Devin Harris, Zach Randolph, Tony Allen

Baseline to Baseline recaps: Mikhail Prokhorov seems to know what the Nets needed

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What you missed while watching the longest shot you will see this year….

Nets 93, Grizzlies 88: The Nets won because of their tremendous bench play? Yes. The Nets bench outscored the Grizzlies bench 56-12 and it was guys like Kris Humphries off the bench that sparked a rally from 13 down in the third quarter to get the Nets the win. New Jersey is now 4-1 since Mikhail Prokhorov called off the Carmelo Anthony trade talks.

Magic 111, Pacers 96: Roy Hibbert had a great first month of the season and has fallen apart since. Dwight Howard is a rough guy to get right against. Hibbert had 4 points, 2 boards, and was -22 in less than 15 minutes. Howard had 19 points and was a +20.

Sixers 107, Raptors 94: Marreese Speights was a beast with 17 second quarter points to keep the Sixers in it early, then they pulled away in the third quarter behind strong play from Andre Iguodala. The Sixers dominated the glass against the soft interior of the Raptors and grabbed 17 offensive rebounds — meaning the Sixers go a second chance on 41.5 percent of their missed shots.

Nuggets 109, Pistons 100: You would think if one franchise had the institutional memory to know you don’t leave Chauncey Billups open late in a tight game it would be Detroit. How many games did he win for the Pistons that way? He cost them one in this one.

Billups hit four three pointers in the final three minutes and that sealed the Nuggets wins. Will Bynum took over late for the Pistons and had 17 fourth quarter points, but he was trading twos for threes with Billups late and that didn’t cut it.

Spurs 112, Jazz 105: The Jazz just get no defensive presence in the paint from their big men and that is hurting them badly lately. Tony Parker was getting into the lane early (10 first quarter points) and throughout the game other Spurs got shots inside without much resistance.

I still say Chris Paul is the best point guard in the game. Charles Barkley thinks it’s Derrick Rose. But if you want to make a case for Deron Williams, I listen and nod a lot. I hate to argue against him.

Thunder 118, Timberwolves 117 (OT): Let us marvel at Kevin Durant, he of the 47 points and taking over late. He of the beautiful step-back shot that was the game winner. He of the 18 rebounds. He deserves our awe.

The Wolves had their chances. Corey Brewer missed a tying free throw in overtime but it was tipped out top and Luke Ridnour ended up with the ball and five seconds left  — and he acted like there was 0.5 left. Rather than settle down enough to get a good shot he rushed it, Russell Westbrook contested and made him double clutch and he missed badly. The Wolves had other chances. But in the end it was too much Durant.

Bucks 98, Hawks 90: The Bucks owned the fourth quarter. Haven’t typed a sentence like that in a while. But there you go, they won the quarter 34-15 and the game with it. It was the Bucks bench that did it — Earl Boykins was creating shots for everyone and had 9 fourth quarter points, as did Carlos Delfino. Former D-Leaguer Garrett Temple added six in the fourth quarter and played well. When things got tight what did the Hawks do? Stop moving the ball and rely on a lot of Josh Smith jumpers. You can guess how that went.

Rockets 96, Clippers 83: Chuck Hayes did as good a defensive job on Blake Griffin as anyone has all season long. Hayes is strong enough to take away the muscle moves of Griffin where he just overpowers players and that turned Griffins’ usual 3 footers into 7 footers, and the result was a lot of misses. A lot of teams have tried to be physical with Griffin but it usually just leads to a lot of fouls. Hayes matched him and it was the key to the win.

Bobcats 114, Suns 107: This was a two point game with four minutes to go, and then Boris Diaw made a couple plays. He hit the 18-foot jumper, he drove the lane and created the open look for Gerald Henderson (who had a couple nice shots late). Meanwhile Channing Frye made a couple bad fouls late (and they were both fouls, sorry Frye). Suddenly the Bobcats were in total control late.

D.J. Augustin is like a new player under Paul Silas, and it changes who the Bobcats are. In a good way.

Hornets 112, Warriors 103: Chris Paul had 17 dimes and his setting people up is part of the reason New Orleans shot 62.2 percent. Teams don’t really lose when they shoot 62.2 percent.

Gregg Popovich pins Spurs’ effort problems on players: ‘I don’t remember playing tonight’ (video)

San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich gives instructions against the Detroit Pistons in the first half of a preseason NBA basketball game in Auburn Hills, Mich., Monday, Oct. 10, 2016. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
AP Photo/Paul Sancya
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The Spurs fell behind by 18 and eventually lost to the Bulls, 95-91, last night – which begged the question:

Does San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich bear any responsibility for his team’s lack of early intensity?

Jabari Young of the San Antonio Express-News:

Popovich:

I don’t remember playing tonight. I didn’t play. Guys get a lot of money to be ready to play. No Knute Rockne speeches. It’s your job. If you’re a plumber and you don’t do your job, you don’t get any work. I don’t think a plumber needs a pep talk. If a doctor botches operations, he’s not a doctor anymore. If you’re a basketball player, you come ready. It’s called maturity. It’s your job.

Like it or not, motivation is part of an NBA coach’s job.

But that’s also precisely what Popovich is doing.

His credentials dwarf any other coach’s. He can play to his own ego and absolve himself of responsibility – and players will seek to please him. His years of success have earned him the ability to motivate this way, a method no other coach could use without alienating his team.

Donatas Motiejunas signing four-year, $35 million contract with Rockets

DENVER, CO - MARCH 07:  Donatas Motiejunas #20 of the Houston Rockets is helped to his feet by teammates James Harden #13 and Patrick Beverley #2 of the Houston Rockets at Pepsi Center on March 7, 2015 in Denver, Colorado. The Rockets defeated the Nuggets 114-100. 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 Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
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Once the Rockets let Donatas Motiejunas back into free agency, this was only a matter of time.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

This sounds remarkably similar to the salaries and incentives set in the original offer sheet from the Nets. But remember, the Rockets didn’t match some of those bonuses that Brooklyn would have been bound to.

So, why not hold Motiejunas to what became a four-year, $31 million offer sheet once matched? Houston got something in return – a later trigger date on guaranteeing Motiejunas’ 2017-18 salary. Originally, that decision had to be made March 1 – which would’ve meant dropping Motiejunas from the team this season to prevent his salary from counting next season. Now, the Rockets can make that call in July, after this season is complete.

The following two Julys, Houston will also have a choice on guaranteeing Motiejunas’ upcoming salary or dropping him.

Essentially, Motiejunas is signing the most lucrative Hinkie Special in NBA history. If he plays well and stays healthy, the Rockets have Motiejunas at an affordable rate. If he struggles or his back injuries flare up, they can drop him with little to no penalty.

After they backed themselves into this corner, Motiejunas and his agent, B.J. Armstrong, didn’t do so bad. Considering the similarity between this contract and the Nets’ original offer sheet, it seems Houston helped Armstrong save face after a bungled free agency (which is easier to accept when you’re adding a talented reserve to a formidable team).

But for how little is guaranteed and how much control the Rockets hold over the next four years, wouldn’t Motiejunas have been better off accepting the $4,433,683 qualifying offer?

Report: Rockets return Donatas Motiejunas to restricted free agency, working on new contract with him

Donatas Motiejunas, Kenneth Faried
AP Photo/David Zalubowski
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The Rockets had Donatas Motiejunas in a bind.

He was beholden to them on a four-year, $31 million deal and unable to sign with other teams. Motiejunas’ choices: Report for a physical or wait in limbo.

But apparently Houston has allowed him out of that constraint.

Marc Stein of ESPN:

This means Motiejunas can’t sign with the Nets, who signed him to the original offer sheet, for one year.

I bet it also means Motiejunas and Houston have agreed to a new contract. Otherwise, why release him from the offer sheet? The Rockets would be giving up a tremendous amount of leverage out of the goodness of their hearts – unless this is just a prelude to a new deal with Houston.

John Wall pushes down Jusuf Nurkic from behind in retaliation (video)

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John Wall didn’t like how Jusuf Nurkic bumped him, so Wall shoved the Nuggets center from behind and sent him to the floor.

An overreaction to the bump? Probably. Wall got hit with a technical foul.

But I’m mostly just impressed Wall was strong enough to push over Nurkic.