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Lakers-Knicks Preview (The Associated Press)
31 Jan 2015 at 7:06pm
While the New York Knicks and Los Angeles Lakers are two of the winningest franchises in NBA history, they find themselves at or near the bottom of their respective conferences heading into Sunday's matchup at Madison Square Garden. This marks the teams' first meeting since Phil Jackson signed on to become New York's team president back in March. Jackson coached the Lakers to five of his NBA-record 11 titles during his 11 seasons in Los Angeles from 1999-2011. This game also serves as a reunion for Knicks coach and former Lakers guard Derek Fisher, who played a part in each of those five championships under Jackson.
Lakers send starting forward Ryan Kelly down to D-League (The Associated Press)
30 Jan 2015 at 3:25pm
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (AP) -- The Los Angeles Lakers have assigned forward Ryan Kelly to their D-League affiliate.
The Chicago Bulls are at the crossroads (Ball Don't Lie)
30 Jan 2015 at 1:15pm
Nobody?s winning, here. The Chicago Bulls lost again on Thursday, two nights after they?d won again. This is the Jekyll and Hyde nature of a team caught in the midst of both a crisis of conscience and a crisis of confidence. The team fell to the lowly and tanking Los Angeles Lakers, working without Kobe Bryant, 48 hours after downing the mighty Golden State Warriors on GSW?s home floor. That win was far from encouraging , though, and it came on the heels of a loss to Miami that followed two impressive wins over San Antonio and Dallas. The Spurs and Mavericks conquests almost felt like gifts, in a way, handed to Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau by the two most-esteemed members of his coaching brethren: Gregg Popovich and Rick Carlisle. Thibodeau?s work in Chicago has long been both praised and questioned in equal amounts for good reasons, but his employment status was never in question until the days before those two wins over Texas teams. Popovich and ABC/ESPN analyst Jeff Van Gundy spoke up on Thibodeau?s behalf last week, leading to an angry Bulls vice president in John Paxson firing back in local papers, calling Van Gundy ?pathetic? and demanding an apology in ways that were just as pathetic. Following another report in the Chicago Tribune that summarized league sources as declaring the relationship between Thibodeau and the front office to be ?beyond repair,? Gar Forman then responded to those allegations with a prepared statement without actually throwing a sentence of support Thibodeau?s way. Meanwhile, Chicago can?t guard anyone, they needed desperate shots toward the end of the Golden State and Los Angeles game just to make things competitive, Derrick Rose is shooting 36 percent over his last four games (while averaging over six turnovers a contest), and the rampaging Cleveland Cavaliers are just 2.5 games in back of the Bulls in the Central Division. The season is slipping away, even if the team does topple Phoenix on Friday and Houston and New Orleans in the games after. They?ll probably lose to Orlando next Sunday just to drag things down again. Taking sides in this situation is pointless, as the coaching staff, front office, ownership group and cast of players are all to blame for this frustratingly bloated amount of wasted potential. If the front office is upset with Tom Thibodeau because he works players too many minutes, and practices too often , then their concerns are valid. For years Thibodeau has been rightly criticized for limiting his rotations, working with intractable rules regarding court time that he only strays from due to injury and/or foul trouble. I used the phrase ?and/or? there because Tom Thibodeau plays injured players. Constantly. And he shames players who don?t suit up ? witness his sloughing off of Luol Deng?s spinal tap as ?flu-like symptoms? in 2013, or his exasperation at learning that Mike Dunleavy Jr. (who was and still might be weeks away from returning) would be out of a Bulls game earlier this month. Thibodeau defenders should and will point to his team?s sterling record with a fully-healthy starting lineup. They will point out that a 30-18 record is no small feat, considering the injuries and cadre of new faces (including, if we?re honest, Derrick Rose) while pointing out that the Chicago Bulls have 34 games to go as of this writing, and the ability to unleash Tom Thibodeau on an opponent?s head coach in a seven game series this spring. They?re right to do that, and also wrong to tell you that Chicago?s head coach doesn?t deserve some of the blame, ?ere. Tom Thibodeau has at his disposal the biggest basketball brain in the NBA. He is also, as is the case with most geniuses, flawed. There are things about his approach that he has to change if he wants to work as a head coach in June for the first time in his career. The front office has enabled Tom Thibodeau?s lack of touch with minutes for years prior to 2014-15, but Jeff Van Gundy is correct in pointing out that they have undermined him in several ways. Declining to re-sign super-assistant Ron Adams merely because Adams was open about Chicago?s awful spate of personnel moves in the months following Derrick Rose?s 2012 ACL tear was a needless move. Companies aren?t required to keep personnel around if that actual person can?t stop complaining about the company, but losing a talent like Adams (and upsetting your top-flight coach) merely because of insecurity speaks volumes about the front office and ownership?s own approach. When you ride with Tom Thibodeau, though, you have to know what you?re getting into. No other coach is going to come in this summer and save things for Chicago. Name any well-regarded assistant or well-heeled NBA lifer that could be brought in to keep the dream alive ? none of these potential hires are going to be any better at coaching the Chicago Bulls than a happy and sated Tom Thibodeau. This bountiful roster is also eating its own. At some point the focus has to come back to the players. If Tom Thibodeau?s unending pressure means that the coach has lost his players, well, then it?s on the players to get found again, ?kay? At the risk of delving into sportswriter?ese, this squad is too precious. Pau Gasol is too nice, so nobody is calling out his horrific defense. Derrick Rose has been through too much so nobody is challenging his just-as-terrible defense and miserable shot selection. Joakim Noah, despite stellar recent stats, is still not himself on either end due to injury, so he?s tempered his own voice. Kirk Hinrich is too respected for Thibodeau to note that he stops the ball offensively and can?t be trusted to hit open jumpers. The team routinely declines to dive into offensive sets with alacrity, and this is carrying over to the defensive end. Flush with options, the squad walks through offensive sets early in ballgames, and it continually puts its defense behind the eight-ball due to Rose?s initial poor perimeter D, and Gasol?s inability to check anything save for those two blocks per game he gets. Taj Gibson, never much of a rebounder despite his status as a defense-first big man, has seen his own usefulness on the defensive end dip a bit. And for the bulk of January, with the exception of his 35-point (in 49 minutes, Thibs) outburst on Thursday, Jimmy Butler has looked unsure of how to get back to those 20-some points per game he?s now charged with averaging. The players are afraid of stepping on each others? respective toes, and as a result all the would-be killer attributes (Gasol?s low post wizardry, Noah?s still-brilliant passing, Butler?s throwback post-up game, Rose?s sustained ability to drive into the paint) are lost as the Bulls act hesitant offensive in ways that carry over to the defensive end. Tom Thibodeau ran a top-five offense in 2011-12 with Rose and Luol Deng combining to miss 39 games and C.J. Watson (36 percent from the floor) and John Lucas (just under 40 percent) firing away, and yet the Bulls are only ranked 10th this year despite a multitude of gifts. This team has championship potential. When healthy, it has a deep and versatile roster that should be able to navigate the obstacles that a (potential) seven and a half month season creates. As Gasol declines, as he should do after playing a significant amount of early season minutes, Noah should ascend. Rose will grow confidence in his drive to match the undeserved confidence he has in his long jumper. The heightened focus that a seven-game playoff series provides should play right into the team?s hands. They?ll need to play bigger than the sum of their parts, though, for this to happen. So far in 2014-15, Tom Thibodeau hasn?t been the coach to work up this compelling equation. Before parting ways with Thibodeau, however, Chicago?s front office and players should take a deep breath and ponder if such an available coach even exists. - - - - - - - Kelly Dwyer is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at KDonhoops@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @KDonhoops
Post All-Star Break Gems (Rotoworld)
30 Jan 2015 at 1:06pm
Rotoworld newcomer Jonas Nader breaks down which players could have a major impact following the All-Star break.
Kings' Cousins replaces hurt Kobe in All-Star Game (AFP)
30 Jan 2015 at 12:48pm
Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins was named to replace injured Los Angeles Lakers star guard Kobe Bryant on the Western Conference squad for next month's 64th NBA All-Star Game, the league announced Friday. NBA commissioner Adam Silver appointed Cousins, who will make his first All-Star appearance in the wake of Bryant being sidelined for the remainder of the NBA season following right shoulder surgery Thursday.
DeMarcus Cousins to replace Kobe Bryant in All-Star game (The Associated Press)
30 Jan 2015 at 11:43am
DeMarcus Cousins is going to the All-Star game, after all. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver selected the Sacramento Kings center to replace injured Lakers star Kobe Bryant on the Western Conference All-Star team Friday. Lillard could still be picked if another player drops out before the Feb. 15 game at New York's Madison Square Garden. Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr, who is leading the West, will decide who replaces Bryant in the starting lineup.
Kings' DeMarcus Cousins to replace injured Kobe on West All-Star team (Ball D...
30 Jan 2015 at 11:38am
DeMarcus Cousins added to West All-Star team (Yahoo Sports)
30 Jan 2015 at 10:51am
The Sacramento Kings center was selected by NBA commissioner Adam Silver to replace the injured Kobe Bryant.
Blazers guard Damian Lillard leads list of All-Star snubs (Yahoo Sports)
30 Jan 2015 at 10:30am
Some notable players weren't named All-Star reserves, but a few still have a shot to make the team.
Lakers stop 9-game skid, edge Bulls in double OT 123-118 (NBC on Yahoo Sports)
30 Jan 2015 at 8:33am
Jordan Hill scored 26 points and forced the second overtime with a clutch jumper, and the Los Angeles Lakers snapped their nine-game losing streak in thrilling fashion with a 123-118 victory over the Chicago Bulls on Thursday night. Wayne Ellington scored 23 points and rookie Jordan Clarkson added 18 for the Lakers, who held off the Bulls for their first victory since Jan. 9. With big late baskets from everybody in their patchwork lineup, the Lakers avoided matching the 1994 squad coached by Magic Johnson for the longest skid in the 16-time champion franchise's history. All-Star Jimmy Butler matched his career high with 35 points for the Bulls, who rallied from a nine-point deficit in 70 seconds late in regulation. Pau Gasol had 20 points and 10 rebounds in his Staples Center return to face the Lakers, and he forced the first overtime with the tying tip-in shot with 11 seconds left. Derrick Rose added 17 points before missing a jumper at the first overtime buzzer for the Bulls, who flopped after their thrilling win at Golden State on Tuesday. Carlos Boozer had 16 points for the Lakers, who improved to 1-3 since Kobe Bryant was lost for the season with a torn right rotator cuff. Hill's short hook shot at the regulation buzzer rattled out, but he hit a tying 20-footer with 16 seconds left in the first OT. Rose badly missed his 20-footer at the first OT buzzer. Ellington hit two early shots in the second overtime to put the Lakers up for good. Los Angeles made five of its seven shots in the second OT while holding on. The Lakers gave a pregame tribute to Gasol, who won two NBA titles in seven seasons in Los Angeles before leaving as a free agent last summer. Gasol got standing ovations in warmups and again before the game, when he stepped to center court and waved both arms at fans wearing commemorative gold T-shirts. Los Angeles led by 15 points in the second half, and Hill's basket with 1:29 left put the Lakers up 98-89. After Butler hit a 3-pointer, two free throws and a breakaway dunk, Gasol leaned over Robert Sacre and tipped in Rose's miss with 11 seconds left. Rose's 3-pointer to open overtime gave the Bulls their first lead. Gasol made one free throw with 35 seconds left to put Chicago up 106-104, but Hill drained his long jumper before Rose failed to score on an isolation play.

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