Baseline to Baseline, the "you can't stop the Nets" edition

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What you missed around the NBA last night while wondering what it would be like to see Doc Rivers snap like that hockey coach

Mavericks 109, Nuggets: 93: Dallas won this one with their forwards. The obvious part of that is Dirk Nowitzki’s triple-double — 34 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists. Usually Denver puts Kenyon Martin on Nowitzki and Martin gets physical with him. But Martin is still out (14 games now) with his knee injury, and while Denver tried a number of people and systems, but they had no answer for Dirk, who just had too much room to do whatever he wanted.

The other forward spot saw Shawn Marion shut down Carmelo Anthony. Yes, I know, it felt weird just to type that sentence. But it’s true. Marion used his length, Melo just seemed off and was just 3 of 16 from the floor. Without him — and with Chauncey Billups going 3 for 14 the Nuggets struggled to generate offense.

Another ego boost for a Mavericks team that thinks it has at least the Western Conference Finals in its future. They’ll have to do this four out of seven times, but they are starting to believe they can.

Raptors 103, Bobcats 101: Stop just for a second and think about the big picture — if you had before the season offered Toronto and Charlotte the chance to be playing a game in late March with serious playoff implications, they would have jumped at it. Jumped without looking. This is a step forward.

As for the game… The Bobcats stake their claim with defense. And it was not good in this one — gave up 115.7 points per 100 possessions, well above their 102.3 season average. If they get to the playoffs, they can’t do that, because their offense isn’t going to bail them out of anything.

Don’t believe me, think about the last play of the game — down two and a chance to tie, With 6 second Raymond Felton starts a drive to the lane and draws three-fifths of the Toronto defense, including Chris Bosh just looking to get a game-saving block. Tyson Chandler goes in to crash the boards, and the other three Bobcats do a poor job of spacing the arc — they are all on the left side within 15 feet of each other, allowing two Raptors defenders to cut off all three. Felton realizes he has no shot so he throws a pass hard and low that Chandler was not expecting and couldn’t have handled anyway. Out of bounds. Ballgame.

Hornets 108, Lakers 100: Lakers fans, you should be a little nervous. Not as nervous as many of you are, but nervous. Because — as Darius of Forum Blue & Gold asked — when was the last time you saw the Lakers put a complete game together? This team has flaws (questionable guard play, spotty outside shooting, not running the triangle smoothly) that it can overcome with focused play But how often do you get that consistently? They are bored, but last year they had some games that made you fear them. This year they have a half here, a quarter there. But not a game.

Great win, great hustle and effort from the Hornets. They stood up to Lakers runs and held their ground. They can do that with Chris Paul back.

Nets 90, Spurs 84: It’s not the big things with the Spurs that look bad. It’s not the injuries to Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili. It’s the execution that is off, something that used to be there players 1 to 12. From little things like not calling out back screens to the miscommunication that caused Tim Duncan to throw the ball out of bounds with the game on the line, the little things are right. The Spurs used to be the kings of the little things. Now they are not, and that is a bigger problem then the Big Three getting older.

Jazz 103, Knicks 98: Toney Douglas is a nice young rookie point guard, has had some good games and could develop into a quality player in the league. But he is getting an education — two nights ago it was Steve Nash and tonight it Deron Williams.

Aside that, all the Jazz did tonight was improve their playoff position and their lottery position all in one win. (Remember, they have the Knicks first round pick this year — Isiah Thomas, the gift that keeps on giving.)

NBA: Kenneth Faried got away with foul on decisive basket in Nuggets’ win over Bulls

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The Bulls’ biggest loss Friday was Jimmy Butler to injury. His absence certainly contributed to a loss to the Timberwolves the following night.

But Chicago also lost to the Nuggets on Friday, and perhaps that wouldn’t have happened if the game were called correctly down the stretch.

With Denver up two points and 21.1 seconds remaining, Kenneth Faried offensively rebounded a free throw and scored. The Bulls then intentionally fouled down the stretch, and Faried and Danilo Gallinari added a few free throws in the Nuggets’ 115-110 win.

One problem: Faried should’ve been called for offensively fouling Taj Gibson on the key putback, according to the NBA’s Last Two Minute Report:

Faried (DEN) extends his arm into Gibson (CHI) and dislodges him, affecting his ability to retrieve the rebound.

This was a huge swing. Instead of Taj Gibson – a 69% career free-throw shooter – going to the line for two attempts with Chicago down two points, Faried put the Nuggets up four. Even if Gibson split at the line, the Bulls would have been in significantly better shape.

As usual, we can’t know what would’ve happened if this call were made correctly. But it significantly set back Chicago.

NBA considering if jump-on-back foul should be flagrant foul

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The video above is an intentional foul — Chris Paul jumped on the back of Dwight Howard. The same thing has happened to Andre Drummond.

Is it a flagrant foul?

The Boston Celtics tweeted this out on Sunday.

The NBA was quick to let people know that this is just something under consideration — there has been no change in the rules. This may well be where the league is headed, but it’s not there yet.

The NBA defines a flagrant foul as “unnecessary contact committed by a player against an opponent.” To me, leaping on a player’s back like that qualifies. (A flagrant two foul is “unnecessary and excessive contact” and leads to an ejection; this is not that.)

Jared Dudley — one of the more vocal players on union issues — added a good point.

Consider this part of the coming changes on the intentional fouling rules period. But this one tweak could come much faster.

NBA: Foul on Cavaliers that sparked Celtics’ comeback called in error

Cleveland Cavaliers' J.R. Smith makes a move on Boston Celtics' Evan Turner (11) during the third quarter of a NBA basketball game in Boston Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2015. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
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The Cavaliers were in great shape against the Celtics on Friday, leading by four points with seven seconds left.

Then, it all went so wrong for Cleveland.

J.R. Smith was called for fouling Evan Turner on a made layup, cutting the margin to two points. Turner missed the free throw, but the ball went out of bounds off the Cavs. Then, Avery Bradley made a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to give Boston the win.

Rewind, though, and an incorrect call drove the sequence, according to the NBA.

Smith shouldn’t have been called for fouling Turner, per the Last Two Minute Report:

Smith (CLE) makes incidental contact with Turner’s (BOS) body as he attempts the layup.

If this were officiated correctly, the Cavs would’ve had the ball and a two-point lead with 5.9 seconds left. That’s not a lock to win – they’d still have to inbound the ball and make their free throws – but it’s close.

Cleveland is definitely entitled to feel the refs wronged them out of a victory.

Report: Kevin Durant has “done his due diligence on the Bay Area”

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Kevin Durant has not made up his mind about what he will do as a free agent this summer. Until his playoff run ends, whenever that may be for the Thunder, his focus will be on bringing a title to Oklahoma City.

But even he admits he can’t help but think about free agency a little.

The buzz around the league is Golden State is at the front of the line if Durant decides to leave OKC, and he has done some research, reports Marc Spears of Yahoo Sports.

The Warriors play in front of an intimidating Oracle Arena crowd and are expected to debut a new San Francisco arena in 2019. Durant has quietly done his due diligence on the Bay Area, too, sources told Yahoo Sports.

His people — specifically agent Rich Kleiman and personal manager Charlie Bell — would be stupid not to have done some research on not only Golden State but on every other team he might consider: Houston, Miami, Washington, both teams in Los Angeles, the Knicks, and on down the line. Golden State, playing with Stephen Curry, certainly would have its attractions.

I’m still in the camp that Durant signs a 1+1 deal to stay in Oklahoma City (meaning he can opt out after one more season, in 2017), and it’s all about the cash. While he could get 30 percent of a $90 million cap this summer (about $27 million a season to start), with one more year of service in 2017 Durant could get 35 percent of $108 million ($37.8 million to start). That’s a lot of cash. Plus he gets one more chance at a ring with Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka, who both are 2017 free agents.

But you can be sure whatever Durant decides, it will be well researched and thought out. And he’s not going to announce it in a live special on ESPN.