Baseline to Baseline recaps: The Grizzlies are some big, tough bears

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What you missed while running the Iditarod

Grizzlies 107, Thunder 101: You can add the Oklahoma City Thunder to list of teams that would like to avoid the Grizzlies in the first round of the playoffs.

This was the kind of game the Thunder really could have used Kendrick Perkins because the Grizzlies had 15 offensive boards and controlled the play in the paint. Still this game was tied midway through the fourth, but for the second night in a row Mike Conley and Zach Randolph were the ones making the plays down the stretch. Shane Battier had a good game at both ends and did a solid job on Kevin Durant, and Tony Allen is just making plays for Memphis.

Trail Blazers 89, Magic 85: Dwight Howard was sitting out for a night because he’d been a bad, bad boy. Talking back the to those nice, kind refs who just don’t notice as guys take whacks at Howard all game long. But we digress.

The Magic put up a fight without their best player, clawing all the way back from 14 down in the third quarter. But it wasn’t just the lack of Howard that was the problem. For one it was the 18 turnovers, 21.4 percent of their possessions (Gilbert Arenas led the way with six). Then some ugly late-game possessions — they had chance at a transition three down four with 8 seconds to go and Hedo Turkoglu passed up a good look to throw it to Earl Clark for some inexplicable reasons, and from there their slim chances faded to black.

Clippers 92, Bobcats 87: Bobcats just cannot generate offense right now (with Stephen Jackson injured and Gerald Wallace traded). An offensive rating of  96.5 (points per 100 possessions) is not going to do it. They did a good defensive job on the Clippers — who had a balanced attack — but when they needed buckets late they were hoping D.J. Augustin would create something. Nice game from Boris Diaw — 19 points on 8-of-13 shooting, eight rebounds, eight assists, and a steal in 41 minutes on Monday — if he did that consistently it would be a big help. But he will not.

Knicks 131, Jazz 109: Al Jefferson said after the game the game:  “We don’t look like a team trying to make the playoffs.” You expected the offense to struggle with Deron Williams gone, but the Jazz played terrible defense in this one. Terrible. Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire combined for 65 points on 31 shots.

Bulls 85, Hornets 77: Credit the Hornets for putting up a fight — no Chris Paul, on the road on the second night of a back-to-back. Aside that, this was a pretty ugly game to watch — the winning team shot 38.3 percent. The Bulls won by closing the game out on an 8-0 rum

Mavericks 108, Timberwolves 105: Wolves were up 11 in the first half but by early in the second half the Mavericks had fought all the way back and were up two so you expected them to pull away and… not so fast. The Wolves made a real fight to the end, they were up a point with 2:15 left. But Dirk Nowitzki knocked down some free throws, Jason Kidd came with a steal, there was a Jason Terry three, followed by a Kevin Love miss and so on and so on….

Rockets 123, Kings 101: This fast became a route in the second half. Rick Adelman won what may be his last game in ARCO, er, Power Balance Arena. He won a lot of games there back in the day.

John Wall scores 37 as Wizards down LeBron James, Cavs 127-115

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CLEVELAND (AP) John Wall scored 37 points, Bradley Beal added 27 and the Washington Wizards began a challenging road trip by beating LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers 127-115 on Saturday night.

Wall scored 18 in the first quarter, when the Wizards shot 82 percent, and Washington held on down the stretch to avenge an overtime loss to the NBA champions last month.

James, who briefly wore goggles to protect an eye injury sustained Friday night, scored 24 and added 11 rebounds and eight assists. Kyrie Irving added 23 points and Kevin Love 17 for Cleveland, playing at home for the only time in a seven-game stretch.

Washington’s victory cut Cleveland’s lead in the Eastern Conference to a half-game over idle Boston.

Rudy Gobert calls out Jazz teammates after loss: “We’ve just got to compete. We’re too nice.”

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Utah and the L.A. Clippers are almost locked into a first round, four vs. five battle in the Western Conference. The only question is which team will have home court, and the Clippers took a big step towards that beating the Jazz at home Saturday. While the Jazz still has a half-game lead, the Clippers have a much softer schedule the rest of the way.

After that loss, Jazz center Rudy Gobert was ticked off and called out his teammates. Via Tim MacMahon of ESPN.

“We’ve got guys that compete, but some of us don’t compete. Some of us just think about scoring. That’s what it is. … Coach keeps repeating it: We’ve just got to compete. We’re too nice. Those guys, we know they’re going to get calls. We’ve just got to come out aggressive and ready to fight.”

Interesting comments for a team that is third in the NBA in defensive rating and 13th in offense.

Gobert is frustrated as Utah has dropped four of its last five, and the slump has been on both ends of the court. The defense has struggled, but if guys are looking to score too much they aren’t doing it efficiently because the offense has been worse.

This slide likely costs Utah home court in the first round, which could matter in what will be a tight matchup with Los Angeles. Utah needs to find its grinding rhythm again heading into the playoffs, at their best they can knock off the Clippers in the first round. Just not like they are playing now.

One thing to watch, Utah’s Gordon Hayward asked out of the game in the fourth quarter due to what is being called a bruised muscle in his leg. If he misses any time or if this lingers, it could be trouble for the Jazz in the postseason.

 

LeBron James starts game with protective goggles. That lasts about a minute.

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LeBron James suffered a scratched cornea Friday night when he went up for a layup late in the third quarter and Jeremy Lamb tried to contest and caught him clean across the face. LeBron got the and-1, but had trouble keeping his eye open in postgame interviews Friday.

Saturday he did play — wearing protective goggles. As you can see above.

That lasted about a minute.

LeBron was likely frustrated as the Cavaliers defensive woes had the Wizards up double digits much of the first half.

Kobe Bryant says he’s “only a phone call away” if organization needs his advice

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For the first time since he walked off the court in his final game, Kobe Bryant was back at Staples Center Friday night.

The reason was Shaquille O’Neal was getting a statue out in front of Staples Center (a building that may not have gotten built without the two of them). The two famed feuders sat next to each other and joked around through the ceremony. Time heals all wounds.

With the new management of the Lakers — specifically Kobe’s former agent Rob Pelinka as GM — there has been speculation Kobe could take on a role. He’s not looking for something formal, according to reports, but he didn’t say no, either, when asked.

I picture Kobe as a guy who someday buys a team, not a guy who wants to haggle with agents over the details of a contract. He’s not going to take on a day-to-day role, he likes the retired life and what he is building with the Kobe brand.

That said, the Lakers front office can use all the smart voices it can get as they try speed up a rebuild. They should give him a call every once in a while.