Cavs’ Bickerstaff: ‘We’ve got young guys who are trying to figure it out’

The Cleveland Cavaliers started a three-game homestand Saturday night against the Chicago Bulls.

Coming into this game, the sixth-seeded Cavs were one game behind the fifth-seeded Bulls. 

The Cavs had a great opportunity to move up in the standings. However, Cleveland did not play very well, and they fell to the Bulls 98-94 at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. The Cavs struggled for three quarters, but they cut the lead to three in the fourth; however, Chicago went on a 10-1 run to put the game away.

The Bulls(43-31) snapped a two-game losing streak with the victory.

With the loss, the Cavs(41-33) are now the seventh seed in the East as the Raptors(42-32) defeated the Pacers Saturday night. Cleveland would be involved in the Play-In Tournament if the season ended today.

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

The Great for the Cavs:

-Darius Garland led all scorers with 28 points, 14 which came in the fourth quarter, to go along with six rebounds and five assists. The All-Star has scored 20-plus points in nine of the last 10 games. 

-Caris LeVert got the start against the Bulls and was solid. He had 17 points and five rebounds. Putting LeVert in the starting lineup gives Cleveland another ball-handler and someone who can put the ball in the basket.

Fourth Quarter:  Going into the fourth, Cleveland trailed 75-63, but they woke up on the offensive end. The Cavs went on a 17-8 run to cut the lead to 85-82. Garland(14) and LeVert(9) combined for 23 of Cleveland’s 31-fourth quarter points. Cleveland shot 58% from the floor, including 50%(3/6) from three-point range in the final stanza.

The Not So Great for the Cavs:

First Half: Chicago dominated this game from the start, and they jumped out to a 28-16 lead after the first quarter; the Bulls pushed the lead to as much as 19 points in the second, which was their largest lead of the game. The Cavs’ offense was stagnant in the first half; they produced only 35 points, on 31% shooting from the floor, including 1/18 from downtown. The Bulls led 53-35 at the break. 

Three-Point Shooting:  Cleveland had a hard time behind the arc. They were 7/31(24%) from deep. 

Bottom Line:

The first half killed the Cavs, and they were looking up the whole game. It’s getting late for Cleveland, but with eight games left, there’s still enough time to do what they need to do, which is be one of the top six teams in the East.

They clearly miss Jarrett Allen and not just on defense. Allen was a lob threat for the Cavs and scored around the basket, which the Cavs need. Cleveland lost to the Bulls because they could not score. 

As stated numerous times, no one expected the Cavs to be in this spot, but they’re here, and they have to play better in big spots, and in the last two games against the Raptors and Bulls, Cleveland did not play well. 

Quotes:

“We’ve got young guys who are trying to figure it out, and you never figure it out until you’re in those positions,” Cavs coach J.B. Bickerstaff said post-game.

What’s Next:

Cleveland continues their three-game homestand Monday night against the Magic.

Best of the Rest:

-The Bulls had five starters in double figures led by Zach LaVine’s 25 points; DeMar DeRozan added 20 points, and Nikola Vucevic chipped in with 16 points and nine rebounds. 

-Lauri Markkanen had 14 points and nine rebounds. Lamar Stevens was in double figures for the fourth straight game as he had 13 points and four rebounds off the bench.

-Kevin Love made his 1,000th three Saturday night.

-The Bulls won on the road for the first time since March 9.

Watch below as Garland talks loss to Bulls:

Mavs’ Kidd is impressed by Lonzo Ball’s growth as a shooter

On Wednesday, the Dallas Mavericks(7-4) had a lead after one quarter against the Chicago Bulls. However, the Bulls would take over from there. Behind Lonzo Ball’s 21 points, including seven threes and Zach LaVine’s 23 points, the Bulls(8-3) defeated Dallas 117-107 at United Center to end Dallas’ three-game winning streak.

Before the game, Mavericks head coach Jason Kidd discussed Ball, who, like Kidd, struggled early on his career with his shot, but like Kidd, appears to have turned himself into a decent shooter, which was on display Wednesday night. 

As a rookie, Ball shot .306% from three-point range. Last season with the Pelicans, Ball bumped that up to .378% from downtown, and after 11 games this season, Ball is shooting .447% from three-point range.

Kidd had a similar career. He shot 27.2% from downtown as a rookie, but ultimately, Kidd became a competent shooter and got over 40% from three-point range later in his career. Currently, Kidd is 12th all-time in three-pointers made. 

The Hall of Famer is impressed with Ball’s worth ethic and his growth as a shooter.

“One, it tells you that he’s working on his game,” Kidd said about Ball. “And two, I think it just shows that, sometimes, when I see we, we just need time. Sometimes, we want it to be instant. We have instant oatmeal; we have a lot of instant meals, but unfortunately, it takes time… 

“When you look at Ball and what he’s done, he works on his game, his craft, and sometimes, we want it on day one, and unfortunately, it just doesn’t work that way; we’re human. He’s human. I love that he hasn’t listened to the noise, and he continued to work.”

Not many thought Kidd would become the shooter he became later in his career, and now Ball is hoping to do the same.

Best of the Rest:

-Dallas gets back at it on Friday night when they head to San Antonio to battle the Spurs. After San Antonio, the Mavericks return home on Monday to face Denver before heading out on a four-game road trip.

-Dallas had five players in double figures against Chicago led by Kristaps Porzingis’ 22 points and a season-high 12 rebounds. Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 21 points, including five threes. Luka Doncic(6/18 FG) struggled with his shot; he had 20 points, 10 assists, and eight rebounds.

Listen below as Kidd talks Lonzo Ball:

Cavs’ Bickerstaff: ‘Our guys will get better, and we will improve’

The Cleveland Cavaliers had their preseason debut on Tuesday night in Chicago against the Bulls. Fortunately for Cleveland, this game does not count. Chicago led by as many as 48 points and would defeat Cleveland 131-95.

The Cavaliers had 15 turnovers in the first half and 20 in total. The new-look Bulls, who added Lonzo Ball and DeMar DeRozan in the offseason, scored 69 points in the first half and led by 23 points at halftime.

Zach LaVine led the Bulls with 25 points. Collin Sexton’s 14 points led Cleveland, and Lauri Markkanen added 13 points off the bench in his return to Chicago.

Bickerstaff attributed a lot of the Cavaliers’ issues to youth. The oldest player in Cleveland’s starting lineup on Tuesday was 23(Jarrett Allen).

“Not making excuses, but we got a lot of young basketball players that are still trying to figure it out,” Bickerstaff said. “Our guys will get better, and we will improve.”

The Cavs struggled in all facets of the game on Tuesday night, but there were some positives. Backup point guard Ricky Rubio, who started the second half, played well and is an upgrade over last season’s backups at the point guard spot. Rubio had 10 points and six assists in 20 minutes of action. Also, rookie Evan Mobley was solid in his debut. He added 10 points and eight rebounds. 

You never like to overreact off of any preseason game, especially the first one, but the Bulls look like they have put together a team that can contend in the East while the Cavs looked like a team that is headed to the lottery again. However, there’s a lot of basketball to be played.

We’ll see how the Cavs bounce back against the Hawks in Atlanta on Wednesday night.

Watch below as Mobley and Sexton react to Cleveland’s loss to Chicago on Tuesday night:

Team USA’s Beal: ‘The biggest thing we have to realize is that it’s not the NBA’

On Tuesday, we saw what we thought we would see out of the USA Basketball Men’s National Team. 

Behind Kevin Durant and Bradley Beal’s 17 points apiece, Team USA defeated Argentina 108-80 at Michelob ULTRA Arena at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.

After losing their first two exhibition games to Nigeria and Australia, Team USA was limping into this game against Argentina. However, they got off to a quick start and led by 14 after one quarter and 16 points at halftime. They would cruise the rest of the way.

 Zach LaVine had 15, Damian Lillard added 13, and Bam Adebayo finished with 12 points. Argentina was led by 41-year-old Luis Scola’s 16 points and five rebounds.

Team USA head coach Gregg Popovich was happy with his team’s efforts from start to finish.

“I thought we sustained it pretty well in our game against Australia, and we competed well, rebounded, played defense, ran the floor, and had good pace for one half, but then it dissipated through the second half,” Popovich said. “Tonight, I thought we maintained (effort) pretty much throughout the game, so hopefully, that’s a sign that we are in a little better condition.”

The international game is different than the NBA. It’s less time(40 minutes), and it’s more physical, which Beal discussed after the game.

“The biggest thing we have to realize is that it’s not the NBA, and coach Pop keeps reemphasizing that to us every single day,” Beal said. “It’s more physical. These guys have been playing together for five, 10-plus years, so they have this experience and chemistry. We’re trying to develop that in a short period of time.”

The game’s highlight came in the fourth when LaVine threw down a poster dunk and was fouled by Juan Pablo Vaulet. It was a great moment for Team USA, and it cemented the victory. 

Team USA will have a few days off before getting back at it on Friday in a rematch against Australia.

Notes:

Team USA was without Jayson Tatum, who missed Tuesday’s game due to a sore knee.

Photo: Team USA

USA Basketball names 15 players, including Zion Williamson, Trae Young, Zach LaVine to finalists list for the Olympics

Adding 15 players to 42 previously selected USA Basketball Men’s National Team finalists, 57 athletes today were announced by USA Basketball as finalists for the U.S. Olympic Men’s Basketball Team. The player selections were approved by the USA Basketball Board of Directors. The official 12-member U.S. Olympic Men’s Basketball Team roster will be announced later this year.

Added to the 2021 USA National Team roster, from which the U.S. Olympic Men’s Basketball Team will be selected, were  Jarrett Allen (Cleveland Cavaliers); Eric Gordon (Houston Rockets); Jerami Grant (Detroit Pistons); Blake Griffin (Brooklyn Nets); Jrue Holiday (Milwaukee Bucks); DeAndre Jordan (Brooklyn Nets); Zach LaVine (Chicago Bulls); Julius Randle (New York Knicks); Duncan Robinson (Miami Heat); Mitchell Robinson  (New York Knicks); Fred VanVleet (Toronto Raptors); John Wall (Houston Rockets); Zion Williamson (New Orleans Pelicans); Christian Wood (Houston Rockets); and Trae Young (Atlanta Hawks).

Forty-two of the athletes who were named as finalists on Feb. 10, 2020, also were confirmed for the 2021 list, including: Bam Adebayo (Miami Heat); LaMarcus Aldridge (San Antonio Spurs); Harrison Barnes (Sacramento Kings); Bradley Beal (Washington Wizards); Devin Booker (Phoenix Suns); Malcolm Brogdon (Indiana Pacers); Jaylen Brown (Boston Celtics); Jimmy Butler (Miami Heat); Mike Conley (Utah Jazz);  Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors); Anthony Davis (Los Angeles Lakers); DeMar DeRozan (San Antonio Spurs); Andre Drummond (Cleveland Cavaliers); Kevin Durant (Brooklyn Nets); Paul George (LA Clippers); Draymond Green (Golden State Warriors); James Harden (Brooklyn Nets); Montrezl Harrell (Los Angeles Lakers); Joe Harris (Brooklyn Nets); Tobias Harris (Philadelphia 76ers); Gordon Hayward  (Charlotte Hornets); Dwight Howard (Philadelphia 76ers); Brandon Ingram (New Orleans Pelicans); Kyrie Irving (Brooklyn Nets); LeBron James (Los Angeles Lakers); Kyle Kuzma (Los Angeles Lakers); Kawhi Leonard (LA Clippers); Damian Lillard (Portland Trail Blazers); Brook Lopez (Milwaukee Bucks); Kevin Love (Cleveland Cavaliers); Kyle Lowry (Toronto Raptors); JaVale McGee  (Cleveland Cavaliers); Khris Middleton (Milwaukee Bucks); Donovan Mitchell (Utah Jazz); Victor Oladipo (Houston Rockets); Chris Paul (Phoenix Suns); Mason Plumlee (Detroit Pistons); Jayson Tatum (Boston Celtics); Myles Turner (Indiana Pacers); Kemba Walker (Boston Celtics); Russell Westbrook (Washington Wizards); and Derrick White (San Antonio Spurs).

“With the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics from 2020 to 2021, it’s important that we continue to remain flexible and consider all players who can contribute to our efforts to field the best USA team possible. These additions we are announcing today will help ensure that we are doing that,” said Jerry Colangelo, who has served as the managing director of the USA Basketball Men’s National Team since 2005.

“Having a larger player pool than what we normally have is critical because of all of the uncertainties we face about availability. But for USA Basketball to receive the commitment of so many outstanding players remains an indicator of the great honor of representing your country means to these men.”

The USA National Team coaching staff is led by long-time San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich, and serving as USA assistant coaches are Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr, former Atlanta Hawks head coach Lloyd Pierce and Villanova University head coach  Jay Wright.

All told, there are 29 players who have played for the USA in an Olympics and/or a FIBA World Cup, and together they have won 31 Olympic or FIBA Basketball World Cup gold medals and four bronze medals.

The list of finalists includes nine members of the gold medalist 2016 U.S. Olympic Team, seven gold medalists from the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team and three gold medalists from the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team.

Three-time Olympic medalist James (2008 and 2012 gold, 2004 bronze) could be become just the second U.S. male basketball player to make four U.S. Olympic teams (tying with Carmelo Anthony), while Durant (2012 and 2016 gold medalist) and Paul (2008 and 2012 gold medalist) are seeking to become three-time Olympians.

Nine players from the gold medal winning 2016 U.S. Olympic team that went 8-0 in Rio de Janeiro remain in contention, including Barnes, Butler, DeRozan, Durant, George, Green, Irving, Jordan and Lowry.

Davis, Durant, Harden, James, Love, Paul and Westbrook were members of the 2012 U.S. Olympic team that compiled an unblemished record of 8-0 and captured gold in London; while Howard, James and Paul were gold medalists with the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team.

Eleven members of the USA’s 2019 World Cup Team are among the 2021 finalists, including Barnes, Brown, Joe Harris, Lopez, Middleton, Mitchell, Plumlee, Tatum, Turner, Walker and White.

Seven were members of the 2014 USA World Cup Team that finished 9-0 and captured gold in Spain, including Curry, Davis, DeRozan, Drummond, Harden, World Cup MVP Irving and Plumlee. Five finalists were members of the 2010 USA World Cup squad that went 9-0 and captured gold in Istanbul, Turkey, including Curry, World Cup MVP Durant, Gordon, Love and Westbrook; while Howard, James and Paul earned a bronze medal at the 2006 FIBA World Cup in Japan.

The finalists represent 24 different NBA teams, with the Brooklyn Nets (Durant, Griffin, Harden, Joe Harris, Irving and Jordan), leading the way with six players;  while the Cleveland Cavaliers (Allen, Drummond, Love and McGee), Houston Rockets (Gordon, Oladipo, Wall and Wood) and Los Angeles Lakers (Davis, Harrell, James and Kuzma) all feature four players; and the Boston Celtics (Brown, Tatum and Walker), San Antonio Spurs (Aldridge, DeRozan and White), Miami Heat (Adebayo, Butler and Duncan Robinson) and the Milwaukee Bucks (Holiday, Lopez and Middleton) each feature three players. The Detroit Pistons (Grant and Plumlee), Golden State Warriors (Curry and Green), Indiana Pacers (Brogdon and Turner), LA Clippers (George and Leonard), New Orleans Pelicans (Ingram and Williamson), New York Knicks (Randell and Mitchell Robinson), Philadelphia 76ers (Tobias Harris and Howard), Phoenix Suns (Booker and Paul), Toronto Raptors (Lowry and VanVleet), Utah Jazz (Conley and Mitchell) and Washington Wizards (Beal and Westbrook) each have two players among the 57 finalists; and represented by one player are the Atlanta Hawks (Young), Charlotte Hornets (Haywood), Chicago Bulls (LaVine), Portland Trail Blazers (Lillard) and Sacramento Kings (Barnes).

Fifty-five finalists possess USA Basketball international or USA National Team experience.  James leads the way with 68 games of international experience, and he is followed by Paul (50), Durant (44), Curry (40), Howard (38), Irving (33), Plumlee (31), Love (28), Westbrook (28), Tatum (26), Barnes (25), Davis (25), Harden (25), Drummond (25), Jordan (23), Green (22), Lopez (19), Turner (19), Brown (18), Walker (18), Beal (16), DeRozan (16), White (15), Gordon (14), Harrell (14), Butler (13), George (13), Joe Harris (13), Lowry (13), Middleton (13), Mitchell (13), Hayward (12), Allen (6), Conley (6), Holiday (6), Randle (6), Brogdon (5), Grant (5), Young (5), Kuzma (3), Lillard (3), Wall (3), Adebayo (1), Griffin (1), Ingram (1), Leonard (1) and Oladipo (1). Additionally, Aldridge, Booker, Tobias Harris, LaVine, McGee, Mitchell Robinson, VanVleet and Williamson have participated in previous USA National Team training camps. Only Duncan Robinson and Wood have no prior USA Basketball experience.

The USA National Team’s complete training schedule for 2021 will be announced at a later date.

Curry, Booker, Tatum headline three-point contest

Former 3-Point Contest champions Devin Booker of the Phoenix Suns and Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors lead a field composed entirely of current NBA All-Stars who will participate in the 2021 MTN DEW® 3-Point Contest on Sunday, March 7 at State Farm Arena in Atlanta.  The competition will take place before the 2021 NBA All-Star Game, airing on TNT.

The six-player field also features 2021 NBA All-Stars Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum of the Boston Celtics, Zach LaVine of the Chicago Bulls and Donovan Mitchell of the Utah Jazz.  This marks the first 3-Point Contest in which each participant is a current NBA All-Star.

Booker, the 2018 MTN DEW 3-Point Contest champion, will make his fifth appearance in the event.  Curry, the 2015 champion, will compete for the seventh time, tying Dale Ellis for the second-most appearances behind Craig Hodges (eight).  A seven-time NBA All-Star, Curry has made a league-high 164 3-pointers this season.  He holds the NBA single-season record for 3-pointers made (402 in 2015-16) and ranks second in career 3-pointers made (2,659).

LaVine and Mitchell are both former AT&T Slam Dunk champions.  No player has ever won both the MTN DEW 3-Point Contest and AT&T Slam Dunk in a career.  LaVine will compete in the 3-Point Contest for the second year in a row.  This marks the event debut for Mitchell.  Brown and Tatum are also first-time participants in the MTN DEW 3-Point Contest.

For the second consecutive year, the MTN DEW 3-Point Contest will feature the “MTN DEW Zone” – two deep shot locations positioned equidistant between the traditional racks at the top of the 3-point arc and the adjacent “wing” rack.  Each of the two ball pedestals in the MTN DEW Zone is located 6 feet behind the 3-point line and holds one special green ball, the “3-Ball.”  Shots made with the green ball are worth three points.

Trae Young, Chris Paul headline NBA Horse Challenge

ESPN, the National Basketball Association (NBA) and the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) today announced that 10-time NBA All-Star Chris Paul of the Oklahoma City Thunder, 2020 NBA All-Star Trae Young of the Atlanta Hawks and newly elected Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer Tamika Catchings headline the list of eight NBA and WNBA players and legends who will participate in the new NBA HORSE Challenge Presented by State Farm, exclusively on ESPN and streamed via the ESPN App. 

Beginning Sunday, April 12 at 7 p.m. ET, Paul, Young, Catchings, Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine, three-time WNBA All-Star Allie Quigley of the Chicago Sky, Utah Jazz guard Mike Conley Jr. and NBA Finals MVPs Chauncey Billups and Paul Pierce will match shots against one another in a single-elimination HORSE competition from their respective, isolated home courts. ESPN NBA commentator Mark Jones will serve as the official host.

 State Farm will donate more than $200,000 on behalf of the participants to charities focused on coronavirus response efforts. This donation builds on the more than $74 million that has been contributed by the NBA Family to date to support coronavirus relief efforts through its NBA Together campaign.

NBA HORSE Challenge Presented by State Farm participants will be divided into two groups of four, with the winners of the first two games in each group meeting in the semifinals.  The winner from each group will move on to the championship round.  ESPN will present the four quarterfinal games on Sunday. The semifinals and the championship game will air on Thursday, April 16, beginning at 9 p.m. ET.

A coin toss at the start of each game will determine who shoots first, with the more senior player calling heads or tails.  Players must describe each shot attempt, specifying the type of score they intend to make before taking a shot, such as a bank shot or swish. Dunking is prohibited. The first player in each game to accumulate the letters “H-O-R-S-E” after failing to match five shots is eliminated.

 

NBA HORSE Challenge presented by State Farm participants: 

Group 1:

Group 2:

Chauncey Billups

NBA Legend, ESPN Analyst

Zach LaVine

Chicago Bulls

Tamika Catchings

WNBA Legend

Chris Paul

Oklahoma City Thunder

Mike Conley Jr.

Utah Jazz

Paul Pierce

NBA Legend, ESPN Analyst

Trae Young

Atlanta Hawks

Allie Quigley

Chicago Sky

 

ESPN NBA HORSE Challenge presented by State Farm schedule:

 

Date

Time (ET)

NBA HORSE Challenge

Sun, Apr. 12

7-9 p.m.

Quarterfinals Group 1: Trae Young vs. Chauncey Billups

 

 

Quarterfinals Group 1: Tamika Catchings vs. Mike Conley Jr.

 

 

Quarterfinals Group 2: Zach LaVine vs. Paul Pierce

 

 

Quarterfinals Group 2: Chris Paul vs. Allie Quigley

 

9-11 p.m.

Quarterfinals Encore Presentations

Thu, Apr. 16

7-9 p.m.

Quarterfinals Encore Presentations

 

9-11 p.m.

Group 1: Semifinals

 

 

Group 2: Semifinals

 

 

HORSE Championship Game

 

Bulls’ LaVine may participate in Slam Dunk Contest next season(VIDEO)

Bulls G Zach LaVine is turning himself into a very good NBA player. LaVine has proven that he’s not only a prolific dunker, but he also has proven that he can put the ball in the basket.  On Friday night in D.C., LaVine led the Bulls with 24 points as Chicago defeated the Wizards 101-92.

After 29 games, LaVine is averaging 23.9 PPG, but the big question that fans want answered is will we see him participate in the dunk contest again.

Well, here is what LaVine had to say about that subject:

“I know people want to see, but I don’t know if I have enough dunks left,” LaVine told Paul Gant on Friday. “I might have to go in the summertime and reevaluate it. Maybe, it’s in Chicago(2019); it’s 75, 25, and 25 going, so hopefully, maybe somebody can talk me into it.”

Last time we saw LaVine in the dunk contest, he went back and forth with the Magic’s Aaron Gordon back in 2016. Ultimately LaVine, who was with the Timberwolves, was able to outlast Gordon and win in arguably the greatest dunk contest of all-time. Unfortunately for LaVine, he tore his ACL in 2017, but before the injury, LaVine had decided against defending his title.

Hopefully, somebody can talk LaVine into being apart of the Dunk Contest in 2019.  He is a special dunker, and probably one of the better dunkers in league history.

Listen below:

 

 

 

Zach LaVine on Minnesota: ‘They gonna be really good’

On draft day, the Bulls and Timberwolves pulled off a blockbuster trade. Jimmy Butler went to Minnesota along with Creighton’s Justin Patton, while the Bulls get Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn, and Arizona’s Lauri Markkanen. After this move, the Timberwolves have positioned themselves to possibly make the playoffs next season, while the Bulls prepare to start over.

The Bulls’ Zach LaVine believes that Minnesota is going to be a solid team with the addition of Jimmy Butler. “They gonna be really good. Jimmy Butler is a helluva of a player. Karl(Towns) and Andrew(Wiggins) are already stars in their own, upcoming guys. There gonna do very well,” LaVine told TMZ Sports.

While LaVine loved his time in Minnesota, he has no animosity toward the Timberwolves.

“I have no hard feelings. I love Minnesota. You gotta understand the business of basketball. I’m prepared for this step as well, and I know that they are too. We get to play twice. Other than that, we still going to all be boys,” said LaVine.

Anything short of the playoffs for Butler and the Wolves would be a disappointment. It’s time for Minnesota to go to the next level, and Butler should make that happen!