Baseline to Baseline recaps: Bosh gets cheers, boos, win in Toronto

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What you missed while seeing The King’s Speech

The Cavaliers stunning win over the Lakers was our Game of the Night…

Heat 103, Raptors 95: Chris Bosh blew kisses to the crowd and got a mixed reaction of boos and cheers. What that tells us is Toronto is not Cleveland.

The Heat worked hard to get Bosh the ball where he could score (he finished with 25 points) but that made them look disjointed at times. So did the Raptors zone defense. But the Heat still scored at a rate the Raptors could not match. Andrea Bargnani was the pick-and-pop king on his way to 38 points on 26 shots, and DeMar DeRozan slashed his to 24 more points. The rest of the Raptors combined to shoot 29.3 percent and that did not get it done.

Magic 101, Wizards 76: The Magic turned John Wall into a scorer — he had 27 points on 17 shots. But he had just one assist. He was not facilitating and the Wizards shot 34.9 percent on the night. Meanwhile Dwight Howard had 32 points on just 15 shots and he was hitting his free throws. Andray Blatche and JaVale McGee were overmatched.

Celtics 94, Nets 80: Paul Pierce was making up for his one-point game against the Heat — he had 10 in the first quarter. The Nets were not going to roll over though, this game was tied at the half and after three. Then midway through the fourth quarter Boston went on a 16-0 run that coincided with Pierce’s return to the game and he has seven points during it (he was just attacking the rim). The other key in this one: The Nets got 15 free throws to the Celtics 39. That wasn’t the refs, that was Boston attacking on offense and playing good defense.

There are some nights you really see the potential of what Brook Lopez could be.

Knicks 102, Hawks 90: This was a pretty big beat down — New York had a double-digit lead the entire fourth quarter. The Hawks did not stop the Knicks in transition well and gave them open looks in the half court which the Knicks knocked down

Pistons 115, Pacers 109 (OT): For the second night in a row the Pacers got off to a slow start — this time down 11 after one quarter — and fought back only to lose. The Pistons led the entire second half until a Darren Collison layup with 15 seconds left tied it up. In the overtime the Pistons got points from Rodney Stuckey and Ben Gordon were the leaders, while Danny Granger was the only Pacer to score.

Clippers 98, Timberwolves 90: The Clippers really miss the steady play Eric Gordon gives them at the two. So when his replacement Randy Foye hit 6-of-14 shots for 21 points the Clippers are back in business. The Clippers dominated the second half and Blake Griffin had 15 points during that time.

Mavericks 116, Kings 100: Dallas’ depth was on display Wednesday — five guys off the Dallas bench scored in double figures. The most interesting of those was Roddy Beaubois, who had 13 in his season debut.

Sixers 114, Rocket 105: The Sixers were spreading it around — four guys with more than 16 points, seven in double digits. Andre Iguodala was big part of that, finishing with 10 assists and a triple double. The Rockets had their guys — Kyle Lowry torched Jrue Holliday for 36 points on 18 shots, Luis Scola added 26. But the Sixers were the better team in this one.

Nuggets 94, Bucks 87: Nets/Knicks fans, this was a very Carmelo Anthony night this is what you’re getting — he had 38 points but it took 30 shots to get there. He got 12 boards as well. It was good if not an efficient or pretty win for a Nuggets team that may look very different the next time they suit up for a game.

Warriors 107, Jazz 100: Golden State had 26 wins last season, they got to 26 with this victory. That is progress.

With both teams on the second night of a back-to-back it was going to be about energy levels late. Monta Ellis is a closer and had 11 of his 35 in the fourth quarter. He helped spark a 10-2 fourth quarter run that pretty much decided this one.

The Jazz are 2-6 in February and need the All-Star break maybe more than any other team.

Trail Blazers 103, Hornets 96: As LaMarcus Aldridge goes, so go the Blazers. He had 13 first quarter points, they were up nine. He had 12 in the fourth quarter and behind a 17-5 run the Trail Blazers win it. Andre Miller had 10 in the final quarter also. Chris Paul with just 8 points and 5 assists.

Here’s LeBron James trying on Lonzo Ball’s weirdo jump shooting form (VIDEO)

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Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James is shooting 37.3 percent from 3-point range this season. That’s up a little more than six percent from last season, and three percent better than his career average. He doesn’t need much help there this season, but you know that LeBron is always looking for ways to improve.

Including, apparently, trying on UCLA star Lonzo Ball’s shooting form.

During warmups on Thursday before the Cavaliers took on the Chicago Bulls, LeBron messed around with Ball’s awkward shooting form. If you haven’t seen it, it’s an odd draw from right-to-left, with the right-handed Ball almost shooting from the left side of this face.

Ball was a 41.3 percent shooter from deep during his one season at UCLA and will be a top pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, perhaps much to the chagrin of whichever team has to deal with his dad, LaVar.

Scottie Pippen throws blame for Knicks woes at feet of his former coach Phil Jackson

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Apparently, it’s not “be kind to your former boss month.”

Bulls legend and Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen was on ESPN’s “The Jump” — the Rachel Nichols hosted NBA show on each afternoon — and the topic turned to how much the Knicks stink. And why. Of course, there’s plenty of blame to go around for just about everyone on that front, but Pippen threw his former coach under the bus (transcription via the New York Daily News).

“To be honest with you, I’m going to have to go at my old coach Phil Jackson,” Pippen said on ESPN’s “The Jump.” “I think he just hasn’t put the right pieces on the floor. I give a lot of credit to Carmelo who is being very professional in getting through these 82 game season. And now he’s being benched to some degree, they’re taking a lot of his minutes away. But this team just hasn’t had it. They haven’t had it since Phil Jackson landed there. There hasn’t been any upside.”

After saying “fans would love to see Carmelo in New York and Phil out,” Pippen was asked by host Rachel Nichols if he believes Jackson “should be out.”

“Yes,” Pippen replied emphatically.

Most of Jackson’s former players have his back, most recently Shaquille O’Neal who laid blame at the feet of the Knicks’ players. The ones that Jackson assembled into a mismatched team.

Phil Jackson’s record may be 77-162 since taking over the Knicks, but reports are he isn’t going anywhere. While owner James Dolan can flip like a pancake on a griddle, the sense is that Jackson will keep collecting his $12 million annual salary and will keep trying to build a triangle-offense team. That means Carmelo Anthony likely gets moved this summer.

Jackson has seemingly fallen into the trap the Knicks have been unable to climb out of for years — since James Dolan took over as owner seemingly — of not just picking a system, sticking to it, being patient and avoiding quick fixes. Triangle, Rhombus, pick-and-roll heavy, whatever offense the Knicks use should be built around getting Kristaps Porzingis touches and playing to his strengths. Get younger players who fit that system to go around him and let it grow together. Be patient. Instead, it’s Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah.

Jackson deserves blame. A significant amount. So do the players. So does Jeff Hornacek as coach. But make sure Dolan gets a big slice too, this team has struggled since he was given control, and he is the one constant.

Frustrated Kyrie Irving on another ring: “And I want more. I’m going to go take it.”

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Since the All-Star break, the Cleveland Cavaliers have not looked like a championship team. They have been in a malaise going 8-10 with the second-worst defense in the NBA during that stretch. The Cavs like a team that is just waiting for the games to have meaning again in the playoffs. It makes one tempted to say this will come back to bite them in the postseason, but which team in the East is going to beat them?

The Cavaliers players are frustrated with their play of late, too.  Kyrie Irving vented about it after practice, as reported by Joe Varden of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

“Obviously it was just a frustrating game and there have been a few frustrating games for all of us,” Irving said. “Just getting back to what we do, having fun with one another and being truthful with one another — we’ll be good…

And then Irving said: “You can’t rely on just thinking that one championship is enough. It’s natural for human beings to just get comfortable. To rely on just having won a championship. But if you a (competitor) you want two, you want three, you want four. And if you dedicate yourself more like you say you do, then you want more. And I want more. I’m going to go take it.”

Injuries have had key players, most recently Kevin Love and J.R. Smith out of the rotation of late, and working them back in has not gone smoothly. Still, this is the same core from the team that won the title last season, it shouldn’t be that difficult to get back into a groove.

Cleveland is acting like a team that thinks it can flip the switch.

Maybe they can, but there are some powerful teams out West who seemed to have flipped theirs long ago.

 

Rumor: Bulls ready to move on from Jimmy Butler this summer

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Predicting what the Chicago Bulls front office will do this summer is a game of roulette — the ball can land anywhere and it wouldn’t be a surprise. Is Dwyane Wade coming back? Is Nikola Mirotic part of the future? Fred Hoiberg? What kind of team are the Bulls trying to build, anyway?

Then there is the biggest one: Is Jimmy Butler still part of the long-term plan? Or is he going to be moved to facilitate a rebuilding process?

Last summer when the Bulls had the chance to trade him, they kept Butler to build around him… then made some interesting choices in trying to do that. They didn’t get enough shooting, players didn’t fit well, and others didn’t develop, and the Bulls are struggling to even make the postseason.

So what do the Bulls do this summer? One exec told Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer that the Bulls were going to move Butler.

Paul George and Jimmy Butler were involved in trade rumors at the deadline, and all indications are that those conversations will resume this offseason. One front-office source told me recently that Butler is “as good as gone,” while George sounds like a player who wants out.”

Paul George wanting to contend (or if not, be in Los Angeles) is not news, but whether the Pacers decide to be serious about trading him this summer depends on a number of factors that we’re not going to get into here. This article is about Butler.

Do the Bulls want to trade Butler? Some in the front office do, some don’t. There were reports the Bulls wanted an All-Star level player for him so the team did not take a step back, but nobody was giving that up. Everyone in Chicago from ownership through management is not on the same page, which helps explain some of the stop-gap team building moves by the team. Chicago needs to decide if it wants to go for the full rebuild, which is what happens if they trade Butler. The playoffs are out of the questions for a few years if they do, but that’s not a bad thing if they draft well and commit to the plan. However, there is a sense that ownership thinks “this is Chicago, we don’t rebuild.”

All of which is to say, if the Bulls trade Butler it’s not a huge surprise. If they keep him, it’s not a huge surprise. But other teams — hello Boston — may be prepping for him to come back on the trade market around the draft.