Derrick Rose and Kyrie Irving finish even as Bulls pull away to beat Cavaliers

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There was plenty of excitement surrounding the first ever matchup between Derrick Rose and Kyrie Irving on Monday, but the game itself was largely devoid of any fireworks.

Irving and Rose essentially played to a standstill in a contest that was mostly defense-oriented, and one that the Bulls pulled away to win easily by a final of 96-81.

Rose finished with 16 points on 8-of-21 shooting, to go along with seven assists and zero turnovers in 34 minutes of action. Irving also finished with 16 points, albeit on 5-of-19 shooting to go along with four assists and three turnovers in 41 minutes.

The difference in the play of the two star guards was that Rose was even throughout, while Irving cranked it up late by scoring 12 of his points in the final period to try to bring his team back.

It wasn’t the stars that impacted this game, however. Instead, it was Bulls reserve Mike Dunleavy scoring 10 of his 15 points in the fourth off the bench to help his team seal the victory. With Chicago up three and under five minutes remaining, Dunleavy hit two threes and a couple of free throws, and added a steal and a rebound to help the Bulls close it out.

Andrew Bynum got his first start of the season for the Cavs, and had two solid possessions in the post early on against Joakim Noah that resulted in easy buckets. Bynum finished with 11 points, six rebounds, and two blocked shots in a season high of over 20 minutes of action.

Rose struggled for most of the night offensively, but had a signature burst late that ended in a coast-to-coast drive for a tough layup in transition. His bucket pushed the Bulls lead to seven with just over three and a half minutes remaining, but Rose pulled up with a slight limp following the play and was subbed out for the rest of the game. The word afterward was a hamstring strain that appeared to be minor, but as with everything involving Rose, the injury and the precautions taken because of it moving forward will be heavily scrutinized.

Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek: “We can use some more defensive players”

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For all the flipping between the triangle and a more modern offense, despite ball stopping by Derrick Rose and Carmelo Anthony, the New York Knicks offense is 17th in the NBA for the season. Not good, but the middle of the pack, right around Oklahoma City, Miami, and Memphis — all playoff teams (or potential ones in Miami’s case).

The reason the Knicks season ends in seven games is their defense — 25th in the NBA. Put the triangle in (and get players who fit the system) or don’t, but that’s not the end of the court where the Knicks need to improve. And while system matters on defense, the fact of the matter the Knicks roster is loaded with poor and/or indifferent individual defenders.

Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek emphasized all this speaking to ESPN’s Ian Begley.

“I think if you look at our defense this year, we can use some more defensive players,” Hornacek said. “[Management] will look at that. [General manager] Steve [Mills] and [president] Phil [Jackson] and those guys will look at whatever can help us out. We know we need some help there.”

Admitting you have a problem is the first step. Now comes the time for action.

The Knicks are going to have a Top 10 draft pick (currently sixth) plus max-player money in free agency. Also, they are looking to move Anthony this summer (he has a no-trade clause so he will have to agree to it). All of which is to say they have a chance to reshape this roster into one that will have more of a defensive focus. Or any defensive focus for that matter.

It will be interesting to see if the Knicks target more defensive minded free agents this summer, ones who might fit the triangle offense such as Thabo Sefolosha, or to a lesser extent Tony Allen. It’s going to be a fascinating summer in New York.

Master P says Pelicans should hire him as assistant coach: ‘I’m serious’

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Did you know Master P had two NBA contracts?

Percy Miller was with the Hornets before the 1999 season and the Raptors before the 1999-00 season. But he was cut in the preseason both times.

These were mostly publicity stunts. Still, the rapper could actually play a bit. NBA quality? He long insisted yes, though his music career provided a convenient and lucrative excuse for sidetracking his basketball ambitions.

Yet, now, the New Orleans native says he wants back in the NBA with the Pelicans — in a different role.

Master P, via TMZ:

I think they need me to be an assistant coach.

I’m serious about coaching.

I don’t think he’s actually serious.

But if he is, would it be a good idea? Probably not. The Pelicans have real issues integrating Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins, and they need devoted coaches, not passing entertainers, to solve this.

Would it be fun? Heck yeah.

Pistons’ D-League team wins on buzzer-beater unlike any you’ve ever seen (video)

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Sending an inbound pass through the rim is, of course, a turnover.

But sending an inbound pass off the rim to a teammate who converts the shot? Sure, that counts.

Ray McCallum and Ramon Harris gave the Pistons-affiliated Grand Rapids Drive a win over the Pacers-affiliated Fort Wayne Mad Ants on a play the D-League amusingly dubbed a “put-back.”

Duke’s Harry Giles, once a potential No. 1 pick, declares for NBA draft

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About a year ago, Harry Giles looked like he could be the No. 1 pick in the 2017 NBA draft.

But multiple knee injuries have added up and contributed to a lackluster freshman year at Duke, especially considering Giles started the season late due to his latest knee surgery.

Where does this leave him with the NBA?

We’ll find out.

Duke release:

Duke freshman forward Harry Giles has announced that he will enter his name in the 2017 NBA Draft.

At his best, Giles is an athletic power forward who plays with skill and energy. But we didn’t see much, if any, of that player during 11.5 minutes per game in just 26 contests at Duke.

Medical testing will define everything for Giles. He’s projected to go somewhere in the middle of the first round, but that’s a wide range with so much uncertainty about his knees.

Helping Giles: Joel Embiid‘s success after entering the NBA with major red flags about his health. Even though Embiid is again injured, he was so good while on the court for the 76ers. That’s a favorable recent comparison for Giles.