Sasha Vujacic, Joe Johnson

Baseline to Baseline recaps: The Lakers and ex-Lakers all get wins

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What you missed while watching Santa dance to Breakbot

Nets 89, Hawks 82: Sasha Vujacic finished with a game-high +23 in this one and had 10 points. Sasha was the butt of plenty of jokes in Los Angeles and was not a locker room favorite, but I will say this for the guy — he never coasted. He tried to be a pesky defender who could knock down threes, and while he struggled to meet that goal the effort was there. Bring that kind of effort to a team like New Jersey and it stands out.

Celtics 99, Pacers 88: The Celtics got Shaq back and Jeff Foster paid the price, getting on the wrong end of an alley-oop. Shaq had 11 points, all in the first quarter. This game followed the pattern of so many NBA games between good and average teams — the lesser team plays their best and hangs around for three quarters and then the better team’s execution and talent just kicks in. Case in point, Sunday Boston had fourth quarter runs of 10-2 and 14-5, and that was all she wrote.

Lakers 120, Raptors 110: The Lakers spent the first quarter turning the ball over and doing pretty much everything they could to fuel the Raptors running game. Then in the second quarter they settled down, slowed the game down and that was all she wrote. The Raptors don’t have the talent to hang here.

Rockets 102, Kings 93: Sacramento teases you because they give you spurts of really nice play, and against some teams that looks like it will be enough, then they go and score just 12 points in the fourth quarter on 28 percent shooting and missing every three they took. Next summer Tyreke Evans needs to hire a different shooting coach.

Pistons 111, Hornets 108 (OT): Tayshaun Prince had the play of the day, blocking a Chris Paul layup at the buzzer of regulation to send the game into overtime. The Hornets aren’t playing bad, they are 6-4 in their last 10, but the Pistons shooters were on for a night.

Suns 113, Thunder 110: Shorthanded and hearing for two days how they got worse, the Suns had a chip on their shoulder. It helped that Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook were a combined 3-18 in the first half and the Suns got out early. Meanwhile Grant Hill is dropping 30 and the Suns as a team are shooting 57.5 percent really did it. Even with all that the Thunder were there at the end but Josh Childress made a good defensive play on Kevin Durant with less than one minute left to seal the win.

Jimmy Butler wants Mason Plumlee to pay fine after scuffle (video)

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Jimmy Butler and Mason Plumlee got into an altercation in the Bulls’ win over the Trail Blazers last night.

Plumlee lowered his head and tried to barrel through Butler’s chest on a Butler screen. Butler fell and retaliated by putting Plumlee in a leg lock, causing Plumlee to fall.

You might remember a leg lock as what Cavaliers guard Matthew Dellavedova did to Bulls forward Taj Gibson during last year’s playoffs. For all the talk then of Dellavedova being a dirty player, Butler seems particularly aggrieved after getting a technical foul, which comes with a $2,500 fine – the same penalty Dellavedova eventually received. (Plumlee got a flagrant foul.)

Butler, via Vincent Goodwill of CSN Chicago:

“He thought he was playing football for a second there,” Butler said. “Almost had to let the Fort Greene Projects out of me, Brooklyn, you know what I’m saying?”

It was said tongue in cheek considering Gibson was a few feet over and Butler wanted to draw some laughs. Gibson is a Brooklyn native and grew up in the Fort Greene Projects while Butler grew up in Tomball, Texas.

It was no laughing matter when he said he would find a way to approach Plumlee about the fine money, jokingly suggesting he would have his agent email him at “Mr. or something” and made a joke about Mike Dunleavy applauding Plumlee’s act.

Plumlee and Dunleavy are products of Duke University.

“Yeah, he cost me 2,500,” Butler said. “I’m not happy about that. Gonna ask him to pay me back and I’m not playing.”

Is that, or Or is it Dookie?

These are important questions – at least if you’re trying to turn the conversation away from your dirty play and toward your colorful quotes.

Breaking news: Leandro Barbosa dunked


The Warriors became the first team in NBA history to start 16-0.

In the process of getting that record-breaking win over the Lakers, something nearly as historic happened.

Leandro Barbosa dunked.

The 32-year-old Golden State guard last jammed in January 2011.

For a little more perspective, look how Barbosa handled a breakaway layup earlier in the fourth quarter:

You think that man can still slam?

Yes. Yes, he can.

Magic benching Victor Oladipo, starting Channing Frye

Stephen Curry, Victor Oladipo, Channing Frye
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Elfrid Payton, Victor Oladipo, Evan Fournier, Tobias Harris and Nikola Vucevic have started eight of the Magic’s 14 games, including the last three.

But after Orlando dropped two straight, Scott Skiles hinted at lineup changes.

The Magic coach will deliver against the Knicks tonight, swapping Channing Frye for Oladipo.

Skiles, via Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel:

“It’s nothing punitive,” Skiles said after the Magic’s shootaround.

“It’s just we feel like we’ve got to try to find a little bit better balance. I’d like Victor to have some more opportunities like he’s had a little bit in the past where he can be on top of the floor and attack and get a little bit more vertical and not only get to the rim but just be a little bit more on the attack but not necessarily start the game that way.”

Here are the offensive/defensive/net ratings for the

  • Former starting lineup: 94.7/111.2/-16.5
  • New starting lineup: 117.2/90.3/+26.8

The new unit has played just 33 minutes in two games, so major sample-size caveats apply. But I like idea of seeing more of what has worked.

I suspect Skiles also wants to keep his players from becoming content. At 6-8 and coming off three straight seasons outside the playoffs, they should have no reason to feel satisfied, but the hard-driving Skiles will be proactive.

If Oladipo – whose defense Skiles values – can get sent to the bench, anyone can.

At some point, the Magic must determine whether Oladipo and Payton – both below-average 3-point shooters – can share a backcourt. But it’s also worth knowing whether Oladipo can excel as a super sub leading bench players.

This switch might help the Magic win now, but at worse, it’ll give them more information for evaluating their young roster. Seems smart all around.

Dwight Howard says he’s cleared to play back-to-backs

Dwight Howard
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The 5-9 Houston Rockets need some wins.

The Houston Rockets have a back-to-back coming up, Sunday against the Knicks then Monday against the Pistons (both on the road). Two teams with quality big men.

Combine those things and you end up with Dwight Howard being re-evaluated by team doctors and getting the training wheels taken off, via Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle.

This, plus a mini training camp the past few days, is part of new coach J.B. Bickerstaff’s effort to turn Houston’s season around.

Houston’s defense is 1.9 points per 100 possessions better this season when Howard is on the court and the Rockets are stronger on the glass. The problem is the offense is 7.8 points per 100 worse with Howard on the court. How much of that can be changed with some roster tweaks — like limiting the time James Harden and Ty Lawson share the court — and how much is due to Howard demanding touches and not doing enough with them we will find out quickly.