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.

Draymond Green goes down, Rockets rally to spoil Warriors ring night 122-121

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Draymond Green is not the best player on the Warriors. He’s third or fourth best, depending on what you think of him vs. Klay Thompson.

But Draymond Green is the most important Warrior — what they do defensively does not work without him (and their small ball playmaking suffers as well). Without him, the Warriors are not the same.

That was on full display Tuesday night in the season opener — the night the Warriors got their 31-diamond rings and the latest banner went up at Oracle Arena. Green tweaked his knee in the third quarter landing off a shot and did not play in the fourth, and that’s when the Rockets outscored the Warriors 34-20 to come from behind and steal a win, 122-121.

Green was diagnosed with a “knee strain” and was walking around after the game without a cast/boot/crutches, although with a slight limp according to reports. He said this is nothing serious, although don’t be shocked if the Warriors give him another game or two off to rest it.

Kevin Durant almost saved the day for Golden State with a baseline jumper as time expired — the referees called it good, but an official review showed the ball was still in his hands when the buzzer went off.

James Harden had 27 points and 10 assists to lead the Rockets. However, the real story was their revamped bench outplaying the Golden State bench — Eric Gordon looked like the sixth man of the year with 24 points, P.J. Tucker had 20 and shot 4-of-6 from three, and Luc Mbah a Moute added 14.

The Rockets made their final push with Chris Paul sitting on the bench. CP3 sat the final four-and-a-half minutes of the game, and the Rockets thrived with Gordon, Harden and an old-school (meaning, like last season) offense. After the game, coach Mike D’Antoni said that Paul was out there “playing on one leg” due to his knee problem, and Paul could miss more time.

Golden State was also without Andre Iguodala, who tweaked his back lifting weights over the weekend, according to coach Steve Kerr. Not having Green or Iguodala hurt the Warriors defense, especially against an elite offensive team.

Surprisingly, Nick Young led the Warriors with 23 points off the bench, hitting 6-of-7 from three. Stephen Curry added in 22, Kevin Durant scored 20 and Klay Thompson 16. However, in the fourth quarter the Warriors big three of Durant, Curry, and Thompson were 5-of-14 from the floor and 2-of-7 from three. Curry could not find the range.

Last season the Spurs blew the Warriors out by 29 on opening night, and the Warriors bounced back to win 67 games and the NBA title. Nobody should read too much into an opening night win. But for a Rockets team with dreams of challenging these Warriors in May, this is a good confidence boost to start the season.

Kevin Durant’s game winner waived off, he didn’t get shot off in time

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With Draymond Green sidelined after tweaking his knee in the third quarter, the Houston Rockets were able to make a dramatic fourth-quarter comeback and upset the Golden State.

But Kevin Durant almost saved the game for the Warriors.

Down one with 10 seconds to go, the Warriors were able to get Stephen Curry a good look at a three but he missed it. The ball was volleyballed around a little, and Durant got a hold of it and took a 15-footer along the baseline that the referees on the court ruled a game-winner — but when reviewed it left his hand a fraction of a second too late.

It was the right call. And this is a big boost for the Rockets as they try to find their identity going into a long season.

 

The Warriors’ championship rings have 31 diamonds in them (VIDEO)

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Tuesday night meant the return of NBA basketball, and of course what we all wanted to see: the Golden State Warriors.

In the second game of the evening, the Warriors squared off against the Houston Rockets. Before the teams tipped, the Warriors received their championship rings in front of their hometown crowd at Oracle Arena.

Wearing special Nike hoodies with the phrase “The Champions” on the back, the Warriors received their rings to a standing ovation.

Perhaps the best part of the ceremony was finding out the official gemstone count in the rings. According to Sports Illustrated’s Ben Golliver, the rings have 31 diamonds in them.

Via Twitter:

Hmm. 31.

3-1.

3-1 lead.

Nope, doesn’t ring a bell.

Report: Cavaliers ditched Kyrie Irving tribute video idea vs. Celtics

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It was the first game for Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving back in Cleveland against the Cavaliers on Tuesday night. Irving spent the first six years of his career in Cleveland before being traded to the Celtics over the summer.

Of course, there was no love lost between the two teams nor between Cavaliers fans and Irving. Boston won the opening tip which Irving gathered, prompting a round of boos from the audience at The Q.

Perhaps more interesting was that the Cavaliers had a tribute video lined up for Irving but decided not to run it.

According to multiple reports, the video was set to run during a floating point in the game, but the operations folks in Cleveland never found the right time.

Another report from Cleveland.com has said that the aforementioned video had set off a few Cavaliers players.

Via Cleveland.com:

According to team spokesman Tad Carper, multiple Cavs officials, including majority owner Dan Gilbert, chose not to show the video because “we were expecting to run it at a floating opportunity based on the right moment, and we felt that moment never presented itself.”

Carper said the decision to cancel the video was not “directly” tied to the gruesome ankle injury to Celtics guard Gordon Hayward with 6:50 left in the first quarter, either.

A source with direct knowledge of Cavs’ players thinking told cleveland.com that several inside the Cleveland locker room were upset Monday upon hearing that a video was planned.

The video would have upset some inside the Cleveland locker room? I wonder which ones.