Derrick Rose, Tony Parker

Baseline to Baseline recaps: Derrick Rose kicks his MVP campaign into high gear

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What you missed while wondering just how screwed up a world it is that the Kardashians made $65 million last year…

Bulls 109, Spurs 99: For two of the better defensive teams in the league there was a whole lot of offense going on in this one. Both teams create serious matchup problems for the other side, which made this an interesting game to watch.

The biggest mismatch was that the no Spur could stick with Derrick Rose, who looked like an MVP dropping 42 on the Spurs. (I’ve said before I’m not convinced Rose should be a leader in the MVP discussions, but he sure looked like he should Thursday.) He was 18-for-28 shooting, but he was dishing as well and had 8 dimes. He just controlled this game. The Spurs had no answer.

The Bulls shot 53.8 percent (57.5 eFG%, when you account for the threes) and grabbed the offensive rebound on 28 percent of their missed shots. That may have been where the Bulls surprised the most, the 20 second chance points against a good rebounding team. Again here Rose was a force, his two rebounds and putbacks were impressive.

The temptation here is to make this some kind of statement for the Bulls. It is not. This certainly is a quality win, but this is also the ninth straight road game for the Spurs. They are tired. They’ve handled the road well but this is not them at their best.

But even at their best, not sure what they would do to stop Rose.

Mavericks 112, Suns 106: You do realize Dallas has won 13-of-14 heading into the All-Star break, and the only loss was on an Arron Afflalo buzzer beater in Denver. This team is good. Very good.

Honestly I compare them to the Heat in this sense — they are great in the regular season, but there are still questions about the playoffs. They have to prove themselves there. I’m not convinced their depth helps them as much then.

Dirk Nowitzki was amazing — he was 11-of-14 shooting from beyond 16 feet in this game, on his way to 35 points. The Mavs pulled away on a fourth quarter run that started right when he entered. His former teammate Steve Nash was dealing — 15 points and 14 assists, which is why the Suns had six guys in double figures.

In crunch time though, the Mavs best were just better than the Suns best. It really was that simple.

Blazers C Meyers Leonard dunks on Celtics’ Mickey twice in five minutes (VIDEO)

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Portland Trail Blazers big man Meyers Leonard is an athletic young guy who has made a name for himself as a fade man off the pick-and-roll. But against the Boston Celtics on Saturday, Leonard decided to roll to the hoop instead, and it sort of worked out.

Unless you’re Jordan Mickey, in which case it didn’t.

The first poster dunk came during the final minute of the first quarter in Boston, where the Blazers were running a sideline out of bounds play.

Via Twitter:

The second came at 9:51 in the second quarter, with Leonard again rolling to the rack on a play with Allen Crabbe. Mickey again wound up as the help man, and again found himself on the wrong end of a highlight reel.

We’ll just forgive that off arm for now.

Jabari Parker held out of Bucks lineup vs. Heat for breaking team rule

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MIAMI (AP) Milwaukee Bucks forward Jabari Parker is out of the starting lineup for the first time this season Saturday night at Miami after breaking a team rule.

Parker will play coming off the bench, coach Jason Kidd said.

Kidd declined to elaborate on the move, which came after the Bucks held a long players-only meeting following a loss Friday at Orlando. The meeting got heated at times, and Parker said he wasn’t well received when he expressed his point of view.

Parker has scored at least 20 points in four consecutive games. He was replaced in the lineup by rookie Thon Maker, making his first career start.

Gregg Popovich on Trump: “Can’t believe anything that comes out of his mouth” (VIDEO)

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Today across the country many hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets as part of the Women’s March to protest Donald Trump, his misogyny as demonstrated in prior comments made about women, and policies he’s promised to put in place to weaken women’s health including defunding Planned Parenthood and gutting the Affordable Care Act. Gregg Popovich, no stranger to speaking his mind about Trump, was asked about the marches today and how he felt about the former reality TV star’s first hours in office.

Popovich responded for around four minutes, spanning a wide breadth of topics including Trump’s maturity level, respect for the presidential office, and Trump’s cabinet members waffling on implied meaning when he insulted a handicapped reporter in November of 2015.

Via Cleveland.com:

I wish that he was more — had the ability to be mature enough to do something that really is inclusive rather than just talking and saying ‘I’m going to include everybody.” He could talk to the groups that he disrespected and maligned during the primary and really make somebody believe it, but so far we’ve got a point where you really can’t believe anything that comes of his mouth.

Popovich also expressed his frustration with Trump’s insecurities, referencing his need to discuss the size of the inauguration crowd from Friday — reported widely by major news outlets in both text and video/photographic evidence — as far smaller than Barack Obama’s in 2009.

“I’d just feel better if somebody was in that position that showed the maturity, psychological, and emotional level of somebody that was his age,” said Popovich, adding, “It’s hard to be respectful of someone when we all have kids and we’re watching him be misogynistic and xenophobic and racist, and make fun of handicap people.”

It’s an interesting period in American history to be sure. Things are at such a fever pitch after Trump’s election that whether people like it or not — and no doubt many won’t like Popovich’s comments or this article about it — the lines between diversion and real life, including politics, has begun to blur.

It’s great to see that coaches and players in the NBA are able to speak their minds about topics openly like this, perhaps surprisingly so when you consider the amount of money involved for the league and teams.

If you’d like to read the full comments you can do so here:

Ricky Rubio will miss Nuggets game for personal reasons

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Ricky Rubio has left the Minnesota Timberwolves for personal reasons and will miss at least the next game on Sunday against Denver.

Timberwolves coach Tom Thibodeau says he expects Rubio to get back into town late Sunday and rejoin the team for practice on Monday.

Rubio did not play in the second half against the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday night because of tightness in his left hip. Kris Dunn and Tyus Jones filled in admirably, helping the Wolves defeat the Clippers, 104-101.

Rubio has been the subject of trade rumors for much of the season, with the belief that Thibodeau would prefer a point guard who shoots better from the perimeter. In his previous five full games, Rubio was averaging 13.2 points and 14.0 assists.