Durant Westbrook

Baseline to Baseline recaps: Two entertaining games and some ice cold Heat


What you missed while thinking about the worst things people call food….

Thunder 125, Magic 124: Two teams that will make their bones in the playoffs on defense set it aside for a night, and that led to one really entertaining game. To be fair, there was a lot of hot offensive talent on the floor, too. Especially Russell Westbrook who finished with 32 points, 13 assists and 10 rebounds. Dwight Howard had 39 points, 18 boards.

OKC’s big players made big plays. Jeff Green had the dagger with the beat-the-clock, off-balance three. Kevin Durant twisted that knife with a little runner a possession later (points the Thunder ended up needing as Jameer Nelson was stepping up). The Magic usually win when they shoot 14-of-28 from three.

This was fun regular season basketball. It was two teams who were able to exploit what they want. It had hot shooters and fun transition plays. As we head into the dog days of the season I would love more game like this one.

Nuggets 130, Heat 102: No LeBron James (out with a sprained ankle). And the West Coast to Denver back-to-back is the toughest in the league (second game is played at high altitude against a good team that likes to run, it is a huge advantage for the Nuggets). Even if LeBron was healthy this was going to be a tough one.

Denver controlled how this was played, it was an up-tempo, ragged game. TNT’s Kenny Smith had a great line at halftime about J.R. Smith and the Nuggets as a whole — they are comfortable in a messy room. When the game gets ragged and sloppy and lacks structure, they have guys who are at home. They thrive. Get into that game with them and you lose. That’s what the Heat did. And in that setting Smith had a game-high 28. Not a coincidence.

Shed a tear for the 72-10 dream (that was always a pipe dream anyway, but people fiercely cling to those). Don’t go reading into the back-to-back Heat losses. There could be three in a row — Chicago is up next and that will be hard whether or not James is back. These losses are meaningless everywhere but weekly power rankings.

Timberwolves 109, Wizards 97: There was a moment when you started to believe this could be the game the Wizards finally won on the road — they went on a tight little 9-0 run in the fourth and you thought maybe. But really, for 90 percent of this game the Wolves had been the better team, starting with an early 11-0 run. So the 19-1 run late that sealed the Minnesota win shouldn’t have felt like a shock to the system. But it still kind of did.

Kevin Love is grabbing rebounds in traffic, making clever little moves and shots inside, and draining contested threes with the game on the line in the fourth quarter. I’m running out of adjectives.

Wolves did this without Michael Beasley. That’s a good win for them.

Stephen Curry: “We talk about 33” wins in a row

Harrison Barnes, Stephen Curry
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Golden State has a ring, and that came with accolades about them ushering in a new era, a new style of basketball in the NBA. But if they are going to have a legacy as one of the game’s legendary teams, they need more than one ring. They need more accolades and accomplishments.

Such as starting the season with a record 16-game win streak.

But what about the all-time win streak mark of 33 (set by the 1972 Lakers)? Stephen Curry says they talk about it, as reported in the San Francisco Chronicle.

“We talk about 33,” Curry said in a conference call with international reporters. “I think I’ve probably talked about it more than anybody else on the team, just because I know about the history and just really how hard it is.

“We’ve had like two 16-game winning streaks the last two years, and those are pretty special feats. For us to have to double that output, I mean we’re going to play hard and hopefully close in on that record, but it won’t be a disappointing effort if we don’t get there. Because there are so many talented teams in this league and for us to just be playing at a high level right now, that’s what we’re worried about. And if we close in and get to 29, 30 games, we’ll talk about it a little bit more.”

Considering they are not even halfway there yet, talking about this outside the locker room seems premature (much like talking about 72 wins already). The Warriors have had some less than stellar outings of late (the Brooklyn Game, for example), and they have a seven-game road trip with a couple back-to-backs coming up. There are a lot of places to trip up.

What this shows is that the Warriors have a little vanity, they have concern for their legacy.

And I love the confidence — this team is going to be disappointed when they do eventually lose. They are on a mission this season; they have not lost their hunger. Which may be the most impressive thing about their start.

Sixers’ Jahlil Okafor said he’s “embarrassed,” called actions “dumb”


Sixers’ big man Jahlil Okafor isn’t going to face serious repercussions for getting involved in a fight outside a Boston nightclub on Wednesday. The police are not investigating, the team is not suspending him (he is playing Friday night against Houston) and the Sixers are supporting him.

But Okafor admits he should have walked away, and his actions were “dumb” and “embarrassing.” Here is the money quote (the full video interview is above):

“It was definitely dumb on my part. It’s something that I am embarrassed about, (we’re) still dealing with the league and the team. But I’m not happy about it at all.”

Of course, this has led to renewed criticism of people around the league who are not fans of GM Sam Hinkie’s pushing the “be bad to get good” boundaries to new levels. Like it or not, that system can work, and depending on how the next draft unfolds, the future of Joel Embiid, and when Dario Saric comes over, there could be some very nice young building blocks — some real franchise cornerstones — in Philly in a couple of years. The plan can work if Hinkie nails the draft.

But one criticism of their plan does ring true to me — a couple louder, veteran voices in the locker room could help the maturation process. Would it have kept Okafor from doing something stupid with a heckler in front of a club? Likely not. But it would speed up the learning process, it would instill professionalism rather than the more chaotic system now. Michael Lee summed it up well at Yahoo.

The 76ers haven’t had a player older than 25 step on the court this season…. Carl Landry is the team’s oldest player at 32 but he has yet to make his season debut, putting too much pressure on Brett Brown and his coaching staff to teach the kids what it takes to be professional.

Philadelphia hasn’t hidden its desire to lose big now to win big later, but it shouldn’t just view veterans as salary-cap holds or a means to acquire more second-round picks. The Minnesota Timberwolves finished with the league’s worst record last season but invested in expediting the development of No. 1 overall pick Karl-Anthony Towns, reigning Rookie of the Year Andrew Wiggins and fellow first-round pick Zach LaVine by bringing in aging vets Kevin Garnett, Tayshaun Prince and Andre Miller to help serve as examples on and off the court….

Through his one notable misstep thus far, Okafor might inspire the necessary change in Philadelphia. Having seasoned players around won’t prevent kids from making mistakes altogether, but the TMZ video should serve as a reminder that the long-term development of the 76ers might be enhanced if a chaperone or two were around to help the youngsters deal with getting their heads beat in.

Boston police say no investigation planned into Jahlil Okafor fight


BOSTON (AP) — Boston police say they do not plan to investigate an apparent nightclub scuffle involving Philadelphia 76ers center Jahlil Okafor unless someone involved comes forward to say they were the victim of a crime.

Officer James Kenneally said Friday that police responded to reports of a fight outside the nightclub hours after the winless Sixers lost to the Boston Celtics on Wednesday night. But Kenneally says the participants were gone by the time officers arrived and nobody was arrested or charged.

TMZ posted cellphone video of the altercation on Thursday, showing Okafor yelling and later shoving a man. The website reports that the confrontation started when someone taunted the 76ers. Philadelphia has 16 losses and is the only team in the NBA without a win.

An agent for the No. 3 pick in the 2015 draft did not immediately return a message Friday seeking comment. The 76ers declined comment.

Philadelphia plays at Houston on Friday night.

Jason Kidd suspended one game for slapping ball away from ref


Mike Budenholzer – to the dismay of someavoided suspension for making contact with a referee.

Jason Kidd sure wasn’t.


NBA release:

Milwaukee Bucks head coach Jason Kidd has been suspended one game without pay for aggressively pursuing and confronting a game official, slapping the ball out of his hands, and not leaving the court in a timely manner upon his ejection, it was announced today by Kiki VanDeWeghe, Executive Vice President, Basketball Operations.

The incident, for which Kidd was assessed a technical foul and ejected, occurred with 1:49 remaining in the fourth quarter of Milwaukee’s 129-118 loss to the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday, Nov. 25 at BMO Harris Bradley Center.

Kidd will serve his suspension tonight when the Bucks play the Orlando Magic at Amway Center.

One game is a standard suspension for bumping an official, and it’s probably what Kidd deserved (what Budenholzer deserved, too, for what it’s worth).

But slapping the ball from a ref’s hands looks so much worse than a standard bump. Kidd should feel fortunate the NBA suspended him on the merit of the action rather than perception of it.