It had to end sometime. The Heat finally lost a game after winning 27 in a row, falling to the Bulls tonight despite the absence of Joakim Noah and Derrick Rose. That leaves the Knicks, who earned their sixth straight victory with a win over the Grizzlies this evening, as the team with the longest current winning streak in the NBA. The six W's in a row have allowed the Knicks to essentially end the Celtics' hopes of a sixth straight division title, and New York has built a three-game lead on second-place Brooklyn, pending the Nets' late game against the Blazers. Here's more on a pair of teams looking up at New York in the Atlantic standings.
- Last year's Gerald Wallace deal allowed the Blazers to select Damian Lillard sixth overall in the draft this past June, but if that trade hadn't happened, the Nets still wouldn't have Lillard, writes Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News. Brooklyn's scouts weren't high on last year's draft class, and the team likely would have traded the pick elsewhere if Portland hadn't come along, a source tells Bondy, who adds that the Nets weren't close to trading for Paul Pierce at the deadline a year ago, either.
- SB Nation's Paul Flannery delivers a lengthy piece on Celtics assistant GM Ryan McDonough, examining his role in drafting Rajon Rondo and Avery Bradley, along with plenty of insight on the team's inner workings. The article deserves a look in full, particularly for Boston fans, and details someone who appears poised to take over an NBA front office sometime soon. "He’s very good at what he does," C's coach Doc Rivers said. "He’ll be a GM. There’s no doubt about that."
- Jared Sullinger's back had him red-flagged by NBA doctors before last year's draft, and even though the rookie is out for the season after undergoing back surgery, Rivers doesn't regret the Celtics taking him 21st overall, as Mary Schmitt Boyer of The Plain Dealer notes.
Rajon Rondo's season-ending ACL injury was expected to leave an opening for the ninth-seeded 76ers to make a move in the Eastern Conference. The Sixers have held up their end of the bargain so far, winning three of their last four games, but the Celtics have been playing well without their All-Star point guard, winning four in a row. With Boston off tonight, the Sixers will look to gain a half-game in the standings by handing the Magic their 10th straight loss. Here are a few other updates out of the Atlantic:
3:52pm: The Celtics have officially announced that Sullinger underwent successful lumbar disc surgery today. He's expected to be ready for training camp next season, according to the team.
2:32pm: Celtics forward Jared Sullinger will miss the remainder of his rookie year with a back injury, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. According to Wojnarowski, Sullinger will require season-ending surgery.
Leading up to last year's draft, Sullinger was medically red flagged by NBA doctors due to concerns about his back, which likely resulted in him slipping out of the lottery. The Celtics drafted the Ohio State product 21st overall, a pick that appeared to be a steal, but it seems that those concerns about his back were warranted.
For the Celtics, things go from bad to worse, as the Sullinger news comes less than a week after the team learned that Rajon Rondo has suffered a season-ending ACL injury. There was already speculation that the Celtics would need to make a roster move as a result of the Rondo injury, and Sullinger's injury makes it even more unlikely that the C's will be any sort of threat in the postseason this year -- if they even qualify.
Chris Mannix of SI.com had reported earlier this week that rival teams considered Sullinger one of the Celtics' most attractive assets, though Mannix noted that Boston wasn't expected to part with him in a trade.
Even before we learned that Rajon Rondo was done for the year with a torn ACL, we expected to hear plenty of Celtics-related trade rumors leading up to next month's trade deadline. That number of rumors figures to exponentially increase now that Rondo's on the shelf, and we've rounded up a few of Monday morning's rumblings right here:
- We heard yesterday that the Grizzlies may have interest in Paul Pierce, but according to ESPN.com's Marc Stein (Twitter link), Memphis is unlikely to seriously pursue the longtime Celtic. The Grizzlies are hoping to add depth, shooting, and/or youth if they move Gay, so Pierce wouldn't be an ideal fit, tweets Stein.
- Stein adds (via Twitter) that the Celtics have shown exploratory interest in Gay but aren't likely to take on significant long-term salary.
- Stein gets the sense that Kyle Lowry is a probable target for Boston, but isn't sure whether or not the Celtics have the assets to land him (Twitter link).
- Multiple team executives tell Chris Mannix of SI.com (Twitter link) that Jared Sullinger is considered the most-appealing Celtic, but Mannix says the C's aren't expected to part with the rookie forward.
- We also rounded up a number of Celtics-related rumors yesterday in the wake of the Rondo announcement.
During this upcoming Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the Knicks
play their final game of the season against each other in a matinee at Madison Square Garden. Monday's matchup stands to be the most significant of the cross-town rivals' meetings this season, as a full game will be on the line with just two games separating the team in the Eastern Conference standings. The surging Nets under the guidance of P.J. Carlesimo
have gone 9-2 in their last 11 games, while the Knicks, despite being without point guard Raymond Felton
, will bring Amare Stoudemire
and Iman Shumpert
into the mix for their first games against Brooklyn this season. With that aside, here are a few miscellaneous rumblings out of the Eastern Conference tonight:
- Knicks star Carmelo Anthony says he feels re-energized after returning to a regular diet after fasting for two weeks, writes Frank Isola of the New York Daily News. Isola mentions that during Anthony's fast, his on-court performances had been mixed.
- With only one game this past week, the extra time off should only be of benefit to the Knicks, writes Al Iannazzone of Newsday. He also notes that Felton, who wants to play against Boston on Thursday, thinks that next weekend is a more realistic return date from injury.
- Although prone to injury because of his energetic and all-out style of play, Gerald Wallace says he's not changing his game (Roderick Boone of Newsday reports). Later, Boone discusses Keith Bogans success as one of the Nets' more productive role players.
- Greg Payne of ESPN Boston thinks that Jared Sullinger deserves to be selected for the NBA's Rookie-Sophomore game during All-Star Weekend and notes that head coach Doc Rivers and many of the Celtics players strongly agree.
The latest news and notes from around the NBA on Thursday night:
The latest news and notes from around the Atlantic Division:
Through two games, it sure looks like multitude of veteran additions that the Knicks made this offseason have made them a more complete team. In the Atlantic division's only contest today, the Knicks stayed unbeaten in impressive fashion with a 100-84 win over the rival 76ers. They are now 2-0 for the first time since 1999.
Let's round up some other Sunday night links from around the Atlantic divsion here:
- ESPN Boston's Chris Forsberg breaks down first round pick Jared Sullinger's night on Saturday, a game in which he was thrust into the Celtics starting lineup in his third game as a pro. Sullinger responded admirably, grabbing 7 boards in more than 30 minutes of action.
- 76ers head coach Doug Collins is still hopeful that he can help "unlock" third-year swing man Evan Turner, and thinks it could be just one breakout game away, writes John Finger of CSN Philly. Turner, the second pick in the 2010 NBA Draft, has showed stellar rebounding skills but the rest of his game has yet to develop as planned.
- Brook Lopez spent much of the offseason in the weight room in an effort to improve his rebounding abilities, writes Roderick Boone of Newsday, but the Nets big man has yet to see the results of his hard work translate on the court.
- The Knicks have held their first two opponents to 84 points or less for the first time in 60 years, writes Jared Zwerling of ESPN New York. Carmelo Anthony seems to be buying into Mike Woodson's defensive philosophy, and his teammates have noticed and followed suit.
- One of those teammates is Knicks guard J.R. Smith, who was told to shoot on Sunday by Woodson and responded with 20 points off the bench, writes Ian Begley of ESPN New York. Smith, who is normally prone to jacking up too many bad shots, joined the Knicks last season after returning from China and reupped with the team on a two-year deal in July.
- The rebuilt Celtics may take longer to mesh than originally expected, opines Sherrod Blakely. Blakely says that Kevin Garnett's defensive abilities make him uniquely critical as all the new pieces try to find their place on the team.
The Celtics' win tonight ends a two-game losing skid to start the season. Before the game, Rajon Rondo
told reporters that he accepts the responsibility
of setting the tone defensively, and with the team allowing 86 points after giving up an average of nearly 110 PPG over their first two games, it was certainly a start in the right direction. We've got more notable links from Boston tonight, courtesy of CSNNE.com:
A few bits of information from around the NBA's Atlantic Division:
- Despite having a little bit of success in the preseason, receiving commendable quotes from teammates such as Rajon Rondo and Kevin Garnett, Celtics rookie Jared Sullinger remains humble, realizing he has much to learn in the early years of his career, writes CSNNE.com's A. Sherrod Blakely.
- Celtics head coach Doc Rivers says his team could feature three different starting lineups this season, with Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce, and Kevin Garnett as the pillars, and a rotation of Brandon Bass, Jeff Green, and Sullinger filling in at power forward, writes WEEI.com's Mike Petraglia.
- The Sixers have a very professional roster, and it could make Doug Collins' job that much easier, writes the Philadelphia Inquirer's Bob Cooney.