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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.

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

OAKLAND, CA - FEBRUARY 6: Kevin Durant #35 of the Oklahoma City Thunder attempts a free throw against the Golden State Warriors on February 6, 2016 at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California. 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 Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2016 NBAE (Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)
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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.

Nikola Vucevic hits fade-away game winner for Magic against Hawks

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The Hawks almost came back and won this — Atlanta went on an 8-0 run in the final minutes to tie the game at 94-94 with Orlando. The Magic had one last chance with 2.2 seconds left.

Nikola Vucevic nailed it.

Can’t blame Al Horford‘s defense on this one, he pushed Vucevic out and contested the shot. But in a make-or-miss league Vucevic nailed the game winner, Orlando wins 96-94.

If that looks familiar, Vucevic knocked down pretty much the same shot against the Lakers earlier this season.

LeBron James on Super Bowl: “Got to go with the Carolina Panthers”

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, right, embraces Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James after the Cavaliers defeated the Charlotte Hornets in an NBA basketball game Friday, Nov. 27, 2015 in Charlotte, N.C. The Cavaliers won 95-90. (AP Photo/Nell Redmond)
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We know Stephen Curry — who spent many of his formative years in Charlotte and still thinks of the city as his hometown — is all in on the Carolina Panthers today against the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl 30.

On this, he and LeBron James agree.

LeBron sounded like the politically cautious, image-conscious version of himself at the start of this quote from Uninterrupted on Facebook, but as he gets going, you can quickly see who he wants in this game (hat tip Eye on Basketball).

“I don’t know if I quite got a prediction but I definitely want to see a great Super Bowl,” James said in the video. “But if it was a life and death situation and I had to choose one team and one player, I got to go with Killah Cam. Got to go with the Carolina Panthers, they’ve been playing the most consistent football all year round. Both offensively, defensively and special teams. Got to go with Cam and one of my boys plays for them too as well, Ted Ginn Jr., that’s been showing out all year as well.

“No disrespect to the Broncos. I love their team. They got the legend at quarterback, they got that defense that’s out of control. They got some receivers that be balling out as well. They’re really well coached as well and that’s the reason they are in the Super Bowl. But I’m rolling with the Carolina Panthers today.”

A lot of NBA players like the way Cam Newton plays — with exuberance, wearing his heart on his sleeve, dancing and celebrating. That’s how Curry and LeBron and other NBA players want to play their game, and they feel reined in by the league. They relate to Cam Newton and the ridiculous role model/celebration debate.

We’ll see how much celebrating the Denver defense lets Newton do.