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).

Report: Sevyn Streeter’s contract with 76ers for anthem prohibited political statements

BEVERLY HILLS, CA - AUGUST 01:  Actress Sevyn Streeter speaks onstage during the 'Ringside' panel discussion at the TV One portion of the 2016 Television Critics Association Summer Tour at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on August 1, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California.  (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

Sevyn Streeter said the 76ers stopped her from singing the national anthem last night because she wore a “WE MATTER” jersey.

The 76ers said they use their games to bring people together.

Jan Carabeo of CBS3 (hat tip: CSN Philly):


This has been taken by some as proof Streeter was in the wrong. But the 76ers have a right to determine who uses their platform and how. That legality of the 76ers’ actions isn’t in question.

What should be questioned is the message they sent.

That they’re against any and all political statements defies belief. They have allowed their invited guests to display political messages on the court before. If Streeter wore a shirt that said “Support our troops” – no less of a political statement – would she have been barred from performing? You must believe the answer is yes to believe political statements themselves, not the specific content of Streeter’s, were the problem here.

There’s also something troubling about “WE MATTER” being a political statement, but in the reality of America, the jersey is undoubtedly political. The 76ers silencing Streeter will keep it that way.

Bulls throw back to a different era with poor-shooting starting lineup

PHOENIX, AZ - NOVEMBER 18:  Taj Gibson #22 of the Chicago Bulls during the NBA game against the Phoenix Suns at Talking Stick Resort Arena on November 18, 2015 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Bulls defeated the Suns 103-97. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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The Bulls’ 2016-17 opening-night starters combined to make 133 3-pointers last season.

Twenty-nine players made more themselves.

Chicago was always going to face questions about floor-spacing with Rajon Rondo, Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler starting on the perimeter. But Fred Hoiberg intensified the concern by naming Taj Gibson the Bulls’ starting power forward with Robin Lopez at center.

No NBA team has started a season with such a meager 3-point-shooting lineup in years.

Here’s how many 3s each Chicago starter made per game last season:

  • Rondo: 0.86
  • Wade: 0.09
  • Butler: 0.96
  • Gibson: 0.00
  • Lopez: 0.00

Grand total: 1.91.

Sixty-three players made at least two 3-pointers in their 2016-17 debut.

Obviously, we don’t know how players will shoot this season – especially for the Bulls, who open their season against the Celtics tonight. So, to get a rough estimate, let’s assume each 2016-17 opening-game starter makes the same number of 3-pointers per game he made last season. Here’s how each team would rank. (Because the Clippers, Wizards and Hawks have also yet to play this season, I projected their starters.)


Keep in mind: These rankings give zero made 3s to anyone who didn’t play in the NBA last year, and 2016-17 starters who were in smaller roles last season get no adjustment upward.

That the Bulls are starting five players who started last year and still rank last speaks volumes.

This rough projection gives the Bulls’ starters 1.91 3-pointers per game, but we don’t need to project for previous seasons. We know how many aggregate 3-pointers per game each prior team’s opening-game starters produced that season.

The last team with so few was the 2012-13 New Orleans Hornets with 1.58 – and it had been two years before that since another team had less than Chicago’s projection. Those Hornets went 27-55, though their offense ranked 16th in the league.

These Bulls are truly a throwback to a different era. Teams have come to understand the value of 3-pointers, both for their efficiency themselves and the floor-spacing they provide. There’s a reason no other team dares to start a lineup like Chicago’s.

The Pelicans come closest, but they’re relying on E'Twaun Moore and Solomon Hill taking larger roles. New Orleans’ outside shooting will also improve when Jrue Holiday returns.

The Bulls essentially have their full roster available, and they opted for this lineup – even though there are other options. The simplest would’ve been starting Nikola Mirotic, a stretch four who seemed certain to start given Chicago’s constraints. Gibson might be a better player. He ‘s definitely a better defender and offensive rebounder. But Mirotic’s fit seemed so natural.


Hoiberg can stagger minutes, and Mirotic and Doug McDermott should play key roles as floor-spacers. But the Bulls are committing to starting each half with several minutes of this non-shooting lineup.

Of course, it doesn’t have to go as poorly as history would suggest.

Wade has shown an improved ability on 3-pointers in the preseason. Butler has been up and down from beyond the arc, so it shouldn’t be assumed last year’s poor outside shooting is truly representative.

But Rondo is coming off the best 3-point season of his career, and it seems it might be a fluke outlier. Gibson and Lopez have shown no proficiency from downtown.

Still, there other ways to space the floor. Rondo passes extremely well. Wade excels as a cutter. Butler’s drives demand attention. Gibson can out-muscle opponents to spots. Robin Lopez is exceptionally quick around the paint for a big man.

But 3-point shooting is the simplest and most direct method for creating space. The Bulls will be working from behind there – years behind.

Ben Simmons denies rumor he plans to sit out all season: ‘As soon as they tell me I can play is when I’ll be out there’

CAMDEN, NJ - SEPTEMBER 26: Ben Simmons #25 of the Philadelphia 76ers dribbles two basketballs during media day on September 26, 2016 in Camden, New Jersey. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
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Despite rumors agent Rich Paul won’t let Ben Simmons play this season, 76ers CEO Scott O’Neil said the No. 1 pick would return from a broken foot during his rookie year. Yet, the last 76ers official who expressed optimism about Simmons’ timeline had to walk it back.

So, I’d prefer to hear straight from Simmons or Paul.

Simmons, via Jessica Camerato of CSN Philly:

“I’d love to play, definitely,” Simmons said of the 2016-17 season. “As soon as I can get out there, I’d love to play.”

“There’s no timetable on getting healthy,” he said. “I’m working every day to get back and as soon as they tell me I can play is when I’ll be out there.”

No two injuries are alike, so Simmons doesn’t perfectly compare to Nerlens Noel and Joel Embiid of prior years. But the 76ers definitely seem to be less precautious with Bryan Colangelo rather than Sam Hinkie. Not that they’ll rush a player back, but if he’s ready, they’ll play him. There’s no more sitting talented players to tank. Philadelphia wants to market Simmons, and that requires getting him on the court.

So, the ball is in Simmons’ court – but he threw it back to the 76ers, saying he’ll follow their clearance call. That’s all they can ask for at this point.

Justin Anderson cuts under basket, reaches back for putback dunk (video)

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One player dunking on another is always fantastic.

But some of the best jams come when the dunker artfully dodges defenders in the first place.

Mavericks forward Justin Anderson did that with this putback slam against the Pacers last night.