Author: Kurt Helin

Chicago Bulls v Golden State Warriors

What We Learned in NBA Tuesday Night: Bulls fans should want more of this attacking Derrick Rose


If you watch closely every night in the NBA you can learn a little something. We know you are busy and can’t keep up with every game, so we’re here to help with those lessons from another night in the Association. Here’s what you missed while watching a baby turtle eat a strawberry

He wasn’t perfect by any means, but Bulls fans should want more of this aggressive Derrick Rose. This Derrick Rose from Tuesday night reminded me of the MVP Derrick Rose — fearless, aggressive, going right at his man. Was he efficient? Not even close — 30 points on 33 shots, plus he had 11 turnovers to one assist. (Although, to be fair, he set up some guys who missed good looks — we’re looking at you, Kirk Hinrich.) Of course, Rose wasn’t terribly efficient in that MVP season. Tuesday night Rose’s shot selection late in the game was terrible. But the Bulls don’t beat the Warriors without this Rose, and I don’t just mean the game-winning step-back jumper. I mean the one that worked hard all night defensively to harass Stephen Curry into an off night shooting. The one that made Klay Thompson really work hard on defense. He’s not the only reason the Warriors went 0-of-14 from three after halftime (that was a fluke) but he was part of it. This whole game was a little weird at times. But what Bulls fans should be excited about is that the fearless, attacking Derrick Rose seems to be back — if they have dreams of getting out of the East they need that Rose. Ideally a more efficient version of him, but that Rose. Nightly.

Golden State is the most entertaining team in the league when they get out and run. The Warriors were running early, they were hitting threes, and when they are doing those things there is no more entertaining team in the Association. Klay Thompson had 15 first quarter points and for a second looked like the 37 points in a quarter guy of last week. When they run the Warriors make plays like this.

And this.

Cleveland is defending, which should scare everybody. The Cleveland Cavaliers have won seven games in a row now after beating the Pistons 103-95 on Tuesday, and there are a few reasons for the run. Tuesday night one was Kyrie Irving who put up 38 points (with six threes), plus six assists. But what we said about the Cavaliers before the season started remains true — they will go as far as their defense takes them. They will score, but can they stop teams from scoring? Well in their last 5 games they are allowing jus 97.4 points per 100 possessions, sixth best in the NBA (however, if you stretch it out to the seven game win streak it is 102.6 allowed per 100, 12th in the league). Outside Sunday’s win over Oklahoma City the Cavs haven’t played good offenses in this stretch, which may mask the numbers, but the Cavaliers defense is clearly improving. How much it’s improved will determine their playoff run.

You’d think they tried them all, but the Lakers are finding new ways to lose. Stats don’t say it all, but sometimes they can say a lot. And in the case of the Wizard’s comeback win over the Lakers Tuesday night at Staples Center, it says plenty about this season’s Lakers’ squad.

Toronto is finding its groove again. Maybe. The Toronto Raptors have won four of five, including a 104-91 win over Indiana on Tuesday night. So has the team that was the hottest in the East early on really found its groove? Well, those wins are over the Pacers, banged-up Pistons, Sixers and Bucks. We can say the book is still out on this, but the good news is the soft schedule continues through Feb. 6, when a run of eight tough games in a row (Clippers, Spurs, Wizards, Hawks, Rockets, Pelicans, Mavericks, Warriors) might give us a better sense of how far back the Raptors have bounced.

Derrick Rose hits step-back jumper in overtime, lifts Bulls past Warriors (VIDEO)

Derrick Rose

After watching this game Tuesday night, if we can get a Chicago Bulls/Golden State Warriors NBA Finals I’m all in.

No, this January game was not a playoff preview — there was no Jimmy Butler or Mike Dunleavy for Chicago, no Andrew Bogut for Golden State — but this was the rare regular season meetings of conference title contenders that lived up to the hype. It took the Derrick Rose step-back jumper you see above with eight seconds to go to gives the Bulls the 113-111 overtime victory.

This game had everything:

• The aggressive, attacking Derrick Rose we all missed. No, he was not efficient — 30 points on 33 shots, plus he had 11 turnovers to one assist — but Bulls fans should still take this Derrick Rose every time. He was attacking, shooting 6-of-9 at the rim, he looked like his old self. He had a good defensive night harassing Stephen Curry. He was confident. Oh, and he hit the game winning shot on a step-back jumper in overtime (see above).

• A fourth-quarter comeback by the Bulls.

• The Splash Brothers — Stephen Curry and Klay Thomson — started out red hot shooting 6-of-7. As a team the Warriors shot 61 percent in first quarter and hit 6-11 from three. But Golden State was 0-of-14 from three after halftime. That was a fluke, but that and the 6-of-12 shooting on free throws did the Warriors in.

• Joakim Noah put up numbers — 18 points (on 12 shots) plus 15 rebounds — but more than anything he was moving better than he has in a while. His health seemed better.

• Draymond Green was doing it all for Golden State — defending guys at the rim, making overtime tip-ins over 7 footers, stealing inbounds pass in a key moment late.

• A resurgent David Lee, looking more like his old All-Star self. He finished with 24 points on 17 shots, plus had nine boards.

This game had it all. It was up tempo, there were big shots from both sides, it had ad overtime game winner, it was just entertaining. If we can get more of that, we will take it.

It’s official: Zach LaVine, Greek Freak Antetokounmpo headline All-Star Dunk Contest

Milwaukee Bucks v Los Angeles Clippers

There was no surprise, the names had leaked out already, but now it is official:

Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks), Zach LaVine (Minnesota Timberwolves), Victor Oladipo (Orlando Magic) and Mason Plumlee (Brooklyn Nets) will be in the NBA All-Star Saturday Night Dunk Contest live from the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn.

That’s a potentially great group but the best news is the NBA ditched the awkward team contest of last season and has just gone back to the classic format — there are two-rounds for all four and they can perform any dunk they choose without time limits. However, the players will have a maximum of three attempts to complete each dunk.

If I were a betting man I would put my money on LaVine, who has serious hops and gets that this is time to put on a show.

Maybe the guy that will draw the most buzz is the Greek Freak Antetokounmpo — he is freakishly long and athletic and that makes for some wild in-game dunks. The question is how will he do in this exhibition format, but don’t doubt he could win this thing.

Oladipo has potential in this contest — the guy had the stones to do a 360 dunk for the dagger to win a game, what will he do when he has the freedom to do anything?

Finally there is Plumlee. The guy with the hometown advantage. Often centers can struggle in this event (although JaVale McGee should have beat Blake Griffin back in L.A.) but he has potential.

This event has struggled to be captivating in recent years, we’ll see if this group can recapture the spark.

Everything Atlanta touches is gold: Mascot Harry the Hawk lip syncs Uptown Funk

Indiana Pacers v Atlanta Hawks

To paraphrase Homer Simpson:

The Atlanta Hawks, is there anything they can’t do?

The team has won 16 games in a row, is the story of the NBA and have owned the East through the first half of the season.

Now Harry the Hawk nails Uptown Funk and shows off some legit Bruno Mars moves.

Top that lip sync, Jimmy Fallon.

Paul Pierce on why trash talk is down in league: NBA2K

NBA 2K15 promo

Think about the best trash talkers currently in the NBA and you get an older generation of guys: Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant, Paul Pierce, Kendrick Perkins. It’s not so much the up-and-coming generation of guys.

Why is that?

Washington Wizards forward Paul Pierce has an idea, via Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News.

I don’t know, my gaming experience suggests you talk a lot of trash to the guy next to you on the couch when you beat him at NBA 2K or anything else. Well, so long as you’re playing with friends.

Or, maybe the decline is because we live in a social media age, and with more media following the sport, so the things said on the court often aren’t as private as they might have been a decade ago or more. So rather than get in trouble guys learned to rein it in.

But Pierce’s theory is as plausible as anything else, if you think there is a shortage of trash talk.