Biggest Takeaways from Friday Night's NBA Action

Jonathan Wasserman@@NBADraftWassNBA Lead WriterDecember 22, 2012

Biggest Takeaways from Friday Night's NBA Action

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    There was a lot of entertainment around the NBA Friday night, including some ejections, blowouts and pressure-packed buckets.

    Paul Pierce's three-pointer to tie the game with a few tics on the clock wasn't enough, as the struggling Boston Celtics dropped one to the Milwaukee Bucks at home in OT.

    The Washington Wizards continue to fight hard for the most ping-pong balls in the draft lottery, totaling 68 points in a 32-point loss to the Pistons.

    And the Knicks-Bulls game saw Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler, Mike Woodson and Joakim Noah all hit the showers early.

    Depending on who you root for, you may or may not have had a good Friday night's sleep. Just take a guess what side of the fence I fall on.

The Celtics Need to Add Athletes

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    It's no longer just a number: The Celtics' age is really becoming a problem.

    They were overwhelmed by athleticism in both the backcourt and up front. Monta Ellis scored 27 points, while Larry Sanders went off for 17 points and 20 boards in an overtime win at the Garden.

    Kevin Garnett was held to 6-of-22 from the floor and seven total rebounds. Outside of Paul Pierce, the rest of the starting lineup shot a horrid 10-of-45 for a sizzling 22 percent from the floor.

    With Jason Terry limited to mostly low-percentage perimeter scoring and none of Boston's frontcourt possessing any firepower or explosiveness, the Celtics will be vulnerable to athletic teams like the Milwaukee Bucks.

    Boston could use some athletes to inject some life into its lineup and allow it to play a little bit more above the rim with the rest of the league.

Chicago Bulls Don't Need Derrick Rose to Play Defense

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    Tom Thibodeau showed why he's a premier coach in this league after the Chicago Bulls defeated the New York Knicks for the second time this season. 

    Chicago plays as physical a brand of defense as any team in the league, and it doesn't need Derrick Rose to do it.

    Joakim Noah has been tremendous for Chicago inside, and Friday night was no different. He held Tyson Chandler, who has had his way with almost every big man this year, to one made field goal. That is almost as impressive as holding him to only one field-goal attempt.

    There were no Chandler dunks or tip-ins when Joakim Noah was on patrol.

    Luol Deng has always been excellent defending the ball, while Kirk Hinrich's basketball IQ makes him an asset on defense as well.

    Chicago's ability to protect the rim and the perimeter will help offset some of the production it'll lose with Rose on the sidelines.

Andre Drummond Has a Bright Future

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    Though Andre Drummond's scoring opportunities might be limited, he's making the most of his minutes by rebounding and blocking shots.

    Drummond suffers offensively from the inability to create his own shot, but that hasn't stopped him from contributing valuable minutes.

    Against Washington, he scored 11 points, grabbed 14 boards and blocked five shots. His combination of size, athleticism and coordination allow him to play higher above the rim than practically anyone on the floor.

    He's grabbing rebounds at their highest point and making it difficult for opponents to get any clean looks inside. And he is doing this without offensive polish at only 19 years old.

    I compared him to DeAndre Jordan when he first got into the league, although Jordan never produced this early the way Drummond is doing now.

    When he figures out how to score more effectively, Drummond has scary potential and should play a significant role in the NBA.

The Real Raymond Felton Isn't as Good as Advertised

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    Ignore the 21 points Raymond Felton put up in garbage time in the Knicks' home loss to Chicago.

    Felton was pretty awful for most of this game, and he finds himself in one of those slumps that has essentially defined his career as a pro.

    He's missed his last 11 attempts from behind the arc, and his field-goal percentage has dipped below 40 percent.

    Felton is an excellent pick-and-roll facilitator, which is made easy with Tyson Chandler. But Chandler was neutralized by Joakim Noah, and Felton was left with his pants down.

    Felton has been great for the Knicks this year, but he'll sprinkle in a dud every few days. That is what separates him from the top echelon of point guards.

Larry Sanders Needs Minutes

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    If you appreciate high motors and relentless activity, you'll enjoy watching Larry Sanders.

    The former VCU product makes an impact every time he gets minutes. That was evident against Boston, when he went for 17 points and 20 rebounds.

    Sanders has aggressive bounce, explosive athleticism and excellent coordination for a 6'11'' center.

    When you take a look at the other members of Milwaukee's frontcourt, such as Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Ekpe Udoh and Ersan Ilyasova, there's not exactly an intimidating presence at the top.

    Scott Skiles should find a way for Sanders to play a more consistent role given his high rate of production per minute.

Standout Performances

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    David Lee racked up his first triple-double of the year, going for 23 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists against the Charlotte Bobcats. Lee is playing the most complete basketball of his career, but what makes it worthwhile is that he's winning for the first time in his eight-year career.

    Larry Sanders went for 17 points and 20 boards against the Celtics, and though the numbers don't reflect it, he's one of the most improved players in the league so far.

    Stephen Curry scored 27 points on eight three-pointers, looking as smooth as ever. Let's just hope those hard-shell taco ankles hold up.

    Paul Pierce followed up his 40-point game against Cleveland with 35 against the Bucks. The Celtics need a better secondary scorer in order to keep up with improving younger teams in the East.

    Luol Deng had 29 points and 13 rebounds against the Knicks, posing as the team's primary scoring option and fulfilling his go-to duties.