As an isolated incident, this play where LeBron James decided to intentionally drop his shoulder and plow into a screen-setting Carlos Boozer doesn’t have much meaning.
But given the point of the game when this occurred, and the fact that James was the one initiating the contact, it spoke volumes.
With under four minutes remaining and the Heat’s 27-game winning streak on the verge of being snapped, James delivered a hit on Boozer as he attempted to go through a screen, and was whistled for a flagrant foul.
The flagrant call was excessive, but it could be argued that the officials were simply trying to maintain control of a contentious game, one that the Bulls were leading by eight points at the time. The fact that James was hit hard by Taj Gibson on the previous possession may have factored into the officials’ view of the play, as well.
But regardless of how you view the play and the call from the officials, what was clear was how James became uncharacteristically unhinged at such a crucial point in the game.
LeBron’s stoic demeanor (save for some celebration when things have gone just right) has been a rock the Heat could rely on during that massive 27-game winning streak, and the fact that he let his emotions get the better of him, even just slightly, was a sign that the Bulls were on their way to accomplishing what no one had been able to in the last 56 days.
Minnesota is going to be entertaining to watch this season. A healthy Ricky Rubio (hopefully) dishing at the point, Karl-Anthony Towns is already a high-IQ passer, and bench players such as Shabazz Muhammad and Adreian Payne have shown some skills.
Then there’s Andrew Wiggins. The reigning Rookie of the Year developed quickly last season — particularly his jump shot — and he should make a big leap this season. He’s going to dunk on people and end up in a lot of highlight packages while putting up a lot of points.
Enough to set the Minnesota Timberwolves single game scoring record, currently held at 52 by Mo Williams? That’s the question for this PBT Extra with Jenna Corrado.
The Bulls have said Derrick Rose is about a week away from returning after suffering a facial fracture this preseason.
The start of the NBA season is two weeks from today (Oct. 27).
So Rose will be ready to go when the Bulls start their season that first night against Cleveland, right? Don’t bet on it, says Vincent Goodwill of CSNChicago.com, quoting coach Fred Hoiberg.
The opening night projection for a Derrick Rose return is a bit murky at this point, as the Bulls are taking a cautious approach to his recovery with Fred Hoiberg essentially ruling him out for the rest of the preseason.
“Most likely (out for the preseason),” Hoiberg said….
In fact, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Rose sit out the first handful of games, as the Bulls start the season with a three-game in four-night stretch starting Oct. 27 against the Cleveland Cavaliers, which is in two weeks.
“That will be in consideration, sure,” Hoiberg said. “We gotta make sure, he really hasn’t done anything and that will be a good two or three weeks where he has total inactivity, so just to throw him back out there going 100 percent with his speed and everything, you just don’t want to take any risks, chances, where it could be a lingering issue.”
Just what TNT and the NBA hoped for with an opening night Bulls vs. Cavaliers showcase: Kirk Hinrich vs. Mo Williams. (Don’t forget Kyrie Irving will miss the start of the season recovering from his knee surgery.)
Of course, this is the smart play for the Bulls who need to be thinking about getting Rose fully healthy and focusing on what condition he will be come April 27, not Oct. 27.
And of course, a lot of Bulls fans who are down on Rose will slam him for this. Even though the injury was a freak accident and the team is right to be patient.
Rose could play opening night, if he gets back to practice next week and can get closer to basketball shape. But I wouldn’t bet on it.