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.

Irving’s 47 lead Celtics past Mavericks to maintain streak

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DALLAS (AP) — Kyrie Irving scored 10 of his season-high 47 points in overtime as the Boston Celtics rallied once again from a double-digit deficit to beat the Dallas Mavericks 110-102 on Monday night and extend their winning streak to 16 games.

The Mavericks led by as many as 13 points in the fourth quarter, but as they have several times during their winning streak, the Celtics stormed back.

The winning streak ties the fourth-longest in Celtics history.

Boston tied the game at 96 when Irving stole the ball from Dirk Nowitzki and fed Jayson Tatum for an alley-oop lay-up that hung on the rim for a full second before dropping through.

Irving scored his team’s first six points of overtime. Then after Jaylen Brown gave Boston a 104-102 lead with a jumper with 1:39 to play, Irving went to work on Yogi Ferrell, backing him down and drawing contact on a lay-up with 48.5 seconds to play. Though Irving missed the free throw to keep the score 106-102, Dallas never got closer.

Harrison Barnes scored 31 points and Wesley Matthews had 18 for Dallas, which came back from an early double-digit deficit as the Celtics went cold for much of the second and third quarters.

Irving and Barnes had chances in the final 30 seconds but both missed shots that would have given their teams the lead.

The Mavericks fell behind by as many as 15 points in the first half, outscoring the Celtics 55-35 over the second and third quarters.

Dallas took its biggest lead of the game when Yogi Ferrell fed a cutting Dwight Powell for a lay-up to make it 87-74 with 7:47 to play before the Celtics rallied.

Boston shot just 10-for-34 over the two middle quarters after building the early lead.

 

DeMarcus Cousins ejected after elbowing Russell Westbrook in head

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DeMarcus Cousins‘ history of flagrant fouls certainly didn’t help him here, but if anyone elbows a guy in the head, he’s going to get tossed.

And that’s what Cousins did here.

Midway through the third quarter in New Orleans, Cousins blocked a putback attempt by Russell Westbrook, then grabbed the rebound. Westbrook tried to reach in across Cousins’ body for the steal, and Cousins cleared out space with his elbow — right to Westbrook’s head. Cousins walked around saying “no, no, no” afterward, and he likely thinks the officials had it out for him here because he was just getting a guy off him, but we go back to the original point — elbow a guy in the head, get tossed. The league is cracking down on blows above the neck. Westbrook did not leave the game.

The Pelicans went on to come from 19 down to win the game 114-107, behind 36 points and 15 boards from Anthony Davis.

Damn, Paul George with the in-game bounce pass alley-oop to Jerami Grant

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The game has been close (as of midway through the third quarter), but that didn’t stop Oklahoma City from putting on a show in New Orleans.

Paul George had the ball on a 2-on-0 fast break and decided to throw the playground bounce-pass alley-oop, which Jerami Grant got up and finished with authority. This could be one of the dunks of the year.

We’re going to see that highlight for a while.

Jusuf Nurkic’s agent says big man wants to stay in Portland this summer

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Last season, after his trade from frustrated backup big in Denver to new starter in Portland, there was a honeymoon — the Blazers went 14-6, their defense was better, and Nurkic was a big man setting big picks for quick guards in Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum.

This season the honeymoon is over, things have been up and down, but far from time to say the marriage should end, as he is a free agent next summer. Nurkic is the only real starting center on the roster (even if coach Terry Stotts left him on the bench in the fourth quarter in favor of Ed Davis a few games back). Nurkic is averaging 14.6 points and 7.2 rebounds a game, and the Blazers’ defense is 1.5 points per 100 possessions better when he is on the court. However, his effort level has been up and down, and his shot is off, with a true shooting percentage of just 49.4, and he is shooting just 56.6 percent in the restricted area.

Nurkic wants to stay in Portland, his agent told Ben Golliver in a story at Sports Illustrated (that story is worth the read for the Nurkic origin story, which is amazing).

“I feel like the Blazers are very happy with Jusuf and Jusuf is very happy there,” Tesch, the agent, told The Crossover by telephone this week. “We had some [extension] talks but we decided to play it out this year and engage in talks again in July. He has already proven that he can help the team. There is a fit for Jusuf in Portland and he’s looking to stay there long-term.”

The two sides talked extension before the season, but Portland understandably wanted to make sure there was more to this relationship than just a honeymoon. It gave Nurkic a chance to drive up his asking price.

Portland and Nurkic likely will find a long-term deal next summer because it just makes sense for both sides. There are not a lot of teams with max free agent money next summer (4-6, I was told by an insider), or a lot of money to spend in general, and both DeAndre Jordan and DeMarcus would be centers on the market who rank ahead of Nurkic. Portland will offer more than other free agent destinations, if not as much as Nurkic dreamed of, and they will find common ground.

But there is a lot of season to play out before then. The Blazers feel like a team that should be better than its record so far, and Nurkic is part of that untapped potential. If things change, that’s good for Nurkic — and the Blazers.