The Charlotte Bobcats had lost 18 games in a row.
Until they met the Chicago Bulls on New Year’s Eve.
The Bulls played like they were thinking about where they were going to be at midnight — or like they started the party the night before — and the Bobcats played like a team that didn’t want to lose 19 in a row.
Charlotte opened the fourth quarter of a tied game with a 10-0 run and held on to beat Chicago 91-81. That is eight wins on the season for Charlotte. It snaps the Bobcats losing streak and gives Chicago a new low point for the season.
This was all about the Bobcats backcourt outplaying a Bulls backcourt (the one that still awaits Derrick Rose). Kemba Walker had a team-high 18 points, Gerald Henderson added 16, and both Ramon Sessions and Ben Gordon each had 15 points. The Bobcats backcourt had 63 points, the Bulls just 28.
Usually the Bulls try to make that up in the paint, but Joakim Noah might as well have stayed home. He moved at the speed of a three-toed sloth and had two points, four rebounds and two assists for the game.
But it wasn’t just Noah, the Bulls bad offense was a team effort — Chicago shot 35.1 percent for the game and was 4-of-16 from three. In the end, the Bulls had an offensive rating of 82.7 points per 100 possessions, which is just epically poor. They were good on defense but the rules of the game still dictate that you have to score to win. The Bulls didn’t bother.
Charlotte got their win without Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who is out with an eye injury.
It’s just one game of 82, it doesn’t tell us anything we didn’t already know — that the Bulls struggle without Derrick Rose in the lineup. And the Bobcats still have some NBA players on the roster that can get it done if they need to.
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.
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 email@example.com.
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
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?
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.