Bulls beat the Knicks for the third time this season

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The Knicks have shown that they’ve had no trouble dealing with the Miami Heat this season, the defending champions who sit at the top of the Eastern Conference standings.

As for defense-first teams like the Bulls and the Celtics however, that’s where New York tends to struggle.

Playing Chicago for the third time this season and for the second time in the friendly confines of Madison Square Garden, the Knicks were essentially dead on arrival.

Whether it’s in their heads at this point that they can’t generate offense against the Bulls or whether it was just an off night, Chicago rolled from the very start, and withstood a 41-point fourth quarter from New York on the way to a 108-101 victory, their third straight over the Knicks this season.

The Bulls, not exactly known for their scoring ability ranking just 23rd in the league in offensive efficiency, built a 21-point halftime lead on the strength of better than 57 percent shooting, while holding the Knicks under 30 percent from the field through the first two quarters.

Carmelo Anthony was back from a one-game suspension, but was largely frustrated while finishing with 39 points on 14-of-32 shooting. Luol Deng for the Bulls, meanwhile, piled up points for the second straight game against the Knicks, and finished with 33 points on 13-of-18 shooting.

Anthony isn’t the one to blame for this loss, however — it was a collective effort from the entire Knicks team to fall behind so quickly to a Bulls squad that has simply had its number this season.

Jason Kidd started and played 20 minutes, but missed all six of his shot attempts and not only didn’t manage to score, but didn’t hand out a single assist. The Knicks miss Raymond Felton creating at the point guard position, and their depth was tested without Marcus Camby, who will miss the next 2-4 weeks with a foot injury.

Chicago manages to roll along on the strength of its defense, while the Knicks seem to suffer at any hint of a bit of a speed bump. New York has real reasons to be concerned with its playoff chances as the season progresses, while the Bulls can take comfort in the fact that they have enough to beat the top teams in the conference right now, even as they await the return of their MVP point guard, Derrick Rose.

LeBron James rejects Giannis Antetokounmpo at the rim

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Through the first couple games of the season, Giannis Antetokounmpo has put up impressive numbers — he dropped 34 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists on the Cavaliers Friday night.

But the Cavaliers still have LeBron James.

He had 24 points and 8 assists, leading Cleveland to the win.

LeBron also reminded the Greek Freak just how good a rim protector he is. Few people can slow Antetokounmpo on the drive, but LeBron is one of them.

Is it too early to root for a Cavs vs. Bucks playoff series?

Hawks’ DeAndre’ Bembry out with fractured wrist

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In their season opener Wednesday, Atlanta second-year man DeAndre’ Bembry came off the bench and played 17:45, scored six points and was +13 on the night. It was a good start to his career.

But now he is going to miss some time with a fractured wrist.

Bembry underwent an MRI, which revealed a fracture in his right wrist, the Hawks announced Friday. He will return to Atlanta with the team (the Hawks lost to the Hornets Friday night) and will meet with team doctors at the Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center on Monday. His status will be updated after that.

“We just may play some other guys more, we may use some of the young guys,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer told the AP before Friday night’s game. “We’ll just figure it out tonight and as we move forward. I don’t think there’s anything guaranteed for anybody, it’s unfortunate for DeAndre’ and for us.”

 

Danny Ainge says Celtics will apply for Disabled Player Exception

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It’s not likely Gordon Hayward returns this season. His agent said as much, although a return in March is not out of the question. (It’s better PR wise for the Celtics to say he is out for the season, then if he returns early great, it’s better than setting a deadline he doesn’t meet.)

With that, the Celtics are going to apply for the Disabled Player Exception, which could help them land a replacement player, Danny Ainge told Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe.

President of basketball operations Danny Ainge told the Globe on Friday the club is applying for the Disabled Player Exception, which would provide the Celtics $8.4 million to pursue a player to fill Hayward’s roster spot.

“We’re in the process of doing that,’’ Ainge said. “We have a while to do that. There’s no urgency, but we will apply for that.”

There are limits to what that money can get the Celtics. The money is the same as the mid-level exception, the Celtics can go over the cap to use it, and the player can be obtained via free agency or trade. However, the player must be in the last year of his contract.

It gives the Celtics options. It also does not mean Hayward cannot return, it only means NBA-approved doctors determined he is not likely to return before a mid-June deadline.

Kings hire former WNBA Seattle coach Jenny Boucek as assistant

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The NBA now has a third female assistant coach.

The first was Becky Hammon, who has been part of Gregg Popovich’s Spurs staff for several years (and has coached their Summer League team). The second was Nancy Leiberman, who has been on the staff in Sacramento for a couple of seasons now.

Now the Kings have hired former Seattle Storm coach Jenny Boucek as an assistant coach on Dave Joerger’s staff. She will work as an assistant player development coach.

A former WNBA player in the league’s inaugural season, the past three years she has coached the WNBA’s Seattle Storm (she was fired midway through the last season), and prior to that had been the head coach of the Sacramento Monarchs from 2007-09.