For first time ever, Derrick Rose and Kyrie Irving face off Monday

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Kyrie Irving is in his third NBA season; Derrick Rose is in his fifth.

However, the two leading faces of a generation of young, star point guards have never faced off — until tonight.

Blame injuries. Last season Rose was out all year. In Irving’s rookie year he missed 15 games and Rose missed 27 so it worked out they never crossed paths.

Monday the two best young point guards in the game will go at each other for the first time in Chicago. And we mean first time — they never faced off in college, high school or AAU either. Rose talked about it with Steve Aschburner from NBA.com’s Hangtime Blog.

“I’ve never played against him,” Rose said, and he meant never – not in AAU, not in high school, not in international competition.

“He’s a great young player,” Rose said. “Just for me, I try not to get into matchups. Just go out there and just play. If we was winning, I’d probably get into it. But we’re just trying to win games right now.”

These are two dynamic, explosive players but guys both still trying to find their footing on the young season.

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The Bulls are off to a rough 2-3 start, with Rose showing a lot of rust after his season off shooting just 32 percent. Their vaunted defense has not been consistent either. Both will come around but there is an early sense of impatience around the Bulls based on the wait for Rose to return plus the fact division rival Indiana already has a four game lead over them.

The Cavaliers are 3-4 on the season and while Irving is averaging 19.9 points a game his efficiency has taken a dip early in the season as he is shooting just 39.3 percent. He hit the game-winning layup in double overtime to lead the Cavaliers past the 76ers (after having missed one in regulation and the first overtime to end the games then).

Two young guards trying to get right this season and start leading their teams where they want to go.

It just might be hard to get off on that foot going against each other.

Luka Doncic fined $10k for kicking ball into stands (video)

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Mavericks rookie Luka Doncic got ejected a few days ago for kicking the ball into the crowd, his second technical foul of the game.

That outburst also got him fined.

NBA release:

Dallas Mavericks guard-forward Luka Dončić has been fined $10,000 for kicking the game ball into the spectator stands, it was announced today by Kiki VanDeWeghe, Executive Vice President, Basketball Operations.

The incident, for which Dončić was assessed his second technical foul and ejected, occurred with 3:00 remaining in the third quarter of the Mavericks’ 111-99 loss to the Indiana Pacers on Jan. 19

Players usually get fined $25,000 for throwing something into the stands. But sometimes, they get just a $10,000 fine for that, seemingly if it appears they didn’t intend for the object to reach the crowd.

Did Doncic mean to kick the ball as far as he did?

Who knows? But it seems he got the benefit of the doubt here.

Mike D’Antoni: Not right NBA wouldn’t allow Rockets to trade Carmelo Anthony yesterday

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The Rockets signed Kenneth Faried, importantly to them, before their game against the 76ers yesterday. With Clint Capela injured, Houston needed another big against Joel Embiid.

But the Rockets had to open a roster spot for Faried. Their clear preference was trading Carmelo Anthony. Failing that, they’d release James Nunnally.

Houston agreed to deal Anthony to the Bulls but couldn’t complete the trade because the league office was closed, as is the norm on weekends and holidays (in this case, Martin Luther King Day). So, the Rockets dropped Nunnally, eating the remaining salary on his 10-day contract, increasing their luxury-tax bill and costing him the opportunity to play for a team that could use him.

Houston coach Mike D’Antoni, via Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

“I don’t think it’s right,” Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said of having to terminate Nunnally. “There’s ways (the league) could have facilitated it.”

What happened to the Rockets was fair in that the rules were clear and applied equally to each team.

But I agree with D’Antoni. Games don’t stop for weekends and holidays. The league office shouldn’t, either.

Teams should have more ability to change their rosters on the fly, because games come so quickly. Halting business for weekends and holidays is antiquated. This is a global, multi-billion-dollar operation now.

The NBA can afford to employ enough people who review trades not to overwork any of them. It’d create a better product and make the sport operate more smoothly.

Stephen Curry slips and falls on wide-open fastbreak, gets ball back, air-balls 3-pointer (video)

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See, the Warriors are fallible.

Though Stephen Curry‘s mishaps coming during a blowout win undercuts the point.

Jaren Jackson Jr. bullies Nikola Mirotic with dunk on him (video)

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Yes, the Grizzlies lost to the Anthony Davis-less Pelicans by 20 last night. Results like that are why there’s thought Marc Gasol could leave Memphis.

But at least plays like this Jaren Jackson Jr. dunk on Nikola Mirotic provide hope for the Grizzlies’ future.

Jackson is a skilled 3-point shooter and rim-protector. Add a mean streak inside offensively, and the rookie could really take off.