Memphis Grizzlies v Boston Celtics

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

4 Comments

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.

Miami Heat to retire Shaquille O’Neal’s jersey next season

Shaquille O'Neal Heat
Leave a comment

Shaquille O’Neal’s No. 34 jersey already hangs in the rafters at Staples Center for the Lakers.  He’s getting a statue there, too.

Next season, he will have his number retired on the other warm southern coast, this time in Miami.

The Heat have announced they will retire Shaq’s No. 32 jersey next season.

“Shaquille O’Neal is one of the truly elite players in the history of the game and one of the greatest players to ever wear a Heat uniform,” team president Pat Riley said in a released statement. “He took us to another level as a basketball franchise while leading us to our first NBA championship. Retiring his number in the rafters, along with Heat greats Alonzo Mourning and Tim Hardaway, is something we are very proud of.”

Riley left out that the Heat also retired Michael Jordan’s 23, and Dan Marino’s 12 also hangs in the rafters of the arena. Neither of those make much sense, but whatever.

Shaq played three-and-a-half seasons in Miami, averaging 19.6 points and 9.1 rebounds a game. Shaq was a three-time All-Star with the Heat and was at the heart of the franchise’s first title, along with Dwyane Wade… and Mark Cuban would tell you the officials. But that’s another discussion. He was also bitter after being traded to Phoenix and slammed Miami management and players on his way out the door.

Time heals all wounds.

Bull for Bull: Pau Gasol to replace Jimmy Butler in All-Star Game

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - FEBRUARY 6:  Pau Gasol #16 of the Chicago Bulls prepares to shoot a free throw against the Minnesota Timberwolves on February 6, 2016 at Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2016 NBAE (Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Jimmy Butler is out of the NBA All-Star Game in Toronto this weekend due to a strained knee. Which suck, because he earned that spot, and while the fans didn’t vote him in the coach’s did.

Butler’s teammate Pau Gasol will replace him.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver gets to make the call on a replacement, and he stayed in Chicago, but he added a front court player to replace a guard. Keeping a Bulls representative might have been part of the thinking. The coaches’ votes on replacement players has been weighed in the past (Gasol may have been high on that list, coaches love him). Also, the East roster has a lot of wings and was light on bigs (Andre Drummond, Paul Millsap and Chris Bosh are the only real bigs), so this gives coach Tyronn Lue some flexibility up front.

The East leading Cleveland Cavaliers remain with just one representative, LeBron James (voted in by the fans).

Gasol is averaging 17 points, 10.9 rebounds, and a couple blocks a game, and is the only thing close to a consistent performer the Bulls have. Besides the injured Butler.

Bulls’ All-Star Jimmy Butler out 3-4 weeks with strained knee

1 Comment

It was concerning when it happened — Jimmy Butler injured his knee and had to be taken off the court on a stretcher.

But then the reports came back saying the X-rays were negative, this was just a strain. Butler was going to miss some time, but the question was how much?

Turns out, 3-4 weeks — including the All-Star Game, the team announced Tuesday. From the official team press release:

Bulls guard/forward Jimmy Butler was re-examined by Bulls Head Team Physician Brian Cole.  Butler is expected to miss the next three to four weeks with a strained left knee. Butler has begun rehabbing his injury and he will be allowed to engage in all activities as tolerated with the primary goal of maintaining his conditioning over the ensuing weeks.

Butler is the Bulls best player, averaging 22.4 points a game and handling a lot of the shot creation for the team (along with Derrick Rose, who was out Monday injured). The Bulls offense is 1.6 points per 100 possessions better when Butler plays, plus he usually draws the other team’s best wing player as his defensive assignment.

Following an ugly loss to the Hornets Monday night, the Bulls are now 5-12 in their last 17 games. Since Joakim Noah went out for the season with an injured shoulder in particular, their defense has struggled. They still have no offensive identity.  Chicago has fallen to the seven seed in the West, just 1.5 games ahead of Charlotte and falling out of the playoffs completely. This injury is simply going to add to that slide.

The Bulls thought they were the team that could challenge Cleveland for supremacy in the East at the start of the season. Now they may need a late push just to make the playoffs.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver will pick his All-Star Game replacement. In the past, he has picked the player highest in the fan voting not selected as a reserve, in this case that would be Kyrie Irving. But Silver can go any direction he chooses.

Report: George Karl to remain Kings coach following face-to-face meeting with GM

George Karl
Getty Images
2 Comments

George Karl isn’t going anywhere as coach of the Sacramento Kings after all.

At least for now.

Marc Stein of ESPN, who had the report that the Kings decided to fire Karl during the All-Star Break — now says the two sides have sat down and hashed things out. For now.

Those first reports went too far down the line, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.

First things first, the Kings are a leaky organization right now. Which is never a good sign.

This has become a power struggle in the organization — DeMarcus Cousins has said the Kings’ problems go beyond the players, and he is known not to be a fan of Karl (Rajon Rondo is the coach’s biggest supporter because Karl gives him a green light). Owner Vivek Ranadive remains too impatient, stability is needed.

But there are still big picture questions to be answered.

Ranadive, with Vlade Divac, needs to sit down and set the long-term course for this team, including style of play they want to have, then decide if Karl can be part of that future. Also, if Cousins can be part of that future. If those two can be part of the future together (I’m not sure they can).

There needs to be more meetings with the Kings, and then this summer some significant decisions must be made. But doing it now at the All-Star break isn’t going to change anything. So Karl stays.