Baseline to Baseline recaps: Dwyane Wade struggles while Darko is hot… huh?

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What you missed while researching how to deep fry a turkey

Magic 104, Heat 95: How this game would end was played out in the opening six minutes — Jameer Nelson was driving straight into the heart of the Heat defense. He would come off the screen and get great penetration.

This looked a lot like the Magic of a couple years ago, with a very aggressive Nelson looking for his shot. He was also looking for Brandon Bass, who was playing pick-and-pop with Nelson and hit 8-11 in the first half, and the Magic was up 8. The Heat got back into it by getting offensive rebounds in the third quarter, cutting that lead to three after three. The benches kept it close.

But when LeBron returned into the game late the Heat went cold (1-10) while Nelson just went into the teeth of the defense. Nelson had 17 points 14 assists, Dwight Howard with 24 points 18 boards.

Dwyane Wade didn’t look right (6-21 shooting) but as a whole the Heat played a lot better at both ends than they did against the Pacers. But the Magic are good, you have to earn a win over them. The Heat did not.

Mavericks 111, Thunder 103: You know when Tyson Chandler scores 17 things are going right for you. Dallas turned the ball over a lot early, but settled down when it mattered. Dallas also had 13 more points at the line.

Knicks 99, Bobcats 95: Five in a row! Five in a row! You can’t stop the New York Knicks… well, not if you’re the Bobcats, anyway as the Knicks take both ends of a home and home. In the second half the Knicks went to a lot of zone and the Bobcats were all too happy to settle for a lot of jumpers. Raymond Felton had 23 points and 13 boards and looked like a guy who knows how to run the D’Antoni offense.

Cavaliers 83, Bucks 81: The Bucks scored just 13 in the fourth quarter which allowed the Cavaliers to have a shot to win it. With 5.3 seconds left and the game tied Mo Williams got the ball out high, waved off the Anderson Varejao high screen and drove left then put up the 20-foot step back over Brandon Jennings. And when you’re feeling it, that shot falls.

Raptors 106, Sixers 90: Toronto did pretty much whatever they wanted on offense in the first half shooting 57.1 percent and going 5 of 8 from three, plus getting the line more and getting more offensive rebounds. That is why they were up 62-43. It was over then but they played the second have because decorum demands it.

Celtics 89, Nets 83: No Rajon Rondo tonight and you combine that with the Celtics just missing good looks and it was a slow start to this one. The Nets started slow too against the Celtics defense, built a lead, lost it, then when things got close in the end — say tied at 71-71— there seemed a lot of Paul Pierce driving and kicking to a wide open Ray Allen in the corner (how does that happen, have people not seen Ray Allen shoot?). Also, 25 and 11 for Shaq.

Grizzlies 105, Pistons 85: Rookie Xavier Henry got the start for Memphis and OJ Mayo came off the bench, with the goal of adding more scoring off the bench, according to Lionel Hollins. It worked as the Pistons wore down, but the second night of a back-to-back has not been good for Detroit. Rodney Stuckey had 13 in the first quarter and kept it close but a 33-18 third blew it open for the Grizzlies. Zach Randolph had 21 and 14.

Spurs 113, Timberwolves 109 (OT): I’m not climbing aboard any bandwagons yet, but Darko Milicic had another good game (22 points 8 boards and 5 blocks).

Minnesota owned the first quarter, getting to the loose balls, shooting 51 percent and Love setting the tone wit 13 points and 7 board s in 15 minutes. The Wolves were up 15 after on…. And nobody thought it would last.

This ended up being close and pretty entertaining, if not actually pretty. It was close at the end, but the Spurs executed with the game on the line and got big plays from Ginobili, while the Timberwolves had sets break down and ended up with isolation Luke Ridnour. Not good.

Rockets 111, Warriors 101: Houston shot 51 free throws, 33 more than Golden State. There’s your ballgame.

Bulls 123, Suns 115 (2 OT): Chicago came out flat after battling the Lakers hard last night, and they got blitzed 36-17 in the first quarter.  After that the Bulls tightened up their defense and fought back. Second night of a back-to-back in double overtime against a team that wants to run — that is showing some heart to pull this one out.

Jazz: 105, Hornets 87: This was a physical game — the referees were surprisingly okay with that — which is right in the Jazz wheelhouse. Deron Williams finished with 26 points and 11 assists, and he continues to outplay Chris Paul head-to-head.

Mark Cuban’s fine third-largest known fine in NBA history

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While explaining how he told his players the team was better off losing this season, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said “I’m probably not supposed to say this” and “Adam would hate hearing that.”

Cuban was right.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver fined Cuban $600,000 for “public statements detrimental to the NBA.” The league doesn’t announce all its fines, but that’s the third-largest known fine in NBA history.

The leaderboard:

1. Timberwolves, $3.5 million in 2000 (signing under-the-table agreement with Joe Smith)

2. Clippers owner Donald Sterling, $2.5 million in 2014 (making racist comments)

3. Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, $600,000 in 2018 (saying he told his players the team is better off losing)

4. Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, $500,000 in 2002 (criticizing officiating)

4. Knicks, $500,000 in 2006 (fighting Nuggets)

4. Nuggets, $500,000 2006 (fighting Knicks)

4. Vladimir Radmanovic, $500,000 in 2007 (injuring his shoulder while snowboarding)

4. Pistons general manager Joe Dumars, $500,000 in 2010 (leaking confidential league memos)

4. Heat owner Micky Arison, $500,000 in 2011 (tweets during the lockout breaking rank with other owners)

I’d be on Cuban (and/or the Mavericks) getting yet another spot on this list following the investigation of the franchise for a culture tolerant of sexual harassment and domestic abuse. That one will probably be deserved – not just the league trying to preserve the illusion of pure competition amid a system that incentivizes losing.

Mark Cuban fined $600,000 for telling team “losing is our best option”

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Of all the hot water Mark Cuban is in right now with the Mavericks and the NBA league office, this is probably the smallest tub. And the least expensive fine.

Cuban recently went on Julius Erving’s podcast, House Call with Dr. J, and said:

“I’m probably not supposed to say this, but I just had dinner with a bunch of our guys the other night. And here we are, we weren’t competing for the playoffs. I was like, “Look, losing is our best option.” Adam would hate hearing that, but at least I sat down, and I explained it to them. And I explained what our plans were going to be this summer, that we’re not going to tank again.”

You were not supposed to say that — the NBA Wednesday fined Cuban $600,000 for “for public statements detrimental to the NBA.”

Cuban’s not wrong, it’s just a matter of perception. The NBA has worked very hard to lessen the image that teams are tanking for draft position (why do you think there was pressure on the Sixers to replace Sam Hinkie?), they don’t need an owner saying it’s the smart thing to do. Even though it is. Teams tank — it is still the only way for a small or medium market team to get a superstar, get high in the draft and hopefully pick one (it’s not that simple, ask the Magic) — but the league wants at least the facade that all of its teams are competitive. All the way through the end of the season.

As you read this, the bottom eight teams in the NBA are within three games of each other for the worst record — and a higher lottery slot. Does anyone think any of them are not going to roll out young, less-talented rosters in the name of development when the real goal is to lose as many games as they can the rest of the way? Most scouts think there is some real talent at the top of this draft, and teams are going to try to get up there and get it.

Just nobody can talk about it.

Mark Cuban accepts blame for bringing back Mavs.com writer after domestic abuse

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Credit Mark Cuban on this: He’s owning his mistakes.

He should have been more aware at the time, but he wasn’t and that helped lead to an “Animal House” style sexual predatory environment on the business side of the Dallas Mavericks, according to a Sports Illustrated report.

One of the more damning allegations involves former Mavs.com writer Earl K. Sneed. He was involved in a domestic dispute where he beat his then-girlfriend his first season with the Mavericks in 2011, then a few months later was arrested — at the Mavericks facility — for assault, reportedly fracturing his girlfriend’s face. He pled guilty to that and went through court-mandated anger management classes, but the Mavericks re-hired him (with a clause in his contract he could not have one-on-one interactions with women). Then reportedly had another dispute in 2014 hitting a female co-worker which led to more counseling (this ordered by the team), yet he was kept on. Sneed legally was not able to follow the team when it went into Canada to play the Raptors because of the charges against him.

Cuban admitted to Tim MacMahon of ESPN keeping Sneed employed was a mistake.

“I want to be clear, I’m not putting the blame on anybody else,” Cuban told ESPN. “It came down to my final decision that I made.”

In hindsight, Cuban said, “I would have fired him and still made him go to counseling” after learning details of the first domestic violence incident, expressing regret for not following up with police to discover those details…

“It was bad, but we made a mistake about the whole thing and didn’t pursue what happened with the police after the fact,” Cuban told ESPN. “So we got it mostly from Earl’s perspective, and because we didn’t dig in with the details — and obviously it was a horrible mistake in hindsight — we kind of, I don’t want to say took his word for it, but we didn’t see all the gruesome details until just recently. I didn’t read the police report on that until just [Tuesday], and that was a huge mistake obviously.”

It is not just Cuban who is to blame here. The head of Mavericks HR (who has been fired in the wake of this report) should have cut this off from the start. Same goes for the team’s CEO. The fact that none of those three men — Cuban included — did not step in here shows how a culture that allows predatory treatment of women is allowed to exist.

The Mavericks have hired a law firm to investigate both the incidents and the business culture around the organization. Changes are coming. And eventually, as more of this comes out, so will the wrath of the league — Cuban and the Mavericks are going to play a price for this.

Report: Suns, Mavericks, Pacers may go after Aaron Gordon this summer

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Aaron Gordon is having the best season of his career in Orlando. He’s not just a dunk contest phenom anymore, he has had the Orlando offense flowing through him (an offense that is top 10 in the league the last 15 games), he is averaging 18.4 points and 8.3 rebounds per game, is shooting 34.6 percent from three (where he is taking 36 percent of his shot attempts), he’s still a strong finisher at the rim shooting 70 percent there this season, and while he’s a four he can guard threes fairly well on the perimeter or handle a small-ball five in the post. He has value.

How much value is what the market will determine this summer — Gordon is a restricted free agent.

He is eligible for a four-year, $100 million contract. Orlando would like to keep him but at less than that amount, however other teams — the Suns, Mavericks, and maybe Pacers — could make a run at him, reports Sean Deveney of The Sporting News.

League sources told Sporting News this week that the Suns are expected to be suitors for Gordon, who starred at Arizona for one memorable season. Phoenix has ample cap room and a roster in need of more proven players. Another team with interest in Gordon, according to sources, would be the rebuilding Mavericks, who have been eager to find a budding star to fill in alongside Harrison Barnes and Dennis Smith Jr., softening the blow of Dirk Nowitzki’s retirement, which could come in just months.

The Pacers intend to investigate restricted free agents, too, hoping to add young talent to an improving roster. Still, if any team makes a formal offer, the Magic can match it.

That the Suns are going after him says all you need to know about where they think the ceilings are for Marquese Chriss and Dragan Bender. The Suns will have a top draft pick again, and they are deep at the four right now, but Gordon is better than anyone not named Devin Booker on that roster and Phoenix needs talent.

There’s not a ton of available talent at the top of this free agent class. LeBron James is out there, but only a few teams have a shot at him — if he leaves Cleveland at all. If Paul George leaves Oklahoma City it’s only for Los Angeles. Chris Paul, Kevin Durant, and most likely DeMarcus Cousins are not going anywhere. The big name a lot of teams could chase is DeAndre Jordan, he is open, but also is an old-school center that does not work for every team.

Expect some teams to try to poach restricted free agents such as Gordon this summer (Clint Capela, Julius Randle, Jabari Parker are all big man restricted free agents). Gordon will have options, the only question is the price, and will Orlando match? The buzz around the league is they will, but things can be different when it’s time to sign the check.