Five Takeaways from NBA Monday: Another loss exposes Bulls’ dysfunction
The funniest thing you’ll see today comes from that traditional home of great comedy, the Washington Post. Their version of if Star Wars was retold by Ken Burns in a documentary is classic. If you discovered it last night and missed NBA games because you were sharing it with friends, then don’t worry we’ve got you covered. Here’s what you need to know from a busy Monday around the NBA.
1) After an ugly loss to Brooklyn (where Joakim Noah was injured), the dysfunction in Chicago was put on public display. During the ProBasketballTalk Podcast Monday, our own Sean Highkin — who lives in Chicago and covers virtually every Bulls’ home game — expressed a theory: The Bulls front office of Gar Forman and John Paxson were so blinded by their personal hatred of Tom Thibodeau that they misjudged the serious flaws on this Chicago roster. They were convinced that bringing in a more laid back coach with a more modern offense would bring together a roster that they thought had underachieved. They didn’t get it — this core looks done. Derrick Rose isn’t the same, Joakim Noah and Pau Gasol are on the downsides of their career, Mike Dunleavy is out for a while, Nikola Mirotic’s shot remains an issue, and only Jimmy Butler is a guy that you can build around long-term.
Monday night the Nets went into Chicago and bullied the Bulls, and the visitors picked up the win 105-102. After the game, Both Hoiberg and Butler admitted didn’t play tough and were a defensive mess. Gasol said that if this loss didn’t hurt them they might not be salvageable, and that Butler’s comments the day before about the coach were something that should have been handled in house, not through the media. The Bulls looked dysfunctional on and off the court. This isn’t on Hoiberg — this roster isn’t designed to fit his system at all. Thibodeau kept it together and drove it as far as it would go, but the roster’s flaws — that you’d go under the pick and clog the lane against everyone with the ball — are the reason this is a bottom-five offense, not the coach. The transition to being Butler’s team is a rough one. This team is no threat to Cleveland. This team looks like making the second round of the playoffs would be a best-case scenario. It’s going to be a cold winter at the United Center.
Add to all that, that the Bulls could be without Noah for a while after he felt a pop in his shoulder when trying to defend Andrea Bargnani. After the game the Bulls said it was a shoulder sprain, but it would be re-evaluated Tuesday. Noah could miss some time, further exposing this roster.
2) Too much Kevin Durant late means the Clippers drop another game they circled on the calendar. The Clippers have played in some of the most thrilling games we’ve had this regular season — against the Warriors, the Spurs, and now the Thunder.
Los Angeles lost them all. It’s a concern. The Clippers are good but appear a step behind the elite in the West, at least it felt that way again after there was too much Russell Westbrook all night (33 points, seven assists, five rebounds) and too much Durant late and the Thunder picked up a win over the Clippers in L.A. Another game the Clippers circled on the calendar, led in the fourth quarter, and lost. Another one to make you question just how good Los Angeles really is. But credit where it is due, the Thunder needed their superstar and former MVP to earn it. First Durant hit the tough game-winning jumper. Then he helped off Wesley Matthews in the corner and blocked Chris Paul’s attempt at a game winner.
3) Atlanta’s Dennis Schroder is going to need some dental work. During the Hawks’ win over the Trail Blazers Monday, Dennis Schroder went to the floor trying to get a loose ball and his face hit Meyers Leonard’s knee. In this video you can see his tooth come flying out. Schroder did return to the game.
4) Utah’s Alec Burks had the dunk of the night, and it wasn’t close. This is monster.
5) John Wall had 19 assists in Wizards’ win, but ankle bothering him so much he may sit out. Usually when a guy sets a career high in assists he’s feeling good, Wall certainly played well in the Wizards 113-99 win over the Kings. Wall dished out 19 dimes. But after the game said his ankle is so sore he may need to sit out, reports J. Michael at CSNWashington.com.
“All my trainers know what it is. All I know it’s a real, real bad sprain,” Wall, who had an MRI on Thursday after the Wizards returned from a four-game road swing, told CSNmidatlantic.com before Monday’s game when he set a career high with 19 assists vs. the Sacramento Kings. “I’ve sprained it like five, six games in a row so it wasn’t getting no better.
“A high ankle sprain. I probably should take time off but when we start getting a couple guys back I’ll see how it feels and make a decision.”
The Wizards are 9.4 points per 100 possessions better when Wall is on the court, mostly because their defense is dramatically better. If he is gone for an extended period it hurts their chances of climbing back into the playoff picture in the East (the Wizards are currently the 12 seed, three games back of a playoff spot).