Bulls more confident after Celtics dealt Perkins

191544.jpg

Bulls more confident after Celtics dealt Perkins

By A.Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

CHICAGO Former Boston Celtics forward Brian Scalabrine still believes the C's are one of the top teams in the NBA.

But you can throw him into the camp that believes the loss of Perkins has given many teams -- including his current club, the Chicago Bulls -- a boost of confidence that they can do some things against the Celtics that they weren't able to do before Perkins was traded.

"For us, Perkins was an intimidating factor at the rim," Scalabrine told Comcast SportsNet prior to Thursday night's game. "Kevin Garnett and Perkins out there, that's a big deal."

While the Celtics are certainly not the same team since Perkins was traded to Oklahoma City on Feb. 24, it's not like they weren't used to playing without him.

Perkins suffered a torn MCL and PCL in Game Six of the NBA Finals last June. He didn't return to the Celtics lineup until Jan. 25 against Cleveland.

The Celtics traded Perkins, along with Nate Robinson, to Oklahoma City on Feb. 24 for Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic.

Prior to the trade, Perkins was sidelined with a knee injury that was non-related to the torn MCL and PCL injury he suffered earlier.

He eventually joined the Thunder's lineup, and has been instrumental in them winning 10 of the 13 games he has appeared in this season.

Meanwhile, the Celtics are 13-9 since Green and Krstic joined the team.

Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, a former Celtics assistant, recognizes how the trade has given the C's added depth. He also points out how even with the moves, the group you see on the floor to end most games isn't all that different now than the group that closed out games when Perkins was around.

However, Thibodeau acknowledges that they are definitely a different team without Perkins.

"He's a very good all-around player for them," Thibodeau said. "He benefited from being around Kevin a lot."

Looking back at the 2008 championship team, Perkins spent most of his time trying to establish position in the post.

Meanwhile, Garnett would be running around the court most games setting screens, and occasionally look to take his man down on the block.

"Kevin has a right to call for the ball every time down the floor," Thibodeau said. "But he never does that. He flies all around setting screens. What that led to, was Perkins ending up doing the same thing. They created a lot of easy offense for their team. And defensively, when you put Perkins and Garnett out there together, it was probably as good as it gets in terms of length, intelligence, pick-and-roll defense, catch-and-shoot defense . . . he was a terrific player. He understood his role."

Celtics coach Doc Rivers can understand why so many fans still pine away at the days in which Perkins wore a Celtics uniform.

That doesn't bother him.

What does irritate him is the perception that the trade made the Celtics a smaller team.

When the Celtics traded Perkins, they did so with the intent being that Shaquille O'Neal would be on the floor relatively soon afterward.

Since the trade, O'Neal has played a total of just six minutes. He's currently out with a right calf strain injury.

"I don't what people expect, honestly," Rivers said. "That part of it, I don't care. But we didn't get smaller. That's the one thing you keep hearing, 'We got smaller.' Actually, we've gotten bigger if Shaq and Jermaine O'Neal play and all of them play. But they haven't played. So how could anyone know."

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached atsblakely@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

Warriors force Game 7 with 108-101 win over Thunder

usatsi_9314068.jpg

Warriors force Game 7 with 108-101 win over Thunder

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Klay Thompson made a playoff-record 11 3-pointers and scored 41 points, and the defending champion Golden State Warriors forced a seventh game in the Western Conference finals with a 108-101 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Saturday night.

Stephen Curry bounced back from a slow start to finish with 29 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists.

The Warriors, who set the league's regular-season record with 73 wins, will host Game 7 on Monday. The winner will play Cleveland in the NBA Finals.

Oklahoma City dominated Games 3 and 4 at home, but the Warriors made 21 of 44 3-pointers on Saturday, while Oklahoma City was 3 of 23.

Kevin Durant scored 29 points and Russell Westbrook added 28 for the Thunder. But Durant made just 10 of 31 shots and Westbrook was 10 of 27.

Trying to become the 10th team to overcome a 3-1 deficit, the Warriors trailed much of the game and trailed by eight going to the fourth quarter.

Thompson kept them in it with four 3-pointers in just over seven minutes to start the period. Curry then hit two 3s, the second of which tied the game at 99 with 2:47 to play.

Thompson's 3 with 1:35 to play put the Warriors up 104-101.

The Thunder, who blew a number of fourth-quarter leads during the regular season, fell apart in the final minutes after Golden State had finally gone ahead for good.

Westbrook lost control of the ball, and after Thompson missed a 3, Westbrook turned the ball over again. Curry's layup with 14.3 seconds to play put the Warriors up by five, the Thunder turned it over again, and the Warriors were in the clear.

The Thunder led 23-20 after one quarter, then seized momentum early in the second. Steven Adams' powerful one-handed dunk on Draymond Green drew a roar from the crowd and gave Oklahoma City a 37-28 lead. Green, who had hit Adams in the groin area twice during the series, was a constant target for the vocal Thunder fans.

Thompson opened the second half with back-to-back 3-pointers to give the Warriors a 54-53 edge, but the Thunder closed the quarter strong and led 83-75 heading into the fourth.

Pelicans guard Bryce Dejean-Jones shot and killed

bryce-dejean-jones-new-orleans-pelicans.jpg

Pelicans guard Bryce Dejean-Jones shot and killed

By Kurt Helin, NBC Pro Basketball Talk

This is a sad and stunning development.

Bryce Dejean-Jones, the rookie guard of the New Orleans Pelicans, has died, the Dallas, Texas, County Coroner has confirmed to NBC Sports. Travis Hines of the Ames Tribune broke the news.

Dejean-Jones was just 23.

The coroner’s office would not give a cause of death, but Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports had the tragic detail.