Despite a late scare, the Chicago Bulls continued their dominance over the New York Knicks on Friday night. New York rallied in the final minutes to close to within five, but couldn’t finish the comeback in a 108-101 Bulls win.
These four elements stood out in Chicago's 20th victory of the season:
1. The Bulls could win a playoff series even without Derrick Rose
To be fair, this statement is more an indictment of the quality of the Eastern Conference than a proclamation of Chicago’s rise. Still, the fact remains that the Bulls have won road games against Miami and New York (the conference’s putative top two seeds) in the space of a week.
Chicago’s defense remains strong enough to keep them in the game against even elite opponents, and the offense—held together with duct tape though it is—has gotten the job done. Obviously, the Bulls will be a dramatically better team with even a partial-strength version of Rose, but the former MVP won’t be joining a lost cause when he does return from his knee injury.
On the other hand…
2. If anything happens to Luol Deng, Chicago is sunk
With a mere 47.8 seconds remaining before the team would extend it’s season high win streak to four, the Orlando Magic got hit with the injury bug again. Forward Glen Davis, one of the teams captains and the vocal and emotional lead for the team, was fouled hard by Emeka Okafor of the Washington Wizards. Davis suffered a sprained left shoulder and was listed as out for 4-6 weeks.
When the buzzer sounded at the end of the game, the Magic walked off the court victorious. That victory was the last for the team who went through turmoil all of last season with the Dwight Howard Saga.
After Davis was injured, the Magic encountered their first three point or less game of the season, losing to the Toronto raptors 93-90. Their woes continued and the close losses started to pile up, losing their next two to the Utah Jazz and New Orleans Hornets by a combined seven points. After blow out’s at the hands of Washington and Toronto, the Magic fought hard and found themselves on the losing end of games to the Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls. Both losses came by two points.
The Chicago Bulls’ season hasn’t exactly been smooth sailing in Derrick Rose’s absence, but Chicago made a statement Friday night by going into Miami and earning a convincing win over the Heat. Despite a combined 66 points from Miami’s Big Three, the Bulls led throughout the second half and held on for a 96-89 win.
As both teams look ahead to the 2013 postseason, here are three key lessons to learn from Friday’s upset:
1. Carlos Boozer really can look like the player the Bulls paid him to be
The key reason that Chicago had the Heat playing from behind all night was that Carlos Boozer absolutely overwhelmed the Miami frontcourt. Whether Chris Bosh or Shane Battier was guarding him, Boozer had his shot dialed in to the tune of 27 points on 12-for-17 shooting from the floor.
Boozer also grabbed six offensive boards to key a monster Chicago effort that saw the Bulls total 19 rebounds on that end of the floor. Overall, Boozer outmuscled the lighter Miami frontcourt for 12 boards and a block on the night.
Los Angeles Clippers vs. Los Angeles Lakers Preview, Prediction and Where to Watch Online Live Stream
The Los Angeles Clippers (25-8) will be squaring off against the Los Angeles Lakers (15-16) on Friday, January 4th at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. Coverage will begin on ESPN at 10:30 p.m. (ET) but can be watched online at ESPN 3. The matchup is also being livestreamed.
The Los Angeles Clippers have now lost two games in a row after pulling off a season best 17 game win streak. The 17 straight wins were the longest such streak in the NBA since Boston won 19 in a row during the 2008-2009 season.
The Clippers cashed in season low shooting percentages in their recent two game skid, with both losses coming on the road. Meanwhile they still carry a 10 game home winning streak and look to make that 11 straight when they return to the Staples Center tonight to face off against their inner-city rivals.
The Brooklyn Nets need a new permanent head coach after Avery Johnson’s dismissal. P.J. Carlesimo is a solid stop-gap but he’s more known for being on the receiving end of the most abusive coach-player relationship in league history and for flaming out as Durant and Westbrook’s first NBA head coach. But instead of whittling down the pros and cons of the prospective coaches, let’s take a trip back to Christmas morning for a little anecdotal truth.
Courtside during the Los Angeles Lakers’ Christmas clash with the New York Knicks, an interesting footnote in pop culture history was taking place as Chris Breezy and Rihanna were schmoozing courtside in public for the first time since Brown brutally assaulted his girlfriend nearly four years ago. It was a TMZ moment but it holds hoops significance.
No, Carlesimo is not going to put Latrell Sprewell on his coaching staff or reconcile with his attacker. However, if Rihanna can forgive Chris Breezy, why can’t Jerry Sloan and Deron Williams scale back their respective egos and (Brooklyn) bridge their differences?