Carmelo Anthony among multiple Knicks ejected in ugly loss to Bulls

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The best teams in the league don’t enjoy losing, and they especially don’t take well to getting blown out at home by a team it doesn’t believe is up to that task.

Chicago came into Madison Square Garden on Friday and used its trademark defense to obliterate the team at the top of the Eastern Conference standings. Behind 29 points and 13 rebounds from Luol Deng, to go along with 15 points, 12 rebounds, and six assists from Joakim Noah, the Bulls not only won in New York by a final of 110-106, but got under the Knicks’ collective skin in the process.

It was only New York’s second home loss on the season, but it was also the team’s second home loss in its last three games.

Chicago came out and stifled the Knicks offense from the start, getting out to a 15-point halftime lead after limiting New York to just 39 first-half points, while shutting down the Knicks’ trademark three-point attack by holding them to just 2-of-12 shooting in the first two quarters from distance.

The Bulls are an extremely tough team to deal with when facing a large deficit as the Knicks were on Friday, and as a result, New York’s players and coaches were unable to contain their collective frustration as the game continued to be out of reach.

J.R. Smith had 26 points in just under 32 minutes of action before fouling out with just over seven minutes to play. His leaving was legitimate, but with the Knicks trailing by 15 late and the game becoming more and more likely to end in the Bulls’ favor, the dominoes started to fall.

Carmelo Anthony was the next to go, getting ejected 15 seconds later for arguing a foul call with the officials. Tyson Chandler and the Bulls’ Noah were ejected a few minutes later for one of those confrontations where no one was going to throw a punch, but the posturing and the words exchanged left the officials with no choice but to rid the game of the players involved.

Knicks head coach Mike Woodson also was ejected, with the game clearly out of hand and the officials losing control, at least to a certain extent.

The referees weren’t the reason the Knicks found themselves on the wrong end of this one, of course, but the game wasn’t exactly one of the best officiated on the young season.

No, 17 turnovers and a low shooting percentage to go along with a sluggish start are what doomed the Knicks on this night. But the ugly way in which the team handled its performance, by having multiple players and its head coach ejected in the final period when things weren’t going their way was a less than professional way to go out, and not exactly indicative of a team that’s ready to handle the pressures associated with being one of the league’s elite.

Adam Silver backs Knicks center Enes Kanter’s decision to skip London trip

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LONDON (AP) — NBA Commissioner Adam Silver says the safety and security of players will always be paramount for the league after New York Knicks center Enes Kanter did not travel to London for his team’s game against the Washington Wizards.

Kanter said he feared he could be attacked or killed over his opposition to Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan if he were to travel to London. Istanbul-based newspaper Daily Sabah reported that an arrest warrant was issued for Kanter by Turkish prosecutors on Wednesday.

Silver, speaking ahead of Thursday’s game, says “it was never a suggestion from the league that (Kanter) was not welcome on this trip.”

“There are significant issues that he is dealing with, and I recognize that for the NBA, by virtue of the fact that we’re a global business, we have to pay a lot of attention to those issues as well,” Silver says.

Kanter, who has frequently criticized Erdogan, had his Turkish passport revoked in 2017.

Wizards beat Knicks with game-winning goaltending call in London Game

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The good people of England could use a break from the dumpster fire that is Brexit, so the NBA came to town to entertain with their very best… their biggest stars… the teams that were willing to go, the Knicks and the Wizards.

But the Londoners got to see one unusual ending.

The Knicks were up 100-99 thanks to a Noah Vonleh hook shot, but the Wizards had three seconds to try to get off a game winner. Scott Brooks designed an interesting play, with Bradley Beal starting in the backcourt and sprinting into the frontcourt, and when the defense moved to him as the likely shooter he passed to Thomas Bryant rolling down the lane, he put up the finger roll and…

That was a goaltend by Allonzo Trier to my eyes — the ball is just starting its downward trajectory, and it may have been over the cylinder (in an NBA arena there would have been an above-basket camera with a better angle on if it was over the rim, but that did not seem to be available in London).

The Wizards — who owner Ted Leonsis said will never tank, so forget about them trading away assets at the deadline — have won 3-of-4 and are 6-4 since John Wall was sidelined with his foot injury, with a +3 net rating in those games. Washington is now just two games out of the playoffs in the East and GM Ernie Grunfeld does not believe in tanking, so expect them to make a push.

Which is why wins like this matter.

PBT Extra: DeMarcus Cousins’ return will be big boost for Warriors. Maybe.

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The Golden State Warriors — the two-time defending NBA champs, the team on top of the Western Conference with the best offense in the NBA — are about to get a whole lot better.

Maybe.

Nobody really knows.

What we know is DeMarcus Cousins is scheduled to make his return to the court on Friday night against the Clippers in Los Angeles. Cousins missed the end of last season and all of this season recovering from a ruptured Achilles.

I get into all of it in this PBT Extra.

As NBC’s Tom Haberstroh pointed out, the history of big men bouncing back from this injury does not bode well for Cousins. On the other side, Cousins was so skilled, if the Warriors can get 75 percent of the old Cousins it will be an upgrade over Kevon Looney and give Golden State a guy who can exploit mismatches.

On paper, the Warriors should get better with Cousins in the lineup. But nobody really knows.

Spurs president-coach Gregg Popovich says he doesn’t know whether he’ll retire after season

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Spurs president-coach Gregg Popovich said in 2015 he made a commitment to newly signed LaMarcus Aldridge, presumably to coach through the five-year contract he signed in 2014.

That contract will expire after this season.

Then what?

Popovich, via Marc Stein of The New York Times:

“I don’t know the answer,” Popovich said when asked about his plans for next season in an interview Wednesday

Maybe Popovich is legitimately undecided about his future. Maybe he has a firm plan and was just being dismissive because he didn’t want to discuss it publicly. There’s obviously a massive difference between the two, but it’s difficult to parse from only his quote.

Popovich will coach Team USA in the 2019 FIBA World Cup and 2020 Olympics. That responsibility means a lot to the Air Force veteran. Some have even speculated he’ll retire from the NBA after this season to prepare for his USA Basketball duties.

In the meantime, Popovich remains one of the NBA’s top coaches. He has helped San Antonio turn around its season, building a strong offense around mid-range shooters DeMar DeRozan and Aldridge and getting everyone on enough of the same page defensively to be reasonable on that end. The Spurs aren’t a great team, but they’re good in ways that have Popovich’s fingerprints all over them.

Popovich could continue to succeed in the NBA for the foreseeable future. The question is – with Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili gone and Popovich nearing age 70 – how much longer he wants to do it.