NBA Playoffs: The Bulls manage to hold on

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The Indiana Pacers were able to put up yet another great fight against the Chicago Bulls on Monday night, but they were once again left with nothing to show for their valiant effort.

In game one of the series, the Pacers took the Bulls down to the wire because of their sharp jump shooting. The Pacers didn’t shoot the ball nearly as well from outside as they did in game one, but their defense was able to frustrate the Bulls for long stretches of the game.

On paper, Derrick Rose’s final line doesn’t look much different than it did in game one, as he finished with an impressive 36 points, 8 rebounds, and 6 assists. But the Pacers’ decision to guard Rose with bigger defenders, particularly Paul George, forced Rose to work much harder for his points than he did in game one, and he required 25 shots and 13 free throw attemtps to get his ponits. In Game one, Rose got to the rim or the line at will, only made one shot from outside of 15 feet, and only turned the ball over three times. In game two, 10 of Rose’s 36 points came on jumpers, and he turned the ball over six times.

Indiana caught a seriously bad break when Darren Collison went down with an injury in the first half and subsequently missed the rest of the game. Sophomore guard A.J. Price did a decent job filling in for Collison, but he’s not the same caliber of player, and the Pacers were outscored by 12 points with Collison off the floor.

Fortunately for Chicago, Carlos Boozer showed up in game two. He was in the paint and making baskets from all angles from both hands, was a big part of Chicago’s dominating performance on the offensive glass (Chicago had 20 offensive rebounds to Indiana’s 24 defensive rebounds), and was much better on defense. However, the rest of the Bulls’ supporting cast didn’t shoot particularly well from outside, and Joakim Noah couldn’t buy a basket around the rim. Because of that, the Bulls’ offense was often stagnant on Monday, and the team finished with more turnovers than assists.

Despite the Bulls’ offensive issues, they were able to pull out a win thanks to a dominant size advantage and some timely plays down the stretch, and a win is a win in the playoffs. There’s a reason why teams jockey for home-court advantage all season long: even though the Pacers performed well beyond all possible expectations in Chicago, they are still returning to Indiana with no wins, and if they lose one more game, their season is all but over. The Pacers should be encouraged by their play in the first two games, but they will need to do just a little bit more if they want to avoid elimination.

Devin Booker tries to meet Gorgui Dieng in locker room after both get ejected (VIDEO)

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NBA players like to talk a big game about getting into fights with one another. It rarely actually happens, and when things get a little too heated sometimes we get a little extracurricular activity that helps us weave the tapestry that is the story of the NBA.

As the Minnesota Timberwolves took on the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday night, Gorgui Dieng and Devin Booker decided to have a little chat with one another. The two got into a jawing match after a play in the third quarter when Dieng elbowed Booker in the face.

Booker took exception to that and decided to start flapping his gums at Dieng. Both were ejected after official review, and as they exited to opposite sides of the floor, Booker appeared to make eye contact with Dieng and accept an offer to meet him in the concourse under the stands that lead to the locker rooms.

The Suns guard then had to be restrained from running at full speed to meet Dieng.

Via Twitter:

Devin Booker vs. Gorgui Dieng is the bitter rivalry you didn’t know you needed.

Report: Anthony Davis fears fractured finger, could be out up to a month

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New Orleans Pelicans star Anthony Davis hurt his hand against the Portland Trail Blazers earlier last week. Initial reports had Davis missing 1-2 weeks with a sprained finger.

Now it appears things could be much worse.

Reports surfaced on Tuesday night that Davis could be facing a potential fracture in his left index finger. If that’s the case, Davis could miss anywhere from 2-4 weeks with a more serious injury.

Via Twitter:

The Pelicans cannot afford to have Davis out for that amount of time. The team has not met expectations this season, and are struggling to stay in playoff contention as we near the All-Star break.

If Davis is going to miss significant time, now is probably the best place in the NBA calendar. The real problem is that the Pelicans won’t be able to stay afloat without him. Even with Davis on the floor, New Orleans has struggled to win recent games against top Western Conference opponents like the Blazers and Golden State Warriors.

It’s probably too much to extrapolate this into what this could mean for Davis staying with the Pelicans, but it’s natural to wonder whether a missed postseason could push Davis to ask for a trade out of Louisiana.

If he’s not on the floor, the Pelicans probably aren’t winning games without Davis. That could spell disaster for their playoff hopes, and in turn, alter the future of the franchise.

Kevin Durant challenged Draymond Green to better control his emotions

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Golden State Warriors star Draymond Green has often let his emotions get the better of him. Green famously missed Game 5 of the NBA finals in 2016 after he repeatedly kicked LeBron James in the crotch.

Meanwhile, things have been heated in the Golden State locker room like never before. It’s bubbled over to the public sphere, with Kevin Durant and Green seemingly at odds at different times during this year.

Things seem to have studied in the meantime, particularly after Stephen Curry returned to the lineup At the beginning of December. But Durant and Green are still trying to find a way to work together to win another championship in the Bay Area.

According to a story from The Athletic, that meant a challenge from Durant to Green to maintain his emotions and to keep himself in check.

Via The Athletic:

Durant told Green he wasn’t accepting the emotional excuse. Green’s fire is what makes him great even if it also makes him volatile. But Durant wasn’t buying that it’s uncontrollable. He’s seen Green control it. He’s seen him keep his composure in the crucible of championship stakes. He’s seen him locked in and focused, forcing his emotions to submit to his will.

So Durant challenged him to be better. Green accepted.

Green has had a down year and it’s not clear Why that is. Is he simply aging? Or is this more due to the internal strife in the Warriors locker room?

No matter what, Golden State will need a semblance of the old Draymond Green to win NBA title this year. This agreeent between the two stars should be helpful both in healing their wounds and moving toward their shared goal.

These guys might not ever fully reconcile, but another championship ring could act as a salve.

Paul George joined Knicks fans in cheering for Raymond Felton (VIDEO)

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There’s not much to cheer about at Madison Square Garden these days. Kristaps Porzingis is still not playing for the New York Knicks, and it’s not clear whether the team will land a big free agent like Kevin Durant this summer or strike out and continue their run of dismal play.

As such, it makes sense that New York fans are trying to keep themselves entertained, and that includes during Knicks games.

When the Oklahoma City Thunder came to town on Monday night, fans in Manhattan found themselves cheering for a former Knicks player on the Thunder bench. With the game out of reach, it only seemed appropriate.

In the fourth quarter, MSG started a chant for Raymond Felton, who played for the Knicks for three seasons over two stays. As cheers rained down from the stands, even Paul George got involved in the action.

Via Twitter:

George scored 31 points as the Thunder rolled New York, 127-109.