Sacramento Kings v Phoenix Suns

Baseline to Baseline recaps: The Force was not with the Suns on Star Wars night

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What you missed while watching the story of Oedipus acted out by vegetables and voiced by Billy Dee Williams….

The Celtics holding on for a win over Miami and a Magic win over the Lakers were the games of the night. We threw is a bonus Wizards win over the Cavs story at no extra charge.

Kings 113, Suns 108: It was Star Wars night in Phoenix, but the home team played like they fell into a huge trash compactor and had to battle a dianoga.

DeMarcus Cousins is sitting back in Sacramento after being sent to his room for a time out by the team, and the Kings still pull down 18 offensive rebounds? Carl Landry had 6 of those because he’s a stud. Kings win on the second night of a back-to-back without their best frontline guy, that’s a quality win.

Trail Blazers 105, Pistons 100: LaMarcus Aldridge had a beast of a second half in this game (23 points) when he figured out he could beat the far less athletic Piston bigs down the floor and, if he didn’t score in transition, get crazy good deep position. But thanks to an 11-1 fourth quarter Pistons run this was close through the end and Detroit was up two with 1:47 left but the Blazers kept getting fouled and went 10-of-10 from the line inside the final two minutes.

Raptors 98, Clippers 93: The Clippers just lost to the Cavaliers and Raptors back-to-back.

Think the Clippers don’t miss Eric Gordon? Randy Foye was 2-for-14 shooting. But nobody was terribly impressive shooting the ball in this one for either team (Toronto was 2-for-13 from three). Toronto got 18 second half points from Andrea Bargnani — a lot of them in the third quarter when Blake Griffin could not handle him on the perimeter. Raptors rookie Ed Davis had a solid 13 points and 14 rebounds.

Grizzlies 116, Nuggets 108: Carmelo Anthony handled himself well on the way to his 28 points. The Grizzlies has a good second half, but real difference in this game was that the Grizzlies pounded the ball inside and drew fouls. The Griz had 11 more points from the free throw line, and Darrell Arthur may have been the best, getting to the line 10 times plus hitting from the midrange as well on his way to 27 points. Denver got good play from its bench — Ty Lawson and J.R. Smith in particular — in the first half but it was against the Nuggets bench that the Grizzlies took control.

Denver beat Dallas two nights ago, can’t beat Memphis tonight. Wildly inconsistently team, which is what you get when your defense is hard to trust.

Warriors 100, Thunder 94: Until the Thunder can start to defend they are not a threat in the West. Until they can keep the undersized Golden State Warriors from grabbing 20 offensive rebounds they are not contenders. Great night from David Lee with 23 and 19.

Add Kobe Bryant to don’t change hack-a-player crowd

Los Angeles Lakers forward Kobe Bryant gestures after hitting a three point shot during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Houston Rockets, Sunday, Jan. 17, 2016, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Associated Press
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LeBron James is already there. So is Kevin Durant. Same with a lot of other old-school GMs and coaches around the league.

Their response to the rapid rise in hack-a-player (shouldn’t it always be hack-a-Shaq?) instances is “tell the guy to hit the free throws.”

Add Kobe Bryant to their ranks, reports Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver is starting to feel differently. He realizes he runs an entertainment business and a parade of guys to the free throw line without because of a non-basketball play — you can’t begin to tell me fouling a guy 50 feet from the ball is a basketball play in the spirit of the rules — is bad for that business. It is unwatchable. And while every coach in the NBA “I hate to do it” they all do it with more and more frequency, there will be more than twice as many instances this season as there were a year ago, with more and more players involved. Because it works, and because they are paid to win, not play beautiful basketball.

Change is coming. Old-school types always bemoan change, and that’s not just a basketball thing. But the rest of the world has rules in place to stop this because they realize it’s not basketball, it’s gaming the system. And it needs to change.

Timofey Mozgov with maybe “best” missed dunk of the season (VIDEO)

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On this play the Sacramento Kings played defense like only they can — and you wonder why George Karl’s job is in danger — and gave Cleveland’s Timofey Mozgov a wide-open lane right down the middle for an easy dunk.

Ooof.

LeBron James had a triple-double (the 40th of his career) and the Cavaliers got a needed easy win, but this is the play you’ll remember.

Karl-Anthony Towns with nasty poster dunk on Dante Cunningham (VIDEO)

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Karl-Anthony Towns is a beast.

While the Timberwolves have plenty of question marks around him, but Towns has been exceptional. Coming into Monday night, he was averaging 21.6 points (on 59.9 percent shooting) and 12.7 rebounds a night in his last 10 games.

Then Monday he did that to Dante Cunningham.

The Pelicans went on to win the game 116-102, but Towns continues to play well.

Report: Come 2017, Knicks have real shot to land Russell Westbrook

during the first half of the NBA game at Talking Stick Resort Arena on February 8, 2016 in Phoenix, Arizona.  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.
Russell Westbrook
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The summer of 2016 is all about Kevin Durant — and we don’t know what Durant is going to do as a free agent because Durant doesn’t yet know what Durant is going to do as a free agent. Stay in Oklahoma City, bolt to the Bay Area or maybe Washington D.C.? These playoffs, meetings with teams and his advisors, plus personal factors all will play a role in Durant’s decision. Which he will get around to announcing in early July sometime.

But the sense around the league is that while Durant may very well stay in Oklahoma City, Russell Westbrook was drawn to the bright lights of big markets. If an elite player were to bolt OKC, this was the more likely guy. Westbrook is a free agent in 2017.

In an article about Phil Jackson and the Knicks in the wake of Derek Fisher’s firing, Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports said the Knicks have a real shot at Westbrook in a couple of summers.

The Knicks have a real chance to sell Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook in 2017 – New York and Porzingis have his attention, yes – and Jackson ought to start constructing an elite coaching staff to begin that process with Westbrook and with free agents beyond him.

Come 2017, expect Westbrook to meet with a number of big market teams on both coasts, and then make a decision. The summer of 2017 is a couple of NBA lifetimes away, it’s impossible to say what Westbrook will do (he may well decide to stay in OKC if they win enough), but the big market teams looking for a star will get their turn in the batter’s box.

Which is why I still think Durant signs a 1+1 deal this summer to stay in Oklahoma City for another season — he’s going to give everything another chance to come together for the Thunder, then when the salary cap is at its peak in 2017 (an estimated $108 million) he makes his peak seasons decision. He and Westbrook and Serge Ibaka will all be free agents at the same time, and they can make their calls.

And the Knicks could be involved in all of it.