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Cavs, Rockets Win, Combine Underway, NBA Uniforms!

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A few notes for your Wednesday morning

David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Morning all.

The Cavs cruised out to a big lead before holding off a furious Bulls rally that included a Jimmy Butler 3 point attempt in the final minute that would have given them the lead. Free throws sealed the 106-101 Cavs win, and give them a 3-2 series lead as they head back to Chicago for game six. LeBron James dominated, scoring 38 points to go along with 12 boards and six assists. He attacked relentlessly and didn't turn the ball over, while an obviously hampered Kyrie Irving took on the role of shooter, making 9-16 from the floor for 25 points. An odd feature of this game is that the Cavs starters, including James and Irving, were all negative in +/- for the game despite the gaudy numbers, while their bench guys were positive.

It was the opposite for the Bulls, who were without Pau Gasol, but their starters still hung in there despite a 7-24 night from Derrick Rose. Jimmy Butler went for 29 on 9-18 from the floor and the entire starting lineup was in double figures. Ultimately it wasn't enough, as the Bulls have now lost two straight and face elimination.

The Rockets actually staved off elimination after everyone had written them off, beating the Clippers in Houston 124-103. They shot 54% from the field (though only 31% from three) and their ability to put the ball in the basket was immense, as it slowed the Clippers down (only 3 fast break points compared to 17 for the Rockets).  The Clippers got big games from Blake Griffin and Chris Paul, but their bench turned back into a pumpkin, with Austin Rivers going 3-11 and world tilting back on it's axis.

The Rockets moved Terrence Jones to the bench and Josh Smith to the starting lineup, which might have helped them on the boards, a triple double from James Harden, and big games from Dwight Howard and Trevor Ariza to push out to a big halftime lead that they never relinquished. Whether this was the start of a turnaround or simply the doomed last stand for the Rockets remains to be seen. Game six in back in L.A. on Friday.

Not much from the combine so far; I guess one of the ESPN channels will be covering it Thursday and Friday when the guys actually play basketball. Meanwhile:

Anyone like him?

In coaching news, Monty Williams is out in New Orleans despite making the playoffs in the competitive Western Conference. I suspect it had to do with his inability to put together an even league average defense given the personnel available. The Pelicans can't afford to waste seasons with an MVP level do-everything power forward like a team far to the north of them did for a decade.

Meanwhile, the Christmas uniform designs have been leaked, and can be seen at uniwatch. I like em. unsurprisingly, the Wolves are not among those featured. I'm wrong as usual. There is a Wolves version there, as pointed out in comments.

Today in history

1110: Crusaders march into Beirut, hundreds killed
1568: Mary Queen of Scots is defeated by English at Langside
1607: English colonists led by John Smith land in what later is Virginia
1787: 11 ships full of criminals sets sail from England bound for Australia
1830: Republic of Ecuador founded
1865: Final engagement of Civil War takes place near Brownsville, TX
1947: Senate approves Taft-Hartley Act 
1952: Pandit Nehru becomes premier of India
1958: "Velcro" trademark registered
1981: Pope John Paul II is shot in Vatican City
1989: 2,000 students begin hunger strike in Tianenmen Square

Today's musical birthday is Stevie Wonder, born in 1950