Baseline to Baseline recaps: Back-to-backs not sitting well with Boston

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What you missed while checking out the Cheezsculpture at South By Southwest

The Heat returning the beat down favor to the Spurs was our game of the night.

Nets 88, Celtics 79: When the winning team shoots 39.7 percent, you got yourself one ugly game. The first half the Nets shot 32 percent, the Celtics had an offensive efficiency of 88.4 (points per 100 possessions) and it was just not good. But the Nets shot 57 percent in the third quarter, opened a lead and were able to hold on. Brook Lopez had 20, Kris Humphries had 16 points, 15 boards as the Nets were the dominant team inside.

Boston tends to look old on the second night of back-to-backs (and they are in a tough little stretch). Rajon Rondo struggled and when Doc Rivers was asked why he said “because he’s human.” So that rules out my assist-generating robot theory.

Thunder, 116 Wizards 89: Kendrick Perkins made his debut with the Thunder and their defense looked great, holding the Wizards to 39.4 percent shooting (0-9 from three) and 89 points in a fast paced game. If it wasn’t the Wizards, maybe Thunder fans could get excited about that. They shouldn’t about this, wait until they prove it against better teams. Kevin Durant had 32 points on 16 shots.

Nuggets 114, Hornets 103: When Ty Lawson and Raymond Felton were on the court together for the first three quarters, Denver was +21 (they were -4 in the garbage time late). That combo won the game as the Hornets could not stop them. Chris Paul was the best point guard in this game (27 points) but the Nuggets backcourt dominated this one.

Grizzlies 105, Clippers 89: Zach Randolph dominated his old team, and he dominated Blake Griffin, dropping in 30 while helping hold Griffin to 4-of-10 shooting. This one was over early.

Jazz 112, Sixers 107 (OT): Utah was up 8 with three minutes to go, then Andre Iguodala put up a fast 7 points and (with a Lou Williams jumper thrown in) the Sixers had a lead. It was nip and tuck the rest of the way, then the score tied Iggy missed a contested elbow jumper to win it at the buzzer and the game went to overtime. There Andrei Kirilenko took over with seven points and some quality defense in the paint in the extra time.

Rockets 95, Suns 93: No Steve Nash or Canning Frye, so credit the Suns for really fighting to make it close at the end. The Rockets had controlled this thing from the start and it was Josh Childress and Vince Carter who made the Suns push to make it close. Aaron Brooks clearly wanted to rub it in the face of his old team, but he struggled and finished shooting 1-of-9 and chipped in as many turnovers as assists).

Lakers 97, Magic 84: Andrew Bynum’s defense and rebounding were the key here — the Lakers didn’t shoot that well (43.8 percent overall) but they got the offensive rebound on 30 percent of their misses and Bynum had 9 offensive boards. Bynum also altered and changed a lot of shots in the paint and finished with 18 boards. Dwight Howard had 22 points and 15 boards, so it’s not like Bynum shut him down, but Howard had 9 turnovers on the season as he struggled to recognize where the double was coming from. The Magic turned the ball over on 21.2 percent of their possessions. Basically the Lakers cruised and looked like contenders.

Kings 129, Warriors 119: Lightening fast pace in this one — 105 possessions — and very little transition defense being played. That worked for Marcus Thornton, who dropped 42. The Kings took control with a 19-0 run in the first quarter and never really looked back, leading big the rest of the way. Second chance points also big for the Kings.

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

Associated Press
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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.”

Associated Press
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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.