Baseline to Baseline recaps: George Karl has won some games

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What you missed while wondering what is the best tattoo ever

Nuggets 123, Raptors 116: Congrats to George Karl on the win — his 1,000th. A well deserved honor for a personal favorite. Aside that, Carmelo Anthony sat an the Nuggets still won on the road, which tells you all you need to know about where these two teams are headed.

Bull 88, Lakers 84: Chicago started 6 of 29 from the floor and the Lakers were up double-digits early after a 14-0 run. But when the Laker reserves came in the extra pass stopped, creating offense off the dribble started and the Bulls turned those misses into transition opportunities. Chicago — Luol Deng leading the way — did a good job on Kobe, he was just 9 of 23 shooting and he got to the line just six times. Not a great game from LA, but people the Bulls may be for real.

Pacers 100, Bobcats 92: Indiana controlled the tempo of this game and that was the key, Indiana wants to run and the Bobcats are methodical. Indiana won that battle. It was an old-school win for the Pacers in that they seemed to make the little hustle plays that coaches loved all game long. All that and, well, the Pacers shot better.

Thunder 97, Hornets 92: The Thunder really got this win in the third quarter when they battled back from down 9 to take the lead, although the mid fourth quarter 10-4 run didn’t hurt. Actually, I take it back because the fourth quarter was so much fun with Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook going at it I would not have wanted to change anything before it With the game on the line in the fourth Russell Westbrook had 8, Kevin Durant had 6 and 4 assists.

Knicks 101, Wizards 95: Landry Fields? I saw the guy in college and he was a nice player and all, but where did this Landry Fields come from? Anyway, he had 9 points in the fourth quarter, some guy named Amare Stoudemire pitched in 8 and the Knicks have won 7 in a row. That said, one sloppy, ugly game.

Timberwolves 109, Pistons 99: The Timberwolves won, you should watch this video to celebrate.

Spurs 108, Hawks 92: It’s too early to be asking this, really, but we’re going to anyway: Could the Spurs beat the Lakers in the West? I want to say no, and the Lakers are not 100 percent yet, but the Spurs impress me more and more every time I see them. Of course, the Hawks started Jason Collins at center tonight, so there is your counterbalance.

Bucks 97, Rockets 91: The Bucks looked more cohesive and they looked, well, like the Bucks we expected this season. Andrew Bogut with 24 points and 22 rebounds.

Portland 101, Suns 94: This was the best Brandon Roy has looked in a long time, the best the Blazers have looked — the shooting, the ball movement. Everything. Some credit goes to Portland, some goes the terrible Suns defense for helping out.

Jazz 107, Magic 94: Stan Van Gundy put Brandon Bass in to start at the four, which strikes us as a smart because of the matchups. Not that it helped during this one. Orlando has some issues, Utah has Deron Williams.

Heat 106, Warriors 94: The Heat are running more, they are dangerous when they run. Frankly they are the best team in the league in transition. The Warriors want to run (less than the Don Nelson days, but they run). So the Warriors played right into the hands of the Heat. That went about like you’d expect.

Blazers beat Lakers 97-81, tie Denver for final spot in West

Associated Press
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LOS ANGELES (AP) — Damian Lillard scored 22 points and the Portland Trail Blazers beat the Los Angeles Lakers 97-81 on Sunday night to pull even with Denver in the race for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

Both the Blazers and Nuggets are 35-38 with nine games left in the regular season. They play each other Tuesday in Portland.

Denver lost at home to the New Orleans Pelicans earlier Sunday night.

Portland took control by outscoring the Lakers 37-24 in the third quarter and led by as many as 26 points. Los Angeles shot 39 percent from the field and was outrebounded 61-42.

Allen Crabbe added 18 points off the bench for the Blazers, and Noah Vonleh grabbed 14 rebounds.

D'Angelo Russell led the Lakers with 22 points, and reserve Tyler Ennis scored 14.

Portland led 40-32 at the break after an unsightly half in which the teams took turns struggling from the field. At halftime, both were shooting exactly 32.6 percent.

The Lakers won their previous game against the Timberwolves but have won consecutive games only once since mid-November.

TIP-INS

Trail Blazers: Shot 62.4 percent against Minnesota on Saturday, their best mark since hitting 64.1 percent on March 12, 2003. Coming into Sunday, they had shot 50.6 percent over their last five games.

Lakers: Rookie forward Brandon Ingram, who started the previous 19 games and averaged 12.1 points on 48.4 percent shooting, did not play because of right patellar tendinitis. Said coach Luke Walton: “He was out there warming up and it’s not right.” Corey Brewer got his first start for the Lakers.

 

Watch Russell Westbrook drop a triple-double in epic battle with James Harden (VIDEO)

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HOUSTON (AP) Lou Williams scored 31 points off the bench, James Harden finished with 22 points and 12 assists, and the Houston Rockets never trailed while cruising to a 137-125 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday.

Russell Westbrook had 39 points, 11 rebounds and 13 assists for his second straight triple-double and his 36th this season, but Harden led the Rockets to a 25-point lead through three quarters in the matchup between top MVP candidates.

Trevor Ariza and Eric Gordon added 24 points apiece for the Rockets, whose lead was trimmed to eight on a 3-pointer by Westbrook with about 90 seconds left. The Rockets scored four quick points after that to secure the victory.

Harden left late in the game after crashing into the court and appearing to injure his left wrist but said in a TV interview he expected to be OK.

Houston jumped out to a 9-0 lead and was up by at least 20 for most of the game. It was a stark change from the first three games between these teams this season, which were decided by a combined seven points.

Williams made 11 of 15 shots, going 7 of 8 on 3-pointers. He didn’t miss a shot until his layup was blocked by Jerami Grant early in the fourth quarter.

Houston won its fourth straight overall and has won nine of their past 12 games against the Thunder.

The Rockets shot 71 percent in the first half, and Harden made a layup before grabbing a rebound and hitting a 3-pointer at the buzzer to extend Houston’s lead to 113-88 entering the fourth quarter.

The Thunder chipped away with a 12-4 run midway through the fourth quarter to get within 126-114 with 4 minutes left. Williams hit a 3-pointer after that to slow down the Thunder the team’s late run.

The Rockets had a 16-point lead in the third quarter before they used a 13-4 run to make it 108-83 with about 90 seconds left in the quarter. Williams had two 3-pointers in that stretch and a highlight came when Houston stripped the ball from Westbrook and Harden dished to Ariza, who finished with another 3. The run wrapped up with an alley-oop dunk from Harden to Clint Capela, but Capela received a technical on the play for hanging on the rim.

Mike D’Antoni received a technical seconds later for arguing that call.

Houston had built a 79-59 lead by halftime thanks in part to nearly perfect 3-point shooting by Trevor Ariza and Williams. Ariza made four of five attempts and had 16 points at the break, and Williams was a perfect 6 for 6 overall, with four 3-pointers to pile up 18 points in the first two quarters.

TIP-INS

Thunder: Victor Oladipo finished with 15 points. … Steven Adams and Alex Abrines scored 11 points apiece.

Rockets: Houston’s 79 points were the most the team has scored in a half this season. … Sunday was the 12th time this season where the Rockets had 100 points before the fourth quarter. … Williams had at least 20 points off the bench for the 29th time this season.

ANDERSON’S HEALTH

Houston’s Ryan Anderson will miss about two weeks after spraining his right ankle on Friday night against the Pelicans. D’Antoni hopes Anderson will recover in time to play the last couple of regular-season games and be at full strength for the start of the playoffs.

UP NEXT

Thunder: Visit Dallas on Monday.

Rockets: Host Golden State on Tuesday.

Watch every one of Jimmy Butler’s career-high 14 assists in win over Bucks (VIDEO)

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Chicago Bulls star Jimmy Butler seems to be thriving without backcourt teammate Dwyane Wade. On Sunday in a win against the Milwaukee Bucks, Butler dished out a career-high 14 assists to go along with 20 points, six rebounds, and three steals.

Butler, 27, helped Chicago to a 109-94 win over the Bucks. He looked good doing it, dropping dimes off of both the pick-and-roll and while coming off screens.

The NBA put together a handy little video to be able to check out all of Butler’s assists.

Clippers blow 18-point lead, lose in final 2 seconds on putback to Kings (VIDEO)

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The Los Angeles Clippers had a rough go of things against the Sacramento Kings on Sunday. Up by 18 with more than five minutes to go, LA blew their lead and were left to watch as the Kings sealed the game late.

The final possession for Sacramento came on a missed corner 3-pointer by Clippers guard Jamal Crawford. The Kings got the outlet pass out on the rebound, but Ben McLemore took it to the rack and missed. That’s when Willie Cauley-Stein stepped in, cleaned up the board, and put the game-winning shot home with less than two seconds left.

Los Angeles lost in spectacular fashion, and became the only team this season to lose given their game situation.

Here’s a compilation the NBA put together of Sacramento’s epic comeback:

Meanwhile, Chris Paul called it the worst regular season loss of his career.

The Clippers peaked too soon. Like, the first 20 games of the season too soon.