Memphis Grizzlies v Boston Celtics

Baseline to Baseline recaps: Where Boston got dominated along the front line


What you missed while mourning Elizabeth Taylor…

Grizzlies 90, Celtics 87: This is why teams out west would like to avoid Memphis in the first round (even without Rudy Gay) — Memphis outscored Boston 52-26 in the paint. Memphis grabbed the offensive rebound on 25 percent of their missed shots. The vaunted Boston front line was out played. Certainly, Boston is without either of the O’Neals (both of whom should return in the next week) but don’t take anything away from Memphis, they played to their strengths and won. Plus, ex-Celtics Leon Powe (13 points) and Tony Allen (9) played key roles off the bench for the Griz.

Key playoff implications here. Memphis is now a full two games ahead of Houston for the 8 seed in the West, Boston has now fallen one game back of Chicago for best record in the East.

Sixers 105, Hawks 100: On the bright side, the Hawks played with more passion than they did 24 hours before when the Bulls whipped them. The Hawks put up 59 first half points to lead by 6. But on the second night of a back they looked tired come the fourth quarter and with that their defense got worse (the Sixers shot 53 percent for the quarter) and the Hawks settled for jump shots that were not falling (they shot 36 percent for the quarter).

The win seems to lock the Sixers more into the six seed, however, they are now 2.5 games back of the Hawks for the five seed with just a couple weeks left.

Pacers 111, Bobcats 88: This was a huge win for the Pacers as it gives them a full three game lead over Charlotte and Milwaukee for the eight seed in the East. Charlotte seemed to be in control for the first 16 minutes or so of this game, then it was all Pacers. Danny Granger had 33 points on 19 shots and was a +28. Stephen Jackson tried for Charlotte but his hamstring is just not healed and he is not right.

Nets 98, Cavaliers 94: One of the more meaningless games of the night standings wise, one with some less-than-stellar execution, but one of the more entertaining endings. Brook Lopez tipped in his own miss with :04 left to send the game to overtime. An overtime where scoring was rampant — 28 total points were scored in five minutes. Jordan Farmar scored five points in OT, all from the free throw line.

Heat 100, Pistons 94: Detroit was up 27-21 after one quarter shooting 60 percent while the Heat started 2-10 from outside the paint. Detroit held that lead until the start of the fourth quarter, when Miami went on a 15-0 run that changed the game. LeBron James, Chris Bosh and James Jones off the bench led that charge. Not going to read much into the Heat beating another below .500 team, but it still counts as a win.

Thunder 106, Jazz: 94: Kind of a veteran, professional win for the Thunder. They shot better (54.5 percent on the night) and their superior bench changed the game with a 15-6 run late in the third that helped the Thunder pull away.

Kings 97, Bucks 90: Marcus Thornton really likes having a green light again and put up 27 points. Beno Udrih added 25. Carlos Delfino was hot and dropped 30 for the Bucks, but it wasn’t enough. We’re sure a win over the Bucks really made the Kings fans forget all that relocation talk.

Magic 111, Knicks 99: After giving up 59 points in the first half (and being down 4 at the break) credit the Magic for falling back on their strengths in the second half. For one, they tightened their defense and held the Knicks to 31.8 percent shooting for the half. (Although the Knicks certainly helped out there — they seem to tighten up in the stretch.) Orlando also keep feeding Dwight Howard the ball because the Knicks have no answer for a big man like that, and Howard finished with 33. The Magic also grabbed the offensive rebound on one-third of their missed shots on the night, they owned the glass.

Rockets 131, Warriors 112: Chuck Hayes had a triple-double. No, I’m not making that up, check the box score for yourself. This is something you’ll tell the grandkids about.

Up tempo game with lots of good shooting, but the key was the Rockets were attacking and drawing fouls, too — Houston got to the line 35 times and had 27 points from there compared to just 18 chances and 11 points for the Warriors. Also, the Rockets hit 12-26 threes, including 5-of-8 from beyond the arc for Courtney Lee.

Suns 114, Raptors 106: Coming into the second game of a back-to-back where the Suns played to triple overtime the night before, Phoenix’s depth mattered here — they got 63 points from their bench in this win.

Nuggets 115, Spurs 112: Just how hot is Denver? Two of the better, more unselfish teams in the league were putting on a show (although Denver ran a lot of iso early for some reason). The Spurs led most of the way until an 11-0 run by Denver in the fourth gave them the lead for good. Al Harrington’s 9 points in the fourth quarter, all on threes, were key for Denver. That would be a bench player — Denver got 65 points off the bench from J.R. Smith, Raymond Felton and Harrington (who had 25 of those).

Clippers 127, Warriors 119 (2OT): Blake Griffin had his first triple-double in this one, and we don’t care that it took him an extra 10 minutes of game time to do it. On the other side, fellow dunk contestant JaVale McGee had a good night with 22 points on 14 shots, 13 rebounds and a massive block on Blake Griffin. McGee also got faked into about the third row by Eric Gordon at the end of the first overtime, then Gordon drained the three that sent it to an extra frame.

NBA: Warriors wins credited to Steve Kerr, Luke Walton can win awards

Luke Walton
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Later on Tuesday it will be announced that Warriors interim coach Luke Walton is the NBA Coach of the Month for November. (That’s not official yet, but seriously who else is going to get it?)

Yet Luke Walton’s record will remain 0-0 as a head coach. Those record 19 wins to start the season belong to Steve Kerr.

The league clarified its position to the media on Tuesday with a release:

…the head coach of record is credited with team wins and losses.  Steve Kerr remains the head coach of record for the Golden State Warriors and is credited with those results.  Additionally, any team head coach, interim head coach or acting head coach is eligible to be recognized with league coaching awards.  Therefore, Warriors interim head coach Luke Walton is eligible for NBA Coach of the Month.

The logic is that the systems installed in Golden State were put in place by Kerr, and while Walton has managed games he is not the overall architect of their success. Which is true. With all due to respect to what Walton has done Kerr laid the foundation for this team, Walton has managed it this season. He hasn’t crashed the car.

There still is no official timeframe for Kerr’s return from his back issues. He is around the team at the practice facility all the time, but is not coaching games or traveling with the team consistently.

This performance will be a significant step toward Walton getting job where his wins and losses will count on his permanent record soon enough.

Clippers’ Chris Paul exits game with “rib muscle strain” may miss time

Chris Paul, Gerald Henderson, Mason Plumlee, Al-Farouq Aminu, C.J. McCollum
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It happened in the third quarter, although it’s not clear exactly how. All anyone saw was Chris Paul calling a timeout to remove himself from the game (an eventual Clippers’ victory over the Trail Blazers) and grabbing his left side.

After the game, the Clippers said that Paul had suffered a “rib muscle strain.” CP3 will be re-evaluated on Tuesday, and then a timetable for his return will be set. It looks like he could miss a little time. Since the term “rib muscle strain” is intentionally vague we’re left to speculate a little: This could be an oblique muscle strain and if so they can be tricky, and it takes a couple of weeks (or more) to get back.

The Clippers might be wise to give Paul a little time away from the game; he has battled through a fractured finger and a strained groin this season. A little time off could help all of this. Paul played in all 82 regular season games for the Clippers last season, the first time he had done that in his career.

Paul is averaging 17.5 points and 8.4 assists per game, and the Clippers elite offense is 13.9 points per 100 possessions better when he is on the floor rather than sitting. Look at it this way, the Clippers’ most used lineup (Paul, J.J. Redick, Lance Stephenson, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan) outscores opponents by 19 points per 100 possessions, but sub Austin Rivers in for Paul and they get outscored by 13.8 per 100 and their defense falls apart. (For the record, I know that they are trying different players at the three and that Luc Mbah a Moute got the chance Monday, but I was using the lineups with the most played minutes to lessen the sample size error.)

The Clippers are not the same without Chris Paul, if he is out for any stretch of time, it’s a setback for a team that had seemed to start finding it groove.

Will Kobe Bryant’s pending retirement change how Lakers use him?

Kobe Bryant, D'Angelo Russell, Byron Scott
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This is Kobe Bryant‘s final season in the NBA; he made that clear with his announcement on Sunday. If for the Lakers organization that means they want Kobe to go out playing his way — still trying to create and make tough shots — then go right ahead. As evidenced by the reactions at Staples Center Sunday night, the fans love it.

But what should have been the Lakers’ primary goal for this season — developing young players D'Angelo Russell, Julius Randle, Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance — has seemed at cross purposes with that. At least in the mind of coach Byron Scott.

So there it was in crunch time against the Pacers’ Sunday and Kobe and Nick Young were on the court while Russell watched from the bench. It gives the perception the Lakers don’t embrace the future.

Will how they use Kobe Bryant — and by extension the younger players — change now that Kobe has made it official this is his final season?

“I don’t know that I’ll change that much, as far as I want him to play,” Scott said. “I still want him to go out on a very positive note. And there’s a part of me that feels he is going to have those glimmers, having some of those games I know he’s capable of having.”

Scott’s job as coach, at least in his mind, seems to have been to make the last couple seasons of Kobe’s career comfortable. He said that Kobe has earned the right to take his tough, contested shots but has benched the players he’s tried to develop for their mistakes (and not clearly communicated to those players why they are sitting, if you ask the youngsters).

Beyond the coach, this is an organizational decision and priority.

“We have to huddle up and decide if there is going to be anything different in terms of minutes,” Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak said. “It’s not something that’s going to be decided today. But since he has made it clear this will be the last season for him, it will be more enjoyable and I think people can appreciate and will appreciate what he’s accomplished, not only in our building — with loads of love — but even more so on the road.”

Kobe isn’t going to change.

“I gave up hoping he would change his approach 15, 18 years ago,” Kupchak joked. “He is what he is. And I’m thankful for it.”

I understand the need to let the fans see Kobe be Kobe, to let him go out on his terms (although playing him 30+ minutes a night and saying the goal is to have him standing at the end of the season is an odd mix, Scott). The Lakers are selling Kobe while they try to develop their young players.

The question of how well they are developing them remains.

One thing I would like to see is more Kobe with the second unit, and by extension less with Russell and Randle. Kobe’s going to take his shots, but if he is taking those away from Nick Young or Lou Williams, so what? Let those guys fight over the ball a little (that would be entertaining). But then rest him and let Russell and Randle and the other youth learn to work together for long stretches without any of those ball dominating players on the court. That includes letting the kids close some games, even if it’s not pretty.

This was always going to be a rough Lakers’ season, although it is uglier than the team and its fans imagined. But that’s okay if the young players are getting their minutes, being coached up, and developing. The Lakers can’t let the Kobe farewell tour get in the way of that.

Utah’s Rudy Gobert with the crazy high alley-oop finish (VIDEO)

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I love that the Jazz were going to be themselves against the Warriors — two of our three best players are big men in Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert, and we are going to use them whether you go small or not. Those two have the athleticism to make that work in a way few teams can’t. The result was a close game, one ultimately won by the Warriors because Stephen Curry can do Stephen Curry things, but you had to love the way the Jazz played.

And you had to love this finish by Gobert in the fourth quarter.

This alley-oop is pretty well defended, but there’s not much a defender can do when you can lob the ball above the box on the backboard, and Gobert can just go get it and finish.