Baseline to Baseline, your game recaps

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What happened Saturday in the NBA:

Nets 104 Celtics 96: Well, on one side of the coin it was the Boston apocalypse. On the other, the biggest win of the year for the Nets. When the Nets assembled this year’s roster, this is likely what they were thinking. Courtney Lee plugging in shots, Devin Harris playing at a level which he is expected to, and Brook Lopez evolving into a dominant center.

Lopez doesn’t just make great plays on his own. Late in the game, with the Nets’ lead dwindling, he recovered the ball from a blocked Harris pass and immediately went up and drew contact to get crucial free throws. Kris Humphries was part of the reason the Nets took control, as his ability to draw fouls is becoming huge. I’ve been saying this for a while, but honestly, the Nets really aren’t that bad.

Bucks 94 Heat 71: When the Bucks are winning, it’s hard to argue with their formula. Start with the big man offensively. Spread the floor. Slow the pace down and work for quality shots. Defend like a madman and rebound all the time. The Heat were without Wade, which may have seemed manageable for a game or two, but it now is becoming evident that Riley has simply not produced a capable support squad. The Miami Heat were overwhelmed by the Milwaukee Bucks today. Outright overwhelmed. Salmons had 18, and continues to look like arguably the best mid-season pickup of anyone.

Pacers 100, Bulls 90: Three things on this one. First, the Bulls got some great opportunities early off Pacer turnovers and screw ups. Out in transition, forcing fouls, playing great ball. Then the Pacers stopping screwing up and the Bulls just kind of said “okay, then.” Second, the Bulls I would imagine are even worse than the league average on second games of back to backs.

And third, though Rose still had an okay game, he still has a habit of leaping into traffic and then trying to decide what to do with the ball. Which works out how you’d imagine most times. He has the fearlessness, it’s his imagination that needs work.

Grizzlies 120 Knicks 109: Fun. Needed Ritalin. But fun.Al Harrington is constantly derided a a terrible player but he’s able to hit tough shots which is an invaluable skill in the NBA and he kept the Knicks in this one on a night where Galinari was run roughshod over. Although he probably had something to do with the Grizzlies’ frontcourt insanity.

Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph combined for 51 points and 35 rebounds. They were simply everywhere, and the Knicks were powerless to close out. The best way I can describe it is the Knicks were handled.

Blazers 110 Wolves 91: Signs you may not be a good defensive club. Nicolas Batum goes off for 31 points on you.

Judges also would accept: “gave up 110 points to one of the slowest teams in the league  on a second night of a back to back.”

The Blazers had their way, without needing to grind much inside. LaMarcus Aldridge stepped up, Batum knocked down shots, and the Blazers rolled. The Wolves scored 10 points in the second quarter. Game over.

Jazz 133 Rockets 110
: Whatever it is about Houston that Utah has the advantage in, it’s thorough. The Jazz put on a clinic, and rested starters most of the fourth. The Rockets have improved on offense with their trade, but gotten worse defensively. Kevin Martin looked good knocking down tough shots, but the Jazz came out and kicked them in the nuts and they fell over.

Warriors 95 Pistons 88: The Pistons ran out of gas right as Stephen Curry got in gear.

One of the things that’s impressed me the most is Curry’s ball-control on passes. He knows exactly where to find guys and how to get it to them. He’s working brilliantly in Golden State and it’s paid off on stat nights like this.

The Pistons are flawed in so many ways it’s difficult to count.

Lonzo Ball makes expected official, declares for NBA Draft

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There was no hesitation. None was expected.

After UCLA was eliminated from the NCAA Tournament in the Sweet 16 by Kentucky, the Bruin’s Lonzo Ball — who is expected to be a top-three pick — declared for the NBA draft this June.

Ball is expected to go second or third in the upcoming NBA draft. Speaking with people around the league Washington’s Markelle Fultz is a clear No. 1, but after that if the Lakers — the team with the second-worst record in the league — have the No. 2 pick they are expected to snap up Ball. Depending on how the lottery shakes out the top of the draft, Ball could fall a little — there are teams that like Josh Jackson — but not much.

Ball is a 6’6″ point guard who averaged 14.7 points, 7.6 assists and 6.1 rebounds a game for UCLA last season. He has fantastic passing vision, impressive shooting range (although he can take some questionable shots), and a great sense of floor spacing and how to run an offense, particularly in transition. However, his weaknesses were exposed in his final game some as De’Aaron Fox of Kentucky completely outplayed Ball. Defensive pressure took Ball (and the Bruins) out of rhythm, forced them to play in the half court (where Ball is not as strong), and it’s one of the things Ball is going to have to adapt to at the next level where everyone is more athletic. Also, he’s going to need to get more consistent defensively.

The potential for Ball to be special is there, which is why he will go high in the draft.

And no, the rantings of his father will not change that. Teams see the father as a distraction that can be handled, they aren’t going to let him get in the way of drafting talent.

Watch highlights of Shaquille O’Neal’s statue unveiling outside Staples Center

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Kobe Bryant said “Thank you. I learned so much from you as a player.”

Jerry West said he loved him like a son.

Jeanie Buss said “No one celebrates a championship like you, but please no more asking Mark Madsen to dance.”

The Lakers unveiled a new statue for Shaquille O’Neal Friday night, one flying high over a Staples Center entrance, and the stars were on hand for the event. Phil Jackson was there making Snoop Dogg jokes. Shaq and Kobe were sharing laughs. It was a big night for a big man with a big personality. And a big heart.

Check out the highlights above.

Report: Knicks’ Joakim Noah to be suspended 20 games for violating league drug policy

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Joakim Noah hasn’t set foot on an NBA court since Feb. 4, and his season was all but ended when he had knee surgery at the end of February. Last summer, Phil Jackson took a $72 million gamble on an aging Noah that has not worked at all, and left New York with an anchor of a contract for three more seasons after this one.

Tomorrow it will be official Noah is done for this season, but not because of the Knicks or his injury.

During his recovery, Noah violated the NBA’s drug policy and will pay for a 20-game suspension, reports Adrian Wojnarowski at The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

Noah tested positive for an over-the-counter supplement that is prohibited under the outgoing Collective Bargaining Agreement, league sources said.

Noah, 32, is expected to serve 10 games of the suspension to finish out the 2016-17 regular season and 10 games to start the 2017-18 season, league sources said.

The National Basketball Players Association’s investigation concluded that Noah hadn’t “knowingly or willingly” violated the policy and cooperated fully with the league’s probe, league sources said.

According to reports, this is not a substance banned in the new CBA that kicks in July 1, but was covered in the previous CBA. Over-the-counter supplements could be something put in his regular workout recovery drinks that he was unaware of, although we are unsure of the details.

Traditionally, the player has to be healthy enough to play before the league starts the suspension. Noah has been out for more than a month, but if a league doctor says he is healthy enough to play the then the clock on the suspension can start. The 10 games this season is no big deal for the Knicks, he wasn’t going to play anyway, but the 10 at the start of next season could sting (depending on how they plan to use him).

 

 

Devin Booker drops 70 points for Suns in loss to Celtics (VIDEO)

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Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker is just 20 years old. He’s a League Pass favorite, and indeed he should be a favorite in Phoenix for years to come. On Friday, Booker dropped 70 points — yes, 70 — in a loss to the Boston Celtics.

Booker’s 70 points is the best outing of the season. It also made him the youngest player to ever reach 70 points.

His final stat line, as you might imagine, was ridiculous. Booker shot 21-of-40 from the field, going 4-of-11 on 3-pointers and a whopping 24-of-26 from the free-throw line. The Suns phenom also grabbed eight rebounds to go with six assists.

Despite the loss to Boston, 130-120, it’s still an incredible milestone for Phoenix and for Booker. There’s a bright spot out there for the Suns.