Derrick Rose saved his best for the best defenses

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We get it, you don’t need to remind us Chicago — Derrick Rose is a stud. An MVP. One of the new faces of the game.

On top of all that, last season he played his best against the best defenses in the league.

Every summer over at Basketball-Reference Neil Paine does an interesting analysis — breaking out which players perform the best against the better than average defenses in the league? (With that, who fattens up their stats on the weak sisters of the league?) I won’t drag you into the math, but he uses advanced statistics to figure out the best defenses in the league, then uses a weighted plus/minus system to see who performs the best against the best.

This year Rose performed better than anyone against the best defenses (and he came out No. 5 against the worst defenses, too). It’s another testament to the best season Chicago has seen since that guy with the statue retired — while there are other guys who can score on the Bulls roster it was Rose who had to create a lot of those shots for himself and others. He carried as much or more weight for the team’s offense as anyone in the NBA. And he did it well.

Rounding out the top five against the best defenses are Dirk Nowitzki, Deron Williams, LeBron James and Kevin Durant. LeBron was the other guy in the top five against worst defenses as well, basically he gets his against everyone.

The worst players against good defenses? Jonny Flynn (something to note, Rockets fans) and then two Clippers — Eric Bledsoe and Al-Farouq Aminu. To be fair, Aminu struggled against everyone, good and bad. Bledsoe showed promise, but this reminds everyone that to key rookies to the Clippers future have a long way to go. (Rounding out the top five worst against the best are Kendrick Perkins and Stephen Graham, two guys nobody expects offense out of anyway.)

Who got fat on the low hanging fruit? Who did the best against the worst defenses?

The top five are Steve Nash, Dwyane Wade, Kobe Bryant, LeBron and Rose. As we said, Rose and LeBron were in the top five in both. Kobe was No. 11 in the league against the best defenses, Wade No. 12 — while they got some points against the softies, they played well against everyone (although Paine notes that Kobe’s gap is increasing, he’s not done as well the last couple seasons against good defenses).

As for Nash, would it be different if he still had Stoudemire and other elite scorers around him? Or is this a sign of age? The answer likely sits somewhere in the middle of those two statements.

When Lance Stephenson gets a traveling call, he earns it (VIDEO)

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Yes, guys get away with traveling in the NBA. James Harden on the step back (sometimes, not always), or guys sliding left/right to avoid a closeout at the arc and not bothering to dribble while they do it.

Lance Stephenson got called for traveling Sunday in the Pacers’ loss to the Cavaliers. In a game where Stephenson got under the skin of LeBron James and drew a technical (and tied him up for a jump ball at one point), this was the best Lance highlight of the game. Because if you’re going to travel, you should go all in.

Never change Lance. Never change.

Matthew Dellavedova steals pass, hits wild scoop shot at buzzer (VIDEO)

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Matthew Dellavedova is a hustler. Everybody knows that. Well, unless you want to argue he’s more about grit. It’s really your call.

But against the Boston Celtics on Sunday, Dellavedova came through with whatever you want to call it — hustle, grit, moxie, gumption.

As the first quarter wound down and the Celtics tried to inbound the ball, Dellavedova spied his opponents rolling the basketball in order to save time on the clock.

That allowed the Australian native to fly in and do this:

That’s a steal, a scoop, and a score all within 1.2 seconds.

Milwaukee won Game 4 and evened the series with the Celtics, 2-2.

Cavaliers tie series with Pacers in Indiana, 2-2

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Sunday night’s game between the Indiana Pacers and Cleveland Cavaliers was raucous. Bankers Life Fieldhouse was rocking, and despite Indiana’s best effort to put back seemingly every offensive board it encountered, LeBron James‘ 32 points was just too much to overcome.

Facing the possibility of going down 3-1 in the first round, the Cavaliers pulled out the win, 104-100, and sent the series back to Ohio for Game 5.

The game came down to the final period following a surge by the Pacers to end the third quarter. The teams were tied several times midway through the fourth, but a tip shot by Thaddeus Young wth 6:13 left gave the Pacers the lead as fans in Indiana went wild.

Cleveland then came roaring back. At the three-minute mark, James drove to the basket and scored. Thirty seconds later, Kyle Korver hit a big-time 3-pointer to put the Cavaliers up by four points, a mark the Pacers couldn’t recover from.

LeBron scored again with 1:52 left, and despite some weird late-game antics — featuring none other than Lance Stephenson — the Cavaliers were able to remain resolute down the stretch.

James finished with 32 points, 13 rebounds, and seven assists. Kyle Korver added 18 points on 4-of-9 shooting from deep, and Kevin Love had five points with 11 boards.

Victor Oladipo struggled for Indiana, scoring 17 points but shooting just 25 percent from the floor. Seven Pacers finished in double-digits, with Young notching an impressive double-double of 12 points and 16 rebounds.

Game 5 will be played in Cleveland on Wednesday, April 25.

Wizards beat Raptors in Game 4, tie series at 2-2 heading to Toronto

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The Toronto Raptors were far and away the best team in the Eastern Conference this season. The Washington Wizards were … well, very Wizard-y.

So considering their regular seasons, the fact that Washington was able to tie the first round series between the two teams at 2 games apiece on Sunday is pretty astonishing.

Bradley Beal had 31 points and five rebounds for the Wizards while teammate John Wall added 27 points to go along with a whopping 14 assists. Washington shot an impressive 41 percent from 3-point range as four of five starters finished in double-digit scoring.

Despite Beal’s performance, it was Wall who saved the day for the Wizards. Beal was disqualified after fouling out with around five minutes to play in the fourth quarter. Beal didn’t agree with the call, and could be seen throwing a towel near the Washington bench.

For his part, Wall either scored or assisted on 10 of the Wizards’ final 14 points of the game. That helped stave off the likes of DeMar DeRozan, who led all scorers with 35 points.

The series heads back to Toronto for Game 5, which will be played on Wednesday, April 25.