The highly anticipated return of Derrick Rose to the court occurred on Saturday, as the Bulls made their preseason debut against the Pacers. All eyes were on Rose, of course, who was seeing his first game action in almost 18 months after sitting out all of last season to rehabilitate his torn ACL injury.
If there’s one thing we learned in this exhibition, it’s that Rose will be all the way back and then some this season. He showed plenty of the speed, explosiveness, and fearlessness that we remember from the former MVP, with no signs of an injury hangover that would limit his ability in any way.
Rose finished with 13 points on 5-of-12 shooting, to go along with three assists and four turnovers. The shots he made were all right at the rim — either layups, a dunk, or a putback in traffic. Where he struggled was to find a rhythm on his outside shot, although only a couple of his misses were jumpers in the true sense. Most came on drives where he pulled up short with a defender in the way, resulting in an awkward attempt.
A couple of his turnovers could simply be chalked up to not quite being used to playing in the flow of a game against an opponent at NBA speed, so no worries there, either. None of the assists came in spectacular fashion — all three were to Luol Deng, and the passes from Rose were pedestrian at best, with his teammate knocking down jumpers (twice) or slashing to the basket to finish.
The outside shooting will come, as will the comfort level of once again playing with his teammates. The most important parts of Rose’s game are already in place, however, and Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau summed up what we all saw quite nicely afterward — in essence, that Rose is back.
“The speed and the power that he plays with,” Thibodeau said, “there’s no one like him.”
Apparently, all it takes is a little public discussion of LeBron James‘ “broken” jump shot to get him back on balance and knocking down the three ball — he was 4-of-6 from deep Wednesday.
Then again J.R. Smith was 7-of-13, Kyrie Irving 4-of-5, and as a team the Cavaliers knocked down a record 25 threes — while shooting 55.6 percent — as they wiped the floor with the Hawks in Game 2.
In case you’re curious where the Cavs were hitting from, here’s the team’s shot chart.
The Houston Rockets aren’t in any rush to hire a new head coach, preferring to interview a wide range of candidates to find the right one. Jeff Van Gundy has been widely believed to be at the top of their list, now that Tom Thibodeau and Scott Brooks are off the market, but ESPN.com’s Marc Stein is reporting another name that has entered the mix: Mike D’Antoni, who last held a head coaching job from 2012 to 2014 with the Lakers and currently serves as the Sixers’ lead assistant.
The Pacers, meanwhile, haven’t made a final decision on Frank Vogel’s future with the team, but all signs seem to point to him getting let go in the next few days. And if that happens, Stein reports that Vogel will also be on Houston’s list of candidates.
Given the Rockets’ massive drop-off on the defensive end this season, Vogel would seem to be a better fit than D’Antoni. But it sounds like the Rockets aren’t close to finding a replacement for J.B. Bickerstaff, although it would make sense to have a new coach in place by next month’s draft.
On Monday, the Hawks played the Cavaliers close and even led in the fourth quarter, leading plenty of optimism that Game 2 would be equally competitive, that the Hawks had something to build on.
The Cavs dominated from the start on Wednesday, with a 123-98 final score that was far closer than the game actually was — the Cavs led 74-36 at the half and led by as much as 38 at one point in the second half.
The Cavs also hit 25 three-pointers, which is the all-time record for a single game — regular season or playoffs. J.R. Smith hit seven of them, along with four each from LeBron James and Kyrie Irving and three for Kevin Love.
18 of Cleveland’s threes came in the first half, also a playoff record, and this was all Atlanta could do:
That’s the kind of night it was for the Hawks, who now trail 2-0 in the series as it heads back to Atlanta.
LeBron James has always been an incredible passer. In the midst of the Cavs’ Game 2 beatdown of the Hawks, he zipped this one-handed beauty into the paint to Kyrie Irving, who kicked it out to Kevin Love for a corner three:
The three was just one of the 18 Cleveland hit in the first half, which set an NBA playoff record.