Rose Progressing, Nets Knock Off Thunder
The Chicago Bulls are mired in a struggle for the Central Division in the Eastern Conference with Indiana and Milwaukee but they are also seeing some good things happen away from the United Center court. All-Pro guard Derrick Rose will start travelling with the team as soon as this week as he continues to rehab from his ACL tear suffered last April.
Rose has been doing a little shooting and is participating in non-contact type drills as he progresses towards a return to the team. While the team feels that Rose is still about a month away, only Rose and the doctors will know for sure. The All-Star break is still considered to be Rose’s target date to this point. The Bulls are currently a game behind the Pacers in the Central and just a game up on Milwaukee and the return of Rose even at 80% could be the overall difference in whether the Bulls can win the division or not.
The Brooklyn Nets, in search of a significant win under new coach P.J. Carlesimo, got it in a big way as they defeated the Thunder in Oklahoma City 110-93. The win also marked the first ejection in the career of Kevin Durant who was tossed for arguing a call in the 2nd quarter. Joe Johnson poured in 33 points and Deron Williams chipped in 19 points and 13 assists.
In the team’s first three games under Carlesimo, they suffered a blowout loss to San Antonio and defeated lowly Charlotte and Cleveland. In other words, a signature-type win was needed for this franchise in order to re-instill confidence and prove that going with Carlesimo was the right move.
News Around the Eastern Conference… If the season ended today there would be a couple of intriguing playoff match-ups right now. New York would take on Brooklyn in a two-seven showdown while Indiana would battle the Bulls in a four-five scenario… Boston and Philly would be tied for the eighth spot with the Sixers winning the tie-breaker. In other words, the Celtics need to get in gear… Atlanta continues to hang tight with Miami in the Southeast Division just two games back of the defending champions… Orlando rallied last night but still fell to Chicago by two. It was their seventh straight defeat… While players from the West dominate most of the statistical categories, Rajon Rondo leads in assists, Anderson Varejao leads in boards and Tyson Chandler leads in field goal percentage.
Games I’m Watching this Week
San Antonio at New York – One of the best teams in the West plays at one of the best teams in the East and from the sounds of it, San Antonio will bring everyone with them unlike their trip to Miami. Amar’e Stoudemire returned to the Knicks line-up for the first time this season the other night and scored six points in about 17 minutes of play. Caremlo Anthony’s 45 points couldn’t keep the Knicks from falling to Portland however for their second-straight loss. The Spurs are coming of a dismantling of Brooklyn and I expect them to pull out a close on at the Garden.
Atlanta at Detroit – These two hooked up a week or two ago and played a two-overtime classic won by the Hawks. While Atlanta has played much better after a slow start, the same could be said for the Pistons. They’ve won three in a row and are 11th in scoring defense right now and are eighth in rebounding. I like the hot Pistons at home.
Milwaukee at Indiana – The Pacers are one up on the Bulls and two up on the Bucks in the tight Central division. The Bucks have dropped two straight and will be coming off a home game the night before this one against high-scoring Houston. Indiana has won two straight and they too will be coming off a game the night before as they play in Boston. Ranked second in both rebounding and scoring defense, I’ll take the Pacers at home.