New York Knicks v Denver Nuggets

Baseline to Baseline recaps: Where Denver, Portland and Derrick Rose dominate late

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What you missed as you were wowed by artistic satellite images of earth

The Lakers offense was an unstoppable force, beating the Bucks in our game of the night

Nuggets 120, Knicks 118: For three-plus quarters this looked like every recent Knicks game — they just don’t have the shooters. You would think they should with Gallinari and Douglas and Felton and so on, but they don’t.

So no shock New York was down 16 when they suddenly they went Jazz and came back — all the way back to a tie. Why? They stopped settling for threes — the three is a key part of the D’Antoni offense but it has to come with the threat of penetration and points in the paint. The Knicks were 3-19 in the first half from deep, they started attacking inside and were 4 of 8 from three in the second half.

Still, in the end it was Billups with a big three, Carmelo doing his thing and Nene with good defense — just a Nuggets team that is more talented and much more used to crunch time than the Knicks. There was just some ugly Knicks possessions at the end, for example the one with the team down 5 with :54 left — Wilson Chandler with the difficult fade away that misses, Stoudemire knocks rebound out, Larry Fields (who is really playing well) with a 25 foot three that misses, rebound to Gallinari with an 18 footer that clanks off. You get the idea. Then there was the time the Knicks were down just three and Felton dropped the inbound pass right out of bounds again.

Hawks 102, Pacers 92: Really slow pace — 85 possessions — and that really suits the Hawks better in this matchup. Especially with Darren Collison out and TJ Ford running the show. With all his limits. The Pacers jumped out early and the Hawks played uninspired ball (lots of jump shots from guys who should be at the rim) but the Hawks are just flat out the better ream.

Cavaliers 101, Sixers 93: This one was not pretty early as both teams struggled to get any kind of flow going. In the end it the Cavaliers bench — who dropped 54 in this one— that made the difference.

Wizards 109, Raptors 94: John Wall was sitting in a suit for this one, and that left the ball in Kirk Hinrich and Gilbert Arenas hands… which was good for Nick Young, who dropped 20 off the bench. Hinrich had a dozen dimes. For the first quarter and a half, Wizards grabbed half of their missed shots on the offensive glass, which was key for leading by 10. That and good shooting. Blatche hit 6 of fist 8, most right near rim. The good shooting continued all night for the Wizards.

Bulls 95, Rockets 92: The Rockets were up 8 to start the fourth quarter when Derrick Rose just took over — 17 points in the fourth, leading an 18-0 Bulls run to start the quarter that won the game. Chicago’s bench outscored Houston 29-8.

Trail Blazers 100, Grizzlies 99: This one was tied 93-93 but it was the Blazers that executed down the stretch. OJ Mayo tried to make something happen but got stripped; Andre Miller takes that and slows it down then gets in a position to post up Mike Conley so he can his the easy turnaround over him. Next trip down Memphis can’t get anything set up, so a lot of time comes off and its an ugly Conley floater they get for their troubles. Like that.

By the way, 30 from Wesley Mathews in for Roy. Put him on your fantasy team now.

Kevin Love unsure about opening-night return

Kevin Love
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He’s back in practice with the Cavaliers, but there’s still no clarity on whether Kevin Love will be available for the season opener. Love had shoulder surgery in April after suffering a torn labrum in Game 4 of the Cavs’ first-round series against the Celtics, and doctors initially gave him a timetable of four to six months for a return. The six-month end of that is right around opening night (October 27), but Love still doesn’t know whether he’ll be able to play against the Bulls—although he is hopeful.

Via the Sporting News‘ Sean Deveney:

“I feel pretty good,” Love told Sporting News. “As far as the opener goes, I am not completely sure. I’ll probably get with the doctors and see what they have to say. I know that my six-month post-op is coming up here pretty fast. As far as getting the strength back, getting the range of motion, I feel pretty good, so I am looking forward to getting into some more contact, getting into a rhythm and getting out there as quickly as I can.”

Love has been cleared for 3-on-3 practices, but not yet for 5-on-5. If it were up to him, he’d be back on the court, but he understands he needs to follow the rehab protocol for his injury.

“(Six months is) just a ballpark figure that has generally been thrown out there by anybody who has talked about the rehab process for this kind of an injury,” Love said. “I like to think that I am ahead of the game, but there’s different tests and the due diligence that the doctor will go through and the training staff will go through. So all I can do is go out there every day and attack my rehab and hopefully I will be able to go out there and help these guys as soon as possible.”

At the very least, the Cavs will be without Kyrie Irving (still recovering from knee surgery) and Iman Shumpert (out up to three months with a wrist injury), and probably Tristan Thompson too, unless his contract situation changes unexpectedly. So having Love available would be some much-needed good news. But it’s more important that Love (and everyone else) is healthy for the playoffs. If he’s not ready to play, there’s no need to rush back for an October game.

Greg Smith fails physical, will not join Pelicans

Greg Smith
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With both starter Omer Asik and backup Alexis Ajinca out injured for the rest of the preseason (and maybe a little longer), the Pelicans are looking for a center to put next to Anthony Davis for a stretch. That could include a handful of regular season games.

Greg Smith was going to be that man, but the 24-year-old failed his physical, reports the Times-Picayune.

The New Orleans Pelicans were set to sign power forward Greg Smith, but sources said Friday night that he failed his physical examination and will not be joining the team.

And so the search goes on.

The problem is, there are not quality big men still out there on the market, there is a limited supply and just about anyone worth having is spoken for. A few with non-guaranteed contracts may be waived as we get closer to the end of training camps, but that is likely a couple of weeks away.

With both Asik and Ajinca expected back in a few weeks, it’s not worth making a trade or some big move to bring in a center, the Pelicans are just going to have to live with what is out there.