Derrick Rose scored 26 points, the big guys dominated on the boards and the Chicago Bulls improved to 7-0 in the preseason with a 104-95 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday night. The former MVP found his shooting stroke in the fourth quarter to help Chicago pull away on the road.
When Rose re-entered the game with 7:30 remaining in the final period, the Bulls were trailing 82-78 after an easy basket from OKC rookie Steven Adams. Within three minutes, Chicago had a lead it wouldn't relinquish as Rose performed his usual closing duties.
In those final seven-plus minutes, Rose recorded 13 points and two assists, directly accounting for 18 of the team's final 26 points. The guard himself ended up with 26 points and six assists, including this nifty move on Reggie Jackson in the first half:
If there was a bright spot for the Thunder, it came from the young guys, Adams and Jeremy Lamb. Acquired in the Harden trade, Lamb finished Wednesday's game with 22 points on 9-of-16 shooting, while Adams -- the 13th overall pick in the 2013 draft -- put up 11 points, seven rebounds and two blocks in 30 minutes.
Celtics 101, Nets 97
Boston hung on in the final minutes to snap a three-game losing streak Wednesday night against Brooklyn. Brazilian big man Vitor Faverani, signed by the Celtics during the offseason, had a breakout performance with 16 points, seven rebounds and six blocks over 28 minutes of action. Here's video of the last one:
The Celtics also got solid performances from Brandon Bass (16 points, nine rebounds), Avery Bradley (16 points, three assists) and Gerald Wallace (14 points, five rebounds, five assists) in the win. Second-year guard Tyshawn Taylor led the Nets with 15 points as practically every key rotation player took the night off.
Heat 108, Pelicans 95
The defending champions handed New Orleans its first defeat of the preseason Wednesday night behind huge games from LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. The two combined for 52 points on 20-of-34 shooting in 62 minutes as the Heat pulled away with a 31-13 fourth quarter, though the real highlight of the game came earlier, in the first half:
Preseason Flying Death Machine https://t.co/spj94ifpnJ— C.R.E.A.M. Olajuwon (@Marco_Romo) October 24, 2013
No need to elaborate on that one, but it is worth noting that for the first time in four years, former No. 1 pick Greg Oden stepped on a professional basketball court Wednesday night.
After battling numerous major injuries, Oden played a few minutes, recorded a dunk on his first possession, grabbed two rebounds and then came out. Even so, it's an impressive step for the 25-year-old.
Raptors 108, Grizzlies 72
With a lopsided win over Memphis, Toronto improves to 6-1 in preseason play. This wasn't a particularly exciting game, as the Raptors led by 27 points at halftime and expanded that advantage to as many as 39 points in the second half.
Raptors shooting guard DeMar DeRozan had another strong game Wednesday night, finishing with 21 points, five rebounds and three steals in 28 minutes of action. He was 6-of-11 from the field and 8-of-9 from the free throw line. Rudy Gay also added 15 points and five rebounds.
The Grizzlies had an abysmal offensive day, shooting 35 percent overall with 18 turnovers. Reserve big man Ed Davis co-led the team in scoring with his 11-point, nine-rebound effort, but that's actually somewhat impressive considering he only played 16 minutes. Jon Leuer also scored 11 points for Memphis.
Wizards 101, Cavaliers 82
Cleveland seemed to have a solid grip on this game at halftime, but Washington dominated the second half en route to a surprisingly lopsided victory. With many of the team's starters playing throughout the game, the Wizards turned the final 24 minutes into an extended 60-29 beatdown in front of the Cavs' home fans.
The contrast between Cleveland's play in the first and fourth quarters was somewhat astounding. In the first dozen minutes of the game, the Cavaliers shot 11-of-24 from the field -- not great, but pretty darn exceptional compared to the 1-for-14 performance in the final period, which saw just 10 points from the home team.
Wizards second-year guard Bradley Beal continued his breakout preseason performance with 21 points on 9-of-16 shooting Wednesday night. Over the past five exhibitions, Beal has averaged 23.6 points on 57 percent shooting, and part of his expanding game includes drive-and-dunk plays like this one:
Tristan Thompson led the Cavaliers with 17 points and 14 rebounds in a losing effort.
Mavericks 98, Hawks 88
Atlanta's preseason struggles continued Wednesday night with another loss in Dallas. The team finishes its preseason schedule with an ugly 1-6 record, including double-digit losses to New Orleans and Indiana prior to the 10-point defeat against the Mavs.
The lone bright spot in Atlanta's loss Wednesday may have been point guard Dennis Schroder, who finished with 21 points and four assists. It's easily his best performance to-date as a pro, but the rookie also committed seven turnovers, so things aren't all rosy for the young point guard.
Dallas had six scorers in double-digits, led by Dirk Nowitzki's 17 points. Monta Ellis added 15 points and five assists over 31 minutes.
Bucks 105, Knicks 95
After growing up in Racine, Wis., Caron Butler appears to be enjoying his return to the area this season with Milwaukee. On Wednesday, Butler recorded 24 points, four rebounds, four assists and one shout-out to Aaron Rodgers in the team's first preseason victory:
#Bucks' Caron Butler drills a 3, turns and makes the Championship Belt move and smiles as he points to Aaron Rodgers in the front row.— Michael Woods (@PCMikeW) October 24, 2013
The preseason hasn't been kind to Milwaukee as it sorts out the roster under new coach Larry Drew, partially due to Butler's inconsistency. In the two games prior to Wednesday, he recorded just five points and four rebounds over 46 minutes.
Suns 98, Nuggets 79
If Eric Bledsoe is going to determine the Suns' fate this season, then Wednesday was a positive indicator. Finishing with 21 points, seven rebounds and seven assists, the fourth-year guard often looked like the best player on the court as Phoenix earned its fifth preseason victory.
For Bledsoe, the quality performance came on both ends of the floor. Denver's guards -- Ty Lawson, Randy Foye, Jordan Hamilton, Andre Miller, Evan Fournier -- combined to score just 32 points on 13-of-40 (33 percent) shooting as Bledsoe hounded guys on the perimeter.
Timberwolves 125, 76ers 102
Kevin Love scored 19 points in 16 minutes as Minnesota overwhelmed a young Philadelphia team on Wednesday night. Between the early, usage-heavy play of their star player and a productive effort from the team's bench, the Timberwolves had too many weapons for the Sixers to handle.
While the Wolves built a 14-point lead by halftime behind Love and Kevin Martin, the team's bench turned the game into a lopsided affair. Nine different reserves scored at least points for Minnesota, including 22 in just 17 minutes from guard J.J. Barea.
Ricky Rubio only scored two points in 16 minutes, but he still recorded five steals and five assists, including this beauty early on:
Philadelphia got double-digit scoring from all of its starters, but the team's makeshift bench failed on this night, shooting just 10-of-35 (29 percent) in extended minutes. James Anderson led the 76ers with 23 points and six rebounds, while rookie guard Michael Carter-Williams recorded 15 points, nine rebounds, five steals and three assists.
Kings 91, Warriors 90
Trailing by 14 points with less than nine minutes left in the game, Sacramento rallied for an impressive comeback win over Golden State on Wednesday. Of the team's final 21 points, 20 of them were scored by either Isaiah Thomas, Ben McLemore or John Salmons as the Kings outscored the W's in the final nine minutes, 21-6.
Thomas had a big game off the bench for Sacramento, leading the team with 21 points, six rebounds and three assists. With DeMarcus Cousins playing just 22 minutes due to foul trouble and 25 turnovers handcuffing the offense, the scoring punch from Thomas was a welcomed development in the second half.
David Lee actually had a chance to tie the game in the final seconds after drawing a foul, but he missed one of the two pivotal free throws to put the game away. Stephen Curry finished the game with 24 points, six assists and three steals.
Clippers 103, Jazz 99
Utah shot better from the field, grabbed more rebounds and limited Chris Paul to 3-of-8 shooting, but it wasn't enough in a mistake-filled performance. Turnovers and silly fouls cost the Jazz big-time in a game that easily could have gone their way.
Considering the Jazz held the Clippers to 39 percent shooting while easily dominating the boards, 57-43, it's a tad surprising L.A. scored 100 points. However, L.A. got 47 free throw attempts and turned the ball just 12 times -- the Clippers missed a lot of shots, but otherwise wasted very few possessions.
Paul still got his own, finishing with 14 points, 10 assists and six rebounds, but Utah did a nice job of limiting the damage. Derrick Favors had a huge game for the Jazz with 24 points, 17 rebounds and three assists in 37 minutes.
Also, Blake Griffin did this to Rudy Gobert.