Baseline to Baseline recaps: Miami beat a good team handily… watch out

7 Comments

What you missed while reading the Incredible Hulk Buddhist twitter timeline…

Heat 111, Jazz 98: When LeBron James is the ball handler attacking the rim and Zydrunas Ilgauskas is setting the picks and knocking down the pick-and-pop jumpers, it is going to be tough to defend. Together they were 19-30 for 49 points. Wade had 28 points plus he got to the line 11 times and the Heat avenged an early season loss. Just 10 bench points for the Jazz. That’s six in a row for the Heat, all by double digits.

Bulls 88, Cavaliers 83: A blizzard of a snowstorm hit Cleveland in the early evening, one that tied up downtown Cleveland to the point that JJ Hickson, Anthony Parker and other Cavs barely made it to the arena on time for the game. Combine that kind of snow with a slumping team and the building was half full. Those that did come out saw the Cavs up with 30 seconds to go but Derrick Rose hit his big shots down the stretch while the Cavs missed theirs.

Celtics 105, Nuggets 89: Denver’s defense could not stop Boston with Rajon Rondo back in the lineup. Kevin Garnett was 8 of 9 for 17; Ray Allen was 9 of 14 for 28. They were just too efficient

Knicks 13, Raptors 110: Amar’e Stoudemire had 34 points, his sixth straight game with 30 or more. Also the sixth straight Knicks win. Coincidence? Raymond Felton with the dramatic step-back game winner.

Bucks 97, Pacers 95: Andrew Bogut tipped in the game winner off a Luc Richard Mbah a Moute pass with 0.5 seconds left to win — another reminder of how much the Bucks need Bogut on the floor. Indiana, when the game is on the line and only a tip-in works, play a zone. The Bucks shot just 36 percent in this one but their 19 offensive rebounds kept them in it.

Thunder 111, Timberwolves 103: Kevin Love had 22 points and 21 rebounds, and according to ESPN that is the fifth time he has had at least 20-20 this season — nobody else has done it twice. The Timberwolves led 40-22 after one then the Thunder started focusing on defense.

Spurs 111, Warriors 94: Stephen Curry tweaked his ankle and that made room for PBT favorite Reggie Williams to get on the floor and score 31. Doesn’t matter as the Spurs are just flat out better.

Hornets 93, Pistons 74: New Orleans wins the battle of basically ownerless teams. The Hornets shot 50 percent, the Pistons 37.5 percent, that’s your ballgame.

Grizzlies 104, Suns 98 (OT): The Suns could have had this in regulation, but a missed free throw and a catch-and-shoot corner three from Rudy Gay sent the game into overtime, where the Grizzlies thrived. Mike Conley had a career-high 14 assists while Steve Nash struggled against him (didn’t think I’d every write that sentence).

Lakers 87, Clippers 86: Derek Fisher is roughly 164 years old, is too slow defensively, is an inconsistent shooter and yet… game on the line he drives and hits the lefty scoop layup over two Clippers to win the game. That man is clutch. Eric Gordon almost made the game winning play at the other end just before. Second night of a back-to-back and Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom both played more than 40 minutes alternating at center — they need Bynum back before somebody just collapses.

Kings 116, Wizards 91: John Wall was a last-second scratch with a foot injury and Tyreke Evans looked hobbled going 3-9 shooting. But the rest of the Kings starters shot 60 percent against the Wizards porous defense to get the win.

Donovan Mitchell tells Thunder fans, Jazz teammates Utah not returning to Oklahoma City this season

AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki
Leave a comment

The Jazz blew a 25-point second-half lead in Game 5 last night, extending their series with the Thunder. Up 3-2, the Jazz are still in control. They can close out in Game 6 tomorrow in Utah. Blow that, and they must return to Oklahoma City for Game 7 Sunday.

But Utah rookie Donovan Mitchell is making it abundantly clear he doesn’t plan to do that.

Gabe Ikard of The Franchise 107.7:

Jake Edmonds of KUTV:

A confident proclamation that rallies his team or youthful exuberance run amok?

The narrative will be decided after Game 6. That’s just how this is done.

Report: Grizzlies moving toward keeping J.B. Bickerstaff as coach

AP Photo/Matt Slocum
1 Comment

From the moment Robert Pera opted to retain control of the Grizzlies and end a prolonged ownership saga, it seemed interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff would remain Memphis’ coach.

Lo and behold…

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

Bickerstaff did a decent job before the Grizzlies started tanking. But that was a small a sample, and his prior work as Rockets interim coach was uninspiring.

To be fair to Bickerstaff, those were both difficult situations. He’s an experienced assistant who might be ready for this challenge.

To be less fair to Bickerstaff, this looks like Memphis taking the cheap route. The Grizzlies didn’t appear to conduct much of a coaching search, if any. Nor has Bickerstaff been mentioned with other openings. It probably won’t cost as much to hire him as it would a more-established option.

Memphis seems to be operating under the belief that a healthy Mike Conley and Marc Gasol will right the ship next season. And they might. But given the age and injury history of those two, I wouldn’t assume they stay healthy and productive all season. Even if they do, they’d have to carry an underwhelming supporting cast – with limited room for upgrade this summer – in a deep Western Conference.

The Grizzlies want Bickerstaff, who’d be a first-time non-interim head coach, leading that team trying to win now? That doesn’t seem like the right risk-reward balance – at least until considering his salary, and even then.

Rumor: 76ers increasingly confident about signing LeBron James

AP Photo/Chris Szagola
17 Comments

LeBron James-76ers rumors have been mainstream for the better part of the year.

And they’re not going anywhere.

Marc Stein of The New York Times in his newsletter:

I now fully understand why whispers about the Philadelphia 76ers and their growing behind-the-scenes confidence that they can woo LeBron to Philly this summer are getting louder.

Why shouldn’t they be increasingly confident? Led by Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, the 76ers have already won a playoff series. The Cavaliers are mired in a tight first-round series with the Pacers, and LeBron’s supporting cast has mostly stunk.

This has the makings of LeBron’s previous free agencies – when he left barren Cleveland for Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh with the Heat in 2010, when he left aging Miami for Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love with the Cavaliers in 2014. Whatever motivations and narratives attached to LeBron’s decisions, he has left sinking teams for better-positioned ones.

The 76ers are good enough to fit that. They also have the cap flexibility to acquire him without sacrificing roster strength.

That LeBron has positioned himself as a mentor to Simmons – who shares an agent, Rich Paul, with LeBron – would only make signing with Philadelphia easier. LeBron could sell the narrative of teaching and grooming Simmons. LeBron, who cares about his legacy, must explain why he’s again leaving his hometown team in a way that won’t alienate everyone – not easy considering his homecoming message upon his return. Working first-hand with his protégé would look understandable, maybe even commendable.

All that said, growing confidence could be going from a 1% chance to a 10% chance. That’d be a 10-fold increase while leaving Philadelphia a big underdog.

LeBron’s free agency is still a huge unknown – including, at least in part, to LeBron himself. But I believe he has already started to consider options, even if he hasn’t made up his mind. And when that happens, signs could emerge behind the scenes. Perhaps, the 76ers have a read on those.

Or maybe they’re seeing what we’re all seeing: The 76ers are rising while the Cavs are just trying to keep their heads above water. Which situation would LeBron choose?

Victor Oladipo on his final shot: “It was a goaltend”

10 Comments

Ultimately, the NBA’s Last Two Minute Report will back up Victor Oladipo — it was a goaltend.

With the score tied 95-95 and just six seconds left in the game Wednesday night, Oladipo attacked LeBron James in isolation, and like so many before him thought he was past LeBron only to have a chase down block from behind end his bid — except video replays shows Oladipo laid the ball off the backboard a fraction of a second before LeBron blocked it. That makes it a goaltend, a defender cannot block a shot that has already touched the backboard. Check out the slow-mo video.

The officials didn’t call it that way on the court, and the play is only eligible for video review if a goaltend is called (to be fair to the officials, that was an incredibly close play that is very difficult to call in real time). From there, LeBron went on to hit the dramatic game-winning three that gave Cleveland the win and a 3-2 series lead.

After the game, Oladipo and his teammates were pissed about the no-call.

“I got a step on him,” Oladipo said via the Associated Press. “I felt like I even got grabbed on the way to the rim, tried to shoot a layup, it hit the backboard, then he blocked it. It was a goaltend. It’s hard to even speak on it. It just sucks, honestly. It really sucks. Even though we fought our way back, we tied the game up, that layup was huge.

“Give him credit where credit is due. The three was big-time. Definitely huge. But who’s to say they even run that play? We don’t know what happens. It’s unfortunate. It really sucks that they missed that.”

LeBron didn’t see it that way.

“Of course I didn’t think it was a goaltend. I try to make plays like that all the time and I mean he made a heck of a move, got me leaning right and he went left and I just tried to use my recovery speed and get back up there and make a play on the ball. And I was able to make a play.”

We’ll see what the Last Two Minute Report says, but to my eyes that was a goaltend, it clearly comes off the backboard.

That call is also not why Indiana lost. If Pacers’ fans want to place blame, Oladipo going 2-of-15 on the night was a bigger issue. Or Darren Collison having an off night and going 1-of-5 from the floor. Or maybe it’s just the fact that LeBron James is the best player in the game and can drop 44 on the Pacers — including the three that may well have made the goaltend moot anyway — and Indiana can’t stop it. One call late does not by itself decide a 48-minute game.

But it was a goaltend.