Baseline to Baseline, your game recaps

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ginobili_game.jpgOur game recaps from Monday, or what you missed while taking the day off to visit Dunder Mifflin

Cavaliers 97, Spurs 95: Got to start with this — Manu Ginobili is a beast right now. Beast. Best player suited up for this one. Scored 38 points and was killing it from the outside — 7 of 11 from downtown. Attacked and got to the line seven times (hitting every one). This is the player opposing coaches feared in 2007 but had been slowed by injury. He is back.  But it still wasn’t enough as the Cavaliers gutted one out while LeBron was in street clothes, Shaq was still out, and Jamison had to leave early because of his knee.

First Cleveland with without LeBron in three years. In honor of that three other guys of note: Delonte West just makes smart plays for the Cavaliers — he had his hand in the final five Cavaliers baskets. Tim Duncan was up against a small lineup and only had 13. The Spurs should get more out of him in this one. Finally was Roger Mason — he was 0-8 on a Spurs bench that shot 27% on the evening. That is what lost the game more than anything, Cleveland’s backups stepped up and San Antonio’s did not.

Knicks 99, Hawks 98: I really have no idea how Atlanta ha lost three times this season to the Knicks. I think you’d have a better chance of explaining how a particle accelerator works to me than this.

This one got exciting because the predictable Knicks late game collapse made it so. With five minutes left and the Knicks up 10, it was just a matter of time — the bad shot choices, missed open looks and turnovers were coming. And they did. And he Hawks took advantage. But this time the Knicks survived a horrific late-game turnover by Toney Douglas (who played very well otherwise) thanks to a dramatic game-saving block by Wilson Chandler on Josh Smith. Came from the weakside and just shut down one of the best finishers in the game. Al Harrington’s only contribution — other than taking away shots from the hot hand of Danilo Gallinari (8 of 12 from the outside) — was a clutch late jumper. David Lee also had a nice dunk late.

The Hawks struggled against the Knicks zone defense. They got sucked into settling for jumpers rather than attacking the soft middle of a zone. The Hawks had the advantage along the front line and didn’t exploit it.

Grizzlies 107, Nets 101: You cannot waste the rare good shooting night by Mike Conley, who just dominated the first half like he was still feeding the ball to Greg Oden at Ohio State (Conley finished with 21). Memphis took the second half off so this one got close, but it was never really in doubt.

Mavericks 125, Timberwolves 112: This game was played at a blistering, Golden State in the late 1980s pace, 108 possessions. (That’s eight possessions more than the Warriors average this year, and they are the fastest-playing team in the Association.) The Mavericks are built to handle that kind of pace much better than the Timberwolves, and it showed. Minnesota turned the ball over on 24 percent of their possessions, which fueled Dallas. Shawn Marion felt at home and dropped 29, Kidd had 10 dimes. Great night for Al Jefferson though, attacking that soft inside of the Mavericks, scoring 36 on 15 of 21. Wasn’t nearly enough at that pace, though.

Hornets 135, Warriors 131: Another fast paced game (101 possessions) but as always, it was about the Warriors getting dominated inside — New Orleans grabbed the offensive rebound on 44 percent of their missed shots. David West had more offensive rebounds (six) than the entire Warriors team (4), and West finished with 28. Another big night for Darren Collison — 20 assists and 16 points. 

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: