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Baseline to Baseline recaps: Here We Stay, Sacramento

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What you missed while being amazed by Charlie Sheen

Kings 105, Clippers 99: The Kings got a home win with a dramatic fourth quarter comeback as newcomer Marcus Thornton went off for 29 on 16 shots.

And all of that is secondary. This was Here We Stay night in Sacramento, when local fans filled the house to standing room only to show the Maloof brothers just how much support there still is in the city for their team. It felt like old times with the Kings wearing Royal’s throwbacks and actually winning. And like old times, the building was raucous and loud.

There is plenty of support for the Kings in Sacramento Attendance has been down for a couple seasons because the team sucked, and was boring, while the economic downturn hit the region hard. But Sacramento is still a good city for an NBA team.

The Maloofs know the fans care. But Anaheim has more suites and a bigger television market. It would be nice to think the emotional impact of this game will matter in the big picture to the Maloofs. I just fear that picture has already been drawn.

Suns 104, Nets 103 (OT): The most entertaining game of the night, and it felt a little like a Western Conference battle with Deron Williams — in his Nets debut — going against Steve Nash.

Suns were up 7 with 1:17 left after a Marcin Gortat jumphook over Deron Williams (who had switched on to him on a pick). Then a Brook Lopez 18 foot baseline jumper cut it to 5. Nash missed then Anthony Morrow knocked down a big three. With the lead down to two the Nets were willing to trade twos for threes — Nash knocked down two free throws then Morrow hit a leaning three. And then it was one. Channing Frye made a layup (Kris Humphries left him to deny Nash), so the Sums were back up three. No Nets timeouts.

Everyone knew Morrow was going to shoot the three — and Nash fouled him in the act. Rookie move by the veteran. Morrow drained all three free throws. The Suns drew up a play but Grant Hill couldn’t get the ball in, a five second violation. Another veteran with a big mistake, and soon we were in overtime

Which just made it all the more dramatic when Frye hit his second game-winning three in as many nights. Well, the real drama was Humphries almost getting the tip in on a Williams miss at the OT buzzer, but having his hand on the ball just a second too late.

Bulls 105, Wizards 77: This looked like a contending team toying with a high lottery pick team. Which it was. Not much more to say, but if you want some details Aggrey Sam’s recap should do the trick

Nuggets 100, Hawks 90: Already without Kirk Hinrich (calf injury) the Hawks lost Josh Smith to a sprained knee in the second quarter. (After the game he was walking around saying it was no bid deal, and he does not even need an MRI.) It was Raymond Felton and J.R. Smith coming off the bench that really set the tone for the Nuggets.

The old end-of-game situations for Denver meant a lot of Anthony and Chauncey Billups. Now? The team stepped up with nice plays and ball movement.

Celtics 107, Jazz 102: Great effort from Utah I this one, but they just could not defend the Celtics. Ray Allen had 25 points on 15 shots, Paul Pierce had 21 on 10 shots. It was just Boston’s night — the dagger was a Rajon Rondo 15-foot jumper.

DeMarcus Cousins has spent All-Star Weekend playing defense on trade, George Karl rumors

TORONTO, ON - FEBRUARY 13: DeMarcus Cousins #15 of the Sacramento Kings handles the ball during the Taco Bell Skills Challenge as part of NBA All-Star 2016 on February 13, 2016 at Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario Canada. 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.  Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2016 NBAE (Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images)
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TORONTO — DeMarcus Cousins is an All-Star and he just wants to enjoy it. Hang out with other elite players, take part in the Skills Competition, have dinner at Sotto Sotto, play in the ASG itself, chill with friends. Chill being the operative word considering the weather.

But for parts of the weekend, he has had to play defense, swatting away attempts to get him to slam coach George Karl or talk trade rumors that have him leaving Sacramento. Mention his friend Isaiah Thomas making it to All-Star Game and you get the gregarious Cousins, but when the other topics come up you can feel his frustration, and hear it in his clipped answers.

“First of all, I can’t control the trade (rumors) and I can’t control if I’m traded or not…” Cousins said. “But I do want to be in Sacramento, and I know everybody in Sacramento knows that.”

Cousins isn’t getting traded. Teams may call the Kings, but they get shot down quickly (then those teams leak the rumor they called, making them look good to their fan base for trying). For one, the Kings have a franchise cornerstone piece under a reasonable contract, that’s not someone you trade unless forced to. Second, owner Vivek Ranadive loves him. Third, and this is key, the Kings open a new arena in downtown Sacramento next season — you don’t trade your best and most popular player, the face of your marketing program in the city, while you’re trying to sell luxury boxes and sponsorships in a new arena.

Cousins has also batted down questions attempting to get him to slam George Karl.

“I can go long term with any coach, but that’s not my decision….” Cousins said. “He’s a free, open-minded coach, he lets his players play. I think every player appreciates that.”

He was more direct with deserving new basketball Hall of Fame journalist David Aldridge of NBA.com in a video (and he’s laughing more and in more of a joking mood in the video than how this quote reads):

“I’m tired of it. Stop trying to make a story out of it, we’re fine. Our only goal this season is to make the playoffs. That’s it. All the other stuff, just stop, it’s not necessary.”

Undoubtedly there is some tension in and around the organization with Karl, although he will be around through the end of the season. However, the one thing that was clear with this team going back to Summer League — when the core guys bonded on a plane trip together to Las Vegas (and doing the other things one might do in Vegas) — the locker room is pretty solid.

“Throughout all this, the one thing that’s been good about the whole situation is the guys in the locker room stay together,” Cousins said. “There hasn’t been any separation.”

It seems Karl has never found a way to reach and inspire that group.

Ask Cousins about the rest of the season and you get some variation of “just stay positive.” He admits that’s not been easy after some tough losses of late, but it’s what they need to do to make a run.

“We’ve had a lot of ups and downs over the season, but just find a way to remain positive and get over the hump,” he said. 

That may be easier said than done.

But, at least, Cousins will get the chance to enjoy All-Star weekend.

Can we just relive that epic Dunk Contest one more time? Here’s the mixtape.

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TORONTO — Talking to NBA people, fans, and media around Toronto Sunday it seems every conversation starts with some version of “last night’s Dunk Contest was INSANE!

Because it was.

Andre Drummond threw down an impressive two-hand power slam with an assist from soccer playing Steve Nash. Will Barton‘s first dunk might have won him the contest in some weaker years. And we’re not even talking about them because of the eye-popping show that Aaron Gordon and Zach LaVine put on.

Before we move on and talk trade rumors or actual All-Star Game, or whatever is coming next, can we just bask in the joy of that dunk contest one more time? The fine folks at NBA.com put together this mixtape version of the Dunk Contest, I’m passing it along.

Savor this people, it doesn’t get any better than what we witnessed Saturday night.

Michael Jordan to Klay Thompson: “Go ahead and break” Bulls’ 72-win record

CHARLOTTE, NC - NOVEMBER 25:  Owner of the Charlotte Hornets, Michael Jordan, watches on during their game against the Washington Wizards at Time Warner Cable Arena on November 25, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  NBA - 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.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
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Barring a major injury, it seems almost inevitable at this point that the Warriors will surpass the 1996 Bulls’ record of 72 wins in a season and vault themselves into the conversation of the greatest NBA teams in history. All year, members of that ’96 Bulls team have weighed in comparing the teams, but one guy who hasn’t given his thoughts publicly is Michael Jordan.

Apparently, during All-Star Weekend in Toronto, Jordan gave Klay Thompson his blessing for the Warriors to go for 73. Via CSN’s Rosalyn Gold-Onwude:

Not that the Warriors need anybody’s permission to go after the record, obviously. But it had to be cool for Thompson to hear directly from Jordan that he respects what the Warriors are doing and wants them to break his own record. In all likelihood, they’ll do it.

Report: No suitors for Boston’s David Lee. So far.

Boston Celtics' David Lee comes down after dunking during the second quarter of an NBA basketball game against the Brooklyn Nets in Boston, Saturday, Jan. 2, 2016. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
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The Celtics are rumored to be involved in a lot of trade talks that in reality are going nowhere — Kevin Love, Dwight Howard, Al Horford. The buzz around the league is none of those deals are coming together, in part because Boston is protective of its picks (particularly things like the 2016 unprotected first round pick of the Brooklyn Nets).

What the Celtics would love to talk about is finding a new home for David Lee. But that is proving difficult, reports Mark Murphy of the Boston Globe.

Lee, who has fallen out of Brad Stevens’ rotation, and would welcome a move to a playoff team that has a role for him, is not drawing suitors.

“David Lee was tough for Golden State to move all of last year,” said the source. “And it finally came down to him being moved for Gerald Wallace. David Lee has no value. It’s his contract. David Lee’s value comes in if they get one of these big name players.” … Isaiah Thomas has been doing his part when it comes to selling players on the virtues of being a Celtic.

Lee is making $15.5 million this season. He’s always mentioned in those superstar trade rumors with Boston because they can use his salary to help match a more expensive players’ contract. But on his own, that’s been a much tougher sell.

Hopefully, the Celtics can find a taker; Lee deserves to be in a place where he has a chance to at least contribute a little. He’s not a starting caliber player anymore, but we saw in the NBA Finals last season in the right circumstance he can play a key role.