The Bulls have done an excellent job remaining more than relevant with Derrick Rose sidelined for the entire season to this point, as he works his way back from a knee injury.
Chicago is just a half-game behind the Nets for third in the East, a game and a half behind a Knicks team the Bulls have beaten three times already this season, and only three games out of first behind the defending champion Heat.
The Bulls have done it on the strength of their defense, along with two All-Star caliber performances this season from Joakim Noah and Luol Deng, as well as a massive increase in production from Carlos Boozer.
One or two more pieces offensively might push this Bulls team from the fringe to a legitimate championship contender. But help isn’t likely to be coming via trade — if Chicago is going to get over the hump, it’ll have to do it with their current roster intact.
“We’re up against what’s called a hard cap,” Paxson said Friday on “The Waddle & Silvy Show” on ESPN Chicago 1000. “In order for us to do something we’re not in a position to take on any real salary so we’re kind of limited in what we can do. I think our team has grown — it’s not always pretty, let’s face it; we’ve had some ugly games this year and that’s kind of who we are right now. But we do grind it out and play hard.
“You’re always on the lookout to do certain things, but I think our move hopefully will be bringing Derrick back into the fold.”
Rose’s return, if he ends up coming back anywhere near the level he was playing at during his MVP season in 2010-11, will be better than anything his team could do via trade before the Feb. 21 deadline comes and goes.
Still, Paxson will undoubtedly be involved in multiple trade discussions until then, just like every executive in the league. But the Bulls don’t have a lot of assets desired by other teams that they’d be willing to part with, so Rose’s return will be it in terms of player additions in Chicago before the end of the season.
Houston Rockets G Patrick Beverley is known around the NBA for being a dogged defender. His skill set was on full display on Friday night, where Beverley shut down Oklahoma City Thunder superstar Russell Westbrook on a potential game-winning 3-pointer in the closing seconds.
It all started early in the matchup, when Beverley — notorious for getting under the skin of both Westbrook and other NBA opponents — flopped with some serious gusto just 36 seconds into the first quarter.
The game continued like this, but the real highlight of Beverley’s defensive night was stopping Westbrook — who dropped his 7th straight triple-double — on an isolation play with six seconds left in the fourth quarter.
With the ball on the left garden spot, Westbrook gave a couple of dribble hesitation moves to Beverley, then tried to rise up for the go-ahead bucket.
Beverley was right up on him, and forced an airball from Westbrook:
The Rockets guard was so happy about the stop and the eventual win that he celebrated a little too enthusiastically with Houston coach Mike D’Antoni.
Going for a chest bump, Beverley wound up blasting through his own coach:
Toronto Raptors stars Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan are becoming one of the best duos in the NBA, on and off the court. They joked around in the locker room after their win over the Boston Celtics on Friday night, 101-94, but the comedy started before the two even left the floor.
In a postgame interview with CSNNE DeRozan was asked what the message was at halftime from coach Dewane Casey.
DeRozan — with Lowry looking devious in the background of the shot — was gracious.
“Just get [Lowry] the ball,” DeRozan smiled.
Pleased with the result, Lowry responded with a “That’s a good message right there!” before running off to the locker room.
The interview continued to be interrupted, with Raptors big man Jared Sullinger giving the camera a drive by “DeMar for President!”
New England Patriots RB LeGarrette Blount even showed up to show DeRozan some love.
The Golden State Warriors are so talented, perhaps the officials are predisposed to blowing whistles in their favor. At least, that’s the only explanation you could give to a Utah Jazz fan after seeing what happened between Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, and Utah’s Joe Johnson on Thursday night.
As Durant came off a curl on the far side of the court, he used a screen set by Curry on Johnson.
With the ball in his hands, Durant rose to fire but found himself locked in arms with another player. Durant’s shot attempt helplessly bounced away as he shot, and officials whistled Johnson on the play.
Of course, a closer look reveals that the player Durant’s arms were tangled up with was … Curry.
Yes, Curry had arm locked what he thought was Johnson on the screen but was instead his teammate and MVP candidate.
It didn’t matter, as referees awarded Durant the free throws, of which he only made 1 of 2.
Perhaps that’s some solace?
Golden State beat Utah, 106-99.
New York Knicks C Joakim Noah has an awkward jumper and free throw technique, there’s no denying that. His two-handed, horizontal approach to shooting a basketball is ripe for criticism.
DeMarcus Cousins thinks so, at least.
During a game between the Sacramento Kings and the Knicks, Cousins decided to give Noah a little tongue-in-cheek trolling about his form.
Looks about right.