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.
Spurs to give Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili Friday night off in Denver
That is the first night of a back-to-back, with former Spurs’ assistant coach Mike Budenholzer and his Atlanta Hawks coming to San Antonio on Saturday. Popovich is saving his two veterans for that game.
Duncan and Ginobili have looked like they found the fountain of youth this season. Duncan is taking on less of the offense but has been very efficient in those moments. Ginobili has the impact he did a few years back in his bench role.
What Gregg Popovich cares about is them playing like that come the postseason. So they will rest on Friday.
Rejecting the tender is a favor to the drafting team, which gets to keep the player’s exclusive rights for a year. If Thornton tries to join the NBA now, he’s stuck negotiating with only the Celtics.
By accepting the tender, the player typically gets one of two outcomes. He either plays on that contract and draws an NBA salary or he gets waived. But even getting waived is better than rejecting the tender, because at least the player becomes a free agent and can negotiate with any team.
Players who reject the tender go to another league and play for less money. In Thornton’s case, that mean Australia.
How’s that going?
(Almost) never reject the required tender as a second-round pick.
Byron Scott says they just have to get Kobe Bryant better looks
Kobe Bryant is averaging 15.2 points a game at age 37. It’s just taking him 16.4 shots per game to get there. After his 1-of-14 shooting performance against the Warriors the other night — with too much isolation and too many plays run just for him — there has been a lot of talk about his shot. With reason, this is his shot chart so far this season.
So what do the Lakers’ do? Get Kobe to shoot less and get the ball in the hands of the young stars they supposed to be developing more? Nah.
“I know his mentality is that he can still play in this league,” Scott said. “And we feel the same way….
“Obviously he’s struggling right now with his shot, and I think everybody can see that,” Scott said. “So it’s trying to get him in better position to be able to have an opportunity to knock those shots down on a consistent basis. That’s No. 1.
“I don’t know if it’s his legs. I don’t think so. Again, our conversations are pretty blunt. … He tells me when he is tired and he tells me when he’s not tired. And the last few days, he said he feels great. So, I don’t think it’s a matter of him being tired or his legs being tired. I think it’s a matter of his timing being a little off.”
Yes, how could it be his legs? It’s not like he’s a 37-year-old with more than 55,000 NBA minutes played, and coming off an Achilles rupture and major knee surgery.
Honestly, I hope the Lakers and Kobe find a balance soon, because they have become just hard to watch. And I don’t want Kobe to go out this way.