Brooklyn Nets v Chicago Bulls - Game Three

Bulls-Nets Game 4 preview: Can either team generate offense?

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The teams with worse offensive ratings than the Bulls and Nets in these playoffs are a combined 0-11.

Part defensive struggle, part offenses struggling, this series is the Eastern Conference’s answer to the high-flying Nuggets-Warriors matchup. While Stephen Curry is bombing 3-pointers and Ty Lawson is dishing assists, Joakim Noah and Joe Johnson are comparing notes on their plantar fasciitis.

Chicago and Brooklyn are grinding, a style that suits the underdog Bulls, who lead the series 2-1. And Noah – who shot 0-for-7 in his last game – is a big reason Chicago has dictated the tone. As Noah’s playing time has trended upward (peaking so far at 27 minutes in Game 3), the Nets’ offensive rating has trended downward (bottoming out so far at 82.2 in Game 3).

The Nets found an answer in the fourth quarter of Game 3, exploding for 24 points in the period with Gerald Wallace and Reggie Evans glued to the bench. Brooklyn desperately needs a fourth, and maybe a fifth, offensive threat to emerge to take pressure off Deron Williams, Brook Lopez and Joe Johnson. That’s not Evans, and the way he’s played lately, that’s not Wallace. The Nets are still searching, but it’s not an impossible task.

The Bulls, meanwhile, have ridden the scoring of Carlos Boozer (20 points per game) and Luol Deng (14 points per game). Those two have taken 44 percent of all Chicago’s shot in the playoffs. For perspective, only the Thunder were more reliant on two players during the regular season. Not that anyone needs to be reminded, but Boozer and Deng are not Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.

Boozer just had the worst shooting season of his career. The only areas Boozer shot better than league average were the two areas inside the arc he shot least.

Deng is 1-of-10 on 3-pointers in the playoffs. After a below-average regular season from beyond the arc, that number isn’t completely fluky.

All this is to say the Bulls are very beatable – if the Nets can score a lick.

Byron Scott says they just have to get Kobe Bryant better looks

Kobe Bryant, Joe Johnson, Byron Scott
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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.

Kobe shotchart 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.

They just need to get Kobe better looks, Scott told the Los Angeles Times.

“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.

Is Stephen Curry the Lionel Messi of the NBA?

Lionel Messi
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Stephen Curry has reached the transcendent point in his career. We’re now talking about if he has passed LeBron James as the best player on the planet (he has), and we’re starting to think about his legacy as the perfect point guard for a modern NBA small-ball, space-and-pace offense. Plus he’s just a joy to watch play.

Does that make him the Lionel Messi of the NBA?

Curry was asked to compare himself to the Barcelona/Argentinian player who (arguably) is the greatest soccer player in the world, certainly as elite a finisher as that sport has ever seen. Here is his answer, via the Sydney Morning Herald of Australia. Is Curry the bigger international star now?

“I don’t know – it’s a chicken and egg kind of conversation,” Curry said while laughing.

“We both have a creative style, a feel when you are out on the pitch or the court. I’m trying to do some fancy things out there with both hands, making crossover moves and having a certain flair to my game and that’s definitely the style Messi has when he is out there in his matches.”

I love Curry, but Messi is the bigger international star.

But I love the comparison in terms of the must-watch nature of the two stars, the flair in their games, the sense that you have to keep an eye on them at all times because the spectacular could happen any time they touch the ball. When the ball comes to them, everybody leads forward in their chairs. That is the sign of a real superstar.

Jahlil Okafor fights man in Boston (video)

Jahlil Okafor

The 76ers lost a heartbreaker to the Celtics last night, dropping Philadelphia to 0-16.

Jahlil Okafor was apparently in a foul mood after the game.


We’re told everyone got up and fled the scene and no arrests were made.

We’re told the altercation began because one of the men in the other group yelled at Jahlil, “The 76ers suck.”

We spoke with a rep for Jahlil who tells us … Okafor says he was being heckled from the moment he left the club and felt threatened because people swarmed him on the street.


This video obviously doesn’t show everything, but it certainly makes Okafor look like the aggressor.

Okafor will probably face punishment from some combination of the legal system, NBA and 76ers.