The All-Star Break is over, and hopefully your girlfriend didn’t go. The Trade Deadline came and went, and here we are. With about 30 games left for each team, future playoff matchups like we had Thursday night mean more and more. Here’s what went down if you missed it.
HEAT VS. BULLS
Without Derrick Rose, the Chicago Bulls are a playoff team. They are NOT a playoff contender, but they definitely are a playoff team. The Bulls defense is very, very, good, but it is not enough to compete with the high-powered Heat.
The Bulls turned the ball over an uncharacteristic 17 times in the first half last night on their way to an 86-67 loss to Miami in the first half of last night’s TNT doubleheader. Miami was explosive throughout, and LeBron asserted himself on both ends of the court. James finished with a ho-hum 26 points, 12 rebounds and 7 assists, but it was his presence on defense that had the most impact.
Chicago, worn down and frustrated by Miami’s pace and tenacity, were put away in the second half. Noah and Luol Deng, who struggled in a matchup versus LeBron all night, were benched in the opening minutes of the 4th quarter
WHAT DID WE LEARN: Miami is good. Chicago is good, but not good enough.
SPURS VS. CLIPPERS
After a lame 4th quarter in the opener, fans were excited to see Clippers-Spurs get underway. Unfortunately, the game was cancelled, and replaced by a new program, “Tony Parker’s ‘Hey I’m a Legit MVP Candidate’ Variety Show”. The Spurs never trailed in this game, making their first six shots and running an absolute clinic on offense cruising to a 166-90 at the Staples Center. The Spurs are now 6-1 on their annual 9-game Rodeo road trip.
The Clippers have great individual talent, and it was that very asset that was exposed Thursday as they quickly fell behind. LA lagged offensively, and possessions often ended with isolation moves and iffy jumpers. On defense, they were simply no match for San Antonio’s ball movement. The Spurs effortlessly moved and screened, allowing for players like Danny Green (15 pts) and Matt Bonner (7 pts)to knock down open jumpers.
But the real story was Tony Parker. On a night where he was supposed to go head-to-head with CP3, Parker blew up the argument before opening statements were made. Parker was in complete control of the offense, moving the ball at all times but finishing strong on the rare times LA held it’s ground. Parker finished with 31 points and 7 assists, shooting 12-16 from the field. In the simplest form, Parker was +31 on the night, Paul was -31. Game Over.
WHAT DID WE LEARN: Put Tony Parker in the MVP debate! He’s averaging a career-high in points (21.2) and assists (7.7), and the Spurs, despite a multitude of injuries, are four games ahead of the Thunder in the Western Conference. Show the Frenchman some love.