Derrick Rose not playing Game 3. Shocking. Deng, Hinrich also out.

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I can’t believe it — after missing 96 games Derrick Rose decided not to come back in the middle of a physical, intense playoff series to be guarded by Lebron James. Shocking. Who could have possibly seen such a thing coming?

Despite all logic and all evidence to the contrary, some weak reports started to fuel a whole “Rose is likely coming back for Game 3 at home” momentum that was always just ridiculous. But that never stopped a good rumor before.

Tom Thibodeau killed it on Friday at shootaround — Rose is not playing in Game 3. Neither are Luol Deng or Kirk Hinrich.

Deng didn’t sound like he would be back saying he dropped 15 pounds due to complications from a spinal tap. Hinrich had a second MRI showing muscle damage in his leg but the injury is not healing.

In the case of Rose, this is not a shock but it’s not going to play well with some in Chicago — they look at Iman Shumpert being back, with Rose being past the original timeline laid out for his injury, that he has been cleared by doctors and say he should be back.

As I have said all along, Rose is right to make the decision he is most comfortable with, his PR mistake is just leaving the door open. And that is his mistake — Rose wants it that way. Not the Bulls. Not Tom Thibodeau. Not anyone but Rose. As long as he says he might come back the team has to play along, and Rose isn’t willing to put the dream of this season away publicly. For whatever reason.

But this is no time to come back.

First, if he’s not comfortable he shouldn’t. Being cleared by doctors doesn’t make you healthy — just ask Grant Hill or Bill Walton about that. If he is experiencing any pain, or if he is just not comfortable yet playing his game — which is based on explosive moves and fast stops — then he should sit out. Not you, not me, not radio talk show hosts, not anybody but Rose knows what his knee feels like and when he’ll be ready.

More importantly, this would just be a bad time to come back. He’d play 15 minutes off the bench, be shaking off rust, and the Heat wouldn’t take him lightly he’d get LeBron and Norris Cole (a good man defender) locked up on him with quick doubles coming. It’s one thing to go from practice 5-on-5 games to a regular season game — even that is a jump that takes adjustments — but to go to a playoff intensity game against one of the most athletic and aggressive defenses in the game is another. Rose would struggle and hurt the team at this point.

I’d tell him to just say he’s shutting it down until next season, but the time to do that passed three weeks or so ago.

Watch Lonzo Ball’s 29 point, 11 rebound, 9 assist game Friday night

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This was more of what fans expected from Lonzo Ball.

After a rough first game against the Clippers — with Patrick Beverley in his face all night — Ball found plenty of room to operate against the soft defense of the Phoenix Suns. With room to operate Ball had 29 points, 11 rebounds, and nine assists — just one assist short of a triple-double. He helped the Lakers pull away to a lead in the third then hold on for a 132-130 win over the Suns.

Ball wasn’t terribly efficient, 12-of-27 shooting, but he was 4-of-9 from three, he played with great pace, he was decisive, and was finding guys with his passes. It was a step forward, even if it was against a sad defense (Eric Bledsoe can be a good defender, but he has seemed disinterested in recent years).

Ball and the Lakers are going to be up and down this season, the goal is for there to be more ups near the end of the season.

LeBron James rejects Giannis Antetokounmpo at the rim

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Through the first couple games of the season, Giannis Antetokounmpo has put up impressive numbers — he dropped 34 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists on the Cavaliers Friday night.

But the Cavaliers still have LeBron James.

He had 24 points and 8 assists, leading Cleveland to the win.

LeBron also reminded the Greek Freak just how good a rim protector he is. Few people can slow Antetokounmpo on the drive, but LeBron is one of them.

Is it too early to root for a Cavs vs. Bucks playoff series?

Hawks’ DeAndre’ Bembry out with fractured wrist

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In their season opener Wednesday, Atlanta second-year man DeAndre’ Bembry came off the bench and played 17:45, scored six points and was +13 on the night. It was a good start to his career.

But now he is going to miss some time with a fractured wrist.

Bembry underwent an MRI, which revealed a fracture in his right wrist, the Hawks announced Friday. He will return to Atlanta with the team (the Hawks lost to the Hornets Friday night) and will meet with team doctors at the Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center on Monday. His status will be updated after that.

“We just may play some other guys more, we may use some of the young guys,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer told the AP before Friday night’s game. “We’ll just figure it out tonight and as we move forward. I don’t think there’s anything guaranteed for anybody, it’s unfortunate for DeAndre’ and for us.”

 

Danny Ainge says Celtics will apply for Disabled Player Exception

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It’s not likely Gordon Hayward returns this season. His agent said as much, although a return in March is not out of the question. (It’s better PR wise for the Celtics to say he is out for the season, then if he returns early great, it’s better than setting a deadline he doesn’t meet.)

With that, the Celtics are going to apply for the Disabled Player Exception, which could help them land a replacement player, Danny Ainge told Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe.

President of basketball operations Danny Ainge told the Globe on Friday the club is applying for the Disabled Player Exception, which would provide the Celtics $8.4 million to pursue a player to fill Hayward’s roster spot.

“We’re in the process of doing that,’’ Ainge said. “We have a while to do that. There’s no urgency, but we will apply for that.”

There are limits to what that money can get the Celtics. The money is the same as the mid-level exception, the Celtics can go over the cap to use it, and the player can be obtained via free agency or trade. However, the player must be in the last year of his contract.

It gives the Celtics options. It also does not mean Hayward cannot return, it only means NBA-approved doctors determined he is not likely to return before a mid-June deadline.