Baseline to Baseline recaps: Where the Suns are making a run. So to speak.

Leave a comment

What you missed while watching Melissa Leo drop an F-bomb on national television….

The Lakers continuing their mastery of the Thunder and the Knicks upset of the Heat were our games of the day.

Suns 110, Pacers 108 (OT): One of the more entertaining games of the day was the first one. Grant Hill was on fire. The Suns were up by 15 in the third then A.J. Price took over and dropped 13 in the fourth quarter and the Pacers fought back and sent it overtime. Where Channing Frye dropped 7 including the game winner as the buzzer sounded.

Sixers 95, Cavaliers 91: This was a big win, and not just because the Cavs are knocking off everyone. For the first time since they started last season at 2-1, the Sixers are above .500. Apparently, Doug Collins can still coach.

Timberwolves 126, Warriors 123: Wes Johnson, defensive stopper. At least for one night. In a game that saw a fast pace and wild swings of momentum (both teams led by double digits at different points) it came down to Wes Johnson blocking the shot of a driving Monta Ellis with four seconds left, then stealing the inbound pass from Stephen Curry with 2.4 seconds left.

Mavericks 114, Raptors 96: This game stared out with an early 18-0 Raptors run and Amir Johnson scoring 10 in the first quarter. You didn’t think that would last. Dallas outscored Toronto by 25 in the second half, dropped 39 in the fourth quarter and pulled away.

Magic 100, Bobcats 86: Stephen Jackson put up a 35 spot and Charlotte still only had 96.6 points per 100 possessions pace. With Gerald Wallace in the northwest now you can expect more of that the rest of the season.

Rockets 91, Hornets 89: From the time they went on an 18-0 run in the second quarter this looked and felt like an extension of the Mardi Gras parties that had been going on in New Orleans all day. But as you know – admit it, you know this — when you party all day there is a price to pay. The Rockets went on an 11-0 run in the fourth quarter, held it and got the win. Kevin Martin was killing it with 33 points on 15 shots.

Spurs 95, Grizzlies 88: Credit to the Grizzlies, who were down 20 points in the second quarter to the best team in the NBA this season, and they fought all the way back to take the lead. What has made the Spurs the best team so far is their end-of-game execution, and we saw it again with a late 8-0 run to seal this one.

Hawks 90, Trail Blazers 83: Atlanta turned the ball over on 27.3 percent of their possessions — more then one in four trips down the court — and they still won this game. Which only happens when your opponent can’t shoot, and the Blazers were 4-of-21 from three and shot 39 percent overall. Credit the Hawks defense for a lot of that.

Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala cleared to play vs. Pelican Friday

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Without Draymond Green in the fourth quarter Tuesday night in the opener, and with Andre Iguodala out for the game, the Warriors defense fell apart against Houston. The Rockets scored 34 points in the quarter and came from behind to beat a Warriors team that had been in control of the game up to that point. There was more to it than just Green’s balky knee, but without the Defensive Player of the Year they are not the same.

Bad news for the Pelicans: Green and Iguodala have been cleared to play in New Orleans Friday. Green had an MRI and it came back negative.

Green admitted he was concerned that the injury, via Anthony Slater of The Athletic.

Now it is the Pelicans who should be concerned. The Warriors will want to wash the feeling of that opening night loss off them.

Report: Kevin Love was frustrated with move to center

Getty Images
Leave a comment

With Derrick Rose having to start at point guard (until Isiah Thomas returns sometime in early 2018) and Dwyane Wade starting at the two, Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue had no choice but to move Kevin Love to starting at center. The Cavaliers desperately need the floor spacing to open up driving lanes and options for LeBron James. Start Tristan Thompson at the five (with Love at the four and Jae Crowder coming off the bench) and it adds another non-shooter to the mix that allows opposing defenses to just pack the paint and force LeBron to be a jump shooter.

That doesn’t mean everyone liked the change.

Love admitted to Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer he was frustrated with the move at first.

“It’s been a little bit of a change for me,” Love admitted. “I still find myself spacing a little bit wanting to roll a little bit more and on the defensive end just playing the primary big on their team the whole time on the defensive end. It’s been a little bit different figuring things out on that end, but it comes with the growth I’m talking about. We need to do that and hopefully be a machine when things start clicking.”

Lue put it this way.

“We’re going to try it out and see how it works. He was frustrated at first, but now he’s enjoying it.”

While in certain matchups, when the opposition has a more traditional center, the Cavs may go back to the Love/Thompson front line for a stretch. But the small ball lineup is the way Cleveland should be leaning, even with its clear defensive deficiencies. We saw that in the opener with Love’s dagger three in the fourth quarter.

Love is adjusting, he’s already sacrificed a lot to play with LeBron. This is just another step in that evolution.

Another wing down? Celtics’ Marcus Smart likely out vs. Sixers

Getty Images
3 Comments

The horrific, probably season-ending injury to Gordon Hayward has left the Celtics with a shortage of players on the wing.

Going up against Philadelphia Friday night, that might be getting worse, reports A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston.

Looking at the pictures, I doubt Smart plays.

As noted, Smart said he hurt both ankles in the second night of a back-to-back against Milwaukee, the left one in a collision with teammate Jaylen Brown. Smart started that game and played 32 minutes. That’s a lot of time to go to lesser players.

If he’s out Friday, that likely means either Terry Rozier or Abdel Nader get the start, and both are going to see a healthy bump in minutes. Whatever happens, the Celtics would miss Smart in a game where they need to defend Ben Simmons on the wing.

What happened to Willy Hernangomez’s minutes with Knicks?

Getty Images
1 Comment

When talking about the Knicks’ young core going forward, Willy Hernangomez was one of the names that got mentioned by the front office (alongside players such asFrank Ntilikina and Tim Hardaway Jr.). The Knicks are crowded at the center spot — Enes Kanter got the start in the opener Thursday night, and Kristaps Porzingis should get minutes there (it’s ultimately going to be his NBA position), and this isn’t even mentioning Joakim Noah — but Hernangomez looked like a developing young player who needed some run.

He got just 3:46 minutes in the opener, and that was during fourth quarter garbage time. Kyle O'Quinn got nearly 22 off the bench at the five. That follows a preseason where Hernangomez saw his minutes drop seemingly game-to-game.

What gives? Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News asked the same question.

“We have a lot of bigs,” Hornacek said. “(O’Quinn) and Enes earned the minutes in training camp. Willy’s not far behind. He’s got to keep working. When you got that many bigs, you can’t play them all. The other guys earned the minutes. I told all three of them it doesn’t matter if you’re in the rotation or out of rotation. If you’re in it, you’ve got to earn it to keep it.”

“I can score. It’s not difficult for me. I think the coach wants to see my effort on defense. That’s why I have to keep working hard everyday,” said Hernangomez, who is also Kristaps Porzingis’ best friend on the Knicks.

Without question, Hernangomez needs to work on his defense, but then again this is a Knicks team starting Kanter so it’s obviously not a requirement.

Hornacek needs to find a balance here — it’s early in the season, he wants to win games, he wants to put his best foot forward. But the Knicks are not a playoff team this season, and they are in the player development business. That means Hernangomez — as well as rookie point guard Ntilikina — need to get minutes, need to be thrown to the wolves a little, and need to learn from their mistakes. Hornacek needs to be coaching for a few years down the line… the problem is he knows he may not have this job that far down the line, so he’s coaching to get wins now.