Baseline to Baseline recaps: Bulls keep winning without Rose

2 Comments

What you missed while you were fascinated with the photo of a shark eating another shark….

Bulls 89, Celtics 80: The Bulls are now 3-1 without Derrick Rose and, as they have through this run (and really the last two seasons), they won this one with defense. Chicago held Boston to 39.7 percent shooting overall and 20 percent from three.

Early on Rajon Rondo pushing the pace and getting a few easy buckets, and a good night back from injury from Kevin Garnett (18 points) kept the Celtics ahead. But a 20-3 run late in the fourth quarter gave Chicago a big lead, a run fueled by Joakim Noah (who scored 10 of his 15 in the second quarter). Carlos Boozer (23 points, 15 boards) helped spark a 7-0 run to start the second quarter to get Chicago up 16. Then a 14-3 run by Boston and we had a game again heading into the fourth. Which is where Luol Dent took over, absolutely dominating Paul Pierce at both ends of the floor (he did that for much of the game). Deng had 13 of his 23 in the fourth quarter and he also had 10 assists on the night.

Not sure we learned much in this game. We learned the Bulls play good defense and that is how they win without Rose in the lineup, and they split a pair with the Celtics that way in the past week. We learned Deng and Boozer are pretty good. We learned Boston is simply an inconsistent team — they have lost 4 of 5 after winning 9 of 10. We learned Chicago is much the better team once you factor in they did this without their (and the league’s) MVP.

Pacers 93, Nets 88: Any win on the third night of a back-to-back-to-back you take. You don’t worry about how pretty it is, or in this case isn’t. Indy will take this. But how ugly was it? In the second half the Pacers won shooting 29.3 percent, because the Nets shot 37.5 percent with nine turnovers. Early on Deron Williams looked like an All-World point guard early and Kris Humphries had 12 of his 24 in the first quarter, when the Nets took a lead and looked like they could get a win. This game remained close most of the way, but in the end the Pacers got good enough point guard play out of A.J. Price and some key buckets from Danny Granter (32 points on the night) and that was enough.

The guy that really impressed me this game, as he has at times this season, is Paul George. He was on Williams and held him in check in the second half, plus he made some good plays at the other end. This is a guy you want on your team.

Clippers 74, Trail Blazers 71: Make no mistake, the Clippers are Chris Paul’s team. Portland led by as many as 18 but Chris Paul scored all of his 13 points in the fourth quarter to spark a come-from-behind win. Blake Griffin had 21 on the night. That said, this game was ugly — Clippers on a back-to-back, Portland on the last night of a back-to-back-to-back, this was a schedule-makers ugliness. Both teams shot under 40 percent and combined for 34 turnovers. This was a lockout game. Of course, Portland’s offense has looked pretty ugly without LaMarcus Aldridge, period. He is their lynchpin.

 

Rumor: Bulls’ belief in Zach LaVine waning

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Zach LaVine was the centerpiece in the Bulls’ return for trading a star. Chicago was reportedly willing to match a max offer sheet for LaVine in restricted free agency.

But maybe the Bulls have at least somewhat soured on him.

Nick Friedell of ESPN:

I don’t know why the Bulls would be down on LaVine now. I also don’t know why they were so high on him the first place.

LaVine is a good 3-point shooter and impressive dunker. But, despite his athleticism, his all-around contributions are lacking. He also hasn’t looked completely over his February 2017 ACL tear.

This leak could just be strategy. Instead of trying to scare off teams with the threat of matching any offer to LaVine, Chicago could be trying to dissuade suitors by projecting its own reluctance.

The Bulls don’t want to overpay LaVine. But they also don’t want to lose him for nothing.

Will anyone make a hard push for the 23-year-old? He surely wants a lucrative long-term contract, whether he re-signs directly with Chicago or gets an offer sheet. But, if the Bulls aren’t sold on him, I’m not sure any team will is.

LaVine’s qualifying offer will be $4,333,932. That might wind up his next salary.

PBT Extra: Grading the top of the NBA Draft

Leave a comment

The Phoenix Suns got it right at the top of the draft — they took Deandre Ayton.

But what of their move to trade for Mikal Bridges, the No. 10 pick, surrendering a valuable pick and the potential of Zhaire Smith for what should be a solid “3&D” wing to go with their athletic stars?

How did the Kings do at No. 2? What about Dallas’ big trade up to land Luka Doncic at three, or the Atlanta bet on Trae Young?

In this PBT Extra, I grade the top 10 picks in the draft, from the moves I like (I think Dallas did well) to ones I’m not sold on (sorry Chicago).

 

Have questions leading up to free agency? Submit your questions via e-mail for our PBT Mailbag feature. Drop us a line at pbtmailbag@gmail.com.

Lakers’ recruiting pitch for Paul George leaks

AP Photo/R Brent Smith
6 Comments

LeBron James doesn’t want elaborate pitches in free agency.

Paul George never said that, though.

So, the Lakers are apparently planning to put some showbiz into their recruitment.

Robin Lundberg of Sports Illustrated, citing a “Hollywood source,” revealed a Lakers pitch for George. The direction:

Less Morgan Freeman/Denzel Washington, and more Jamie Foxx. A bit more edge an attitude to their voice, and a bit less aspirational

The text:

When you were just a kid

In your room
Dreaming from Palmdale

We were dreaming too.

While you dreamt, we built – built for your arrival

And while we dreamt, you built too
Becoming one of the world’s greatest.

Life’s most powerful dream are the one we realize ourselves.

The ones that turn us into legends.
That kid from Palmdale always knew it
Now the world will, too

Who wrote this, noted storyteller Kobe Bryant?

My bigger question: Did or did not the Lakers, who’ve gone to great lengths to make their interest in George known, want this to leak before the official start of free agency?

Report: No divide between Chris Paul and Rockets over contract

AP Photo/David J. Phillip
3 Comments

That rumor of tension between Chris Paul and the Rockets over his contract?

Sam Amick of USA Today:

As for the recent report from Fox Sports’ Chris Broussard that there are rising tensions between the two sides because Paul wants the full max and isn’t sure if he’ll get it, two people with knowledge of the situation refuted the idea there is any friction between the sides.

Remember, everyone who leaks something has an agenda. But I find this report far more credible than the initial rumor.

Paul’s max projects to be about $205 million over five years. That’s a lot to commit to a 33-year-old, but Paul took a discount to facilitate an opt-in-and-trade to Houston last year. He expects to be made whole.

Until Broussard’s report, all indications were the Rockets would appease him. Barring more information, that should remain the expectation.