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.

 

Watch Knicks string together 28-0 run against Raptors

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Toronto has been the second best team in the East this young season. Not that anyone is really convinced they will be called that by the time we get to the playoffs (or even the All-Star break, or even Christmas), but for the first 16-18 games of the season their new move-the-ball offense had them at 11-5 and looking solid.

Wednesday night the Knicks dismantled the Raptors.

Especially in the third quarter when the Knicks went on a 28-0 run to blow the doors off the Raptors (video above). The Knicks dominated the third 41-10, when Toronto shot just 1-of-16 from the floor.

New York is gaining confidence with each win this season, they are a fun team to watch that is starting to find an identity (now that a certain three-sided shaped one is not being forced upon them). Kristaps Porzingis is a monster, and while the Knicks overpaid the market for Tim Hardaway Jr. he has lived up to his contract this season. With rookie point guard Frank Ntilikina showing some nice defense and playmaking skills as a rookie (although he is undoubtedly still a work in progress), you can see a path to a strong future unfolding. There are real reasons for hope in New York. Someone just keep James Dolan distracted and away from the basketball operations side of the building.

Devin Booker forces OT with deep turnaround buzzer-beating 3-pointer, but Bucks beat Suns (video)

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I’m not sure who benefited from Devin Booker‘s buzzer-beating, overtime-forcing 3-pointer. The Suns still lost to the Bucks, 113-107. The extra five minutes featured more of the same relatively bad basketball we’d seen between Phoenix (bad) and Milwaukee (shorthanded) through 48 minutes.

But darn if this shot wasn’t really cool and clutch.

Three Things to Know: Angry Russell Westbrook sparks Thunder against Warriors

Associated Press
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Every day in the NBA there is a lot to unpack, so every weekday morning throughout the season we will give you the three things you need to know from the last 24 hours in the NBA. As a matter of housekeeping, this will be the last Three Things of this week, as we take a holiday break. Happy Thanksgiving!

1) Angry Russell Westbrook sparks Thunder we’ve been waiting for. Don’t make Russell Westbrook angry. You wouldn’t like him when he’s angry.

Unless you’re a Thunder fan, then you’ll love him. Westbrook came out with an edge we haven’t seen from him this season as he has tried to play nice and integrate Paul George and Carmelo Anthony. Not Wednesday night. Wednesday night Kevin Durant and his Warriors came to town, and Westbrook was not taking it from anyone.

That sparked the Thunder team we have been waiting for all season. Westbrook finished with 34 points, 10 rebounds, 9 assists, and he was joined by Anthony with 22 points, and George with 20 points, 11 rebounds, and 4 steals. The Thunder used a 22-10 first-quarter run to take the lead and never looked back, leading by 26 at one point and going on to win 108-91. This was by far the best the Thunder have looked all season as they have stumbled to a 7-9 start before Wednesday. Maybe this game was the spark they needed to start playing well at the end of games — they closed out well against Golden State. Maybe this was what the Thunder needed to find themselves and become the playoff threat to the Warriors we expected.

As for the Warriors… ¯_(ツ)_/¯. We haven’t said this about them this season (only the Cavaliers), but they looked disinterested much of the night (outside of Durant). Give credit to the Thunder, physical and aggressive defenses that can overplay the Warriors (and recover) give them trouble, and OKC did that. The Warriors just didn’t care to counter. They looked like a team coasting through a road trip (2-2 in their last 4), and when they ran into a quality, motivated team they didn’t have the gear. That doesn’t mean anything long-term, but it means they may be vulnerable during the season until they find their edge again. Whenever they flip the switch.

2) Miami ends Boston’s win streak at 16. For a couple of weeks now the Celtics had been living dangerously — they had to come back from double-digits to win four of their last five games heading into Wednesday night.

Their luck ran out against the Miami Heat.

Miami raced out to a double-digit first-quarter lead, pushed that lead to 19 and were comfortably ahead most of the game, and we kept waiting for the Boston run. It came in the fourth, a 13-0 push that made it a game again. However, Miami responded with a 5-0 run of their own, Dion Waiters seemed especially motivated to take on Kyrie Irving, and the Heat held on for the 104-98 win. Goran Dragic had 27 points, Waiters 26 and 6 assists.

Boston’s streak was bound to end, but they established themselves as a strong defensive team during that run, and the squad in the East best poised to knock off LeBron James and the Cavaliers. We’re a long way from the games that matter in that push — the Cavs have won six in a row, and are playing defense again — but we know the pecking order for who gets a shot at the champs. Boston will get their shot, and early on they look like they will be ready.

3) Patrick Beverley is out for the season and the Los Angeles Clippers have some hard questions to answer. For the first four games of the season, we saw the potential of what this Clipper roster could be — four head-turning wins. Then the injuries started to pile up — Milos Teodosic, Danilo Gallinari, and starting point guard Patrick Beverley — and so did the losses. Nine in a row, until they picked up a road win in Atlanta Wednesday.

Now comes a brutal blow — the Clippers have lost point guard Patrick Beverley for the season. He had microfracture surgery on his knee and will be out until next season.

That’s a real blow to the Clippers, and it means they may need to answer some harsh questions. If the losses continue to pile up and this is clearly not a playoff team by the time we get to Christmas — a reality that became a more possible on Wednesday — do they need to trade free agent to be DeAndre Jordan? Other teams are already calling and asking if he is available in a trade, if the Clippers think they can’t resign him this summer (or at least the odds are lower than they like) they have to consider the move. Los Angeles wouldn’t get a lot back for a rental, but they would get something to help the rebuild they need to consider.

The other question: How much longer is Doc Rivers the coach. The sense from many around the league is the reason he wasn’t let go when he was stripped of his GM powers this summer was he is making more than $10 million a year and had a couple of years left on his deal, and that was too much for even Steve Ballmer to just eat. Plus Rivers has shown he can coach. Whether he can coach this team still is a different question entirely. Right now, this team is not responding to him, and the sense around the league is the question is when, not if, he will be let go.

Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook go head-to-head, literally (video)

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This sure didn’t look like just another game for Kevin Durant – and not only because the Thunder beat the Warriors for the first time since he left.

The 108-91 Oklahoma City victory didn’t look like just another game for Russell Westbrook (34 points, 10 rebounds, nine assists and four steals), either.