration on the Warriors after they beat the Cavs last night?
Chris Haynes of ESPN:
Players were complaining about there being no hot water in the visiting locker room showers. When they walked in, they could be heard screaming in discomfort. Most of the players emerged shivering from taking a quick wash-off.
“Man, they got to do something in ‘The Q.’ Somebody call Bron!” Kevin Durant yelled, referring to LeBron James.
No one seemed angry; the situation was more humorous.
That’s the right approach. Whenever the hot water is out in a visiting locker room, the finger is pointed at the home team for sabotage. Sometimes, heating systems just fail.
Giannis Antetokounmpo is scoring more in the post, the basketball analogue of football’s trenches.
Apparently, he’s taking the comparison to the next level.
In the Bucks’ win over the Wizards yesterday, Antetokounmpo played the part of a long-snapping center to set up Khris Middleton in transition.
NBC Sports Washington:
Rockets players James Harden, Trevor Ariza, Gerald Green and Chris Paul reportedly went through a back hallway to confront Austin Rivers and Blake Griffin in the Clippers’ locker room after last night’s game.
That’s one version of the story, at least.
But it apparently isn’t the only one – at least when it comes to Harden’s, Green’s and Paul’s involvement.
Lee Jenkins of Sports Illustrated:
A hallway runs between the Clippers locker room and the visitors locker room, where players from opposing teams often see each other and catch up. According to a Rockets source, Ariza was waiting on Griffin, and when the game ended he charged from the hallway into the Clips locker room. When Rivers spotted Ariza near the entrance, according to the source, he said: “Let his b—– a– come in.” Ariza then turned his attention to Rivers.
ESPN reported that Ariza was flanked by three teammates—Harden, Paul and Gerald Green—but their purpose was unclear. “They were holding Trevor back,” the source said.
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
Harden was sitting out his seventh straight game with a strained hamstring on Monday night, and Rockets sources believe that he’ll be ready for a return to the lineup on Thursday night against Minnesota.
Austin Rivers challenging Ariza is juicy, but the type of thing people say during altercations. The rest of this sounds like the Rockets trying to position themselves ahead of the NBA handing down punishments.
If they were just trying to restrain Ariza, then Harden, Paul and Green shouldn’t be fined or suspended. But if Harden is suspended, he could serve his penalty Thursday – even if the Rockets are fibbing about him being ready to play (though they at least previously laid the groundwork for that one).
There’s a lot for the league to untangle.
Russell Westbrook jumped from fifth to second in the NBA in technical fouls in about two seconds.
The Thunder star received two technical fouls and an automatic ejection late in Oklahoma City’s win over the Kings last night, leaving his nine technical fouls behind only Draymond Green‘s 11.
Westbrook got hit in the face on a drive, but instead of a foul being called on Sacramento, Westbrook was whistled for travelling. That’s quite a turnaround from the expected call to the actual call, so I understand why Westbrook was so upset. But I also wouldn’t be surprised if Westbrook said something that warranted ejection. Thunder coach Billy Donovan also got a technical foul in the sequence.
Fred Katz of The Norman Transcript:
The league used to crack down on that more with public fines, but the Thunder have skirted the rule this season.