Baseline to Baseline, your game recaps

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What you missed while wondering if your office NCAA pool will pay out all the way down to 19th place so you can get your money back…

Thunder 115, Raptors 89: The Raptors play no defense and the Thunder are explosive on offense. What more do you need to know? It’s not even that Oklahoma City shot all that well, but they got the rebound on 39 percent of their missed shots and Toronto just does not create turnovers. At the end of the game Raptors fans were booing (no, they were not saying “boo-urns”).

Knicks 92, Sixers 88: When Mike D’Antoni was just playing veterans in order to fight for a playoff spot a couple months ago, the Knicks kept losing. Now, he is playing the kids and newcomers to see what they can do and New York has won three out of four. Just sayin’. Rookie Toney Douglas dropped 22, trade throw in Bill Walker added 15.

Great tweet from Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix: Have to wonder what this Sixers team would look like with Andre Miller. Heady PG exactly what they need.

Hawks 93, Bobcats 92 (OT): This is now another potential first round playoff matchup I am rooting to see. Fantastic athletes on both sides. The Hawks explosive offense vs. the Bobcats defense. And if you haven’t seen Joe Johnson’s game winner, you should.

Pacers 106, Pistons 102: I don’t have the numbers in front of me, but I’d bet this was the least-watched game on NBA League Pass this year. Danny Granger came back and had 29, because he’s good.

Cavaliers 92, Bulls 85: The Bulls in green St. Patrick’s Day unis, playing at the same time as the Celtics were playing (also in green) screwed me up all night long. I could swear Kevin Garnett had a good game for the Bulls.

Chicago didn’t shoot as well, didn’t get to the line as often as Cleveland, didn’t rebound as well as Cleveland, yet the Cavs let them hang around. In the first half Antawn Jamison didn’t score and LeBron James was 1 of 5. Throughout the game, the Cavs went with heavy doses of LeBron dribbling out the clock, little ball or player movement. It was maybe the worst game Cleveland has played in a while. And they got the win. Cavs fans, take it and move on.

Celtics 94, Rockets 87: Houston makes you work for everything, there are no easy wins against them. Boston needed that. They responded to the challenge and were the more physical team. They kept the pace down and just played great half-court defense, forcing Houston into a lot of contested jumpers. Basically, they played like the Celtics Boston fans were hoping to see all season.

Spurs 147, Warriors 116: San Antonio shot 64.6 percent, they scored 90 points in the paint. Credit the Spurs for executing, but Golden State’s defense is just abysmal. That’s actually too kind; Golden State’s defense is s—.

Suns 110, Jazz 100: If you read Dean Oliver’s “Basketball On Paper,” the bible of the NBA’s statistical revolution, the first thing he emphasizes is that for all the advanced stats you can come up with the bottom line is the team that shoots the ball better wins almost every game. The Suns shot 52.7 percent and Amare Stoudemire dropped 44. The Jazz shot 38.6 percent. Ballgame.

Trail Blazers 76, Wizards 74: Slow paced (20 fewer possessions than the Warriors game), bad shooting (both teams under 40%), low scoring. Not the most entertaining game ever, until the end. Brandon Roy has said he is looking for his inner killer, his inner Kobe Bryant, so he did a Kobe-like thing — after missing his previous 14 shots he took the last shot for the Blazers, 22-footer, and buried it.

Bucks 114, Kings 108 (2OT): Brandon Jennings had 35 points, hit 8 of 13 from three and did everything but stand up on the scorer’s table and yell “Who is the rookie of the year?” He outplayed Tyreke Evans (before Evans left with an injury).

Lakers 104, Timberwolves 96: When the Lakers cared and were focused, this game wasn’t even close. That was about 20 of the 48 minutes, but it was more than enough. Credit the Timberwolves for trying, but when Kobe Bryant has 13 assists the Lakers are tough to beat (he would have had more of Ron Artest and Lamar Odom didn’t miss as many as they did). Credit to Minnesota for not rolling over after getting blown out in the first quarter, they kept fighting. They were just overmatched when the Lakers paid attention.

LaVar Ball confronts wrestler at WWE event (video)

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — LaVar Ball has brought his Big Baller Brand from the basketball court to the wrestling ring.

The outspoken father of NBA draft No. 2 pick Lonzo Ball showed up with the newly minted Los Angeles Laker and another son, 15-year-old LaMelo, for a live segment on Monday’s “WWE Raw” at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

During the segment, LaMelo Ball twice used the n-word, which was broadcast over the air. WWE says in a statement to the Los Angeles Times that the language “was not scripted nor reflects WWE’s values.”

For LaVar Ball’s appearance, the ring was decorated with mannequins displaying his Big Baller Brand clothing line. He got in a heated confrontation with WWE wrestler The Miz, and took his shirt off to cheers from the crowd.

Bulls, with Michael Carter-Williams, first team to decline extending qualifying offer to Rookie of the Year

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Just four years ago, Michael Carter-Williams won Rookie of the Year.

Now, the Bulls don’t even see a $4,187,599 qualifying offer as worth extending.

David Kaplan of CSN Chicago:

Credit Sam Hinkie for trading Carter-Williams (to the Bucks) at just the right moment, netting the 76ers a valuable Lakers first-round pick that Philadelphia used to trade up for Markelle Fultz. Carter-Williams hasn’t nearly lived up to the typical production of a former Rookie of the Year.

The Bulls got Carter-Williams far cheaper from Milwaukee, for Tony Snell (who had a breakout year with the Bucks). But Carter-Williams continued to regress in Chicago. It’s just hard for a point guard with such a shaky outside shot, and Carter-Williams’ injuries haven’t helped.

With a smorgasbord of point guards that now includes Kris Dunn and Cameron Payne, the Bulls can move on.

Carter-Williams can probably latch on as a backup point guard somewhere. As an unrestricted free agent, teams will have greater comfort pursuing him. But this is a blow for someone with such a big accolade on his résumé.

Celtics’ reported plan: Sign Gordon Hayward, trade for Paul George

AP Photo/George Frey
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The Celtics are trying to sign Gordon Hayward.

They want to trade for Paul George.

It seems those goals are not mutually exclusive.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

The Boston Celtics are pursuing an aggressive summer plan of sequencing the signing of free agent Gordon Hayward and relinquishing the assets needed to complete a trade for Paul George, league sources told The Vertical.

For salary-cap purposes, Boston wants a Hayward commitment before it can finalize a trade for George and secure the most dynamic free-agent coup in franchise history, league sources said.

For Boston, here’s the hitch: While Indiana believes Boston can offer the best possible package, the Pacers may be unwilling to wait until the start of July free agency on Boston’s timetable and could turn toward making a deal elsewhere for George, league sources told The Vertical.

The Celtics can clear cap space to sign Hayward. They have the ammo to trade for George. They could do both.

But, as covered before, there’s probably not a path to signing Hayward and extending George’s contract.

So, how much would Boston surrender for George on an expiring contract? The risk he walks in a year, particularly for the Lakers, should lower the Celtics’ offer.

Still, Boston could trade for the Pacers star and roll the dice on re-signing him. Playing with Hayward – and Isaiah Thomas and whichever other players the Celtics keep in this arrangement – would be pretty appealing.

Rumor: LeBron James would ‘never’ join Clippers

AP Photo/Tony Dejak
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The Clippers hired Jerry West, in part, to help lure LeBron James.

But even with LeBron-to-Los Angeles (Clippers or Lakers) rumors swirling, that plan might not even get off the ground.

Mike Wise of The Undefeated on Freddie and Fritz:

I’m going to give you something on this show, and this is breaking news. Nobody else is going to have it.

I got from a very good authority – a very good authority – that LeBron James will never be a Clipper. I can’t tell you who, but I’m going to tell you it’s somebody that knows, and LeBron James will never be a Clipper. I don’t know if that’s because he remembers what the Clippers used to be, or he just doesn’t want to put his lot in there, or he thinks Steve Ballmer is just too animated on the sideline.

He’s never going to be a Clipper. I’m just telling people right now, for your edification. I’m breaking this on the Freddie Coleman and Fitz show.

I don’t believe in “never” in situations like this. As Jerry Seinfeld would say, teams are just laundry. The Clippers can change owners, general managers, coaches, players. LeBron would remain absolutely opposed to joining?

Maybe, but I won’t go that far without knowing his reason for resisting the Clippers. A lot can change between now and 2018, when LeBron can opt out.

One of the Clippers’ biggest selling points was always going to be Chris Paul, LeBron’s close friend. Reading the tea leaves, maybe this is a sign Paul will leave this summer – for the Spurs, Rockets or somewhere else.