Baseline to Baseline


Our game recaps from Sunday, the stuff you missed while watching four hours of Super Bowl previews. Did you really need to watch all of it?

Orlando 96, Boston 89.
Another game, another collapse from the Celtics. In the final seven minutes of the third quarter (after a Rajon Rondo three put the Celtics up by nine), the Celtics went 0-8 from the floor with five turnovers. Meanwhile, Orlando went 8-11, and 4 of 4 from three. Orlando did not collapse, they got the win.

Celtics fans should be worried. This is not a little slump anymore. Injuries are a part of it, but the Celtics don’t respond well to adversity, they don’t seem to believe in their offensive identity. They still get the penetration their offense needs but against Orlando when they kicked out they clanked it. They rarely drove and got the contact and got to the line. Orlando backed off and dared Rondo to shoot and it started to work, the Boston ball movement was inconsistent. Their defense can take lapses as well. Mike Breen beat this stat into the ground but it is a good one — the Celtics have blown nine double digit leads and lost since Christmas.

Of course, if you are an Orlando fan, this was not a collapse but a comeback. And they did earn this. Orlando could not seem to miss in the third. They stiffened up their defense. If they  got the kind of game out of Vince Carter consistently would scare the entire NBA — a very controlled 20 points on 7 of 13 from the floor. Their big run came after Dwight Howard got his fourth foul and Stan Van Gundy left him in the game. Credit Van Gundy for the move, and Howard for playing smart and not picking up another foul.

Orlando has not put it all together for a stretch yet and looked like a title contender, but it’s games like this — second halves like this really — where you think they could. You don’t get that feeling watching Boston right now.

Raptors 115, Kings 104. Here’s everything you really need to know about this game: The Kings entered the fourth quarter up three then went 2 of 11 in the paint the rest of the way. Bosh had one of the best blocks of the year on a Jason Thompson shot, while Spencer Hawes couldn’t hit his little running hook to save his life. The Kings scored just 15 in the final stanza because Toronto played some defense. Seriously.

The Kings have other things to think abut: Kevin Martin still can’t find his outside shot. He finished 4 of 13 from the midrange or deeper. To his credit, Martin attacked the rim, got to the free throw like 12 times and finished with a team-high 24. But with Tyreke Evans on the team, you don’t need the slashing as much as you do the outside threat. When Toronto actually played a little defense in the paint in the fourth quarter, Sacramento had no good counter punch (save Delonte Green). Dallas still wants to trade for Martin, if the Kings don’t think Martin can play along side Evans (they have just one win since Martin returned to the lineup) they have to consider decent offers.

For Toronto, Bosh was Bosh like, 36 points of 14 of 18 from the floor. Hedo Turkoglu is not going to be confused with Rip Hamilton anytime soon (the new mask clearly irritated him as he fidgeted with it all game). He didn’t wear it during warm-ups but had to for the game on team orders (a hit to the bridge of his nose right now could cost him his eyesight). Turkoglu went out and hit four of his first five and had nine first quarter points, but was 2 of 9 the rest of the way.

Three things we learned Thursday: Dwight Howard can go home again

Atlanta Hawks center Dwight Howard (8) makes his way through the crowd as he leaves the court following a win over the Washington Wizards in an NBA basketball game Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
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The NBA is back, as is PBT with our morning recap of what you need to know from the night before around the NBA — three things we learned. This is what you missed while checking out the Pokemon statue in New Orleans.

1) Dwight Howard can go home again (at least for one game).
What has everyone been asking of Dwight Howard for years and years? Simply play hard defense, crash the boards, and let the offense come to you. Maybe Howard needed to go home for those lessons to sink in. Playing his first game for his hometown Hawks, Howard was a beast on the boards, particularly in the first half. He had seven boards in the first six minutes, and by half he had corralled 15 boards and scored nine points. He finished the night with 19 rebounds and 11 points, which included some highlight dunks.

Howard also played good defense, and the Hawks got the win at home over the Wizards. We’ll see if this Howard keeps showing up night after night, but it was a promising start.

While Howard was good, make no mistake Paul Millsap is still the Hawks best player. He finished the game with 28 points, seven rebounds, six assists and was a plus 22. He took over in the second half and was part of the reason the Hawks pulled away with a 23-5 run in the fourth.

2) What spacing problems? Bulls shoot 44 percent from three in win over Celtics. Boston’s defensive game plan was the one every team is going to employ against Chicago: With Rajon Rondo, Dwyane Wade, and Jimmy Butler on the floor, just go under all the picks and dare for the Bulls to win with jumpers. Because we all know the Bulls can’t shoot. Except Thursday night the Rondo/Wade/Butler trio hit 9-of-14 from thee, and as a team the Bulls shot 44 percent from deep. That included Wade knocking down the dagger three in a win over the Celtics.

Make no mistake, the Bulls still had shooting woes — they shot 37.3 percent inside the arc — they just got bailed out by the threes and 18 offensive rebounds. Chicago is not going to shoot from deep like this every game. Expect them to regress to the mean over the next few games. But it’s a hopeful sign for Bulls fans, this team was knocking down shots when it needed to for a night. Or, maybe it’s just the Bulls save their best games for TNT.

3) Blake Griffin is healthy and people seem to forget just how good he is. There was Reggie Miller on the TNT broadcast saying “Blake Griffin is back” as the Clippers’ forward scored 27 and pulled down 13 boards in a win in Portland. Some were expressing the same sentiment on Twitter. Their wrong. Griffin isn’t back, he’s healthy. And when he’s healthy he is an awesome force of nature who can score inside and out, crashes the boards, and is a deft passer. He’s as good as any power forward in the game when right. Remember, back in 2014 when Chris Paul had to miss extended time Griffin came in third in the MVP voting? That wasn’t a fluke.

Griffin and CP3 are healthy, and so long as they stay that way this Clippers team is one of the top four in the NBA and a real threat to at least make the conference finals. They just need to keep themselves together for 81 more games.

Howard, Millsap, Hardaway lead Hawks past Wizards 114-99

ATLANTA, GA - OCTOBER 27:  Paul Millsap #4 of the Atlanta Hawks shoots against Andrew Nicholson #44 of the Washington Wizards at Philips Arena on October 27, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia.  NOTE TO USER User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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ATLANTA (AP) Dwight Howard dominated the boards in his Atlanta debut, Paul Millsap scored 28 points and Tim Hardaway Jr. ignited the new-look Hawks to a 114-99 victory over the Washington Wizards in their season opener Thursday night.

Howard grabbed 19 rebounds to go along with 11 points, just what the Hawks expected from their new center, and it certainly wasn’t unusual for three-time All-Star Millsap to lead the way in scoring.

But Hardaway’s performance was totally unexpected given the way he struggled in his first season with the Hawks, when he was largely confined to the bench and even forced to spend time in the D-League.

He scored 21 points, matching his high in an Atlanta uniform, and broke open a close game with back-to-back 3-pointers in the fourth. The Hawks, who led only 81-80 heading to the final period, outscored the Wizards 33-19 over the final 12 minutes.

Markieff Morris led Washington with 22 points, but it was a tough night for the Wizards’ dynamic backcourt duo. John Wall finished with only 12 points on 3-of-15 shooting, while Bradley Beal was held to 13.

Hardaway, on the other hand, scored 12 points in the final period, breaking open a game that was close through the first three quarters.


Wizards: Marcin Gortat had 11 rebounds but didn’t have much help. Washington was outrebounded 52-40. … Otto Porter was the only other Washington player in double figures with 10 points. … The Wizards locked arms during the national anthem.

Hawks: Howard posted the most rebounds for anyone in their Atlanta debut, breaking the mark of 18 that Shareef Abdur-Rahim set at Houston on Oct. 30, 2001. … Dennis Schroder, taking over as the starting point guard after the trade of Jeff Teague, had 14 points but only two assists.

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Report: Kevin Garnett joining TNT; in talks with Cavaliers, others about coaching consultant role

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If you’re wondering what Kevin Garnett is going to do now that he’s retired, turns out sitting on the couch with a bag of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos and watching Judge Judy is not the answer.

He is headed to the TNT studio show, something announced Thursday night during the broadcast.

Garnett also may be consulting with some teams — including the NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers. So reports Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

There are a lot of teams that could use KG as a consultant, I would expect the Timberwolves are part of that mix as well. He’s going to have the respect and ear of players for teams trying to get a message across to a young squad.

Garnett isn’t doing this for the money, he can pick-and-choose where he feels comfortable and needed.

Watch Dwyane Wade hit dagger three to lift Bulls past Celtics


What spacing problems?

Dwyane Wade, Jimmy Butler, and Rajon Rondo combined to shoot 9-of-14 from three in the Bulls season opener at home Thursday night. As a team, the Bulls shot 44 percent from three.

That included Dwyane Wade’s dagger three with a hand in his face to seal the 105-99 win.

The Bulls are not going to shoot like this every night, but they looked good on Thursday.