Baseline to Baseline, where the Johan Petro was relevant

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What happened Saturday while you were dying Easter eggs…

Raptors 128 Sixers 123: Antoine Wright can be a difference maker if put in the position. He hauled in a hayuuuuge offensive rebound which sealed the game for Toronto. Say what you want about Andrea Bargnani, and Raptor fans will, but if they’re going to play defense the way they do, Bargs hitting 3 of 6 from the arc is a big deal.

Elton Brand had no rebounds for the first time in his career. Wow.

Hawks 91 Pistons 85: Joe Johnson was out, and the Pistons made  a respectable fourth quarter run, but Detroit’s offense is just too miserable to outwork a Hawks team at home, short-handed or not.

Ben Gordon is a complete disaster. There’s no other way to put it. 0 of 7 from the field, and I can’t even tell you many of them were close but rimmed out. That has to be the worst offseason acquisition in the league.

Nets 115 Hornets 87: Well, then.

This, THIS was what the Nets were supposed to look like. Terrence Williams had a breakout game, with 14 points and 14 assists, and Chris Douglas Roberts got on track to get some buckets, while Brook Lopez and Devin Harris took it easy.

The Hornets? That whole “we’re gonna keep trying to build momentum for next year” thing was a lie. Big fat lie.

Heat 97 Wolves 84: Miami’s got it going, at just the right time. Not coincidentally, Dwyane Wade is at his hottest of all season.

Wade scored 82 points in 27 hours, dropping 39. And it was the whole bag of tricks. Drawing fouls, leaners, the pull-up, the transition buckets, the big shebang.

The Wolves? They are officially the worst team in the league in point differential. But hey, they’ve got more wins! That should help! In…. nothing. Nothing at all.

Bulls 96 Bobcats 88: While everyone else is getting banged up, the Bulls are healthy. And hungry. And ready to rock.

Noah was big in this game, getting back to his hot rebounding. But Kirk Hinrich? Dang.

If Hinrich shoots 9-12 from the field? Bulls are going to win most nights. They just are. Because it means he can do what he does best (play defense) and do what he doesn’t do well (play offense) well. And that’s tough to stop.

The Cats just didn’t have enough. Stephen Jackson is banged up, Raymond Felton wasn’t plugged in, and the team didn’t have a big enough lift. They are not securely in the playoffs yet.

Bucks 107 Suns 98: You know about the injury. No need to rehash that. But even after Bogut went down, the Bucks continued to work on the defensive end. And against a team without a real dominant post presence, they could skate with this one.

It’s a testament that the Bucks went out and finished this after what happened to Bogut, and it says something that if you commit to defense and swallow up the perimeter penetration, Phoenix still turns back into a pumpkin.

Thunder 121 Mavs 116: Yeah, I don’t get it either. The Mavs shot well. And if the Thunder don’t play terrific defense, they usually struggle. The Mavs shot 53% from the field. And were never really in this.

Dallas’ defense was worse, even with a lower opponents’ field goal possession, but it’s still a weird outcome. Dallas kept Kevin Durant at least frustrated if not shut down, forcing a low field goal percentage. But man, OKC just always has guys to come out of the woodwork. Last night it was James Harden. Versatile, quirky, interesting OKC.

Officially in the playoffs.

If Dallas plays a team without a legit center when they have two and get worked? That’s a real bad sign.

Nuggets 98 Clippers 90: Uh, the Nuggets are better than the Clippers. If you think there’s something I can tell you about this game, then…

Fine.

Clips had the lead, and then Denver started to work. Clips were working it inside, then started settling, because that’s what Denver’s defense does. Makes you quit.

Johan Petro had 14 points, continuing the theme of “Denver can make a good big out of damn near anyone.”

Blazers 98 Kings 87: I keep waiting for the clock to run out on Portland. And it doesn’t. Never does. This team fights tooth and nail at every turn, and when it has to, comes up with plays. We’ll have to see if they can do it in the playoffs, but the fact that they’re here is something in and of itself.

The Kings are well screwed whenever Tyreke Evans has a bad night. And he had a bad night. And a bad night for him means he still gets 5 rebounds and six assists.

Pacers owner says team not for sale, will not be moved from Indianapolis

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There are more than a few NBA owners who are seeing the prices teams are being sold for — the Rockets just sold for a record $2.2 billion — and considering their options. Some other billionaires are looking for teams, several with the goal of packing up the franchise and moving it to their respected hometowns.

Those billionaires need not call Herb Simon. The Pacers owner said the team is not going anywhere, speaking to Gregg Doyel of the IndyStar.

“I want to leave my legacy: This team permanently in Indianapolis,” Simon told IndyStar Friday in an interview at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. “That’s my No. 1 goal.”

Simon bought the Pacers in 1983 with his older brother, Melvin — who died in 2009 at age 82. He told IndyStar the team someday will be owned by his 53-year-old son, Steve. Behind the scenes, Steve Simon has been working closely with Pacers Sports and President Rick Fuson for five years — “He knows more about the dollars and cents than I do,” Herb said of his son — and met this week with several department heads.

“If anything happens to me, he’d be taking over,” Herb said, adding that father and son are on the same page: The Pacers are staying in Indianapolis.

Good. That is as it should be.

Indiana is part of America’s basketball heartland, and it should have a team. Pacers fans are smart and loyal, and the team has a long history going back to the ABA, running from Mel Daniels and George McGinnis through Reggie Miller and up to Myles Turner (hopefully he can be on the level of the rest of them someday). They play in the coolest basketball building in the league, one with the history of the sport wolven in.

Indy is the nation’s 27th largest television market, bigger than San Antonio, Salt Lake City, Oklahoma City and other successful NBA franchises. There is no reason the Pacers cannot thrive, so long as ownership is committed.

They are. Which is excellent news for Pacers’ fans.

Stan Van Gundy speaks out again in support of protesting athletes

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Detroit Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy used his team’s trip to Washington to again voice his support for athletes who kneel during the national anthem and his opposition to President Donald Trump.

Van Gundy was asked before Friday night’s game against the Wizards what he hoped would result from the president’s criticism of NFL players who refuse to stand for the anthem and the resulting national dialogue about political activism by professional athletes.

“I don’t know what good can come out of anything the president has said,” Van Gundy said. “As far as the athletes’ protest, I hope people would pay attention to the issues that caused the protest in the first place and realize that we have problem disproportionately with police brutality towards men of color.”

Van Gundy also criticized fans who have booed those athletes because they believe the gesture is disrespectful to the United States military.

“I thought that one of the things the military is fighting for is the American way of life and our values, which I think starts with freedom of speech,” Van Gundy said. “Our country was founded on protest. Otherwise, we would still be a colony of England. You would think people would appreciate non-violent protests that will be made.

“If you don’t stand for freedom of speech and you don’t think those players have the right to freedom of speech, what American values are you for?”

It was not the first time Van Gundy has spoken out on these issues. When Trump was elected last November, Van Gundy told the Detroit Free Press it was the first time he had been “ashamed” of his country.

Last month on the team’s media day, he read a prepared statement in support of athletes who use their visibility for political purposes, including protests during the anthem. The NBA has a policy requiring that players stand for the anthem.

The Pistons’ visit to Washington was their first since Jan. 21, one day after Trump’s inauguration.

More NBA basketball: https://apnews.com/tag/NBAbasketball

Cavaliers’ Derrick Rose out Saturday with sprained left ankle

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CLEVELAND (AP) — Cavaliers point guard Derrick Rose was held out of Saturday night’s game against the Orlando Magic because of a sprained left ankle.

Rose twisted his ankle after being fouled by Milwaukee’s Greg Monroe while driving to the basket in the fourth quarter on Friday. Monroe grabbed Rose by his neck and pulled him to the floor.

Rose landed awkwardly, but stayed in the game to shoot two free throws before going to the bench. The play was originally called a common foul but was upgraded to a flagrant 1 Saturday by the NBA.

Jose Calderon started at point guard Saturday for the Cavaliers, who have won their first two games.

Rose signed a one-year contract with Cleveland in July. He became the team’s starter when Kyrie Irving was traded to Boston. Rose was named the league’s MVP in 2011 while with the Chicago Bulls, but has battled injuries since.

 

Kyrie Irving, any regrets about using profanity toward fan? “Hell no.”

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Fans yelling obscenities at NBA players and trying to goad them into a response — always while camera phones are recording — has become a thing. DeMarcus Cousins will be paying $25,000 for responding to a fan cursing at him in Memphis.

Kyrie Irving is likely going to get fined for an incident Friday night after the Celtics knocked off the Sixers in Philadephia. It made the rounds on social media Friday night, with a fan yelling at Irving as he leaves the court “Kyrie, where’s LeBron?” and Irving responding with a crude phrase. Here is the exchange as Irving leaves the court (NOTE: The language is NSFW, if offended don’t watch the video).

Saturday Irving was asked about the incident, and he admitted he should have bit his tongue, but he has no regrets, as reported by A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston.

“Hell no,” Irving said (when asked if he had regrets). “Man enough to record it on video, that’s on him. I’m glad he got his ad name out there, and his five seconds of fame and it’s gone viral. That’s the social media platform we live on.

Irving added, “I take full responsibility for what I said. You move on.”

Irving also addressed the bigger issue, something Cousins discussed when talking about his fine. Via Chris Forsberg at ESPN.

“At the end of the day, we’re human. It’s in heat of the moment and frustrations arise, we were at halftime, we were down by 4, in an environment, a season-opener in Philly. Being with a young team like we have here and staying composed, handling that before we go in the locker room and addressing what we have to do in the locker room and going out and handling business and getting the W, that’s really the only thing that matters to me.

“It’s up to the league at this point. But, like I said, I’m going to take full responsibility for what I said. I don’t have any regrets for it.”

Irving is going to get fined. The league has issues with its players cursing at fans. Understandably.

That said, the league may need to step back on consider situations like this. If fans are taunting players, at what point should a player be able to respond to the fan? Should arena security (at the request of the officials, or maybe a player) intervene? Players should not be asked to bite their tongue no matter what is said, and even if a fan paid for a ticket it doesn’t give them the right to cross any line. As more fans seem to go after their 15 minutes of social media fame baiting players, the league may need to reconsider where it draws its lines.