Baseline to Baseline (your game recaps): Where it was like Miami’s dream come true

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What you missed while trying to find the most inappropriate Halloween costume ever for your child….

Heat 96, Magic 70: Before the season Doc Rivers said how good Miami ended up being would depend on how well they defend. With LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh they would score, but could they defend as a team?

They’re starting to figure it out. With each game their defense has been better and better until they just shut down Orlando, particularly in the second half, and cruised to the win.

There were two sides to Miami making this a blowout. Part of it was their defense — they were very active and aggressive contesting jumpers, and they were physical with the Magic inside. The pressure led the Magic to shoot a lot of contested two-pointers, the least efficient shot in basketball.

But Orlando deserves some blame here too. They were just bad at getting the shots they wanted, and even when they did they missed them. This is a team that lives and dies by the three, tonight they died. They were 4 of 24 from deep for the game. That could have something to do with tired legs on a back-to-back.

What did work was getting Dwight Howard the ball with his back to the basket and letting him work on the overmatched Heat centers. He had 19 first half points that way. He finished with 19. The Heat adjusted and dared someone else to beat them.

Magic players not named Howard shot 27 percent for the game. Magic starters outside Howard were 4-for-30. Orlando was 7-for-36 in the second half. I could go on, but why?

Vince Carter is supposed to be the guy who creates shots besides Howard, but he went down grabbing his tailbone after a collision and fall in the second quarter, and he did not return.

The man is as fragile and hurts more than the heart of a teenage girl.

Miami came out focused, went on a 14-0 run to start the second half and that was basically all she wrote. They got some turnovers in that stretch and if you do that to the Heat you will pay — there is no more fearsome team in transition than the Heat.

It was a game that — despite being decided and fairly dull the last 18 minutes — had a playoff feel to it. Credit the normally laid-back Heat crowd, they were into it. We’ll see if the Heat can keep up this kind of defense and the fans that kind of intensity through a long season.

Celtics 105, Knicks 101: The book on Rajon Rondo is to make him a shooter. The Knicks let him drop 24 dimes. Those are Bob Cousey numbers. It was really vintage Rondo, one of his prettiest games, and he finished with a triple double (10 points and 10 rebounds, too).

Credit the Knicks for hustle and hanging around, but this is a tough matchup for them because of Boston’s length. The Celtics dominated in the paint — they took 41 shots at the rim compared to 20 for the Knicks — and controlled the boards, and that ended up being the difference. If Knicks fans want, they can chalk this up as a moral victory. They played well.

Nets 106, Kings 100: This is one of the things you fear with the new technical foul enforcement — the second quarter of this game ground to a standstill with foul calls and techs. It was a parade of free throws. Fun times.

Kings were up 8 with three minutes left when Nets went on 13-0 run, with Jordan Farmar and Devin Harris hitting key threes. The key to the run was the Nets stopped turning the ball over — they shot the ball better and got to the line more all night long, but the 26 turnovers cut them off at the knees. Until it mattered.

The Kings got Samuel Dalembert back but he looked like a guy in his first game back from injury (he didn’t score and looked a step slow).

Hawks 104, 76ers 101: Not a lot of defense played in this one, but the Sixers seemed more willing to settle for long two pointers and that helped the Hawks. The bad news for the Hawks: Mike Bibby 33 minutes, Jeff Teague 11. But Atlanta is 2-0, so no complaining tonight.

Raptors 101, Cavaliers 81: Toronto just came out more aggressive in this one, really taking the ball into the lane. Jarret Jack was aggressive but Bargnani and Kleiza were the beneficiaries, they shot 6-of-12 combined in the first half. Kleiza finished with 19. Meanwhile the Cavs shot 4-of-17 in the second quarter, and that pretty much summed it up.

Pacers 104, Bobcats 101: Charlotte got two good looks at tying this in the final 10 seconds. DJ Augustin got a clean look but his feet were planted oddly so it was kind of a twisting shot that missed. But an offensive rebound gave them one last chance with 3.5 seconds left.

And the Bobcats got the look they wanted thanks to terrible Pacer defense. Stephen Jackson came free off a Boris Diaw moving screen that James Posey fought over the top of. Jack got an inbound pass nearly straight away at the three, gave an up fake and Posey went flying by so Jack got to set his feet. Nobody else ran out, the Bobcats had spread their four along the baseline and everyone stayed with their man and collapsed to get the rebound, even though Charlotte needed a three. But Jackson missed. May not have been justice, but that’s how it went down.

Hornets 101, Nuggets 95: In the second quarter the Nuggets offense stagnated, that led to a few turnovers and the Hornets got some transition baskets, and they were up 9 at the break. Denver battled back to have a fourth quarter lead behind Carmelo Anthony’s 24 on 10-of-17 shooting. But it was Denver that collapsed, and a 13-2 run won it for the Hornets.

Thunder 105, Pistons 104: Jeff Green — he of the no contract extension — is the hero in this one with a game-winner with 2.5 seconds left. The Thunder lived at the line in this one — 44 free throw attempts. They got that because they attacked the rim. No moral victories but the Pistons played well.

Timberwolves 96, Bucks 85: Kevin Love got to play the key moments of the game, he posted a double-double and he Wolves won. That could be coincidence, but Kurt Rambis should play him more to find out.

Grizzlies 91, Mavericks 90: How to lose a game in the fourth quarter — turn the ball over nine times. That’s what Dallas did, nine turnovers in the final 12 minutes. Not a terribly aesthetically pleasing game as both teams settled for a lot of jump shots.

Lakers 114, Suns 106: Phoenix went with what worked last time these two met — the Suns were in their 2-3 zone from the start. At first the Lakers did what they did in the Western Conference Finals — worked the ball around the perimeter then settled for a jumper. Gasol who? Attack the zone inside out what?

Eventually the Lakers remembered what they had done to the Suns in that series, got the ball inside first, shot a little better, got a few more rebounds and just adjusted their game to the team before them. Same result as last playoffs.

Warriors 109, Clippers 91: The Clippers defense, or lack of it, tells the story — Golden State shot 53.1 percent on the night and 58 percent from three, the Clippers shot 38.6 percent overall and 27.8 percent from three. And all those Clipper misses were not really about the Warriors defense, either.

Marc Gasol heads ball into basket after drawing foul (video)

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This was not Marc Gasol‘s first attempt to head in the ball after a whistle, but this time, he converted.

Here was his January try:


James Harden’s defense: Stop and point while opponent flies to rim (video)


As Rockets general manager Daryl Morey once noted, cherry-picking James Harden‘s worst defensive plays to create a video is unfair. Many players would look awful by that measure.

But Harden provides serious ammo for these worst-of videos.

This non-attempt to stop Lance Thomas is just brutal.

At least Houston buckled down to beat the Knicks, 116-111 in overtime. The Rockets have climbed to 26th in points allowed per possession.

Jerry Colangelo says Kobe Bryant could still make 2016 U.S. Olympic team

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So, Kobe Bryant‘s NBA career is officially going to come to an end after the 2015-16 season. That part he announced on Sunday.

What’s still up in the air is Bryant’s participation in one last Olympics. Bryant has been in consideration to make Team USA this summer at the games in Rio de Janeiro, and USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo tells ESPN.com’s Marc Stein that he hasn’t ruled that out yet:

Kobe was asked about this at his post-game press conference Sunday and said it was not a goal, but if it was offered he’d consider it.

“I’d be honored if that was there, it would be fantastic to be around that group and spend kind of the last journey with them,” Bryant said. “That being said, it’s not something that I’m obsessing over.”

‘When Bryant made it known that he wanted to play in Rio, he made it clear to Colangelo and Team USA coach Mike Krzyzewski that he wanted to earn a spot, not be given one as a lifetime achievement award. Watching him so far this season, it’s almost impossible to imagine him making the roster on merit.

But nobody should begrudge him if he wanted to extend the farewell tour just a little bit longer.

Five Takeaways from NBA Sunday: Kobe Bryant makes it official, shows why it’s time

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It’s time. If you’ve watched Kobe play at all the past couple years, you could see it was time. But it took a while for Kobe to realize that. His announcement that he would step down after the season became the story of the night in the NBA Sunday. By far.

1) Kobe Bryant makes it official, he is going to walk away from the game after this season. Kobe Bryant’s body has been telling him for a while it was time to hang it up, but Kobe is as fierce and stubborn a competitor as the league has ever seen and he wasn’t going to listen. The man who willed himself to be one of the game’s greats was going to will away 37 years, 55,000 NBA minutes, and the effects of a torn Achilles and blown out knee.

Except he couldn’t. And now he has come to accept it is time to retire at the end of the season, as you could see from his postgame comments on Sunday night.

“I’ve known for a while. I’ve always said if anything changes, I’ll change my mind. The problem for me, you can’t make a decision like this based on outside circumstances. It has to be an internal decision. Finally, I just had to accept it, I don’t want to go through this anymore. And I’m okay with that….

“I honestly feel really good about it. I really do. I’m at peace with it… I’ve worked so hard and I continue to work really hard even though I played like s—, I’ve worked really, really hard not to play like crap and I do everything I possibly can. And I feel good about that.”

Laker GM Mitch Kupchak was honest about the Laker organization needing to rebuild and that being tough on Bryant.

“Well, we didn’t make it any easier on him with the team we have on the court — and that’s not to say that they’re not a talented group of players, but they’re certainly young and unaccomplished. And at an advanced age, I think we witnessed it’s difficult to play this game, and I think he’s struggled at a tempo and a pace that I think younger players (prefer).”

2) Then Sunday night Kobe shot 4-of-20 and showed why it was time for him to step down. His game against the Pacers Sunday summed up where Kobe is right now with his game. He was struggling from the field against a good Pacers’ defense, shooting 2-of-15, yet Byron Scott kept him out there, so Kobe kept gunning.

Then suddenly for a flash it was vintage Kobe — he hit two late three-pointers that made it a game and brought the Lakers within two points of the Pacers late.

Then vintage suddenly looked old. With the chance to tie the game and Staples Center on its feet willing the storybook ending, Kobe popped out off a down screen, caught the inbounded ball, curled around the top of the arc and…. air balled it. Pacers win. Kobe finished the night with 13 points on 4-of-20 shooting, bringing him to shooting 30.5 percent for the season.

3) Meanwhile, Paul George remains a beast, showed it against Lakers. The Pacers’ star was nothing short of brilliant wearing the Hickory High throwback uniform against the Lakers. He was pressuring on defense and had a couple steals (and disrupted more plays), plus poured in 39 points on 21 shots.

4) The Sixers lost, falling to 0-18, setting up a “showdown” with the Lakers on Tuesday. This has happened a few times lately: The Philadelphia 76ers hustle, scrap, play hard and are in a game, only to get crushed late in the game because when the other team cranks up the defensive pressure and gets serious the Sixers are overmatched. It happened again Sunday, the Sixers led by three going into the fourth quarter against the Grizzlies, but Memphis won the fourth 28-17 and the game 92-84.

That drops the Sixers to 0-18 on the season, tying the NBA record for the worst start ever. It also sets up a showdown on Tuesday night — the Lakers come to town. A “showdown” game. These are the two worst teams in the NBA, and the Lakers don’t have the talent (or comfort with their style of play) to crank it up and just out-talent the Sixers late, so this could be a real game — and a real shot for Philly.

5) Stan Van Gundy called out Andre Drummond’s effort after Nets beat Pistons. Andre Drummond put up another big line — 20 points and 18 rebounds — but after a loss to the lowly Nets, Pistons’ coach Stan Van Gundy was not impressed:

“I didn’t think he brought much energy to the Milwaukee game, and I didn’t think he brought much energy tonight. Why that is, I don’t know. But we need a lot more from him than we got tonight.”

I get the idea of calling out your star in the media to both motivate him and light a fire under the rest of the team. It’s a solid tactic. But I’ll add in some ways it seemed a more mature performance from Drummond. A couple of seasons ago, when he got frustrated as he did early in this one, he would have hung his head and mentally checked out of the game, he fought through it to put up numbers Sunday. That’s a start.