The NBA returned on Christmas Day with five star-studded matchups. The Heat got a little bit of payback on the Mavs. The Warriors got lost in "Lob City." Carmelo and the Knicks finally beat the Celtics, and Superman's Magic squad failed to take out the Durantula and the Thunder.
The most intriguing matchup of the holiday was the Chicago Bulls against the Los Angeles Lakers. There were many questions circulating surrounding this game, and most of them were answered by the final buzzer.
Is Rip Hamilton the answer for the Bulls at shooting guard?
Nope. I was hard pressed to find any upgrade the Bulls made going to Hamilton from the recently-released Keith Bogans. His loss of speed on the defensive end was evident in his five personal fouls in 23 minutes of play, and he wasn't present on the court while the Bulls mounted their game-winning comeback.
That is not going to be helpful when the Bulls meet teams like the Miami Heat. You can't really ask Hamilton to guard D-Wade, which won't take any defensive pressure off of D-Rose.
Can the new Lakers provide adequate support to Kobe?
No. First, let's give credit to the Bulls' defense for holding the Lakers to 87 points and making key plays to help set up Derrick Rose's game-winning floater, but Los Angeles didn't have any legitimate scoring options outside of Kobe Bryant.
Pau Gasol was big in the first half but seemed to take a nap once the Lakers took the lead in the second half. If the Lakers would have had another option like...let's say a Lamar Odom...they probably would be 1-0 right now.
Josh McRoberts wasn't even a starter on the eighth-seeded Indiana Pacers last season, now he's a starter on the heralded Los Angeles Lakers? C'mon man! (Keyshawn voice)
Can the Bulls bring the defensive intensity they came with last season?
Yes they can! (Obama voice) The defense continued right where they left off last season. The Bulls definitely have a championship-quality defense, it's still the question of who's their second option on the offensive end that will decide whether they get over the hump this season.
Does Kobe still have it?
Yes. Next question.
Will D-Rose build on his MVP performance of last season?
Based on his performance yesterday, Derrick Rose will be an even better player than he was last season. He scored a team-high 22 points and was 4-for-6 from three-point range. He seemed very patient while looking for his shots and was able to drain a game winner while on the display in front of the whole country. Mr. Director, Derrick is ready for his close-up.
With one day in the books, it looks like NBA fans have an exciting, drama-filled and fast-paced season to look forward to. Who says the rushed start to the season has to bring sloppy and uninspired ball? Lockout? What lockout?
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