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 the NBA trade deadline slowly approaching, teams will start evaluating where they sit and what kind of potential moves they can make to improve their teams. Some will look to add bench pieces, while others will look for starter quality players to make one last run at the post season. On the other hand, there will be the teams, such as the Washington Wizards, who are attempting to set themselves up for a better draft pick, or moving players to acquire more picks for June’s draft.
After the off season acquisitions of point guard Steve Nash and center Dwight Howard the Los Angeles Lakers were expected to wreck havoc in the league. With four potential hall of famers in Howard, Nash, Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol, many picked the Lakers to go far in the playoffs and potentially win the championship for the 17th time.
Now just over two months into the new season, the Lakers are looking at potentially missing the playoffs if they don’t pick things up.
If you were to say the Lakers season has been smooth so far, you’d be lying to yourself and anyone and everyone listening. The Lakers have had a tumultuous season up to this point.
Breaking Down And Ranking The Top 24-And-Under Point Guards In The NBA From Russell Westbrook to Rubio, Kyrie, Rose And More
Most of today’s top echelon NBA teams are engineered by very good to great point guards. NBA championship success has shifted from the big man as the predominant position to a point guard driven league. Take a look at the New York Knicks revival starting with the acquisition of Jason Kidd to replace Jeremy “Linsanity” Lin. The Lakers are putting the hopes of their team chemistry into finding a way to win with a 38-year-old point guard in Steve Nash.
The Los Angeles “Lob City / Show Time” Clippers have experienced uncharted water for the franchise with the two headed warriors of Chris “CP3” Paul and Chauncey Billups at the point. Once Tony Parker was teamed up with Tim Duncan the San Antonio Spurs have been champions and championship contenders ever since. Point made.
The (16-15) Minnesota Timberwolves will hit the road after a two game home-stand as they face off against the (26-8) Oklahoma City Thunder at Chesapeake Energy Arena tonight at 8:00 p.m. (ET)
The Minnesota Timberwolves have done everything possible to try and fulfill the high expectations that were set for them at the start of the season. With the promise of a playoff appearance and a money back guarantee on tickets to boot, the Timberwolves are doing their best to stay afloat in the wake of numerous key injuries.
Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio made their return to the court earlier than expected, and now the Timberwolves are paying the price. Love re-injured his hand on January 3rd while playing at Denver. News broke that Love may need surgery on his re-fractured right hand, but no determination has been made as of yet, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports. With Love out indefinitely and Rubio’s overall health still in question, the Timberwolves will need to rely heavily on rookie guard Alexey Shved and center Nikola Pekovic to carry the load in Love’s absence.