Baseline to Baseline, your game recaps

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What happened Wednesday, while you were asking “What’s That Song?“…

Bobcats 100 Thunder 92: Raymond Felton is probably better than you think he is. He’s been a huge part of the Bobcats’ success this year, and his ability to create chaos in the offensive set now that teams can’t collapse because of Stephen Jackson is letting him tear things up. He was a huge part of the run tonight, 17 points on 7 of 10 shooting, 7 assists and zero turnovers.

This was a rare loss that actually looks bad for the Thunder. The Bobcats played with payoff toughness, and the Thunder didn’t really know how to respond. They can execute when they need to, but if you rough them up a bit, their inexperience shows. Kevin Durant needed 26 shots for 26 points and got blocked five times.

Cavaliers 99 Pacers 95: This LeBron James taking over late thing has gotten out of control. The Pacers made a run on a coasting Cavs team, and so James scored 6 points, got 2 blocks and 2 assists in the final four minutes. That’s just absurd.

Roy HIbbert was mighty fine in this one, and he’s looking more and more like a great center for years to come. If he gets a good point guard to pair with this summer next year could be huge for him. Of course, Larry Bird will probably draft Jon Scheyer or something, but whatever.

Celtics 109, Knicks 97: Boston has maybe the tallest, longest front line in the NBA. The Knicks starting center is 6’9″ and is not a center in any real sense of the word. The Celtics are not a stupid team. They pounded the ball inside early and often, were up 13 after a quarter and the only reason this one was just a little close was the Celtics packed it in five minutes before the game ended.

The very wise Kelly Dwyer says the game is always teaching you. This game is the exception that proves the rule. Nothing much to take away from this one.

Sixers 108 Nets 97: The Net can’t beat the Sixers without Devin Harris. Obviously.

The Sixers won this battle behind Andre Iguodala and Jrue Holiday, but the Nets will win the war because they have legitimate hope for next year and the years after.

Raptors 106 Atlanta 105: Atlanta’s picked a bad time to go to pieces.

The Hawks have been coasting for too long and you can tell they’re bored, and they didn’t put the effort forward to stop the Raptors’ terrific offense. They took this game lightly, allowed the comeback, and let Chris Bosh bury them.

Andrea Bargnani had 11 rebounds, and the Raptors won. These two things are not unrelated.

Magic 110 Spurs 84:The Spurs stopped Dwight Howard. Got him frustrated, limited, invisible. That’s how you’re supposed to stop the Magic, right? 

And that’s why the Magic got Vince Carter. Carter was en fuego, and between that and the Magic’s defense this wasn’t much of a contest. The Spurs pulled within 10 in the third and you thought it would be tight. Then the Magic rattled off another run. Goodnight, San Antonio. Have a nice night.

Rockets 107 Grizzlies 94: The Grizzlies don’t play great defense to start with. If the other team is on fire, they don’t have the defensive personnel or know-how to make adjustments. The result? Aaron Brooks was 7-7 from the arc, finished with 31 points and all of a sudden the Rockets’ backcourt looks downright terrifying.

The Grizzlies’ playoff hopes aren’t technically dead, but this was the night they turned off the respirator.

Mavericks 113 Bulls 106: Yeah. Another night. Another Bulls team with almost none of its starters. Another loss to a good team. the Mavericks owned this. They knew they should win and decided tonight was a night they wouldn’t screw around.

Caron Butler is SCARY good on this team.

Jazz 122 Wolves 100: Good news, Wolves fans! You gave up 30 fewer points than you did against the Suns!

This team. Is. Terrible.

Clippers 101 Bucks 93: The Clippers used, get this, zone. And it positively boggled the Bucks. Couldn’t get penetration, couldn’t get open looks, couldn’t create any of the switches they depend on. Bizarre development that may cost them in the playoffs.

Drew Gooden had 16 and 11, and looks good on the Clippers. Which makes a lot of sense in some ways.

Warriors 131, Hornets 121: New Orleans just got beat by a D-League team. Seriously. Three D-League callups by the Hornets — Anthony Tolliver, Chris Hunter and Reggie Williams — combined for 69 points on the night. On 66 percent shooting and 8 of 14 from three. (More on this to come later.)

The trio (and sparked one of the biggest comebacks of the year — Golden State was down 21with 5:30 left in the third. The game should have been over. All they had to do was stick with the game plan that had been working — don’t turn the ball over and keep pounding it inside against the small Warrior front line. Apparently that is too much to ask. Meanwhile Golden State (without Stephen Curry) just got hot from the floor. The result was a damn entertaining, if not fundamentally sound, rare Warriors win.

Report: Dante Cunningham re-signing with Pelicans

AP Photo/David Goldman
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An intriguing battle emerged late in free agency over Dante Cunningham.

The Pelicans and Timberwolves were desperate at small forward, and Cunningham rare contributor at the position still available. New Orleans even traded a second-rounder and cash to dump Quincy Pondexter and get far enough below the hard cap to take advantage of Cunningham’s Bird Rights.

That’ll pay off.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

It’s not the $3,106,500 Cunningham opted out of, but a $2.3 million salary beats his minimum ($2,106,470), which is all Minnesota could’ve offered.

That’s a great rate on someone who might be the Pelicans’ starting small forward, considering Solomon Hill‘s injury. Even if he plays behind Tony Allen on a team that starts small on the perimeter, Cunningham will reduce the time New Orleans must rely on also-rans.

Cunningham is probably better at power forward, but he can defend either position. He also has become a good enough 3-point shooter to credibly play small forward.

For the Pelicans, he’s a huge upgrade at a bargain price.

Kevin Durant cops to tweets, calls elements of them ‘childish’ and ‘idiotic’

AP Photo/Ben Margot
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Kevin Durant – tweeting in the third person, suggesting he forget to switch to a secret Twitter account – said he left the Thunder because he didn’t like the organization or playing for Billy Donovan and that Oklahoma City’s surrounding cast around himself and Russell Westbrook was lacking. Durant also appeared to have a second Instagram account he has used to insult critics.

Durant at TechCrunch:

Durant:

I do have other another Instagram account, but that’s just for my friends and family. So, I wouldn’t say I was using that to clap back at anybody.

But I use Twitter to engage with the fans. I think it’s a great way to engage with basketball fans.

But I happened to take it a little too far, and that’s what happens sometimes when I get into these basketball debates. Or what I really love is just to play basketball. I went a little too far.

And I don’t regret clapping back at anybody or talking to my fans on Twitter. I do regret using my former coach’s name and the former organization that I played for. That was childish. That was idiotic. All those type of words. I regret doing that, and I apologize to him for doing that.

But I don’t think I’ll ever stop engaging with my fans. I think they really enjoy it, and I think it’s a good way to connect us all. But I will scale back a little bit right now and just focus on playing basketball. So, I want to move on from that. It was tough to deal with yesterday. I was really upset with myself. But definitely want to move on and keep playing basketball. But I still want to interact with my fans, as well.

Durant can defend himself all he wants on social media. Fans, even those who detest him, do enjoy the interaction.

But an anonymous-looking account defending Durant provides no joy to those fans. They don’t – or at least didn’t – know they were interacting with the famous basketball star. This is something else entirely.

And it sure looks like Durant used his secret Instagram account to clap back at fans. Via SB Nation:

Durant denying that really makes it hard to accept this as him coming clean.

Mostly, Durant just opened himself to numerous follow-up questions:

Did he really dislike the Thunder organization? Did he really dislike playing for Donovan? If yes to either question, why? If no to either question, why say that? How does lying serve the fans he’s claiming he wants to engage?

Dwight Howard changes story, blames Magic front office for bringing up firing Stan Van Gundy

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While sipping from a can of Pepsi, Stan Van Gundy calmly explained to the assembled media that Magic management told him Dwight Howard wanted the coach fired. Then, an unsuspecting Howard walked up and put his arm around Van Gundy. Van Gundy slinked away, leaving Howard to answer questions.

That 2012 press conference was an all-time great NBA moment.

Lee Jenkins of Sports Illustrated:

To hear Howard tell it, he has been the victim of more subtle misunderstandings than Larry David. The excruciatingly awkward press conference, when Stan Van Gundy confirmed that Howard was lobbying the Magic front office to fire him, only for an unsuspecting Howard to join Van Gundy and deny what the coach claimed? “That previous summer, the front office asked me about Stan, and I told them I thought he was losing his voice with the team. But they were the ones who said they should start looking for other coaches.”

Howard already admitted in 2014 he told the Magic he thought Van Gundy should have been fired after the 2011 playoffs. Howard even griped that Orlando didn’t listen to him!

I get that Howard is (again) trying to rehabilitate his image, but he has to do a better job of keeping his story straight.

Bulls hire Doug Collins as senior advisor

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Doug Collins burns out. Burns out his players, burns out himself. That was his reputation through 11 seasons coaching the Bulls, Pistons, Wizards and 76ers.

When Collins left Philadelphia in 2013, he declared he was done coaching. There was just too much pressure, he said.

Perhaps, Collins has found a role that better suits him.

Vincent Goodwill of CSN Chicago:

In a surprise announcement, the Chicago Bulls have brought former coach Doug Collins back into the fold, naming him a senior advisor to Executive Vice President John Paxson.

Even among NBA personnel, Collins was a basketball expert in his time. Whether he has kept up in a rapidly evolving league is an open question.

It won’t hurt having his voice in the room. It might hurt if the Bulls lean too heavily on it.

Hopefully, everyone entered this arrangement for the right reasons. Paxson played for Collins in Chicago. Collins’ son – Chris Collins – coaches nearby Northwestern. An overreliance on comfort won’t yield positive results. The Bulls need forward-thinkers, not just familiar faces. Successful executives put in a lot of work and aren’t just hanging around to be close with family.

This hire probably won’t move the needle much, but there’s certainly a chance it could – in either direction.