Baseline to Baseline recaps: Dwight Howard makes Blake Griffin look like a rookie

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What you missed while campaigning for former Fort Wayne, Ind., mayor Harry Baals to get a building named after him

Magic 101, Clippers 85: The last time these two met the Clippers struggled with the Magic’s defense, and that continued again. The Clippers do not get out in transition, take too much time to initiate the offense and let Orlando’s stingy defense get set. The result was Dwight Howard protecting the rim and Blake Griffin scoring just 10 points of 4-of-12 shooting. Nobody got going for the Clippers. Well, except Baron Davis, he almost had a triple-double with 25 points on 8-of-16 shooting. 8 rebounds, 8 assists.

It stayed close because the Magic struggled mightily in the first half hitting just 3-15 from three. What kept Orlando in it was they grabbed the 10 offensive rebounds in the first half (43.5% of their misses). In the second half, the fourth quarter in particular with a 12-0 run, they found a rhythm and pulled away scoring 59 in the second half.

Sixers 117, Hawks 83: NBA.com’s John Schuhmann was pimping the Sixers small lineups the other day (Jrue Holiday, Jodie Meeks, Andre Iguodala, Thaddeus Young, Elton Brand and some variations of that. It worked will here and helped he Sixers pull away. Philly led by 20 points in the first quarter and was up 33-15 after one. The Hawks were without Al Horford to make Philly pay for going small, and the result was a lot of Josh Smith jumpers.

Spurs 100, Pistons 89: Welcome to the NBA, where the good teams can execute at both ends when it gets to crunch time. This was a 1 point game at the half, 5 points after three. But no team is executing better at the end of game s now than the Spurs.

Heat 117, Pacers 112: One other thing we are seeing with the Pacers in the Frank Vogel era is a much more physical style of play. They are not backing down and they actually led this by 14 in the second half and were up a few minutes into the fourth quarter. Then they went cold and seemed to feel the moment against the Heat. LeBron James kept them in it early with a complete offensive game resulting in 41 points on the night and Chris Bosh sparked a 14-3 fourth quarter run and, well, you see the result.

Bucks 92, Raptors 74: Hey, we finally found a defense that can make the Bucks offense look good!

Grizzlies 105, Thunder 101 (OT): Fourth game in five nights for Memphis, and with no Rudy Gay for this one (sprained right big toe) but the Grizzlies played hard and got some Ewing Effect. Much of it came from Tony Allen who had 27 points on 12 shots. This was a bad game from the Thunder and only the 18 offensive rebounds really kept them in it. But once again the Thunder didn’t execute in the fourth quarter.

Timberwolves 112, Rockets 108: Entertaining back and forth series of fourth quarter runs, but Minnesota had the last one, a late 11-4 run to win it. Kevin Love had 11 fourth quarter points and Wayne Ellington chipped in 10 in the final frame. That’s two nice road wins in a row for the Wolves (they beat New Orleans Monday night).

Russell Westbrook on matchup with Ricky Rubio: ‘Let’s get past that. We’re done with that’

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After Ricky Rubio‘s 26-point triple-double in Game 3, Russell Westbrook said, “I’ma shut that s— off next game though. Guarantee that.”

Westbrook definitely tried. The Thunder star defended Rubio far more aggressively in Game 4 last night. But Westbrook also fouled Rubio four times in the first half and played too out of control, committing five turnovers. Rubio (13 points, eight rebounds, six assists) wasn’t nearly as individually excellent, but his passing keyed the Jazz’s offense.

Most importantly, Utah outscored Oklahoma City by 12 in the 30 minutes the point guards shared the court and won 113-96 to take a 3-1 series lead.

How did the matchup with Rubio go, Russ?

Westbrook:

It’s not about me and him. Let’s get past that. We’re done with that.

How convenient.

Westbrook is the one who brought attention to the individual matchup. He took stopping Rubio upon himself. Now, when it didn’t go well, Westbrook suddenly doesn’t want to talk about it?

Maybe Westbrook realized he got carried away, to the detriment of his team. It’s not too late to fix that, and this could be his attempt to do so before Game 5 Wednesday.

But he also must own the egg on his face for putting the spotlight on Westbrook-Rubio and then dodging the attention once the matchup went south.

Rockets 50, Timberwolves 20: Most dominant playoff quarter in shot-clock era (video)

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James Harden missed a floater and clapped in frustration. The Rockets’ third quarter in Game 4 against the Timberwolves didn’t get off to a great start. Harden’s shooting had underwhelmed since Game 2.

Then, Harden and Houston broke out of the funk – in a big way.

The Rockets outscored Minnesota 50-20 in the third quarter of their 119-100 victory last night, giving Houston a 3-1 lead in the first-round series. The 30-point margin in the third quarter was tied for the most lopsided playoff quarter in the shot-clock era:

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Harden singlehandedly outscored the Timberwolves himself, 23-20. Paul added 15.

The Rockets shot 5-of-10 on 2-pointers, 9-of-13 on 3-pointers and 13-of-13 on free throws. Houston committed no turnovers and offensively rebounded a third of its misses.

It was incredible output, even for the NBA’s best offense.

The Rockets’ 50 points were second-most in a playoff quarter – and the most in a victory – in the shot-clock era. The leaderboard:

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As expected, Wesley Matthews says he will pick up $18.6 million option with Mavericks

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Wesley Matthews still has value as an NBA player.

However, he doesn’t have $18.6 million in value on the open market right now — especially in what will be a tight market this summer — so he’s going to take the cash on the table. Matthews is going to opt into the $18.6 million in the final year of his contract (the final season of a four-year, $70 million deal), he told Dwain Price of the Mavericks’ official website.

He said he will pick up that option and return and play next season with the Mavs.

“Obviously that’s something that hasn’t been on my mind,” Matthews said. “That’s what you have an agent for and agencies for.

“Like I said, I don’t plan on being anywhere else. And now it’s just focusing on getting back healthy, which I am now, and getting on this court.”

Matthews missed the final 16 games of last season with a stress fracture in his right fibula, and played in just 63 games total. He has been cleared to resume basketball activities now and is back on his workout routine.

Matthews biggest value has been on the defensive end, where he has been good on the wing for Dallas. Offensively, he averaged 12.7 points per game last season, shooting an improved 38.1 percent from three and with a true shooting percentage right around the league average at 54.1. He’s been solid in Dallas, a glue guy and a veteran example for young players such as Dennis Smith Jr., although they paid him that contract to be more than just solid.

Matthews name came up in trade rumors last deadline, and now that he has an expiring deal you can expect his name to come up again this summer and into next season (if he’s not moved). He’s an interesting trade piece who could help a lot of playoff-bound teams, something the Mavericks are not likely to be.

Draymond Green is texting Joel Embiid advice during playoffs

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In Game 1 of their series, the Philadelphia 76ers — without Joel Embiid — blew the doors off the Miami Heat, winning by 27. It’s the kind of game that can lead a young team to overconfidence.

That’s when Draymond Green texted Joel Embiid some words of advice, reports Jessica Camerato of NBC Sports Philadelphia.

“Draymond texted me after the first game when we blew Miami out,” Embiid recalled Monday. “He basically told me that it’s not going to be the same in Game 2. They came back and they won that game.”

Green was right, but it’s one of the harder things for young players to understand, how much the ground can shift game-to-game in the playoffs. For the first four games especially, matchups and strategies will change night-to-night, and around Game 5 that tends to settle down and become more about execution (and talent).

For the Sixers, everything in their series changed with the return of Joel Embiid. Unhappily wearing a mask, Embiid’s defensive presence in the paint slows the Heat attack and allows things like Philly’s Game 4 comeback win on the road. Now Embiid’s about to make his home playoff debut in Game 5 Tuesday night, with a chance to close out the series.

“The atmosphere was amazing, it was insane,” Embiid said of the home crowd in Games 1 and 2. “After going to Miami, I felt like nothing compared to it. … We’ve been almost perfect [at home] since the beginning of the year. It just shows you how much we need them. Especially myself, I play better in that type of environment. I need the fans to get into it and push me. That makes me elevate my game.”

Beyond the first round, in an East where the expected best teams — Toronto and Cleveland — have looked vulnerable, the door is open.

“A lot of people say that we have a bright future, but I think our time is now,” Embiid said. “We have a pretty good chance. We have a special team, a lot of great guys. I don’t think we need anybody else. We’ve just got to work with what we have, and we have a special team. I feel like we have a pretty good chance to go far.