Kurt Helin

Derrick Rose with behind-the-back pass on break to E’Twaun Moore (VIDEO)

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LOS ANGELES — If one were going to be cynical, one would note that everybody’s offense looks good when playing the Lakers’ defense.

The Bulls don’t care, they will take it. And the 114-91 win to start their seven-game road trip.

One of the highlights of the night? Derrick Rose finding E'Twaun Moore with a behind-the-back pass for a lay-up in transition. Where does Rose find these playground moves?

“They’re just coming to me,” Rose said. “The plays I made I feel they are necessary, I was just caught up in the moment.”

One of the pregame plans of Bulls’ coach Fred Hoiberg was to run more, and Thursday night the Bulls’ defense (nine deflections in the first quarter) made that possible. The Bulls ran the Lakers into the ground.

“The way we’re playing that up-tempo type pace, that’s when I think we’re most dangerous when we’re in the open court,” Rose said.

Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan each have 26, Raptors win 10th straight

Toronto Raptors' Kyle Lowry (7) drives past New York Knicks' Langston Galloway (2) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016, in Toronto. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP)
The Canadian Press via AP
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TORONTO (AP) — Kyle Lowry had 26 points and 10 assists, DeMar DeRozan also scored 26 points and the Toronto Raptors set a franchise record with their 10th consecutive victory, 103-93 over the New York Knicks on Thursday night.

Jonas Valanciunas added 11 points and 17 rebounds for Toronto.

Arron Afflalo had 20 points for the undermanned Knicks, who matched a season high with a fourth straight loss. New York was without starters Carmelo Anthony, Kristaps Porzingis and Jose Calderon.

The Raptors surpassed their nine straight victories between March 22 and April 9, 2002. They left the Indiana Pacers, Washington Wizards and Orlando Magic as the only NBA teams without a winning streak of 10 games of more, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

The victory marked a double celebration for the sold-out crowd at the Air Canada Centre, which had earlier seen DeRozan named as one of the reserves for the Eastern Conference team at next month’s NBA All-Star Game, which is being held in Toronto.

The addition of DeRozan to go with Lowry, already voted in as a starter, means the Raptors will be represented by two players at an All-Star Game for the first time since 2001, when Vince Carter and Antonio Davis took part.

After missing three of his first four shots of the game, DeRozan found his groove, connecting on his next four to finish the first quarter with nine points and putting the Raptors up, 27-21.

Aided by eight points off the bench from Patrick Patterson and another eight from Lowry, the Raptors built on that lead in the second quarter, pushing it as high as 14 points at one point before settling for a 53-43 edge at the break.

The Knicks cut it to one midway through the third quarter, but another 10 points from DeRozan combined with six from Lowry pushed the lead back to 10 entering the fourth quarter.

A 3-pointer by Sasha Vujacic brought the Knicks within eight points with 1:57 to play, but Lowry answered right back with a 3-pointer of his own 12 seconds later, and the Raptors closed it out from there.

TIP-INS

Knicks: Anthony (left knee) missed his second straight game, while Calderon (groin) and Porzingis (upper respiratory illness) both missed their first game of the season. . The Knicks are 0-6 in games without Anthony. . New York is 6-2 when Afflalo scores 20 or more points.

Raptors: Toronto wore its black-and-gold Drake Night jerseys for the sixth time this season. The Raptors are 5-1 when wearing their alternate jerseys. . The Raptors are 8-1 in games against other Atlantic Division teams. Their only loss within the division was against the Knicks in November. Since 2013, the Raptors are 30-11 against divisional opponents. . The Raptors have won 28 straight games when holding opponents below 100 points.

 

Draymond Green, Chris Paul, Chris Bosh headline All-Star reserves

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Fans get to pick to pick the starters for the NBA All-Star Game. No matter what DeMarcus Cousins wants. Those players were announced last week:

Western Conference: Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook, Kobe Bryant, Kevin DurantKawhi Leonard

Eastern Conference: Dwyane Wade, Kyle Lowry, LeBron James, Paul George, Carmelo Anthony

NBA coaches pick the All-Star reserves, and those players — two guards, three frontcourt players, and two wildcards per conference — were announced formally Thursday (but had leaked online about an hour earlier).

The reserves are:

WESTERN CONFERENCE

Draymond Green (Golden State)
Anthony Davis (New Orleans)
DeMarcus Cousins (Sacramento)
LaMarcus Aldridge (San Antonio)
Chris Paul (LA Clippers)
Klay Thompson (Golden State)
James Harden (Houston)

Guys with a beef not making the cut: Damian Lillard, Dirk Nowitzki, and Blake Griffin (if he were healthy, but he punched a guy).

EASTERN CONFERENCE

Paul Millsap (Atlanta)
Chris Bosh (Miami)
Andre Drummond (Detroit)
Jimmy Butler (Chicago)
John Wall (Washington)
Isaiah Thomas (Boston)
DeMar DeRozan (Toronto)

Guys with a beef not making the cut: Kevin Love, Kyrie Irving (he has only been healthy a few weeks but is an elite point guard), and Pau Gasol.

New technology to virtually light up 3-point line on ABC

OAKLAND, CA - JANUARY 27: Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors shoots against Wesley Matthews #23 of the Dallas Mavericks on January 27, 2016 at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2016 NBAE (Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)
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BRISTOL, Conn. (AP) — The 3-point line will virtually light up during Saturday prime-time NBA broadcasts on ABC this season.

ESPN said Thursday that it is using new technology to show viewers when a player attempts a jumper from beyond the 3-point arc. “ESPN Virtual 3” will debut for Saturday’s matchup between the Cavaliers and Spurs.

For a made 3-pointer, the line will briefly remain lit up. For a miss, the illumination will end immediately.

Senior coordinating producer Tim Corrigan says “it will give viewers instant clarity on whether a 3-point shot has been attempted, which hasn’t been consistently evident during a live telecast.”

WNBA changing playoff format to eliminate conferences. NBA next?

Minnesota Lynx players celebrate with the championship trophy after beating the Indiana Fever 69-52 in Game 5 of the WNBA basketball finals, Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2015, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Stacy Bengs)
Associated Press
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The WNBA has decided it wants the eight best teams in the playoffs. Who cares what conference they are in.

The NBA’s women’s league is changing its playoff format next season to go with the eight best teams, and changing how those teams are seeded and have to play their way through the bracket. Howard Megdal broke the news at Vice Sports and explains the changes well.

The previous WNBA playoff system should look familiar to NBA fans: the top four teams from the Eastern and Western Conferences made the playoffs, and were seeded 1-4, playing best-of-three conference semifinal series, then best-of-three conference finals series, then a best-of-five WNBA Finals between the East winner and the West winner.

The new setup will seed the top eight WNBA teams, regardless of conference. The top two seeds receive a double-bye to the third round, while the third and fourth seeds receive a bye to the second round. Round 1 is single elimination: 5 plays 8, 6 plays 7, loser goes home.

Round 2 is also single elimination: 3 plays lowest remaining seed, 4 plays next-lowest remaining seed. Then come the semifinals: these are a best-of-five, a significant change from the best-of-three semifinals of years past. The one-seed plays the lowest remaining seed, the two-seed plays the other remaining team. The WNBA Finals will remain a best-of-five series.

I like this plan.

Will the NBA follow suit? In the

In the past, the WNBA has been used as a laboratory for changes being considered for the NBA. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has said it’s not time for a no-conferences playoffs, balanced schedule in the NBA, but is this the league starting to take a serious look at this?

Only part of the plan would work in the NBA — eliminating the conferences. There is zero chance the owners are going to vote to have first-round games be one-and-done — playoff gate receipts are huge revenue for the owners because the players have already been paid (salaries run during the season), so they keep the cash.

I like this idea; I want the NBA to eliminate conferences and seed the playoffs 1 through 16. Is it going to change much? No. But a couple of deserving teams on the outside of a deeper conference could get into the dance. If the NBA did it this season, as of right now (1/28) the only difference is that Charlotte would supplant Portland as the 16 seed (the team going to get steamrolled by Golden State). What this would do is potentially set up a better Finals — Golden State and San Antonio would be the top two seeds and may make a better Finals matchup than Cleveland. But the changes will not be significant (although there could be more travel, like San Francisco to Charlotte in the first round).

If there is a legitimate complaint about the NBA playoffs, it’s that the “chalk” wins too much — the betting favorites, the best teams always win. What do we love about March Madness? That on one given day Long Beach State could knock off Kentucky (GO BEACH!). The NFL playoffs are one-and-done. In the NHL, low seeds with hot goalies win the cup all the time. Even major league baseball’s seven games there is real randomness. Not so in the NBA. We go into the season with a pretty good idea what handful of teams could win a title, and by Christmas that list is fine tuned to somewhere between three and six, and even then it’s really only the top couple. Outside of OKC and the Doc Rivers household, is anyone betting on a team other than Golden State, San Antonio, or Cleveland to win hoist the Larry O’Brien trophy this season?

If the NBA wants to make a move that shakes things up, make the first round best-of-five again. Or maybe even best-of-three. Add some random outcomes to the mix. Just like seeding without conferences it may not mean a huge change, but it would add some drama.