If the Bulls had designs on moving out of the six seed — and you know Tom Thibodeau wants to win every game with a white hot passion — this was not a good night.
First, the Bulls fell to the Wizards 90-86 in a game where Chicago had no answer for John Wall (27 points, 9 assists, 8 rebounds, nobody has slowed him lately).
But the bigger concern may be Taj Gibson, who sprained his knee in the first half, didn’t play the second and will have an MRI on Wednesday just to see how bad things are. Gibson recently missed 10 games due to a sprained MCL and this is the same knee.
Chicago is going to need to expand its training room with Joakim Noah, Marco Belinelli, Richard Hamilton and of course Derrick Rose already taking up tables in there pretty much full time.
This was a game where the Bulls looked shorthanded — they got 19 points and 12 rebounds from Carlos Boozer, 17 from Nate Robinson and 13 from Luol Deng, but the Bulls seemed to wear down as the game went on. Their early leads evaporated. In the fourth quarter the havoc Wall was wreaking started to give the Bulls defense some issues — A.J. Price was getting open looks and knocking them down.
The Wizards never pulled away, but they were able to do enough to get the win. Which is what we have seen from them a lot in recent weeks — they have something to build around next year.
The Bulls have to find a way to get guys healthy for the playoffs, with or without Rose. They are a team that has been grinding all season and you wonder if they can get right or will be ground down when the games really matter in a couple weeks.
The No. 28 pick, R.J. Hunter became the first first-rounder from last year’s draft to fall out of the NBA when the Celtics waived him.
He won’t be out of the league for long.
The Bulls, the only team with an open roster spot, appear close to adding him.
Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:
Hunter belongs in the league. Though he must knock down shots far more reliably than he has, Hunter has potential as an outside shooter with complementary ball skills to provide value. Boston just had more NBA-caliber players than roster spots.
He’s far from a lock to succeed in the NBA, but I value Hunter about as much as Tony Snell – whom the Bulls just traded for an upgrade at backup point guard in Michael Carter-Williams. That they could so cheaply replace Snell makes that deal look even better.
Gerald Green was drafted by the Celtics and spent two seasons with them before being traded (in the Kevin Garnett deal).
After stints with the Timberwolves, Rockets, Mavericks, Nets, Pacers, Suns and Heat, he signed with Boston this summer.
Think he’s happy to be back?
Abby Chin of CSN Mid-Atlantic:
Joel Embiid couldn’t endear himself by playing in an NBA game, because he’s been too injured to do that in two pro seasons.
He’s had to resort to witty nicknames, practice-gym dunks, fun-loving stunts, attention-seeking tweets and self-deprecating humor.
Embiid is scheduled to make his NBA debut tonight, when the 76ers play the Thunder. Soon, we’ll judge him more for what he does on the court.
But, first, Embiid went out with one last bang of a quote.
Embiid, via Lee Jenkins of Sports Illustrated:
“You know how I learned to shoot?” Embiid says. “I watched white people. Just regular white people. They really put their elbow in and finish up top. You can find videos of them online.”
LeBron James might be the greatest athlete in NBA history.
But even he has shown signs of decline at age 31.
He has gotten multiple back injections and even took a break during the season to rehabilitate in Miami. The forward has treated the last two regular-seasons as glorified warmups for the playoffs.
Just where does LeBron stand physically?
Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue gave quite the answer.
Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com:
Lue said James, at 31, “had a chance to get tested this summer and they said he had a body of a 19-year old. Maybe he’s getting younger. Benjamin Button.”
It was a little perplexing because neither James, nor his personal trainer, Mike Mancias, nor general manager David Griffin had any real idea what test Lue was talking about.
This reminds me of Derrick Rose attributing the Knicks and Warriors being super teams to “They’re saying.” Who is they, and what are they smoking?
That LeBron, Mancias and Griffin won’t cop to knowing is quite revealing.
LeBron does not have the body of a 19-year-old. Years of other-worldly play and long playoff runs has taken a toll.
Because he’s declining from such a high peak, LeBron should remain elite for a while. His athleticism might even fluctuate as it trends downward overall.
But Father Time is undefeated, and LeBron didn’t just get a mid-career reset to his rookie physical form.