Well everyone, the Chicago Bulls play game five of their home stand vs. the Sacramento Kings and Mike Dunleavy’s all time favorite NBA player DeMarcus Cousins. I bet he wishes he was the one that cracked that elbow over Dunleavy’s head and not Chandler Parsons. But I digress. The Bulls are in a tight race with three teams…Washington, Brooklyn and Toronto for the three through six seeds in the Leastern conference. Oh, but don’t look now but we have another horse in the race coming up fast. It’s the Charlotte Bobcats in the seventh slot. If this keeps up, I might have to stop it with the Leastern conference jokes. With the Bulls having the night off, the other playoff contenders jockeying for position. Let’s take a look at what happened last night.
#7 Charlotte Bobcats (32-34) defeat the Minnesota Timberwolves 105-93
Uh, oh! We have another hot team after the Bulls even though this one is a little more shocking. Brooklyn opened up the bank vault for their squad, the Bobcats just signed a player that should be looking in that vault in a few years if he keeps playing like he has this season. The Bobcats handled the Minnesota Timberwolves 105-93 behind 25 points and 16 rebounds from Al Jefferson. Jefferson who was signed to a 40.5 million dollar three-year contract was panned by a few experts earlier this season, but now it looks like a bargain basement price. Jefferson has set a franchise record of twenty 20 point, 10 rebound games. Rich Cho, Steve Clifford and yes, Michael Jordan has done a great job of turning this franchise around. Yes, I said Jordan. He was the one who hired Rich Cho and sat back and let him do the work. Then he went out hired a coach with a clue in Steve Clifford that the players would listen to and respect. Clifford showed how much of a clue he had showing Gary Neal some “act right” by benching Neal in the previous game for an “internal team issue” (also read reminding the coach of Ben Gordon). Gary sure got the message coming out and scoring 19 points while knocking down five three pointers. The Bobcats have now won five of their last six games including eight straight at home. This is a defining moment for the Bobcats. The Gary Neal issue could have been a major distraction but it was handled quickly and more important quietly. The players have to respect Clifford and this week will go a long way in the future of this franchise, short and long-term.
Kevin Love finished with 18 points but went 0-7 from the field in the second half. Kevin Martin had 19. Look folks the only thing that is interesting about the Timbewolves right now is…
A) Will Rick Adelman be back as coach next year?
B) Will Kevin Love be back AFTER next year?
#6 Washington Wizards (34-31) defeat the Orlando Magic 105-101
The Wizards almost blew this one. They had to ride John Wall (who threw up enough bricks to build his namesake almost the whole night) who scored 12 of his 21 points in the 4th quarter and overtime to outlast the Orlando Magic who fell to 1-5 in overtime games which include that marathon with the Bulls in which Jimmy Butler went for 60…minutes. Wall did have help while he was looking for his shot though. Trevor Ariza scored 21 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. Bradley Beal had 20 points, but he was carried off the floor with an ankle injury. The Wizards need his outside shot so this will be interesting going forward. Marcin Gortat finished with 19 points and 14 rebounds.
The Orlando Magic is waiting for the draft. That’s all I’m going to say about this bunch. I lied, TANK!
#3 Toronto Raptors (37-27) defeat the Memphis Grizzlies 99-86
Man, do these guys ever lose? The Raptors have now won 11 of their last 14 games beating the Memphis Grizzlies snapping a four game losing streak to the Grizzlies. The Raptors might have found a combination in Kyle Lowry and Greivis Vasquez which could spell trouble for the Bulls because they combine strength (Lowry) and speed (Vasquez) in the backcourt position. Kyle Lowry scored 22 points and dished out 12 assists in one of the greater turnaround stories in recent years. Greivis Vasquez backed up quite nicely scoring 17 points while relieving Lowry from playmaking duties in the 4th quarter. Jonas Valanciunas scored a season high 23 points for the Raptors which is saying something when you have Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol leaning on you all night. The Raptors are 24-7 when they hold teams under 100 points. Does this point sound vaguely familiar to another team? Just sayin.
Memphis remain the seventh seed in the west. They were led by Zach Randolph with 16 points but ten of those were in the first frame. The Grizzlies had their four game winning streak snapped. If you want to beat the Memphis Grizzlies, just shoot straight. They are 0-11 against teams that shoot better than 50%.
These three teams along with the Brooklyn Nets are on a roll. The Bulls have a winnable game tonight against the Kings. They need to win this one and take care of business. The next game they play is the Oklahoma City Thunder with that MVP candidate guy, Kevin Durant. This just in to Pippen Aint Easy…Russell Westbrook is playing too and I heard he’s an okay player too.