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.

Spurs to give Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili Friday night off in Denver

Manu Ginobili, Harrison Barnes, Tim Duncan
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The Spurs are 12-3 and comfortably in second place in the West, they have the best defense in the NBA allowing just 93.8 points per 100 possessions, and they have a top-10 offense to go with it.

So, time to start making sure guys are rested.

That is the first night of a back-to-back, with former Spurs’ assistant coach Mike Budenholzer and his Atlanta Hawks coming to San Antonio on Saturday. Popovich is saving his two veterans for that game.

Duncan and Ginobili have looked like they found the fountain of youth this season. Duncan is taking on less of the offense but has been very efficient in those moments. Ginobili has the impact he did a few years back in his bench role.

What Gregg Popovich cares about is them playing like that come the postseason. So they will rest on Friday.

Brandon Armstrong impersonates Ray Allen (video)

2014 NBA Finals - Game Five
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Ray Allen is retired-ish, but he’ll always be running through screens – in our mind and in this video.

Celtics draft pick Marcus Thornton gets beer dumped on head during Australian game (video)

Marcus Thornton, Will Cherry

The Celtics drafted Marcus Thornton with No. 45 pick in the 2015 NBA draft. That essentially entitled him to the required tender – a one-year contract offer, surely unguaranteed at the minimum.

Thornton rejected that, which is almost always a mistake.

Rejecting the tender is a favor to the drafting team, which gets to keep the player’s exclusive rights for a year. If Thornton tries to join the NBA now, he’s stuck negotiating with only the Celtics.

By accepting the tender, the player typically gets one of two outcomes. He either plays on that contract and draws an NBA salary or he gets waived. But even getting waived is better than rejecting the tender, because at least the player becomes a free agent and can negotiate with any team.

Players who reject the tender go to another league and play for less money. In Thornton’s case, that mean Australia.

How’s that going?

(Almost) never reject the required tender as a second-round pick.

Byron Scott says they just have to get Kobe Bryant better looks

Kobe Bryant, Joe Johnson, Byron Scott

Kobe Bryant is averaging 15.2 points a game at age 37. It’s just taking him 16.4 shots per game to get there. After his 1-of-14 shooting performance against the Warriors the other night — with too much isolation and too many plays run just for him — there has been a lot of talk about his shot. With reason, this is his shot chart so far this season.

Kobe shotchart season

So what do the Lakers’ do? Get Kobe to shoot less and get the ball in the hands of the young stars they supposed to be developing more? Nah.

They just need to get Kobe better looks, Scott told the Los Angeles Times.

“I know his mentality is that he can still play in this league,” Scott said. “And we feel the same way….

“Obviously he’s struggling right now with his shot, and I think everybody can see that,” Scott said. “So it’s trying to get him in better position to be able to have an opportunity to knock those shots down on a consistent basis. That’s No. 1.

“I don’t know if it’s his legs. I don’t think so. Again, our conversations are pretty blunt. … He tells me when he is tired and he tells me when he’s not tired. And the last few days, he said he feels great. So, I don’t think it’s a matter of him being tired or his legs being tired. I think it’s a matter of his timing being a little off.”

Yes, how could it be his legs? It’s not like he’s a 37-year-old with more than 55,000 NBA minutes played, and coming off an Achilles rupture and major knee surgery.

Honestly, I hope the Lakers and Kobe find a balance soon, because they have become just hard to watch. And I don’t want Kobe to go out this way.