It’s potential Deja Vu all over again for the Chicago Bulls. The United Center is rocking! Everyone is calling Joakim Noah’s name…MVP! MVP! MVP! in a Bulls victory that has everyone hyped up. Remember that happened last week when the Bulls beat the Miami Heat? Then the San Antonio Spurs came in and slapped the daylights out of the Bulls the very next game. Well we have the potential for this to happen again as the Oklahoma City Thunder come in to play Monday night. They feature the next MVP Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook who sat out last night’s loss against the Dallas Mavericks. The Bulls have their work cut out for them as Durant has scored 25 or more points 31 straight times. The only other player that has a streak longer than Durant is a guy Bulls fans are familiar with, some guy named Michael Jordan. Russell Westbrook was held out of the Mavericks game strictly for rest so the Bulls should have plenty of opportunities to deal with him. Are you listening Kirk Hinrich, DJ Augustin and Jimmy Butler? While the Bulls were off Sunday, there were games on Sunday that affected the Bulls’ playoff positioning. Lets check those out.
#3 Toronto Raptors (37-28) get beat by the Phoenix Suns 121-113
Gerald Green busted out of his two game slump and destroyed the Raptors for 28 points off the bench as the Phoenix Suns snapped the Toronto Raptors four game losing streak winning 121-113. He led a Suns bench that outscored the Raptors 59-11. Green bookmarked two 13 point first and fourth quarters shooting 9-18 from the floor including five from the land where they award an extra point for distance. This was a total team effort with Markieff Morris, who had a double-double with 16 points and 14 rebounds. Goran Dragic had 19 points continuing his push for NBA’s Most Improved Player award. Eric Bledsoe, back from an 33 game absence for knee issues had 14 points and PJ Tucker had 11. The Suns outrebounded the Raptors 45-26. A 11-2 run to start the 4th quarter basically put this game out of reach.
Toronto was led by Kyle Lowry who scored 28 points and dished out 13 assists while Terrence Ross added 22. Other contributors were Amir Johnson with 20 points and DeMar Derozan who did not shoot well finished with 17 points. Toronto had come into the game winning eight of their last ten games and 11 of 14 overall. See why the Bulls have to keep winning? The Bulls gain a 1/2 game in the loss column on the Raptors. Lowry did get hurt in this game however. He twice got kneed in the head by PJ Tucker. He was checked out but finished the game. It will be interesting to see if he is cleared to play the next game with all the concerns of concussions with athletes these days.
#7 Charlotte Bobcats (33-34) defeat the Milwaukee “Sucks” I mean Bucks
The Charlotte Bobcats beat the Milwaukee Bucks. In other news, The sky is blue and water is wet. I could break down how the Bobcats won this game but it be like explaining that humans need air to breathe. So let’s talk about the good stuff. Gary Neal returned to Milwaukee since he was saved…I mean traded to the Charlotte Bobcats. They say revenge is best served cold. Well it’s cold in Milwaukee. Gary Neal scored ten of his 18 points in the 4th quarter. Al Jefferson scored 16 of his 20 points in the second half as the Bobcats have won four straight and are now 1 1/2 games behind the Brooklyn Nets for the sixth seed. These two teams meet up two more times this season. Why is this important? Whoever gets that sixth seed avoids playing Miami or Indiana in the first round.
Okay now back to Gary Neal. Man it’s has been an adventure for this guy. First he goes from the penthouse franchise in San Antonio to the outhouse in Milwaukee. He goes from having Coach Popovich to Larry Drew. He goes from Tim Duncan, one of the greatest big men of all time to Larry Sanders. My point? Culture shock is real folks. Gary Neal and Larry Sanders got into a situation after a loss to Phoenix back in January. Soon after, Neal was on a milk carton and was traded at the deadline. Last week he had some Buck flashbacks when Bobcat coach Steve Clifford benched him for an “internal team matter”. My guess Coach Clifford channeled his inner Usher and told Neal “You remind me of a dude that I once knew” being Ben Gordon who was bought out. Since then Neal apologized and showed remorse to the tune of 19 points Friday against Minnesota and 18 points on an extremely efficient 5-6 shooting from the floor and 6-6 from the line. As for Milwaukee, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver is laying out his suit for the NBA draft because the Bucks are on the clock. If it wasn’t for the Philadelphia 76ers, they’d be getting the attention for being historically bad.
The message is clear for the Chicago Bulls….Win!
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