Bulls

Kobe passes Shaq on all-time scoring list

503550.jpg

Kobe passes Shaq on all-time scoring list

From Comcast SportsNet
PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Kobe Bryant had his place in history. With "Beat L.A.!" echoing through a second straight sellout crowd, Lou Williams had his shot to remember. Williams nailed the go-ahead 3-pointer, scored 14 of his 24 points in the fourth quarter, and spoiled Bryant's record-setting night while leading the Philadelphia 76ers to 95-90 win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Monday night. Williams hit the tying jumper, then followed with the 3 for a 91-88 lead in front of 20,064 fans -- a number that for the first time in years was there to root on the Sixers instead of simply to boo Bryant. Williams hit another floater to make it 93-88, part of a fantastic fourth that saw him hold off Bryant and help the Sixers improve to 13-3 at home. "From the start of my basketball career, and for as long as I could remember, I've always played well in the fourth quarter," Williams said. "I know that's the most important time of a basketball game." Bryant scored 24 of his 28 points in the first half. He passed former teammate Shaquille O'Neal and moved into fifth place on the NBA's career scoring list. Bryant got 24 points in a hurry to pass O'Neal, but stumbled down the stretch and missed nine of his 10 shots in the fourth. The 33-year-old Bryant, the NBA's leading scorer with 29.4 points, has 28,601 career points. Bryant said it was an honor to pass O'Neal because of "our history." "All the battles we've been in, the playoff battles, the duo that we've been able to form," Bryant said. "When you (consider) the championships, it makes it a little more significant." Andrew Bynum had 20 points and 20 rebounds for the Lakers. Pau Gasol had 16 points and 11 rebounds. The Lakers fell to 3-9 on the road. The Sixers went 3-1 last week against a fierce lineup of Orlando, Chicago, Miami (the loss) and Atlanta. It's more of the same this week: San Antonio is here Wednesday and the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday. The Sixers have proven they can handle the rugged schedule. They committed only four turnovers, a minuscule number that was enough to make up for getting pounded on the boards. Led by Bynum and Gasol, the Lakers outrebounded Philadelphia 55-30. Williams, one of the top sixth men in the NBA, has never been afraid to take the clutch shot. While the Sixers have soared in the East this season with a team-oriented approach, Williams is the one the Sixers want with the ball and the game on the line. "That was an amazing win for us," coach Doug Collins said. Lakers coach Mike Brown must have been unhappy watching on TV. Brown served a one-game suspension for making contact with a game official and failure to leave the court in a timely manner following his ejection in Saturday's game. He also was fined 25,000. John Keuster filled in for Brown. Bryant started like a shooter determined to score 50. His first bucket saw the ball take a few whirls around the rim before plopping through the net. Bryant buried a 3, then backed down Evan Turner and used a soft touch off a spin move for seven quick points. He stared down Andre Iguodala for a 3. Bryant nailed two more 3-pointers -- each one drawing more boos than the last -- and had 22 points in the second quarter. For the record setter, Bryant cut toward the top of the 3-point arc, took a fast feed from Matt Barnes and hit the 23-footer. Originally called a 3, Bryant had his foot on the line. Three points or two, it was enough to pass O'Neal. Bryant went 8 for 14 from the floor and made 4 of 6 3s in the first half to help the Lakers lead 50-46 at the break. He went into hibernation until an up-and-under bucket late in the third pulled the Lakers to 63-61. O'Neal and Bryant often clashed, even while leading the Lakers to NBA championships in 2000, 2001 and 2002. O'Neal won an NBA championship with Miami in 2006 to briefly edge Bryant in total championships. Under coach Phil Jackson, Bryant won consecutive championships in 2009 and 2010, and had long ago cemented his spot as one of the NBA's all-time greats. Kobe already had more championship rings than Shaq. He has more points, too. "I just want No. 6," Bryant said. The Sixers failed to acknowledge the special achievement. O'Neal offered his congratulations on Twitter: "Congrats to Kobe for being the greatest laker ever thanks for making us the greatest laker one two punch ever and congrats on passin me up 2." "I appreciate it. I'm sure Shaq and I will connect at some point and revisit history," he said. "It's fun. We had some good times." Bryant, who spent eight years of his childhood in Italy before returning to the area to attend high school, had already been the youngest player in NBA history to reach 28,000 points. Bryant led Lower Merion to a state championship in 1996 and still makes visits and donations to the school. The relationship between Philly fans and Bryant has been strained since the 2001 NBA finals against the Sixers, when he proclaimed he was "coming to Philly to cut their hearts out." That began an unforgiving attitude from Sixers fanatics that continues to this day. When commissioner David Stern presented Bryant with the All-Star game MVP trophy in 2002 in Philadelphia, the boos were long and loud, and he later admitted he was hurt. He now feeds off Philadelphia's sound and delights in upsetting the home crowd. It just wasn't enough to upset the 76ers. Notes: 76ers F Elton Brand sat out with a sprained right thumb. Lavoy Allen got the start. ... Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone, Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain are ahead of Bryant on the scoring list. ... The Sixers 14 rebounds in the first half was a season low.

There are 600,000 reasons you won't hear Gar, Pax or Hoiberg discuss losing

cuban.png
AP

There are 600,000 reasons you won't hear Gar, Pax or Hoiberg discuss losing

The Bulls made headlines on Tuesday when VP John Paxson announced that David Nwaba, Cristiano Felicio and Cameron Payne would be entering the rotation, thus continuing the youth movement in Chicago.

On the surface the moves make sense. The 24-year-old Nwaba, the 25-year-old Felicio and the 23-year-old Cameron Payne will be replacing 28-year-old Justin Holiday, 29-year-old Robin Lopez and 25-year-old Jerian Grant. The Bulls want to see what they have in these younger players who haven't played much; they already know what they have in Lopez and Holiday, and Grant (like the other two) is under contract through next year.

OK, got that? Here's why they're making the move: they're sitting 8th in the NBA Lottery standings and really want to move into the top-5 to give themselves a chance at what should be a loaded front-end of the draft class. It's pretty obvious, and anyone who tells you otherwise is either named Gar Forman, John Paxson or Fred Hoiberg.

And here's why: On Wednesday Mavericks owner Mark Cuban was fined a whopping $600,000 by the NBA for comments he made on a podcast regarding tanking. The Mavericks are currently 18-40, the third worst record in the NBA. This comes a season after they finished 33-49, netting them the No. 9 pick that turned into talented point guard Dennis Smith Jr.

So when Cuban was asked about the best interests of his Dallas team, which touts young talent but clearly isn't headed for the postseason in 2018, he said this on the House Call with Dr. J Podcast:

"I'm probably not supposed to say this, but, like, I just had dinner with a bunch of our guys the other night, and here we are, you know, we weren't competing for the playoffs. I was like, 'Look, losing is our best option. [Commissioner] Adam [Silver] would hate hearing that, but I at least sat down and I explained it to them. And I explained what our plans were going to be this summer, that we're not going to tank again. This was, like, a year-and-a-half tanking, and that was too brutal for me. But being transparent, I think that's the key to being kind of a players owner and having stability."

Cuban isn't wrong, and the Mavericks sure as hell aren't the only team tanking. But to come right now and admit that losing is the team's best option wasn't, as Cuban predicted, going to sit well with the league office.

Commissioner Adam Silver sent out a memo with the fine that said Cuban's comments "which concerned his perspective on the team's competitive success this season" were "detrimental to the NBA."

So while the Bulls are going about their business in trying to lose as many games down the stretch as possible, don't expect anyone to admit it's the reason behind their personnel moves. There are 600,000 reasons why.

NBA Draft Tracker: Michigan State's Miles Bridges

miles_bridges.jpg
USA TODAY

NBA Draft Tracker: Michigan State's Miles Bridges

NBA general managers were fully expecting to see Miles Bridges declare for the 2017 draft after a solid, but unspectacular freshman season at Michigan State. Bridges arrived in East Lansing as one of the nation’s top prospects, and his impressive leaping ability led to a number of highlight reel plays for Tom Izzo’s Spartans.

Problem is, Bridges didn’t show much versatility to his offensive game because of an inconsistent outside shot and inability to create shots off the dribble. Bridges probably would have been a late lottery pick last year on athletic talent alone, but to his credit, he decided to go back to Michigan State for his sophomore season and work on some of his weaknesses.

Unfortunately for Bridges, he really hasn’t shown much improvement year to year. Yes, he’s leading the Big Ten in free throw shooting at 89%, but his other numbers are basically flat from season to season. Bridges averaged 16.9 points a year ago, 17.1 this season. He shot .486 from the field in 2016-17, .477 this year. Even with all the work he put in on his 3 point shooting, his percentage has dropped slightly this season, from .389 to .376. Rebounding is also down slightly, from 8.3 to 6.8. 

Bottom line, Bridges is once again projected as a late lottery pick.

How does he fit for the Bulls? It’s no secret small forward and center are the two positions of need heading into the 2018 draft, and the 6-7 Bridges would give the Bulls another athletic frontcourt player who fits the pace and space game Fred Hoiberg prefers. Bridges could be a real weapon running the floor with Kris Dunn and Zach LaVine for alley-oop dunks, and he should continue to improve as a 3 point shooter.

The Bulls are hoping to land a top 5 pick to add one of the elite players in this draft, and unless the Pelicans drop into the late lottery, Bridges will probably be gone by the time that selection comes up. He’s probably a bit of a reach in the 6 to 10 range, but if positional need and athletic potential are the most important factors for the Bulls, Miles Bridges could be the choice if they don’t improve their position in the current lottery watch standings.

Personally, I would prefer either Kentucky’s Kevin Knox or Villanova’s Mikal Bridges (no relation) over Miles Bridges as a small forward prospect, but all 3 players offer different skill sets that could be helpful to a young, developing team like the Bulls.

The dream scenario would be drafting a young center like Deandre Ayton, Jaren Jackson Jr. or Mo Bamba with a top 5 pick, then coming back to add one of those 3 small forward prospects with the 1st rounder they acquired in the Niko Mirotic trade with New Orleans. We’ll all have to wait until the lottery is held on May 15th to see if the Bulls are in position to add two more foundation pieces to their rebuilding project.