Kurt Helin

Derrick Rose

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

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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
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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
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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
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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.

Clippers’ Matt Barnes fined $25,000 by league for “inappropriate language toward a fan”

Goran Dragic, Matt Barnes
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Matt Barnes, actually one of my favorite Clippers interviews off the court, can talk a lot on it. His game is both chippy and chirpy — he is emotional and wants to get under the opponent’s skin — and the language he uses is appropriate for Netflix streaming but not an NBC broadcast show. (Which is fine, it’s a grown man’s game.)

Sunday in Phoenix that went a little too far as he used “inappropriate language toward a fan” and the league has fined him $25,000 for it.

On the play in question Barnes got the ball on the left wing and tried to drive the lane past Goran Dragic, got his elbows up as he made a move and was called for an offensive foul that he did not like. The teams moved to the other end of the floor, Barnes was still hot, and before the play started he said something to a fan that earned him an instant technical (the incident wasn’t really caught on camera).

Barnes was defiant when the fine was announced and said he was directing the words at the Suns’ owner, who started it.