Baseline to Baseline, your game recaps

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What happened Saturday while you were watching Pacquiao do work

Magic 109 Wizards 95: So it wasn’t the epic beatdown we were fearful of, which is a good thing. Washington actually led after the first, but then the fact that it was their third game in three nights caught up with them. Either that or the fact they were playing a far-superior Magic team caught up with them. Either way, the Magic scored 41 in the second and that was that.

Shaun Livingston had 18 points and eight assists, and if that doesn’t make you feel good, then you’re dead inside. Andray Blatche had 32, and looks more legit by the second.

Meanwhile, for the winners, J.J. Redick and Brandon Bass got to feel like they were actually part of the Magic, leading the second quarter comeback.

Atlanta 112 Detroit 99: The Hawks kind of gave up a huge run after being up by a ridiculous amount, which has to concern Mike Woodson. It’s not really a matter of focus, it’s more like they hit the ceiling and there’s a period of ricochet afterwards.

This sounds simple, and it is. When Jamal Crawford is locked in? Getcha toetags ready. Cause he’ll just mow ’em down.

Nuggets 125 Grizzlies 108: In the words of Ron Burgandy, that really got out of hand, fast. I’m pretty sure J.R. Smith killed a guy with a trident. The Grizzlies had a lead, a sizable one. They were getting penetration, causing turnovers, running and gunning and everything looked good. And just like that, the Nuggets flew by in a whoosh so loud it blew the amps out on Beale Street.

J.R. Smith was in full form tonight draining pull-up threes in transition, hitting from ridiculous range, and mocking the crowd. A Memphis crowd. Sam Young had probably his worst game as a professional, and Marc Gasol wasn’t as aggressive as he needed to be when the defense started clamping down on Randolph and Mayo.

Rockets 116 Nets 108: Luis Scola can ball. Tonight was a Scola highlight reel. Scola scored 44 points on 25 shots. Do you know how insane that is? That’s crazy. That’s cuckoo for Cocoa-Puff. 20-25 from the field. And he hit everything. Putbacks, 20 footers (two feet beyond his usual range). Turnaround Duncan-esque glass-bankers. The whole barrage. And he was the entire difference the Rockets held off a Nets team that, no joke, keeps playing better each night.

Chris Douglas-Roberts did not play.

Spurs 118 Clippers 88: Yeah, let me tell you, LeBron would much rather play for the Clippers with the worst owner in the league for a team with an aging gunner point guard that got blasted off the face of the earth than a Nets team with fewer losses but a better future.

George Hill got to coach in this one. I’m not kidding. Pop gave HIll the clipboard late in the game and had him show D-League call-up Cedric Jackson how he blew an assignment. Then Hill asked Pop what play he wanted to run, and Pop said “I don’t know, whatever you want.” This means that A. Popovich is the most awesome coach in the history of the NBA and B. the Clippers got outcoached by a second year backup point guard.

I’d be willing to give the Clippers a pass on this one, after all, how often does Matt Bonner score 21 points, if it weren’t for the fact that they let Matt Bonner score 21 points.

DeAndre Jordan showed more signs of something special, mixed with signs of nothingness.

Knicks 128 Mavs 94: See, this is why if I’m a coach and I’m up 40 points late in a game, I’d deliberately peel it back down to 30. It’s tough not to open a floodgate that can lead to a comeback, but this game is a pretty good indicator of why you don’t want to win by 50 like the Mavs did last time these two met.

You give the other team the motivation of revenge for pride’s sake. And that’s a powerful thing for a professional athlete. Now, the Mavs were a part of this, too. They just couldn’t find net, no matter what they did, and they couldn’t find a way into their offense if they had neon signs point them in the right direction.

Toney Douglas had 21 and 8 assists, and it only took D’Antoni four months to figure out he should play more.

Warriors 124 Raptors 112: No one played defense. The Raptors played defense less. Stephen Curry is very, very good.

The end.

Report: John Wall’s extension includes player option

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The Wizards had John Wall under contract for the next two seasons then signed him to a super-max extension that locks him in for an additional four three years.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

I’m a little surprised the Wizards gave Wall a player option considering their leverage.

Wall’s extension projects to pay him $169 million over four years – $30 million more than another team’s projected max offer over the same span. Even if Wall wanted to stay in Washington, this was the only offseason he could’ve ensured receiving the super-max rate. Had he rejected the extension now, he would have been eligible for the super max only by making an All-NBA team either of the next two years – far from guaranteed.

Still, the Wizards gave Wall everything – the highest-possible salary, max raises, a player option and a trade kicker.* There’s value in pleasing the franchise player. Wall will be the team’s third-highest-paid player for the next two years (behind Otto Porter and Bradley Beal), which might have bothered Wall if not for the super-max extension about to kick in. This deal makes locker-room harmony more likely.

But it also allows Wall to hit free agency in 2022 rather than 2023. Maybe that won’t matter. Wall’s salary option-year salary projects to be $47 million when he’s 32-years-old. I doubt Wall opts out then, though it’s certainly possible.

Effectively, if Wall is worth that much in 2022, he’ll be a free agent. If he’s not worth that much, Washington committed to pay him.

*The trade kicker is unlikely to to matter unless the salary cap unexpectedly increases significantly. It can’t lift Wall’s salary above 35% of the salary cap in the season he’s traded, and he’ll likely be at or above that mark throughout the extension anyway.

Basketball Hall of Famer John Kundla dies at 101

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — John Kundla, the Hall of Fame coach who led the Minneapolis Lakers to five NBA championships, died Sunday. He was 101.

Son Jim Kundla said his father died at an assisted living facility in Northeast Minneapolis that he has called home for years.

Kundla coached George Mikan and the Lakers in the 1940s and 1950s, helping them become the NBA’s first dynasty. He went 423-302 before retiring at the age of 42 and went on to coach his alma mater, the University of Minnesota.

Kundla was the oldest living Hall of Famer in any of the four major pro sports.

Kundla was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1995. A year later, he was named one of the league’s 10 greatest coaches as part of the league’s “NBA at 50” celebration.

 

Report: Magic signing Marreese Speights to one-year, minimum contract

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It’s a tough market for free-agent centers, as Marreese Speights learned the hard way.

Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today:

I wonder whether Speights regrets opting out with the Clippers, who were also slated to pay him a minimum salary. Not only is he stuck with a low-paying deal, he’s on a worse team and one with center depth.

Nikola Vucevic and Bismack Biyombo should play only center, where Speights is best. Speights can also play power forward, but Aaron Gordon should get all his minutes there. Maybe Jonathan Isaac should, too, though it’s more tolerable to play him at small forward while the rookie adjusts to the NBA.

Simply, there won’t be much playing time for Speights unless Orlando makes a trade (maybe this is a harbinger) or plays too big of lineups (a lesson it should have learned last season).

Likewise, the Clippers will be fine, though less versatile, without Speights. The acquired Willie Reed (free agency) and Montrezl Harrell (Chris Paul trade) to play behind DeAndre Jordan.

Speights clearly isn’t essential, but he has expanded his range beyond the 3-point arc. He defends with effort, though not necessarily well. There’s a place in the league for stretch fives like him. But he turns 30 in a couple weeks, and his stock is clearly low. At least he’ll have a chance for a bigger payday next summer.

Kristaps Porzingis on Knicks: “This is where I want to stay… this is where I want to win”

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There were multiple, connected reasons it was time for the Knicks to move on from the Phil Jackson era — a triangle of reasons, really — but this one should have been at the top of the list:

He was alienating Krisptaps Porzingis.

We don’t know yet if Porzingis can be a franchise NBA player, however, he shows the potential to do it. He could become a top five NBA player you can build a contender around. You endear yourselves to those kinds of players, not get into power struggles that lead to said player blowing off end-of-year meetings and being guided out the door.

With Jackson gone, Porzingis has more motivation to stay a Knick and be the guy that turns the franchise’s fortunes around. KP was running a youth hoops camp in his native Latvia and was taking questions from the children when one kid got in a question the New York media would have loved to ask: Are you going to abandon New York? Here is Porzingis’ answer, translated and obtained by the New York Post.

“I feel that it is the best place to win. And if you win in New York, you are king. For the last two years, I have had so many positive emotions here that this is where I want to stay and that this is where I want to win.”

The Knicks have their cornerstone big. Now they need a guy on the outside (Kyrie Irving will get mentioned, but he is not the only answer), they need to get and develop young players to go with their stars. It’s the next phase for the Knicks.

But if they can keep Porzingis happy, they can lock him up to a max rookie extension after next year and have that piece in place. Then it’s up to Steve Mills and Scott Perry to put the pieces around him.