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Derrick Rose, New York Knicks Finding Their Form and Friday NBA Takeaways
On the same day the Chicago Cubs brought the World Series pennant back to the Windy City for the first time in 108 years, the town’s NBA team hosted a much more awkward homecoming at the United Center.
The crowd was kinder to Joakim Noah than it was to Derrick Rose, who returned to a smattering of boos before and during the New York Knicks’ 117-104 win over the Chicago Bulls.
Irrespective of the reception, both former Bulls stalwarts appeared plenty comfortable Friday—and not just because of the familiar floor. They got plenty of cushioning on all sides from a Knicks squad that could sort out a solid identity with the help of its former Bulls.
As he has so many times in recent seasons, Rose showed flashes of the player who razzled and dazzled his way to the 2011 MVP award. He was a blur in transition and an acrobat around the rim, finishing with a flutter of floaters and flurries en route to 15 points.
But it was Rose’s overall role within the team’s attack that should excite Knicks fans the most. His aggression, in both transition and the half court, opened up the floor for his running mates. Through those seams, Rose delivered pinpoint passes to pile up 11 assists—more than he’d totaled through New York’s first four games.
“I’m just happy we got the win,” Rose said afterward, per the Athletic’sSean Highkin.
His exasperation came on the heels of three losses in four games to start the season, including a blowout loss to the Houston Rocketsduring which Kristaps Porzingis missed all four of his field-goal attempts.
Rose and the Knicks heeded head coach Jeff Hornacek’s advice to get the ball to the lithe Latvian. Porzingis led his team with 27 points on 10-of-15 shooting, including a four-pack of threes. He still trailed Carmelo Anthony in attempts (9-of-22 for 25 points), but he made the most of his opportunities by striding with Rose on the break.
Those wouldn’t have been possible had Chicago continued to shoot the lights out.
Dwyane Wade did his part to pop those bulbs. He hit five threes in a game for just the third time in his career en route to 35 points on 12-of-20 from the field.
But the rest of the Bulls combined to shoot 39 percent while struggling to move the ball (15 assists on 37 makes).
When things slowed down, the Knicks rarely turned to the triangle for refuge, as one scout told ESPN.com’s Ian Begley:
Ian Begley @IanBegley
FWIW: One NBA scout who watched tonight's game and said the Knicks ran something out of a triangle set only a handful of times tonight
Nonetheless, New York managed to move the ball just fine. Noah and Courtney Lee each chipped in four assists to the Knicks’ total of 32, to go along with 16 and 17 points, respectively. The entire team operated efficiently, with just five turnovers on the night.
“I’m not gonna lie to you,” Noah said, per Highkin. “It felt great.”
The Knicks are still far from the "superteam" for which Rose pegged them over the summer. But if they can find a way to bottle up those good feelings and build on them elsewhere, they might morph into more than lottery fodder.
DeMar Won't Be Denied
The Toronto Raptors have played five games, and none of their opponents have figured out how to stop DeMar DeRozan. The All-Star swingman once again put the ball in the basket aplenty, scoring 34 points in a 96-87 win over the Miami Heat to extend his run of 30-plus-point games to five. The league hasn’t seen an individual hot streak like this to start a season in 30 years, per Elias Sports (via Raptors Media Relations):
As has been the case in all but one of those performances, DeRozan didn’t hit from three (0-of-2). Instead, he got his work done inside, piling up 20 points in the paint and another six at the free-throw line, including a pair late to put the game out of Miami’s reach.
All told, he’s scored more points in his first five games than any player in Toronto’s franchise history:
“He’s ours. He belongs to the Raptors,” head coach Dwane Casey said of DeRozan, per TSN's Josh Lewenberg.
DeRozan re-upped with the Raptors for five years and $139 million this past summer. And while he may be Toronto’s homegrown star, he's good enough to command attention well beyond Canada's borders.
For the second time in as many games, the Atlanta Hawks played victim to a busted skid, this time to the benefit of the Washington Wizards.
On Wednesday, the Los Angeles Lakers snapped their 16-game road losing streak at Philips Arena. Two nights later, the Hawks flew into D.C. and fell victim to the previously winless Wizards, 95-92.
John Wall and Bradley Beal combined for 49 points to propel the Wizards. Wall added 10 rebounds and six assists—the former extending his streak of double-doubles to seven dating back to last season, the latter putting him within three of usurping Wes Unseld’s spot on the franchise’s all-time list. Marcin Gortat followed up a Wall miss at the rim late to seal the game and add to his tally of 12 points and 15 boards.
The Wizards will look to start their first winning streak of the 2016-17 season on Saturday, when they head south to take on the Orlando Magic. As bad as Orlando has been, Washington won’t be a shoo-in to win. Wall won’t play in this or any upcoming back-to-back, per the team’s plan to preserve the 26-year-old point guard after a pair of offseason knee surgeries.
Instead, the Wizards will likely start rookie Tomas Satoransky, who finished with four points and one assist in 22 minutes against the Hawks.
West's Worst Continue to Struggle
Meanwhile, the Dallas Mavericks and New Orleans Pelicans are still stuck with donuts in the win column.
The Mavs were the latest team to be mauled by Damian Lillard, who dropped 42 points in 37 minutes to put the Portland Trail Blazers back at .500 on the young season with a 105-95 win. Dallas started small, with J.J. Barea in place of Andrew Bogut, and got even smaller onceDirk Nowitzki went down with an Achilles injury in the first half.
With the giant German down and Wes Matthews (seven points on 1-of-6 shooting) still dealing with a sore foot, the Mavericks fell to 0-5 for the first time in franchise history. If Nowitzki has to rest for much longer than the one week for which Dallas is shutting him down, per Mavs reporter Bobby Karalla, this could be the just the beginning of along campaign in the Metroplex. ESPN.com’s Tim MacMahonsurmised:
The heartbreak might’ve been even greater for the Pelicans—on this night, at least. New Orleans seized a six-point lead late in the fourth quarter before giving it away down the stretch. Devin Booker (38 points on 22 shots) hit a pair of clutch jumpers to send the game to overtime, but he fouled out before T.J. Warren (18 points, 9-of-11 at the free-throw line) slipped free for a dunk to give Phoenix a 112-111 win.
Record-wise, the Pelicans (0-6) are in the worst shape out West. But they, at least, can count on Anthony Davis, who led his team in points (22) and tied for the lead in rebounds (11) and blocks (four). The Mavs, on the other hand, will have to cross their fingers with Nowitzki and hope help emerges from elsewhere if they’re to fend off total irrelevance this season.
"It's bad news," said head coach Rick Carlisle, per Karalla, "but we'll get through it."
Paul Breaks Clippers Record
The Los Angeles Clippers came out well ahead of the Memphis Grizzlies—far more than the final margin (99-88) would indicate. In the process, Chris Paul made Clippers history.
Paul’s 11 assists put him past Randy Smith as the Clippers’ all-time helper leader. His 27 points, six steals and four rebounds weren’t too shabby, either.
For the Grizzlies, Marc Gasol finished with 21 points, nine rebounds and four assists. His partner in crime, Mike Conley, notched his second double-double of the season at 30 points and 10 assists.
L.A.’s struggles from the field continued (37.6 percent) and could prove critical in San Antonio on Saturday. The Grizzlies have until Sunday to regroup before Portland comes to town.
Lakers Take It to Dubs
You can toss away the Golden State Warriors' 117-97 stumble in Los Angeles as a schedule loss if you'd like. But don't discount the show put on by the young guns in purple and gold.
The Los Angeles Lakers were spirited throughout their wire-to-wire win over the two-time defending Western Conference champs. Their bench outscored the starters, 61-56, with Lou Williams (20 points, four assists), Brandon Ingram and Larry Nance Jr. (12 points apiece) leading the way.
That trio combined with Julius Randle (20 points, 14 rebounds) and Jordan Clarkson (nine points, five assists) to help L.A. hold on to a lead built in part by D'Angelo Russell (17 points, four assists) and Nick Young (12 points).
On the other end, those kids all had hands in ending Stephen Curry's streak of making at least one three-pointer at 157 games and sending Golden State to its second loss of the season—after surviving until New Year's Eve Eve before dropping two in 2015-16.