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.
The Magic took a major risk trading for Serge Ibaka, who’s heading into unrestricted free agency next summer. Rather than have Victor Oladipo (who’ll be a restricted free agent) and the No. 11 pick (who’s on a four-year contract), Orlando could come away empty-handed within a year if Ibaka leaves.
So far, everyone is saying the right things.
Ibaka, via Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel:
“I’m looking to stay here to play forever — for [as] many, many years as possible,” Serge Ibaka said during the Magic’s media day.
“I’m not really worried about my contract year or my long-term,” Ibaka said.
“One of the things I learned playing on a good team is when the team wins, when you make the playoffs, everybody looks good. So that’s what will be my focus right now, because if we win and make the playoffs, everything will take care of itself.”
Magic general manager Rob Hennigan, via Robbins:
“We certainly traded for Serge thinking long-term, and that’s our expectation,” Magic general manager Rob Hennigan said.
I’d be surprised if the Magic and Ibaka didn’t discuss the parameters of his next contract, with the Thunder’s permission, before making the trade. But the Collective Bargaining Agreement prevents any binding unofficial arrangements, so nothing is set in stone.
Ibaka is already talking about making the playoffs, and that would go a long way toward convincing him to stay in Orlando. But what if the Magic miss the postseason, a distinct possibility? How keen will Ibaka be on returning then?
He’ll have other suitors – unless he has a down year. Then, how badly will Orlando want him back?
That Ibaka and the Magic are entering the season with the stated intention of a long-term arrangement means something. But it means only so much.
“There are so many talented players in the league. But only a few of them are remembered as being great — because they were willing to say they don’t know. And I’m willing to say that I don’t know everything. I do not know how it is to be a great player, to be a Hall of Famer. I want to learn.”
Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves (via Kyle Ratke on Twitter)
There were a lot of things to like about Towns’ rookie campaign — it was impressive enough to make him the clear Rookie of the Year — he averaged 18.3 points and 10.5 rebounds a game, shot 54.2 percent from the floor, and had a PER of 22.3.
But if you talk to people around the league, what really impressed them was his work ethic and drive. He puts in the time, he’s driven, and he listens. There’s a reason Kevin Garnett took to him.
KAT is going to be great. No question.
Jamaal Wilkes spent a brilliant basketball career always being overshadowed by an all-time great. At UCLA he won two titles and 88 straight games as part of John Wooden’s legacy on squads remembered as Bill Walton’s teams; in the NBA he won championships on teams led by Rick Berry first, then Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Look at it this way: when the Lakers clinched the NBA title in Game 6 of the 1980 Finals, Wilkes had 37 points and 10 rebounds. But what do we remember from that game? Magic scoring 42 points with 15 rebounds and 7 assists as he played all five positions.
Wilkes finally was recognized for his greatness when he was elected to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame back in 2012.
This week he put his Hall of Fame ring up for auction online via Nate Sanders and got $25,000 for it. From the official press release:
The 10k Jostens ring features a diamond set on a square red stone. “Basketball Hall of Fame” is engraved in the gold surrounding the stones. Wilkes’ name is engraved on one side above two basketball players in relief. The opposite side has the year “2012” engraved above the Hall of Fame’s official logo.
The ring comes with a letter of authenticity from Wilkes.
Wilkes had previously auctioned off his Hall of Fame trophy, too.
The Bucks are coached by one of the greatest point guards in NBA history, Jason Kidd. But Kidd invited another legend of the position to camp to work with his point guards. John Stockton, the NBA’s all-time leader in assists and steals, was at Bucks practice on Thursday working with Michael Carter-Williams, Matthew Dellavedova and Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Not a bad person to learn from, especially since the Bucks have one of the weakest point-guard positions in the league.