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.

Corey Brewer: “James (Harden) is going to play defense this year”

HOUSTON, TX - MARCH 18:  James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets walks across the court during their game against the Minnesota Timberwolves at the Toyota Center on March 18, 2016 in Houston, Texas.  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.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
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James Harden‘s defense is not as bad as its reputation.

Well, at least it wasn’t two seasons ago — his near MVP season he was in good enough shape that he could put in a respectable effort on that end and still handle his massive offensive load. There were still some mental lapses, but his focus was better and his improvement lifted the team defense. Last season, he regressed back to youtube “highlight” defense Harden — his conditioning was not where it needed to be, he didn’t expend as much effort on that end, and it showed.

Harden got a massive contract extension this summer, and Dwight Howard is Atlanta’s problem — now Harden has to lead the Rockets. By example. Corey Brewer told ESPN you’re going to see that on defense.

“I think this year he’s going to play better defense, We’re going to let the past be in the past. It’s the future of the Rockets, man. James is going to play defense this year.”

We’re all Missourians on this one: Show me.

Remember that the Rockets will be out and running — Mike D’Antoni is the coach now, and Daryl Morey is going to get the up tempo ball he wants (which Kevin McHale had them doing, but Harden didn’t like him so…). D’Antoni’s teams in Phoenix played better defense than their reputation — points per possession they were middle of the pack — but that has never been his focus.

Will Harden be able to run like he needs to on offense and still defend at a reasonable level?

If he can, it’s a big step toward the Rockets being a dangerous team in the West because if he does it others will follow. Otherwise, every Rockets game will be a shootout, which is entertaining but not going to get a team deep into the playoffs.

 

Watch Drake hit a half court shot while doing a situp

TORONTO, ON - APRIL 26:  Singer Drake celebrates after Terrance Ross #31 of the Toronto Raptors sinks a 3-pointer in the second half of Game Five of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Indiana Pacers during the 2016 NBA Playoffs at the Air Canada Centre on April 26, 2016 in Toronto, Ontario, 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.  (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
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I can see the questions on Twitter/in the comments already so let me save you some time.

Because it’s summer.

Because it’s Drake (he’s a celebrity and an NBA hanger-on with some quasi-official position with the Raptors).

Because Stephen Curry did it, too.

Because what other hoops are you watching on a late August afternoon?

And besides, you clicked on it. You know you want to see it.

So here it is, Drake, hitting a halfcourt shot while doing a sit up. Enjoy.

FOR THE KIA!!!!! @highlighthub @bleacherreport

A video posted by champagnepapi (@champagnepapi) on

Mario Chalmers says he’s cleared to play

Memphis Grizzlies guard Mario Chalmers moves the ball during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2015, in Washington. Chalmers was ejected in the first half. The Wizards won 100-91. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster
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Mario Chalmers was thriving with the Grizzlies after a midseason trade from the Heat when a torn Achilles ended his season.

Not the way Chalmers wanted to enter free agency.

Still unsigned, he says he’s progressing.

Chalmers:

Can he go 100%, though? If not, when?

A few teams could use another point guard. If Chalmers shows his health, he belongs in someone’s rotation. But that might require taking a low-paying deal and working his way up from the third point guard spot – or even just onto the regular-season roster.

Report: John Wall ‘rankled’ by James Harden’s high-paying Rockets contract

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 29: John Wall #2 of the Washington Wizards is defended by James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets in the second half at Verizon Center on March 29, 2015 in Washington, DC. 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. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Patrick Smith/Getty Images
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Bradley Beal isn’t the only player bothering John Wall.

James Harden – who’s earning a lot of money from the Rockets and adidas – is drawing the ire of the Wizards point guard.

Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer:

One league source familiar with Wall’s state of mind simply put it this way: “Wall’s got jealousy issues. He’s always upset with someone who makes more money than him.”

A front office executive tells The Ringer that Wall was “rankled” after Harden signed a four-year, $118 million extension with the Rockets.

O’Connor also pointed out this line from Nick DePaula of Yahoo Sports on Wall rejected adidas’ offer:

“He wanted Harden money,” a source told The Vertical.

I wonder how Wall feels about Beal’s max contract, which pays much more than Wall’s deal. Wall didn’t like Reggie Jackson, another lesser player, earning the same amount as him.

The union rejecting cap smoothing in light of the new national TV contracts has certainly adversely affected Wall, who locked in long-term just before the salary cap explosion became known. As other players sign huge contracts, he’s stuck on his old-money deal.

Washington could’ve renegotiated and extended Wall’s contract, but it would have been more complicated than Harden’s arrangement. Wall has three years remaining to what was previously two for Harden. How much extra money would the Wizards have paid Wall over the next three years just to get him committed for one more year? Instead, they signed Ian Mahinmi, Andrew Nicholson and Jason Smith.

I’m also unsure Wall would’ve accepted an extension. He doesn’t seem overly happy in Washington, and a raise via renegotiation was coming only if Wall provided something in return – an additional year of team control added to his contract.

And don’t lose track of this: Harden is better than Wall.

I don’t mind Wall monitoring other players’ contracts. That jealousy or whatever you want to call it has driven Wall to become a star NBA player. Whatever motivation works.

But demanding Harden’s deal is unrealistic. The Wizards also ought to be mindful of how Beal’s new contract affects chemistry, but that’s their problem.

Wall’s issue – as a player, not endorser – is primarily theoretical. He’s tied to his current contract, and lesser players will earn more than him due simply to timing. He must find a way to make peace with that.