Chicago Bulls v Boston Celtics

Celtics outlast Bulls without Rose, mostly because Rondo is awesome


Rajon Rondo had 32 points, 15 assists, and 10 rebounds.

You’re pretty much not going to beat the Celtics without  a Derrick-Rose when that happens, and the Bulls did not Sunday, as they lost 95-91 in Boston.

Was it a good win? Yes and no.

The Celtics lead throughout, and only really allowed two significant runs. The Big 3 didn’t play well at all (12-28), and yet Boston only felt the noose tighten at the end. Yet it did tighten, and without Derrick Rose. Boston needed the win to get off a two-game losing streak, but without Rose, a blowout would have made people feel a lot better about the long-term health of the Celtics. As it stands, Rondo is developing excellent chemistry with Chris Wilcox, the Celtics were missing Jermaine O’Neal and Brandon Bass, and the Celtics still managed to beat a quality team.

The Bulls showed why they need Rose so badly. C.J. Watson, Luol Deng, and Carlos Boozer were largely overwhelmed, Watson and Boozer defensively, Deng offensively, and the Chicago bench was roundly outclassed which almost never happens. Rose is the balance for this concoction, the maestro, and without him, things tend to fall down like dominoes for Chicago.

Rajon Rondo continues to be involved in trade discussions. This is madness, and it is not Sparta. Rondo is a prolific player in this league and makes everyone around him better. His jumper’s not great. You know, that same shot most of the big men in this league don’t have and half the time we scream at perimeter players for taking anyway. He creates, and creates, and creates. He deserves more credit.

Is Boston back? Far from it. The same feeling pervades this win as it did the Lakers loss. Are the Celtics a bad team? Absolutely not. Are they a great team? Absolutely not. They’re somewhere in between, they’re fine. And unless they get a lot better in the next two months, the Big 3 era will go out with a whimper, not a bang.

Because if they see Chicago in the playoffs, Derrick Rose will likely not be on the sidelines.

Sixers to retire Moses Malone’s number next season

Darryl Dawkins, Moses Malone

Kobe Bryant‘s pregame tribute video stole the show in Philadelphia, but Tuesday night was Moses Malone tribute night. The former league MVP and Hall of Famer passed away in September, and his legacy was honored by the Sixers during a halftime ceremony. During the festivities, Malone’s son announced that his No. 2 will be retired by the organization next season.

There’s no question that Malone, one of the greatest players in the history of the sport, deserves to have his number retired. The only relevant question is: why didn’t this happen years ago? The ceremony next season should be good, but it would have been better if they had done it when Malone was alive to participate in it. No Sixers player has worn No. 2 since Malone anyway, but it’s been over 20 years since he last wore a Sixers jersey. Why couldn’t they have found some time in those two decades to have a ceremony and hang a banner?

LeBron James with two-handed halfcourt bounce pass for assist (VIDEO)

LeBron James
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Perhaps LeBron James‘ most underappreciated skill has been his passing. He is rightly hailed as the most unselfish superstar of his generation, but being a willing passer is only part of it: he’s also as good at it as any point guard in the league. Case in point: this two-handed halfcourt bounce pass on Tuesday night, finding Richard Jefferson for an easy dunk:

Kobe gets great introduction, loud ovation in Philadelphia

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Kobe Bryant‘s relationship with his hometown of Philadelphia had its rocky sections — the Kobe’s Lakers beat the Sixers in the 2001 Finals, and then Kobe was booed during the 2002 All-Star Game —  but all was forgiven on Tuesday night.

In his final trip to Philly, he was given a framed Lower Merion High School jersey — that’s Kobe’s school, in case you forgot — and it was presented by Dr. J.

Then the fans welcomed him like you see above.

That pumped up Kobe, who scored 13 first quarter points on 5-of-10 shooting, his best quarter of the season.

Rumor: Nets testing trade waters for Bojan Bogdanovic

Bojan Bogdanovic, Otto Porter Jr.
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If you play for the Brooklyn Nets, and your name is not Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, expect you will come up in trade rumors this season.

First up on the block, Bojan Bogdanovic. The report comes from Mike Mazzeo of ESPN.

Bogdanovic is in the first year of a three-year, $11 million deal, which isn’t bad for a guy playing nearly 25 minutes a night and scoring 8.4 points per game. There is a lot of potential in his game, if developed in the right setting — he’s a good shooter out on the wing who works well off the ball. He seems to have regressed this season, but how much of that is due to the Nets and their guard play (and just generally struggling) is up for debate.

Is there going to be interest in him? Probably. As always, it is about the price, what the Nets will demand. Whether the Nets can get anything back they want is up for debate.

Right now a lot of GMs are testing the waters for players, judging the market. That is a long way from a trade happening. But don’t be shocked if the Nets make a deal or two before the February deadline.