Spencer Hawes

NBA Playoffs: 76ers take 3-1 series lead over depleted Bulls

51 Comments

You’ve gotta feel for the Chicago Bulls right now. After going 50-16 in the regular season to secure the Eastern Conference’s best record, the Bulls watched their best player tear his ACL with just over a minute remaining in Game 1 of the series, and Game 3 saw Joakim Noah go down with an ankle injury.

Needless to say, this isn’t the same team that made the Eastern Conference Finals last season or had the conference’s best record this year, and they didn’t look like it on Saturday afternoon. Without Rose, the Bulls don’t seem to have any ideas on how to get by Philadelphia’s top-5 ranked defense, and the team shot just 40% from the field on Saturday, while only making 3 shots from beyond the arc and 11 free throws. The Bulls’ game plan seemed to be to force-feed Carlos Boozer and hope for the best, but Boozer needed 24 shots to get his 23 points, which the 76ers were happy to live with.

Meanwhile, with Noah out of the lineup, 76ers center Spencer Hawes was able to have an absolute field day. Hawes had 22 points on just 11 shots, which is a big reason the 76ers were able to win despite the fact that Lou Williams, Jrue Holiday, and Evan Turner combined to shoot just 12-45 from the field.

The Bulls are obviously in dire straights — even if Noah comes back for Game 5, the Bulls are going to have a very hard time winning this series, and even if they manage to escape the 8th-seeded 76ers, it’s pretty clear their odds of advancing much further without Rose are slim to none. Meanwhile, the 76ers’ defense is looking as good as advertised, and it looks like they have a great chance of being the 1st team to beat a 1-seed in the 1st round since the 2007 Warriors, although the 76ers’ win will certainly come with a pretty big asterisk attached to it.

Aaron Gordon both legs over the mascot, ball-under-the-legs dunk (VIDEO)

3 Comments

TORONTO — Zach LaVine won the NBA All-Star Saturday Dunk Contest, but in an epic night for my money this was the single best dunk.

Orlando’s Aaron Gordon broke ground with this one — guys have jumped over mascots and other players before (and a Kia hood), but by splitting their legs apart. Gordon just put both legs over Stuff (that’s the mascot’s name, Stuff the Magic Dragon, I don’t make this up) — and took the ball off the mascot’s head, went under his legs, and threw it down.

Insane.

Gordon deserved a trophy for his performance in this dunk contest.

Zach LaVine edges Aaron Gordon in epic, insane Dunk Contest

9 Comments

TORONTO — That. Was. Amazing.

In a dunk contest that will go down with the all-time greats — Jordan vs. Dominique, Dr. J from the free throw line — Minnesota’s Zach LaVine defended his dunk contest title. Barely. Because Orlando’s Aaron Gordon was doing dunks nobody had ever seen before.

And LaVine was bringing it just as hard.

The two men advanced to the finals — dismissing Will Barton and Andre Drummond, each of whom had good dunks — and that was when it got wild.

There were four second-round dunks, and four perfect scores of 50. (That was in spite of Shaq, who wanted to give nines for second attempts.)

“I was prepared for four (second round dunks),” LaVine said. “To tell the truth, he came with something that no one else has done. He did two dunks that were just crazy with the mascots, jumping over them. We just kept pushing each other until the last dunk. I’ve got to give it up to my boy Will “The Thrill” Barton. It’s because of him I think I won. Because he said try to go from the free-throw line. I’d never done that before, and I just tried it. So I guess it was a great dunk. I think it was the best one ever.”

The Air Canada Centre crowd was exploding with every dunk. The two men went to a dunk-off — and got two more 50s.

“If I knew it was going to be like that, I would have prepared better and we would have been here dunking all night, going back 50 after 50 after 50 after 50,” Gordon said. “We would have been here all night. I didn’t know it was going to be like that. I was just hoping Zach was going to miss, and it wasn’t going to happen. You could see as my facial expressions when Zach dunks it, it’s like okay, that’s a 50. Like I know we’re going to have to dunk again.”

So they went to a second-round of overtime, where LaVine put up another 50 and won the contest.

Gordon was close to perfect.

Zach LaVine can flat-out fly.

Magic’s Aaron Gordon with the over-the-mascot mad dunk

2 Comments

TORONTO — Aaron Gordon was giving Zach LaVine all he could handle in the Dunk Contest.

He blew the lid off the Air Canada Centre with this dunk in the first round — and it wasn’t even his best dunk of the night. Never seen this before.

This dunk contest was awesome, so much more video to come.

Zach LaVine opens Slam Dunk Contest title defense with spectacular behind-the-back slam (VIDEO)

during the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge 2016 at Air Canada Centre on February 12, 2016 in Toronto, Canada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.
1 Comment

TORONTO — Zach LaVine clearly heard all the talk that Aaron Gordon or Will Barton had a chance to upset him in the Slam Dunk Contest. He came out ready to prove his superiority right off the bat. This behind-the-back slam was his first attempt of the night:

Even better was the reaction, both from Andre Drummond and from LaVine’s Minnesota teammates: