Boston Celtics' Garnett and Chicago Bulls' Boozer react to a call during the second half of their NBA basketball game in Chicago

Baseline to Baseline recaps: Bulls keep winning without Rose

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What you missed while you were fascinated with the photo of a shark eating another shark….

Bulls 89, Celtics 80: The Bulls are now 3-1 without Derrick Rose and, as they have through this run (and really the last two seasons), they won this one with defense. Chicago held Boston to 39.7 percent shooting overall and 20 percent from three.

Early on Rajon Rondo pushing the pace and getting a few easy buckets, and a good night back from injury from Kevin Garnett (18 points) kept the Celtics ahead. But a 20-3 run late in the fourth quarter gave Chicago a big lead, a run fueled by Joakim Noah (who scored 10 of his 15 in the second quarter). Carlos Boozer (23 points, 15 boards) helped spark a 7-0 run to start the second quarter to get Chicago up 16. Then a 14-3 run by Boston and we had a game again heading into the fourth. Which is where Luol Dent took over, absolutely dominating Paul Pierce at both ends of the floor (he did that for much of the game). Deng had 13 of his 23 in the fourth quarter and he also had 10 assists on the night.

Not sure we learned much in this game. We learned the Bulls play good defense and that is how they win without Rose in the lineup, and they split a pair with the Celtics that way in the past week. We learned Deng and Boozer are pretty good. We learned Boston is simply an inconsistent team — they have lost 4 of 5 after winning 9 of 10. We learned Chicago is much the better team once you factor in they did this without their (and the league’s) MVP.

Pacers 93, Nets 88: Any win on the third night of a back-to-back-to-back you take. You don’t worry about how pretty it is, or in this case isn’t. Indy will take this. But how ugly was it? In the second half the Pacers won shooting 29.3 percent, because the Nets shot 37.5 percent with nine turnovers. Early on Deron Williams looked like an All-World point guard early and Kris Humphries had 12 of his 24 in the first quarter, when the Nets took a lead and looked like they could get a win. This game remained close most of the way, but in the end the Pacers got good enough point guard play out of A.J. Price and some key buckets from Danny Granter (32 points on the night) and that was enough.

The guy that really impressed me this game, as he has at times this season, is Paul George. He was on Williams and held him in check in the second half, plus he made some good plays at the other end. This is a guy you want on your team.

Clippers 74, Trail Blazers 71: Make no mistake, the Clippers are Chris Paul’s team. Portland led by as many as 18 but Chris Paul scored all of his 13 points in the fourth quarter to spark a come-from-behind win. Blake Griffin had 21 on the night. That said, this game was ugly — Clippers on a back-to-back, Portland on the last night of a back-to-back-to-back, this was a schedule-makers ugliness. Both teams shot under 40 percent and combined for 34 turnovers. This was a lockout game. Of course, Portland’s offense has looked pretty ugly without LaMarcus Aldridge, period. He is their lynchpin.

 

Monty Williams is back coaching with Team USA, ready to get back on NBA sidelines

LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 18:  Draymond Green #14 of the 2016 USA Basketball Men's National Team drives against assistant coach Monty Williams of the 2016 USA Basketball Men's National Team during a practice session at the Mendenhall Center on July 18, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
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Watching Monty Williams back on the court at the USA basketball camp/practices in Las Vegas, you could see he was at home. He’s easily the best 44-year-old defender on the planet — he went toe-to-toe with Kevin Durant, Jimmy Butler, and the rest, was physical, and made them work for buckets. Then he’d instruct. He’s just a natural.

Back in February, Williams’ wife was killed in an auto accident. It devastated the devout family man, in ways it’s hard for us to understand who have never experienced it. He walked away from coaching the rest of the NBA season with the Thunder, and nobody questioned it for a second.

Now, after getting his feet wet with Team USA (where he is an assistant to Mike Krzyzewski), he told Darnell Mayberry of the Oklahoman he is ready to get back on the sidelines.

“I wouldn’t even think that if I didn’t know, one, my wife would want me to; my kids talk about it all the time. And there have been some things that have happened in my life lately that have allowed me to get that back. I’m so juiced up and ready to get back into it again.”

He is one of the better respected assistant coaches in the league, and a guy who will get another shot at a top spot someday. Soon. Can’t wait to see him back on the sidelines.

Ben Simmons says he plans to work on shooting, handles, getting stronger before camp

Philadelphia 76ers' Ben Simmons cheers from the bunch during the first half of the team's NBA summer league basketball game against the Brooklyn Nets, Thursday, July 14, 2016, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Associated Press
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The leap from college — even high-level college programs — to the NBA can be hard to describe. Now everybody is bigger, longer, and far more athletic — the guy at the end of the bench barely getting any burn was one of the best players on his college team.

Players get their first taste of that at Summer League. The Sixers’ No. 1 pick Ben Simmons looked pretty good when he got that taste, but you can see the development that needs to go on as well.

He’s spending the time between now and the start of training camp working on his shooting and getting stronger, among other things, he told Jessica Camerato of CSNPhilly.com.

“I think just getting in the gym and making sure I’m getting reps up, shooting-wise, dribbling,” Simmons said earlier this week after an appearance at Sixers Camp in Wayne, Pennsylvania. “The weight room as well, making sure I get my strength back and my weight up.”

All good things. Handles and shooting in particular — he’s about to start seeing much better defenders nightly. It’s going to take time, and we’ll see how far he can go, but Simmons unquestionably brings a lot of skill and potential to the table. That he’s putting in the work is a good sign — that was one of the concerns about him heading into the draft.

New GM Bryan Colangelo is going to benefit from Sam Hinkie’s process. So long as he doesn’t screw it up.

Report: Warriors sign JaVale McGee to make-good training camp contract

JaVale McGee
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JaVale McGee is getting another shot in the NBA.

He played just 34 games off the bench for Dallas last season. He played 23 games the season before that due to injury.

But the Golden State Warriors are thin up front — Zaza Pachulia will get the bulk of the minutes at the five (when the Warriors use a traditional center), and there is the often-injured Anderson Varejao behind him. The Warriors could use another big. So they are giving McGee a look, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.

This is a low-risk move by the Warriors, and it’s worth the gamble. Vintage McGee, for all his Shaqtin’ a Fool flaws, is far more athletic and a better rim protector than any of the guys the Warriors now have at the five. If it doesn’t work out — and the odds are it will not — they cut him, if it does they pay him a minimum deal.

I hope he makes it, just because the league is more fun when McGee is in it.

Russell Westbrook laughs off question about Kevin Durant

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 21:  Russell Westbrook #0 of the Oklahoma City Thunder and Kevin Durant #35 discuss play during the first half against the Los Angeles ClipperLos Angeles Kingsat Staples Center on December 21, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and condition of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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At some point, Russell Westbrook will sit down with members of the media and discuss Kevin Durant leaving the Thunder, how he felt about the move, and how it impacted him both personally and professionally.

But not right now. He remains silent.

This Vine making its way around, where Westbrook laughs — probably at the question, although read into that whatever you want — when asked about Durant sums up where we are.

https://platform.vine.co/static/scripts/embed.js

In the full Facebook clip, Westbrook walks away, too. It’s his right. He can talk about it on his schedule.