Kobe Bryant

Baseline to Baseline Weekend Edition: The hits just keep on coming

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What happened while you were falling backwards into the endzone….

Friday

Bulls 88 Lakers 84: I’m just saying. At some point, maybe, if the Lakers are in a one-possession game with less than 40 seconds remaining, two-for-one or no, maybe the Lakers should work for a quality shot instead of giving Kobe Bryant the ball and a license to thrill the road crowd by launching a 40-foot prayer. In the meantime, the Bulls widened the gap enough in the fourth to hold on here, and by the Bulls, I mean Derrick Rose, who is somehow pulling all of his potential skills into the nexus. He’s simply dominating late in games. Meanwhile Pau Gasol is still tired. But hey, who cares, it’s December, right?

Jazz 117 Magic 105: Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson teamed up on Dwight Howard, and by attacking him low and on the ball not the body (the Lakers approach, versus the Celtics approach which is to attack the body), and that was enough to distract him enough to keep him out of being involved. And that’s your ballgame. Vince Carter’s a nightmare on offense right now, the rest of the Magic don’t have the confidence to step up, and their defense couldn’t stop C.J. Miles.

Heat 106 Warriors 84: You want to see the power of this fully functional Death Star? Find a replay of this game’s third quarter some where. Dwyane Wade lighting up the baseline fadeaway J. LeBron James stepping into heat-check threes and making them. Wade splitting to the middle on the break instead of leaking baseline afraid of contact, which allowed the backdoor alley-oop cut for LeBron. A sprinkle of Bosh, some Zydrunas Ilgauskas floor spreading, and that’s how you blow out the Warriors. David Lee is not healthy yet, and it’s too obvious. The Heat keyed in on Ellis and Dorell Wright, and without Stephen Curry, there was really no hope.

Saturday

Celtics 93 Bobcats 62: If you’ve seen roadkill, you’ve seen this game. In a blowout, Boston outscored the Cats 29-15 in the fourth quarter. It was a slaughter. Right now the Celtics aren’t content with winning. They want to beat you and leave no doubt to you, your family, your fans,or the next team. They are in control.

Raptors 120 Pistons 116: A massive comeback for the Raptors, but an even bigger collapse for Detroit. Jerryd Bayless with a ridiculous 31 points, 5 rebounds, 7 assists. He had the outside game going and down the stretch he played with intensity and focus getting to the rim to force the foul. This was a quality win for the Raptors, even against a bad team. But the Pistons have to be killing themselves over giving this one up. Ben Wallace hit a three at the end, because weird things happen on this rock of ours.

Sunday

Knicks 129 Nuggets 125:  Another 30+ performance for Amar’e, and the Knicks made a statement. They needed a quality win to cap off the win streak before the Celtics and Heat put them back in their place this week. The Knicks turned the ball over six times in five frames. Do that and have Amar’e kick the tough-inside Nuggets defense around all over in the second half and you’ve got yourself a signature win in front of your favorite prospective trade target. Winner.

Sixers 88 Hornets 70: I just wanted to share with you the fact that the Hornets had 23 points in the first half. They have the best point guard in the league and they had 23 points at half. That’s pretty much why they lost.

Steve Kerr: “Not going to rule out” Stephen Curry for Game 2 vs. Blazers

OAKLAND, CA - APRIL 27:  Injured Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors reacts on the bench with Shaun Livingston #34 and Anderson Varejao #18 during their game against the Houston Rockets in Game Five of the Western Conference Quarterfinals during the 2016 NBA Playoffs at ORACLE Arena on April 27, 2016 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 Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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Stephen Curry might be back sooner than expected. It’s been one week since he suffered the sprained MCL in his right knee that led the Warriors to rule him out for at least two weeks, but head coach Steve Kerr said Saturday that there’s at least an outside chance he could play Tuesday in Game 2 of Golden State’s second-round series against the Portland Trail Blazers.

Via ESPN.com’s Marc Stein:

https://twitter.com/ESPNSteinLine/status/726489715398991872

Obviously, the smart money is on Curry not playing this early in his timetable. But the fact that it’s even on the table would seem to indicate that, barring a setback, he’ll be back for at least some of the series, which tips off Sunday.

Carmelo Anthony undecided about playing in Rio Olympics

LAS VEGAS, NV - AUGUST 11:  Carmelo Anthony #20 of the 2015 USA Basketball Men's National Team shoots during a practice session at the Mendenhall Center on August 11, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
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Since Chris Paul withdrew from this summer’s Olympic team, Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James are the only players left from the 2008 team. If they played this summer in Rio de Janeiro, they would have the chance to be the only men’s basketball players ever to win three gold medals. But James is still undecided, and Anthony tells The Vertical‘s Michael Lee that he is also still weighing it:

USA Basketball has provided Anthony his only opportunity to win at a high level since he became a professional. Anthony sounded optimistic in March that his surgically repaired left knee wouldn’t prevent him from going after an unprecedented third gold medal. But since then, Chris Paul withdrew, citing the need for rest, and left Anthony and LeBron James as the only players from the 2008 team remaining in the Team USA selection pool. “It definitely would help,” Anthony said, if James decides to make one more run, but Anthony isn’t close to making a final decision.

“That’s at the top of the sport, of any sport. I think if you have the opportunity to do it, and enjoy it, and take advantage of it, I think you should do it. [The Olympics are] the throne for sports as a whole,” Anthony told The Vertical. “I’m going to take a little more time to think about it. I’m not in a rush. NBA season is still going on, so I’m going to see how I feel physically. Am I ready to take on – I don’t want to say burden, but – that load? If I’m ready, I’ll do it. If not, my body won’t lie to me.”

Anthony turns 32 next month—if he does play, it will undoubtedly be his final run with the national team. But his concerns about rest are valid, even though he was healthier this year than he was last season, when he had season-ending knee surgery. James’ decision will be even more interesting: he cares deeply about his place in history, but he’s had absolutely no time off since 2011, between five straight Finals runs (and likely a sixth) and the 2012 gold-medal run with the Olympic team.

If Anthony ultimately decides not to play, it would open up another spot for a forward, which could go to the likes of Draymond Green, Kawhi Leonard or Jimmy Butler. All of this is worth keeping an eye on as July’s training camp gets closer.

Paul Pierce “50/50” about playing next season

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Paul Pierce may have played his final NBA game. After the Clippers’ season-ending loss to the Trail Blazers on Friday night, the 18-year veteran was noncommittal about his future. Here’s what he said, via CSNNW.com (video above):

For each year the last couple of years, I’ve thought long and hard about walking away from the game. The process will continue this summer as I think long and hard, as I get older in age, talk to my family, see how my body feels. I don’t want to make an emotional decision right now, so I’ll sit down with my family and think about it. It’s just gotta hit you one day. You just never know. You don’t know. Right now, it’s 50/50. I’ll see how I feel when I wake up, if I feel like getting ready for next season. If I don’t feel that feeling, that fire’s not there, it’s going to be tough,

Pierce wasn’t as effective with the Clippers as they’d hoped he would be when they signed him, coming off a big playoffs with the Wizards last season. If he does decide to walk away, he’s a surefire Hall of Famer who will go down as one of the best forwards of his generation.

Report: Ty Lue still has assistant’s contract with Cavs

CLEVELAND, OHIO - APRIL 13: Head coach Tyronn Lue of the Cleveland Cavaliers in action against the Detroit Pistons at Quicken Loans Arena on April 13, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Pistons defeated Cleveland 112-110 in overtime.  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 David Maxwell/Getty Images)
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When the Cavaliers fired David Blatt midseason, they promoted Ty Lue to head coach, without an interim tag attached. The job was his. But apparently, he has yet to sign a new contract that reflects his new title with a pay bump, and is still under contract as an assistant despite being the team’s head coach.

From ESPN.com’s Dave McMenamin:

As the Cavaliers prepare to face the Atlanta Hawks in the second round of the playoffs, head coach Tyronn Lue continues to guide the team without having signed a new contract since he took over for David Blatt, multiple sources said this week.

Lue, 38, was promoted from associate head coach to Blatt’s successor on Jan. 22, with Cleveland general manager David Griffin parting ways with Blatt despite the team’s conference-best 30-11 record at the time. Even without a new contract, Lue never had an interim title attached to his position.

According to the report, Lue’s current contract runs through next season, with a team option for the following year, and Lue fully expects to be back. He hasn’t interviewed or shown interest in any of the other head coaching jobs that are open.

Still, until he signs a new contract, this is just another piece of uncertainty hanging over the Cavaliers.