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Baseline to Baseline recaps: George Karl has won some games

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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.

Spurs honor Kobe Bryant in his last game in San Antonio (VIDEO)

LOS ANGELES - MARCH 30:  Kobe Bryant #8 of the Los Angeles Lakers stands next to Tim Duncan #21 of the San Antonio Spurs on March 30, 2006 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.  The Spurs won 96-85. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
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The Kobe Bryant farewell tour has gone all around the NBA, but some stops are more emotional than others. His final trip to San Antonio certainly qualifies — the Spurs and Lakers have played each other in the playoffs eight times in his career, including twice in the Western Conference Finals (the Lakers won both times). The only player who has rivaled Bryant’s longevity is Tim Duncan, and the Lakers and Spurs were the two most dominant teams of the 2000s, winning nine of the 12 championships from 1999 to 2010 between them.

So, of course, the Spurs had an elaborate tribute video planned for Bryant. The video ran two and a half minutes and featured narration from Gregg Popovich, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili. Watch it below:

Report: Clippers’ Austin Rivers has broken hand, out 4-6 weeks

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 29:  Austin Rivers #25 of the Los Angeles Clippers scores on a layup past D'Angelo Russell #1 of the Los Angeles Lakers during a 105-93 win at Staples Center on January 29, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and condition of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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The Clippers are without Blake Griffin for the next few weeks as he recovers from a broken hand stemming from an altercation with an equipment manager. Now, the Clippers have lost backup point guard Austin Rivers to the exact same injury, albeit not in the same circumstances, obviously.

The loss of Rivers isn’t as devastating as the loss of Griffin, but given the Clippers’ lack of depth, it’s certainly not ideal. Now, Chris Paul‘s only backup is Pablo Prigioni.

Warriors hold off late Thunder run to remain undefeated at home

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For once, a marquee matchup involving the Golden State Warriors lived up to its billing. Their much-hyped meetings with the Cleveland Cavaliers and San Antonio Spurs were anticlimactic blowouts nearly free of drama. And for the first half on Saturday night’s 116-108 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder, it seemed like the defending champions were headed for another snoozer. They led by as much as 20, and completely outmatched the Thunder on both ends of the floor.

But the Thunder rallied behind a surprising defensive effort in the second half and some solid play from Enes Kanter. Plus, you know, Kevin Durant, who led all scorers with 40 points and gave the normally unflappable Draymond Green fits defensively. They tied the game at 104 before Golden State pulled away.

Despite the huge first-half lead, the Warriors weren’t their usual selves. Stephen Curry shot 1-for-8 from behind the three-point line, and triple-double machine Draymond Green scored just nine points. Golden State’s most consistent player was Harrison Barnes, who has probably read the speculation that the Warriors would have to dump him to land Durant this summer. He hit three three-pointers and shot 8-for-14 overall on the way to 19 points.

The Warriors’ bench carried them for stretches, outscoring Oklahoma City’s reserves 42-17.

Despite the Thunder’s late run, this was a statement win for the Warriors. They sent the message that, even when they aren’t in total control from start to finish, they can still pull away from other elite teams. The Thunder have given them the toughest challenge of any team they’ll likely have to face in the late rounds of the playoffs this spring, and it’s to their credit that they took the first-half punch and came back to make it a game. But the Warriors are on a different level from the rest of the league, and they showed that clearly on Saturday.

Kevin Durant brushes off free-agency speculation: “Once that time comes, I’ll make that decision”

OAKLAND, CA - JANUARY 05:  Kevin Durant #35 of the Oklahoma City Thunder drives on Harrison Barnes #40 of the Golden State Warriors at ORACLE Arena on January 5, 2015 in Oakland, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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It goes without saying that with the Thunder and Warriors playing each other for the first time on Saturday night, Kevin Durant free-agency talk has been at an all-time high. The hot rumor this week is that the Warriors are the frontrunners to land Durant this summer, which would shake up the league like nothing since LeBron James going to Miami.

Obviously, all parties were going to be asked about it before the hotly anticipated game. And obviously, all parties were going to downplay it. That’s exactly what happened.

Here’s what Durant said, via the San Francisco Chronicle‘s Rusty Simmons:

“Once that time comes, I’ll make that decision. I’ll sit down and talk to my closest friends and family and figure it out, but right now, I’m just trying to be the best basketball player I can be every single day. I have to be at a high level to lead every day at practices, shootarounds and games, and that’s a tough task. I can’t focus on anything else, other than that.”

Warriors coach Steve Kerr also downplayed the speculation:

“I don’t know why anybody would talk about anything but the fact that we’re 45-4 and have a hell of a team,” said Kerr, who hasn’t addressed rumors about Durant favoring the Bay Area as a future destination with his players. “Why would anybody talk about some different team, future stuff and other players?

“Focus on our team. We’re pretty good.”

On both sides, that’s the appropriate way to respond publicly. Not that this is going to go away anytime soon. They play each other two more times this season, once in Oklahoma City and once more in Oakland, and this is going to get brought up then, too. And just like Saturday, nobody will give a definitive answer. Nor should they. Nobody will know anything until July 1. But until then, it will be impossible to quiet the chatter.