Baseline to Baseline, your game recaps

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nash_game.jpgWhat you missed while noticing Lady Gaga looks like Gozer the Gozerian…

Suns 152, Timberwolves 114: Yes, you see that score correctly, it was play-like-it-was-1982 flashback night in Phoenix. And yes, that would be a new high water mark for scoring this season, thank you very much.

The Suns had a redonkulous 150 offensive rating (points per 100 possessions). The game had 101 possessions, by the way. The Suns shot 48% from three. They grabbed 40% of the shots they did miss with an offensive board, so they could get another chance. Minny did not play good defense — duh! — but it just snowballed on them. Phoenix could not miss. Steve Nash gets to rest his back and Goran Dragic comes in and looks like he’s been learning at the foot of the master.

Bottom line, if Louis Amundson shoots 10 of 13 from the field against you, you are doomed. When the Suns offense gets going though, it is fun to watch.

Cavaliers113, Pistons 101: Cleveland beats who it is supposed to beat — the last time Cleveland lost to a team under .500 was Nov. 18 (stat courtesy Brian Windhorst and @realcavsfan). They are not all going to be pretty — Tuesday’s certainly wasn’t — but the NBA does not award style points, so who cares?

This game was tied 91-91 with just more than five minutes left, then the Cavaliers took control. That is what good teams do some nights — dominate enough for a key stretch to win. Take the win and move on. Mo Williams has three late threes in that stretch. Oh, and LeBron had another triple double. Ho hum.

Spurs 88, Heat 76: The second half of this game bordered on unwatchable. San Antonio scored 33 second half points and won by 12 (and it wasn’t that close). San Antonio had an offensive rating of 95 (points per 100 possessions), which is four points worse than the Nets on the season. And the Spurs still controlled the game. That is really about just how bad Miami was, especially early — they shot 23 percent for most of the first half. And that was the watchable half of this game. All we learned from this — the seven seed in the West is a lot better than the seven seed in the East. But we knew that already, didn’t we?

Hawks 108, Nets 84: Both teams were shooting poorly to start this one, then Jamal Crawford came in and started lighting the board up. The Hawks have guys that can do that, come in and just change a game. Crawford had 16 in the first half, finished with 25 on 11 of 18. Who do the Nets have? Josh Boone having a big night (13 points, 20 boards). It’s not the same.

Pacers 99, Bobcats 94: Recently the Bobcats have beaten the Lakers, Celtics and Cavaliers, but they can’t beat the Pacers? And they lost to New Jersey. Have fun figuring this team out, MJ.

Grizzlies 104, Bulls 97: Memphis tried to give this one away. Really tried. After a tight first quarter the Grizzlies — playing without the younger Gasol — started dominating inside and grabbing tons of offensive rebounds. In the second and third quarters Memphis outscored Chicago by 19. They led by 23, and then they started turning the ball over and that led to a fall all the way to four.  Memphis held on, but guys should have been putting ice on their knees early, not coming in to secure a win.

Recent D-League call up (and number two pick overall) Hasheem Thabeet got the start and acquitted himself well — 10 points, nine boards and a couple of blocks.

Nuggets 97, Wizards 87: George Karl was back on the bench, that was the best thing about this game. Aside that, just professional, solid home win for the Nuggets. The only down side is Chauncey Billups streak of 36 straight games with a made three came to and end (he was 0-6).

Lakers 106, Kings 99: First, your Tyreke Evans moment of the night — in the first quarter he put a spin move on Ron Artest that made one of the best defenders in the league look like a statue. It is just fun to watch Evans.

The Lakers looked a lot better in the fourth quarter of this one — the second night of the back-to-back — than they did against Golden State Monday. All night long they got the ball inside, where their advantage always is. Crisp passing on the perimeter, better decision making, the entire team involved so it was not just The Kobe Show. Sacramento played well, they played with energy, this was no gimme win for LA. They earned it.

NBA: Kenneth Faried got away with foul on decisive basket in Nuggets’ win over Bulls

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The Bulls’ biggest loss Friday was Jimmy Butler to injury. His absence certainly contributed to a loss to the Timberwolves the following night.

But Chicago also lost to the Nuggets on Friday, and perhaps that wouldn’t have happened if the game were called correctly down the stretch.

With Denver up two points and 21.1 seconds remaining, Kenneth Faried offensively rebounded a free throw and scored. The Bulls then intentionally fouled down the stretch, and Faried and Danilo Gallinari added a few free throws in the Nuggets’ 115-110 win.

One problem: Faried should’ve been called for offensively fouling Taj Gibson on the key putback, according to the NBA’s Last Two Minute Report:

Faried (DEN) extends his arm into Gibson (CHI) and dislodges him, affecting his ability to retrieve the rebound.

This was a huge swing. Instead of Taj Gibson – a 69% career free-throw shooter – going to the line for two attempts with Chicago down two points, Faried put the Nuggets up four. Even if Gibson split at the line, the Bulls would have been in significantly better shape.

As usual, we can’t know what would’ve happened if this call were made correctly. But it significantly set back Chicago.

NBA considering if jump-on-back foul should be flagrant foul

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The video above is an intentional foul — Chris Paul jumped on the back of Dwight Howard. The same thing has happened to Andre Drummond.

Is it a flagrant foul?

The Boston Celtics tweeted this out on Sunday.

The NBA was quick to let people know that this is just something under consideration — there has been no change in the rules. This may well be where the league is headed, but it’s not there yet.

The NBA defines a flagrant foul as “unnecessary contact committed by a player against an opponent.” To me, leaping on a player’s back like that qualifies. (A flagrant two foul is “unnecessary and excessive contact” and leads to an ejection; this is not that.)

Jared Dudley — one of the more vocal players on union issues — added a good point.

Consider this part of the coming changes on the intentional fouling rules period. But this one tweak could come much faster.

NBA: Foul on Cavaliers that sparked Celtics’ comeback called in error

Cleveland Cavaliers' J.R. Smith makes a move on Boston Celtics' Evan Turner (11) during the third quarter of a NBA basketball game in Boston Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2015. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
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The Cavaliers were in great shape against the Celtics on Friday, leading by four points with seven seconds left.

Then, it all went so wrong for Cleveland.

J.R. Smith was called for fouling Evan Turner on a made layup, cutting the margin to two points. Turner missed the free throw, but the ball went out of bounds off the Cavs. Then, Avery Bradley made a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to give Boston the win.

Rewind, though, and an incorrect call drove the sequence, according to the NBA.

Smith shouldn’t have been called for fouling Turner, per the Last Two Minute Report:

Smith (CLE) makes incidental contact with Turner’s (BOS) body as he attempts the layup.

If this were officiated correctly, the Cavs would’ve had the ball and a two-point lead with 5.9 seconds left. That’s not a lock to win – they’d still have to inbound the ball and make their free throws – but it’s close.

Cleveland is definitely entitled to feel the refs wronged them out of a victory.

Report: Kevin Durant has “done his due diligence on the Bay Area”

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Kevin Durant has not made up his mind about what he will do as a free agent this summer. Until his playoff run ends, whenever that may be for the Thunder, his focus will be on bringing a title to Oklahoma City.

But even he admits he can’t help but think about free agency a little.

The buzz around the league is Golden State is at the front of the line if Durant decides to leave OKC, and he has done some research, reports Marc Spears of Yahoo Sports.

The Warriors play in front of an intimidating Oracle Arena crowd and are expected to debut a new San Francisco arena in 2019. Durant has quietly done his due diligence on the Bay Area, too, sources told Yahoo Sports.

His people — specifically agent Rich Kleiman and personal manager Charlie Bell — would be stupid not to have done some research on not only Golden State but on every other team he might consider: Houston, Miami, Washington, both teams in Los Angeles, the Knicks, and on down the line. Golden State, playing with Stephen Curry, certainly would have its attractions.

I’m still in the camp that Durant signs a 1+1 deal to stay in Oklahoma City (meaning he can opt out after one more season, in 2017), and it’s all about the cash. While he could get 30 percent of a $90 million cap this summer (about $27 million a season to start), with one more year of service in 2017 Durant could get 35 percent of $108 million ($37.8 million to start). That’s a lot of cash. Plus he gets one more chance at a ring with Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka, who both are 2017 free agents.

But you can be sure whatever Durant decides, it will be well researched and thought out. And he’s not going to announce it in a live special on ESPN.