How this story usually goes: the veteran team looks polished if disinterested at times, but when it’s over they finish it off like a contender; the younger team looks overwhelmed early, overcomes its early struggles to make a game of it but falls short.
This was the opposite of that.
The Chicago Bulls pulled away early and looked dominant, never trailed and looked like the contenders when it mattered, while the Celtics mounted a spirited comeback but ultimately fell short. The Bulls won 88-79.
That’s kind of where we are with teams.
The Bulls are a good defensive team, but you need to combine that with an ice-cold Celtics squad to get a start like this — Boston started this game 5-of-27 shooting. They were down 52-33 Bulls at the half, where Chicago shot 54 percent, Boston just 33 percent. It looked like a blowout.
But Boston would not go quietly into that good night. Rajon Rondo — make no mistake, this is his team now — had six points and five assists in the quarter, and finished with 18 and 11. More importantly the Celtics picked up their defensive intensity.
With 10 minutes left it was 67-66 Chicago and it looked like we were in for a close finish. But that’s when the best player on the floor — Derrick Rose — asserted himself. He had 12 points in the fourth quarter and 25 overall. The Bulls got some easy buckets in transition. Luol Deng looked good all night and finished with 21 points and 16 rebounds. Boston had no good answer for all that, Paul Pierce was 3-for-12 shooting for the game.
This is kind of where we are with these sides right now — the Bulls are clearly title contenders that know how to put teams away. The Celtics have that in them, but there are questions left about the depth of their talent level.
DeMarcus Cousins got married this past summer, but his 7-year-old son didn’t attend the wedding due to a dispute with the boy’s mother and Cousin’s ex-girlfriend, Christy West. That blew up into an ugly situation where Cousins was ultimately charged in Alabama with a third-degree harassing communications misdemeanor, tied to the domestic situation.
Now, those charges have been dismissed, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
Cousins remains out for the Lakers after tearing his ACL this past summer, and he is not expected to return. Because of the surprisingly good play of Dwight Howard and JaVale McGee — particularly as mobile defenders who can show out on the perimeter and recover — the Lakers have not missed Cousins’ presence.
I have no specific knowledge of this case or the truth of what happened between Cousins and his ex. As far as I know, there was nothing to this and should have been dismissed.
However, as someone who spent a chunk of years on a police/courts beat as a young reporter, I feel the need to add this: Domestic violence/harassment cases are exceedingly difficult to prosecute. It can be a he said/she said situation, and unfortunately, often the abused women recant their testimony (whether it was true or not). The situations are a complex mix of emotions and fear, ones that make getting justice difficult. Talk to any prosecutor (or long-time police beat officer) about domestic violence cases and they will tell you horrifying stories. It is a situation that, as a nation, we need to address.
The Wizards are entertaining in their own special way.
Washington games have averaged 241 points this season (120 for the Wizards, 121 for their opponents). That’s the highest mark in nearly two decades. The 1990-91 Nuggets scored 120 while allowing 131 points per game.
But Washington rarely gets nationally televised games.
On the other hand, Sierra Canyon School – which features Bronny James (son of LeBron James) and Zaire Wade (son of Dwyane Wade) – will have plenty of nationally televised games. That drew the attention of at least one Wizard.
Of course, the Wizards aren’t alone in getting less national exposure than Bronny and Zaire. On the latest, “Off the Dribble,” Jacques Slade gets into all the NBA teams and stars on national television less often than Sierra Canyon. (For more, watch the video above where Slade also gets into Carmelo Anthony’s Blazers debut.)
The good news: Wizards games can still be found on NBC Sports Washington.
Kyrie Irving, if he gets healthy, will return to Boston with the Nets on Wednesday.
How will he be received?
Celtics president Danny Ainge said he doesn’t handle game operations, but if it were up to him, Irving would get a tribute video. It was pointed out fans would boo throughout the video.
Ainge on 98.5 The Sports Hub, via Darren Hartwell of NBC Sports Boston:
“I understand all that. I just think it’s a bad conclusion to come to. It’s not really fair.”
“I think that’s a sad commentary,” Ainge said. “But I understand it just because I know there’s been a lot of negative attention.”
“It was a very good situation with Kyrie,” Ainge said. “Kyrie was in a good place, and things were looking good for a year and a half and they went sour.
“… He gets blamed for a lot of the sour of last year, and I just think it’s much, much bigger than that. So, I don’t have any grudges against Kyrie. I’m grateful that he gave us a chance and it didn’t work out. It wasn’t his fault things didn’t work out. It was a lot of people’s fault, including my own.”
Boston fans should boo the hell out of Kyrie Irving. He pledged to re-sign, brooded through last season, self–destructed at the end then left.
There might have been legitimate personal stressors in his life. We can still have compassion for Irving as a human being.
But as a character in the NBA’s great drama, he is absolutely a villain in Boston.
Celtics fans should get at least a night to treat him accordingly.
The Knicks have recently oscillated between patiently rebuilding around young players and chasing stars.
When hiring David Fizdale as coach last year, New York was apparently focused on the latter plan.
Tim MacMahon of ESPN:
Fizdale had other offers.
They pitched him on they were going to go out and get big-time free agents.
Fizdale might have looked like the type of coach stars want. When the Grizzlies fired him, several big-name players – including LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Damian Lillard – showed support. But it was always a foolish idea to hire a coach based on his ability to lure stars. It’s such a minor factor for elite free agents.
It was also absurd to view Fizdale as clear attraction to stars. He connected to stars as an assistant coach with the Heat. When he became a head coach, changing the nature of the coach-player relationship, he feuded with then-Memphis star Marc Gasol.
The Knicks needed a good coach. Maybe they hired Fizdale for the right reasons. Maybe not.
But the execution of their pitch has fallen flat. New York struck out on Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and Kawhi Leonard last summer. The Knicks also didn’t trade for Anthony Davis.
Fizdale is stuck losing with a lackluster roster. As a result, his job is in jeopardy.
He deserves some culpability for trusting a Jim Dolan-Steve Mills regime to actually land stars. New York’s mismanagement is well-known throughout the league.
If Fizdale had other offers and chose the Knicks, that’s on him.