It was a busy Wednesday night around the Association with 11 games, but we’ve condensed it down to the five things everyone will be talking about today. It wasn’t easy, we left off DeMarcus Cousins scoring 36 and DeMarr DeRozan 34. Here’s what you need to know.
1) Golden State thrashed Chicago, just rolled through two of East’s best. Golden State is better than everyone in the East.
Which is about as surprising a statement as “Donald Trump likes to be the center of attention.” But the way the Bulls did it was impressive. You can play it down if you want — it is just January. These games are just benchmarks; they are not necessarily predictive of future matchups. Throw any other qualifiers you want on it. The fact of the matter is that two days after steamrolling the East’s best team the Warriors did the same thing to the Chicago Bulls, ultimately winning 125-95. Golden State controlled the tempo, shared the ball (38 assists on the night), and looked like a team that has a shot at the 72-win record (I still don’t think they get there).
If you want some good news Bulls fans, Derrick Rose played his best half of the season scoring 21 in the first 24 minutes and looking sharp. It’s something to keep building on. The problem is despite those numbers the Bulls were down by 15 at the break. That’s what the Warriors do — to everyone. Stephen Curry led the Warriors with 25.
2) Cavaliers bounce back with win, but bigger test comes Thursday. The Cavaliers needed a palate cleanser after the bad taste the Warriors left in their mouth on Monday. Something sweet and easy. The Brooklyn Nets were happy to roll over and provide just that. It wasn’t the Cavs best performance of the season, but they took a little anger out on the Nets. Kevin Love and LeBron James led the way with 17 points each. The best part of the win may be that the starters (save for J.R. Smith) got to rest the fourth, which is important because the Los Angeles Clippers come to town on Thursday, and they are not such a pushover.
3) Hack-a-Shaq — or hack-a-Drummond — turns Pistons’ win over Rockets into farce. With his team nine points at the half, Rockets’ coach J.B. Bickerstaff inserted K.J. McDaniels into the game as a second-half starter with one job — foul Andre Drummond. Six times in the first minute of the game Drummond was fouled off the ball so that the Pistons were in the penalty, and then the hack-a-Dre continued to parade him to the free throw line eight more times (16 shots) in the first three minutes of the second half. It wasn’t basketball, it was a farce. It was gaming the system. It was embarrassing to the sport. And it worked — Drummond was 5-of-16 from the line, he had to be pulled from the game, but because of this the Rockets not only made up their deficit, they took the lead.
It didn’t last because, well, karma. This was the hacking strategy taken to a logical conclusion, the spirit of the rules be damned. If you’re answer is “Drummond should hit his free throws” I would counter asking you to tell me how a guy getting grabbed 50 feet off the ball is basketball. The only good that comes out of this is that the rapid rise of the hacking strategy — ESPN’s Kevin Pelton said 11.8 percent of NBA games this season have seen “hack-a-whoever” — might finally force Adam Silver and the league do change the rules (as international hoops has done for years) and end this bastardization of the game.
4) Hassan Whiteside, Dwight Howard leave games with injuries. It was a rough day for shot-blocking big men. An already short-handed Heat team saw things get worse when big man Whiteside cut across the lane and just collapsed grabbing his side. He was down in pain for a couple of minutes, was helped back to the locker room, and did not return due to a strained oblique. Due to injury, Wednesday night the Heat were without Dwyane Wade, Luol Deng, Goran Dragic, Beno Udrih, Chris Andersen, and then Whiteside. So yes, they lost to the Wizards.
Less than a minute into the Pistons/Rockets game, a little pileup left Dwight Howard with a sprained ankle that sidelined him the rest of the night. The Rockets were pounded inside after this and eventually lost the game — but not before embarrassing the sport.
5) Franchise Value vs. Win percentage. Forbes Magazine released its NBA franchise values report on Wednesday, and the Knicks have moved back into the top spot, worth $3 billion. They were followed by the Lakers, Bulls, Celtics, and Clippers.
But how does all that money relate to wins on the court right now? We have a chart for that.