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.
The NBA suspended Houston Rockets point guard Chris Paul along with the Los Angeles Lakers’ Rajon Rondo and Brandon Ingram on Sunday.
It was the opinion of the league office that all three players should be suspended for their role in a fight that took place on Saturday night between the Rockets and the Lakers at Staples Center.
Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni took exception to Paul’s suspension, saying that he thought it was “not equitable” that Paul had to face suspension.
The NBA determined that Rondo indeed did spit in Paul’s face, or at least in the direction of him, directly preceding Paul’s eye poke on Rondo. That kicked things off into full force, and it devolved from there.
All the suspensions were fairly weak. Ingram got just four games for his initial instigation and giant, loping punch toward Paul. Rondo received three games for spitting on Paul and landing punches. Paul received two games for punching Rondo.
It’s unlikely that anybody was going to be happy with the result of the discipline just because of the bad blood involved. However, the league made comment about the suspension afterward, with the NBA’s Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations Kiki VanDeWeghe taking to television later on Sunday.
VanDeWeghe’s explanations don’t satisfy me, and they certainly wouldn’t if I were a Rockets fan. Guys going chest-to-chest and having tensions rise as one thing. Spitting at somebody is another. It’s a level of actionable disrespect that directly influenced and raised tensions during the incident.
Ingram looked childish for shoving James Harden, but his punch came after Rondo got Paul wound up by spitting on him. It’s hard for me to understand how Rondo didn’t get a matching sentence with Ingram at the very least.
For reference, Carmelo Anthony was suspended for 15 games in 2006 after he clocked a player on the New York Knicks during a fight as a member of the Denver Nuggets. Given that precedence, something approaching double digits for both Ingram and Rondo seems like it would have been more appropriate.
We all knew the Denver Nuggets were going to be exciting this season, but nobody expected them to come through with this kind of statement result this early.
On Sunday as the Nuggets took on the Golden State Warriors, a tight game in Colorado lead to a drive by Stephen Curry in the closing seconds that could have won the defending champions the game.
Instead, Juancho Hernangómez became a Denver legend.
It was a serious block by Hernangómez on Damian Jones.
Denver beat the Warriors, 100-98, moving the Nuggets to 3-0 on the year and giving Golden State its first loss of the season.
Kyle Lowry was not happy with the Toronto Raptors when the team traded DeMar DeRozan to the San Antonio Spurs this offseason for Kawhi Leonard.
Lowry and DeRozan are best friends, and their budding romance has been a sentimental point for fans in Toronto and abroad.
But life goes on, and the Raptors again are one of the teams expected to challenge for an Eastern Conference Finals appearance. That hasn’t kept Lowry from doing the same handshake routine he used to do with DeRozan before games this season.
The only difference? DeRozan isn’t there to help dap up Lowry.
For his part, Lowry told NBA TV after Toronto’s game on Saturday that he will continue to do the handshake routine because the DeRozan will always be his best friend.
Even thousands of miles apart you can’t keep these guys from showing love for each other.
With the NBA dissecting video from Saturday night’s game between the Houston Rockets and Los Angeles Lakers like the Zapruder film, it was only a matter of time before we saw suspensions handed down for Chris Paul, Brandon Ingram, and Rajon Rondo.
On Sunday, the league announced its decision.
After reviewing tape, the NBA determined that Rondo did indeed spit on Paul. Ingram was seen as the initial instigator, and thus was served with a heavier sentence.
The finally tally was:
- Four games for Ingram
- Three games for Rondo
- Two games for Paul
Here’s the relevant details per the NBA’s release.
Ingram has been suspended for aggressively returning to and escalating the altercation and throwing a punch in the direction of Paul, confronting a game official in a hostile manner, and instigating the overall incident by shoving Rockets guard James Harden. Rondo has been suspended for instigating a physical altercation with, and spitting and throwing multiple punches at, Paul. Paul has been suspended for poking at and making contact with the face of Rondo, and throwing multiple punches at him.
We have been waiting on these suspensions largely to see how the NBA would discipline one of the first actual fights in some time. A maximum of four games seems a little light to me. Carmelo Anthony was suspended for 15 games in 2006 when he clocked Mardy Collins during a fight between the New York Knicks and Denver Nuggets.
Rondo only getting three games despite having spit on an opponent is also pretty wild. That’s crazy disrespectful and I would not believe you if you tried to tell me that this bad blood will end here.
Both the Lakers and Rockets will miss some of their most important players as they start duking it out in the tough Western Conference.