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Three Things We Learned Tuesday: Robin Lopez, Serge Ibaka exchange punches, but Raptors have more fight than Bulls

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If you missed Tuesday’s NBA action because you were getting a neck massage from a python, well, we question your judgment. But, we’ve also got you covered, here are the biggest takeaways from a night around the Association.

1) Robin Lopez, Serge Ibaka exchange punches in a brawl, then Raptors punch Bulls in the mouth with comeback win.
Most NBA “fights” consist of a push and some posturing, others step in to make sure the two guys — who don’t really want to fight — don’t have to back up their words. Technicals are handed out, and everyone gets back to the game.

However, what started as a rather innocent play of Toronto’s Serge Ibaka and Chicago’s Robin Lopez battling for rebounding positioning, followed by a little bump in the back, escalated quickly into an actual punches thrown brawl in the third quarter of the Bulls’ visit to the Raptors Tuesday night.

The two were fighting for position, even after the ball went through the hoop, and Ibaka seems to hit Lopez in the back with a little bit of an elbow (and Lopez has back issues), which appears to set everything off. Lopez’s punch missed, while Ibaka’s caught Lopez in the hair, not the body.

Both men got technicals, were ejected, and can expect a suspension from the league for this one. Also, the Bulls’ Nikola Mirotic and Raptors assistant coach Jamaal Magloire got technicals for a separate shoving match after the main fight.

Notice the score in the video above when the fight took place late in the third, the Bulls were firmly in control of the game. The Bulls carried a similar lead into midway through the fourth when DeMar DeRozan sparked a 15-0 Raptors’ run that made it a game. Eventually, that went to overtime, where an 8-0 Toronto run that gave them the win. DeRozan finished with 42 points, Jimmy Butler had 37 for the Bulls.

It’s a big win for the Raptors, who are now half a game back of the Wizards for the three seed in the East (the three seed means avoiding Cleveland in the first round). For Chicago, the loss combined with a Miami win has the Bulls two games out of the playoffs in the East.

2) Bulls’ GM Jerry Krause passes away at the age of 77, deserves better than his public reputation.
Jerry Krause will forever be haunted by a comment that he argued was taken way out of context.

“Players and coaches don’t win championships. Organizations win championships.”

He got the blame in a lot of quarters for breaking up the six-time champion Chicago Bulls of Michael Jordan and Phil Jackson, when the fact is Krauss deserves plenty of credit for those six titles. On one side there was Jordan, who intimidated everyone on and off the court to get his way, while Jackson manipulated everyone around him to get what he wanted. Krauss stood up to both of them — Krauss traded Jordan’s pal Charles Oakley to get Bill Cartwright because he knew Chicago needed that style of big man. Krauss was not always right, but the guy Jordan nicknamed “crumbs” — because whatever he ate still seemed to be on his shirt — had the fortitude to stand up to Jordan when few did.

Krauss inherited Jordan, but MJ didn’t win those titles alone, and it was Krauss who put Scottie Pippen, Horace Grant, John Paxson, B. J. Armstrong, Cartwright, Ron Harper, Dennis Rodman, Toni Kukoc, Luc Longley and Steve Kerr around Jordan. Krauss helped build those teams, and he deserves credit for that. Krauss is up for the Hall of Fame as a contributor, I don’t know if he gets in, but he certainly contributed to all those titles in Chicago.

3) The Warriors route the Mavericks on way to fifth straight win. Are we done worrying about the Warriors now? Kevin Durant got hurt right as the team hit its toughest part of the schedule, Stephen Curry‘s legs were heavy, and his shot was off, and the team with the best record in the NBA stumbled for a bit. Then they got to go home for a week, play three games against teams at .500 or below, and suddenly they look like their old selves again.

Golden State picked up its fifth straight win Tuesday night with a 112-87 route of the Mavericks in Dallas. Maybe Seth Curry summed it up best when asked if it was fun to start at point opposite his brother Stephen, and he said yes, until the game tipped off. Stephen outscored Seth 17-10, if you’re counting.

The win keeps the Warriors 2.5 games up on San Antonio for the best record in the NBA. Considering the Warriors have a slightly easier schedule the rest of the way, it’s hard to see them blowing that lead.

Top-10 college recruit Anfernee Simmons may go straight to NBA

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A couple of years back, Thon Maker decided to play a post-graduate fifth year of prep school ball, not go to a major college, then jump to the NBA. He could because he had graduated a year before and was 19, the Bucks took him in the lottery, and so far it has worked out for everyone.

Now another recruit, Anfernee Simmons, may follow that path. Simmons is spending this year at the IMG Academy, and the combo guard is considered a top-10 recruit in this class.

Jonathan Givony of ESPN broke the story after speaking to Simmons.

“Some people have brought it to my attention,” Simons told ESPN during an interview in Connecticut, where his team was participating in the National Prep Showcase. “As long as the opportunity is there, I will do it.

“I can see myself going to the NBA combine, if I have enough teams to actually invite me or recommend me for the combine and enough teams want to bring me for workouts. I really need to hit the weight room hard and get a little stronger.”

This is a sensible approach — find out where you roughly fall in the draft, then make a decision. Listen to the teams, not friends/family/agents. If you have a first-round guarantee, then go pro.

Givony and others describe the 6’3″ Simmons as talented but still a project for the NBA level, starting with the fact he needs to get stronger (something true of most rookies). Not that it really scares off teams any longer, many are willing to develop and wait on a player with potential (he could spend a chunk of his first season in the G-League). Simmons is fast when he drives, and has a smooth release on his jumper. If he gets stronger and his game matures, a team may take a risk on him.

Shorthanded Cavaliers now without Iman Shumpert for 5-7 days

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Isaiah Thomas is still rehabbing his hip, he should return next month.

With him out, Tyronn Lue and the Cavaliers have had to lean more on Derrick Rose at the point, except he has a sprained ankle that is going to have him out a couple more weeks.

That has forced Iman Shumpert into the starting point guard role in Cleveland, although he mostly is there for defense/shooting as the playmaking duties fall to LeBron James.

Now the Cavaliers will have to get by without Shumpert for a while with water on the knee, Cleveland announced on Saturday. He left Friday night’s Cavs win against the Clippers with a sore knee and did not return

“Additional examination and imaging today at Cleveland Clinic Sports Health confirmed left knee effusion. He will be out 5-7 days while he undergoes treatment and rehabilitation,” the Cavaliers said in a statement.

This is going to force Lue to play Jose Calderon, who he has kept glued to the bench this season despite the injuries. J.R. Smith and Dwyane Wade will need to take on more run as well.

The Celtics have won four in a row — thanks to a more focused offense — and face the Pistons, Nets, and Hornets this week.

Joakim Noah on if he can play at former level: “Probably not. Probably not.”

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For three games, Joakim Noah has been clear of the 20-game PED suspension he started at the end of last season.

For three games, he has not even dressed for the Knicks.

This is the former Defensive Player of the Year who was already on the decline when Phil Jackson gave him a $72 million contract that is now the worst in the NBA. Noah is out of the rotation, where Enes Kanter starts at center (with Kristaps Porzingis at the four) and Kyle O’Quinn coming off the bench.

Noah told Marc Berman of the New York Post he is frustrated but gets the situation.

“I’ll be all right. I’ll be all right,’’ Noah said in his first comments since being reinstated. “I understand the situation. I’m going to make the best of it.”

When asked if he still feels he can be close to the player he was in his 2013-14 campaign, Noah said: “Probably not. Probably not. You know. I can help. I feel like I could help this team and that’s just my reality. But I just want to just be the best that I can be.

“It’s not about trying to be what I was three, four years ago, because it’s not the reality.”

Noah is a smart and mature player, he understands his reality, and he has the exact attitude you want a veteran off the bench. He can help in practices, he can help because he understands how to play defense and can teach it, and eventually, he will get a chance on the court. He is not part of the future of the Knicks, but he can guide these young players.

The Knicks new management will look for a way to unload Noah’s contract, but considering the sweeteners the Knicks would need to throw in to get a team to deal for Noah, it’s unlikely we see any action on that front for a long time.

Frustrated Gregg Popovich calls all three referees “f****** blind”

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The Spurs completed an amazing comeback win against the Thunder Friday night, coming from 23 down to knock off the Thunder when Carmelo Anthony‘s game-tying three was just a two because his toe was on the line.

Gregg Popovich was into this one.

So much so that when he didn’t like an out-of-bounds call he made sure all three officials knew exactly how blind he thought they were.

The best part of this is Popovich covering his eyes, just to really emphasize his point.

We’re really going to miss Pop when he steps away to live at a winery full time.