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.

Stephen Curry loses bet to JaVale McGee, must wear fanny pack to three games

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Outside of a couple of college campuses and a handful of people in Las Vegas sports books, not a lot of people were paying attention to the Davidson vs. Nevada college basketball game Tuesday night.

Also, the Warriors’ locker room cared — Davidson alum Stephen Curry and Nevada alum JaVale McGee had a bet.

Nevada stayed undefeated with a comfortable 81-68 win.

So the fashion conscious Curry is going to have wear a fanny pack as he arrives — and his rival is always met with cameras — for three Warriors games this season. Well played JaVale, well played.

Curry, I think there are designer fanny packs…

FLORENCE, ITALY – MAY 29: A model walks the runway at the Gucci Cruise 2018 show at Palazzo Pitti on May 29, 2017 in Florence, Italy. (Photo by Pietro D’Aprano/Getty Images)

 

J.R. Smith on Celtics start: “We don’t start paying attention until after All-Star break”

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I’m not sure any LeBron James team can fly under the radar, but the Cavaliers have relatively quietly won five in a row. Most importantly, in those five games, Cleveland’s defense is 8.6 points per 100 possessions better than their season average (and eighth in the league in that stretch). The Cavaliers may be finding their groove.

Not that anyone is noticing because Boston has rattled off 16 wins in a row to have the best record in the NBA.

Hey, J.R. Smith, are the Cavaliers paying attention to Boston’s hot start? (Via Bleacher Report.)

“Nah,” JR Smith told B/R when asked if they’re paying attention to the league-leading Celtics. “It’s too early. Too early. We don’t start paying attention until after All-Star break when you see teams spacing out (in the standings). You start getting your best shot after the All-Star break.”

Cleveland, even after the win streak, is 5.5 games back of the Celtics. While it’s too early to say anything with certainty, much like last season it seems probable that Boston will be the No. 1 seed and the Cavaliers will need to go on the road to secure another trip to the Finals. Which is just fine with the Cavs if they can be healthy and rested when the postseason rolls around.

Healthy means getting LeBron a little more rest at some point — he leads the NBA in minutes played at 37.9 per game, and he’s in his 15th season. He’s played more regular season games than Michael Jordan. At some point, the Cavaliers need to get him some rest.

But LeBron said postgame he’s not playing the hard minutes, yet.

“Are all 40-minute (games) created equal?” James repeated.

Dwyane Wade elaborated: “If you play 40 minutes and you’re banging around, or you play 40 minutes, an easy up-and-down? You still play 40 but it’s different.”

James: “Forty minutes in a playoff game and 40 in a regular-season game is totally different. For me and him, we don’t just sit on the perimeter. We’re slashing.”

Bucks’ Mirza Teletovic out 4 weeks; Henson to miss Suns game

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MILWAUKEE (AP) — Injuries are thinning the Milwaukee Bucks’ frontcourt as they begin a Western Conference road trip.

The team says forward Mirza Teletovic is expected to miss four weeks following arthroscopic surgery on Tuesday to repair cartilage in his left knee. He has missed the last six games.

The 6-foot-9 Teletovic is a key player off the bench for Milwaukee. He is averaging 7.1 points in 10 games this season, shooting 46 percent from 3-point range.

The Bucks also say starting center John Henson will miss Wednesday night’s game in Phoenix after what they call a “successful eye procedure.”

Henson is expected to rejoin the Bucks before Saturday’s game at Utah. He is averaging 6.7 points and 6.6 rebounds.

Guard Matthew Dellavedova also remains out with left knee tendinitis.

Three Things to Know: If playoffs started today Lakers would be the eight seed

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Every day in the NBA there is a lot to unpack, so every weekday morning throughout the season we will give you the three things you need to know from the last 24 hours in the NBA.

1) After beating Bulls, if playoffs started today Lakers would be the eight seed. The Lakers have been better than advertised this young season… but a playoff team?

Yes. If the playoffs started today, the Lakers would be the eighth seed.

While everyone seems to focus on Lonzo Ball’s lack of a jumper (he was 3-of-13 Tuesday, 2-of-8 from three), the Lakers have produced the fourth-best defense in the NBA, allowing just 100.3 points per 100 possessions. It’s a shocking improvement from the team with the worst defense in the NBA last season, they are allowing 10.3 points fewer per 100 possessions than a season ago. Los Angeles runs out a long, athletic lineup with a well-positioned backstop big in Brook Lopez in the paint. Maybe fourth in the NBA is not sustainable (teams are shooting just 31.9 percent from three against L.A., and that’s not so much defense as luck), but the Lakers are improved defensively.

That defense keeps the Lakers in games, then thanks to flurries from an inconsistent offense the Lakers 8-10 to start the season after knocking off the Chicago Bulls 103-94. Chicago led by 19 in the second and early third, but the Lakers rallied behind Julius Randle and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.

The Western Conference that was expected to be so deep going into the season is watching good teams stumble (Oklahoma City) and other teams struggle with injuries (Memphis, Utah, L.A. Clippers). It has opened the door for now, and the Lakers have stepped in. Or, at least not fallen out.

I still don’t expect the Lakers in the postseason when we get to April, and their young core is still a work in progress, but this start is a big boost to the confidence of the team. It’s a step in the direction they want to go.

2) Denver loses Paul Millsap for three months due to wrist surgery. Last season, Denver had one of the worst defenses in the NBA. This season they are middle of the pack — a substantial improvement. Paul Millsap is a big part of that, the Nuggets have been 4.5 points per 100 possessions better when Millsap has been on the court this season.

Which is why it’s going to hurt so much that he is out to have wrist surgery, he is out three months or so (think return after the All-Star Game).

Millsap inked a team-friendly three-year, $90 million contract with Denver over the summer (the third season is not guaranteed). He is averaging 15.3 points and 6.2 rebounds a game, numbers are down a little from previous years (as were his shots as he adjusted), but things have looked up lately. Millsap seemed to be finding a groove during the recent streak when Denver won 4-of-5. He and the Nuggets were figuring out how to play together. Now that is on hold, and Denver goes from a team that looked like a playoff lock in the West to one to watch. Injuries are shaping the West playoff race right now in a massive way.

3) Worst. Free throw. Ever. This was on Shaqtin’ last week, but it is too good not to post, in case you haven’t seen it.

"This is the worst free throw of all-time!" 😂 Shaq goes overseas for Week 5's #Shaqtin winner 🏆

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