Ding Dong the Heat are dead… or at least their 27-game winning streak is. But because of it the Chicago Bulls are the toast of the NBA. So in their honor, here is an all-Chicago Three Stars of the Night.
Third Star: Kirk Hinrich (7 points, 6 assists, 5 rebounds)
He isn’t here because of his stats, he’s here because he embodied the toughness and tenacity the Bulls brought to this game. He stood in front of a hard-charging LeBron James, wrapped him up and wasn’t afraid of the hard foul. He ripped the ball out of Chris Bosh’s hands in a key moment. He helped keep the Bulls organized and he made smart passes and plays. And most of all, he never backed down. Just like the Bulls.
Second Star:Carlos Boozer(21 points, 17 rebounds)
Carlos Boozer simply outplayed Chris Bosh all night long and it was one of the keys to the Bulls win. He was a key part of the Bulls ability to take a lead in the first half, but he was there late in the game, too, taking the brunt of a LeBron James charge that led to a foul. And making a key tip-in. It’s the kind of game people wish they got every night from Boozer.
First Star: Luol Deng (28 points, 7 rebounds)
With Joakim Noah and of course Derrick Rose out, the Bulls biggest question against the Heat was simply “where will the offense come from?” Luol Deng, to start. He had nine first quarter points to help the Bulls rush out to a lead. He was making plans and throwing alley-oops to Jimmy Butler for poster dunks, all the while dropping threes (he made four in the game). Then when it mattered most he had 12 points in the fourth quarter, hitting big shots down the stretch to secure the Bulls win.
Spurs demolish Thunder to take Game 1 of second-round series
Aldridge in particular got anything he wanted against the Thunder. Oklahoma City’s stars were quiet, with Kevin Durant scoring just 16 points and Russell Westbrook 14. San Antonio controlled the game from the start and Oklahoma City never recovered from the opening punch.
It’s hard to imagine Durant and Westbrook are this ineffective again, and hopefully the rest of this series will be a little more competitive. But the Spurs did what the Spurs do, and did nothing to shake the feeling that they’re the favorites to win the west, now that Stephen Curry‘s status is unknown.
Hawks get another playoff shot at King James and Cavaliers
For the second consecutive year, the Warriors have lost their lead assistant to another team. When the Pelicans hired Alvin Gentry during last year’s playoffs, Steve Kerr promoted Luke Walton to associate head coach and added former journeyman big man Jarron Collins to the bench. Now that Walton is headed to the Lakers as their next head coach, the Warriors will go outside the organization to find a replacement, according to ESPN.com’s Marc Stein. And one name that will likely not be in the mix is David Blatt, who very nearly became an assistant under Kerr in 2014 before being offered the Cavaliers’ head job.
ESPN sources say the Warriors, meanwhile, plan to go outside the organization at season's end for a replacement to add to the current staff.
In the last few years, NBA head coaching salaries have skyrocketed, and new Lakers coach Luke Walton is no exception. According to the Los Angeles Times‘ Mike Bresnahan, Walton is getting $25 million over five years, which is the same as Steve Kerr’s deal with the Warriors, now-former Knicks coach Derek Fisher’s deal in New York, and Fred Hoiberg’s deal with the Bulls.
Luke Walton's contract to coach the Lakers will be for five years and about $25 million.
This kind of money has become standard for head coaches who don’t also have front-office power. Tom Thibodeau and Stan Van Gundy both get between $7 and $8 million annually to do both jobs. Given how good Walton’s current situation with the Warriors is, the Lakers probably had to be on the high end of the coaching spectrum to get him to leave.