Baseline to Baseline, your game recaps

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What you missed while stunned someone picked the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament perfectly

Knicks 109, Nuggets 104: In a close game at the end, Denver got what it wanted. Carmelo Anthony had the ball in his hands, made two good drives, got two shots he wanted — a runner across the lane and a reverse layup. Both contested, but ones the great closers need to make. Ones he usually makes. But it was not Melo’s night and he misses both. With the game almost out of reach he had a good look three and missed that, too

Meanwhile in Bizzaro land, rookie Toney Douglas has the ball with 30 seconds to go, recognizes the mismatch (Nene has switched onto him off a high pick) and drives at him forcing Nene to back up, then Douglas pulls up for an elbow jumper he just buried. Smart play, good shot. Put the Knicks up by three and Melo couldn’t answer.

Denver just does not get up for the games it should win.

Bobcats 95, Wizards 86 (OT): The final three minutes of a close NBA game that made me long for the efficient offenses of the first round of the NCAA Tournament. This was just not pretty (and I’m not even talking about Andray Blatche’s behavior). Mike Miller went 0 for 5 late, Tyrus Thomas committed an offensive penalty, Randy Foye put up an ugly running floater, all just bad. Outside of some hustle rebounds by Gerald Wallace — including just ripping the ball away from JaVale McGee — there was nothing impressive.

Maybe the best way to sum it up: The Bobcat’s last shot of regulation with 8.7 seconds. They inbound to Jackson, who literally does not take a step, does not move forward for the full time, then launches a contested three he misses. Ugh.

In overtime, Thornton fouled out, Washington ran out of steam and the Bobcats played like a team that worried about its playoff position.

Pacers 98, Pistons 83: Um, the Pacers have won three in a row and four of their last five. Maybe it’s some guys getting healthy, maybe it’s them getting used to playing at a fast pace, maybe it’s the End Times. Probably the first two, but I’m stocking up on canned goods just in case.

Mavericks, 106, Clippers 96: In the third quarter, Dirk Nowitzki got tossed for saying some magical words to the referee after foul call. Instantly Dallas fell apart and their lead vanished.

Out of desperation, Dallas went to the zone defense late in the third, and you might as well have expected the Clippers to solve the Sunday New York Times crossword in pen. They went 1 for 10 from the floor, plus threw in a few turnovers for good measure, and the Mavericks literally ran away from them. There was the Beaubois alley-oop, the Kidd three, the Haywood and one. And it was over.

Report: Clippers exploring leaving Lakers at Staples Center, getting their own arena

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 29:  Jamal Crawford #11 of the Los Angeles Clippers pulls up for a shot between Brandon Bass #2 and D'Angelo Russell #1 of the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on January 29, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and condition of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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The Clippers don’t just play second fiddle to the Lakers in Los Angeles. They play second fiddle to the Lakers in their own arena.

Unless the Clippers want to move from the NBA’s second-biggest market, the former isn’t changing.

The Latter?

Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN:

The Clippers want to escape the Lakers’ shadow. Leaving the Staples Center wouldn’t turn the Clippers into L.A.’s team, but it’d give them a new avenue for attention — and revenue.

Of course, if the Clippers stay in the Staples Center, they’ll want the best terms possible. Leaking interest in a new arena only helps their bargaining position.

Report: Wizards unlikely to extend Otto Porter’s contract

WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 28: Otto Porter Jr. #22 of the Washington Wizards reacts after scoring a three-pointer against the Cleveland Cavaliers during the second half at Verizon Center on February 28, 2016 in Washington, DC. 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 the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
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The small forward of the Wizards’ dreams, Kevin Durant, plays for the Warriors.

So, Washington is left with Otto Porter.

How do the Wizards feel about that?

J. Michael of CSN Mid-Atlantic:

Otto Porter appears likely to become a restricted free agent next summer, with no movement towards an extension to his rookie scale contract with the Wizards before starting the 2016-17 season, league sources tell CSNmidatlantic.com.

Porter, the No. 3 pick in the 2013 draft, has steadily improved in his three NBA seasons. He didn’t exactly take off last season from his breakout 2015 playoffs, but he’s still on an upward trend.

Just 23, Porter should continue in the right direction.

The combo forward a good and long defender. He gets out well in transition, shoots reasonably well from outside and minimizes his mistakes.

Without knowing offer terms, it’s impossible to say whether the Wizards are waiting to see more or Porter is betting on himself. Quite possibly, it’s somewhere in between.

Draymond Green says he didn’t talk much with Kevin Durant during playoffs

OAKLAND, CA - MAY 30:  Kevin Durant #35 of the Oklahoma City Thunder hugs Draymond Green #23 of the Golden State Warriors after losing 96-88 in Game Seven of the Western Conference Finals during the 2016 NBA Playoffs at ORACLE Arena on May 30, 2016 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 the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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Thunder players were reportedly bothered by the relationship between Kevin Durant and Draymond Green last season.

The Warriors recruited Durant throughout the year, but that got complicated when Golden State met Oklahoma City in the Western Conference finals.

But Green says the players didn’t cross a line.

Green (hat tip: Erik Horne of The Oklahoman):

Me and KD weren’t really talking during the playoffs. During the playoffs, it’s a little different. More is at stake. So, we weren’t talking much, and that’s normal. So, I heard something come out where they said, “Oh, Kevin Durant and Draymond was talking during the playoffs.” They were lying. But if that’s what they want to believe, if that makes them feel better about themselves — and when I say “them,” I’m talking about whoever, whoever’s saying it — then believe it. But they’re wrong.

If Green and Durant kept their distance during the postseason, that seems reasonable.

Durant’s former co-workers shouldn’t have a right to dictate his friends outside work, but when there’s direct competition, it’s a little different. It’s fair to ask Durant to separate himself from Green then.

There’s still no perfect solution. Durant’s and Green’s prior relationship opened the door for questions. But suggesting Durant and Green never should have bonded in the first place is unrealistic.

So, there’s little left to do but hope Durant and Green handled it was well as Green said they did.

 

Enes Kanter on claim nobody wants to play with Russell Westbrook: ‘Wrong!!!’

SAN ANTONIO,TX - MAY 10:  Russell Westbrook #0 of the Oklahoma City Thunder celebrates with Enes Kanter #11 after a win against the San Antonio Spurs in game Five of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2016 NBA Playoffs at AT&T Center on May 10, 2016 in San Antonio, Texas.  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 the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images)
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Kevin Durant might have left the Thunder, in part, because he grew tired of playing with Russell Westbrook.

But does that mean nobody wants to play with Westbrook?

Presented with that claim, Oklahoma City center Enes Kanter refuted it strongly:

Of course, many players want to play with Russell Westbrook. He’s a great player and even better competitor. People want to be around someone so maniacal about winning and capable of delivering.

But there’s an obvious difference between Kanter and Durant. It’s much easier for a pick-and-roll big man than a superstar wing to play with Westbrook.

Westbrook tends to over-dribble, and he can be selfish. I’d understand Durant preferring a team with more ball movement like the Warriors.

Kanter doesn’t have the cachet to pick any team at any salary like Durant did. Of his options, Kanter is probably genuinely happy to play with Westbrook. And the Thunder should be happy to have Westbrook (as long as they do). His strengths far outweigh his flaws.

No scoring star seamlessly blend with each other. Even LeBron James and Dwyane Wadeclose friends and one an elite passer — struggled to mesh early in their Heat days. It’s just hard when there’s one ball.

So, it’s unfair to kill Westbrook for this drawback to his game. Maybe he’d click better with another star who’s more aggressive than Durant. And it’s not even as if Westbrook and Durant failed together. Oklahoma City won a lot of games with those two.

Plenty of players would sign up to replace Durant as Westbrook’s partner in crime.