Clippers at Bulls (8pm ET Thursday, TNT)
The Clippers won their third straight on Wednesday, a 109-95 victory over the Bucks, bringing their record to 13-9, just 9 ½ games behind the Warriors in the Pacific division. The Clips’ Big 3 was firing on all cylinders, as Chris Paul dropped 18 dimes, Blake Griffin put up 23-14, and DeAndre Jordan grabbed 19 boards and absolutely posterized Greg Monroe. But it was J.J. Reddick who led the way, shooting 6-of-9 from downtown, en route to 31 points. Could it be the Clippers are finding their way out of the wilderness after a 3-8 slide that had them below .500?
The Chicago Bulls lost Wednesday, 105-100, to the Boston Celtics. The teams were tied at 75 at the end of the third quarter, when Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg elected to start the fourth with star guard and defensive stalwart Jimmy Butler (36 points, 7 rebounds) on the bench. The Celtics promptly went on a 12-2 run, leaving Butler frustrated afterward.
“[Hoiberg said] I need a rest,” Butler said after the game. “I’m like, ‘Man, I can handle an extra 45 seconds to a minute. Just let me get the energy going, get a stop here or there, and get us going in the right direction to start the fourth.”
This is not to say that the Bulls are a lost cause, but this is the kind of quote one remembers when writing an obituary for a season.
Knicks vs. Kings (10:30pm ET Thursday, TNT)
The New York Knickerbockers on Wednesday lost 106-85 to the Utah Jazz, on a night that saw their entire offense go MIA, shooting 40% from the floor and 56% from the free throw line, with Carmelo Anthony’s anemic 12 points on 3-of-11 shooting leading the team. It was the Knicks’ third loss in a row and their seventh in their last nine games, dropping them to 10-13, and twelfth place in the East. Things have gotten bad enough that head coach Derek Fisher is considering some changes to his starting five of Anthony, Porzingis, Lopez, Afflalo and Calderon.
"I didn’t see anything from those guys that started the game,” Fisher said afterward. “This is three nights in a row for that group and we will have to consider if that can stay the same at the moment.”
The Kings had better luck against the Jazz on Tuesday, ending a 3-game skid with a 114-106 victory to bring their record to 8-15. Power forward DeMarcus Cousins apparently got the memo about how 3-point shots are in vogue, as the big man has put up 64 3-pointers in just 15 games this season, after hoisting 69 in his previous 350 games. To his credit, he’s making them at a respectable clip, .313. But Cousins will tell you he was a big part of the problem during the Kings’ recent slide, declaring, “I’ve been playing like absolute s—-.” And, well, the numbers back him up, as he shot 24.5% from the floor, on his way to averaging 14 points a game. Still, the Kings are 7-8 when he’s in the lineup and just 1-7 when he’s not, so keep chuckin’, buddy!