Culver City Observer -

Clippers Pass The Chicago Test; Lakers Don't

 

November 24, 2016



I went to Staples Center Saturday and Sunday nights. That’s no surprise since my job requires keeping up with the Lakers and Clippers.

But the weekend had a special significance. The Chicago Bulls were in town. They’re not a great team but a good one. They’ve added free agent Dwayne Wade and I expected them to provide a test for the LA teams. Could they meet the challenge?

The Clippers passed the Chicago test but the Lakers didn’t.

The Bulls were tearing the Clippers apart early in the game but the Clippers were very impressive in rallying to win. Blake Griffin was terrific.

Now the Clippers have a 12-2 record and expect them to be formidable all season.

By contrast, the Lakers had an early lead the next night but the Bulls overtook them and now the Lakers are 7-7.

I’ve written it before. Let me say again the Lakers haven’t been able to attract elite free agents since owner Jerry Buss died. So they’re making progress but it’s gradual.

No Kobe Bryant anymore. No free agents who could have elevated them considerably. Their young players acquired in the draft are promising but none are as good as Jimmy Butler of the Bulls.

Butler scored 40 points on a night whem Wade was resting (not injured, just resting, something NBA teams do now).

“I felt the team needed that from me,” said Butler, who led the Bulls back from their deficit.

He also talked about how valuable Wade has been since he left Miami this season and chose to play for his hometown Chicago team.

“He’s 34, our oldest player and he’s set an example for the young guys,” said Butler.

Sam Smith, who covered the Bulls for many years as a nationally respected newspaper beat writer when I traveled with the Lakers, now writes for the Bulls’ website and travels with the team.

We go way back and we spent some time together Saturday and Sunday.

“Wade has been a wonderful role model for Butler,” he said.

Basically that means Butler is a special talent and now he has an old pro to show him how to reach the next level.

Wade signed a two-year contract with the Bulls for $47 million.

Chicago has nine new players on its roster and Wade has joined Butler in establishing a sound foundation.

The Bulls have a 9-5 record and that’s better than was expected considering the roster shakeup.

I wonder if the Bulls will be able to qualify for the Eastern Conference championship series against the Cavaliers.

We’re many months away from answering that question but it’s on my mind.

 

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