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.

After two years off court, Joel Embiid says he “probably” will have minutes restrictions

PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 30: Joel Embiid #21 of the Philadelphia 76ers takes a shot from the bench prior to the game against the Utah Jazz on October 30, 2015 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 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 Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
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Joel Embiid could be the best player on the Philadelphia 76ers in a couple of years — many scouts had him the highest rated of all the first-round draft picks the Sixers have had in recent seasons.

But after two foot surgeries and two seasons sitting on the sidelines, we don’t know how good Embiid can be. We should find out starting in October when Embiid is part of the Sixers training camp. Embiid says he feels 100 percent, but he expects there will be restrictions on him at first, he told Jessica Camerato of CSNPhilly.com during the Sixers Beach Bash community event this weekend.

This is the smart move by the Sixers — they are not competing for a title, the games in November have minimal meaning long term, bring him along slowly and make sure he can make each step along the way. Let’s see what he can do, then worry about how much run he can get in games that matter.

It’s going to be interesting to watch how Embiid, Ben Simmons, Nerlens Noel, and Jahlil Okafor all fit together up front — and which one of them gets traded this season.

Celtics’ Avery Bradley on defense: “Kyrie Irving, none of those guys scare me”

BOSTON, MA - MARCH 09:  Avery Bradley #0 of the Boston Celtics celebrates after scoring against the Memphis Grizzlies  during the first quarter at TD Garden on March 9, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts.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 Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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Avery Bradley was first-team NBA All-Defensive team last season, and his coach Brad Stevens lobbied for him to get the honor. Bradley picks up guys full court, pesters, and plays physical — we can debate if he is as good defensively as his reputation, but guys like Damian Lillard think he’s tough to go up against.

Bradley, for his part, says he has no fear going up against the best. Here is what he said to Tom Westerholm of Masslive.com.

“I love the challenge,” Bradley said on Friday, making an appearance at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. “I love going up against the best players. I don’t care who it is. I don’t care about getting embarrassed. I don’t care. Kyrie Irving, none of those guys scare me. I know some players in the NBA probably get butterflies before the game, but not me. I’m licking my lips. I come excited. They need to prepare for me at the end of the day. That’s how I think.”

That’s exactly the attitude you want an elite defender to have.

Bradley injured his hamstring in the first game of the playoffs last April and sat the rest of the Celtics’ one series. Then this summer his name came up in potential Jimmy Butler trade rumors (that deal never actually came close to getting off the ground). Expect Bradley to put that all behind him by the time training camp opens.

Watch highlights of LeBron James’ playoffs, Finals run

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LeBron James was dominant — the clear best player on the planet — when the Cleveland Cavaliers needed him most. That’s the reason Cleveland got its first major sports title in 52 years.

It’s the dead part of the NBA season — training camps don’t even open for a month — so why not enjoy a look back at LeBron’s amazing run to a legacy-defining NBA ring. Like you don’t have 15 minutes for this. What are you going to do, watch more preseason football?

It’s Joel Embiid’s turn to swat a little kid’s shot (VIDEO)

TARRYTOWN, NY - AUGUST 03: Joel Embiid #11 of the Philadelphia 76ers poses for a portrait during the 2014 NBA rookie photo shoot at MSG Training Center on August 3, 2014 in Tarrytown, New York. 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 Nick Laham/Getty Images)
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It’s a summer tradition — tall NBA players swatting away the shots of young kids at camps/clinics.

Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid has yet to step on an NBA court — this fall, finally? — but he is part of the youth tradition now, destroying this young man at the Sixers Beach Bash event Saturday.

This summer Embiid has arm wrestled Justin Bieber and looked good working out in an empty gym, and to add to that list here is Embiid overpowering an average guy at Beach Bash then throwing it down. The man at least provided a little more resistance than a chair.