Bulls 93, Celtics 85: It was a tale of two halves. In the first one the Celtics rolled, holding Chicago to 38 total points (the Bulls were without Derrick Rose again), while Paul Pierce alone scored 17 points to help the team build a 10-point lead at the break. Then the second half opened with a quick 6-0 Bulls run and it was a sign of things to come as the older legs of the Celtics looked like they were on a back-to-back. Chicago’s defense held the Celtics to 38 second half points while Luol Deng dropped 18 of his 26 after the halftime show.
Clippers 93, Kings 85: Los Angeles led most of the way but this is a feisty Kings squad that had a 10-2 run in the fourth quarter and made a real game of it. Late in the game, the Kings followed the book on Blake Griffin and let him take to top-of-the-key jumpers rather than drive — and he buried them. If he gets that shot down, watch out. Randy Foye continued his hot play and had 20. On the other side Jason Thompson must have watched the Andrew Bynum tapes from the night before and finished with 15 points and 16 rebounds.
Pistons 99, Wizards 94: Detroit once again proves that it is the best of the NBA’s bad teams. Greg Monroe had 18 points without having to play the fourth quarter (he had it easy with Nene still out) and Rodney Stuckey had 15 off the bench for the Pistons. John Wall — 28 points, 10 assists — was the best and most aggressive player on the floor but it wasn’t enough. At the end the Wizards tried to foul Ben Wallace (hack-a-Ben?), and he knocked down 5 of 6 free throws.
Craig Sager to get third bone marrow transplant thanks to anonymous donor
McGary has battled injuries his two seasons in the league and got on the court for only 72 minutes total last season for the Thunder (he played in more games and put up solid numbers in the D-LEague). He was not part of the future there regardless. He’s an undersized five trying to play the four and what he brought as a rookie — energy — was not enough as a sophomore.
McGary will make $1.5 million this season. He may be tough to move because he’s suspended for the first five games he’s eligible to play next season for failing the league’s drug policy (five games is the standard suspension for testing positive for marijuana three times). Maybe a team looking to develop players will give him a shot, but there is little trade value for him.
Dwight Howard is shooting 19-footers to improve his free throw stroke
The challenge is form and reps are not the problems for Howard — or DeAndre Jordan or Andre Drummond or others — when it comes to hitting free throws. Anyone who says “why don’t they just practice the shot” doesn’t pay attention, these guys put in a lot of work on the shot. Pregame and in practice (I’m Los Angeles based), Jordan probably hits 65 percent from the line. At least.
The problem is mental. That can be a tougher hurdle to clear. Maybe taking 19 footers and knocking them down will have Howard feeling more confident at the stripe this season.
But we’re going to need to see it to believe it. Just like we’re going to have to see a rejuvenated Howard in Atlanta before we believe this season will be different from the last few.
Report: Veteran big man Jason Thompson agrees to deal in China
Until this season, Jason Thompson had never been to the playoffs. He spent seven seasons in Sacramento before getting traded to the Warriors last offseason, and then signing with the Raptors midseason when Golden State waived him to make room on the roster for Anderson Varejao. His NBA days appear over, at least for now. International basketball reporter David Pick reports that Thompson has agreed to a deal to play in China.
Source: NBA veteran Jason Thompson, split last season with Warriors and Raptors, finalized a deal in China with Shandong.