The Charlotte Bobcats had lost 18 games in a row.
Until they met the Chicago Bulls on New Year’s Eve.
The Bulls played like they were thinking about where they were going to be at midnight — or like they started the party the night before — and the Bobcats played like a team that didn’t want to lose 19 in a row.
Charlotte opened the fourth quarter of a tied game with a 10-0 run and held on to beat Chicago 91-81. That is eight wins on the season for Charlotte. It snaps the Bobcats losing streak and gives Chicago a new low point for the season.
This was all about the Bobcats backcourt outplaying a Bulls backcourt (the one that still awaits Derrick Rose). Kemba Walker had a team-high 18 points, Gerald Henderson added 16, and both Ramon Sessions and Ben Gordon each had 15 points. The Bobcats backcourt had 63 points, the Bulls just 28.
Usually the Bulls try to make that up in the paint, but Joakim Noah might as well have stayed home. He moved at the speed of a three-toed sloth and had two points, four rebounds and two assists for the game.
But it wasn’t just Noah, the Bulls bad offense was a team effort — Chicago shot 35.1 percent for the game and was 4-of-16 from three. In the end, the Bulls had an offensive rating of 82.7 points per 100 possessions, which is just epically poor. They were good on defense but the rules of the game still dictate that you have to score to win. The Bulls didn’t bother.
Charlotte got their win without Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who is out with an eye injury.
It’s just one game of 82, it doesn’t tell us anything we didn’t already know — that the Bulls struggle without Derrick Rose in the lineup. And the Bobcats still have some NBA players on the roster that can get it done if they need to.
Chris Paul broke his finger Saturday.
The initial diagnosis said the injury wasn’t serious.
Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times:
Paul obviously wouldn’t push it during the preseason. If the Clippers are allowing him to play, this can’t be bad.
Really, the most challenging aspect to this is grasping the concept that a broke finger can be a minor injury.
Brad Stevens has a big challenge this year – sorting the Celtics’ deep roster of similarly able players.
It seems that process is shaking out at power forward and center.
A. Sherrod Blakely of CSN Northeast:
it appears Boston’s first four bigs will be starters David Lee and Tyler Zeller, with Amir Johnson and Kelly Olynyk off the bench.
That leaves Jonas Jerebko and Jared Sullinger, potentially on the outside looking in as far as the regular rotation is concerned.
Lee is the best passer of the bunch, which could partially explain why he’s starting. Boston’s most likely starting point guard, Marcus Smart, is still growing into the role of the lead ball-handler at the NBA level. Lee and presumptive starting shooting guard Avery Bradley can take some pressure off him.
Olynyk can space the floor for Isaiah Thomas-Johnson pick-and-rolls with the reserves and run pick-and-pops with Thomas himself.
I’m a little surprised Zeller is starting over Johnson, though. The Celtics just signed Johnson to a $12 million salary, and I thought they’d rely on his defense to set a tone early. Like Johnson, Zeller is a quality pick-and-roll finisher who can thrive with Thomas.
This is particularly bad news for Sullinger, who – barring a surprising contract extension – is entering a contract year. It seems those reports of offseason conditioning haven’t yet paid off. Jerebko’s deal also isn’t guaranteed beyond this season, but at least he has already gotten his mid-sized payday. Sullinger is still on his rookie-scale contract.