Baseline to Baseline recaps: When good games are overshadowed by the ‘Melodrama

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What you missed while reading the story about Deadspin in GQ

Nets 103, Jazz 95: “Melo? We don’t need no stinkin’ Melo”

In what in some ways seemed like an anti-climactic game, was “Russian Culture” night in New Jersey. That motivated Andrei Kirilenko who came out fast. But once the game settled down this was all Nets for the most part. The Jazz defense let the Nets — the team 28th in the league in offensive efficiency — put up an impressive 117 point per 100 possessions. The Jazz still had some chances at the end but they missed some chippies and the Nets hit theirs. Seven guys for the Nets in double digits.

Magic 99, Sixers 98 (OT): No lead is safe with these Sixers. I mean, when they have it. Dwight Howard fouled out and got a technical with 28 seconds left, and the Sixers were up 5. And the Magic got it to overtime. The Sixers have blown more leads this season than I can count. Once in overtime the Sixers left Jameer Nelson wide open for a three. They fouled J.J. Redick for a four-point play. And they still almost won it — Andre Iguodala had a shot go about as far down as one can and rattle out with five seconds left, Evan Turner hustled and got the offensive board and put up a leaning floater that missed and the Magic escaped with one

Suns 106, Cavaliers 98: With Mo Williams out for a couple weeks, it was Ramon Sessions having to cover Steve Nash. We expected a blowout, but frankly the Suns played down to the level of the competition and got away with it. The Suns started cold in the first part of the fourth quarter and suddenly it was a four point game. But the Suns still had enough talent to win a game they would have lot to 28 other teams. Grant Hill had 27, making this his first back-to-back 25 point games since March 2005.

Vince Carter was ice cold, but he did have the best moment of the night — he was on the sidelines to inbound the ball, reached over and wiped off his hands on Byron Scott’s suit. Scott just laughed.

Celtics 86, Pistons 82: The Celtics had the same disease as the Suns — they played down to the competition. You would have thought they learned their lesson about that when they lost to the Pistons before, but no. Shaquille O’Neal sparked a 9-1 fourth quarter run that led the comeback. There just should not have had to be a comeback.

Bucks 100, Wizards 87: The Bucks offense showed up for this one — they actually got to 100 points and won the home fan free McDonald’s food. That would be three times this season. But getting to 100 points (108.7 points per 100 possessions pace, 8 points above their season average) without Brandon Jennings or John Salmons, and with Andrew Bogut scoring just 6, is a surprise.

Hornets 103, Grizzlies 102 (OT): Emeka Okafor had one assist in this game — a nifty bounce pass through traffic to Marcus Thornton for the game winning reverse layup. Thornton had 17 for the game, all in the fourth quarter and OT. Trevor Ariza, 2-12, must shoot less. The other key to this game, the Hornets defended the Memphis bigs without fouling — the Grizzlies shot just 15 free throws, the Hornets 28.

Rockets 104, Knicks 89: The Rockets controlled this game from the start and afterwards on twitter Rockets GM Daryl Morey explained why: The good defense of Chuck Hayes on Amare Stoudemire (who still had 25 on 11-of-21 shooting) allowed the other Rockets defenders to stay home on the Knicks shooters. The Knicks stayed 1-on-1 with Stoudemire all night, no doubles, no shooters left unguarded. Morey said that is the key to knocking off the Knicks, not to let the other guys beat you.

Mavericks 109, Lakers 100: The Lakers focused their defensive effort on slowing Dirk Nowitzki and all game left Jason Kidd, DeShawn Stevenson, and Sasha Pavlovic open if they took jumpers. In the first half Pavlovic made them pay, in the second half Kidd came alive and the price got steep for LA. I’d say that was the Lakers strategy but really it was just bad rotations. Dallas had an offensive rating of 131 points per 100 possessions in this one.

In the third quarter the Lakers also started settling for jumpers, launching threes, missing and that fueled the Mavs running game. The Lakers can’t run with the Mavs.

Nuggets 112, Thunder 107: Carmelo Anthony had 35 and played like a weight had been lifted from his shoulders. Can’t imagine why. He took over in the fourth quarter and was the hot player. The crowd still booed him after the game, during the post-game interview. Durant was 1-of-9 shooting in the second half.

Blazers 94, Kings 90 (OT): This game would have fit in well with yesterday’s “sloppy but entertaining” theme. Look at it this way: With 2:30 left and the game tied 83-83 we got a missed Rudy Fernandez three; followed by a missed Omri Casspi three; then LaMarcus Aldridge missed a good-look jump hook in the lane; then Jason Thompson missed 18 footer; that was followed by a sloppy Andre Miller jump pass to Aldridge which ends up a turnover; then Tyreke Evans pushes the pace back the other way, gets into the lane, passes to Jason Thompson who has his a dunk blocked; so the Blazers try to run and Miller misses the layup.

With Marcus Camby out the Kings got into the paint for shots a lot, although not DeMarcus Cousins who played like a rookie.

Spurs 104, Raptors 95: The Spurs joined the list of teams — Celtics, Suns — that played down to the level of the competition and got away with it Wednesday. Manu Ginobili and DeJuan Blair saved them.

Warriors 110, Pacers 108: Monta Ellis is as deadly as anyone in the league if you want a game-winning clutch shot. Beautiful crossover, got to his spot near the elbow, great elevation over Brandon Rush, nothing by nylon. Pretty play to win it. Don’t want to leave out David Lee, who had a key end of game free throw and offensive rebound. Steph Curry had an impressive late layup, but his foul on a Darren Collison jumper that made it a three-point play and tied the game was almost a disaster. Ellis bailed him out.

Clippers 126, Wolves 111: Everyone seemed focused on the Kevin Love/Blake Griffin matchup, and it was pretty good. They both got theirs, Love had his millionth consecutive double-double, Griffin had 29 points and a spectacular dunk. What you really should take away from this — the Clippers have built a really nice core and have the much better team and future right now.

Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue: Kyrie Irving feeling ‘good’ after ankle injury

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BOSTON (AP) — Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue says that Kyrie Irving‘s left ankle is feeling “good” in advance of Cleveland’s Game 5 matchup Thursday night with the Celtics.

Irving was moving around and putting up shots during the Cavs’ morning shootaround.

The All-Star rolled his ankle in the third quarter of Game 4 when he stepped on Terry Rozier‘s foot. Irving was able to stay on the floor and finish the game, scoring a career playoff-high 42 points.

Cleveland leads Boston 3-1 and can wrap up its third straight Eastern Conference title Thursday night.

Several Celtics are also fighting injuries as they try to stave off elimination.

Jaylen Brown is listed as questionable with a right hip pointer. Jae Crowder is probable with a left groin strain, and Amir Johnson is probable with a right shoulder sprain.

Danny Ainge: Lonzo Ball declined to work out for Celtics, who hold No. 1 pick

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LaVar Ball said his son, highly touted draft prospect Lonzo Ball, would work out for only the Lakers.

You thought he was bluffing?

Celtics president Danny Ainge, whose team holds the No. 1 pick, on 98.5 the Sports Hub:

We just tried to get him in for a workout, and they politely said no.

It’s not ideal.

Listen, we’ve drafted guys that wouldn’t come in for workouts before. I mean, it’s not the end of the world. We’ve watched them play a ton. We have a lot of information on them.

Good for Ball. Professional sports teams already hold inordinate power over players entering the workforce. In no other industry are top young employees assigned to a particular company, the worst-performing companies typically getting priority, with no ability to bargain with competitors.

Ball wants to play for the Lakers, who offer proximity to his family and hold the No. 2 pick. He can’t force Boston to pass on him or Los Angeles to pick him. But he can influence decision-making.

It seemed likely the Celtics would draft Markelle Fultz, and though they could still pick Ball, him declining a workout with Boston makes that only less likely. The Lakers will probably draft Ball, but this plan carries risk. If they pass, he could fall once he gets to teams less familiar with him.

Still, Ball deserves to decide for himself how to manage his career – especially in such a closed job market. Not working out for the Celtics is probably his best path to getting where he wans to go.

Donald Sterling’s wife petitioning NBA to overturn his lifetime ban

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Former Clippers owner Donald Sterling settled his lawsuit against the NBA and his wife. Reconciled with Shelley Sterling, Donald sounds – in a recent interview with James Rainey of NBC News – ready to move on.

Rainey:

But his wife, Shelly Sterling, also 83, said in a separate interview that she has not let go of at least one formal blot that remains on Sterling’s record: the lifetime ban from the NBA that was imposed on the long-time Clippers owner after his racist remarks against African-Americans attending games.

Shelly Sterling said she personally approached Silver and also had her attorney, Pierce O’Donnell, talk to the league office about lifting the lifetime ban, which prevents Donald Sterling from attending NBA games. Her intention is not to allow her husband to do business with the league, but to clear his record, in consideration of the 33 years he spent as an owner.

“”I couldn’t understand the severity of the ban. It just seemed a little bit out of line,” Shelly Sterling said. “I have talked to [the NBA] several times and I don’t know what they will do. Maybe they will and maybe they won’t [lift the ban]. Maybe it takes a little bit more time.”

The NBA won’t lift the ban for the same reason it implemented the ban: Associating with Sterling was costing the league money.

Time has cooled the resentment toward Sterling, but overturning the ban would return the venom – and much of it would be directed toward the league. There’s no good reason to open that box.

Besides, Sterling – with his lengthy record of racism and sexism – doesn’t deserve clemency. People like him deserve far more comeuppance than they’ve gotten.

Purdue’s Caleb Swanigan staying in 2017 NBA draft

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Purdue’s Caleb Swanigan declared for the 2016 NBA draft, struggled at the combine, withdrew, got into great shape, had an All-American sophomore season, declared for the 2017 draft.

This time, he’s not turning back.

Swanigan:

Swanigan is a borderline first-round pick. He has a couple NBA-ready skills the good teams that typically pick late in the first round might covet, but thanks to trades, teams that didn’t win a playoff game this year hold most late first-round picks. They might pick someone with more upside than Swanigan.

Swanigan is a tenacious rebounder, particularly defensively. He has excellent fundamentals, size (6-foot-9 with a 7-foot-3 wingspan) and ability to read the ball, and he crashes through contact to hunt boards.

He’s also a quality post-up player who can finish with either hand and has the passing ability to make that play work.

But Swanigan is slow. NBA teams have become increasingly adept at running plodders like him off the court by dragging them into pick-and-rolls. Even when on the court, he hasn’t protected the rim at satisfactory levels.

Swanigan has overcome his athletic limitations as a rebounder. He hasn’t done so in other facets of defense.

He’s hardly a dinosaur offensively. He made 45% of his 3-pointers last season, and though I’m not confident that will translate to NBA 3-point range (give the small sample and his form), he should be at least a midrange threat.

Swanigan is also just 20, young for a sophomore. He can improve.

But it’s just hard to look past his defensive limitations.