Baseline to Baseline recaps: Carlos Boozer is back. Rusty, but back.

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What you missed while wondering how a woman in Spain got to own the sun

Russell Westbrook owned the Nets once it got to the third overtime in our Game of the Night.

Magic 107, Bulls 78: Finally Carlos Boozer returns and looked…well, like a guy who hasn’t played competitive basketball in two months and now has a pad on his shooting hand. Do that against a very good defensive team like the Magic and you get this result.

Boozer looked tentative — and so did Derrick Rose early. Rose has carried the Bulls to a 9-6 record coming into this game but seemed to be looking for Boozer in the first half. It made him tentative, and the Bulls offense needs to attack to be successful. When Boozer did get the rock a couple times he had the ball slip out of his hand as he adjusted to the pad on his shooting hand.

There were a couple nailed jumpers from the elbow, flashes of what will come, but in this game the Bulls were unbalanced. Can’t do that against the Magic, even if they are without JJ Redickdue to the flu and Mikael Pietrus catching the bug from him and leaving the game to throw up in the locker room.

Rockets 109, Lakers 99: Shane Battier outdueled Kobe Bryant down the stretch. Not just defensively, he was the Rockets primary scorer down the stretch. The Lakers were up six with six minutes left when Battier ran off 11 straight points to give the Rockets the lead.

Pau Gasol looked bad in this one — the Lakers finally got him the ball but his shot was off, plus he was slow to rotate on defense. He had some hamstring issues in the third quarter, a reminder why the Lakers needed to keep his minutes down. That is four losses in a row for the Lakers (this one on the second night of a road back-to-back against a team that always plays them tough). No Phil Jackson championship team has ever lost four in a row. Just putting that out there.

Clippers 90, Spurs 85: To borrow one from Chick Hearn, the Spurs couldn’t throw a pea in the ocean. The Clippers defense was fine, but the Spurs got plenty of good open looks, the kind they have knocked down all season. Not Wednesday. The Spurs shot 35.6 percent overall and missed 21 threes. Just one of those nights. Credit the Clippers for taking advantage and snapping an 18-game losing streak to San Antonio. Blake Griffin had 31.

Raptors 127, Wizards 108: John Wall returned to action and came off the bench, scoring 19 and adding 8 assists. He wasn’t the problem, the Wizards starters looking flat and Gilbert Arenas going 1 of 10 shooting were. Speaking of rookies, Raptors first round pick Ed Davis made his NBA debut and looked solid — 11 points on 5 of 7 shooting.

Hawks 112, Grizzlies 109: Not a lot of great defense in this one, the Hawks shot 53.2 percent and were 7 of 12 from three. For Memphis, Mike Conley was 10 of 13 shooting for the second night in a row and had 22 in the loss — he is playing well. Like a guy who deserved a new deal well.

Celtics 99, Trail Bazers 95: Boston shot a ridiculous 57.1 percent in this one. You win a lot of games when you shoot like that, even if it takes a late Ray Allen three to secure it. Paul Pierce had 28 on 9 of 11 shooting.

Hornets 89, Bobcats 73: This one was close until the Bobcats scored just 11 points in the fourth quarter. Not a pretty game, sloppy by both teams and at a slow pace.

Mavericks 100, Timberwolves 86: Dallas is the better team, they were up nine after one quarter and cruised from there. Not much to see here.

Nuggets 105, Bucks 94: Second straight game Carmelo Anthony didn’t stick around for the end. Last game it was the flu, this time he started arguing a non call with 2:40 left in the third, got a technical and got tossed (Melo leads the league with 7 techs now). Didn’t matter, by then the Nuggets had this one in control.

Jazz 110, Pacers 88: Second night of a road back-to-back and the Pacers looked the part. Utah was up 18 points after one quarter, grabbed 19 offensive rebounds and pretty much did whatever they wanted.

Report: Celtics focused on adding All-Star-caliber frontcourt player

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Isaiah Thomas said he he’d happily forgo a renegotiation-and-extension if the Celtics use their cap space to upgrade their roster.

Where are they looking?

A. Sherrod Blakey of CSN New England:

Multiple league sources have told CSNNE.com in recent weeks that the Celtics are focused on landing an All-Star caliber talent in the frontcourt.

In the last three years, 22 frontcourt players have been All-Stars. Boston already has one: Al Horford. Could the Celtics land any of the other 22?

Almost certainly unavailable

Free agency

Trade

Free agency or trade

  • Pau Gasol (Though Gasol said he’d opt in, San Antonio might try pushing him out to pursue Paul. If Gasol opts in, the Spurs could also trade him to clear space for Paul.)
  • Dirk Nowitzki (The Mavericks have a $25 million team option on Nowitzki for next season. Nowitzki going to Boston, via trade or free agency, would probably require a mutual agreement between Dallas and him that pursuing a title elsewhere is the right way for him to end his career.)

Report: Spurs exploring Chris Paul pursuit

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The Clippers are taking the Chris Paul-to-Spurs rumors seriously.

And apparently so are the Spurs.

Marc Stein of ESPN:

The San Antonio Spurs are exploring the feasibility of making a free-agent run at All-Star point guard Chris Paul, league sources told ESPN.

San Antonio must complete three difficult objectives to land Paul:

  • Clear cap space. Even if they trim their roster to Kawhi Leonard, LaMarcus Aldridge, Pau Gasol, Danny Green and Tony Parker, the Spurs would still have to dump two of them to clear max room. Can they convince Gasol to reverse course and opt out, maybe re-signing at a major discount? Would they trade Parker, who has meant so much to the franchise? Would they deal Aldridge or Green, players who would make major contributions to a Leonard/Paul-led team?
  • Convince Paul to accept a projected max of $152 million over four years rather than the projected $205 million he could get over five years from the Clippers. Although the annual difference is just $3 million and Paul could sign another deal in four years, it’s unlikely he recoups that at age 36.
  • Convince Paul to leave big-market L.A. for small-market San Antonio. Remember, Paul forced his way from small-market New Orleans then ascended into one of the NBA’s biggest endorsement stars.

The Spurs boast a fantastic basketball culture, and Leonard and Popovich make great partners in a championship chase. There are reasons San Antonio is gaining traction with Paul.

But there’s still a lot for the Spurs to overcome. Will they? At least they’re trying rather than just dismissing the plot as unfeasible.

Cleveland GM David Griffin: “I hope everybody says we have no chance”

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The Golden State Warriors are heavy favorites to win the NBA title. According to bovda.lv, bet $100 on the Warriors to win the title and you get $41.7 dollars. Bet $100 on the Cavaliers and you get $200. And that number is likely to get worse for Warriors fans.

The Cavaliers are okay with that. They like being the underdogs. Look at what GM David Griffin said in a televised interview after they eliminated the Celtics in Game 5, via Cleveland.com.

“I hope everybody says we have no chance,” General Manager David Griffin said during a TV interview following the Cavaliers’ 135-102 win Thursday night against the Boston Celtics, clinching a third straight NBA Finals appearance.

“Obviously the team we’re playing is as good as you can possibly put together, it’s going to be an unbelievable battle for us, but I think [the Cavs] love battling together. The greater the odds, the better we seem to play together. We really do rally around each other in that sense.”

There is some truth to that.

There’s also a difference between that truth and slowing Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant. How the Cavaliers are going to do that will be the interesting part of these playoffs.

Detroit’s Van Gundy honored for cooperation with media, fans

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AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) — Stan Van Gundy of the Detroit Pistons has won the Rudy Tomjanovich Award, which honors an NBA coach for his cooperation with media and fans, as well as excellence on the court.

The Professional Basketball Writers Association announced the winner Friday. Van Gundy was one of five finalists for the award. The others were Steve Clifford of the Charlotte Hornets, Mike D’Antoni of the Houston Rockets, David Fizdale of the Memphis Grizzlies and Brad Stevens of the Boston Celtics.

Dwane Casey of the Toronto Raptors won the award last season.