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.)

D’Antoni says Rockets’ Patrick Beverley to miss about 20 games

HOUSTON, TX - MARCH 18:  Patrick Beverley #2 of the Houston Rockets walks to the bench during their game against the Minnesota Timberwolves at the Toyota Center on March 18, 2016 in Houston, 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 Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
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Patrick Beverley is going to have a key role with the Rockets — he is their best defending guard. And it’s not close. He can help space the floor as a three-point shooter, he can work off the ball on offense and serve as a backup playmaker, but mostly what he brings is fearless, physical defense.

Except he’s not going to bring it for a while.

Following rumors he might knee surgery comes this from Houston coach Mike D’Antoni, via Calvin Watkins of ESPN.

Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said he expects guard Pat Beverley to miss at least 20 games with a left knee injury. His absence “complicates” some roster spots.

The Rockets are going to have one of the best offenses in the NBA but whether they finish fourth or seventh or out of the playoffs completely in the West will come down to a combination of health and how well they defend. This is a setback on both counts.

Expect to see more Eric Gordon, Tyler Ennis, and P.J. Hairston. Gordon has a real chance here. This is going to be an interesting year in Houston.

Jimmy Butler shrugs off idea he’s a “diva”

Chicago Bulls' Jimmy Butler goes up for a dunk past Charlotte Hornets' Marvin Williams during the first half of an NBA preseason basketball game Monday, Oct. 17, 2016, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
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The Chicago Bulls traded Derrick Rose to New York, in hopes that the locker room, “whose team is this?” drama would head East with him. This is Jimmy Butler‘s team, with Dwyane Wade now assisting.

But the drama isn’t gone yet.

On their way out the door, the camps around Rose and Joakim Noah tried to paint Butler as a Diva who was the real problem. When Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times asked Butler about it, he basically laughed off the idea.

“Am I a diva? I don’t call it that,’’ Butler said before Thursday’s 97-81 loss to Atlanta in their final preseason game. “My will to win rubs people the wrong way sometimes. I can blame it on that, but won’t apologize for it. Never will.

“As far as that talk goes, I don’t care. I’m going to keep working and if people don’t like it, people want to say what they want to say, that’s fine. I know, and I think these guys know, where my heart is and how I want to do right by everybody.’’

Rose and Noah thought Butler tried to jump the line to be the leader of the team, which they saw as still their right as the veterans. Butler didn’t care what they thought then, he certainly doesn’t now.

What matters more, Nicola Mirotic and Doug McDermott and Bobby Portis don’t care, and they are the guys still there.

Who will finish with the better record, Bulls or Knicks, is one of my favorite subplots of the NBA season.

Spurs Danny Green has strained quadricep, out three weeks

SAN ANTONIO,TX - APRIL 30: Fans celebrate a three with Danny Green #14 of the San Antonio Spurs against the Oklahoma City Thunder during game one of the Western Conference Semifinals for the 2016 NBA Playoffs at AT&T Center on April 30, 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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The Spurs are counting on Danny Green to regain his top-flight “3&D” form this season and give them another defender and weapon when they go up against that potential juggernaut out West. And the Clippers, too.

But that comeback is getting off to a slow start, the team announced Friday.

This likely means a little more run for Manu Ginobili and Kevin Martin to start the season, plus some funky lineups from Gregg Popovich.

Green played great defense last season but struggled from three (where 60 percent of his attempts are taken). Green shot 33.2 percent from deep on the season, which is well below his career average of 40.3 percent (and last year’s down numbers were buoyed by a red-hot January, he was much worse the rest of the season).

It’s something for Spurs fans to monitor, they need to get his legs right before his shot can return.

PBT Extra: Who wins MVP, other NBA end-of-season awards?

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The NBA’s award season seems more wide open than ever.

Ben Simmons was going to enter the season as the heavy favorite to win Rookie of the Year, but with him out injured the door is flung open to a lot of players. Coach of the Year is always a game of “which coach exceeds expectations.” Even MVP seems more open with Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant — the award winners the past three seasons — teamed up in the Bay Area.

In this latest PBT Extra I throw out my predictions for the awards, but let’s get on with the games next week and see who earns them.