That didn’t look anything like the Chicago Bulls that has been a defensive force and a top-four team in the East despite missing the recent league MVP that leads their offense.
That did look everything like the hot Denver Nuggets that came into Thursday having won seven in a row, 21 of 24 at home and were running at the fastest pace in the NBA the last 10 games, blowing teams away in the midst of an offensive explosion.
The result was the Nuggets running right past a Bulls team that was slow to get back in transition, Denver putting on a dunking exhibition led by Kenneth Faried (21 points on the night), pulling away in the third quarter and eventually routing the Bulls 128-96.
I imagine TNT’s ratings dropped way off as this game went on. There wasn’t much to see, save for the Nuggets getting dunking practice.
For the Bulls, this is a game they should flush. Just forget about it. Shower off, clean up and flush this one away. The effort, the defensive intensity that have come to characterize Tom Thibodeau’s Bulls was apparently left in the hotel room. Chicago gave up more points in this game than they have any night in the Thibodeau era. Yet, because of how the Bulls play most nights it’s easy to just thing of this as a one-off and forget it. Just go to sleep tonight dreaming of Derrick Rose’s return.
For Denver, this fit with and reinforces everything they have done lately — they just used their athletic ability to run past a Bulls team that could not keep up. Faried had his 21 points on 9-of-10 shooting, Ty Lawson had 16 points and 12 assists playing with an amazing confidence, and Wilson Chandler came off the bench to drop 24 and look like the guy they thought they traded for.
Denver is a good team.
Denver has solidly moved into the top four in the West — they are ahead of a Grizzlies team trying to figure out its rotations again after a roster shakeup, the only team with a real shot at catching them is Golden State (the six seed, 1.5 games back). If the Nuggets can stay hot and get home court in the first round, there is a real chance of advancing past that level. Which is a good goal for this team. And lately they have looked like a team that can reach that level.
Watch Jonathan Simmons’ chasedown block on Stephen Curry
While the Spurs were running the Warriors out of Oracle Arena — a 129-100 Spurs win — Simmons had a fantastic chasedown block on Stephen Curry. It was one of the plays of the game (most of the rest came from Kawhi Leonard).
Simmons had 20 points on 8-of-14 shooting off the bench for the Spurs in the win, which included a poster dunk on JaVale McGee late. Just to put some icing on the win.
Iman Shumpert in concussion protocol after collision with Porzingis
Late in the third quarter of Cleveland’s blowout opening night win over New York, the Cavalier’s Iman Shumpert lowered his head and tried to drive the lane, where he collided with Knicks big man Kristaps Porzingis. It looked like Shumpert’s head hit Porzingis’ hip and elbow.
Shumpert instantly went to the ground, then needed help to come off the court. He was diagnosed with concussion-like symptoms, the team announced. Apparently, Porzingis is a rock.
A source questioned whether Shumpert would be available for either of the Cavs’ next two games, Friday in Toronto and Saturday against Orlando at The Q. To play, Shumpert would need to be symptom free, pass a series of tests, and show no symptoms after each test.
There is no set timeline with a concussion. In the short term, this will mean more DeAndre Liggins on the court until Shumpert returns.
The Cavs are already without rookie backup point guard Kay Felder, who suffered a concussion during practice last Friday when he ran into Chris Andersen.
What championship hangover? Cavaliers rout Knicks on ring night in Cleveland.
LeBron had a triple-double — 19 points, 14 assists, 11 rebounds — and led the Cavaliers to an easy win over the Knicks, 117-86. Kyrie Irving had 29 points — 19 in the third — and Kevin Love added 23 in the win.
But mostly it was the Cavaliers’ offense getting whatever shot it wanted and the Knicks watching dunks from up close.
Over the course of this season, these Knicks will evolve into something better than they showed opening night. No Derrick Rose (trial) and no Joakim Noah (injury) meant the Knicks starting five didn’t have a lot of cohesion and chemistry from the start.
After a sluggish first five minutes by both teams — they were a combined 6-of-22 shooting to open the game — the Cavaliers slowly started to create a little space behind 10 first quarter points from Love. That lead really started to grow as the Knicks bench came in and went 0-of-6 shooting to end the quarter, with Brandon Jennings making questionable decisions. Tack on seven Knick turnovers and the first and they were down 10 after 12 minutes.
The Cavs were in control through much of the second quarter until the Knicks went on a 10-0 run to make it a game again. It was Derrick Rose and Carmelo Anthony driving the team — they shot a combined 12-of-20 in the first half, the rest of the Knicks were 5-of-23. It was 48-45 Cavaliers at the break.
In the third quarter the Cavaliers starters cranked it up behind Kyrie Irving and tighter defense — the third quarter saw Kyrie Irving with 19 points and the entire Knicks team with 19. It was 82-64 Cavs after three and the celebration was on.
Kristaps Porzingis showed some moments but his 16 points came on 5-of-13 shooting. Anthony had 19 points on 18 shots. Rose had 17 points but four turnovers and one assist. Brandon Jennings came off the bench to shoot 1-of-7. It was not their best night.
For the Cavs, it was one to remember — the first banner in 52 years went up.
Did we mention LeBron James was dunking all over Knicks? Watch for yourself.