SH Blog: Knicks-Nets autopsy; Gasol trade unlikely; Skiles empties bench for win

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  • The problems in Chicago extend beyond the absence of Derrick Rose, the Bulls’ franchise player. Head enforcer Tom Thibodeau was so fed up with the new-and-unproved bench that he called on only eight players against the Milwaukee Bucks. The visitors promptly overturned a 27-point deficit with a closing 31-4 run en route to a 93-92 victory, their first against their Central Division rivals in the last 10 tries, as Bucks coach Scott Skiles used a fourth-quarter lineup of Ersan Ilyasova, Epke Udoh, Beno Udrih, Mike Dunleavy and Doron Lamb. Chief sitting Bulls: veterans Marco Belinelli, Nazr Mohammed, Vladimir Radmanovic and Nate Robinson. Coughing up a 27-point, third-quarter lead to the Bucks on Monday brought back painful memories of that December 2009 loss to the (Sacramento) Kings, in which the Bulls blew a 35-point advantage, Chicago Tribune beat writer K.J. Johnson recalled. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that was the biggest rally in the NBA since Utah overcame a 36-point deficit to beat Denver on Nov. 27, 1996. Both of those Bulls’ losses came on Monday nights. Both featured Beno Udrih playing a part in the opponent’s comeback. And both were astonishing to watch.
  • Could be that Kirk Hinrich’s jersey isn’t the only thing headed to the toilet these days?
  • Call me crazy – place bag over head here – but I won’t bury the Washington Wizards until they have Nene and John Wall in the lineup for an extended period, if and when that ever happens.
  • The San Antonio Spurs handed the Wizards a 26-point loss, as the homies fell for the 12th time in as many tries this season. Things have gotten so bad in Old D.C. that even Andray Blatche has begun to take shots at his former team via Twitter. Presumably, this is the same guy who started as many as 40 games in only one of seven seasons with them. As the Washington Times’ Carla Peay reported: “Nene was nowhere to be found. The Washington Wizards‘ 6-foot-11 center wasn’t on the inactive list, but he wasn’t at the end of the bench, either. After playing more than 48 minutes total in the last two games, Nene sat out against the San Antonio Spurs on Monday at Verizon Center, a 26-point blowout loss. Although Nene’s presence in those two games didn’t produce a win, it did provide a spark and some much-needed hope that the Wizards could at least start to turn around their dismal season. Without him, and facing one the NBA’s best teams over the past decade, the Wizards had no chance, losing 118-92 to drop to 0-12. “We’re all embarrassed, plain and simple,” said Martell Webster, who scored 16 points. “We knew the game plan, (we) didn’t come out and execute it. Our all-around effort was not up to par. We have to be better. There’s no excuses.”
  • In the meantime, circle the game against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday, Dec. 26, just in case. On that evening, the Wizards could tie the Association record with their 26th consecutive loss against the franchise that holds the current mark for futility.
  • Lakers veteran Pau Gasol may be the odd man out in Mike D’Antoni’s shoot-’em-up offense, but according to the Los Angeles Times, don’t expect the veteran to be traded any time soon, according to Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times: ”The Lakers aren’t actively looking to trade Gasol right now, The Times has learned, because they want to see what happens when (Steve) Nash returns from a small fracture in his leg. After that, there are two important dates: Dec. 15 is when teams can deal players they signed during the off-season, opening up about 20% more of the NBA’s player pool; and Feb. 21, the league’s trade deadline. The question is, even if Gasol was shopped around, who would make a reasonable offer for him? His $19.3-million salary is almost certain to put any new team over the salary cap threshold next season, when the luxury tax becomes much steeper. Morever, the 32-year-old Gasol has tendinitis in both knees, we’re told. Combine his regular-season (810) and postseason (101) games and add a few hundred more in international play, and he’s closer to 35 in basketball years.
  • My free advice in the absence of an offer that can’t be refused: Reduce the load on Gasol in the regular season then turn him loose in the playoffs, when his value in the paint may never be greater.
  • In case you missed it, our Most Improved Player Rankings were updated today. Check ‘em out.

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Paul Ladewski is a veteran Chicago sports writer who has covered every sport except sumo wrestling. He is the latest veteran scribe to join the staff of Dinosaurs ‘R Us SheridanHoops.com. For regular blog updates, follow @SheridanBlog.

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