Baseline to Baseline, your game recaps

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spurs_pacers.jpgOur game recaps from Wednesday, or what you missed during the Shaun Whiteout.

Spurs 90 Pacers 87: If you’d have told me Tim Duncan had 26 rebounds and Tony Parker had 28 points beforehand, I would have told you the Spurs won this game by 20. But the Pacers kept their feet moving, created some turnovers, and hung in there. With A.J. Price, though, the Pacers had no options at point, and Parker took advantage. DeJuan Blair looked human.

Grizzlies 109 Raptors 102: Even up by eight in the third, you could just tell the Grizzlies were going to blow the lead. And they did, as Chris Bosh took over down the stretch, and Bargnani was knocking down threes and putback hooks, Calderon was dishing, and the Raptors were running and…. wait, the Grizzlies won? Short answer: Down five with less than a minute, O.J. Mayo (OJAM) took over, knocking down a three, playing some defense leading to a teal for the Zach Randolph tying bucket. When the offense sputtered tonight, Mayo kicked it into gear. The Raptors looked like a legit Eastern Contender for stretches, but for all the talk of their second unit, it’s primarily made up of non-scorers, and it hurts them down the stretch like it did tonight.

Bulls 115 Knicks 109: Danil Gallinari will knock down five threes in a row, then airball the next. It’s uncanny. His airballs just seem to ride in on a gust of wind every now and then. Meanwhile, Taj Gibson may not be a very good rebounder, but if you let him rebound, you’re buried. You can’t let a guy who’s not good at something important do something important well. The Knicks did, and it was part of why they lost to the Bulls with Noah on the sideline and Salmons in a hotel room.

Rockets 127 Bucks 99:  If Trevor Ariza decides to go out and score efficiently, you’re dead before the ship even sinks. Ariza was 8-11 including 6-7 from the floor, and that’ll do it. The margin was mostly that the Rockets had seven guys in double figures and the Bucks had almost no ball movement. Just nothing. The Bucks struggled, they tried, but nothing was doing. Bogut had real trouble getting shots up in traffic. He’s got great versatility, but inside, there’s not one move he does better than anyone, yet.

Jazz 98 Hornets 90: The Jazz are playing so well right now that they can get away with a little mediocrity mixed in. The Hornets are not. The Jazz had a few stretches where they looked lost on defense, but towards the end, Kirilenko just wouldn’t let them lose, and the Hornets don’t have a playmaker with confidence in that situation with Paul out. One of those.

Mavs 107 Suns 97: Now this is what we thought we were getting. Caron Butler’s shooting percentage is not great. But he was hyper aggressive, snagged a few huge boards, and as opposed to last night, you could see him figuring out how to work with Nowitzki. It was terrible. Meanwhile, Brendan Haywood is tapping out shots to the perimeter for offensive glass. This team is going to be really scary in the playoffs. Amar’e was dominant for most of the game for a team that doesn’t want him, but then, he was probably showcasing as much as anything.

Miami 87, New Jersey 84: Dwyane Wade left in the first quarter with a strained calf and never returned, and without him the Heat had trouble creating consistent offense (just 36 second half points). That would have done them in against anyone but the Nets, who went 0-11 from the floor down the stretch (including Devin Harris missing some wide-open looks, that man is just not right). Courtney Lee pitched in with an 0-9 shooting night. Slow paced game, bad shooting, no D-Wade, if you missed this one you didn’t miss much.

Washington 108 Minnesota 99: Right before the game, a bunch of Wizards players were told they were traded, and that will screw up a locker room. Then the Timberwolves came out on an 8-0 run to start the game, and everyone was thinking the same thing, “This is going to get ugly.”  But like the little team that could, the Wizards started really playing some ball. Andray Blatche made this one of the five games a year where he decided to focus and dropped 33 and 13. The Wizards almost gave it back early in the fourth because, well they are the Wizards.  But behind Mike Miller’s shooting (5 of 5 from three) they got hot and they went on a 15-2 run late to get the win.

Credit here to the fans in the District, who were as loud and into the game as they have been all season, getting behind their upstart team.

Orlando 116, Detroit 91: It’s good to have Dwight Howard on your team. Ben Wallace is not quick enough to stop him, Jason Maxiell is just overmatched, and Howard could do what he wanted — 33 points on just 16 shots. Vince Carter continues his little hot streak, although he needs to do it for a lot longer before we buy in fully. Richard Hamilton was the only one on Detroit who showed any life on offense, he had 36, but then he doesn’t need to attack inside — where Howard dominated — and lived in the midrange.

Golden State 130, Sacramento 98: If CJ Watson drops 40 on you, you don’t deserve to win. Sacramento, I’m looking right at you. This was a blowout from the beginning, and the only thing of interest was Kevin Martin not playing in the second half because of a trade.

Atlanta 110, Los Angeles Clippers 92: No Baron Davis for the Clippers tonight, so newcomer Steve Blake and sophomore Eric Gordon have the ball handling duties. The result is 22 turnovers. Do that to the Hawks — let them get out running and get some easy baskets — and it is all over. This one was all over early, the Hawks got the taste of blood early and played good defense. Al Horford did whatever he wanted on offense, and the Hawks had 70 points in the paint. You think that happens if Marcus Camby is patrolling the paint? But the Clippers have cleared cap space heading into this summer, so they have that going for them. Which is nice.

Jrue Holiday hits game winner, Anthony Davis has 45, Pelicans beat Heat in OT, 124-123

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NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Anthony Davis had 45 points, 17 rebounds, five blocked shots and five steals, and the New Orleans Pelicans beat the Miami Heat 124-123 in overtime Friday night for their fourth consecutive victory.

Goran Dragic scored 30 points and Dwyane Wade hit two runners to give the Heat the lead twice in the last 36 seconds of overtime, but Davis responded to the first with a layup as he was fouled, and Jrue Holiday answered the second with a runner in the lane with 7 seconds left.

Wade had one last shot for the win with Holiday defending him closely. It bounced off the rim to Josh Richardson, whose rushed put-back missed the basket as time expired in Miami’s third straight loss.

Davis, who has scored no fewer than 38 points in a game during New Orleans’ winning streak – and 42 or more three times – raised both arms in triumph as he looked up at the jubilant crowd, and then exchanged high fives with fans along the court.

Holiday finished with 29 points and nine assists, connecting with Davis on a couple of alley-oop dunks. Ian Clark scored a season-high 21 points and Nikola Mirotic capped his 10-point, nine-rebound performance with a crucial 3 in overtime.

Hassan Whiteside had 19 points and 16 rebounds before fouling out in overtime when he hacked Davis on a put-back attempt. Davis hit both free throws to tie it at 117, and then gave New Orleans a brief lead with his fifth alley-oop dunk of the game on a fast-break lob from Holiday with 1:10 to go. Wade had 16 points, while Richardson and Tyler Johnson each scored 15 points.

Neither team was able to build a double-digit lead during game which riveted a boisterous crowd with its fast pace and array of highlights on both ends of the floor. There were 13 ties and nine lead changes.

New Orleans scored 37 fast-break points. Davis threw down seven dunks. He converted one alley-oop while being fouled and also turned a steal into a fast-break layup as he was fouled. And the All-Star wasn’t the only one blocking shots for New Orleans. Emeka Okafor, now in his second 10-day contract after being out of the league for four-plus seasons, had five blocks.

After trailing much of the second half, the Pelicans appeared to be seizing control with a 10-0 run during which Holiday scored eight points, giving New Orleans a 104-99 lead with 2:51 to go.

But the Heat rallied to tie it at 106 on Wade’s free throws.

Davis hit a jumper with 23 seconds left and Wade missed on the other end, but a rebound contested by several players fell to Dragic in the paint, and he hit an uncontested layup to tie it again.

The Pelicans had 14 seconds to set up a winning shot, but Davis’ drive was cut off along the baseline and his awkward layup attempted missed and the game went to overtime after Miami was unable to get a shot from an inbounds play with .8 seconds left.

 

Jimmy Butler leaves game with apparently serious right knee injury

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The Basketball Gods have not been appeased, and apparently have dealt the NBA another serious injury to a star player.

Jimmy Butler — Minnesota’s leader, an All-Star, and a guy having a fringe of the MVP ballot NBA season — went down grabbing his knee on this play against the Rockets Friday night.

Butler reportedly said “it’s torn” while being helped off the court.

After the game, Tom Thibodeau said it was a right knee injury that would be re-evaluated with an MRI tomorrow.

This is a non-contact injury that has the appearance of an ACL tear (hope that is not the case). Butler had ripped an offensive rebound away from Nene and was making a move to go back up when he went to the ground grabbing his knee.

Butler leads the NBA in minutes played per game. He was selected an All-Star but chose to sit out that game because he said he needed rest for the rest of the season. His coach, Tom Thibodeau, has a reputation for running players into exhaustion with heavy use (ask Joakim Noah) and does not subscribe to the kind of rest we see in Golden State, San Antonio, and other elite programs trying to keep players fresh.

This is troubling for a Timberwolves team looking to end an 11-year playoff drought — Minnesota is -8.3 points per 100 possessions when Butler is not on the court this season. While tied for the three seed going into Friday night, Minnesota is just four games from falling out of the playoffs in a competitive West.

Jimmy Butler to Lou Williams on All-Star snub: put up $100K for 1-on-1 game

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Jimmy Butler earned his spot on the All-Star team — he’s had an All-NBA, bottom of the MVP ballot level season. He deserved the trip to Los Angeles.

But when he got there, Butler didn’t play in the All-Star Game itself, saying he needed to rest. That frustrated a few All-Star snubs, and Lou Williams called him out on it.

Butler fired back before the Timberwolves took on the Houston Rockets.

“My thing is this, to Lou or anyone else who thinks they’re an All-Star, with all due respect, LeBron and them got $100,000 for winning, so if you got $100k to put up, you guard me I guard you, I’ gonna show you why. All this talk, put $100,000 up and I’ll show you why and where I’m at.” (That may have been paraphrased)

Butler earned his spot, he deserved to be there. He can do as he sees fit.

But if you’re not going to roll out there for even five minutes (LaMarcus Aldridge played four and nobody is saying anything to him), then give the spot up to someone else. You don’t need the $100K that badly.

Kevin Durant no fan of one-and-done, says he would have come straight to NBA

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With the money funneled to future NBA players through agents in the spotlight thanks to a FBI investigation (one that doesn’t even get into the money from boosters and shoe companies), the one-and-done rule the NBA has for players sending them to college for a semester of cakewalk classes one year has come back in the spotlight.

The league and players’ union are discussing changing the rule — with some input from the NCAA. If they want Kevin Durant‘s advice, scrap the whole thing — he would have come straight to the NBA if he could have.

“You want these players to go out there and play on the biggest stage. The Final Four is one of the biggest sporting events in the world, in sports, and they don’t get a dime for it. I don’t think it’s right

“If they want to come out of high school, it should be on them. You know what I mean? You can’t control everything. So if they feel as though they’re ready, that’s on them. They want to make a decision on their life, that’s on them. If they don’t get drafted, it’s on them. You can try to control it, but you’re still not really doing anything.”

Would Durant have come out from high school rather than spend a season at Texas?

“Yeah, probably. I needed the money.”

The NBA is discussing changes, and they want to see the recommendations from Condoleezza Rice’s NCAA commission. But the league’s owners are not all on the same page.

“In terms of the NBA, we’re conflicted, to be honest…” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said All-Star weekend. “And from a league standpoint, on one hand, we think we have a better draft when we’ve had an opportunity to see these young players play an elite level before they come into the NBA.

“On the other hand, I think the question for the league is, in terms of their ultimate success, are we better off intersecting with them a little bit younger? Are we better off bringing them into the league when they’re 18 using our G League as it was designed to be as a Development League and getting them minutes on the court there? And there is also recognition that for some of these elite players, there is no question that they can perform in the NBA at 18 years old.”

There seems to be some momentum toward a “baseball rule” compromise — players can come to the NBA straight out of high school, but if they go to college they have to stay for at least two years. Unlike the last time high schoolers were rushing into the NBA, most teams are far better prepared to develop young players and be patient with them. There will still be busts — there are even with guys who spent years in college — but teams are in better positions to make it work.

The other thing I would want to see: If a player signs with an agent out of high school, does not get drafted, give him the chance to go to college still. Some young men are going to get terrible advice (from family, AAU coaches, friends, a whole lot of people) and they deserve a chance to choose a better path.