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.

Lou Williams trolls Jimmy Butler for resting during All-Star Game

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Jimmy Butler was in Los Angeles and enjoying his well-earned All-Star slot on Team Stephen.

Well, except for the actual playing basketball part. Butler did not set foot on the court during the All-Star Game at his own request.

“Rest,” Butler said when asked why he didn’t play. “I have to rest. I have to rest my body up. This Timberwolves season is very, very important to me. I’ve got to make sure I’m ready to roll when I get back there.”

Lou Williams, the Clippers’ guard who likely would have been near the front of the line for an open All-Star roster spot in the West (likely second in the queue behind Chris Paul), but instead took part in the Saturday Skills Competition then had Sunday off, trolled Butler for it on Twitter.

This seems more good natured than genuinely bitter.

Williams will roll with it, but his point’s a valid one — if you’re an All-Star, at least play a little and give the people what they want. Get out there for five minutes or whatever. LaMarcus Aldridge only played four minutes, no big deal.

If you’re not going to use the roster spot, give it up to someone who will.

Report: Raptors won’t sign Vince Carter if he gets bought out

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Of returning to the Raptors, Vince Carter said, “It’ll happen one day.” It sounds as if the Kings would buy him out if he wants.

Will he end the season with Toronto?

Josh Lewenberg of TSN 1050:

After speaking with a few team sources, I can confirm that they’ve had internal dialogue and debate about the idea of bringing Vince Carter back. It’s something that they wanted to do over the summer. That’s why they made him an offer, something that I’ve reported in the past. And it’s also something that they’d be open to in the future, perhaps next year in some capacity. But they’ve decided now is not the right time. And I think the consensus seems to be there’s so much going on right now, and they want this season to be about this team, their accomplishments and their playoff push and not the sideshow that I think would come with a Vince Carter return.

The Raptors (41-16) are on pace for their best record ever. They’re excelling offensively and defensively. Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan are spearheading a more dynamic offense that spurs hope for more playoff success.

Toronto is probably correct to save the Carter reunion for another year – though it depends who else is available. That 15th roster spot could be useful. If Carter is the best player who’d sign, the Raptors should sign him and deal with the hoopla.

But it’s not clear whom they could get or whether they could even get Carter. He hasn’t sounded like someone who’d forgo guaranteed salary to play for the minimum.

Tiago Splitter announces retirement

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Tiago Splitter was so effective in his role for the Spurs during their playoff run to the 2014 title – 19.1 PER, .239 win shares per 48 minutes, +7.5 box plus-minus. It gets forgotten, because he twice lost his starting job that postseason.

Limited by a late start in the NBA and injuries, Splitter’s prime was short and ill-timed. He was a traditional center just as those were going out of style.

But for moments in the right matchups, he provided a major boost to a championship team. That was the peak of a seven-year NBA career.

HoopsHype:

Tiago Splitter announced his retirement at the age of 33 in an interview with SporTV.

Splitter just couldn’t get healthy. He missed 150 games over the last three years with the Spurs, Hawks and 76ers.

Drafted No. 28 in 2007, Splitter remained overseas for a few years and built hype and intrigue. He signed with San Antonio and started alongside Tim Duncan for a couple years. The Spurs later dumped him on Atlanta to clear space for LaMarcus Aldridge – a sign of Splitter’s success. He earned about $47 million in his NBA career.

J.J. Redick apologizes for saying what sounded like a slur for Chinese people

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76ers guard J.J. Redick explained saying what sounded like a slur for Chinese people – he was tongue-tied. But he didn’t actually apologize, and that bothered many.

Now, he’s getting that part right.

Redick:

Maybe Redick really did just stumble over his words. Based on the inflection, it certainly sounds possible.

Maybe he thought he was being funny then got caught.

He’d respond now the same way now either way. Maybe it’s just unfortunate he’s caught up in this. Maybe he’s using plausible deniability to get away with something.

I don’t know, but it’s good he apologized. People can apologize for accidents, and it usually helps make everyone feel better and move on.