If the playoffs started today, The Chicago Bulls would be on the outside looking in. They are a game back of eighth seed Detroit, although the two teams are tied in the loss column.
The good news is they should get Jimmy Butler back Monday, but this isn’t going to help matters — Pau Gasol is out for the next two games against Toronto and Washington, coach Fred Hoiberg said. Via Vincent Goodwill of CSNChicago and KC Johnson of the Chicago Tribune.
The swelling is in Gasol’s right knee. He was already playing through a sore shoulder and assortment of other injuries that also now will get some rest.
Gasol’s raw numbers are impressive: 17 points and 11 rebounds a game, a PER of 22 and he’s an All-Star. The Bulls are 4.6 points per 100 possessions better this season when Gasol is on the court thanks to his offense, but Hoiberg has yet to find a consistent rotation where Gasol and the entire lineup thrives. The Bulls play their opponents even when Gasol is on the court.
Still, Gasol is giving them more than 30 quality minutes a night, that’s not going to be easy to replace, particularly against a couple of good teams also thinking playoffs this week.
Doc Rivers, I’d like you to meet P.J. Carlesimo. And Scott Brooks. And Dave Joerger. And the fan bases from Oklahoma City, Boston, and Memphis.
Oh, and maybe you should take a clear-eyed look at your own past.
Saturday, Doc Rivers said he wants Jeff Green to be more consistent. Get in line. A line you’ve been in before. Here’s the quote, via Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times.
He’s “just up and down,” Clippers Coach Doc Rivers said about Green’s play. “We’d love for him to be more consistent. He will be. I’m confident in that. It’s not like we eased him in. We grabbed him and threw him in….
“So I thought he struggled with that early on,” Rivers said about Green trying to adapt to the Clippers’ more fast-paced offense. “Defensively is probably where I want him to pick it up more.
“We’re just doing a lot of film work with him right now, trying to shortcut the curve. He’ll get it. But we need it.”
The only consistent thing about Jeff Green is his inconsistency. He had 23 points for the Clippers on Wednesday, but he’s had two 0-for-the-night games for the Clippers since his arrival. This isn’t the offense, it’s Green. It has been that way since he entered the league, and the best way to tell someone who should watch more NBA is to find someone who thinks Green’s potential is untapped and he could be an All-Star. That’s what we all thought in 2009. Green still teases with his potential on certain nights; he can bring it for a half or a game and turn your head, but eight seasons into his NBA career he is who he is. It’s not changing now.
Green is averaging 11.2 points a game and is shooting 41 percent from three as a Clipper. But his play is up and down and his PER of 13.3 is below replacement level. Which is how it goes. Rivers seems to have rose-colored glasses when thinking about the guys who used to play for him, but if he were honest, he would have known this was the guy he’s getting. He is what he is.
And the Clippers will have to live with it.
It is tied 76-76 midway through the fourth quarter Sunday between Oklahoma City and San Antonio, and it was going to come down to smart plays and execution down the stretch.
San Antonio did that better and closed the game on a 17-9 stretch and got the win.
The momentum changed with this play — Russell Westbrook made a ridiculous gamble to go for a steal which left Danny Green wide open in the corner.
The Spurs never trailed after that point.
Westbrook admitted after the game that was a bad decision and said “that is my fault.”
But right now this is part of what’s holding the Thunder back from competing with the Spurs and Warriors. There are moments of bad gambles and bad decisions on both ends — not a ton, this is still an elite team, but enough that it costs them against the other elites of the league. A couple of minutes after Westbrook’s gamble Kevin Durant tried to reach and strip Kawhi Leonard with a gamble play out top, missed, and Leonard dribbled right to the elbow for an open jumper he knocked down.
In most seasons we’d be talking about this Thunder team as a contender, but the bar is higher this season. The execution and discipline down the stretch have to be sharper. And the Thunder have to hit a higher level of key shots. Games like Saturday make you question if they could do that four games out of seven.
These 38 points didn’t come easy for DeMar DeRozan — Miami recognized DeRozan had the hot hand and threw a variety of defenders at him. And they got physical with him (the referees let them play a little).
DeRozan kept his head and kept attacking — he was 6-of-9 inside eight feet of the rim and 13-of-26 shooting total on the night. Of that, 22 of his shots were contested (a testament to the Miami defense), but he hit 12 of those looks with a defender in his shirt.
Toronto got the win 112-104, with it the Raptors remain just two games back of Cleveland for the top seed in the East.
It came late in the third quarter, with Portland in complete control of the game.
Orlando’s Jason Smith put the ball on the floor and drove past Ed Davis, who fouled him with both arms coming over the top. After review, the referees saw it as a blow to the head of Smith, which is a flagrant two foul and an ejection.
Davis didn’t see it that way.
This didn’t change the trajectory of the game, as Portland won 121-84.