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.

Russell Westbrook: ‘Oklahoma City is a place that I want to be’

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The Thunder want to sign Russell Westbrook to a contract extension that projects to be worth about $207 million over five years.

But does he want to sign it?

Westbrook, via Royce Young of ESPN:

“That’s something, like I said, I haven’t thought about anything, obviously,” Westbrook said. “Everybody knows that I like Oklahoma City and I love being here and I love everybody here. But I haven’t even thought about that. Obviously, Oklahoma City is a place that I want to be.”

Westbrook noted that his wife is expecting their first child in May, and that’s where his focus is right now. Asked whether there’s a timetable on his decision about a potential extension, Westbrook lightheartedly jabbed back.

“No. What did I just say? Like you don’t care about my baby?” he said. “You must not. You didn’t hear that part, huh?”

Though it was painted as Westbrook showing his loyalty to the Thunder in stark contrast to the departed Kevin Durant, Westbrook’s renegotiation-and-extension last summer was also his way of receiving the highest-possible salary.

This is a different case.*

*So, it seems. It’s unclear whether the new Collective Bargaining Agreement will allow Oklahoma City to renegotiate Westbrook’s 2017-18 salary up to the designated-veteran-player rate, but I’m presuming not.

Westbrook will have 10 years of experience when an extension would kick in. A typical advantage of a designated-veteran-player contract is allowing a player with eight or nine years experience, who’s typically limited to a starting salary of 30% of the salary cap, to receive a starting salary of 35% of the salary cap. But Westbrook will be eligible for 35% of the salary by then simply due to his years of service.

In other words, an extension signed this summer would pay Westbrook the exact same amount he could receive as a free agent in 2018.

So, would Westbrook sign that extension? It’d guarantee him a huge salary and protect him in the event of injury or decline. But Westbrook is so good, he’s extremely likely to get the max in 2018-19 no matter what. With only minimal risk, maybe he’d rather maintain flexibility.

Westbrook appeared to embrace leading the team, and he truly seems happy in Oklahoma City in a way I didn’t expect when he signed last summer. His image is so tied to loyalty to the Thunder, it’d be tough to spin an exit.

But Oklahoma City is relatively locked into a roster that will have a hard time winning multiple playoff series. Westbrook wants to win.

I don’t know whether he’ll accept an extension this summer rather than delaying a year, but if he won’t ink a deal this year, that should be a concerning indicator to the Thunder about their chances of re-signing him in 2018.

Neil Olshey pushes back against columnist critiquing Trail Blazers’ culture

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John Canzano wrote a column for The Oregonian calling the Trail Blazers’ culture “busted.”

Jason Quick of CSN Northwest tweeted about the column:

And then Quick asked Neil Olshey about it in the general manager’s postseason press conference:

Olshey

I want to let you know I was completely oblivious to that until someone showed me your tweet, which I said, “I don’t understand what this means.” And I had to go back and read that.

I was glad that it was written by someone who came to two games all year, and clearly the motivation was to abuse his privileges as a media person with his pass so that he could get tickets for his relatives and pictures taken with the opposing point guard in the opposing point guard’s jersey. Because clearly, that’s an unbiased opinion, right? That’s an impartial observer talking about our roster when he has his nephew in a Steph Curry jersey taking pictures with Steph Curry. Sure.

You know, look. I’m very comfortable with where our culture is. I mean, look, you guys are around it. Hey, you’re in that locker room more than I am, right? I mean, quite honestly, you guys know. The day I stopped coaching, I haven’t walked into an NBA locker room. Not once. It’s not my place. When I talk to the guys, it’s out of the locker room. That’s their sanctuary. So, you guys know how close a group that is, how they feel about the coaching staff, the support that they get from the organization. They know we have their best interest at heart.

Last summer, when we had guys that their markets didn’t appear the way that I think maybe they anticipated they would. They were still taken care of. They wanted to keep here. When you look at guys like – look at Chris Kaman. Look at Steve, guys, how they were treated when they were here relative to maybe some other experiences they had had in the league. Everybody throws the word around, and like I said, I don’t hear a lot of complaints. And believe me, we have guys that – any of you that know Chris Kaman, if he had a complaint, he would voice it.

And again, like with Dame, hey, what does it tell you about an organization and an owner that, when you are in a starting lineup from the day you walked in and 80 percent of it is not gonna return, and on day one you sign on long-term? And then your backcourt mate, who is another star in this league never once said, “I wanna go somewhere to run my own team” and signed on.

And I think that’s where you have to look at it, is — and I’ve talked about this in free agency — look, I’ve got to do a better job selling our program, selling the organization, selling the city when we have the free agency flexibility. But I think what gets lost in that is the guys that wanted to stay and the guys that wanted to come back. I think you have to look at that also, that we don’t have guys – we lost one player.

Canzano addressed the gripe about his family member wearing a Stephen Curry jersey:

I bought a pair of tickets to Game 3 for my nephew and our church pastor. I had to work the game so I needed a chaperone to sit with the kid and the church youth pastor was all for it. I dropped them off in front of Moda Center and picked them back up after the game. The nephew, 11, likes Steph Curry and wore his Curry jersey to the game and the pastor snapped a photo of the kid with Curry warming up in the background. It was posted to social media. My nephew is in the foster-care system. My wife and I are his guardians. It felt like the right thing to do. Not sure why this is even a topic. Not sure fans care, either. But I suppose Olshey was trying to say that because my nephew wore a Curry jersey I couldn’t be impartial? I don’t know, and a waste of time to think about it.

That’s a more-than-fair defense. I wouldn’t get hung up on Canzano’s nephew’s Stephen Curry jersey.

But Canzano’s initial column left plenty to be desired. Most of it harps on how nice Kevin Durant and Curry were to Portland arena staff during the Warriors-Trail Blazers first-round series, as if that – not Curry’s and Durant’s generational talent and star production from Draymond Green and Klay Thompson – has made Golden State title favorite. Damian Lillard shaking a few more hands and C.J. McCollum issuing a few more than yous would not have gotten Portland out of the first round. Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant were notorious jerks, and their teams fared pretty well. Canzano’s juxtaposition also unfairly paints the Trail Blazers players as surly, which has not been the case in my experience.

The unfortunate part: Canzano actually makes a couple interesting critiques that are drowned out by the fawning over Durant and Curry shaking hands. Canzano contends that, because Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen has cycled through so many general managers, Olshey knows his time in Portland could be running out and therefore contributes to a culture of fear and paranoia that permeates in numerous ways. I wish Canzano would’ve explored that in greater depth.

Instead, Olshey never addressed those concerns. He talked about how most Trail Blazers, LaMarcus Aldridge the lone notable exception, have been happy in Portland and wanted to stay there – which is nice, but not really Canzano’s point. A team can both attract players and have a flawed culture.

Dwyane Wade says Bulls’ showers had no hot water in Boston

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The Bulls suffered a rough loss in Boston last night.

It didn’t get better afterward.

K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune:

Celtics general manager Danny Ainge – who played for Boston in the 80s – pleaded ignorance to any nefarious plumbing:

I think the idea that teams plot to shut off the visitor’s hot water is often overstated. Arenas have complex infrastructure, and things can go wrong on their own. Sometimes, the home team loses hot water, but that never gets remembered.

But reasonable excuses don’t make a cold shower in the moment any more tolerable.

Robin Lopez pushes short floater over backboard (video)

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Robin Lopez had reason to be upset from the Bulls’ Game 5 loss to the Celtics last night.

This miss was all on him.