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.
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.