With the game on the line in the fourth quarter, Carlos Boozer was sitting on the bench. Joakim Noah was right next to him. Keith Bogans was right there with them.
Taj Gibson was in, with Omer Asik and Ronnie Brewer.
And they were key to the 95-83 win that leaves the Bulls just one game shy of the conference finals.
When the usual Bulls substitutions came late in the third, the game was still very close. At the start of the fourth a Jeff Teague driving layup had the Hawks up one and all sorts of questions running through the United Center.
Then Derrick Rose made his own driving layup. Luol Deng drained a three (from Rose’s assist). Then Gibson started his big fourth quarter with an and-1 with the assist from Rose. Pretty soon (after another Rose layup) the Bulls were up 8 and in control.
That’s when Bulls Tom Thibodeau made the coaching ove of the series — he stuck with the hot hand. The starts sat and the bench stayed on the floor.
“I thought the bench was great, and they got it going pretty good so we stayed with them,” Thibodeau said after the game. “Derrick and Luol played well with that group.”
Gibson had 11 points in the quarter, Asik had three rebounds, set massive picks and was a big body in the paint that frustrated the Hawks, Brewer brought energy at both ends. The Bulls should have struggled with a lineup where Deng was the best outside shooter, but instead they attacked and got their shots at the rim in the fourth. Atlanta struggled against the defense — well, except for Teague — and settled for jump shots.
When the Hawks would try to make a run, the Bulls answered. Again and again. They made another late 8-0 run and salted it away.
In the end the Bulls bench — and Thibodeau’s willingness to ride that bench in the biggest game of the season so far — was the difference. And the bench will have the Bulls on to the next round with another performance like that.
Hawks forward Chandler Parsons was involved in a car crash last week.
Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports:
It’s easy to see where this is headed. Parsons is positioning himself for a lawsuit, laying the seeds for both lost earnings and emotional distress. We might see Parsons’ future NBA salaries be litigated.
Parsons signed a four-year max contract in 2016. He hasn’t had a reasonably productive seasons since, struggling with knee issues. Parsons recently touted how healthy he felt, but that had to be viewed in context of a 31-year-old with an extensive injury history.
Parsons had played sparingly the last four seasons, including just five games this season. Did he land outside the Hawks rotation because they’re focused on youth or because he’s just no longer good enough?
That could become a question for a court room.
Parsons will be a free agent this summer. I projected him for a minimum-salary contract somewhere. He was clearly hungry for an opportunity without the max-contract burden weighing on him.
It’d be a shame if Parsons lost that because of a drunk driver.
Kyrie Irving missed nearly two months with a confounding injury.
During that time… Kendrick Perkins accused Irving of faking to avoid returning to Boston. Celtics fans chanted “Kyrie sucks!” without him even there. More examples of Irving’s moodiness in Boston emerged. Kevin Garnett suggested Irving didn’t have the cojones to play for the Celtics.
YES Network (2:40 mark):
When I was out for those seven weeks and not saying anything and still people are still saying things about me. It’s inevitable. They crucified Martin Luther King for speaking about peace and social integration. You can go back to historical leaders and great people in society that do great things, and they’re still going to talk s—about them. It is what it is.
I don’t think Irving is putting himself on King’s level but rather pointing out that even great people get attacked. This could be a way for Irving to contextualize that he shouldn’t fret about the lesser criticism he faces.
I’d give Irving that benefit of the doubt, especially considering his comments on Brooklyn hosting the 76ers on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, today.
Michael Scotto of Bleacher Report:
It’s more than an honor. I have done so much historic research on just my community as well as they voice that I have and where I am in the position I’m in as well on the platform. I just wish there were not just holidays to commemorate some of the historical black leaders that have really put their lives on the line and lost it in the line of Civil Rights or making a social impact. Those things hit you real deep when you know the history of where the society has gone. I’m really grateful to play on Martin Luther King Day, but his legacy exists more than just a game being played on that day or Nike shoes being put out or something else. It’s so much more for our society to realize what he was really involved in and what he did in terms of communities across the world on
Again, I don’t think Irving was equating himself with King.
But can I absolutely put it past Irving, who talks as if he’s on a higher plane of existence, emphasizes his own importance and makes weird self-comparisons? No.
It also wouldn’t be the NBA’s first case of being tone deaf about King.
The Hawks are reportedly are no longer interested in trading for Pistons center Andre Drummond.
What about the Knicks, whose trade talks with Detroit were reportedly more serious than exploratory?
Marc Berman of the New York Post:
According to an NBA source, the Knicks have no interest in a trade despite a report the Pistons approached them about a deal
Like Atlanta, New York both isn’t winning anything of note this season anyway and can easily open cap space to pursue Drummond in unrestricted free agency this summer.
The Knicks also have another center in Mitchell Robinson. They should develop him rather than surrendering assets for a replacement who might not be as good as Robinson once they’re ready to win.
New York is desperate. So, a Drummond trade seemed at least plausible.
But not trading for Drummond makes the most sense. Though the Knicks could do anything, I’m inclined to believe this report.
Knee soreness, followed by an illness, has had Kristaps Porzingis in street clothes for 10 games, dating back to before the first of the year.
Sunday he went through practice and expects to play Tuesday when the Mavericks host the Clippers, Porzingis told the media Sunday.
That’s pretty much what the Mavs and KP were saying last week, then knee soreness flared up again and he sat out a few more games. This time he seems ready to go, although expect him to have some reduced minutes the first couple of games back.
Porzingis is averaging 17.3 points and 9.4 rebounds a game, shooting 34.3 percent from three and providing a dangerous pick-and-pop partner for Doncic. Porzingis, who missed all of last season recovering from a torn ACL, has improved as the season has gone on and he’s gotten his legs under him.
Dallas went 6-4 without Porzingis and their league-best offense didn’t miss a beat thanks to Luka Doncic. Defensively, however, the Mavericks missed his size in the paint, giving up 6.9 points more per 100 possessions in those 10 games than they averaged when he is on the court this season.
Dallas is 27-15 on the season and currently sit fifth in the West.