Kurt Helin

Derrick Rose

Derrick Rose to return to Bulls lineup Tuesday against Blazers


If you wanted to see the Derrick Rose vs. Damian Lillard matchup Tuesday, you are in luck. And you hate defense, but you are in luck.

After missing the last couple Bulls game due to a sprained ankle, Rose will be back on the court with Chicago Tuesday night, reports our own Sean Highkin.

Rose is averaging 13.6 points per game on 37.7 percent shooting. He has struggled with his vision after suffering a broken orbital bone near his eye in practice, and he has worn a mask all season.

The Bulls split the two games without Rose (beating the Suns and losing to Golden State). In those games, their offensive ratings were 108.2 and 101.8 points per 100 possessions. When Rose has been on the court this season, the Bulls’ offensive rating is 96.8 per 100, which is 4.8 worse than when he sits.

Which is to say, we will have to see how the Bulls’ offense looks with Rose back in the lineup Tuesday.

Pat Riley: Stephen Curry/Klay Thompson most dynamic backcourt since West/Goodrich

Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson

Jerry West and Gail Goodrich were the best backcourt of their era, two Hall of Famers who combined to score more than 50 points a game in 1971-72, and led those Lakers to a 33-game win streak and eventually the NBA title. Think of it this way: The guy who is now the NBA logo is the second best shooter in that backcourt.

Pat Riley looks at Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson and sees a reflection of those legends. That’s what he told Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press on the eve of the Warriors looking to go 16-0 and set the record for fastest start in NBA history.

“They are the two most dynamic players in the backcourt, that I have ever seen, since Jerry West and Gail Goodrich,” Riley said. “Go back and check their numbers, 25 points apiece and Jerry leading the team in assists, Gail shooting close to 50 percent or whatever it was. Both of them could shoot it, could drive it, could pass it. That’s what you’re seeing here.”

It’s been more than 40 years, and Riley’s recollection of the numbers hasn’t faded. Goodrich and West combined to average 51.7 points per game in that 1971-72 season; Curry (32.7 in 15 games) and Thompson (16.6 in 14 games) are combining for 49.8 points per game this season.

You can see the parallels, it’s an interesting one.

That ’72 title was the only one for that era Lakers, a bit of a surprise considering the insane talent on that team — Wilt Chamberlain, Elgin Baylor, even Riley himself — but you can thank the Bill Russell Celtics and the Willis Reed Knicks for keeping that number at one. Rings is the one place Curry and Thompson could ultimately pass The Logo and his teammates.

“They are in the beginning of something that can be dynastic,” Riley said. “They’re in the beginning stages of it and that’s the scary part, versus somebody that catches lightning in a bottle one time. They’re at the beginning because all of their key players, all of them, are young and they’re talented. The ones that aren’t have what I call youth-age, like Andre Iguodala, Andrew Bogut, Shaun Livingston — those guys bring an element to the team is incredible.”

Keeping that team in a dynasty place in future years — when they have to pay Harrison Barnes and Curry more, and when Bogut, Iguodala and other’s contracts come up — will be the challenge. The salary cap ties the hands of successful teams.

But so long as they have a healthy Curry and Thompson backcourt, the Warriors are a threat to win it all.

PBT’s NBA Power Rankings: Picking No. 1, No. 30 very easy, after that….

Shaun Livingston, Stephen Curry, Andre Iguodala
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The top three in the rankings remain the same teams, although two and three switched spots, but after them there is still a lot of volatility in the rankings, and a lot of surprises. The Clippers fell fast after an ugly week, while Dallas is on the rise. And right now, the East is the stronger conference top to bottom.

source:  1. Warriors (15-0, last week No. 1). They have tied the record for fastest start ever by an NBA team. The Warriors’ small-ball lineup — Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala, Harrison Barnes, Draymond Green — has played 56 minutes this season and is outscoring opponents by 70.8 points per 100 possessions. They are scoring 160.9 per 100.

source:  2. Spurs (10-3, LW 3). They have been the clear second best team in the NBA this young season (based on net point differential), and after a slow first handful of games to the season the Spurs’ starting five has found it’s groove of late (+33 per 100 last three games).

source:  3. Cavaliers (10-3, LW 2). LeBron James struggled from the outside to start the season, but in his last four games is shooting 47.5 percent on them. So that’s back. Kyrie Irving is doing more and more in practice, but there is still no timetable for his return (think Christmas present for Cavs fans).

source:  4. Heat (8-4, LW 6). They have strung together wins during a homestead (5-1), but games such as the need for a furious fourth quarter rally to beat the Sixers make me question how good this team really is. That said, the defense is still carrying the Heat and keeping them in games (the offense has been a bit flat).

source:  5. Thunder (8-6 LW 5). They have gone 3-3 without Kevin Durant, who is expected to return this week. Russell Westbrook is putting up crazy numbers, including 31 and 11 on Dallas Sunday in a big win for OKC. Reggie Jackson returns to OKC this week with the Pistons, for whom he is playing very well.

source:  6. Mavericks (9-5, LW 12). They were on a six-game winning streak until Sunday’s loss. Deron Williams is having a bounce-back season in Dallas, not all the way back to All-Star form but back to quality point guard form. His shooting has improved and the key reason is he’s finishing better inside 10 feet than a year ago.

source:  7. Raptors (8-6, LW 7). Losing center Jonas Valanciunas for the next six weeks is really going to hurt: while there is a lot of noise in the numbers, Toronto has outscored opponents by 7.2 points per 100 possessions when he plays, but gets outscored by 4.8 per 100 when he sits. Their offense and defense are worse without him, but especially the offense.

source:  8. Bulls (8-4, LW 9). Winners of four in a row, which included a dramatic win over the Pacers with Jimmy Butler blocking Paul George on the final shot. That was big in a crowded East. Fred Hoiberg still struggling to find lineups that can give him both offense and defense (for example, Tony Snell helps the defense and kills the offense).

source:  9. Pacers (8-5, LW 10). They have gone 8-2 in their last 10 and have been playing great defense, but that will be put to the test as they have five of their next eight on the road. Indiana faces Chicago and Washington this week, the kinds of teams they need to beat to climb up the conference standings.

source:  10. Hawks (9-6, LW 8). The Hawks were in a soft part of the schedule and still found a way to go 5-5 in their last 10, including a loss to Brooklyn. It’s about to get tougher with Boston then a swing through the West including Minnesota and San Antonio.

source:  11. Celtics (7-6, LW 11). Avery Bradley has been a defensive beast off the bench, with a personal defensive rating of 85.7 (points allowed per 100 possessions), which is good because he moves into the starting lineup the next few weeks with Marcus Smart out injured.

source:  12. Knicks (8-6, LW 20). Kristaps Porzingis mania in New York is not at Linsanity levels, but it’s climbing fast. With good reason. KP6 has become first player in NBA history with more than 180 points, 120 rebounds, 20 blocks and 10 hit threes through his first 14 games.

source:  13. Wizards (6-4, LW 15). There is a real clump in the middle of the East, but we may start to see where the Wizards fit in that group with this week’s schedule: Pacers, at Hornets, at Celtics, Raptors. The Wizards starters need to play better if Washington is going to climb that ladder, the small ball lineup has not impressed.

source:  14. Pistons (7-6, LW 14). Quality win over the Cavaliers last week helps their cause. Andre Drummond may be putting up ridiculous numbers, and Reggie Jackson may have a great pick-and-roll chemistry with him, but the Pistons are still 25th in the NBA in offense. Stan Van Gundy has them eighth in defense and that is what keeps this team afloat.

<source:  15. Suns (7-6, LW 16). They had a softer schedule last week and they could not bank enough wins, now things get tougher with the Spurs, Warriors and Raptors on the docket this week.

source:  16. Hornets (7-6, LW 18). They have been strong at home and have their next five games in the Hornets’ nest (although Washington, Cleveland, and Milwaukee will not be easy wins). Kemba Walker as the starter and Jeremy Lin off the bench have pushed the Hornets to the fourth best offense in the NBA this young season.

source:  17. Clippers (6-7, LW 4). Thursday’s loss to Golden State summed up the Clippers ability to showcase their talent and challenge anyone (that big early lead), and their struggles to maintain that level of play consistently (blowing that lead and losing). The Raptors’ is another example of that inconsistency, they were horrible in the first half, especially on defense. Lance Stephenson was benched for the entire Warriors game, started the next night in Portland, played just five minutes Sunday vs. Toronto. What’s going on there, Doc?

source:  18. Jazz (6-6, LW 13). Derrick Favors has come into his own for this team, becoming the fulcrum for their offense and averaging 16 points and nine rebounds per game. Still, it’s the Utah defense that keeps this team in every game. Fun test Monday against Oklahoma City, then they get the Clippers later in the week.

source:  19. Grizzlies (7-7, LW 21). Unleashed Mario Chalmers has been great for Memphis, getting them to play faster and knocking down threes (7-of-15 since the trade). If the Grizzlies have gotten things turned around we’ll see against Dallas, Houston, and Atlanta this week.

source:  20. Magic (6-7, LW 23). Scott Skiles is sending messages about effort and playing his way — Victor Oladipo and Nikola Vucevic were benched for the second half of a game last week. The lack of shooting on the roster kills this team’s spacing and has it 28th in offensive ranking.

source:  21. Timberwolves (5-8,LW 22). Kevin Martin will start and Tayshaun Prince is moving to the bench, to which I say “about time.” However, Martin has struggled with his shot this season and if he isn’t back on track this will backfire quickly. Mine should get their first home win Monday against Philly.

source:  22. Bucks (5-8, LW 17). If you had asked me before the season which team would have the worst defense in the league almost a month into real games, the Bucks would have been about my last guess. But at 109 points allowed per 100, and after a rough week, they are behind the Pelicans and Lakers on that end of the floor. Jabari Parker missed some time with a sprained foot, and the Bucks have lost three in a row.

source:  23. Nuggets (6-8, LW 19). I think Mike Malone is establishing a culture in Denver they can build on, but it’s not without its challenges on the defensive end. On the bright side, Emmanuel Mudiay is looking improved and his turnovers are dropping.

source:  24. Trail Blazers (6-9, LW 25). They had lost seven in a row until they got some help from Los Angeles, beating both the slumping Clippers and the just bad Lakers. More interesting test against Chicago this week, but the Blazers may have found their footing again on defense, so it’s not just the Damian Lillard/C.J. McCollum show.

source:  25. Kings (5-9, LW 24). This pretty much sums up the Kings this season: They are 5-4 when DeMarcus Cousins plays, 0-5 when he sits. Rajon Rondo is putting up numbers, but the big key is he’s shooting 36.4 percent from three this season, some spacing the Kings need on offense.

source:  26. Rockets (5-9, LW 26). Since J.B. Bickerstaff took over the Rockets they have one overtime win and two losses — but they are losing by less, so that’s improvement, right? We knew the coaching wasn’t the problem, but the change has not part of the solution so far. Could they actually lose to Philly this week? Probably not.

source:  27. Pelicans (3-11, LW 28). Ryan Anderson has found his shooting groove and that has sparked some big offensive games for the Pelicans, who have looked improved the past week or so. Tough stretch though on the road this week at the Suns, Clippers, and Jazz.

source:  28. Nets (3-11, LW 29). Don’t look now, but the Nets have been playing better (that includes a win over the Hawks on Tuesday). So maybe they start racking up some wins? Probably not this week playing at Oklahoma City, at Cleveland, then hosting Detroit.

source:  29. Lakers (2-11, LW 27). Byron Scott said he wants to get the ball in Kobe Bryant’s hands more to help the team’s ball movement. That pretty much sums up the Lakers right now — take the ball out of the hands of the developing young point guard D’Angelo Russell so that Kobe can preach ball movement. And up is down.

source:  30. 76ers (0-14, LW 30). When Jahlil Okafor and Nerlens Noel are on the court together, the Sixers have an offensive rating of just 80.7 points per 100 possessions, and they are getting outscored by 25.7 per 100. And that’s the Sixers’ two best players, it only goes downhill as you move into the backcourt.

Timberwolves moving Kevin Martin into starting lineup

Kevin MArtin, Kemba Walker, Marvin Williams
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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minnesota Timberwolves coach Sam Mitchell is inserting Kevin Martin into the starting lineup in hopes of jumpstarting a struggling offense.

Martin will replace Tayshaun Prince and Andrew Wiggins will slide from shooting guard to small forward in a first five that also includes point guard Ricky Rubio, power forward Kevin Garnett and center Karl-Anthony Towns. The new-look unit will debut on Monday night at home against winless Philadelphia.

“We’ve just got to score more points,” Mitchell said after practice on Sunday. “That may help K-Mart get out of his funk a little bit and it may help our team overall.”

Over his last five games, Martin is shooting just 26 percent from the field and is 1 for 10 from 3-point range. It’s a stark contrast over his previous 11 seasons in the league, when Martin carved out a reputation as one of the better scorers and shooters in the league.

“I’ve never been through a stretch like this before,” Martin said. “Sam and his staff are trying to figure out things we can do to get me going.”

Mitchell started the season with Prince at small forward in an effort to underscore the importance of defense to a roster that has a young core including Wiggins, Towns, Zach LaVine and Shabazz Muhammad, who have all played three seasons or less. That starting five was one of the stingiest in the league as the Wolves started the season with impressive road victories against Chicago, Atlanta and Miami.

But after the offense sputtered again in a loss to the Detroit Pistons at Target Center on Friday night that dropped their home record to 0-6 on the season, Mitchell felt he had to make a move. Prince and Garnett combined to go 0 for 3 from the floor with zero points in just over 35 minutes, putting more pressure on Rubio, Towns and Wiggins to carry the scoring load.

“Tayshaun has done his job. Tayshaun was never brought here to be the starter,” Mitchell said. “He’s been able to teach our guys.”

Mitchell said Prince will now likely see his minutes reduced to about 10 per game, using him only during times when the team needs a big stop. Muhammad will also have his minutes increased as the first wing player off the bench.

Martin made it clear before the season started that he still saw himself as a starter in this league. Now it’s up to him to shake off his struggles and prove it.

“I’m confident I’ll get out of it and get back to the player that I was,” Martin said. “When I’m a better defender and rebounder than I am an offensive player, something’s going on.”

Five Takeaways from an NBA Sunday: I, for one, welcome our new Warriors overlords

Stephen Curry, Emmanuel Mudiay

Sunday night the Golden State Warriors dared try to steal a couple of headlines away from the NFL by equalling the fastest start in NBA history. In case you missed it because your significant other had the remote control and put on the AMAs, here are five things you need to know from Sunday around the league (and consider breaking up with anyone who wanted to watch the AMAs).

1) I, for one, welcome our new Warriors overlords. I don’t see a likely end for this streak. It’s going to happen, but the when is not easy to spot. The Warriors are a relentless machine that is now 15-0 to start the season after beating Denver Nuggets on Sunday 118-105. That ties the all-time mark for the fastest start in NBA history — a record they will break Tuesday night when the Warriors host the Lakers (unless Kobe Bryant travels to that game in a DeLorean with a flux capacitor in the back, I’m not even sure that contest is interesting).

When do the Warriors lose? Here are their next dozen opponents after thrashing the Lakers Tuesday: Suns, Kings, Jazz, Hornets, Raptors, Nets, Pacers, Celtics, Bucks, Suns, Bucks, Jazz. A few teams in there are certainly playing well, but are you predicting a loss? Complete that little run and Golden State would be 28-0, having passed Miami for the second-longest win streak in NBA history. Sure, that’s jumping the gun, on any given night and all that — but these Warriors have come out with a real “call us lucky, will ya?” attitude. Their small-ball lineup is destroying teams by better than 60 points per 100 possessions. They have the best offense in the NBA, the fifth best defense, and are outscoring teams by 15 points per 100 possessions. I could nitpick and say I’d like to see a little less shooting and more running of the offense by Stephen Curry, but again 15-0 and flat-out destroying teams, so who am I to judge. They own the league at this moment.

2) Even if you’re 15-0, Draymond you cannot just hang on the rim. Nobody is above the law, or the rules of the game —and that includes you Draymond Green. You can be 15-0, you can have a new contract that makes you rich, you can be one of the game’s top defenders — you still can’t hang on the rim and do a little pull-up or you will get a technical.

3) Frustrated Clippers get in screaming match in locker room after game. The Clippers are below .500 at 6-7. They have lost seven of their last nine. They looked terrible in the first half Sunday in their loss to Toronto. I should not be writing those sentences about a team with a healthy Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, but here we are.

All that spilled over into a loud post-game argument that the media could hear the next room over. Part of it was Josh Smith arguing with an assistant coach — that would be 4.7 points per game and shooting 35 percent Josh Smith. There are a lot of problems in L.A., and Doc Rivers’ the GM’s off-season moves have not had the desired impact. Lance Stephenson is falling out of the rotation because of his play. Paul Pierce has to come off the bench because he looks old and slow trying to guard starting threes in the league. The Clippers defense is 22nd in the league, allowing 104.3 points per 100 possessions. The offense is down 5.4 points per 100 possessions from a year ago. You get the idea, things are bad. The Clippers should be frustrated. The better question becomes, what are they going to do about it?

4) About those top contenders in the West…. Going into the season most of us forced to make predictions said any one of five teams could win the West. It hasn’t played out that well at all. Here are those five.

Golden State 15-0
San Antonio 10-3
Oklahoma City 8-6
LA Clippers 6-7
Houston 5-9

Meanwhile a number of us thought Dallas would fall out of the picture, they are 9-6 and the current three seed. It’s early for sure, but the West isn’t what we thought — and it’s not as good as it has been.

5) Russell Westbrook just doing what he does — putting up ridiculous numbers. The most entertaining game of the day by far was Oklahoma City beating Dallas 117-114. Kevin Durant is still out (although he could return early next week), so that meant more of the Russell Westbrook show — 31 points and 11 dimes. He is just fun to watch.