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

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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.

Damian Lillard dismisses playoff expectations as pressure, says it insults regular people

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The Portland Trail Blazers have had a disappointing season thus far. The team is just 34-38 before their game with the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday, and they’re battling it out for the last spot in the Western Conference playoffs with the Denver Nuggets.

This comes as after expectations rose greatly following the 2015-16 campaign which saw the Blazers finish 44-38, good enough for the No. 5 spot in the West.

Portland has looked better after trading Mason Plumlee to Denver in exchange for Jusuf Nurkic, but it might be too little too late. Meanwhile, team leader Damian Lillard isn’t bowing to the idea that last season’s good fortune raised the bar so much that it put undue pressure on his team.

Speaking with Sporting News, Lillard said he thinks the idea is really more about pressure vs. challenges.

Via SN:

Pressure, nah. Fam, this is just playing ball. Pressure is the homeless man, who doesn’t know where his next meal is coming from. Pressure is the single mom, who is trying to scuffle and pay her rent. We get paid a lot of money to play a game. Don’t get me wrong — there are challenges. But to call it pressure is almost an insult to regular people.

Look at the Wizards, they were kind of on the same wave as us. Didn’t even make the playoffs while we did. Now this year they’re the second-best team in the East. The adversity made them better. It can make us better, too. What I come from and my background made me who I am. As comfortable as I am with the good times, I’m also comfortable in adversity. Yeah, I might feel some type of way when somebody comes for me or says my name. But when it’s all said and done, it ain’t gonna rock me.

This is interesting to hear an NBA player say out loud. One, because I’m not sure I entirely believe it. You can have pressure without it having to be something that threatens your overall wellbeing.

Then again, maybe we’re arguing linguistics here. There’s definitely a different emotion from, say, trying to make sure you make rent and aren’t evicted to the street vs. trying to make the NBA playoffs. If one emotion is being defined as pressure, it makes sense to call the other a challenge.

It’s also interesting to hear an NBA player speak in those kinds of terms. There are a few guys around the league who seem to be relatively grounded and give out quotes like this from time-to-time. The absurdity of the NBA — playing games, making millions, and having folks worship you — would easily bend reality for most of us.

In any case, the challenge of making the playoffs for Portland is not going to be an easy one to overcome. Going into Sunday’s matchup with the Lakers, the Trail Blazers are a game behind Denver for the final spot.

Portland will face Denver on Tuesday, March 28 in perhaps their most important game of the season.

Kobe Bryant’s “Musecage” is like if Sesame Street had an NBA film room (VIDEO)

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Kobe Bryant’s video “Musecage” aired on ESPN on Sunday, and it’s one of the craziest things I’ve watched on an NBA broadcast. That includes watching Kobe’s own alley-oop to Shaquille O’Neal in Game 7 of the 2000 Western Conference Finals.

Someone on Twitter called it a “drug-fueled Muppet nightmare” but that’s selling short how remarkable the video was. In it, Kobe delivered a message about finding motivation as a young basketball player alongside a talking “Lil’ Mamba” puppet.

But here’s where it gets good: this video was made true to Kobe’s own person. Despite the happy, glockenspiel-laden background music with puppet accompaniment, Kobe’s message in “Musecage” was to use the dark part of your psyche as motivation to conquer your enemies.

I’m dead serious.


It doesn’t get any more Kobe than that.

The first video ends with Kobe’s advice to Lil’ Mamba, who goes off to become strong by using the dark musings as his fuel. Meanwhile, the second video talks about — and I’m not kidding — tactics James Harden and Russell Westbrook use to defeat their opponents in the pick-and-roll.

It’s like if Sesame Street was also a film room session.

Needless to say, all 10 minutes of Musecage are incredible. I don’t mean that in any sarcastic way, either. Bryant has been working on his Canvas series for a while, and his message shines true to the person we’ve known for the last two decades.

Use your happy feelings to push yourself? No! Use self-doubt as a motivator to Jawface your way through to six championship rings.

He debuted the original episode on Christmas Day, and it too had a kid-friendly feel.

I literally cannot wait for the next edition in this series.

Mark Cuban on Blake Griffin’s fall vs. JJ Barea: “We sent flowers to his family, condolences”

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The Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Clippers got into a bit of a scuffle the other night during their game. Clippers big man Blake Griffn and Mavericks PG JJ Barea tussled, with Barea earning a Flagrant 2 and an ejection for putting his hands on Griffin’s neck and pushing him to the ground.

It really was a sight to see, whether Griffin flopped or not.

Meanwhile, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban was asked about the incident and responded with some heavy sarcasm that feels par for the course.

Via Twitter:

Griffin does have a bit of a reputation for acting and flopping, and Barea is hilariously undersized compared to him. Then again, the throat is a vulnerable area. Who knows if the fall was real or fake?

I’m just glad Cuban has a sense of humor about it.

Watch Derrick Rose leave Patty Mills standing still with eurostep, huge dunk

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New York Knicks point guard Derrick Rose still has some explosivity left in his legs. Against the San Antonio Spurs on Saturday night, the former MVP left Spurs guard Patty Mills standing still on a thunderous dunk.

The play came in the fourth quarter with Rose on the break and Mills the only Spurs player defending the basket. Rose had a full head of steam, and it appeared Mills was going to for the charge call.

Rose then craftily eurostepped his way around Mills, leading to the jam.

San Antonio beat New York, 106-98.