Cavs five-game win streak ends in Chicago

The Cavaliers came into Wednesday’s game against the Bulls on a five-game winning streak and 1.5 games behind Chicago for the top spot in the East.

The Bulls were without Lonzo Ball(knee) and Zach LaVine(knee), but they had DeMar DeRozan, who scored 16 of his game-high 30 points in the second quarter, and Nikola Vucevic, who had 24 points and 12 rebounds as Chicago defeated Cleveland 117-104 at United Center.

Cleveland’s (27-19) five-game winning streak, which was the longest current streak in the NBA, is over, while Chicago(28-15) snapped their four-game losing streak.

Here is the Great, Not So Great, and Bottom Line of the Cavs’ loss to the Bulls.

The Great for the Cavaliers:

-Lauri Markkanen returned to Chicago and did everything in his power to lead the Cavaliers to victory. Markkanen had a season-high 28 points, including 5/9 from deep. He also added seven rebounds and a block. 

-Evan Mobley had another game where he did it all. The rookie had 18 points, five rebounds, two assists, and two blocks. Mobley, who scored in double figures for the 13th straight game, was the only player for the Cavs that had a positive rating(+5). 

-One thing that was a constant during the Cavs five-game winning streak was Darius Garland’s double-doubles. Garland had 20 points, five rebounds, and 12 assists against the Bulls. This was Garland’s third straight double-double and fifth double-double in the last six games. In those six games, he averaged 20.7 points, 12.5 assists, and 5.8 rebounds.

The Not So Great for the Cavaliers:

End of the Second Quarter: After a Garland three gave the Cavs a 46-44 lead with just under five minutes to go, Chicago went on a 14-3 run to close the quarter. The Bulls led 58-49 at halftime. 

End of the Third Quarter: Following a Garland fadeaway jumper that cut Chicago’s lead to 78-74 with just under four minutes to go, Chicago went on a 7-0 run to go up 11. Again, the Bulls would end the quarter up nine(87-78).

End of the Game: Cleveland trailed 103-102 with 4:18 to go in the game. From there, they would get outscored by Chicago 14-2, and the Bulls would win 117-104. 

Defense: The Cavs had a forgettable defensive performance against the Bulls. They allowed 117 points(58 points in the paint), they let Chicago shoot 54.7% from the field, including 45% from deep.

Bottom Line:

Without Ball and LaVine, this was a great opportunity for Cleveland to get a win in Chicago. However, you have to close quarters strong in the NBA, especially against outstanding teams, and Chicago is an excellent team.

In reality, Cleveland is still a young basketball team, so, unfortunately, there will be growing pains. 

Right now, the Eastern Conference is bunched up, and with the loss, Cleveland went from the fourth seed to the sixth seed in the East. There’s still a lot of basketball left to be played, but it’s clear the Eastern Conference is a very competitive conference from top to bottom.

“They’re a really good team, and they have really good players,” Cavs head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said postgame. “To go on the road against a team that had lost four games in a row, they were gonna come out with that sense of purpose. Now, it’s our opportunity to understand it and see if we can figure out our way through it.”

What’s Next:

Cleveland returns home Saturday to face the Oklahoma City Thunder as they begin a three-game homestand.

Best of the Rest:

-Kevin Love added 13 points, eight rebounds, and four assists for Cleveland off the bench.

-For Chicago, Ayo Dosunmu chipped in with 18 points, including three threes to go along with three rebounds and eight assists; Coby White added 16 points, four rebounds, and three assists.

-Cleveland was again without Lamar Stevens(knee) and Rajon Rondo(hamstring).

Watch below as Markkanen talks loss to Bulls, more:







Cavs’ Bickerstaff on win over Bulls: ‘We really wanted to get this win’

The Cavaliers were looking to snap a two-game losing streak when they faced the Bulls Wednesday night at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, and they got a little break as Chicago’s DeMar DeRozan, who’s the team’s leading scorer, missed his second straight game due to health and safety protocols. In addition, the Bulls were without Coby White, Matt Thomas, and Javonte Green(health and safety protocols). They were also without Alex Caruso(hamstring).

Cleveland pretty much led from start to finish and led by as many as 26 points in this one. Ultimately, they routed the Bulls 115-92. The Cavaliers led by nine at the break and busted things open in the third to take an 82-66 lead into the fourth.

The Cavaliers(14-12) are now 5-2 in their last seven games and snapped Chicago’s(17-9) four-game winning streak.

Here is the Great, Not So Great, and the Bottom Line of the Cavs’ win over Chicago.

The Great for the Cavaliers:

-After a subpar performance against Milwaukee, Darius Garland got it done for the Cavs Wednesday night. Garland had a game-high 24 points to go along with six assists. Coming into this game, Garland is one of three NBA players(Trae Young and Russell Westbrook) averaging 19.0-plus points on .450-plus FG% and 7.0-plus assists per contest.

-Rookie Evan Mobley had another stellar performance for Cleveland. Mobley scored 16 points, grabbed nine rebounds, and a game and career-high five blocks and two steals. The five blocks are the most for a Cavs’ rookie since LeBron James. According to Elias Sports, Mobley is the first NBA rookie to have a game of at least 16 points, nine rebounds, five blocks, two steals, and a .727 FG% in over 30 years. Wow! 

-Jarrett Allen’s career-high seven-game double-double streak was snapped Monday night against Milwaukee, and now it’s time to start a new one. Allen recorded a double-double with 13 points and 12 rebounds Wednesday night. 

Defense: Cleveland held Chicago to 27% from three-point range and forced 18 Bulls’ turnovers. The Cavaliers held another team under 100 points for the 11th time this season. 

The Not So Great for the Cavaliers:

It was all great for the Cavs Wednesday night. No issues, no problems.

Bottom Line:

After 26 games, Cleveland had the toughest schedule in the NBA. After Wednesday’s victory over Chicago, the Cavs have won 10 games versus teams with .500-plus records this season, and what makes that number even more impressive is this team has battled injuries, so to be 14-12 after 26 games, with such a demanding schedule, is a win for the Cavs.

“We really wanted to get this win, and we had to put some pressure on them,” Cavs coach J.B. Bickerstaff said after the game. “Evan led the way with that, which is good because we want him to be aggressive.”

What’s Next:

Cleveland heads back on the road to battle the Minnesota Timberwolves Friday night.

Best of the Rest:

-Cleveland has six players in double figures. Lauri Markkanen added 14 points, Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio had 11 points off the Cavs’ bench. Rubio also added a game-high nine assists. The Cavs’ bench outscored the Bulls’ bench 39-16.

-Zach LaVine led Chicago with 23 points, Lonzo Ball had 19 points and seven assists, and Nikola Vucevic added 18 points, 12 rebounds, and two blocks.

Watch below as Mobley, Garland, and Markkanen react to Cleveland’s win over the Bulls:

Pelicans, Van Gundy mutually agree to part ways

The New Orleans Pelicans and head coach Stan Van Gundy have mutually agreed to part ways, the team announced on Wednesday.

Van Gundy, who was named the seventh head coach in franchise history on October 22, 2020, compiled a 31-41 (.431) regular-season record in one season with the Pelicans. Van Gundy has a career regular-season record of 554-425 (.566) with Miami (2003-06), Orlando (2007-12), Detroit (2014-18), and New Orleans.

“On behalf of Mrs. Gayle Benson and the Pelicans organization, I would like to thank Stan for the integrity and professionalism that he demonstrated during his time in New Orleans, as well as the commitment and work ethic he brought to our team,” said Pelicans Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations David Griffin via a press release. “This was a difficult decision as I have tremendous respect for Stan both personally and professionally, but we agreed it is in the best interest of our team to move forward in a different direction. We wish Stan, Kim, and their family all the best in the future.”

It should be interesting to see what happens next with Van Gundy. While what happened in New Orleans was a disappointment, the team struggled with injuries this season, so Van Gundy will probably get another shot elsewhere. In the end, Van Gundy and the Pelicans were just not a good fit.

Stephen A. on Lonzo: ‘I think LeBron is going to take a special interest in this kid'(VIDEO)

All eyes were on the Los Angeles Lakers last season because of the intrigue with PG Lonzo Ball. This season, more eyes will be on the Lakers because of the signing of LeBron James. With James in the fold, the Lakers are “must see” TV.

One of the storylines in Los Angeles is how the Lakers will look with Ball and LeBron on the court together.  Obviously, this is LeBron’s team, and he will have the ball in his hands a lot, which could have an impact on Lonzo, who seems to be more effective with the ball in his hands. With a lot of attention going to LeBron, Ball will have some open looks, which means his questionable jumper has to get better.  Furthermore, Rajon Rondo is in the mix and will probably be the starter for this team when the regular season begins. Therefore, Ball’s minutes could be cut, and with his dad LaVar Ball in the mix, you wonder if that could be an issue.

Ball, 20,  is expected to make his preseason debut against the Warriors on Wednesday night after recovering from offseason surgery to repair a torn left meniscus.

Today, on ESPN’s First Take, Stephen A. Smith and Max Kellerman discussed their expectations for James and Ball in Los Angeles.

Take a listen:


Rondo: ‘I’m ready to help develop Lonzo as much as possible’

After the signing of LeBron James, there’s an energy with the Lakers that we have not seen in a long time. Along the way, there will be many storylines to follow with the Lakers as the 2018-19 season approaches.

One of those many storylines is the point guard battle between the incumbent, Lonzo Ball and the challenger, Rajon Rondo, who was signed by the Lakers this summer. Ball, 20, is expected to be the starter, but according to Lakers GM Rob Pelinka, there would be an open competition for all positions except for whatever position LeBron James plays, so it should be interesting to see how that plays out.

According to Rondo, 32, he will do whatever he asks to do in Los Angeles, which includes helping with the development of Ball.

“Whatever they ask me, my main objective is to win. I’m ready to help develop Lonzo as much as possible,” Rondo told TMZ Sports. “If I’m not starting and he’s starting, he’s going to be ready to go and ready for anybody that comes his way. And we’ll be ready to roll.”

When asked if Ball could be the next Rondo, the four-time All-Star had this to say:

“He’s himself. We’re all individuals. He’s his own person. I’m pretty sure he wants to be better than me as he should at a young age. He has a lot of talent,” Rondo said.

The Rondo, Ball dynamic could get very interesting, especially if Rondo is outplaying Ball. Magic Johnson has been on record as saying he was hoping to find a mentor for Ball, and if everything goes as planned, Rondo could be that guy. Rondo and Ball have a similar skill set, so maybe Rondo can help Ball get to the next level.

LaVar on Lakers trading Lonzo: ‘It’ll be the worst move they ever made’

Lonzo Ball had a solid rookie season for the Lakers. While he won’t win Rookie of the Year, like his father predicted, he did put up some decent numbers. Ball, 20, averaged 10.2 PPG, 7.2 APG, 6.9 RPG, and 1.7 steals per game. He led the Lakers in assists and steals per game last season. However, Ball does need to work on his shot over the summer. He shot 36% from the field last season, which needs to improve.

As Magic Johnson said, this is the “biggest summer” of Lonzo’s career.

Some have mentioned Ball’s name in a trade for Kawhi Leonard, but the Spurs are reportedly not interested in Ball.

According to LaVar Ball, if the Lakers did trade Lonzo, it would be a big mistake:

“If they wanna trade him, trade him. It’ll be the worst move they ever made, how’s that,” Ball told TMZ Sports. “If they want to trade him, if they don’t want to trade him, keep him. He’s going to do his thing. I’m not worried about no trade. My boys, all three of them are going to play on the same team at one time… Somebody going to take all three of my boys, and whoever do, guess what? Championships; all day.”

LaVar has a plan, but it’s probably not going to come to fruition. Ball’s son LiAngelo went undrafted, but he still can catch on as an undrafted free agent.

Regarding Lonzo, if the Lakers have a chance to get Kawhi Leonard, and the Spurs have interest in Lonzo, then Los Angeles has no choice but to trade him.


Broussard: ‘LaVar is not teaching Lonzo(Ball) how to be his own man'(WATCH)

LaVar Ball can’t stay out of his own. On Monday, LaVar told Lithuanian journalist Dontas Urbonas the following:

“If they don’t take Gelo(LiAngelo Ball) this year, I bring back Gelo here [to Lithuania], to play with Melo(LaMelo Ball) for two years. Lonzo will be on his third year, and I [will] let every NBA team know that Lonzo is not going to re-sign with the Lakers, but will go to any team that will take all of my three boys. That’s my plan,” Ball said.

It sounds like a lousy plan hatched up by LaVar Ball. It’s tough to dictate where guys are going to play in the NBA, especially if guys are not good enough to play in the NBA.

This all could be a moot point because LaMelo and LiAngelo may not be good enough to play in the league.

FOX Sports’ Chris Broussard feels like it’s time for Lonzo to silence his dad. Here is what he said on UNDISPUTED today:


Byron Scott to LaVar Ball: ‘I would probably say ‘Shut Up’

We all know LaVar Ball likes to talk, but sometimes he talks too much! Here is what LaVar Ball told Bleacher Report about Luke Walton and Lonzo Ball this week:

“They’re soft. They don’t know how to coach my son. I know how to coach him,” LaVar Ball told Bleacher Report. “I tell him to go get the victory. Stop messing around.”

Former Lakers coach Byron Scott gave his thoughts on Walton and LaVar Ball:

“I’m not Luke Walton. As a coach, if I was in that position, the first thing I would tell you guys, the L.A. Times, and everybody else and Mr. Ball as well, I got so much more experience doing this than you’ll ever have, especially in the NBA,” Scott told TMZ Sports.  “So, basically I would probably say ‘Shut Up’ and stay put, stay on the sidelines. We got this. Now, it seem like, obviously trying to jockey for a coaching job. We just don’t know where that’s going either, so, if I’m Luke, to me it’s laughable if I’m Luke Walton. I’m sitting there kind of basically just laughing about it.”

You knew at some point, and at some time, that LaVar was going to start chirping. However, he has to let Luke Walton do his job!

So, LaVar listen to Scott and “Shut Up!”

Chauncey Billups: ‘If I was Lonzo, I would call Kevin Martin’

Los Angeles Lakers rookie guard Lonzo Ball came into the NBA with so much fanfare. While Ball has had some solid moments this season, he continues to struggle with his shot.

Coming into Friday’s action, Ball is shooting 30% from the field, including 23% from downtown.

Former NBA star and current ESPN analyst Chauncey Billups believes Ball should reach out to a former NBA player to help his shooting:

“If I was Lonzo, I would call Kevin Martin. He was a guy in our league who had like this funky shot, but he could shoot the hell out of it, and he could get it off as well,” Billups told TMZ Sports. “I would call a guy like him who could maybe speak to having to try to figure out getting that shot off.”

“He was nice. He averaged like 20 a game, but he had a funky shot. So, if I was Zo, I would reach out to guys like that to maybe help him,” Billups said.

Billups thinks if Martin does not reach out to Martin, Ball should think about changing his shot:

 “In my opinion, I think he needs to reach out to Kevin because otherwise you gotta change your entire shot. He been shooting a certain way for 15 years. That’s tough to do,” Billups explained.

Kevin Martin might be the perfect guy. Martin, who played 14 years in the NBA, averaged over 20 ppg seven times in his career, so Billups might be on to something when he tells Ball to reach out to Martin.

Will Ball change his shot? Will he reach out to Kevin Martin? I think if he continues to struggle he probably should give both of those things some thought.



Jeanie Buss on Lonzo: ‘I can’t remember anybody with more hype going into the draft except for Magic Johnson’

There is a lot of hype surrounding Lakers G Lonzo Ball. It seems like Ball was talked about everyday leading up to the 2017 NBA Draft.

Lakers owner Jeanie Buss has not seen this type of hype since Magic Johnson.

“I can’t remember anybody with more hype going into the draft except for Magic Johnson,” Buss said last night at the espnW Women + Sports Summit. “Now we have a kid, born and raised in Los Angeles, and that’s exciting for our fans, and for us, to know that we have someone that really represents the city. It seemed like I was watching a movie. It was really special and a great opportunity for him and us.”

The next question is will Ball live up to the hype? That answer will come in the next few years.