Dwight Howard

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.

Watch Charles Barkley struggle to pronounce “Jonas Valanciunas” last season

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The Toronto Raptors were good last season, second best team in the East. That means the guys on Inside the NBA on TNT had to talk about them.

Which means Charles Barkley had to say “Jonas Valanciunas” a lot. Which is high comedy. While a lot of people struggle to say his name the guy is a solid NBA center who, with a little practice, you can say (and spell) his name pretty easily.

This comes from a YouTube user, via Reddit, with a hat tip to Eye on Basketball.

Watch highlights of USA’s 111-74 rout of Argentina in exhibition game

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Argentina isn’t considered a medal contender heading into the Rio Olympics. Their golden generation — led by Manu Ginobili — has picked up a lot of speed on the downhill side of their careers at this point.

They didn’t provide much of a challenge for Team USA in an exhibition game Friday night in Las Vegas, one won by the USA 111-74. Kevin Durant impressed playing with his new teammates in dropping 23 points, Paul George had 18, and the Americans had their way in the game.

Which is what we’re going to see a lot of in Rio — the USA’s talent level is just steps above any other team in the tournament.

Kevin Durant: Nobody has said something negative to my face about joining Warriors

OAKLAND, CA - JULY 07:  Kevin Durant speaks to the media during the press conference where he was introduced as a member of the Golden State Warriors after they signed him as a free agent on July 7, 2016 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
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When Kevin Durant chose the Warriors, he received criticism from all angles.

Fans burned his jersey. Charles Barkley decried the decision. Markieff Morris said, “That ain’t right.” Durant’s former Thunder teammates leaked their displeasure with the process.

Durant was so reluctant to face the backlash, he stayed in his bed luxurious rental house for two days.

It, uh, worked.

Michael Lee of Yahoo Sports:

Though he has heard some criticism from Barkley and fellow Hall of Famer Reggie Miller, various talking heads and people in social media who believe he has cheated the system and cut corners to a ring, Durant said the reaction to his choice hasn’t been too bad: “All that stuff happens on the Internet. I haven’t had one person come to me and say anything negative. … It’s easy for the critics on the outside to tell you what to do, to tell you how to play. I’m the one that’s going through it, so I can’t really worry about the outside noise. The work don’t stop. Everything stays the same.”

This is a good reminder how insulated NBA players, especially stars, can be.

And it adds to why Durant signing with Golden State makes sense. While we’re debating his legacy and discussing the backlash (and the backlash to the backlash and the backlash to the backlash to the backlash and the…), he’ll be playing high-level basketball with his friends in a desirable city for a max salary.

Sure, it’s not all rosy. Durant altered his relationship with his friend Russell Westbrook, and Durant will have to return to Oklahoma City for a game. There, he’ll face plenty of booing fans.

But, all in all, Durant should have little trouble tuning out the critics.

They’re too far away for him to hear them much.

US romps over Argentina in first Olympic exhibition

LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 22:  Paul George #13 of the United States passes the ball up the court against Argentina during a USA Basketball showcase exhibition game at T-Mobile Arena on July 22, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The United States won 111-74.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
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LAS VEGAS (AP) New team. Same old result.

Full of new star power – and dominant on the inside – the U.S. men’s basketball team opened its bid for a third straight Olympic gold medal Friday night with a 111-74 exhibition romp over Argentina.

A game that was over almost before it began showed the U.S. has to improve its shooting and conditioning. It also showed that there is plenty of talent among a group of players that seem to want to play well for each other and their country despite the absence of Olympic stalwarts Kobe Bryant and LeBron James.

“There’s a willingness from these guys to work on anything we need and to work hard,” coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “These are very good guys.”

A U.S. team that hasn’t lost a game in 10 years had little trouble with Argentina, which some consider a medal contender in Rio. Paul George scored 14 first-half points, Kevin Durant added 12, and the U.S. blew open the game early before an appreciative crowd on the Las Vegas Strip.

Even with Bryant retired and James taking this Olympics off, there was no real talent drop off on a team heavily favored to win gold once again. The depth of the U.S. showed as coach Mike Krzyzewski rotated players in and out, searching for the right combinations on a team with 10 new players from 2012.

“Nothing is for sure,” Durant said. “We want to get this gold and right now we have a job to do. We have to prepare the right way.”

Count the Argentines among those who were impressed at the first real game for the Olympic team.

“Obviously, they have the best talent and the best size in the world,” Argentina’s Luis Scola said. “That’s a big difference in their favor.”

The game was the first of five exhibitions the U.S. will play before traveling to Rio to defend the gold medal. The U.S. team has spent the last week practicing in Las Vegas in preparation for the tour and the games.

There weren’t any opening night jitters, though the U.S. shot only 45 percent and missed all but 14 of 41 3-pointers. With DeMarcus Cousins pulling down 15 rebounds in just 16 minutes, the U.S. dominated inside, outrebounding Argentina 53-30.

“The big thing is getting in shape and they are not there where they will be,” Krzyzewski said. “But we really have an inside presence on the boards.”

For Durant the game was a chance to play with a pair of his new Golden State teammates, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson. It was also a chance for Durant and Carmelo Anthony – the only two players from the 2012 team – to demonstrate that this will be their team in Rio.

Both players cheered from the bench as the minutes were spread around, jumping up to clap for teammates. Every U.S. player got quality time, with Green’s 12 minutes the least played by any American.

“We’re going to have fun and we’re going to enjoy ourselves,” Anthony said. “If it’s not fun it’s not worth it. We’re going to enjoy ourselves but at the same time we’re going to be focused in trying to get that gold medal.”

Durant finished as the game’s high scorer with 23 points, while George had 18 and Carmelo Anthony 17. Andres Nocioni had 15 for Argentina, while Manu Ginobili added 11 for Argentina, which lost to the U.S. in the semifinals of the 2012 Olympics.

Though at times little defense was played, there was plenty of offense to keep the crowd at the new T-Mobile Arena happy. The teams combined to put up 70 3-point attempts, 41 of them from the U.S.

Oddsmakers had made the U.S. a prohibitive 29.5-point favorite in what at times looked a lot like an NBA All-Star game. But while the U.S. team is loaded with 12 NBA players, the Argentines had only three on their roster and the talent difference showed.

While the team is full of new players, the gold medal run will be the last for Krzyzewski, the national coach for the last decade. His teams have lost only one game during his reign, which will end after the Olympics with San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich taking over.