Baseline to Baseline (your game recaps): Friday night is for nail biters, apparently

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What you missed installing your all-in-one toilet paper roll holder and iPod Dock

There are more notes from the Hornets 96-93 win over the Heat here.

Celtics 110, Bulls 105 (OT): I could have sworn I saw Ray Allen dunk in the overtime. I must be hallucinating. Give the Bulls credit, down 16 in the third quarter on the second night of a back-to-back, a lot of teams would have just packed it in. The Bulls fought back, even got the lead. But when it mattered most the Celtics did what winners do and found a way.

Pistons 97, Bobcats 90: Rodney Stuckey sat and Tracy McGrady started — if I were a betting man I would have run out and put money on the Bobcats. And this is why I’m not a betting man. First win for the Pistons, who did not shoot the ball well — 42.7 percent to the Bobcats 55.2. Most nights, that means a lot. But the Pistons got to the line 16 more times and had 5 fewer turnovers and that was the difference.

Bucks 94, Pacers 90: Not a terribly impressive night for anyone shooting, the Pacers were just worse, hitting just 26.7 percent beyond 10 feet. The Bucks were without Andrew Bogut (migraine), but they outscored the Pacers by 10 in the final quarter to get a win. They’ll take it.

Knicks 112, Wizards 91: The Knicks had another very good offensive game, including shooting 41 percent from three for the game. Every Knick looked pretty good… except Anthony Randolph (1-7 shooting). Gilbert Arenas had 18 off the bench and was 4-8 from three. He’ll be starting soon.

Cavaliers 123, Sixers 116: The Sixers were a solid defensive team through their first few games but the Cavaliers crushed that for a night. Not a lot of defense from either side in this one, which made it entertaining if not good basketball. Anderson Varejao is 10-for-10 from the floor in this one.

Magic 105, Nets 90: The Nets shot poorly, especially from deep the last couple games, then they came out in this in this one and could not miss. They knocked down 45.5 percent fr0m three on the night and were up five at the break because of their shooting. Then Jameer Nelson got the Magic back into it, winning the third by 16 and never looking back.

Dwight Howard owned Brook Lopez on the night, Lopez had 10 points on 3-of-17 shooting.

Hawks 113, Timberwolves 103: The Hawks remain undefeated but know this — they have had the softest schedule in the NBA so far this season.

Lakers 108, Raptors 103: The Lakers were up and cruising in the first half when Toronto went to a zone defense. Then the Lakers reacted like it was the Western Conference finals all over again and started just passing the ball around the perimeter then jacking up the jumper. From there on in it was close. The Lakers defense still isn’t good, but Toronto’s is worse. And the Lakers can score the rock. The Raptors had 19 offensive rebounds against that long Lakers front line.

Nuggets 111, Clippers 104: Rare efficient night for Carmelo Anthony, 30 points on 14-of-20 shooting, and when he’s efficient that is a tough team to beat. The Clippers look better with Eric Bledsoe and Eric Gordon in the backcourt than they do with Baron Davis

Suns 123, Grizzlies 118 (2OT): Oh Memphis. One point lead and Gay gets fouled with 0.4 seconds left, so hit the first, miss the second and you win. Gay misses the first and hits the second, so time out Suns. Damn. Still, two point lead with 0.4 seconds left, the only way you can lose is a lob to the rim (unless Derek Fisher is in the building). Then Darrell Arthur slips trying to get back as Jason Richardson cuts to the rim, and the Suns get the lob and bucket and the tie to force overtime. Then double overtime (because Mike Conley missed a free throw).

Then in double overtime the Grizzlies starters — now all having played over 40 minutes — started to show that fatigue. Tough way to lose, watching Jason Richardson score 5 points in 1.1 seconds.

Warriors 85, Jazz 78: The Warriors beat the Jazz because they crashed the boards — 21 offensive rebounds — and played good defense. Basically, they beat the Jazz at their own game. Curry looked pretty good in his return and for the first time in three games he played without rolling his ankle.

Byron Scott: Kobe Bryant “at peace” with decision to retire after season

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LOS ANGELES — Kobe Bryant was never going to go quietly into that good night. He would rage, rage against the dying of the light — and torn Achilles, knee ligaments, shoulders, and everything else holding him back.

But now, the end is near, and Kobe will face the final curtain at the end of this season. And he is at peace with it, if you ask his coach.

“It was so matter of fact, and he was so at peace with (the decision),” Lakers’ coach Byron Scott said of when Kobe told him this season would be it. “After I thought about it, I felt better about that. It wasn’t like he was agonizing over it or anything, it was like ‘I’m announcing I’m retiring’ and just kind of went on from there.”

Bryant told Scott before anyone else in the Lakers’ organization, and told him sometime Saturday (when the Lakers played and lost in Portland).

“I said, ‘what?’ He just told me at a very awkward time; we started laughing about it,” Scott said. “He said ‘you looked like you were saying ‘what they hell are you talking about’ but it just caught me off guard.”

It’s been an ugly season for Kobe, his body can no longer do what he expects of it — he can’t get the separation, the lift needed for his shoots. He was shooting 31.1 percent on the season going into Sunday’s game against Indiana, and he started 1-of-11 from the floor Sunday night. Yet he kept gunning.

“I gave up hoping he would change his approach 15, 18 years ago,” Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak said. “He is what he is. And I’m thankful for it.”

Kupchak added hoped this decision would ease the pressure on Bryant.

“I would hope that he has more fun, and appears less frustrated, and also gets more appreciation,” Kupchak said. “He’ll get it at home, but on the road too, because people will have to recognize this is his last year and they are watching one of the all-time greats.”

Kobe got plenty of appreciation from Lakers’ fans on Sunday night with a massive ovation when he was introduced. Kobe had wanted to avoid a Derek Jeter style farewell tour, but with that announcement and the Lakers playing 13-of-17 on the road in December you can bet there will be some of that.

“One of the best ever to play the game,” Pacers coach Frank Vogel said pregame. “I don’t know if there’s any one moment, just throughout the course of his career you didn’t want him to have the ball in his hands with the game on the line, period. Because you knew he was going to beat you.”

No doubt Kobe goes down as one of the game’s all-time greats — five-time NBA champion, MVP, two Finals MVP’s, 17 All-Star Games, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg — but what Scott ultimately wants is Bryant to leave the game on his terms.

“What I want from Kobe is basically his last game to be able to walk off the court, wave to the fans, and be able to go into the locker room standing up,” Scott said.


Here is Kobe Bryant’s letter given to every fan at Lakers’ game Sunday

Los Angeles Lakers v Portland Trail Blazers

LOS ANGELES — In a classy move — and one done in a very Kobe Bryant tone — every fan coming into Staples Center Sunday night to see the Lakers take on the Pacers received a letter from No. 24.

Inside a sealed black envelope, on quality, embossed paper, was this letter from Bryant (photo below):

When we first met I was just a kid.

Some of you took me in. Some of you didn’t.

But all of you helped e become the player and man in front of you today.

You gave me confidence to put my anger to good use.

Your doubt gave me determination to prove you wrong.

You witnessed my fears morph into strength.

Your rejection taught me courage.

Whether you view me as a hero or a villain, please know I poured every emotion, every bit of passion and my entire self into being a Laker.

What you’ve done for me is far greater than anything I’ve done for you.

I knew that each minute of each game I wore purple and gold.

I honor it as I play today and for the rest of this season.

My love for this city, this team and for each of you will never fade.

Thank you for this incredible journey.

It speaks to Kobe’s mindset over the years that he talked about the fuel from the rejection of Lakers’ fans motivating him. As a Los Angeles native (and former Laker blogger), let me tell you there was precious little rejection of Kobe from this fan base. There were questions and doubters early on, but even when Shaquille O’Neal was seen as the driving force of the team Kobe was beloved in Los Angeles. Something that continued through his trial in Colorado — Lakers fans have almost always had his back.

But Kobe finds fuel everywhere. Which is why he is a future Hall of Famer.


Jahlil Okafor tweets apology for recent off-court behavior

Jahlil Okafor

The off-court incidents have been piling up for Jahlil Okafor over the past month: first, an incident captured on video that showed Okafor getting into a fight with a heckler early Thanksgiving morning; then, a report that Okafor had a gun pulled on him in a previous incident; and finally, this morning’s report that the Sixers’ No. 3 overall pick in this June’s draft had been pulled over in recent weeks for driving 108 miles per hour in Philadelphia. Together, they aren’t a good look for the rookie.

On Sunday afternoon, Okafor apologized for his recent behavior in a series of tweets:

The recent incidents involving Okafor are surprising—going into the draft, he never had any red flags for maturity or off-the-court issues. He’s certainly saying the right things after the fact, and he’s only 19, so hopefully this is nothing more than a small rough patch where he’s made some bad decisions, and not an indicator of things to come.

Kobe Bryant announces this is his final season


LOS ANGELES — It has seemed like this has been coming for a while. Kobe Bryant has been frustrated; he hasn’t been able to produce like he expects — his play has been hard to watch — and the Lakers are a train wreck. All that surrounded him was talk of his play and speculation about the future he didn’t want.

Kobe made it official Sunday via the Players’ Tribune — this is his final season. He did it via a letter called “Dear Basketball.”

You gave a six-year-old boy his Laker dream
And I’ll always love you for it.
But I can’t love you obsessively for much longer.
This season is all I have left to give.
My heart can take the pounding
My mind can handle the grind
But my body knows it’s time to say goodbye.

And that’s OK.
I’m ready to let you go.
I want you to know now
So we both can savor every moment we have left together.
The good and the bad.
We have given each other
All that we have.

It’s not coincidental this was announced a couple days before the Lakers travel to Kobe’s hometown of Philadelphia to face the Sixers. Also remember Kobe is an investor in The Players’ Tribune.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver quickly released this statement:

“With 17 NBA All-Star selections, an NBA MVP, five NBA championships with the Lakers, two Olympic gold medals and a relentless work ethic, Kobe Bryant is one of the greatest players in the history of our game.  Whether competing in the Finals or hoisting jump shots after midnight in an empty gym, Kobe has an unconditional love for the game.

“I join Kobe’s millions of fans around the world in congratulating him on an outstanding NBA career and thank him for so many thrilling memories.”

Kobe will go down as one of the game’s all-time greats. Few can come close to his resume: Five NBA titles, two NBA Finals MVPs, 15 time All-NBA teams, one MVP, 17 times an All-Star (and the All-Star Game MVP four times). And we could go on and on.

Good on Kobe for doing this now. After 55,000 NBA minutes his body has quit on him, and where his mind is still willing the flesh is clearly weak right now. He has not been able to adapt his game to the changing realities of what he can do.

Kobe has said he doesn’t want a “Derek Jeter Farewell Tour” but that will be the feel from here on out. Expect some special recognition at the All-Star Game in Toronto.

Ad we’ll all be watching for those flashes of vintage Bryant we have hoped to see more of this season.