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

2 Comments

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.

Shorthanded Cavaliers now without Iman Shumpert for 5-7 days

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Isaiah Thomas is still rehabbing his hip, he should return next month.

With him out, Tyronn Lue and the Cavaliers have had to lean more on Derrick Rose at the point, except he has a sprained ankle that is going to have him out a couple more weeks.

That has forced Iman Shumpert into the starting point guard role in Cleveland, although he mostly is there for defense/shooting as the playmaking duties fall to LeBron James.

Now the Cavaliers will have to get by without Shumpert for a while with water on the knee, Cleveland announced on Saturday. He left Friday night’s Cavs win against the Clippers with a sore knee and did not return

“Additional examination and imaging today at Cleveland Clinic Sports Health confirmed left knee effusion. He will be out 5-7 days while he undergoes treatment and rehabilitation,” the Cavaliers said in a statement.

This is going to force Lue to play Jose Calderon, who he has kept glued to the bench this season despite the injuries. J.R. Smith and Dwyane Wade will need to take on more run as well.

The Celtics have won four in a row — thanks to a more focused offense — and face the Pistons, Nets, and Hornets this week.

Joakim Noah on if he can play at former level: “Probably not. Probably not.”

Getty Images
3 Comments

For three games, Joakim Noah has been clear of the 20-game PED suspension he started at the end of last season.

For three games, he has not even dressed for the Knicks.

This is the former Defensive Player of the Year who was already on the decline when Phil Jackson gave him a $72 million contract that is now the worst in the NBA. Noah is out of the rotation, where Enes Kanter starts at center (with Kristaps Porzingis at the four) and Kyle O’Quinn coming off the bench.

Noah told Marc Berman of the New York Post he is frustrated but gets the situation.

“I’ll be all right. I’ll be all right,’’ Noah said in his first comments since being reinstated. “I understand the situation. I’m going to make the best of it.”

When asked if he still feels he can be close to the player he was in his 2013-14 campaign, Noah said: “Probably not. Probably not. You know. I can help. I feel like I could help this team and that’s just my reality. But I just want to just be the best that I can be.

“It’s not about trying to be what I was three, four years ago, because it’s not the reality.”

Noah is a smart and mature player, he understands his reality, and he has the exact attitude you want a veteran off the bench. He can help in practices, he can help because he understands how to play defense and can teach it, and eventually, he will get a chance on the court. He is not part of the future of the Knicks, but he can guide these young players.

The Knicks new management will look for a way to unload Noah’s contract, but considering the sweeteners the Knicks would need to throw in to get a team to deal for Noah, it’s unlikely we see any action on that front for a long time.

Frustrated Gregg Popovich calls all three referees “f****** blind”

Getty Images
3 Comments

The Spurs completed an amazing comeback win against the Thunder Friday night, coming from 23 down to knock off the Thunder when Carmelo Anthony‘s game-tying three was just a two because his toe was on the line.

Gregg Popovich was into this one.

So much so that when he didn’t like an out-of-bounds call he made sure all three officials knew exactly how blind he thought they were.

The best part of this is Popovich covering his eyes, just to really emphasize his point.

We’re really going to miss Pop when he steps away to live at a winery full time.

Lonzo Ball walks away from Lakers-Suns skirmish

AP Photo
10 Comments

If you’re on the court when your team gets in an NBA “fight” — what the rest of us would call a shoving match where nobody really wants to throw a punch — should you run into the fray and help your teammates?

Friday night, with just more than three minutes to go in Phoenix’s eventual win, the Suns called a timeout, and Tyler Ulis and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope got in one of those silly shoving matches. Players from both teams raced into the fray to protect their teammate/break it up.

The Suns’ rookie Josh Jackson picked up a technical for his role racing in and escalating the matter.

Watch the video again, and you’ll see Lakers’ rookie Lonzo Ball just walk away from it all and head to the bench.

That has led to criticism of the rookie from some Lakers’ fans, who see a guy who didn’t rush in to protect his teammates — that’s seen as part of the sports locker room culture. A “band of brothers” or “us against the world” mentality. Ball, frankly, gave a more mature answer than that.

Ball is right, nothing was going to come of this. It was meaningless posturing. Walking away was the mature move.

However, the question is how is this perceived in the Lakers’ locker room? Do the players care that Ball shrugged and walked away? Do they think he needed to race in and try to look tough like everyone else? That can impact his standing on the team — as a guy Magic Johnson brought in to be a leader — more than anything.

Also, with all his shooting woes, is this the first sign of some Lakers fans starting to turn on Lonzo? It’s a little early for that.