Jimmy Butler scores 33, Bulls beat Hawks 106-104

1 Comment

CHICAGO (AP) — Jimmy Butler saw confidence and swagger, a team embracing the moment. No one welcomed it more with open arms than he did.

Butler scored 33 points and hit two free throws with 2.1 seconds left to lift the Chicago Bulls to a 106-104 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday.

“I see guys doing what they’re supposed to be doing – playing hard, shooting the ball when they’re open, not trying to do too much,” Butler said. “That’s what we need.”

Butler scored the Bulls’ final nine points. His free throws gave them a two-point lead and capped a 15-4 run.

Tim Hardaway Jr. then missed a 3-pointer for Atlanta as time expired, giving the Bulls their third straight win.

Chicago also moved into seventh place in the Eastern Conference. The Bulls are tied with Miami and Indiana at 37-39 but own tiebreakers over the Heat and Pacers. Sixth-place Atlanta (39-37) – which had won two straight after dropping seven in a row – trails Milwaukee by a game.

Rajon Rondo had a season-high 25 points and added 11 rebounds. Denzel Valentine scored 13 points, hitting two 3-pointers down the stretch to help the Bulls stop a seven-game losing streak to Atlanta.

The win comes on the heels of a victory over LeBron James and the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers.

“We had a great win a couple of days ago, but it means nothing if we came out and laid an egg tonight,” Rondo said. “Also, these guys have beaten us seven straight times.”

Dennis Schroder led the Hawks with 29 points. Hardaway scored 20, and Dwight Howard finished with 13 points and 12 rebounds.

“They responded well and you have to give them credit,” Schroder said. “We’ve got to execute better in crunch time and just do a better job, screening, rolling to the basket and taking care of the ball.”

TIP-INS

Hawks: All-Star F Paul Millsap missed his eighth consecutive game because of a left knee ailment. Coach Mike Budenholzer said Millsap is “making positive progress,” though the Hawks are being “aggressively cautious” with him. If Millsap misses Sunday’s game at Brooklyn, he will have three more days before the Hawks host Boston on Thursday. … F Mike Dunleavy Jr. played 12 minutes but did not score after missing a game because of a sore right ankle, while F Thabo Sefolosha (strained right groin) sat out his fourth in a row. G Malcolm Delaney sat out with back spasms.

Bulls: Butler was 10 of 10 at the foul line. … The Bulls hit 12 3-pointers, their sixth straight game with at least 10.

FINAL PUSH

The Bulls trailed by 10 in the fourth quarter and were down 100-91 with less than five minutes to go.

Valentine hit a pair of 3-pointers to start the game-ending run, and Butler took over from there. He tied it at 102-all when he connected from long range with 1:59 left.

Schroder pulled up for the go-ahead jumper after Butler’s baseline shot hit the front of the rim to give the Hawks a 104-102 lead with 35 seconds left. Butler immediately answered with a driving layup to tie it again.

After a timeout, Schroder lost his dribble out of bounds with 25 seconds left. Butler then got fouled by Kent Bazemore as he attempted a jumper with 2.1 seconds remaining and hit both free throws as the crowd chanted “MVP! MVP!”

Hardaway’s 3 after a timeout then hit the back of the rim as time expired.

“I should have pump-faked,” Hardaway said. “Two seconds left, I think that’s an easy pump-fake, one-dribble shot. I think I had time. But it felt great coming off my hands. It felt great. It was in line. It just was a little bit long.”

 

Reports: Lakers to sign Andrew Bogut to one-year deal

Getty Images
3 Comments

Brook Lopez will start at center for the Lakers. Behind him, they have a couple young players they want to groom, Ivica Zubac and Thomas Bryant.

Those youngsters just got bumped a notch down the ladder — Andrew Bogut is about to become a Laker. Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports broke the news, and other reports have confirmed it.

Lakers’ coach Luke Walton coached Bogut at Golden State, and that connection helped get him to Los Angeles when Boston, Minnesota, and Cleveland were also trying to land his services. Bogut gets the system Walton wants to run and wants to be part of this new Lakers team.

The question with Bogut is always health. He can be a solid defensive big in the paint and is a good passer, but last season he broke his tibia in his first game with the Cavaliers, the latest in a long line of health concerns. Bogut’s doctors have cleared him to play.

The Lakers also add a solid veteran presence to help mentor those young bigs (although if Bogut is taking minutes from them it seems counterproductive). Bogut can show Zubac and Bryant the art of setting the best illegal screens in the league (he’s a master, Lonzo Ball will love him). We’ll see how many minutes Bogut gets when it matters.

This one-year deal gives the Lakers another potential trade chip and does not mess with their cap space next summer, when they want to clear out room and go after two max free agents (which will mean dumping the contract of Luol Deng, likely with Julius Randle or someone as a sweetener, to get the space). For Bogut, stay healthy and play well and he might come back on a minimum contract to a stacked Lakers team next season.

Report: Grizzlies to sign Ivan Rabb, adds to already crowded roster

Getty Images
1 Comment

The Memphis Grizzlies have 15 guaranteed contracts on the roster already — and that’s not counting a deal for JaMychal Green and the non-guaranteed deal for Mario Chalmers.

Which makes this signing interesting, via Marc Spears of ESPN.

The Grizzlies and second-round pick Ivan Rabb are close to agreeing terms on a three-year contract, a source told The Undefeated.

Two years of that are rumored to be guaranteed. If so, that leads to questions about who gets cut from the roster and paid anyway? Or, are the Grizzlies setting themselves up for a trade during camp? Also, Mario Chalmers is going to have to show enough skill for another team to grab him.

Rabb is a 6’10” guy with potential but a lot of development to do. He may be more of a four than a small ball five, but he needs time on the court to find out and show off his game. He didn’t get a lot of that time to show what he can do in Summer League due to a sprained ankle. He should get run in Grizzlies camp, where there are going to be some interesting roster battles.

Report: Andrew Wiggins to sign $148M max extension before camp opens

Getty Images
4 Comments

Old-school owner Glen Taylor wanted to talk with Andrew Wiggins face-to-face before maxing out the Timberwolves young wing, likely to say something along the lines of “you’re going to earn this, right?”

However, the deal was always on the table. Wiggins was always going to sign it.

That should happen in the next week, reports Darren Wolfson.

Wiggins averaged 23.6 points per game last season, shot 35.7 percent from three, plus played solid defense, but he’s got a big new challenge this season — mesh with Jimmy Butler. Wiggins and Butler both play on the wing and have similar games — except Butler is pretty much better at everything. Thibodeau doesn’t want to have Wiggins just sitting on the weak side as a floor spacer most of the time, he’s got to get him involved. Problem is Karl-Anthony Towns is a flat-out stud who has to get a lot of touches, and while we’re at it Jeff Teague is better with the ball in his hands as well.

Can Wiggins improve his efficiency with fewer touches? Can he make the needed sacrifices to win and still find a way to assert himself (a question for a lot of the Timberwolves this season)? Wiggins has gotten his big payday, this season we start to see if he can take the next steps to being truly an elite player.

Watch Stephen Curry drill a penalty kick at Chelsea’s stadium

Getty Images
1 Comment

Chelsea is off to an expected strong start to the English Premier League season, racking up 10 points (3-1-1) in five contests, with a solid +3 goal differential. (That has them just one spot ahead of my beloved Newcastle, which is an unexpected fourth with nine points through five… I’m good with calling it a season right now and taking these standings).

If Chelsea is looking for a striker — and they might want one after a 0-0 draw with Arsenal over the weekendStephen Curry seems to have a decent right foot. He swung by Stamford Bridge and took a penalty kick (that the goalie probably could have stopped but…)

If Curry could strike from distance on the pitch like he does on the court, then we might have something.