The Derrick Rose MVP Train Stumbles in Atlanta; Chris Paul Outplayed by a Knicks Backup

Sometimes, you’ll find a game on the schedule that means just a little bit more to one side than it does to the other. It could be for a number of reasons, often as much for the psyche boost rather than for the ‘W.’ Last night’s Bulls/Hawks games in Atlanta was one of those nights … That’s not to say that the Chicago Bulls didn’t need to get a win in Atlanta versus a Hawks team that is now 18-9 at home. They are battling for the best record in the Eastern Conference and need to keep winning to avoid having to potentially face Miami and Boston in back-to-back playoff series. It’s more to say that the Hawks’ 83-80 win was absolutely necessary for Atlanta. The Hawks have struggled all season against the few good teams they have played (they’ve had one of the easiest schedules in the League so far) and aren’t in danger of becoming the League’s “worst good team.” They already are. Atlanta’s is at the beginning of a stretch that includes match-ups with nine playoff teams in 10 games. They desperately needed a statement win, even if it was at home and even if it was at the expense of a Kyle Korver air ball at the buzzer … Josh Smith sat this one out because of an injury (sore right knee) and Chicago jumped out to a 14-0 lead to start the game. But Al Horford (31 points, 16 rebounds) was an absolute beast (despite what Amar’e has to say about him), bringing Atlanta back during a huge third-quarter run that gave the Hawks their first lead of the night on a final-minute pick and roll with a dunk … If the Derrick-Rose-is-not-the-MVP movement is ever going to gain ammunition, last night was the time to do it. He was off all game long (5-21 from the field, 12 points), his struggles signified by one drive to the tin in the last two minutes that ended up getting smashed back into his face by Marvin Williams. Also, on the game’s final possession, Rose missed a potential game-tying three. But, he should be allowed one mulligan, considering that he’s been as consistently good as smoked buffalo chicken all year … Will the real Knicks please stand up? Read More »

Three nights after winning in Miami but one night after giving up 116 points to the Magic, New York smothered the playoff-bound Hornets in a 19-point win at MSG. That brings them to 3-2 since the Carmelo Anthony trade and yet, no one can make out what type of team they really are. ‘Melo (22 points) and Amar’e Stoudemire (24 points) were great as usual, but it was Toney Douglas (24 points) who was the difference with Chauncey Billups sitting out (leg injury from running into a Dwight Howard pick on Tuesday night). Sometimes, you forget Douglas is even on the team; last night, he managed to completely outplay Chris Paul (4 points, 10 assists) … For CP, is it going to be like this the rest of the way? … The Rockets‘ five-game winning streak succumbed to the return of Eric Gordon and seemingly 646 Clipper dunks in L.A.’s three-point win. While Kyle Lowry was huge (24 points, 11 assists), Gordon played like he never left, and his presence (24 points) seemed to open up the inside for his big guys … DeAndre Jordan (16 rebounds) had one end-to-end sequence in the second quarter when he finished a lob on Brad Miller‘s head and then nearly caught a Kevin Martin shot on the other, cuffing it out of bounds like a Nerf basketball. The Clippers’ color man Ralph Lawler said: “At times, he’s the most impressive center in the league, even more than Dwight Howard.” Calm down, buddy … Blake Griffin checked in with what has become a completely predictable line for him (20 points, 14 rebounds, 5 assists). The Clipper announcers also called him the best rebounding red head in the game. Better than Brian Scalabrine? … How crazy is it that Brad Miller has been an All-Star in both conferences and yet was never even drafted? … Other headlines from around the league: the Celtics easily beat Phoenix by 12 behind Kevin Garnett (28 points, 11 rebounds), who also played great defense on Channing Frye; the Nuggets saw the defensive effort from ‘Melo and Co. in New York and one-upped them by suffocating the Bobcats, 120-80 with seven guys reaching double figures; San Antonio and George Hill (22 points) became the first team to 50 wins after a 10-point win over Cleveland; Stephen Curry (29 points, 9 rebounds) led the Warriors past Washington by four; Kevin Love had another typical line (20 points, 20 rebounds) as Minnesota beat the sinking Pistons by 11 … Despite leaving the game with an ankle injury, Kevin Durant (21 points) helped bring the Thunder to a 24-point destruction of Indiana. KD talked after the game and said the injury isn’t serious … We’re out like Brandon Davies.