It’s been a very tough 49:09 of basketball for the Chicago Bulls, who finished the regular season with the Eastern Conference’s best record. At the end of Game 1, which the Bulls were winning comfortably, Derrick Rose awkwardly landed after a jump-stop and blew out his ACL, which ended Rose’s season and probably effectively ended the Bulls’ title hopes.
The Bulls, who are more than capable of beating the 76ers without Rose, did their best to come out tough in Game 2, and led 55-47 after the 1st half. However, the 76ers responded by thrashing the Bulls with a 36-14 3rd quarter, and Chicago was never able to recover. Lou Williams and Jrue Holliday, who both struggled in Game 1, absolutely torched Chicago in Game 2, combining to score 46 points on a combined 19-28 shooting from the field, and Evan Turner added 19 points of his own for Philadelphia.
The Bulls certainly didn’t have a bad game offensively, as Joakim Noah (21 points on 10-11 shooting from the field) led their offense to 92 points on 45.2% shooting from the field, which isn’t a bad showing against a top-5 defense like Philadelphia’s, but Tom Thibodeau’s top-ranked defense had few answers for the 76ers, which is odd because Rose is a much more integral part of Chicago’s offensive game plan than he is of their defensive one.
More than anything, Game 2 suggested that losing Rose (and the title hopes that go along with him) may have taken some of the wind out of Chicago’s sails, which is completely understandable. The Bulls have always played each game like it’s their last, with or without Rose, so I’d expect this to be an extremely competitive series that the Bulls still have a great chance of winning, but it looks like the psychological effects of losing a superstar in the first game of the playoffs may be taking their toll on the Bulls sooner rather than later.
The Los Angeles Clippers had a rough go of things against the Sacramento Kings on Sunday. Up by 18 with more than five minutes to go, LA blew their lead and were left to watch as the Kings sealed the game late.
The final possession for Sacramento came on a missed corner 3-pointer by Clippers guard Jamal Crawford. The Kings got the outlet pass out on the rebound, but Ben McLemore took it to the rack and missed. That’s when Willie Cauley-Stein stepped in, cleaned up the board, and put the game-winning shot home with less than two seconds left.
Los Angeles lost in spectacular fashion, and became the only team this season to lose given their game situation.
Here’s a compilation the NBA put together of Sacramento’s epic comeback:
Meanwhile, Chris Paul called it the worst regular season loss of his career.
The Clippers peaked too soon. Like, the first 20 games of the season too soon.
Russell Westbrook had yet another triple-double on Sunday. The Oklahoma City Thunder star notched 13 assists in the loss to the Houston Rockets, 137-125, and one of them came on a nifty pass to teammate Victor Oladipo.
The play happened with the Thunder on the fastbreak early in the third quarter. Westbrook was moving from left-to-right across the middle of the floor with the ball while Oladipo streaked down the right wing.
With the Rockets defense collapsing, Westbrook reached halfcourt and fired a bounce pass that sliced through the opposition.
Oladipo finished with the clean dunk.
Still not sure it beats this one, but I think we’ll have to compare once the season comes to a close.
The race between James Harden and Russell Westbrook for the 2017 NBA MVP has narrowed to a two-man race toward the end of the season. The Oklahoma City Thunder star is averaging at triple-double this year, and the Houston Rockets guard is doing things nobody has ever done on a basketball court before.
It’s a tough decision to decide between them, so much so that even former Los Angeles Lakers great and 2008 NBA MVP Kobe Bryant can’t do it.
Speaking on ESPN on Sunday, Bryant said he thought the league might have to just bite the bullet on Westbrook vs. Harden.
“We might see our first co-MVPs this year,” said Bryant.
That would be a huge step for the league, but I’m not entirely sure they would do it. There have been co-NBA All-Star Game MVPs in years past, but never league MVP.
Still, can you decide between Russ and Harden? The Mamba can’t.
Houston Rockets center Nene is from Brazil, but on Sunday against the Oklahoma City Thunder the South American native went full euro.
On a fastbreak possession, Nene took on Thunder big man Enes Kanter near the rim and absolutely shook him with a nasty eurostep.
The play was so good that it forced Oklahoma City to call a timeout as James Harden and the rest of the Rockets bench met Nene on the court to celebrate.