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

Leave a comment

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.

Rumor: Dell Demps out, Joe Dumars in with Pelicans?

Allen Einstein/NBAE via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry is on shaky ground.

What about New Orleans general manager Dell Demps?

A long-swirling rumor is getting renewed.

Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders:

A few league sources peg the New Orleans Pelicans as a team that is going to make sweeping changes once their season ends in eight games.

The Pelicans have long been rumored to be the next stop for former Piston’s executive Joe Dumars, who is a Shreveport, Louisiana native and has close ties to the ownership and leadership of the Pelicans and Saints organization.

League sources said recently that Dumars has been active in the NBA front office circles, scouting players and reconnecting to the process.

Demps has done a lousy job building a supporting cast around Davis. Part of the reason trading for the risky DeMarcus Cousins made so much sense: The Pelicans were so underwhelming, they wouldn’t be much worse off if Cousins destroyed their culture and/or bolted in 2018 free agency.

But it’s not too late to salvage Davis’ tenure in New Orleans. He’s locked up for three more seasons, and Cousins is an extremely talented No. 2.

Is Dumars the right man to bring it all together?

He masterfully built the Pistons into the 2004 NBA champions. He also played an integral role in the team’s downfall.

Another factor: There appears to be a mutual respect between Cousins and Dumars, who coveted the big man since he was coming out of Kentucky. That could help the Pelicans re-sign Cousins in 2018.

Dumars’ success should get him general-manager job interviews, but his more-recent failings demand tough questions. I’m unconvinced the Pelicans are scrutinizing Dumars enough, and they’d probably benefit from a more-thorough search.

But Dumars might be a fine hire. Dumping Demps would at least be step in the right direction.

Maryland star Melo Trimble declares for NBA draft

Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
2 Comments

Maryland guard Melo Trimble declared for last year’s NBA draft but withdrew.

This time, he’s not turning back.

Don Markus of The Baltimore Sun:

Trimble, less than three weeks removed from finishing his junior season with the team’s first-round loss to Xavier in the NCAA tournament, announced Wednesday he will make himself available for the NBA draft.

Unlike a year ago, when Trimble went through the pre-draft process without signing with an agent and then decided to return to school hours before the deadline, the 6-foot-3 point guard will forego his senior season.

“The deciding factor was that I felt there was nothing more I could do,” Trimble told the Baltimore Sun from the Stamp Student Union during a lunch break. “I felt like I did everything I could for the program. We went to the [NCAA] tournament three years in a row, and I had the same amount of points three years in a row. I felt that if I wanted to hopefully get to the next level, I had to leave at this time.

Trimble’s scouting report hasn’t changed much in the last year. He’s a scoring guard whose size (6-foot-3) will require him to play point guard in the next level, but he hasn’t shown the necessary distributing skills.

The biggest difference: He’s now 22, not 21.

Trimble had a superb college career, but at this point, his range is second round to undrafted.

DeMarcus Cousins answers first several Kings-related questions same way (video)

Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
3 Comments

DeMarcus Cousins had a bitter exit from the Kings, but that won’t be the last they see of him.

Cousins’ Pelicans will host Sacramento tomorrow night.

Not that Cousins rushed to talk about the matchup.

Justin Verrier of ESPN:

Cousins is pretty funny when joking with the media, and his smile is contagious. Just listen to all the laughs Cousins generates as he goes through his shtick.

Bonus points to Cousins for eventually breaking down and providing real answers. Some of his relationships in Sacramento were clearly meaningful to him, and he wanted to acknowledge those — even if he’d prefer just to get past this awkward game and all the talk it invites.

Report: Sweet-shooting 7-footer Lauri Markkanen leaving Arizona for NBA draft

Ethan Miller/Getty Images
1 Comment

Lauri Markkanen is 7-foot and made 42% of his 3-pointers this season.

That combination alone will have NBA teams drooling, and the Arizona freshman will capitalize.

Evan Daniels of Scout:

Arizona’s Lauri Markkanen is declaring for the NBA Draft and is expected to sign with an agent, multiple sources told Scout.

Markkanen seems pretty certain to get picked in the lottery, likely in the top 10.

Calling him a good shooter for his height undersells him. It’s not just he shoots so efficiently from deep, it’s that he can generate 3-pointers in so many ways — pick-and-pops, spot-ups, off off-ball screens and even running pick-and-rolls himself. Having the height to shoot over defenders is his most noticeable asset, but don’t undersell his mobility.

Markkanen also finishes well at the rim and offensively rebounds at extremely impressive clip for someone who spends so much time on the perimeter. Those interior skills instill belief he will eventually become a suitable defender.

There are a couple red flags. He’s old for a freshman, turning 20 before the draft. He leaves plenty to be desired defensively, especially due to his lack of strength.

But his size and shooting are tantalizing. That’s plenty for now.