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.

Michael Beasley: “I’m literally just Carmelo on the left side of the floor”

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Michael Beasley recently signed a one-year contract with the New York Knicks for the veteran minimum. Hopefully, this is just the start of an interesting year with the Knicks. I think you know what I mean.

Speaking to reporters this week, Beasley had lots to say about his potential new role with New York, his interplay with Carmelo Anthony, and his new weight loss.

Specifically, Beasley spoke of how long he had known Anthony and how much he had mimicked his game off of the star on the left side of the floor, saying, “If you watch my game, really watch my game, my jab series, all that, I’m literally just Carmelo on the left side of the floor.”

Since Kevin Durant has apparently set the offseason tone for athletes being frank with reporters, Beasley did say that he was not as great on help side defense as he could’ve been in recent years. However, he said that he wasn’t as bad as people made about to be, and it appears he is going to try to make that something to focus on this season.

Beasley has also lost about 20 pounds — it appears he has cut out sugar and red meats — but the most interesting thing he said to ESPN’s Ian Begley was about his offensive production.

Via ESPN:

“I’ve came in and out of this league. Every year my per-36 [minute average] has been top of the league. And still everybody looks at me as a bust. I just want an opportunity to play more than 15 minutes. And you know if I play more than 15 minutes I’m going to score more than 15 points. And if I can do that for 82 games, that’s an All-Star level. I don’t know. I’m just talking. I just want an opportunity to play basketball. I just want the respect I deserve. Not for what I can do in the future but what I’ve done in the past. And I just want a fair opportunity, a fair chance, a fair shot to play basketball.”

It’s not immediately clear what kind of fair shake Beasley wants here. True, he played less than 30 games in two of his last three seasons in the NBA. However, that was preceded by six seasons of at least 47 games a year. We do know who he is at this point in time, and there is a large swath of game tape and statistics that can be analyzed to prove it.

It is also interesting that Beasley brought up his per-36 numbers. It’s true that Beasley has been an okay scorer when looking at those numbers out of context. But per-36 numbers are not a direct correlary to how effective a player is on the floor. Indeed, even when he was playing starter-level minutes, Beasley’s best numerical seasons are spread all over the place when you take a look at his per-36 production.

Meanwhile, Beasley has had only one season out of nine where he had a positive value over a replacement player. That was his sophmore season with the Miami Heat at 0.2. Five of those seasons he’s taken a larger percentage of his shots from 16 feet to just inside the 3-point line than he has from 0-3 feet. He’s a career 39% shooter on those long jumpers, and 63.5% from that close-in range.

Would it be great if Michael Beasley somehow turned into a strong driving, hard rebounding, diving and passing pick and roll man? Yes. That is exactly what this Knicks team — and any team, frankly — could use.

For now, it appears it’s more likely we end up with the Beasley who says he is a carbon copy of Carmelo — long 2s and all.

Goran Dragic holds back tears after Drazen Petrovic’s mother gives Slovenian star his jersey

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It’s been a big week for Slovenian star Goran Dragic.

First, he led the Slovenian national team to the 2017 Eurobasket championship over Serbia, winning the gold medal.

Then, the Miami Heat point guard announced that he would be retiring from the Slovenian national team. Shortly thereafter, we learned that something special had taken place between Dragic and the mother of former NBA player Drazen Petrović.

Specifically, Biserka Petrović sent over her son’s New Jersey Nets kit as a gift for Dragic.

Via Sportando and SiolNET:

“It is one of the most beautiful gifts I’ve ever received in my life” Dragic told Siol. “He was my idol. We all know what he did for Yugoslavia and the basketball world. It was a great honor for me to wear the jersey no.3” Dragic added.

Petrović, who played for the Nets and the Portland Trail Blazers in the NBA, died in a car accident in Germany in June of 1993. He is considered a sports hero in the successor states that make up the former Yugoslavia, including Slovenia.

You can watch Dragic receiving the jersey and his reaction in the video above. The video does not have English subtitles, but you can clearly see the emotion in his eyes and it’s pretty powerful.

Kevin Durant admits after decision to leave OKC he felt “f—— up”

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Anyone who has made a major, life-changing decision has been there — you make the call, take the steps, commit yourself to the new plan, and then start to wonder “what did I just do?”

Hopefully, usually, the decision works out. It did for Kevin Durant when he chose to leave Oklahoma City for Golden State. However, not only did he have the normal doubts the rest of us had, he had a nation on basketball Twitter ridiculously slamming him for “taking the easy way” to a title.

Durant talked about it in a feature in San Francisco Magazine, along with his agent Rich Kleiman (a story mostly dedicated to KD’s tech investments, which in and of itself is interesting).

(Durant) and Kleiman were in China for a weeklong tour of the country sponsored by Nike Basketball, and the flak he was taking from people in Oklahoma City who had once professed deep affection for him was overwhelming. “To have so many people just say, ‘F— you,’ that really does it to you,” Durant tells me, still clearly anguished. “Because I truly had invested everything I had into the people I played for…. And for those people that I know and love and trust to turn their back on me after I was fully invested in them, it was just…more than I could take. I was upset….

“That was before I met anybody from the Warriors and dove into the culture. I was basically on my own,” Durant says. “It was like you were in between two teams.”….

“We were all messed up on jet lag,” Kleiman says, turning to me, “and I was up at 6 a.m. and he calls me and says, ‘Yo, are you up?’ And I’m like, ‘Yeah, what’s up?’ And he’s like [yelling], ‘Why the f— did you let me do this to my life?’ And I’m like, ‘Ohh s—, I’m coming over to your room.’”

“That hotel was rock bottom,” says Durant.

Durant’s haters will read into this whatever they want, and the world should look at them and shrug (unfortunately, Durant does not).

I’m impressed that he opened up about this. To me, this makes him more human and relatable because we’ve all had doubts after making a life-changing decision. You know LeBron James has, but he’s not going to let that show. Durant allowed himself to be vulnerable, to show this was not an easy decision for him. It was emotional.

Granted, it’s easier to do that when in a few weeks Durant will put on a championship ring. His decision worked out. Still, good on him for talking about it.

Tyronn Lue says Cavs will stick with LeBron, Love, Tristan Thompson as starters

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With the acquisition of Jae Crowder, a theory started to pop up among Cavaliers observers: Could they go small?

The idea is to start Kevin Love at center, LeBron James at the four, and Crowder at the three — that’s a mobile front line with a couple good defenders and the ability to switch a lot. It provides more options on offense and spaces the floor. Then the Cavs could bring Tristan Thompson off the bench.

That’s not going to happen, at least to start the season, according to Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue, speaking to Joe Varden of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

“Right now we’re just trying to get all of our pieces together and right now Tristan’s our starter,” Lue told cleveland.com. “I’m just thinking we’re going to run a lot more stuff through Kevin, more at the elbows, like we’ve done the last year and a half. Just trying to figure out with our new pieces and our new players and just see what works best for us.”

Thompson brings value and defense to the starting lineup, Cleveland needs that.

I could see a lineup of Isaiah Thomas (once healthy), J.R. Smith or Kyle Korver at the two, Crowder, LeBron, and Love working in sort of the way Steve Kerr uses his “death lineup” — just put it on the court for 10-15 minutes a night as a change of pace teams can’t adapt to. Use it in key moments to pull away, and in crunch time as needed. Golden State starts Zaza Pachulia, and Thompson is certainly the better of those bigs.

Lue has a lot of rotation decisions to make this season, both before Thomas gets back on the court and after. How to work the trio of Jeff Green, Crowder, and Kover off the bench is just one of them. With Irving gone a lot of options become available, and that should mean a lot of experimentation the first part of the season. Lue is and should be willing to sacrifice some wins now to see what works down the line, because for the Cavaliers the season doesn’t really start until mid-April.