Russell Westbrook

Baseline to Baseline recaps: No Durant, no problem for OKC.

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What you missed while playing ‪Manny Pacquiao’s Punchout‬…

Thunder 89, Celtics 84: No Kevin Durant. No Jeff Green. The Thunder missed their last 15 shots from the field. And they still handed Boston its first loss of the season at home. Part of it, as it has been all season with Oklahoma City, is free throws — they got 32 and made 27 of them (Boston was 17 of 27). But a bigger part was just effort — Boston played like a team that thought they should win easily, the Thunder played hard and desperate. It wasn’t a pretty fourth quarter, but this result was deserved for both sides.

Bulls 88, Mavericks 83: Dallas did not keep Chicago off the glass in this one — the Bulls had 20 offensive rebounds, meaning they got a second chance on 44.4 percent of their missed shots. Eight of those offensive boards belonged to Taj Gibson, who had a huge night with 17 points on 7-12 shooting. Also, Caron Butler is just flat out not playing well.

Heat 95, Bobcats 87: This was one of those games where the Heat got the win but didn’t really look good doing it. Lots of isolation basketball, they shot 6-33 from beyond 16 feet (which is way too many jump shots, something they do a lot) and they played to the Bobcats style. But, the Heat were the better team on the boards, they created more turnovers then turned those into some transition points, and they got to the line enough to win against a good defense. Charlotte had a nice effort but just did not have the players.

Lakers 112, Timberwolves 95: Why is it so hard to beat the Lakers? Because they have Kobe and Gasol, sure, but then one night Matt Barnes rises up and goes 5-5 from three, 7-7 overall and puts up 24 off the bench. Now, if Kurt Rambis wanted to bench Kevin Love in this one — no points on 0-7 shooting, 7 boards — nobody would have blamed him. Ron Artest flat out dominated Love. Lakers go 3-0 on a Midwest road trip.

Sixers 90, Bucks 79: Just a horrible shooting game, but the Bucks were worse — 33.8 percent overall, 0-12 from three. You don’t beat anybody shooting like that.

Raptors 106, Rockets 96: Toronto’s bench outscored Houston’s 46-11. Throw in an 11-17 shooting night and 26 points from Andrea Bargnani and you have yourself a Raptors win.

Wizards 89, Grizzlies 86: Still no Wall but the Wizards were the more aggressive team trying to get to the basket, as a result they shot 35 free throws to the Grizzlies 18. Gilbert Arenas had 24 points, Kirk Hinrich 22. More impressively, Arenas was defending hard on OJ Mayo all night, held him to 1-11 shooting.

Hornets 108, Cavaliers 101: Workman like Hornets win, where they had an 18-2 run late in the first half that essentially iced the game. Cleveland’s starters scored 36 points, the bench 65. David West almost outscored the Cavs starters himself with 34.

Spurs 94, Jazz 82: In a bit of irony, Tim Duncan became the Spurs all time leading scorer on a free throw. Vintage Spurs down the stretch in this one, with Tony Parker getting in the lane then passing out to Richard Jefferson for a three or Tim Duncan for the midrange. The Spurs may be the hottest team going right now.

Kings 86, Nets 81: Questions that can never really be answered: Did the Kings finally play some good defense or is New Jersey just that bad on offense?

Knicks 125, Warriors 119: Really entertaining game — mostly because nobody played a lick of defense. Fast pace, so we had Raymond Felton with 35 for the Knicks, Monta Ellis with 40 for the Warriors. In a game without defense the Knicks just shot a little better (which is unexpected, but there you go).

NBA considering if jump-on-back foul should be flagrant foul

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The video above is an intentional foul — Chris Paul jumped on the back of Dwight Howard. The same thing has happened to Andre Drummond.

Is it a flagrant foul?

The Boston Celtics tweeted this out on Sunday.

The NBA was quick to let people know that this is just something under consideration — there has been no change in the rules. This may well be where the league is headed, but it’s not there yet.

The NBA defines a flagrant foul as “unnecessary contact committed by a player against an opponent.” To me, leaping on a player’s back like that qualifies. (A flagrant two foul is “unnecessary and excessive contact” and leads to an ejection; this is not that.)

Jared Dudley — one of the more vocal players on union issues — added a good point.

Consider this part of the coming changes on the intentional fouling rules period. But this one tweak could come much faster.

NBA: Foul on Cavaliers that sparked Celtics’ comeback called in error

Cleveland Cavaliers' J.R. Smith makes a move on Boston Celtics' Evan Turner (11) during the third quarter of a NBA basketball game in Boston Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2015. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
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The Cavaliers were in great shape against the Celtics on Friday, leading by four points with seven seconds left.

Then, it all went so wrong for Cleveland.

J.R. Smith was called for fouling Evan Turner on a made layup, cutting the margin to two points. Turner missed the free throw, but the ball went out of bounds off the Cavs. Then, Avery Bradley made a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to give Boston the win.

Rewind, though, and an incorrect call drove the sequence, according to the NBA.

Smith shouldn’t have been called for fouling Turner, per the Last Two Minute Report:

Smith (CLE) makes incidental contact with Turner’s (BOS) body as he attempts the layup.

If this were officiated correctly, the Cavs would’ve had the ball and a two-point lead with 5.9 seconds left. That’s not a lock to win – they’d still have to inbound the ball and make their free throws – but it’s close.

Cleveland is definitely entitled to feel the refs wronged them out of a victory.

Report: Kevin Durant has “done his due diligence on the Bay Area”

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Kevin Durant has not made up his mind about what he will do as a free agent this summer. Until his playoff run ends, whenever that may be for the Thunder, his focus will be on bringing a title to Oklahoma City.

But even he admits he can’t help but think about free agency a little.

The buzz around the league is Golden State is at the front of the line if Durant decides to leave OKC, and he has done some research, reports Marc Spears of Yahoo Sports.

The Warriors play in front of an intimidating Oracle Arena crowd and are expected to debut a new San Francisco arena in 2019. Durant has quietly done his due diligence on the Bay Area, too, sources told Yahoo Sports.

His people — specifically agent Rich Kleiman and personal manager Charlie Bell — would be stupid not to have done some research on not only Golden State but on every other team he might consider: Houston, Miami, Washington, both teams in Los Angeles, the Knicks, and on down the line. Golden State, playing with Stephen Curry, certainly would have its attractions.

I’m still in the camp that Durant signs a 1+1 deal to stay in Oklahoma City (meaning he can opt out after one more season, in 2017), and it’s all about the cash. While he could get 30 percent of a $90 million cap this summer (about $27 million a season to start), with one more year of service in 2017 Durant could get 35 percent of $108 million ($37.8 million to start). That’s a lot of cash. Plus he gets one more chance at a ring with Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka, who both are 2017 free agents.

But you can be sure whatever Durant decides, it will be well researched and thought out. And he’s not going to announce it in a live special on ESPN.

Byron Scott expected to start D’Angelo Russell after All-Star break, but hasn’t talked to him about it

Byron Scott D'Angelo Russell
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Communication.

When we talk about Lakers’ coach Byron Scott’s questioned player development skills with young players Julius Randle, Jordan Clarkson, and particularly D'Angelo Russell, it is his old-school lack of communication that comes into question. It’s what is different from what Gregg Popovich or Quin Snyder or other guys developing strong young players have done. From the outside (we’re not in practices/film sessions), we see Scott was not letting Russell play through mistakes — feeling that was rewarding bad behavior — but then not doing a good job communicating what the player is doing wrong.

This comment from Scott, via Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News, sums it up perfectly.

Scott plans to start Russell after NBA All-Star weekend (Feb. 12-14). But Scott said the two have not talked about that issue.

“He’s not old enough for me to have a meeting and discuss, ‘What do you think?’” Scott said.

I would say you should have that meeting — it’s called a teachable moment. “What do you think? Well here is what I see that is different.”

Part of what is going on with Scott and Russell is the concern from some in the Lakers’ camp that Russell is a little too full of himself, that his ego is too big, and it could become a problem. So they are trying to take him down a peg. I would say that for a smart player — and Russell is that — the game is humbling and will take care of the ego issue. But you’ve got to give him run to develop him.

Play him, and then communicate with him. It’s a system that does worth with modern players.