Baseline to Baseline

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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.

Aaron Gordon both legs over the mascot, ball-under-the-legs dunk (VIDEO)

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TORONTO — Zach LaVine won the NBA All-Star Saturday Dunk Contest, but in an epic night for my money this was the single best dunk.

Orlando’s Aaron Gordon broke ground with this one — guys have jumped over mascots and other players before (and a Kia hood), but by splitting their legs apart. Gordon just put both legs over Stuff (that’s the mascot’s name, Stuff the Magic Dragon, I don’t make this up) — and took the ball off the mascot’s head, went under his legs, and threw it down.

Insane.

Gordon deserved a trophy for his performance in this dunk contest.

Zach LaVine edges Aaron Gordon in epic, insane Dunk Contest

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TORONTO — That. Was. Amazing.

In a dunk contest that will go down with the all-time greats — Jordan vs. Dominique, Dr. J from the free throw line — Minnesota’s Zach LaVine defended his dunk contest title. Barely. Because Orlando’s Aaron Gordon was doing dunks nobody had ever seen before.

And LaVine was bringing it just as hard.

The two men advanced to the finals — dismissing Will Barton and Andre Drummond, each of whom had good dunks — and that was when it got wild.

There were four second-round dunks, and four perfect scores of 50. (That was in spite of Shaq, who wanted to give nines for second attempts.)

“I was prepared for four (second round dunks),” LaVine said. “To tell the truth, he came with something that no one else has done. He did two dunks that were just crazy with the mascots, jumping over them. We just kept pushing each other until the last dunk. I’ve got to give it up to my boy Will “The Thrill” Barton. It’s because of him I think I won. Because he said try to go from the free-throw line. I’d never done that before, and I just tried it. So I guess it was a great dunk. I think it was the best one ever.”

The Air Canada Centre crowd was exploding with every dunk. The two men went to a dunk-off — and got two more 50s.

“If I knew it was going to be like that, I would have prepared better and we would have been here dunking all night, going back 50 after 50 after 50 after 50,” Gordon said. “We would have been here all night. I didn’t know it was going to be like that. I was just hoping Zach was going to miss, and it wasn’t going to happen. You could see as my facial expressions when Zach dunks it, it’s like okay, that’s a 50. Like I know we’re going to have to dunk again.”

So they went to a second-round of overtime, where LaVine put up another 50 and won the contest.

Gordon was close to perfect.

Zach LaVine can flat-out fly.

Magic’s Aaron Gordon with the over-the-mascot mad dunk

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TORONTO — Aaron Gordon was giving Zach LaVine all he could handle in the Dunk Contest.

He blew the lid off the Air Canada Centre with this dunk in the first round — and it wasn’t even his best dunk of the night. Never seen this before.

This dunk contest was awesome, so much more video to come.

Zach LaVine opens Slam Dunk Contest title defense with spectacular behind-the-back slam (VIDEO)

during the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge 2016 at Air Canada Centre on February 12, 2016 in Toronto, Canada. 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.
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TORONTO — Zach LaVine clearly heard all the talk that Aaron Gordon or Will Barton had a chance to upset him in the Slam Dunk Contest. He came out ready to prove his superiority right off the bat. This behind-the-back slam was his first attempt of the night:

Even better was the reaction, both from Andre Drummond and from LaVine’s Minnesota teammates: