Paul Pierce, Mo Williams

Baseline to Baseline recaps: Game winners everywhere, but the Clippers don’t need one

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What you missed while trying to recreate the movie “Up”

Clippers 108, Celtics 103: Boston had a plan — Blake Griffin was not going to beat them. It’s one thing that Boston’s defense has done well in this “big three era” — take away an opponent’s favorite option (sometimes two or three). Griffin was swarmed all night and shot 4-of-14 and had 12 points.

Problem was the other Clippers not named Griffin shot 57.4 percent on the night. Mo Williams had 28 points on 17 shots — including a late three that was the dagger — and DeAndre Jordan had 21 points on 10 shots. (I know the man in question is out injured, but what Jordan did makes you think about how Boston might miss Kendrick Perkins.) The Clippers jumped out to a first quarter lead, pushed that all the way to 23 points early in the second half, then held on to get the win.

Troy Murphy has yet to make a shot as a Celtic.

Jazz 96, Raptors 94: Utah road big fourth quarters from C.J. Miles (10 point in the fourth) and Al Jefferson (8) to erase a 14 point deficit ad have a chance for the win. Then at the buzzer it was Jefferson with the fluky high-arching tip that goes in after the red light goes on and gives the Jazz a dramatic win. Not a pretty win, but the Jazz needed it so they’ll take it.

Bulls 101, Bobcats 84: The Bobcats were supposed to get Stephen Jackson and Tyrus Thomas back for this one, but last second neither was quite healthy enough to go. So the Bobcats struggling offense went up against the best defense in the league and, frankly, did better than I would have predicted. Not good, but not as big a disaster as expected. Gerald Henderson had 20 for Charlotte; Kyle Korver had 20 off the bench for the Bulls (4-of-7 from three).

Thunder 110, Sixers 105 (OT): Philadelphia was up 101-96 with 42 seconds left. But then Kevin Durant happened. And the game went to overtime where the Thunder were in control.

Sure, there was the big shot to send the game to OT, but more importantly Durant had maybe the best defensive game I can remember from him — he shut Andre Iguodala down. Which is the opposite of what was supposed to happen, Iggy was supposed to shut down the league’s leading scorer. Instead Durant had 34 and chipped in 16 boards. Meanwhile Iguodla was 5-for-12 for 14 points.

Nets 94, Warriors 90: A London hangover and Deron Williams off watching his fourth kid be born yet the Nets still found a way to get this win. Of course, it was the last game of a seven-game trip for the Warriors, so you kind of expected them to fade at the end. And they did. Brook Lopez had 24 and 10, plus hit the old-fashioned three-point play with 1:10 left to seal the win. But the best Net was Sundiata Gaines — Jordan Farmar started this for Nets at the point but Gaines finished. He was a +21 and things just seemed to go right when he was in.

Bucks 110, Cavaliers 90: Honestly, I value my time too much to watch a lot of this. But Earl Boykins seemed to spark the normally anemic Bucks offense for a night.

Knicks 110, Grizzlies 108: The Knicks almost blew this one — they were up 10 with three minutes left, but it took a dramatic game winner to get the win. Which is something Carmelo Anthony can get you. He had the ball on the left wing, guarded by one of the better perimeter defenders around in Tony Allen, and he hit a long two with a hand in his face. Great shot. Good win for the Knicks against one of the hotter teams in the league over the last few weeks.

Hornets 93, Mavericks 92: The biggest shocker of the night — because Dallas was up 7 with under one minute to go. But in that final minute the Hornets knocked down a three pointer (Marco Bellinelli) plus a putback (Emeka Okafor), three offensive rebounds, and one forced turnover on a Dirk Nowitzki pass. Then after Tyson Chandler missed two free throws Jason Kidd fouled Jarrett Jack on a three, he sank all three free throws, then Dirk missed a game winner and that was it. Jack hit 8-of-19 shots for 21 points on the night.

Timberwolves 101, Pacers 75: Kevin Love set the record with his 52nd double double. Congratulations to him. Aside that, Indiana is just very bad right now.

Spurs 111, Pistons 104: What the hell is John Kuester doing? A couple weeks back he pulled Tracy McGrady for no good reason and gave him five DNP-CDs in a row. That meant Rodney Stuckey had been the man at the point and he had been good — he’s averaged 20.8 points, eight assists and six rebounds per game over those four. So tonight Stuckey was benched and McGrady was back in. McGrady played well, but that’s not the point. The Pistons are a mess.

The Spurs shot 80 percent — that’s not a typo, 80 percent — in the first half. The Pistons made it look respectable in the final score, but that was a mirage.

Magic 106, Kings 102: DeMarcus Cousins reminded us what a talent he can be, putting up a career high 29 points on Dwight Howard (who fouled out). But that was not enough. The Kings shot 30 percent in the second half against a stout Magic defense, Jameer Nelson got in the lane and Hedo Turkoglu hit the dagger three. The Magic got the win but that was one of the Kings best games in a while.

Brandon Ingram with the steal, slam (VIDEO)

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Very little has gone right for the Lakers of late. They have dropped five in a row. Around Los Angeles, the talk has gone from “this team could make the playoffs” after a 10-10 start to “they need to tank and try to keep the pick” after going 5-21 since. (The Lakers pick this draft is top-three protected, if it’s outside that it goes to the Sixers. The Lakers currently have the fourth worst record in the NBA.)

The Lakers young players look… young. D'Angelo Russell admitted he just started trying to follow a game-day routine, then said Tuesday night he didn’t focus and deserved to be benched down the stretch. Brandon Ingram shows flashes, he’s smart and sees the game, but he’s still physically pushed around.

But those flashes, like the steal and dunk above are fun.

Lakers fans, welcome to the process. This is what rebuilding is like. It’s a roller coaster, you just hope the trajectory generally remains up.

Rumor: Is Cleveland done making moves?

SACRAMENTO, CA - JANUARY 13:  Kyle Korver #26 of the Cleveland Cavaliers shoots over Arron Afflalo #40 of the Sacramento Kings at Golden 1 Center on January 13, 2017 in Sacramento, California.  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 Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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LeBron James has made it clear he wants the Cavaliers to add a veteran point guard to the mix. Cavs GM David Griffin has talked about wanting to add playmakers to the roster.

The Cavaliers made a savvy move picking up Kyle Korver recently, he brings shooting and some high IQ play to the table. But was that it? Does Cleveland have another trade to pull off?

ESPN’s Brian Windhorst is about as connected as they come with the Cavaliers organization and he said on ESPN Cleveland radio not to bet on seeing another move.

Windhorst is right, in terms of players the Cavaliers don’t have much to move — James Jones? Kay Felder — and they don’t have a first-round pick to move until 2021. The buyout market may be something to watch, but a solid playmaker or point guard may be hard to come by.

The only question about the Cavaliers roster is this: How does it match up with Golden State? Barring a major catastrophe, the Cavaliers are coming out of the East, but can they beat the Warriors four out of seven? The MLK Day blowout was not an indicator one way or the other, the Cavs mailed that game in, but there certainly are questions about the potential Finals matchup. One more playmaker would help the Cavs, I just don’t know where he comes from.

Report: Pelicans explored Dwight Howard trade before Hawks pulled him off table

DALLAS, TX - JANUARY 07:  Dwight Howard #8 of the Atlanta Hawks at American Airlines Center on January 7, 2017 in Dallas, Texas.  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 Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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Who are the Pelicans? They look like a movie where the writer, director, and studio suits all had very different versions of the film in mind, and the result is a jumbled mess. Think “Suicide Squad.”

There are a lot of questions about the roster and style of this team, but at the heart of all of it is this: Do they play Anthony Davis at the four or the five? They are better with him at the five but keep spending money on bigs to push him to the four.

They considered doing it again in the past month, reports Zach Lowe at ESPN (in an article that brilliantly lays out the quandary in New Orleans).

But they haven’t committed to staying small, and sticking Davis at center. They worry about the physical toll it would take, and fretted after Davis picked up two quick fouls jostling with Dwight Howard two weeks ago. In the days that followed, Atlanta and New Orleans had exploratory talks about possible Howard trades before the Hawks pulled everyone off the market, according to several league sources. It is unclear how interested New Orleans was, and there was not unanimous support within the team for acquiring Howard.

Dwight Howard? He’s played better this season and finally is staying within himself in Atlanta, but why would the Pelicans want him and that contract next to Davis? To be fair, these kinds of conversations happen a lot in the NBA and most don’t go anywhere. Still, this one is perplexing. It’s the opposite of the style they had success with this season. It’s back to the confused push-and-pull within that franchise.

Maybe this goes to having Saints people oversee the basketball side and thinking, like the NFL, you can rebuild on the fly quickly with smart fifth round picks and a couple free agents. The NBA doesn’t work that way (and there aren’t fifth round picks, although the second round serves that purpose). The Pelicans should have tanked in recent years. If the Pelicans brought in Alvin Gentry to run a more Warriors-style offense, then give him the players to do it. Davis is a foundational piece and will be a stud in any system, maybe Holiday can work in that free-flowing, fast-decision style with shooting everywhere, and after that… I don’t know.

Bottom line, if the Pelicans brought in Alvin Gentry to run a more Warriors-style offense, then give him the players to do it. Davis is a foundational piece and will be a stud in any system, maybe Holiday can work in that free-flowing, fast-decision style with shooting everywhere, and after that… I don’t know.

But the indecision and hodgepodge of a roster in New Orleans leaves it in the same place as always, and that is squandering one of the game’s best players.

Video Breakdown: What is Hammer action? An explainer

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Hammer action — sometimes referred to as a Hammer play or a Hammer set — was made ubiquitous in the modern NBA by the San Antonio Spurs. It’s really not as complicated as it sounds to identify, and it’s got two main principles.

First, the Hammer part of any set is a back screen to setup a cut by a wing player around the arc to the corner (or sometimes on a flare to the wing).

Second, the Hammer always happens away from the ball side of a play. It’s a weak side action, and typically anything happening with the ball on the strong side at the beginning of the play is purposeful distraction.

You can learn all about the Hammer by watching this week’s NBA Glossary video above, or by reading the text version down below.

The Diagram

Here we have a set where the ball is on the right side of the floor, with one post high and one low. The Hammer action happens on the weak side of the court between the shooting guard and the center:

The small forward is going to start the pick and roll with the power forward going to the right side. Meanwhile, the center is going to set the back screen on the left left side of the floor. This is our Hammer action, and the shooting guard will run off that screen to the corner.

Once the play starts and the small forward gets to the baseline, he passes it out to the guard, who shoots the corner three.

Let’s take a look at it in action and how the Spurs mix it into different looking plays.

Here they have the ball at the arc on the right side of the floor. Kawhi Leonard is coming through the paint to receive a pass off the screen.

Meanwhile, Patty Mills is the player that’s going to run off a hammer screen here on the left elbow.

The ball is passed, and with Kawhi dribbling toward the arc, the trap is set, and the Hammer action commences.

The defender turns his head, and Mills runs toward the baseline unimpeded to take the jumper.

In this example, we have the pick and roll to the right side. The hammer action is going to happen between the guard and the post on the weak side.

As the pick and roll is run, the Hammer screen is set.

Notice San Antonio has cleverly positioned Tony Parker at the top of the arc, and when LaMarcus Aldridge pops out, it’s up to Parker’s defender to stunt over to help.

This makes Danny Green’s defender slide over to help cover Parker, basically leaving Green unguarded in the corner.

Aldridge sees this, and passes the ball to Parker for the quick rotation over to Green.

That’s the basics of the Hammer play. It’s nothing super complicated, but it shows you how spacing and exploitation of defensive tendencies can be programmed into an NBA offense.