Baseline to Baseline recaps: Orlando tries to throw it away but still wins

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What you missed while watching Wile. E. Coyote in 127 hours….

The latest beat down of the Heat, this time by the Thunder, was our game of the night.

Magic 93, Bucks 89 (OT): The way the Magic played the end of regulation they are lucky to have won (and earned a playoff spout with the win). Up three with 5.1 left, coach Stan Van Gundy called for the Magic to foul (and give up two free throws) rather than allow the three — Jameer Nelson did a weak job of it, reaching in and fouling Brandon Jennings on a three point shot. Jennings nailed all three to tie it. But the Magic still had four seconds to win it in regulation — somehow I doubt the call was for Jason Richardson to pound the ball for three seconds then attempt a 26-foot contested pull-up three. Terrible shot.

Hedo Turkoglu took over and had 8 points in the OT to get the Magic the win. The real key to this game: No Andrew Bogut for the Bucks (due to a migraine), and without someone to really counter him Dwight Howard scored 31 points and pulled in 22 rebounds.

Nuggets 102, Hawks 87: Both teams struggled to find their shot early but the Nuggets found theirs while keeping their hot defense going (the Hawks Josh Smith was just 4-of-16 from the field). Nene had some big blocks inside, and J.R. Smith blew the game open with 15 points in the fourth quarter. Denver is playing with the kind of fire you wish we’d see more often from Atlanta.

Celtics 92, Pacers 80: We told you Tyler Hansbrough was playing well — Kevin Garnett noticed, too, and came out ready to lock him down. Hansbrough had just 10 points (and 11 boards). Boston was more aggressive and got to the lines 20 more times, and the Celtics took control in the second quarter when Jeff Green came in and dropped a dozen (he finished with 19).

Pistons 107, Raptors 93: Rip Hamilton walked into the building hot, he had 10 points on 4 shots in the first quarter, Detroit raced out to an early lead and never looked back.

Hornets 100, Suns 95: This is the kind of game the Suns need to win if they are going to make the playoffs. But instead they were behind by 17 in the fourth quarter, mostly because Chris Paul was knocking it down for New Orleans (he finished with 26). Steve Nash was back but he was not right.

Rockets 94, Bobcats 78: Charlotte wilted, shooting 37 percent and just 2-11 from three. The Bobcats are going to have a hard time catching the Pacers with these kinds of performances. Kevin Martin with 21 points, Chuck Hayes with 17 boards for the Rockets.

Jazz 119, Timberwolves 104: Long live the streak — Kevin Love had 22 points and 11 rebounds to record his first double-double in a row. Utah put up 71 first half points and took charge of this one in the second quarter with a lineup of Al Jefferson and the Jazz bench. C.J. Miles dropped 40 on the Wolves.

Cavaliers 97, Kings 93: So few home games left, it would be nice if the Kings put out a better effort for the fans, rather than shooting 38 percent and letting their opponent shoot 51 percent. Still, it took a late 6-0 run by the Cavs to seal it.

Mavericks 112, Warriors 106: Golden State started 7-of-7 from the field and was up 18 points in the first quarter. Turns out, how you end the game matters more, and Dallas had a 15-3 fourth quarter run to win. Dirk Nowitzki had 34 points and 12 rebounds. Dallas will take the win but it wasn’t pretty.

Sixers 104, Clippers 94: Is this any way to celebrate Blake Griffin’s birthday? It was the 17 Clipper turnovers that really did them in.

Report: Lakers asked LaVar Ball to pull back on criticism of Luke Walton

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There’s so much transparent marketing happening with LaVar Ball that it’s often not worth the server space to type up what he says and post it. The father of Los Angeles Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball is so breathlessly unexciting in his pitch for relevance in comparison to the actual happenings of the NBA, the irony of which is not unnoticed here.

Still, Mr. Ball has infrequently stepped out from his professional Uncle At a Barbeque cosplay to criticize the Lakers and coach Luke Walton. Mr. Ball has made it clear he thinks Lonzo should play more often, and in fourth quarters. That hasn’t been productive for either side, and it appears that the team has asked Mr. Ball to pull back on openly criticizing Walton.

According to a report from ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne, the team and Mr. Ball met to discuss their relationship in November.

Via ESPN:

The meeting, which took place within the past few weeks, was called by Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka.

LaVar Ball confirmed the meeting took place, telling ESPN, “It was the best thing, man. Everybody’s going to try to make it an ego thing, like I’m trying to tell them what to do or they’re trying to tell me to tone it down. It’s not about that. It’s about coming together and to get a solution to this problem.

“It may sound crazy to other people, but I really just want the best for Lonzo, and the best for Lonzo is going to be what’s best for the organization. Because if everybody winning, we good.”

“I’m going to say whatever I want to say, however I want to say it,” Ball said. “And they said, ‘LaVar, come and talk to us first.’ So that’s fine too.

“But I am going to say, to plant a seed, ‘Let’s look for this now.’ They may not want to hear that, but it’s going to be successful if you listen to what I’m saying on that fact that I know what it takes for my son to run like this.”

Mr. Ball’s influence on his son is unique, but the team is far more than an avenue for Lonzo to play basketball. Indeed, Lonzo is not even one the best two or three players on the Lakers. The organization needs to function at a professional level and doesn’t need Mr. Ball to achieve that. Sidestepping any Whataboutism in the face of sketchy NBA decisionmaking — Phil Jackson, the Bulls front office, any Billy King trade, Isiah Thomas, etc. — it’s not immediately clear that Mr. Ball agrees.

It’s got to be a hassle for Walton to have to deal with this type of thing. The team started enforcing an existing rule a rule recently that stops members of the media from congregating in the same area where NBA friends and family are after a game, but it’s unlikely that will stop reporters from ambulance-chasing Ball any time soon.

Lonzo has remained in LA, which is exactly what Mr. Ball wanted when his son went to UCLA. The younger Ball has struggled a bit, but he’s part of an energetic young core that’s on the up in a tough conference. Lonzo is even leading the team in assists. But Mr. Ball persists in stepping where he’s unqualified, presumably as a means to continue his guerilla marketing campaign (or perhaps motivated by it). LaVar doesn’t realize his work is done — Lonzo is a Laker — and he should let 16 championship trophies in the No. 2 TV market in the country take it from here.

Instead, Mr. Ball produces the most boring and uninspiring stories week after week. This is the league where major free agents break their legs in the first five minutes of play with their new team, where MVPs sign with the best team of all-time after they’ve already won a championship, and where the best player of all-time gives you a crucial chasedown block in Game 7 of the Finals. Nothing Mr. Ball can do will ever be interesting in the grand scheme of the NBA.

Meanwhile, the Lakers and the New York Knicks actually played a pretty wild OT game on Tuesday. If only that were what we could all concentrate on.

Watch the Knicks and Lakers make every shot for 2 straight minutes of game clock

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Tuesday night’s game between the New York Knicks and Los Angeles Lakers was a good one, with the teams going-back-and-forth all night. In an OT game that came down to the wire, a sequence in the third quarter was perhaps indicative of the kind of contest it was in Madison Square Garden.

Starting with a little more than six minutes to go in the third the teams traded eight consecutive baskets while MSG rose to an accompanying fever pitch.

The whole sequence was pretty hilarious, and lent to that feeling you get sometimes while watching competitive NBA games of complete exhilaration.

Via Twitter:

The gap spanned from Kentavious Caldwell-Pope‘s missed 3-pointer with 6:21 left to Brook Lopez‘s missed shot with 3:51 to go.

New York wound up winning in OT, 113-109.

Joel Embiid says he thinks people are about to start hating him

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Philadelphia 76ers have been the Twitter darlings of the NBA for the past few years. Thanks to former general manager Sam Hinkie and the tanking process, guys like Joel Embiid have become even more admired now that the team is in the hunt for a playoff spot.

Of course, players like Embiid are part of the generation that is always online, and the fact that they play in the NBA doesn’t keep them from participating in social media with their contemporaries. Embiid has a great Twitter feed, and is often out on it trying to get dates from the likes of Rihanna while trolling other NBA stars on Instagram.

Of course, as we’ve seen with players in the past, good fortune does not always shine forever. Indeed, conscious of this fact, Embiid as much to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne during a recent interview.

Via ESPN:

People love you at the beginning,” Embiid explains. “But at some point they’re gonna start hating you. LeBron. Russell Westbrook. All the superstars. Even Steph. He’s so likable. He does nothing wrong, but some people still hate him. It just comes with the nature of it. I’ve seen it.

“I feel like I’m about to go through it. I think it’s coming. People always want something new.”

The ups and downs of how NBA fandom changes the perception of certain players is fascinating, and some even try to directly manipulate that. And indeed, while Embiid is certainly hilarious on social media, the best thing to keep fans at bay will be him staying on the floor and playing games for the Sixers.

Let’s hope that keeps happening and nobody turns on him anytime soon.

Gregg Popovich says he was ‘guilty of over-coaching’ LaMarcus Aldridge

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LaMarcus Aldridge has been much better for the San Antonio Spurs this season. This comes after a tumultuous offseason in which it became clear that Aldridge was unhappy with his time in Texas.

That information came to light over the summer, and indeed both Aldridge and Spurs coach Gregg Popovich sat down to have a discussion to work out their differences in preparation for the upcoming season.

The results have been stupendous, with Aldridge playing better than ever in San Antonio despite the team lacking star Kawhi Leonard. Aldridge is averaging career highs in points per-100 possessions, which makes sense given his career-high 119 offensive rating.

Apparently part of Popovich’s change in dealing with Aldridge was how he coached him. Popovich told NBA.com recently that he made the mistake of over coaching Aldridge, saying that the veteran didn’t need as much guidance as young star players did when they came to him in the past.

Via NBA.com:

“We broke bread a few times, talked about it, laughed about it, discussed what we thought needed to happen, and frankly 95 percent of it fell on me because I made an error in trying to change him too much. That might sound odd, but he’d been in the league nine years and there’s one way he plays on the offensive end and feels comfortable with. I tried to turn him into Jack Sikma, told him I was going to teach you how to play on the elbow, go on the wing, face up. It was confusing for him. It really didn’t fit his style of play. I was guilty of over coaching in a sense.

“We came to an agreement on what had to happen. Well, on defense, I told him ‘I’m going to get on you like I do everyone else. But on offense, I don’t even want to talk to you. When they double you, kick it. Other than that, you be LaMarcus Aldridge.’ You see the result right now. He’s happy, confident and kicking everybody’s butt.”

Now that everything is sorted for the Spurs, we just have to watch out for them as they gain momentum heading into 2018. Leonard made his debut for the season on Tuesday night against the Dallas Mavericks, and as a publication time he had nine points in 10 minutes.

God help us if Gregg Popovich has finally found a way to make the mercurial LaMarcus Aldridge happy and pair him with a fully healthy Leonard.