Baseline to Baseline, your game recaps

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What happened Saturday while you were setting your bracket on fire…

Bulls 98 Sixers 84: Welcome back, Derrick Rose. The Bulls snapped a ten game losing streak behind Rose, who Jrue Holiday couldn’t stop if he was Doctor Octupus.

The good news for the Sixers is Marreese Speights got some burn and showed up with 17 points and 11 rebounds. Speights deserves more time on the floor now that Philadelphia’s out of playoff contention. In January.

Raptors 100 Nets 90: Two bad defenses only combined for 190 points. Which means you had two teams misfiring. But Bosh was his usual brilliant self with 36 and Devin Harris was doing work. 22 points, 6 rebounds, and 7 assists for a point guard who may be on the market if the Nets land the #1 overall pick. That’s a bargain.

Courtney Lee can’t seem to stream any consistency together, which is a shame, because he’s got so much potential. Andrea Bargnani is the same, logging 5 points and 3 rebounds. Against literally any other team in the league that results in a loss.

Heat 77 Bobcats 71: The score will tell you something about this eye-gouger. If you liked the mid-90’s, this was the game for you. It was an offensive nightmare. Quentin Richardson led the Heat with 18 points, which he scored entirely in the first half.

The Bobcats shot .292.

Let’s all just pretend this game never happened. Deal?

Grizzlies 123 Warriors 107:
A fun one, as you’d expect with the two teams involved, but too predictable with the complete lack of defense.

O.J. Mayo continues to illustrate within games that he can be a franchise player or a sixth man role player depending on the weather.

The Dubs were on a back to back, and when you have a bad defensive team that’s tired, easy losses pile up. The Grizzlies didn’t do that much right in this game, but avoided doing much wrong.

Celtics 102 Mavericks 93: Like we said, Rajon Rondo was the difference. He killed the Mavs. Both teams had trouble on the pick and pop. Boston showed too hard on J.J. Barea, allowing Nowitzki to kill from mid-range, while the Mavericks didn’t show enough and let Rondo get to the basket whenever he wanted.

Dallas gets tagged for not playing defense, but you always feel like they’ve got another gear behind it. Boston played great defense and the Mavericks still created good looks. Not just made shots, but good looks. This would be a fantastic Finals matchup.

Bucks 102 Nuggets 97: How bout those Bucks?

A back to back, on the road, against a playoff team, after playing the Kings in overtime the night before. And the Bucks lead for virtually the entire game.

The difference maker in this one was Ersan Ilyasova. The versatile big is capable of doing anything on the floor. In one extended fourth quarter sequence, he made a three pointer, made a sweet drive and dish, worked the high pivot, grabbed an offensive rebound, and made a delightful pound cake.

Birdman Anderson continues to be a defensive liability in any situation where he’s not simply jumping and blocking.

Jazz 106 Hornets 86: David West got ejected for a questionable flagrant foul 2 in the first half and that was pretty much that.

I miss Chris Paul, don’t you?

Nikola Vucevic hits fade-away game winner for Magic against Hawks

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The Hawks almost came back and won this — Atlanta went on an 8-0 run in the final minutes to tie the game at 94-94 with Orlando. The Magic had one last chance with 2.2 seconds left.

Nikola Vucevic nailed it.

Can’t blame Al Horford‘s defense on this one, he pushed Vucevic out and contested the shot. But in a make-or-miss league Vucevic nailed the game winner, Orlando wins 96-94.

If that looks familiar, Vucevic knocked down pretty much the same shot against the Lakers earlier this season.

LeBron James on Super Bowl: “Got to go with the Carolina Panthers”

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, right, embraces Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James after the Cavaliers defeated the Charlotte Hornets in an NBA basketball game Friday, Nov. 27, 2015 in Charlotte, N.C. The Cavaliers won 95-90. (AP Photo/Nell Redmond)
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We know Stephen Curry — who spent many of his formative years in Charlotte and still thinks of the city as his hometown — is all in on the Carolina Panthers today against the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl 30.

On this, he and LeBron James agree.

LeBron sounded like the politically cautious, image-conscious version of himself at the start of this quote from Uninterrupted on Facebook, but as he gets going, you can quickly see who he wants in this game (hat tip Eye on Basketball).

“I don’t know if I quite got a prediction but I definitely want to see a great Super Bowl,” James said in the video. “But if it was a life and death situation and I had to choose one team and one player, I got to go with Killah Cam. Got to go with the Carolina Panthers, they’ve been playing the most consistent football all year round. Both offensively, defensively and special teams. Got to go with Cam and one of my boys plays for them too as well, Ted Ginn Jr., that’s been showing out all year as well.

“No disrespect to the Broncos. I love their team. They got the legend at quarterback, they got that defense that’s out of control. They got some receivers that be balling out as well. They’re really well coached as well and that’s the reason they are in the Super Bowl. But I’m rolling with the Carolina Panthers today.”

A lot of NBA players like the way Cam Newton plays — with exuberance, wearing his heart on his sleeve, dancing and celebrating. That’s how Curry and LeBron and other NBA players want to play their game, and they feel reined in by the league. They relate to Cam Newton and the ridiculous role model/celebration debate.

We’ll see how much celebrating the Denver defense lets Newton do.

Kevin Durant on Warriors, Spurs: “We’re not scared of neither one of those teams”

OAKLAND, CA - FEBRUARY 6: Kevin Durant #35 of the Oklahoma City Thunder while facing the Golden State Warriors on February 6, 2016 at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California. 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 Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2016 NBAE (Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)
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We’d seen this movie before. Against the San Antonio Spurs. Against the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Golden State Warriors offensive machine got cranked up, dropped 73 on Oklahoma City in the first half, led by 14 at the break, and it was about to turn into another rout, and another statement win for the Warriors.

Except the Thunder came back. OKC held Golden State to just 18 third quarter points and got the lead down to two points — the Thunder pushed the Warriors away from the things they like to do (Stephen Curry/Draymond Green pick-and-roll) and made life difficult for them. It was a fantastic performance for OKC, even if Golden State still prevailed with a 116-108 win.

After the game Durant would have none of any moral victory talk — even though it was — and he said the Thunder were not intimidated by the Warriors or anyone else, via Royce Young of Oklahoma City.

“That’s what we’re supposed to do,” Durant said of the comeback. “When we get down, we’re supposed to tie the game up. No moral victories in here…

“Man, we’re not scared of neither one of those teams,” Durant said, including the Spurs. “We’re going to play our game. Nobody in this locker room is scared. We gotta play ’em. If we want to get to where we want to get to, we gotta play ’em. We’re not ducking nobody.”

The NBA isn’t professional boxing; nobody gets to duck anybody.

But a Thunder team searching for respect gained a measure Saturday night. The Thunder picture themselves contenders and for much of the season listened to talking heads (myself included) say the Warriors and Spurs are in a different class. Saturday night was a step in showing that they belonged. There are still questions about how Golden State or San Antonio could exploit players such as Dion Waiters or Enes Kanter is a seven-game series, but the Thunder have two of the league’s top five players — they can beat and hang with anyone.

They have a shot at a title.

If Durant believes that, it would impact his decision this summer, but that is another discussion.

Watch Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant trade shots Saturday night

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Kevin Durant won the one-on-one battle — he dropped 40 points on the Golden State Warriors, while Stephen Curry had “just” 26 and needed 26 shots to get there (but did add 10 assists).

But the Warriors built up a lead thanks to their depth and were able to withstand a late Thunder run to get the win.

Enjoy watching Curry and Durant putting on a show Saturday night in the Bay Area.