Baseline to Baseline recaps: That new Orlando lineup is growing on us


What you missed while in shock that the UConn women lost

Magic 112, Knicks 103: More than all the points (although the help), Amar’e Stoudemire has brought a real fighter’s attitude to the Knicks this season. This was a team getting thumped at the half and with a couple runs in the second half made a real game of it — and Stoudemire led the way with 16 in the fourth.

That attitude also was evident in how Stoudemire — with the help of double teams — really battled Dwight Howard inside. The Magic wisely had the game plan of punishing the Knicks inside but Howard started out 2-11 shooting and finished 6-19 on the night. The Knicks fought hard inside.

But Hedo Turkoglu had 17, Gilbert Arenas had 6 assists and there was a diversity of offense that the Magic did not have (or did not display) prior to the trade. The Magic’s offense may well be better with the new lineup, the question is if the defense can perform up to the same standard over the long term? But that’s long term; tonight it was enough and the Magic get a quality win.

Spurs, 99 Maverick 93: For all the talk about the depth of the Mavs, this game was about the Spurs bench. Well, that and Dallas not having Dirk.

San Antonio grabbed a big second quarter lead behind that bench, specifically Gary Neal who was draining threes (3-4 in that stretch, 5-8 from deep on the night). Neal has become another of those Spurs finds who seems to come out of nowhere to contribute (21 points in Dallas).

Then it got tight again later in the second quarter and at the start of the third — when the Dallas starters were back in. Then the benches came back in and more Spurs. When the Spurs needed to settle things down they turned to Tim Duncan — the reports of his basketball death have been greatly exaggerated. He put up 17 and 11.

This game might have been different with Dirk in, as he would have pushed everyone down the depth chart for the Mavs (meaning better players off the Mavs bench). He would have given more help to Jason Kidd, who had his first triple-double of the season. But what might have been doesn’t matter, the Spurs getting another win does.

Trail Blazers 100, Jazz 89: Reports are Jazz players were very frustrated in the locker room after what was a relatively easy Blazers win. The Jazz were flat but people need to remember the Los Angeles to Portland back-to-back is one of the more brutal in the league. By the league’s measurement you never leave the Pacific time zone so it’s not that bad, but we’re talking about playing a game then a two-and-a-half hour flight, then you go into a loud building.

That’s not to take anything away from the Blazers, who executed very well all night. They fed LaMarcus Aldridge all night and he had 27, while Wes Mathews pitched in 30. With all the distractions around the Blazers in the last 24 hours that was a fantastic performance.

Brandon Armstrong impersonates Ray Allen (video)

2014 NBA Finals - Game Five
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Ray Allen is retired-ish, but he’ll always be running through screens – in our mind and in this video.

Celtics draft pick Marcus Thornton gets beer dumped on head during Australian game (video)

Marcus Thornton, Will Cherry
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The Celtics drafted Marcus Thornton with No. 45 pick in the 2015 NBA draft. That essentially entitled him to the required tender – a one-year contract offer, surely unguaranteed at the minimum.

Thornton rejected that, which is almost always a mistake.

Rejecting the tender is a favor to the drafting team, which gets to keep the player’s exclusive rights for a year. If Thornton tries to join the NBA now, he’s stuck negotiating with only the Celtics.

By accepting the tender, the player typically gets one of two outcomes. He either plays on that contract and draws an NBA salary or he gets waived. But even getting waived is better than rejecting the tender, because at least the player becomes a free agent and can negotiate with any team.

Players who reject the tender go to another league and play for less money. In Thornton’s case, that mean Australia.

How’s that going?

(Almost) never reject the required tender as a second-round pick.

Byron Scott says they just have to get Kobe Bryant better looks

Kobe Bryant, Joe Johnson, Byron Scott

Kobe Bryant is averaging 15.2 points a game at age 37. It’s just taking him 16.4 shots per game to get there. After his 1-of-14 shooting performance against the Warriors the other night — with too much isolation and too many plays run just for him — there has been a lot of talk about his shot. With reason, this is his shot chart so far this season.

Kobe shotchart season

So what do the Lakers’ do? Get Kobe to shoot less and get the ball in the hands of the young stars they supposed to be developing more? Nah.

They just need to get Kobe better looks, Scott told the Los Angeles Times.

“I know his mentality is that he can still play in this league,” Scott said. “And we feel the same way….

“Obviously he’s struggling right now with his shot, and I think everybody can see that,” Scott said. “So it’s trying to get him in better position to be able to have an opportunity to knock those shots down on a consistent basis. That’s No. 1.

“I don’t know if it’s his legs. I don’t think so. Again, our conversations are pretty blunt. … He tells me when he is tired and he tells me when he’s not tired. And the last few days, he said he feels great. So, I don’t think it’s a matter of him being tired or his legs being tired. I think it’s a matter of his timing being a little off.”

Yes, how could it be his legs? It’s not like he’s a 37-year-old with more than 55,000 NBA minutes played, and coming off an Achilles rupture and major knee surgery.

Honestly, I hope the Lakers and Kobe find a balance soon, because they have become just hard to watch. And I don’t want Kobe to go out this way.

Is Stephen Curry the Lionel Messi of the NBA?

Lionel Messi

Stephen Curry has reached the transcendent point in his career. We’re now talking about if he has passed LeBron James as the best player on the planet (he has), and we’re starting to think about his legacy as the perfect point guard for a modern NBA small-ball, space-and-pace offense. Plus he’s just a joy to watch play.

Does that make him the Lionel Messi of the NBA?

Curry was asked to compare himself to the Barcelona/Argentinian player who (arguably) is the greatest soccer player in the world, certainly as elite a finisher as that sport has ever seen. Here is his answer, via the Sydney Morning Herald of Australia. Is Curry the bigger international star now?

“I don’t know – it’s a chicken and egg kind of conversation,” Curry said while laughing.

“We both have a creative style, a feel when you are out on the pitch or the court. I’m trying to do some fancy things out there with both hands, making crossover moves and having a certain flair to my game and that’s definitely the style Messi has when he is out there in his matches.”

I love Curry, but Messi is the bigger international star.

But I love the comparison in terms of the must-watch nature of the two stars, the flair in their games, the sense that you have to keep an eye on them at all times because the spectacular could happen any time they touch the ball. When the ball comes to them, everybody leads forward in their chairs. That is the sign of a real superstar.