Marathon on Madison: Pistons overtake Bulls in 4OT classic


Marathon on Madison: Pistons overtake Bulls in 4OT classic

The Pistons and Bulls battled for control of the East in a far away galaxy, a long time ago and after many years of inactivity there could be a true resurgence of a rivalry between the I-94 combatants.

And with the Pistons coming, sometimes the little breaks and big ones go in the other direction.

Like free throws.

Like loose balls that have a mind of their own.

It took more than 48 minutes, and more than 58 for the score to be settled but the Pistons took on everybody and came away with a win after the NBA’s second quadruple overtime game in 18 years with an 147-144 win at the United Center.

Six players played over 50 minutes of the available 68, and five players scored over 30 points, including Jimmy Butler’s career-high 43. Three Pistons fouled out, almost in succession in the fourth overtime but it wasn’t enough.

“The guys kept fighting,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. “Derrick, Pau and Jimmy kept it going all night, but unfortunately we didn’t get off to a good enough start in the fourth overtime.”

It looked to be over as the Pistons distanced themselves with a 7-0 run, and Butler hit a triple to cut it to one before made free throws gave him one final chance with 4.4 seconds left.

[SHOP: Gear up, Bulls fans!]

But Butler couldn’t shake Kentavious Caldwell-Pope for a good look, and his triple bounced harmlessly off the rim to give the Pistons a 2-0 edge over their rivals this season—the first being a measly one-OT affair in Detroit.

Butler said he was late setting a screen that he wound up flaring off of by a millisecond, giving the defender a chance to recover before the possibility of a fifth overtime came to fruition.

“That’s why it was contested,” Butler said. “I think every shot I shoot has a chance. Nothing I can do about it now.”

The Bulls couldn’t control the big-little tandem of Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson, as Jackson repeatedly attacked the Bulls down the stretch — well, down the stretches of this classic game.

Jackson rebounded from missing three buzzer-beaters to finally wear down the Bulls, scoring 33 with 13 assists to go head up with Rose, who produced his best game of the year with 34 points and seven assists.

Drummond fouled out in the fourth overtime, but not before he turned the game on its ear with 33 points and 21 rebounds in 55 minutes. Drummond and Gasol (30 points, 15 rebounds, five assists) battled all night, as Drummond led with his athleticism and youth while Gasol had his guile and experience putting Drummond in foul trouble, calling for an offensive foul on one play and getting it a couple times down later.

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“They put a lot of pressure on the rim with Drummond,” Butler said. “He’s good. I think he’s gonna be an All-Star. He’ll be one of the best centers to play this game if he continues to work.”

Tired legs, weary minds and exhaustion kicked in well before the fourth overtime began, and the Bulls will be kicking themselves on the way to New York for Saturday night’s game against the Knicks for a couple reasons.

Rose, after attacking the Pistons defense all night, settled for a 15-foot jumper in regulation as opposed to driving it to the basket — similar to what he did in Detroit in their first meeting on Oct. 30.

“We wanted him to attack but they played him well,” Hoiberg said. “We tried to slip a screen and confuse the switch. They stayed with it and made a heck of a defensive play.”

Rose forced Jackson into misses at the end of two overtimes that made up for his missed jumper in regulation, giving the Bulls second, third and fourth chances at getting control of the game.

At the end of the second overtime the Bulls had a timeout remaining after Jackson’s missed jumper left 2.4 seconds on the clock but they didn’t take it, leaving Tony Snell to fire up an 88-footer that went long

"It was a decision where looking back on it, I should've used it, absolutely," Hoiberg said of not taking the timeout. "I look back on that one for sure.”

Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy said neither he nor Hoiberg put on an offensive coaching clinic, as both coaches stuck with their regulars through the extra sessions. Joakim Noah played seven seconds after regulation ended, and it was hard keeping Doug McDermott on the floor considering the Pistons attacked him at every opportunity, so Tony Snell played 38 minutes.

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“I thought we had the guys in there that would give us the best opportunity to win the game,” Hoiberg said.

Twenty-two-year old Caldwell-Pope had enough gas down the stretch to hit two crucial triples in the second and fourth OT’s, along with defending Rose and Butler at crucial times to aid in the Pistons stealing a win and ending the Bulls’ four-game winning streak.

Neither side led by more than eight, and each had gripes down the stretch with the officials and each other as fatigue set in. Gasol clearly looked gassed in the last two overtimes, barely able to jump after banging with Drummond all night.

Gasol’s recovery of a Rose loose ball after Rose lost it mid-air resulted in him getting fouled by Ersan Ilyasova with 32 seconds left and hitting two free throws to give the Bulls a 105-103 lead in regulation before the Pistons recovered themselves to send it to overtime.

But it was more to come, even as Rose’s most impactful and devastating performance, albeit on 34 shots, became a mere subplot to a wonderful finish neither side should be ashamed of.

But, boy, will they feel it on the plane out of town.

Steve Kerr told a Michael Jordan Bulls story to give advice to Kevin Durant

Steve Kerr told a Michael Jordan Bulls story to give advice to Kevin Durant

Anyone who lived through the Michael Jordan Bulls remembers those games when he was putting up tons of points, but the Bulls were still struggling overall.

Steve Kerr referenced one of those games to give advice to Kevin Durant during Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals. The TNT broadcast caught the conversation and aired it late in the third quarter.

"When MJ was with the Bulls, we had a playoff game," Kerr began the story. "He kept trying to score and he was scoring, but we weren't getting anything going. Phil Jackson said 'Who's open?' He said, 'John Paxson.'"

Paxson famously hit the game-winning shot in Game 6 of the 1993 NBA Finals to clinch the series. Kerr, who later hit his own championship-winning shot on an assist from Jordan in 1997, was trying to get to get his teammates involved.

"I want to trust your teammates early," Kerr said. "What you're doing is you're getting to the rim and then you're trying to hit him. I want you to trust the first guy and then move. Still attack, still look to score, but trust these guys, OK?"

Watch the video above to see the interaction.

Durant scored 29 points in Game 5 to lead the Warriors, but Houston took a 3-2 series lead with a 98-94 win.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander stock is on the rise; just how high will he climb?


Shai Gilgeous-Alexander stock is on the rise; just how high will he climb?

John Calipari's 2017 recruiting class featured five McDonald's All-Americans and Hamidou Diallo, a former five-star recruit who nearly jumped to the NBA the previous year. It also included a lanky 6-foot-6 point guard named Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. And for the first part of the 2017-18 season, the Toronto native who played his final two high school years in Tennessee, appeared to be a nice fit off the bench for Calipari.

But something flipped. Gilgeous-Alexander was inserted into the starting lineup for good on January 9 and never looked back. He played his best basketball beginning in late February to the end of the season, a span of 10 games against eight NCAA Tournament opponents. In those games Gilgeous-Alexander averaged 19.0 points, 6.3 rebounds and 6.7 assists. He shot 51 percent from the field, 50 percent from deep and 84 percent from the free throw line, and added 1.4 steals in nearly 38 minutes per game for good measure. He was one of the best players in the country, and on a team with five McDonald's All-Americans, he was Calipari's best freshman.

"I knew with how hard I worked that anything was possible," SGA said at last week's NBA Draft Combine in Chicago. "It was just a matter of time before it started clicking and I started to get it rolling."

That stretch included a 17-point, 10-assist double-double against Ole Miss, a 29-point showing against Tennessee in the SEC Tournament, and 27 more points in the second round of the NCAA Tournament against Buffalo. Even in his worst game of the stretch, a 15-point effort against Kansas State in the Tournament, he made up for 2 of 10 shooting by getting to the free throw line 12, converting 11 of them.

It made his decision to make the jump to the NBA an easy one - that, and another loaded Calipari recruiting class incoming. He stands taller than just about any other point guard in the class and might have as good a jump shot as any. He's adept at getting to the rim, averaging 4.7 free throw attempts per game (that number jumped to 5.6 after he became a starter, and 7.5 in those final 10 games of the season. He isn't the quickest guard in the class, but he uses his feet well, is able to find open shooters due to his height and improved on making mistakes on drive-and-kicks as the season went on.

"I think I translate really well to the next level with there being so much more space on the floor and the open court stretched out," he said. "It only benefits me and my ability to get in the lane and make plays."

There's something to be said for him being the next in line of the Calipari point guards. The ever-growing list includes players like Derrick Rose, John Wall, Tyreke Evans, Eric Bledsoe, Jamal Murray and DeAaron Fox. It's the NBA's version of Penn State linebackers or Alabama defensive linemen. The success rate is nearly 100 percent when it comes to Calipari's freshmen point guards; even Brandon Knight averaged 18.1 points over a three-year span in the NBA.

"That’s why guys go to Kentucky," Gilgeous-Alexander said. "It prepares them for the next level. Coach (Calipari) does a really good job, especially with point guards, getting them ready for that next level in a short amount of time."

Gilgeous-Alexander didn't test or play in the 5-on-5 scrimmages, but he still came out of Chicago a winner. He measured 6-foot-6 in shoes with a ridiculous 6-foot-11 1/2 wingspan, a full three inches longer than any other point guard at the Combine. He also added, rather uniquely, that he watches of film Kawhi Leonard playing defense. Most players don't mention watching film on different-position players; most players aren't 6-foot-6 point guards.

"(It's) obviously a more versatile league and playing small ball. And with me being able to guard multiple positions, a lot of teams are switching things like the pick and roll off ball screens, so me being able to switch and guard multiple positions can help an organization."

Gilgeous-Alexander's arrow is pointing way up. He appears to be teetering near Lottery pick status, though that could go one way or the other in private team workouts, especially if he's pitted against fellow top point guards like Trae Young and Collin Sexton. But if his rise at Kentucky is any indication, he'll only continue to improve his game, his stock and eventually his draft position.