Baseline to Baseline, your game recaps

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What happened Friday while you were installing  your cat elevator

Bucks 95 Jazz 87: Terrific game start to finish. Milwaukee crowd (one of the best in the league) was into it, players were buckled in, tight finish.

Brandon Jennings was terrific for three quarters, then got a little too into it. He first had a bad foul on a reach in against Deron Williams, then rushed a layup he had blocked with time left on the clock which would have ended up giving the Jazz final shot, it was so early in the clock.

Luckily, as shakey as Jennings was late, Ersan Ilyasova was brilliant. On top of the game winning putback, he had 14 points and 8 rebounds, and a series of defensively brilliant plays.

Carlos Boozer was blocked on the last attempt, then got ejected due to no foul call. Because that’s his bag, baby.

Andrei Kirilenko strained a calf, which was huge. Carlos Delfino was being absolutely dominated by AK before the injury, and it was a game changer.

John Salmons has this Bucks team at another level. I realize how bizarre that sounds.

Lakers 102 Suns 96: The Lakers’ defense is freaking long. And against some teams, it’s a problem. Against some other teams, it’s a serious problem. Against the Suns, it’s a huge problem.

Pau Gasol got worked over for about 45 minutes of the game, then facescraped Lou Amundson, didn’t get a flagrant called, then drained a turnaround jumper.

Kobe Bryant had 21 points, 10 rebounds, and 8 assists, which is brilliant. But he also had 7 turnovers. The turnovers have been weird since he got back from injury. He’s having trouble passing out of double-teams he usually annihilates. Weird. Of course, he still hit several huge shots, because, well, he’s Kobe Bryant.

Grant Hill is insanely fast for as old as he is.

Ron Artest nailed a pull-up jumper off a crossover. That actually happened.

Bobcats 106 Clippers 98: Gerald Wallace sprained his ankle in the first half, which is the only relevant news from this game. The Clippers were without Eric Gordon, and any real reason to try. Yes, that’s right, we’ve entered that magical time of the year. The temperatures rise, the bluebirds begin to do it, your allergies go bezerk, and the Clips start mailing it in worse than usual.

In the approximate seven minute stretch it took Charlotte to break this one open, D.J. Augustin was quite good. Only 3-7 in 12 minutes, but there were some signs of life there, for a guy having a terrible season. Too bad he’s about to have Larry Hughes supplant him on the depth chart.

Cavs 100 Sixers 95: The Sixers were really competitive in this game, in part because Antawn Jamison sat it out, even with LeBron coming back. They owned the glass, which is an Achilles heel for the Cavs, an area they’re strong in but if you best them it causes big problems.

The big highlight of this game? James drops an alley-oop after catching the ball nearly behind the basket. You had to be there.

Boston 122 Pacers 103:
This was competitive for about seven minutes. Then the Celtics bench came in, and in a move that may signal the end of the world, ran the show, and the Pacers out of the building.

The Celtics bench outscored Indiana’s 54-38. Nate Robinson was especially dy-no-mite, slicing up the Pacers’ lazy perimeter defense. The big play of this game was Glen Davis’ man-up block on Josh McRoberts’ dunk attempt. It was one where you felt so bad for Josh, you couldn’t look at it. But you also couldn’t stop looking at it. Painful.

Rondo’s right to left floater might as well be his finishing move. It’s unstoppable at this point.

Heat 108 Bulls 95: Okay, so there are two things evident from one simple fact. Jannero Pargo was a huge part of this game for the Bulls. He started, was forcing the issue in his Pargo-way, and he racked up 20 points on 17 shots. Which is not awesome.

Fact one: Without Derrick Rose out and with Jannero Pargo being a big part of the Bulls’ offense, there was almost no chance for them to win.

Fact two: With Derrick Rose out and with Jannero Pargo being a big part of the Bulls’ offense, there was no reason this game should have been as close as it was. Chicago had an 18 point third quarter, and that was it, but otherwise, the Bulls kind of hung.

Jermaine O’Neal was the difference maker, and he made life miserable for Kirk Hinrich, blowing him up twice when he went to the hole.

Can we throw out the Heat and the Bulls from the playoffs and put the Grizzlies in? Much more entertaining.

San Antonio 103 Timberwolves 85: The Nets are not tanking. The Kings are not tanking. The Sixer are not tanking. The Wolves? The Wolves may be tanking. Love didn’t play with a legit injury, but this team has turned into the post office. Manu Ginobili had a fantastic game despite not scoring with 7 assists that I couldn’t really notice because of the gigantic bald spot on his head.

Matt Bonner outscored Jonny Flynn. Renew your season tickets now, Wolves fans!

Pistons 101 Wizards 87: Will Bynum is the Pistons’ MVP this season. That’s not saying much, but he was incredible tonight with 20 assists. He ran the Wizards ragged. Let me put it in context. Will Bynum had 20 assists. The Wizards, as a team, had 23. Yeesh.

Ben Gordon had a nice bounceback game with 17 points. He only needs to score another 7,000 points to make up the rest of the worth of his contract this season.

Nuggets 102 Hornets 95: In fourth grade I did a magic show for show and tell with some stuff I got from a magic shop in Memphis. In the middle of the disappearing egg in the hat trick, I put the hat down for the finish, and you could hear the egg inside the hat clack against the desk. It was really embarrassing and ruined the appeal of magic to me forever.

The Hornets are hearing the plastic egg clack against the desk.

Chauncey Billups had 21 points on 14 shots, with 17 assists and four steals in the win. Three Nuggets had double doubles.

Grizzlies 119 Knicks 112: The Grizzlies barely tried for the entire second half and still won comfortably. That’s how much they killed the Knicks in the first half.

Mike Conley shot 50% from the field and had six assist. He’s playing the best ball of the season. If he’d played like this the first four months of the season, maybe Grizzlies fans like myself wouldn’t spontaneously have crying fits whenever a Tyreke Evans highlight package came on. Maybe.

DeMarre Carroll’s haircut is weird. The Knicks are not good. The end.

Thunder 104 Nets 102:
Looks closer than it was. The Thunder led by 12 at the break, and turned the jets off. Durant scored 30. Again. Most times in one season by one player in franchise history. Yes, the whole Sonics history. He’s kind of a big deal.

Devin Harris is back from the dead, which is kind of nice. 19 points and 8 assists for the point guard. He sliced and diced against a pretty good Thunder defense.

Trail Blazers 110, Kings 94: Cut off the head and the body will die. Words of wisdom. That’s what the Trail Blazers did — they focused on taking Tyreke Evans out of the game with their defense. When Evans gets into the lane, nobody is stopping him, but long defenders like Nicholas Batum can keep Evans on the perimeter more than he likes. It worked, the soon-to-be rookie of the year had just 10 points on 4 of 12 shooting.

Meanwhile, the head of the Blazers offense — Brandon Roy — thrived: 28 points on 10 of 13 shooting. Pretty much every Blazer had a good night. This one was over early and people who switched out to watch some college hoops are forgiven. Unless it was Pac-10 hoops, which is even more unwatchable.

Report: NBA to announce All-NBA Teams early, because of salary cap reasons

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The NBA’s Most Valuable Player award will not be announced until an awards ceremony June 26 on TNT — after the NBA draft, and after the NBA playoffs that will shape the narrative of the award even though voting will have been completed more than two months earlier. Same for Defensive Player of the Year, Coach of the Year, Rookie of the Year and on down the line.

But not the All-NBA Teams, those are coming sooner — because teams want it that way.

The easiest example is the Indiana Pacers: If Paul George makes an All-NBA team they can offer him a designated veteran contract worth roughly $80 million more than any other team. However, if he doesn’t make a team the Pacers need to worry about him leaving as a free agent in 2018, and they may try to trade him. The best time for that trade might be around the draft — Indiana may be able to secure a high pick from a team near the top of the draft in a trade. However, if the Pacers didn’t know if George made an All-NBA team by the draft they wouldn’t make that move.

So the NBA is announcing early, a story broken by Tim Bontemps of the Washington Post.

To allow for its teams to have all the necessary information to make offseason preparations, the NBA will announce its all-NBA teams before its inaugural awards show in late June, according to league sources.

Because of the newly created Designated Player Exception, which relies on players making, among other things, one of the three all-NBA teams to qualify, decisions about whether players — such as Indiana Pacers star Paul George, for example — will be willing to remain with their current team or be open to being traded elsewhere could be based upon whether a player is voted on to one of the teams.

Smart move by the NBA. There are also bonuses and other impacts on salaries based on end of season awards that will alter the salary structure of teams heading into free agency.

Larry Bird delivers Pacers’ 2021 All-Star bid in an Indy car

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NEW YORK (AP) — Indiana wants the NBA All-Star Game and sent Larry Bird to get it – in an Indy car.

Bird drove four blocks down Fifth Avenue in his car Monday to deliver the Pacers’ bid to host the 2021 game to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, fitting his 6-foot-9 frame into a car usually driven by much shorter people.

Bird, an Indiana native and now the Pacers president, had driven an Indy car only once, during his practice for his drive Monday.

Drawing a crowd of a couple hundred spectators, he maneuvered along the left lane, exited his yellow and blue “Larry Bird” car and called it a “little rough ride” because of his big feet and the car’s small pedals.

Silver says the Pacers, who hosted the game in 1985, would be “fantastic hosts.”

The 2018 NBA All-Star Game is in Los Angeles, and 2019 is expected to be re-awarded to Charlotte. Houston, Orlando, and a number of other cities are expected to make bids for the 2020 and 2021 games, along with Indiana.

Rajon Rondo out for Game 5, Isaiah Canaan to start… but is that Bulls’ best option late?

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Jerian Grant, and then Michael Carter-Williams, have been unmitigated disasters for the Chicago Bulls in the two games they just lost at home to the Boston Celtics, evening up the series 2-2. That’s not the only reasons for the Celtics’ surge — Boston has gang rebounded well, they’ve done a great job slowing down the tempo and taking away easy Chicago buckets, and going small has worked because Al Horford has played fantastic at the five — but if Chicago is going to still win this series, they need better play at the point.

Despite some rumors, that is not going to come from Rajon Rondo in Game 5

That means Isaiah Canaan, who played the best of any of the reserve points in Game 4, will get the start.

Canaan with the other four Bulls starters — Jimmy Butler, Dwyane Wade, Nikola Mirotic, and Robin Lopez — were +12 in 11 minutes together in Game 4, and played fantastic on both ends of the court. At least until Canaan, who had seen limited minutes most of the season, started to show signs of being tired.

That said, Canaan was on the bench for a reason at the beginning of this series — he shot 36.4 percent on the season, 26.6 percent from three, and he’s not a great defender. Expect the Celtics to try and exploit him on that end with favorable matchups in Game 5.

Which is why Fred Hoiberg needs to lean on a no point guard lineup when it matters most. Maybe not to start (you don’t want to overtax Butler and have him tired late), but in the fourth and other key moments the Bulls should break with tradition.

The Bulls were +2 in Game 3 when Rondo and Wade were the de facto point guards, and -29 when Grant or Carter-Williams was in the role. In Game 4, because Canaan played well, there was almost always a point guard on the court.

I would play Wade and Butler with rookie Denzel Valentine also on the wing — he can space the floor (35.1 percent from three this season), and the ball tends to move when he is out there. Hoiberg clearly has little trust in Valentine, and he’s not a great defender, but neither is Canaan.

The Celtics have found a stride this series, and I’m not sure the Bulls can come back and win, but if they are going to Hoiberg has to prove he’ll take risks and make big adjustments when needed in this series. Brad Stevens already made his bold move starting Gerald Green, and it worked. Can the Bulls match it?

Rumor: Paul George told former Pacers teammates he wanted to join the Lakers

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Paul George to the Lakers is a capital-T thing.

George is from Southern California, and he keeps indicating his dissatisfaction with the Pacers. He’ll be an unrestricted free agent in 2018. Even Lakers president Magic Johnson is talking about George.

Where do rumors like this originate?

Mitch Lawrence of Sporting News:

A SoCal native, he’s been talking about playing for his hometown team, the Lakers, for a long time. He’s never made his long-term intentions a secret within the Pacers’ locker room, according to former teammates. He wants to wear the purple and gold.

Did George say he dreamed of playing for the Lakers growing up? Did he say it’d be cool to join his boyhood favorite team if the situation presented itself? Or did he say he wanted to get the heck out of Indiana to join the Lakers as soon as possible?

There are so many ways his comments to teammates could get misconstrued as they get passed down in the game of telephone.

But the Lakers threat – to whatever degree it’s real – looms, and it’ll impact how the Pacers handle their offseason.