Derrick Rose put up a 28-point game in the Bulls’ Game 1 victory and a 21-point game in their Game 2 loss on Wednesday. Those are good numbers. He remains the focal point of everything Chicago does on offense.
But it has taken him 45 shots to get those 49 points. He is shooting 37.8 percent overall, 30 percent from three-point land. In Game 2, the Heat made a point of challenging him every time he drove, and the result was him shooting 2-of-11 inside of 10 feet. (Stats via Hoopdata)
The Miami Heat have made their point — if the Chicago Bulls are going to beat us, they will have to do it with someone other than newly-minted MVP Derrick Rose. On Wednesday night, nobody did and Miami evened the series with an 85-75 victory.
Miami has the athletes to do what few teams can, which is really be physical with Rose on the perimeter. But Rose is too quick with the ball to be stopped. With today’s hand-checking calls on the perimeter, even Derrick Rose couldn’t guard Derrick Rose — so when he got in the lane he saw a wall of bodies. He had three shots blocked and despite the best body control in the league he had no choice but to kick out on multiple other drives.
The Bulls’ 3-of-20 shooting from three-point range did not make the Heat pay for packing it in. If the Bulls are going to win this series they have to knock down threes.
Maybe the most stunning development in Game 2 was that Mike Bibby held his own. Bibby has been a defensive liability for several seasons now, but give the man his due — he played really well in Game 2. He even was the screener for LeBron James in the Heat’s high pick-and-roll late in the game (because Bibby was being guarded by Kyle Korver and Miami wanted Korver to have to show out or switch on to LeBron, and it worked).
Next game, expect Rose to shoot better under pressure. But the Heat are not going to let Rose beat them, someone else has to step up. Carlos Boozer, Luol Deng, Kyle Korver, maybe even Brian Scalabrine. Okay, not Scalabrine. But somebody had better or this series will end sooner rather than later.
Paul George to the Lakers is a capital-T thing.
George is from Southern California, and he keeps indicating his dissatisfaction with the Pacers. He’ll be an unrestricted free agent in 2018. Even Lakers president Magic Johnson is talking about George.
Where do rumors like this originate?
Mitch Lawrence of Sporting News:
A SoCal native, he’s been talking about playing for his hometown team, the Lakers, for a long time. He’s never made his long-term intentions a secret within the Pacers’ locker room, according to former teammates. He wants to wear the purple and gold.
Did George say he dreamed of playing for the Lakers growing up? Did he say it’d be cool to join his boyhood favorite team if the situation presented itself? Or did he say he wanted to get the heck out of Indiana to join the Lakers as soon as possible?
There are so many ways his comments to teammates could get misconstrued as they get passed down in the game of telephone.
But the Lakers threat – to whatever degree it’s real – looms, and it’ll impact how the Pacers handle their offseason.
Jazz Center Jeff Withey was accused of domestic violence in a police report filed by his ex-fiancée.
Withey played a small role in Utah’s first two playoff games, but once the accusation over an alleged 2016 incident became public, he hasn’t seen the court. Withey received a DNP-CD in Game 3 against the Clippers, and the Jazz deactivated the center for Game 4 last night.
Ryan McDonald of the Deseret News:
The team called it a “strategic basketball-related decision.”
Withey was always going to see a reduced role with Rudy Gobert returning from injury.
Though Gobert didn’t play in Game 3, the Jazz had two injured players – Gobert and Alec Burks on the inactive list – so Withey was active but never played. But Withey was active for Game 1, which Gobert started healthy before injuring his knee 11 seconds in.
Therefore, deactivating Withey in Game 4 for Joel Bolomboy, a little-used second-round rookie who has yet to play in the postseason, is a curious choice for basketball reasons. It’s almost as if that wasn’t the reason.
The Rockets bench made a big production when an intentionally fouled Andre Roberson kept missing free throws in the Thunder’s Game 4 loss to the Rockets yesterday.
Russell Westbrook stuck up for his teammate.
Royce Young of ESPN:
I didn’t see it. I didn’t see it at all. Probably the guys that don’t play, probably over there the ones laughing, if I had to guess.
Good guess. It appears Montrezl Harrell and Bobby Brown – whose only playing time this series came late in Houston’s blowout Game 1 win – led the jeers.
But the most important thing for the Thunder is Roberson making his free throws. They need him on the court to defend James Harden, which exposes him to hacking. If Westbrook deflecting attention onto the Rockets’ benchwarmers helps Roberson at the line, great. But if not, the Rockets will keep having reasons to laugh.
Paul George-to-the-Lakers rumors have swirled for a while.
New Lakers president Magic Johnson will only fuel them.
Asked how he’d interact with the Pacers star to avoid tampering if they ran into each other, Johnson said on Jimmy Kimmel Live:
We’re going to say hi, because we know each other. You just can’t say, “Hey, I want you to come to the Lakers,” even though I’m going to be wink-winking like [blinks repeatedly]. You know what that means, right?
In explaining how he’d avoid tampering, Johnson probably tampered. Accidental tampering appears to be his specialty.
The Collective Bargaining Agreement says team employees can’t permissibly “induce, persuade, or attempt to entice, induce or persuade, any Player who is under contract to, or whose exclusive negotiating rights are held by, any other Member of the Association to enter into negotiations for or relating to his services or negotiate or contract for such services.” But the league arbitrarily enforces tampering, so who knows whether he’ll be punished?
Johnson almost certainly could have gotten away with the hypothetical conversation he laid out. But going on television and describing it — even as fantasy, even not directly to George — could constitute tampering in itself,
If Johnson helps attract George to Los Angeles, it’d well be worth it. At least he’s trying something.