Hamilton close to returning for Bulls; Rose not so much

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The Chicago Bulls continue to do their best imitation of the NHL’s Blackhawks during the playoffs, not really telling anybody what is going on with injuries to Richard Hamilton and Derrick Rose, but some things are starting to leak out.

Hamilton could be back by the next game, but Rose seems farther off — even though he is itching to get back on the court.

Rose is still not running after straining his groin, but you can tell from his comments before the game how much he wants to play. Via the twitter account of Aggrey Sam, Bulls insider for CSNChicago.com.

“Right when I feel that I’m ready, I’m going to go out there and play, no matter who says whatever… The call is up to me and right when I feel like I’m 100 percent or close to it, I’m going to go out there and play.”

Groins can be tricky and easy to re-aggravate, so the Bulls might be smart to really get Rose right before his return. In part because he doesn’t know any speed but 100 mph, and partly because they really, really need him to be right in the playoffs.

Rip Hamilton, out with a shoulder injury, could be ready to go maybe by next game. Rose thinks he looks ready, according to a report filed by Sam.

“He’s looking good. He’s moving better than I am right now. He’s in the practice. I’m just on the side, just watching. But he’s moving good. If anything, I think that he’ll be able to play any given night.

“He’s shooting a lot of shots. You saw him over there, after practice shooting. He’s getting back to his regular self.”

The Bulls will need him as well come the postseason. Hamilton has not played a lot this season — just 16 of the teams 51 games as of Monday — but when he has played he has provided a second scoring option on the perimeter the Bulls need.

Lonzo Ball finishes one-handed alley-oop on Willie Cauley-Stein (video)

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So much attention is paid to Lonzo Ball‘s father, jumper and passes. Those are the major storylines for the Lakers rookie.

But he has such a diverse skill set, and this is absolutely part of it. Ball is a savvy off-ball cutter in the halfcourt with the athleticism to get above the rim and finish alley-oops.

But finish them over 7-footer Willie Cauley-Stein, who was tracking the play (though slightly late)? That’s an eye-opener, even in the Kings’ 113-102 win.

Marc Gasol makes 3/4-court shot just after buzzer (video)

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When Marc Gasol‘s 3/4-court attempt went through the net, it seemed to barely matter the ball left his hands just after the first-quarter buzzer. After all, the Grizzlies led the Mavericks by 15, anyway.

Turns out, Memphis really needed that basket.

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.