Dwight Howard, Willie Green, Emeka Okafor, David West, Trevor Ariza

Baseline to Baseline recaps: Where all good streaks must come to an end

1 Comment

What you missed while… why weren’t you watching the Clippers beat the Heat? (That was our game of the night.)

Hornets 92, Magic 89 (OT): Orlando’s nine-game win streak ends because they shot just 39.1 percent in this one — not that they didn’t get good looks, they did. The shots just didn’t fall. That happens sometimes, you outplay the other team but can’t knock them down. The Magic have been hot shooting of late, so the off night shouldn’t come as a shock.

Pacers 102, Mavericks 89: Still no Dirk Nowitzki (that’s eight games missed), and Dallas coach Rick Carlisle was desperate enough for an answer start Alexis Ajinca at the four. Turns out that wasn’t it (although it did move Shawn Marion to the three, where he will be starting for Caron Butler the rest of the season). The Mavs miss Dirk’s offense and ability to hit a contested two, but the real problem is they haven’t played well defensively lately. Paul George’s 16 off the bench were big for Indy.

Hawks 104, Raptors 101: The Hawks struggled the second half of this game with the Raptors zone defense. There are a couple basic ways to beat a zone – pound it inside or shoot over the top of it. With the game on the line, Mike Bibby went for the latter and hit the game-winning three. The Hawks were in it because Jamal Crawford hit 12-of-23 shots for 36 points.

In the irony file, Hawks center Etan Thomas didn’t travel with the Hawks to Toronto because he was snowed in at his Atlanta home.

Bobcats 96, Bulls 91: Charlotte’s starters raced out to a 17 point lead, but the second string came in and the depth of these two teams became clear. Well, that or the Bulls have developed a slow start pattern. Either way, this was tied up with six minutes to go and it looked like the Bulls had slowed the new, running Bobcats down (well, they did, just 89 possessions). But the Bobcats did a great job of hard doubles on Derrick Rose late, not letting him take over (same with Boozer). The Bobcats offense is unimpressive, but if Stephen Jackson is hitting hard, contested shots they will get points. Enough to win.

Celtics 119, Kings 95: Really fast pace in this one — 99 possessions — and it turns out the old guys can still run a little. Big difference in this one: Kings 2-13 from three, Celtics 12-20.

Grizzlies 107, Pistons 99: Detroit went with a new starting lineup tonight — Tracy McGrady, Rodney Stuckey, Tayshaun Prince, Chris Wilcox and Greg Monroe — and it worked pretty well, the two starting lineups played each other about even. The Grizzlies bench destroyed the Pistons bench. That’s your ball game.

Spurs 91, Bucks 84: What a shock — the Bucks lost because their offense stinks. The Spurs played well and all, but you can stop the Bucks offense and that leads to wins. Not sure there is much else to say here.

Thunder 118, Rockets 112: This game was about what you’d expect — the Rockets make the Thunder really work for it, but in the end Houston had no answer for Kevin Durant (30 points) and Russell Westbrook (23).

Suns 118, Nets 109 (OT): Credit the Nets for playing hard despite all the Carmelo Anthony trade rumors, a lot of teams might have not brought the effort. Still, they had a 15-point lead early in the fourth and blew it. Steve Nash owned overtime, as he had 10 points and got most of those at the free throw line. Free throws in general were key for the Suns, who got to the line 20 more times than the Nets.

Lakers 115, Warriors 110: Along with Heat/Clippers, maybe the most entertaining game of the night. Monta Ellis had 38 points and was making plays that inspired Kobe Bryant to take over — and looking like vintage Kobe of five years ago — he hit shots and put up 39. It was quite a show those two put on, but Lamar Odom’s 16 fourth quarter points were key. The other key was the times — the spotty times, the Lakers were not consistent — they got the ball inside to whomever David Lee was guarding. The Lakers went right at him.

Jazz 131, Knicks 125: This is not the up-tempo game you normally expect the Jazz to play (96 possessions each team) but Utah shot 58.4 percent and hit 10 of 22 from three. They looked plenty comfortable as seven players got into double figures scoring.  For the Knicks, Shawne Williams hit seven threes in a half and finished with a game high 25 points.

Steve Kerr will not “just stick to sports,” embraces new era of player political/social activism

4 Comments

NEW ORLEANS — “Just stick to sports.”

Anytime an athlete speaks out on social issues, or wades into the political arena, Twitter swells with that comment — from people who disagree with the statement. In the wake of a polarizing election and controversial moves from President Donald Trump — such as his executive order on an immigration seven majority Muslim countries — there has been criticism of his moves from Commissioner Adam Silver, coaches such as Gregg Popovich, as well as players.

Warriors coach Steve Kerr has been at the front of that criticism, and he is not going to “just stick to sports.”

“If you stick to that mantra, then everybody should stick to what they’re doing, right? That means nobody’s allowed to have a political opinion,” Kerr said during All-Star weekend, where he was repeatedly asked about political and social issues. “It just so happens we get these microphones stuck in our face and we have a bigger platform. But it’s free speech and, if you look at the history of the world, the biggest problems come when people don’t speak.”

The “just stick to sports” crowd almost always opposes what the players said, but root their comments in the idea sports should be an escape from the political realm or other worldly challenges. Even though at it’s best sports has never been that — not with Jackie Robinson or Muhammad Ali or Olympic protests.

Kerr noted that in our modern world with so many outlets for getting your information, fans can choose to avoid political discussions in sports if they wish — just don’t click the link.

“I think you can follow sports however you want as a fan. If you want to watch the games to get away from everyday life, you can do that,” Kerr said. “You can turn on the games and watch the Warriors play or watch the Spurs play or whoever, and it’s just going to be about basketball. If you don’t want to read about political issues, you don’t have to read it. It’s the same in any field, whether it’s basketball, or entertainment, even politics themselves, you have to choose what you want to read about and follow. 

“We are in a society where a lot of us have microphones in our face every day, and a lot of us feel strongly about our need to speak out on injustice. I think it’s important. But it’s up to the individual fan to take that in or not. They can pick and choose.”

For a long time, there has been less social activism among athletes — not just in the NBA, but across sports. That is changing again, and Kerr said it’s a reaction to the times in which we live.

“I think maybe over the last 20 or 30 years there hasn’t been that same sense of urgency because we’ve generally lived in a pretty peaceful era, but it feels like it’s changing and so the whole country is changing in terms of its activism and social awareness,” Kerr said…

“For a long time, a lot of athletes stayed out of the political forum, out of fear of losing customers, and I think it’s refreshing that we have athletes who are putting their social beliefs ahead of any marking issues. I think that’s powerful.”

Kerr spoke out some on a long weekend where he had a microphone in his face a lot,  opposing President Trump policies such as building a border wall with Mexico for example. However, mostly he praised both the increased social activism of players and the stance of the league to stand up for inclusion — including moving the All-Star Game out of Charlotte because of North Carolina’s “bathroom bill.”

“Free speech is one of the principles our country was founded on, I think there’s some responsibility that goes with that if you see injustice,” Kerr said. “That’s why I think the league has been great in terms of understanding that responsibility and taking action, such as moving the All-Star Game from Charlotte to New Orleans….

“I think what the NBA tries to preach is equality, and inclusion — we don’t just talk about it, we live it. We have this beautiful game where we have people from every race and religion and background, and we like that in our fans, too.”

While the league has turned its words into actions such as moving the All-Star Game — and warning Texas if they pass a similar bill Houston is likely out of the running for the 2020 edition of the game — the question is what the next step will be for the players. Commenting on social injustice is one thing, but how do they turn that into actions?

“That’s not my department,” Kerr said with a shrug. “I have spoken out on issues and will continue to do so, and I think the league has done a really good job of walking the walk. Moving the All-Star Game from Charlotte to here I think was an important statement for the league — we are about inclusion and equality for everybody, regardless of gender, race, religion, background, anything.”

Coaches such as Kerr, as well as NBA players, have a bigger megaphone to get out their views because they are interviewed by the media almost daily. Kerr said that he feels players have a responsibility to step up and be heard on issues, not just “stick to sports.”

“I think if you’re in a certain position, and you feel strongly about something, then I think it’s important and you should (speak out),” Kerr said. “But we all live different lives in different places, we’re from different backgrounds with different journeys, and what’s important to me might not be important to somebody else, and visa vera.

“But we’re all in a position where we can make a difference, and I think players understand that.”

Isaiah Thomas (correctly) says that trade wouldn’t be allowed in a video game

Sacramento Kings Media Day
Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images
1 Comment

The Kings trade of DeMarcus Cousins and Omri Casspi for a first-round pick, a second-round pick, Buddy Hield, Tyreke Evans and Langston Galloway left many of us shellshocked by Sacramento’s meager return.

Apparently including Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas:

I recently participated in the Dunc’d On Basketball Podcast mock trade deadline, in which Nate Duncan, Danny Leroux, Kevin Pelton and I each took teams and negotiated trades. After the actual Cousins deal, I asked Pelton what he would’ve done if he had the Kings in our podcast and got that offer.

He just burst into laughter.

Thomas might likewise find the trade laughable, but that’s not everything at play with his tweet. The Kings once scorned him, and he hasn’t forgotten.

Emotional DeMarcus Cousins near tears saying goodbye to Sacramento after trade

5 Comments

Kings’ general manager Vlade Divac took a parting shot at DeMarcus Cousins‘ character when he spoke to the media about the deal.

Cousins could be challenging in the locker room, but he was committed to Sacramento in ways most teams wish their star would be. He was active in the community, did charity work, and was not one of the players that alerted the media and dragged along a video crew when he did. Cousins loves Sacramento.

You can see it as he tears up when saying goodbye to those close to him in this video.

On the court, the trade to New Orleans and the chance to play next to Anthony Davis could be a huge boost for Cousins’ career. We’ll never know what could have been if the Kings knew how to draft or stuck with a system/coach.

But off the court, Sacramento will miss him. And he will miss them.

All-Star game television ratings are best since 2013

Western Conference forward Anthony Davis of the New Orleans Pelicans (23 ) slam dunks during the first half of the NBA All-Star basketball game in New Orleans, Sunday, Feb. 19, 2017. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, Pool)
3 Comments

NEW YORK (AP) — The NBA All-Star game drew an average audience of 7.8 million viewers, making it the most-viewed All-Star broadcast since 2013.

Turner Sports announced the numbers on Monday. The number of viewers peaked at 8.5 million and the total audience was up 3 percent from last year’s game.

The hype surrounding the game centered on Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook playing on the Western Conference team together. Durant left Oklahoma City last summer to join Golden State, leaving his longtime teammate Westbrook behind with the Thunder. Westbrook did not hide his dissatisfaction with Durant, which ratcheted up the intrigue heading into the game on Sunday.

The two shared the court for just 81 seconds and Oklahoma City posted the highest local market rating with a 10.9.