Bo Ryan’s face while watching tonight’s beat-em-up halfcourt struggle in Chicago.
Without Derrick Rose, the Chicago Bulls are the NBA’s Wisconsin Badgers. There are no elite athletes or SportsCenter top plays. Just execution and defense. They set big screens. They use most of the shot clock. They talk on defense. They rotate on defense. They push people around in the lane. At United Center, they push people around without fear of hearing a whistle blown. The pictures are not pretty, but the final score is in Chicago’s favor.
All of those qualities were on display in Chicago tonight as the Wolves fell to the Bulls 87-80 in a game that felt neck-and-neck until Marco Belinelli (of all people) caught fire in the early part of the 4th Quarter. The Italian shooter made three treys in the first 2:05 of the fourth, extending a 4-point lead to 9. A 9-point deficit to the Bulls in Chicago might as well be 30. Everything felt like a struggle from that point forward–and that’s just me watching on the couch. I can’t even imagine how Dante Cunningham and Derrick Williams felt when Taj Gibson was swatting their shots into the third row. Gibson is truly an incredible defensive player. So is Joakim Noah, who also passes at an elite level and even showed off some fancy footwork on the block. The game-clinching play was when Noah did an Al Jefferson-like array of pivots that eventually left Nikola Pekovic in his dust as he laid in an easy two.
Joakim Noah leads the Bulls tonight against the Wolves
The Wolves play the Bulls tonight. The Bulls aren’t the same without Derrick Rose.
They struggle to create their own shots.
But they’re still 3-2.
The Wolves are in a similar situation without Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio – their core.
They’re 4-1, after some inspired play last night and in other games.
Nothing seems easy when David West comes to town.
The largest first-quarter differential was 4, when the Wolves led 17-13. Early in the second, the Wolves built an 8-point advantage that quickly dwindled, eventually to a 1-point Pacers halftime lead. The third was a back-and-forth that mostly kept the differential under 5, although that is exactly where the Wolves lead sat at the end of the quarter. Building on that momentum, Minnesota extended the lead to 8, two times early in the fourth. But once again, the Pacers answered, with George Hill scoring 7 points in slightly over 2 minutes to cut the Wolves lead to 2. From there, it was a heavyweight fight, each team trading hard-fought two-point baskets. A key play to extend the lead to a whopping 4 points was when Andrei Kirilenko cleverly stole the inbounds pass following a Shved layup, and quickly found Alexey under the hoop for an easy two. When Dante Cunningham’s 20-foot swish extended the lead to 6 with only 0:39 remaining, the game was over.
Paul George is a baller
Illustration by Howard Shum. Go check it out.
Paul George is good at professional basketball. Really good.
We’ve raved before about George’s underrated defensive prowess, but it’s worth reiterating: George can defend the hell out of the ball. George has those extremely long arms, that effortless footwork, and excellent positioning that, on a good day, might remind you of Scottie Pippen.
The Wolves will have to contend with George tonight, when the Wolves take on the Pacers at Target Center at 7 PM. But they won’t just have to plan for George’s disruptive defense…
If Magic fans want to enjoy this season, they should learn to appreciate J.J. Redick.
Let’s start with the simple: The Magic are bad. I don’t care if they arrived at MSP International with a 2-1 record and a Big Baby Davis MVP Campaign in full swing. By trading away Dwight Howard and Ryan Anderson and getting nothing but Arron Afflalo of value in return, the Magic are a gutted roster headed straight to the lottery. Even with Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love missing, the Wolves needed to win this game. Oh, and I didn’t even mention that Jameer Nelson, the Magic’s veteran point guard, was out with an injury. Nelson was replaced by former Purdue star and not good NBA player, E’Twan Moore. So yeah, this was a game the Wolves should win.
Big Baby wants to play twister with Wolves’ defenders
Tonight, the 2-1 Timberwolves take on the 2-1 Magic at Target Center. Orlando is a vastly different team from the one that killed the Wolves last season. Gone are Dwight Howard and advanced stats hero Ryan Anderson. In are…Aaron Afflalo? More below the fold.