Baseline to Baseline (your game recaps): The night the Grizzlies were thieves

2 Comments

What you missed while carving your pumpkin to look like the Death Star

Hornets 99, Spurs 90: It’s really a simple game at the end of the day — just put the ball in the bucket. The Spurs struggled mightily to do that. They missed the tough shots as the clock was winding down, they missed wide-open looks, they missed from the midrange, they missed at the rim, they just missed. It was just not their night.

Well, to be clear they missed for three quarters — they shot 31.7 percent through the first three quarters and were down 18 early in the fourth. Then they shot 59 percent for the final quarter, had a 16-3 run and made a game of it at the end. They got within three and Richard Jefferson even got a good look at a three to tie, but the Spurs were 6-26 from beyond the arc for the game so that didn’t go down.

That Spurs run, by the way, came with Tim Duncan and Tony Parker on the bench.

The Spurs defense did what it does — tried to take Chris Paul out of the game and force long twos, taking away easy stuff inside. But the Hornets were hitting — they shot 53.9 percent on long twos (16 feet or more) and drained 7 of 11 from three.

Big win for the Hornets, which David West celebrated by punching Chris Paul over and over as he dribbled out the clock. In a good way. The Hornets are now 3-0 to start the season. Didn’t see that coming.

Grizzlies 109, Timberwolves 89: Memphis had 22 steals in this game. Minnesota turned the ball over on 26 percent of their possessions — when you turn it over one in four times down the court, you lose. Big.

Trail Blazers 100, Knicks 95: Early on Portland was just an efficient offense — lots of cuts off the ball, movement and attacking the mismatch on offense (and the mismatch was whomever Raymond Felton was guarding). They sprinted out to a big lead. Then they stopped doing it. Just because. The Knicks started to step up their defense, started rebounding (they had 18 offensive boards, which never should happen against the Blazers) and generally outplayed Portland for a stretch.

The Knicks would have won if Portland hadn’t reverted to form and went on a 17-3 run to close out the game and secure the win. You can thank Andre Miller for that late run and the win.

Hawks 99, Wizards 95: Washington got off to an early lead because a zone defense confused the Hawks, while Washington was hot and shot 60 percent for the first quarter. The Hawks didn’t shoot terribly well most of the game, but they battled back, then Joe Johnson took over in the fourth with 14 points on 5 of 8 shooting — because he stopped taking the long twos he was missing and started driving, hitting shorter pull ups or draining the three.

This just in: John Wall is a stud. He had 28 and was the reason Washington hung around.

Kings 107, Cavaliers 104: It’s weird to say this, but Beno Udrih is playing well so far this season. Smart, in control, had 12 points (6-9 shooting) and 11 dimes in this one. He almost looks like a guy who deserves that contract. Almost.

Fun game to watch if you don’t care about good defense, because that was missing. Really a tale of two halves, the Cavs dominated the second quarter, were up 14 at the break then the second half was just the Kings playing smarter and better.

Pacers 99, Sixers 86: Indiana started out the second half on an 18-5 run, sparked by 8 from Danny Granger, and that’s your ballgame. The Pacers were just more aggressive, they got to the line more often, got the offensive boards and just seemed to win all the hustle plays.

Bulls 101, Pistons 91: Chicago won the fourth quarter 34-9. Damn. Derrick Rose put up 39 and led the charge, looking like a stud. He has to carry that team’s offense, and it’s quite a show.

Aside that, not much to love here, just a fast-paced game (102 possessions) with a lot of missed shots from both teams.

Bucks 98, Bobcats 88: Andrew Bogut had four blocks on the night and really seemed to control the paint on defense, with the Bobcats shooting just 47.7 percent on shots near the rim. When you miss the chippies, it’s a long night.

Nuggets 107, Rockets 94: Carmelo Anthony had 24 points but needed 20 shots to get there. Al Harrington had 28 points but needed 24 shots to get there. Basically, the Nuggets were their usual, inefficient selves on offense. But, they attacked the rim and so got to the line more, they rebounded better, they were just more aggressive. Some night’s that’s enough. Houston just fouled and took bad shots rather than attack, they really don’t know who they are on offense. The fact Aaron Brooks sat a lot for foul trouble didn’t help.

Pat Riley: Friend talked me out of going Dan Gilbert when LeBron James left

Omar Vega/Invision/AP
2 Comments

When LeBron James left Cleveland, Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert released his infamous letter.

When LeBron left Miami, Heat president Pat Riley issued a classy statement.

The difference was nearly not as stark following Riley’s final meeting with LeBron in 2014 in Las Vegas.

Wright Thompson of ESPN:

Riley told his lieutenant, Andy Elisburg, to get the two championship trophies LeBron had won and pack them in their hard-shell carrying cases. Elisburg also brought charts and an easel for a presentation about the free agents the Heat would pursue. The day of the meeting, a hotel bellhop followed them with a luggage cart carrying the presentation and the two trophies. Riley brought wine from a Napa vineyard named Promise. It was the same label Maverick Carter had presented Riley with when they did the deal four years earlier. Riley respects Carter, and when he walked into the suite and saw James with agent Rich Paul and friend Randy Mims but no Maverick, part of him knew the meeting wasn’t sincere. He told Elisburg to keep the trophies and easel in the hall. James and his associates were watching a World Cup game, which they kept glancing at during the presentation. At one point, Riley asked if they’d mute the TV.

Riley flew home worried and got a text telling him to be ready for a call. About 15 minutes later, his phone rang and Paul was on the other end. The agent handed the phone to LeBron, who started by saying, “I want to thank you for four years …”

“I was silent,” Riley says. “I didn’t say anything. My mind began to just go. And it was over. I was very angry when LeBron left. It was personal for me. It just was. I had a very good friend who talked me off the ledge and kept me from going out there and saying something like Dan Gilbert. I’m glad I didn’t do it.”

The most shocking element of Gilbert’s letter wasn’t that he wrote it. People say dumb things, especially in the heat of the moment. But it was surprising nobody stopped Gilbert from publishing it. Of course, he runs the franchise. But nobody felt empowered to tell him it was a bad idea?

Riley was obviously fortunate to get that message and wise to heed it. But even he has let his disdain for LeBron leaving slip out a couple times.

John Wall doesn’t sound super enthused about Dennis Schroder’s summer-workout request

AP Photo/John Bazemore
Leave a comment

The Wizards and Hawks are knotted in a 2-2 first-round series.

A subplot: John Wall vs. Dennis Schroder. They have a history – Schroder starting random trash talk and then telling a teammate to hack Wall’s recently injured wrist, according to Wall – and Wall stared down Schroder after a dunk in Game 2.

A sub-subplot: Wall’s and Schroder’s summer plans.

Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

Wall, via Chase Hughes of CSN Mid-Atlantic:

“I’ve never heard of that going on in the middle of a series,” Wall said Monday after shootaround for Game 4 later tonight at Phillips Arena. “I’m not talking about it right now. I’m locked into a series competing with a guy that’s playing well for his team, competing for his team. That’s probably a conversation I’ll have later on, but I’m locked into Wizards versus Hawks.”

Aside from that, Wall tends to be a loner during the summer when he’s getting ready. He was supposed to work out with Damian Lillard a few seasons ago, but even that didn’t come to fruition. Teammate Brandon Jennings sensed that about Wall.

“I really don’t work out with anybody, to be honest,” Wall said. “Brandon said the same thing, ‘You’re the type of guy that don’t like to work out with people.’ I just always worked out by myself a lot.”

Maybe Schroder thinks Wall will see himself in the Atlanta point guard – a fearless young player trying to prove himself by standing up to established players. And maybe Wall does.

But I suspect Wall just sees Schroder as a pest.

If that’s the case, it certainly won’t change until this series ends.

Marcus Smart responds to Jimmy Butler: ‘It ain’t hard to find me’ (video)

2 Comments

Jimmy Butler said Marcus Smart is “not about that life.”

Smart, via MassLive:

Laugh at that. This about the Celtics versus Chicago Bulls, not Marcus Smart versus Jimmy. I ain’t got to sit here and say this and that. I’m this. I’m that. I ain’t that type of guy. My actions speak louder than words. It ain’t hard to find me. But, right now, I’m focused on my teammates and this series.

That led to a few excellent follow-up questions:

Are you about that life?

Like I said before, I ain’t got to talk about what I am about. I just show you. I can show you, but I’m not going to tell you. Like I said, it ain’t hard to find me. You heard him. He said, “I don’t think Marcus Smart is about that life.” Last time I checked, if you’re going to say somebody ain’t about that life, you should know, right? But like I said, we’re going to keep this Chicago Bulls vs. Boston Celtics, not Marcus vs. Jimmy.

Has anyone accused you not being tough before?

Never.

What was your reaction to that?

Haha.

Smart flops too much. He gets overly emotional.

But he’s way too tough to let Butler’s comments pass without rebuttal.

The real test will come on the court in Game 5 tomorrow.

Damian Lillard ‘obsessed’ with beating Warriors

Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Warriors just eliminated the Trail Blazers for the second straight year.

Portland star Damian Lillard sounds hardened by the experience.

Chris Haynes of ESPN:

After the Portland Trail Blazers were swept by the Golden State Warriors on Monday, point guard Damian Lillard told ESPN he’s developed a newfound obsession with trying to take down the Warriors.

“You have to be obsessed with that because you know that they’re so good that they’re going to be there,” Lillard said after a 128-103 loss in Game 4. “That’s who you’re going to have to get through to get to where you want to get to. That’s what it is.”

I have no doubt this will drive Lillard. He just finds way to lift himself.

But will the rest of the Trail Blazers keep up with a team that features Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson?

C.J. McCollum is a solid co-star, but it gets dicey beyond that with several players locked into expensive long-term contracts. Portland will have to pry enough production from Jusuf Nurkic, Al-Farouq Aminu, Maurice Harkless, Allen Crabbe, Noah Vonleh, Ed Davis, Meyers Leonard and the Nos. 15, 20 and 26 picks in the upcoming draft.

The Trail Blazers have a path upward, but needing to climb as high as Golden State, the road is narrow.