VIDEO: Highlights from games played Oct. 28
NEWS OF THE MORNING
No. 1: Rose still dealing with blurred vision — The Bulls are off to a 2-0 start and Derrick Rose has been in the starting lineup both nights. Without context, that’s some pretty good news for Chicago fans. Rose is still recovering from the orbital fracture he suffered early in training camp and while he continues to gut out games, his vision is hardly 100 percent. There’s proof to his point as his stats this season are below his career numbers, and Rose told reporters after the season-opening win against the Cleveland Cavaliers he’s hardly back to his old self. ESPNChicago.com’s Nick Friedell has more:
Derrick Rose said he is still dealing with blurred vision as he continues to recover from a fractured left orbital bone.
Rose acknowledged after the Bulls’ 97-95 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday that he hasn’t been able to simply blink the eye back into focus as he plays his way back into shape.
The blurred vision continued after the game was over, he said.
“I wish it was a blink, but it’s all the time,” said Rose, who played 32 minutes and scored 18 points. “Like right now, I see two of you.”
“When I’m out there playing, I’m only using one of my eyes,” Rose said. “I close my left eye whenever I’m out there. So I just got used to it from practice.”
Rose’s playing time was a surprise, given that he played only 10 minutes in Friday’s preseason finale against the Dallas Mavericks and had participated in just a handful of practices since the injury.
“I think I’m all right,” Rose said. “A couple of layups I could have hit, but I think that I’m careful when I’m out there. I’m just trying to get back [to] playing. I miss this game too much.”
Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg seemed pleased with Rose’s performance, especially given the circumstances the former MVP continues to deal with.
“I think he sees three baskets right now,” Hoiberg said. “I told him, ‘Aim for the middle one.’ That’s part of it right now — the depth perception. It’s probably still a little bit off. He’s still out there working on [3s], shooting them, but we want him to be aggressive getting to the basket and making plays for his teammates.”
No. 2: James: Love will be ‘main focus’ of offense — LeBron James said it in the lead-up to the regular season and he’s holding to it after two games this season — he isn’t expecting to carry the Cavs as much in 2015-16 as he did last season. After last night’s season-opening victory against the Memphis Grizzlies on the road, a game in which power forward Kevin Love did most of the heavy lifting offensively, James reiterated his stance a bit. ESPN.com’s Dave McMenamin has more:
“We’ll use Kevin however he wants to be used,” James said after Love led Cleveland with 17 points and 13 rebounds in the Cavs’ 106-76 win over the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday. “I told you Kevin is going to be our main focus. He’s going to have a hell of a season. He’s going to get back to that All-Star status.”
Playing for the first time in more than six months after dislocating his left shoulder in the first round of the playoffs against Boston, Love has put up averages of 17.5 points, 10.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists in Cleveland’s two games against Chicago and Memphis.
“He’s the focal point of us offensively,” James said. “I know I can go out and get mine when I need it. But I need Kev to be as aggressive as he was tonight, and when he rebounds at the level he did tonight, the shots will automatically fall for him.”
After a rocky first season that included James calling out Love on social media and Love picking Russell Westbrook over James for MVP, the pair met in Los Angeles for multiple lengthy conversations this summer before Love agreed to a max five-year, $113 million extension with the Cavs.
“I knew he’d be sharp when I had my conversation with him in Los Angeles in the offseason,” James said when asked if he was surprised how in tune Love’s game has been right out of the gate.
Love was asked what message he conveyed to James during their time together in L.A.
“Just that I can do more,” Love said. “I think that he knew that. Since then I think everybody has really stepped up and asked what they can do in their respective roles. From a comfort standpoint, I just feel a lot, a lot better.”
Cavs coach David Blatt, who last week said Love was in the best shape of his life, complimented Love for his production thus far.
“I’ve said that he was very active in terms of conditioning,” Blatt said. “And obviously, in terms of the rehab, he couldn’t and didn’t get involved in contact work until just a few weeks ago. So as far as game rhythm, I think it’s natural that he’s a little bit behind as far as that’s concerned. But you didn’t see it tonight. He was not only active, but he was very efficient, and he’s played two pretty good games for us after sitting out for a long, long time. A lot of credit to him.”
VIDEO: Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal explains the Love-LeBron dynamic
No. 3: Wade: Heat ‘behind eightball’ as season begins — The Miami Heat have their full starting lineup healthy and have big hopes of getting back into the Eastern Conference contender mix this season. They won their season- and home-opener last night against the Charlotte Hornets and expectations are high in South Florida. Heat star Dwyane Wade is acutely aware of this and talked about that and much more in a wide-ranging interview with Bleacher Report’s Zach Buckley:
“We just got to play together more and figure it out together,” Wade said recently. “It’s just going to take a little time. You can’t fast-track it as much as you want to. … We’re behind the eightball from a lot of teams.”
Wade’s comments cover two different sentiments, both of which are prevalent inside the home locker room at AmericanAirlines Arena.
The first being a statement of the obvious: This is very much a work in progress. All five starters suited up for the Heat last season, but they never shared the floor together. Just after Miami landed Goran Dragicat the February trade deadline, it lost Chris Bosh for the year to blood clots on his lung.
The chemistry that allows five-man units to function as one hasn’t had the opportunity to grow organically. There’s a difference between having a patch of soil and a handful of seeds versus running a fruitful, functional garden.
The Heat haven’t left the planting stage, so of course there’s nothing to harvest yet.
“Until you play while the popcorn’s popping, it’s a totally different situation,” Bosh said. “… We have to be realistic. I know there’s pressure on us to go out there and be good right away. That’s never happened. We have to go through things. We have to talk.”
“We have to see little improvements day by day,” Bosh said. “That’s a part of it. That’s a part of being great, or trying to get to greatness, is that you look at everything, you try to improve and you improve.”
As Wade said, Miami is a bit behind the competition in terms of preparation. Complicating that issue is the fact that the Heat cannot afford a sluggish beginning. As much as clubs view the 82-game schedule as a marathon, Miami’s demands a sprint out of the starting blocks.
If the Heat have any visions of capturing one of the Eastern Conference’s top four seeds, they’ll have to do their heavy lifting now. They kick off the campaign with 14 of their first 19 games at home; 12 of those 19 outings pit them against lottery teams from last season.
“We do have to have urgency,” Bosh said. “… We’re in a bit of a tough situation, but that’s the league.”
VIDEO: Hornets handle Heat in Miami’s home opener
No. 4: Rockets’ new backcourt struggles in opener — Houston pulled one of the coups of the offseason when it acquired point guard Ty Lawson from the Denver Nuggets for a song. Admittedly, Lawson has his off-court problems, but the Rockets are hoping that by pairing him with James Harden on the court, they can make their offense even more devastating. That may end up being a work in progress if last night’s opener is any indication, though. Harden and Lawson were out of sync all night, writes our Fran Blinebury, as the Denver Nuggets ripped Houston:
This is a Rockets team that for the first time in recent memory didn’t feel the need to swing for the fences in upgrading the roster during the off-season, but nevertheless figured to have hit the ball out of the park with the addition of point guard Ty Lawson from Denver, of all places.
But the new backcourt pairing with Harden was comfortable as a hair shirt as they shot a combined 9-for-31 from the field and never found any kind of syncopated rhythm to what they were trying to do, turning too many possessions into model turns going singularly down the runway.
“I don’t know how many shots we had with one pass, shot, no pass, shot,” said Rockets coach Kevin McHale. “We finally have a five- or six-pass offensive possession and missed a layup. I don’t know how many shots we had blocked early in the game right at the rim. We didn’t play well.”
Much of the reason for the Nuggets success came from how they played at the defensive end. Pushing, pressuring, constantly keeping contact with the Rockets and establishing a physical tone.
“My father used to work with the Knicks years ago,” said Nuggets coach Michael Malone. “Their whole mantra was ‘Make them feel you.’ Good defensive teams make people feel you for 48 minutes and I think we did that the most part.
“Anytime you play against a great player like James Harden, you want to be physical, make him feel you, make him see bodies. Gary Harris did a great job, was into him all night long. Our bigs were in support on all those pick and rolls.”
Harden led the Rockets with 22 points and got to the line for nine free throws. But due to the constant pressure from Harris and Randy Foye and weak side help from the Denver big men in the paint, Harden was unable to finish at the basket or draw the fouls that are a steady part of his regular offense. When the whistles and the calls didn’t come, Harden became a jump shooter and not even an very confident or efficient one at that.
This is a Rockets team that supposedly sharpened its defensive claws with the return of point guard Pat Beverley, who missed the playoff run and yet they were for the most part toothless in the paint.
“Our defense, our defense, our defense, our flow,” Beverley said. “We’ve got to make this game up some way, somehow. It’s a long season. We understand that.”
VIDEO: Ty Lawson talks after his season debut with the Rockets
SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: Wondering how EVERY rookie in the NBA did last night? Well, here ya go … ICYMI, classy moment of silence last night for the late Flip Saunders before Wolves-Lakers … Great read on how Charlotte Hornets coach Steve Clifford is working to get the team back on track after a lost 2014-15 season … The Washington Wizards may not get Martell Webster back at all this season … Golden State Warriors center Andrew Bogut is sidelined indefinitely after suffering a concussion in the season-opener …
ICYMI(s) of the Night: The NBA, like life, is often about opportunity and timing. C.J. McCollum got both last night as the Portland Trail Blazers’ new starting shooting guard and capitalized on it …
VIDEO: C.J. McCollum roasts Pelicans for 37 points
… and don’t mind Justise Winslow. He’s just dunking on the entire Charlotte Hornets frontline …
VIDEO: Justise Winslow dunks over the Hornets