The Draft Lottery is done, and the Warriors will pick No. 7 in New York next month. So who will Golden State target? Insider Matt Steinmetz has a few ideas. Chat with Matt, today at 11 a.m.!
CHICAGO -- LeBron James wasn't holding back.
Cleveland's superstar had plenty to say after the Cavaliers gave up 78 points in the paint on the way to another loss. The condensed version was this: It's time to start playing like a championship team again.
"We got to get out of the honeymoon stage," James said. "You got to play the game, the right way. We've got to battle every night like we ain't won nothing. Last year is last year. After ring night is over with, now it's a new season and everybody is gunning for us every night and we have to understand that. The honeymoon stage is over. It's time to play some real ball and be physical, especially in the trenches. Giving up 78 points (in the paint) is ridiculous. We've got to man up. Everybody."
James manned up to the tune of 27 points and 13 assists, a championship-level performance on a night when he showed up dressed as a World Series champion: He arrived at the arena in a Cubs uniform to honor a World Series bet with buddy Wade.
Kyrie Irving added 20 points and eight assists, but the Cavaliers matched their longest losing streak in a year.
Chicago dominated Cleveland 78-60 in the paint, outrebounded the Cavaliers 49-33 and came out on top despite shooting 3 of 18 on 3-pointers. It was a big turnaround for the Bulls coming off a loss to the Lakers.
"I think we know what we're capable of if we play basketball the right way and do what we're supposed to do," Butler said.
DOWN THE STRETCH
The Bulls used a strong third quarter to turn a one-point halftime deficit into an 88-80 lead. And they withstood several pushes in the fourth to knock off the defending NBA champions.
Kevin Love nailed a 3 to cut the lead to 103-99 with about 4 minutes left, but the Bulls hung on.
Wade drove for a layup to make it 107-101 with 2:39 remaining. Nikola Mirotic then stole the ball from James, leading to a putback basket for Wade.
Mirotic came up with another big play when he blocked a 3 by Irving with 1:11 left to cause a shot-clock violation.
James clearly wasn't thrilled about having to wear a Chicago Cubs uniform after he rooted hard for his hometown Cleveland Indians in the World Series. But he was a man of his word, honoring the wager he made with Wade, his good friend and former Miami Heat teammate.
James wore a No. 23 Cubs jersey with his last name stitched across the back, a Cubs hat partially covered by a Cubbie-blue hoodie, pinstripe pants and long baseball socks. James' uniform even had the 2016 World Series champions shoulder patch.
"I actually thought he looked good," said Wade, who was waiting for James when he arrived at the arena and took a picture of his ex-teammate. "He actually did look like a baseball player."
The two hugged before tipoff and had some playful moments during the game.
James patted Wade on the backside as they ran down the court together after he hit a tough fadeaway jumper over his pal in the third quarter. Wade returned the favor after burying a 3 in James' face moments later.
Cavaliers: G/F Mike Dunleavy Jr. missed his second consecutive game because of a concussion.
Bulls: Rondo's triple-double was his first with the Bulls and the 29th of his career. ... Butler has 12 straight games with 20 or more points. ... With the Bulls playing four times in five days, coach Fred Hoiberg said Wade won't travel to Dallas for Saturday's game. ... Hoiberg said F Doug McDermott (concussion) could be cleared for contact shortly and might practice with the D-League's Windy City Bulls.
Cavaliers: Visit Atlantic Division leader Toronto on Monday.
Bulls: Visit Dallas on Saturday.
As Charles Barkley continues to throw rubber darts at the Warriors, disparaging their style of play at every opportunity, sometimes going out of his way to do so, the Warriors continue to shrug them off.
They believe the only significant response to Barkley or any other critic is by producing successful results.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr has known Barkley for years and he basically sees his act as perfect made-for-TV moments.
“Having worked with Charles in TV, for TNT, I understand that there’s a show that has to happen,” Kerr said Friday on The Warriors Insider Podcast. “There’s an entertainment value that he brings that nobody else can bring. I think Charles is hilarious. He’s really good at what he does.”
Yet Kerr is at least slightly puzzled when Barkley constantly singles out the Warriors for being a “jump-shooting team” or playing “little girly basketball,” as he said Thursday on TNT.
“I think he goes overboard with his criticism of us,” Kerr said. “Everybody is the league is basically doing what we’re doing. Cleveland takes more 3s than we do. They beat us last year in The Finals by going small and shooting 3s and LeBron (James) playing the 4. The series came down to Kyrie (Irving) making a 3.”
It’s apparent to those paying attention that Barkley, who retired in 2000, has not made the observational transition to basketball as it is played in 2016.
The Warriors average 32.2 3-pointers per game, behind the Rockets (37.0) and defending champion Cavaliers (34.8). Only one team, the Pistons, at 19.8, averages less than 20 shots beyond the arc per game.
When Barkley retired in 2000, only the Kings, at 20.2, averaged more than 20 3-pointers per game. The Rockets were second, at 19.8, and Barkley was a member of that team.
“This is just the way the game is played these days: spread the floor, very few low-post plays,” Kerr said. “The game has changed a lot. I don’t know why Charles continues to crush us. But the game’s changed, and almost everybody is playing like this now.”
Whereas the big men of yesteryear – Hakeem Olajuwon, Shaquille O’Neal, David Robinson etc. – tended to operate in the low post, those of today are more likely to venture out beyond the elbow, and even the arc.
“The big guys that you see now who are coming into the league, the best players, guys like Anthony Davis and Karl-Anthony Towns, they’re out there shooting jump shots, because they grew up handling the ball,” Kerr said. “They grew up as guys who wanted to be Kevin Durant, and not Charles Oakley.”
Though some of the transition is due to bigger players being more versatile, it’s also a matter of coaches understanding new rules and finding rosters that can exploit them. Gone is the hand-check, as well as the days of zone defenses being illegal.
“We do what we need to do to be successful,” Kerr said. “. . . Our players are suited to play the way we play, and we’re not going to apologize for that. But we know that criticism and judgment are just part of the deal. It really doesn’t bother us.”