Atlanta Hawks v Miami Heat

Baseline to Baseline recaps: Where teams can’t hit the three but keep shooting them anyway

3 Comments

What you missed while wondering if banning a Dire Straits song makes any sense

Hawks 93, Heat 89 (OT): These two teams combined to take 61 shots from three on the night even though combined they made just 14 (23 percent). That kind of sums up this game — a lot of bad decisions and missed shots. This game was very entertaining. It was filled with sloppy but it was still fun to watch.

Al Horford sprained his ankle in the second half but said after the game is was not that serious. We’ll see what the reports are as Wednesday wears on but it doesn’t sound bad.

Early on Atlanta had its chance – Miami without Chris Bosh started Joel Anthony at the four and the lack of offense at the spot really hurt the Heat. Bosh is not the best Heat player but he may have the biggest drop off of talent behind him. Miami scored just 11 first quarter points and shot 31 percent for the half. But the Hawks didn’t take advantage — they ran a slow offense, pounded the ball a lot and set up isolations that played into the hands of the Heat defense. In essence, they were still the Hawks.

Then in the second quarter the Heat went small, moving LeBron James to the four spot and they started get out in transition (for a team full of athletes the Hawks are shockingly bad at transition defense). After a 12-0 run you had a game again.

It was a thrilling end of the game filled with more slop. There was Mo Evans taking a bad three-pointer then committing a foul at midcourt as the Heat came back up. The Hawks ran a beautifully designed pick-and-roll open for an ally-oop dunk and Joe Johnson threw a lob pass off the top of the backboard.

The Heat got a last shot to win in regulation and it was a Wade isolation that went nowhere and led to a cross-court pass to LeBron for a very deep three. Not pretty.

It wasn’t all bad. LeBron, back from injury, made some quality plays in overtime, a big three and a driving layup. But the erratic Hawks attacked the rim and had one of their strong stretches for those five key minutes and got the victory. Jamal Crawford and Joe Johnson looked sharp when it mattered.

Fun little stat courtesy ESPN’s Tom Haberstroh: Joel Anthony had 16 rebounds (8 offensive) and no shot attempts. The only other players to do that in the modern era: Dennis Rodman and Wilt Chamberlain.

Bobcats 83, Bulls 82: The winning team in this game shot 40 percent and was 0-of-13 from three. It fits our sloppy theme for the night.

The Bulls were on the fourth game in five nights and playing without Carlos Boozer (making the starting front line Taj Gibson and Kurt Thomas), but they put up a fight. Derrick Rose almost carried them with 33 points. The Bulls just made some mistakes of execution at the end. Such as Ronnie Brewer passing up a layup to kick out to Luol Deng for a three. An open three, but no coach wants you to pass up a layup for a three (not even Paul Westhead).

For the Bobcats, that’s two wins over the Bulls in a week. Wins are wins, doesn’t matter how they come. Charlotte made the plays in the clutch — Stephen Jackson had a key fade away from the elbow, Gerald Wallace played his best ball at the end.

Report: Clippers’ Austin Rivers has broken hand, out 4-6 weeks

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 29:  Austin Rivers #25 of the Los Angeles Clippers scores on a layup past D'Angelo Russell #1 of the Los Angeles Lakers during a 105-93 win at Staples Center on January 29, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and condition of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Leave a comment

The Clippers are without Blake Griffin for the next few weeks as he recovers from a broken hand stemming from an altercation with an equipment manager. Now, the Clippers have lost backup point guard Austin Rivers to the exact same injury, albeit not in the same circumstances, obviously.

The loss of Rivers isn’t as devastating as the loss of Griffin, but given the Clippers’ lack of depth, it’s certainly not ideal. Now, Chris Paul‘s only backup is Pablo Prigioni.

Warriors hold off late Thunder run to remain undefeated at home

1 Comment

For once, a marquee matchup involving the Golden State Warriors lived up to its billing. Their much-hyped meetings with the Cleveland Cavaliers and San Antonio Spurs were anticlimactic blowouts nearly free of drama. And for the first half on Saturday night’s 116-108 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder, it seemed like the defending champions were headed for another snoozer. They led by as much as 20, and completely outmatched the Thunder on both ends of the floor.

But the Thunder rallied behind a surprising defensive effort in the second half and some solid play from Enes Kanter. Plus, you know, Kevin Durant, who led all scorers with 40 points and gave the normally unflappable Draymond Green fits defensively. They tied the game at 104 before Golden State pulled away.

Despite the huge first-half lead, the Warriors weren’t their usual selves. Stephen Curry shot 1-for-8 from behind the three-point line, and triple-double machine Draymond Green scored just nine points. Golden State’s most consistent player was Harrison Barnes, who has probably read the speculation that the Warriors would have to dump him to land Durant this summer. He hit three three-pointers and shot 8-for-14 overall on the way to 19 points.

The Warriors’ bench carried them for stretches, outscoring Oklahoma City’s reserves 42-17.

Despite the Thunder’s late run, this was a statement win for the Warriors. They sent the message that, even when they aren’t in total control from start to finish, they can still pull away from other elite teams. The Thunder have given them the toughest challenge of any team they’ll likely have to face in the late rounds of the playoffs this spring, and it’s to their credit that they took the first-half punch and came back to make it a game. But the Warriors are on a different level from the rest of the league, and they showed that clearly on Saturday.

Kevin Durant brushes off free-agency speculation: “Once that time comes, I’ll make that decision”

OAKLAND, CA - JANUARY 05:  Kevin Durant #35 of the Oklahoma City Thunder drives on Harrison Barnes #40 of the Golden State Warriors at ORACLE Arena on January 5, 2015 in Oakland, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Leave a comment

It goes without saying that with the Thunder and Warriors playing each other for the first time on Saturday night, Kevin Durant free-agency talk has been at an all-time high. The hot rumor this week is that the Warriors are the frontrunners to land Durant this summer, which would shake up the league like nothing since LeBron James going to Miami.

Obviously, all parties were going to be asked about it before the hotly anticipated game. And obviously, all parties were going to downplay it. That’s exactly what happened.

Here’s what Durant said, via the San Francisco Chronicle‘s Rusty Simmons:

“Once that time comes, I’ll make that decision. I’ll sit down and talk to my closest friends and family and figure it out, but right now, I’m just trying to be the best basketball player I can be every single day. I have to be at a high level to lead every day at practices, shootarounds and games, and that’s a tough task. I can’t focus on anything else, other than that.”

Warriors coach Steve Kerr also downplayed the speculation:

“I don’t know why anybody would talk about anything but the fact that we’re 45-4 and have a hell of a team,” said Kerr, who hasn’t addressed rumors about Durant favoring the Bay Area as a future destination with his players. “Why would anybody talk about some different team, future stuff and other players?

“Focus on our team. We’re pretty good.”

On both sides, that’s the appropriate way to respond publicly. Not that this is going to go away anytime soon. They play each other two more times this season, once in Oklahoma City and once more in Oakland, and this is going to get brought up then, too. And just like Saturday, nobody will give a definitive answer. Nor should they. Nobody will know anything until July 1. But until then, it will be impossible to quiet the chatter.

Pelicans shut down Tyreke Evans until after All-Star break

MEMPHIS, TN - NOVEMBER 06: Tyreke Evans #1 of the New Orleans Pelicans dribbles the ball during the NBA game against the Memphis Grizzlies at FedExForum on November 6, 2013 in Memphis, Tennessee.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and condition of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Leave a comment

the Pelicans have dealt with an inordinate amount of injuries so far this season to nearly every key payer on their roster. Tyreke Evans has missed the last five games with a lingering knee issue, and the team says he’s going to sit out their final four games before the All-Star break, as a precaution to make sure he’s healthy for the second half of the season.

From the Pelicans’ official site:

“We’re probably going to hold him out until after the All-Star break,” Alvin Gentry said during pregame at Quicken Loans Arena. “That gives him a situation where he has almost two weeks where he can rehab it and hopefully get it back. Hopefully he’ll be ready to go right after the All-Star break and we’ll be able to play him for the rest of the stretch (of the schedule).”

Evans initially missed the Jan. 2 game at Dallas due to the injury, then was sidelined again Jan. 18 at Memphis. Against Houston, he only played 16 minutes before being taken out of the game, suffering from the same issue.

“I think it’s just rest,” Gentry said of what it may take for Evans to get past the injury. “It’s one of those situations with tendinitis, where you rest and it feels better. That’s better than having him play two games, then sit out one (and have his status in flux). This may help him be able to play the last part of the season, without sitting out.”

Despite being 18-31, the Pelicans are just six games out of the eighth seed in the Western Conference. Their resting of Evans could be read two ways—it could be gearing up to make a push for the playoffs, as much of a long shot as that may be; or it could be the first in a series of instances of shutting down or resting key players to try to position themselves for a lottery pick, effectively hitting the reset button after a season as ravaged by injuries as the one they’ve had.