Brooklyn Nets' Williams, Lopez and Wallace tap hands as Chicago Bulls' Robinson walks off the court in the fourth quarter of their NBA basketball playoff game in New York

Nets win Game 5 over Bulls with unbelievably good offense

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On Saturday, the Pacers posted an offensive rating of 70.2 in their Game 3 loss to the Hawks.

Tonight, the Nets bested that offensive rating – on possessions they missed a shot.

Let me repeat that. Every time the Nets began a possession by missing a shot, their offense performed better than Indiana’s did overall in its last game.

Brooklyn’s offense was incredible tonight. The Nets made 50 percent of their shots, rebounded 40 percent of their misses and scored on nearly 60 percent of their second-chance opportunities.

The Nets scored 134 points, 111 of them in regulation, in Game 4. Their offense was better tonight.

Rather, their was at least more effective tonight.

No Kirk Hinrich? Sounds great to Deron Williams.

Less Joakim Noah? Brook Lopez will take that.

Brooklyn’s two biggest stars stepped up, but that was certainly in part due to the Bulls’ best defenders of those two stepping down. I doubt the Nets will care about those details, though.

In Game 4, they led by 14 points with three minutes left in regulation and lost. Tonight, they by seven points with three minutes left and surged further ahead with a game-ending 12-0 run for a season-saving 110-91 victory.

The Nets still trail Chicago, 3-2, in the series, and it will take even more mental toughness to complete the comeback – but, by Brooklyn’s standards in that department, tonight was an overwhelming success thanks to all those offensive rebounds (18 in total).

Like the Nets envisioned when they signed them to those big contracts, Williams and Lopez led them to the crucial win.

Of course, Williams couldn’t match his point-a-minute pace with Hinrich out over a larger sample, but Williams still found plenty of success in Hinrich’s absence. The Nets’ point guard had 23 points and 10 assists and captained an offense that scored 124.8 points per 100 possessions.

But Lopez actually reached the point-a-minute clip with Noah out, scoring seven in seven as, for the first time this series, Noah played fewer minutes than his previous game (28 tonight). Lopez finished with 28 points, 10 rebounds and three putbacks, including a nasty dunk on a missed C.J. Watson free throw.

Chicago’s offense, on the other hand, was fine despite struggling early, when the Bulls forced too many long 2s as they got used to playing without Hinrich. But they eventually settled in. Nate Robinson had 20 points and eight assists. Jimmy Butler scored 18 points. Carlos Boozer had 10 points and 10 rebounds, and Marco Belinelli shot 4-for-5.

But the Nets’ role players stepped up, too. Andray Blatche scored 13 points, C.J. Watson added 11 points. Even the mentally shaken Gerald Wallace had 12 points, three assists, two steals and two blocks.

Given the Bulls’ injuries, Williams and Lopez excelling tonight made plenty of sense. There wasn’t a strong reason for Wallace to have such a good game other than, when the Nets play well, Wallace plays well. He’s turned into quite the frontrunner.

Late in the game, Wallace made a 3-pointer, stole a pass on Chicago’s next possession and drove for a dunk.

Yes, the Nets were playing well, alright.

The time Kobe Bryant tried to recruit Dirk Nowitzki to the Lakers

DALLAS, TX - NOVEMBER 05:  Dirk Nowitzki #41 of the Dallas Mavericks greets Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers after a game at American Airlines Center on November 5, 2013 in Dallas, Texas.   NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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TORONTO — Kobe Bryant has been loyal to the Lakers for 20 seasons (if you ignore some “trade me” tantrums along the way). He’s also been über competitive.

Those same qualities are what he most appreciates about Dirk Nowitzki.

Kobe talked a little Dirk during his All-Star media availability Friday.

“Dirk and I have always had a great relationship because we’re both extremely competitive. Also both extremely loyal to our teams,” Bryant said.

“I’ll tell you a story about Dirk. He was up for free agency, and I knew what his response was going to be. But out of respect, everybody’s looking around at all these free agents, I felt I’d shoot you a text, if you want to come to L.A. He goes, ‘I would love to play with you, but Dallas is my home. This is my team. I’m not leaving here.’ So he and I think a lot alike in that regard.”

Nowitzki’s last couple free agencies have been mere formalities, nobody around the league thought he would leave Mark Cuban or Dallas. The only questions were money and years — in 2014 the Lakers reportedly offered the max to Nowitzki, who took three-years, $25 million from Dallas so the Mavs could rebuild their roster. It’s all part of that loyalty — and it’s worked out, Nowitzki and Cuban have a ring.

Kobe’s respect for Nowitzki was clear when Dirk nailed a game winner against the Lakers this season, Kobe just nodded his approval from the bench.

One of the best things the past couple seasons about Kobe, and especially this season with just about to retire Kobe, is that he is giving honest answers. He doesn’t care what people think. That leads to honest moments and great stories.

Watch Kristaps Porzingis drop 30 at Rising Stars Challenge (VIDEO)

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TORONTO — Knicks’ fans were in full throat at the Air Canada Centre Friday night. Kristaps Porzingis was the second most popular player in the Rising Stars Challenge (behind Canada’s own Andrew Wiggins).

Porzingis didn’t disappoint, dropping 30 and sparking a World Team comeback against the USA that just fell just short, with the USA winning 157-154.

“Not great defense, but it’s about having fun, I guess” Porzingis said. “And I think we had fun out there. In the second half we got more competitive, as both teams wanted to get the win, and we fell a little short.”

Kobe Bryant basks in All-Star spotlight one final time

Kobe Bryant All-Star
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TORONTO — Kobe Bryant is the center of attention one last time.

To get to his final All-Star Game in his final season in the NBA, Kobe received more fan votes than Stephen Curry or LeBron James or any other player. Now that he’s at the 2016 All-Star Game, more people want a piece of his time. More media were crowded around him on Friday than any other player at the NBA’s equivalent of media day. Even the other All-Stars could count on getting peppered with Kobe questions (to their annoyance at times).

Kobe is at peace with his decision to walk away from the game. This weekend he wants to savor being in the All-Star spotlight one final time.

“I’m happy,” Kobe said. “This is pretty cool. I’m looking around the room and seeing guys that I’m playing with that are tearing the league up that were like four during my first All-Star Game. It’s true. I mean, how many players can say they’ve played 20 years and actually have seen the game go through three, four generations, you know what I mean? It’s not sad at all. I mean, I’m really happy and honored to be here and see this.”

Does that mean Kobe has plans to chase the All-Star MVP one last time?

“Zero…” Kobe said. “But, no, I’m really just enjoying this whole thing, being around these players and talking to them one more time, going out and practicing and enjoying that moment in the game and enjoying that moment. So competitiveness in terms of me trying to establish something or prove something, that’s gone.”

What is Kobe’s best All-Star memory?

“My first one in Cleveland was pretty special because you had all the top 50 players,” Bryant said. “I think in ’98 (it was), it was pretty special too, being in my first All-Star Game and being in the locker room with greats, like [John] Stockton and [Clyde] Drexler and all those guys, that was pretty cool too.”

Kobe has a hectic schedule for his final weekend, but much as he has since he announced his retirement he is trying to soak in and fully enjoy this last go around in the NBA. He understands that the life he has known for two decades is about to change. He hasn’t given much thought to his first day of retirement.

“I’ll probably wake up and have some coffee and go back to sleep,” Bryant said.

I don’t think he understands why you drink coffee, but he’s got all of his retirement to figure that out. For now, he just wants to bask in the spotlight one last time.

Zach LaVine wins MVP, Kristaps Porzingis puts on show in Rising Stars Challenge

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TORONTO — Canada’s own Andrew Wiggins was the rock star of the night. “An-drew-Wi-gins” chants broke out in the Air Canada Center as Canada’s native son put on a show with 29 points (and a few dunks) leading a World Team comeback against the USA in the Rising Stars Challenge.

“An-drew-Wi-gins” chants broke out in the Air Canada Center as Canada’s native son put on a show with 29 points (and a few huge dunks), sparking a World Team comeback against the USA in the Rising Stars Challenge.

His Minnesota teammate Karl-Anthony Towns was going to have none of that.

“I gotta see Andrew Wiggins for a long time and I want to rub this in,” Towns said.

He got his wish, the USA beat the World Team 157-154.

It was a glorified pickup game for three quarters, and the level of defensive intensity will make Sunday’s All-Star game look like Tom Thibodeau teams are playing. That led to a lot of high scorers.

Zach LaVine — the other teammate of Wiggins and Towns — led the USA with 30 points and was named the game’s MVP, and said he wanted to steal Wiggins’ thunder at home.

“That’s what I was going for,” LaVine said.

Also from the USA, Jordan Clarkson (Lakers) had 25, Devon Booker (Suns) had 23 and was 5-of-8 from three, D'Angelo Russell (Lakers) had 22, and Towns chipped in 18 points and 7 boards.

Knicks sensation Kristaps Porzingis was the second most popular player in the building, and he had 30 for the World team.

“Not great defense, but it’s about having fun, I guess,” Porzingis said. “And I think we had fun out there. In the second half we got more competitive, as both teams wanted to get the win, and we fell a little short.”

Also for the World Emmanuel Mudiay (Nuggets) had 30 points, Wiggins had 29, and Mario Hezonja (Magic) had 19.

The intensity and defense did pick up in the end, although one wouldn’t call it a thing of beauty. What matters is the crowd in the Air Canada Centre enjoyed it, even if their team didn’t win. It’s an exhibition, and they got a show.