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.

Gregg Popovich says he was ‘guilty of over-coaching’ LaMarcus Aldridge

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LaMarcus Aldridge has been much better for the San Antonio Spurs this season. This comes after a tumultuous offseason in which it became clear that Aldridge was unhappy with his time in Texas.

That information came to light over the summer, and indeed both Aldridge and Spurs coach Gregg Popovich sat down to have a discussion to work out their differences in preparation for the upcoming season.

The results have been stupendous, with Aldridge playing better than ever in San Antonio despite the team lacking star Kawhi Leonard. Aldridge is averaging career highs in points per-100 possessions, which makes sense given his career-high 119 offensive rating.

Apparently part of Popovich’s change in dealing with Aldridge was how he coached him. Popovich told NBA.com recently that he made the mistake of over coaching Aldridge, saying that the veteran didn’t need as much guidance as young star players did when they came to him in the past.

Via NBA.com:

“We broke bread a few times, talked about it, laughed about it, discussed what we thought needed to happen, and frankly 95 percent of it fell on me because I made an error in trying to change him too much. That might sound odd, but he’d been in the league nine years and there’s one way he plays on the offensive end and feels comfortable with. I tried to turn him into Jack Sikma, told him I was going to teach you how to play on the elbow, go on the wing, face up. It was confusing for him. It really didn’t fit his style of play. I was guilty of over coaching in a sense.

“We came to an agreement on what had to happen. Well, on defense, I told him ‘I’m going to get on you like I do everyone else. But on offense, I don’t even want to talk to you. When they double you, kick it. Other than that, you be LaMarcus Aldridge.’ You see the result right now. He’s happy, confident and kicking everybody’s butt.”

Now that everything is sorted for the Spurs, we just have to watch out for them as they gain momentum heading into 2018. Leonard made his debut for the season on Tuesday night against the Dallas Mavericks, and as a publication time he had nine points in 10 minutes.

God help us if Gregg Popovich has finally found a way to make the mercurial LaMarcus Aldridge happy and pair him with a fully healthy Leonard.

Raptors’ Jonas Valanciunas offers advice to Ball brothers on Lithuania

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Lithuania is a hoops-mad country.

The Baltic nation has fewer people in it than the Seattle-Tacoma metropolitan area, yet it has three players in the NBA right now — Jonas Valanciunas, Donatas Motiejunas, and Mindaugas Kuzminskas — and has put 11 players in the league total (such as Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Arvydas Sabonis, and Sarunas Marciulionis). The country has won three bronze medals in the Olympics ( 1992, 1996, and 2000). It’s Lithuanian league also has been the launching pad for Celtics’ Aron Baynes to make the NBA.

Now the Ball brothers LiAngelo and LaMelo are headed there on professional contracts.

One of those players — the Raptors’ Valanciunas, had advice for the Ball brothers, speaking to ESPN.

“They’re getting themselves into a great opportunity. Lithuania is beautiful country… We have great basketball history. We’re such a small country, but we have many, many great players. Our basketball school is good., so they chose a really good school. They just gotta work hard — it’s all about working. You can be as good as you can be by working. Talent is one thing, but work you put in, that’s gonna show up.

“If they have any problems, let me know. I can help them out.”

Good luck finding anyone around the NBA who thinks this ends well, especially those who know the Ball family. They are sending a college freshman and a high school junior to a small city in a former Soviet bloc country with a very different culture, that will be a major adjustment. The coach doesn’t speak English and his former American players have not spoken highly of him. The Lithuanian league itself has men — far more physically developed than the Ball brothers — and is known for a physical style of play. It’s also known as a league where the players have a reasonably high hoops IQ and don’t like undisciplined players.

But if LiAngelo and LaMelo have any problems, they can call Valanciunas.

Paul George on return to Indiana Wednesday: “For whatever reason, I’ll be booed”

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This week is the Oklahoma City Thunder’s “you can’t go home again” week of the schedule. On Saturday night, Carmelo Anthony will return to New York where Knicks fans should welcome him with cheers and open arms — he meant a lot to that franchise in recent years — but may very well not.

First up, however, Paul George returns to Indiana in a Thunder uniform Wednesday night.

There’s little doubt how he will be greeted by Indiana fans, who felt betrayed by a man they stuck by through recovery from a severe injury. George knows what is coming,

Here are the key lines from PG13:

“Boos. I honestly wouldn’t think it would be any other way. The Pacers fans outweigh the Paul George fans. That’s what I’m looking forward to. For whatever reason, I’ll be booed, but I’m gonna embrace that. I’m gonna thrive on that.”

For whatever reason? You asked to be traded and fans take that personally. There is no loyalty in sports — I have no problem with players asking out because teams show no hesitancy in dumping players they no longer have a use for (and fans are almost always good with that) — but he had to know how this would be taken in Indiana.

What George might want to worry about is stopping the red-hot Victor Oladipo (he averaged 35.7 points per game last week), because he and the Pacers are playing better than the Thunder right now.

Kawhi Leonard returns Tuesday on minutes restriction

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The Spurs have been the Spurs this season, going 19-8 with an elite defense and offense that’s good enough to get them wins, thanks to LaMarcus Aldridge playing at an All-Star level.

Starting Tuesday, they add Kawhi Leonard back to the mix.

He will return to the lineup against Dallas, but will be on a minutes restriction, coach Gregg Popovich said on Tuesday. He would not say how many minutes, although around 20 seems a logical starting spot.

Leonard is one of the five best players in the NBA (and that may be selling him short). He averaged a career-high 25.5 points a game last season, he’s arguably the best perimeter defender in the NBA, and he finished third in the MVP voting last season.

However, there are going to be adjustments. LaMarcus Aldridge has been the focal point of the offense, but he could see fewer touches, particularly in crunch time. Kyle Anderson could see fewer minutes, and Rudy Gay may as well because Popovich liked some small-ball lineups last season with Leonard at the four. A lot of players will see their rotations change.

That said, it’s the Spurs. Do we really expect them to be anything but an incredibly good regular season team? One that is about to get better?