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.

Gregg Popovich will not coach Game 4 following death of his wife, Erin

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San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich will not be on the sidelines again for Game 4 Sunday following the death of his wife, Erin, to a lengthy illness.

Ettore Messina will again coach the Spurs.

Popovich also missed Game 3. His San Antonio Spurs are down 3-0 to the Golden State Warriors in the first-round matchup. None of that matters compared to the loss of a woman he loved and was married to for four decades.

Erin Popovich’s passing has cast a pall over the series, especially with Warriors coach Steve Kerr being very close to the Popovichs dating back to his playing days with the Spurs.

The reaction and sadness about Erin’s passing has reached well beyond this series.

Our thoughts are with the Popovich family in this difficult time.

Anthony Davis’ 47 points, Pelicans sweep Trail Blazers out of playoffs

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NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Anthony Davis scored 33 of his franchise playoff-record 47 points in the second half, and the New Orleans Pelicans completed a first-round playoff sweep of the Portland Trail Blazers with a 131-123 victory on Saturday.

Jrue Holiday capped his 41-point performance with an 18-foot pull-up jumper that gave the Pelicans a six-point lead with 40 seconds left.

Rajon Rondo added 16 assists, and Davis also had 11 rebounds and three blocks for New Orleans, which is moving on to the second round of the playoffs for only the second time since the NBA returned to the city 16 seasons ago.

C.J. McCollum scored 38 for the Trail Blazers, who responded to a blowout loss in Game 3 by keeping Game 4 close until the final minute. Al-Farouq Aminu scored 27, Damian Lillard added 18 points and Jusuf Nurkic had 18 points and 11 rebounds before fouling out.

Lillard’s difficult driving layup had just tied the game at 60 when the Pelicans briefly pulled away, going on an 11-2 run capped by Davis’ 3.

Soon after, Nikola Mirotic added step-back 3. Davis, who scored 19 in the third quarter, then added a layup while falling down after a hard foul by Aminu, after which Davis flexed both biceps while still sitting on the court.

Holiday’s transition 3 made it 87-72, prompting Portland to call timeout while Holiday walked slowly toward mid-court, nodding and smiling wide as he soaked in the crowd’s adulation.

New Orleans led by 13 to start the fourth quarter, but Portland refused to wilt, opening the period on a 15-4 run that included Nurkic’s hook shot, 20-foot jumper and dunk. McCollum’s transition layup made it 104-102 with nearly nine minutes to play.

Portland got as close as a single point on Aminu’s layup with 5:08 to go, but Davis responded with 12 points over the final 4:56, starting with a layup as he was fouled and a 3-pointer. Holiday scored six points during the final 2:52, starting with his 3-pointer. The pair combined for all but one of New Orleans’ points during that pivotal stretch.

Leading up to Game 4, Lillard spoke of the need for the Blazers to ramp up their intensity and physicality. From the tip, it looked as though they’d done so.

In stark contrast to Game 3, when New Orleans led by 18 in the first quarter, this game was tight and testy.

Anthony and Ed Davis received double technical fouls after bumping one another following one of Anthony Davis’ dunks – and that was just the beginning.

McCollum was called for a flagrant foul when he stormed into the lane behind E'Twaun Moore and grabbed the Pelicans guard by the shoulders to thwart a driving layup attempt. Moore then shoved McCollum and was assessed a technical foul.

And in the final seconds of the half, double technicals were assessed to Rondo and Portland center Zach Collins after Rondo lowered his forehead into Collins’ chest and Collins shoved back.

When halftime arrived, New Orleans led 58-56.

 

 

Twins Marcus, Markieff Morris each fined by league for separate instances

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Twins Marcus and Markieff Morris have a special bond, one that includes doing so much together on the basketball court — playing at the same high school, the same AAU team, then going to college together at Kansas, and even playing together in the NBA for a while together with the Suns (they are now on separate teams).

That includes them both getting fined Saturday by the NBA for recent actions during the playoffs.

Washington’s Markieff Morris picked up a $25,000 fine for “attempting to escalate an altercation and pushing a game official,” the league announced. Here is the play in question, just minutes into Game 3.

Toronto’s OG Anunoby draws a foul knocking Morris to the ground, but Morris starts the incident with an elbow to Anunoby’s back, and he does push referee Kenny Mauer. Considering all that, a $25,000 fine is not that severe.

His twin Marcus Morris picked up a $15,000 for “public criticism of the officiating,” which he certainly did following the Celtics’ Game 3 loss to the Bucks. Here are his comments, and they are NSFW.

That $15,000 fine is pretty much the going rate for ripping the referees after the game.

Markieff outdid his brother on this one… if you consider getting the larger fine the “win.”

As expected, likely top-three pick Luka Doncic files to enter NBA draft

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Luka Doncic — the 6’8″ point forward who is putting up impressive numbers against men at the highest levels of European basketball — is bringing is game to the NBA. As expected.

Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports said the expected is now official.

Doncic, 19, submitted draft paperwork this week to formally enter his name, league sources said. Doncic is arguably the most decorated European player to make a jump to the NBA, a wunderkind who’s been playing in the EuroLeague since 2015. He is currently leading Real Madrid in the EuroLeague playoffs, averaging 14.9 points, 4.7 rebounds and 4.4 assists this season.

The 6-foot-7 Doncic has the ability to play multiple positions, from being a primary ball-handler to shooting and playmaking off the ball. His season in Europe could continue into late May or June. NBA executives have long been intrigued by Doncic’s potential stardom, and several are continuing to make scouting trips for him.

Doncic is expected to go in the top three (likely the top two) come this June’s draft.

If you’re about to bring up Darko Milicic or some other European bust, just stop. This Slovenian has proven he can play — in 54 games this season between Liga ACB (Spain’s league, second best in the NBA) and the Euroleague, Doncic is averaging 14.8 points, 5.1 rebounds and 4.6 assists a game. He has shown a gift for passing that should blossom in the more open play of the NBA, plus he just knows how to run a team and make plays. He can score when called upon and has three-point range, can shoot off the bounce, and if you switch a smaller guy onto him, Doncic can just post him up.

He’s not going to be a bust.

However, what his ceiling is remains the debate. He’s not an elite athlete by NBA standards who has struggled at points for Real Madrid when guarded by borderline-NBA level Americans in Europe. Can he defend at the NBA level? Can he be consistent with his jumper? He may be elite, but it’s no given.

He’s going to be good, and his floor is higher than a lot of the other top prospects in this draft class. However, if a GM thinks that Marvin Bagley III or Mohamed Bamba both have a higher ceiling and can reach it, they may go with the Americans. Doncic is going to put some GMs in an interesting position.