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.

Akron store already selling “Stay Home 23” shirts, hats as LeBron decision looms

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We’ve seen this movie before.

There is all sorts of buzz around the league that LeBron James has one foot out the door in Cleveland. While people around LeBron denied he the rumor he is “100 percent” leaving, good luck finding any league source who thinks he is staying put next summer. Nothing is set in stone, his options — including staying — remain open, but we’ve all been down this road before.

The hometown fans are going to do their part to urge LeBron to stay.

Fan sentiment has some pull with LeBron (he came back to win the city a title). However, what matters more is a sense of a plan to keep the Cavaliers as title contenders for the coming years — and that is more than just Dan Gilbert paying the tax. The Cavs did nothing this summer that got them closer to beating Golden State, and while they swung for the fences with Paul George, what they really needed was wing defenders and athletes, and they didn’t get those either. Luc Mbah a Moute signed a one-year deal for the minimum somewhere else. Instead, Cleveland overpaid Kyle Korver.

Despite all that, the Cavs remain the team to beat in the East. If Cleveland gets to the Finals — LeBron’s eighth in a row — and they win or make it close, he may see staying as his best option. A season can be a lifetime in the NBA in terms of shifting attitudes. Still, I wouldn’t bet the rent on it.

Marshall Plumlee gets camp invite, partially guaranteed contract from Clippers

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The Los Angeles Clippers have 14 fully guaranteed contracts on their roster, plus a partial guarantee for DeAndre Liggins (who likely is on the roster opening day). They also are pretty much set at center with DeAndre Jordan and Willie Reed (plus when they go small they can play Blake Griffin there, something I wish they’d do a little more).

That said, Doc Rivers — just a coach now — needs bodies for camp, so in comes former Duke star and Knick Marshall Plumlee, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Plumlee played in 21 games for the Knicks last season, logging a total of 190 minutes. He bounced between New York and the D-League Westchester Knicks, when down he averaged 12.3 points and 9.8 rebounds a game.

He’s not making the Clippers’ squad (barring injury), but he could show well and get noticed by other teams. Over the course of a season, there will be a need for bigs as guys go down injured, Plumlee is getting a chance to show how his game has developed. And he makes some money in the process.

Kawhi Leonard is smiling, and that confuses Manu Ginobili (PHOTO)

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Much like Kevin Durant, it appears that Kawhi Leonard is having a great summer.

In fact, this appears to be the Summer of Kawhi Smiling. Which, according to one of his longtime teammates, is a bit confusing.

When the Spurs posted a photo of Leonard with a big old grin on his face to their Twitter feed recently, San Antonio legend Manu Ginobili responded asking the team whether something was up.

Specifically, Ginobili said that he had seen more photos of Leonard smiling in the past two days then he had in six seasons as a teammate.

Via Twitter:

You can leave an anonymous tip about why Kawhi Leonard is smiling so much by contacting the produce manager at your local H-E-B.

Kobe is the Lakers’ all-time leader in steals (and other trivia rookies don’t know)

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“He played 20 years … I mean, yeah I guess.”

That’s what Los Angeles Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball had to say in this video after learning that Kobe Bryant was the all-time leader in steals for his franchise. You have to hand it to him, it is a little surprising. Even more surprising is that Bryant has 220 more than Magic Johnson at No. 2.

In a video posted to YouTube by Complex on Saturday, rookies tried to answer questions similar to the one Ball pondered over, like what team drafted their head coach, who the NBA all-time leading scorer is, and what day the first game of the season starts on.

A lot of the responses were pretty funny, including the guys getting wrong what year Adam Silver became NBA commissioner. Poor David Stern has already been forgotten about!

Meanwhile, Ball looked the sharpest. He’s going to come in handy when the Lakers play pub trivia.