Carmelo Anthony

Baseline to Baseline recaps: Ugly or not, Knicks and Pacers will take wins


What you missed while you were stealing a 600-pound bronze moose statue

Knicks 113, Magic 106 (OT): The Kicks were desperate for a win. The Magic were without Jameer Nelson and J.J. Redick which meant heavy doses of Gilbert Arenas (who was 1-of-7 from three). Dwight Howard fouled out. That meant a streak breaking win for the Knicks — The Knicks had lost six in a row, the Magic had won five in a row.

Credit the Knicks with playing small — 6’9” Shawne Williams, a guy who takes nearly three times as many threes as shots at the rim, was the starting center — but keeping Dwight Howard scoreless in the first half by sending hard doubles. Credit Carmelo Anthony for hitting contested shots on his way to 19 points in the third quarter on his way to 39 for the game.

This was not some season changing win — it was rather an ugly, sloppy game really. The Knicks offense still looked disjointed and isolation heavy, Anthony just hit the shots. But the Knicks needed a win, even an ugly one, so they’ll take it.

Indiana 107, Boston 100: Rajon Rondo returned and looked good for Boston, hitting 9-of-13 shots. But Indiana outworked the Celtics in this one, got great play from Darren Collison late and won a game that lacked any flow or any good defense (Indiana was on a 120 points per 100 possessions pace, which is about 20 points higher than the Celtics give up a game. This game had no real flow to it — both teams were at times brilliant and a disaster — but credit Indiana a win it needed to remain ahead of Charlotte in the race for the eighth spot in the East.

Bobcats 87, Bucks 86: Charlotte out-executed the Bucks down the stretch — they had a 7-0 late run to take the lead behind Gerald Henderson’s 3-of-3 shooting in the fourth quarter. The Bucks just do not play well at the end of games (when John Salmons and Brandon Jennings should take over).

All kinds of playoff implications here — Charlotte remains one game back of eight-seed Indiana, with Milwaukee now three back and looking like a lottery team.

Sixers 97, Bulls 85: The Bulls never led it this one and trailed by as much as 23. The Bulls didn’t shoot well all game (1-of-11 from three) and Derrick Rose had 10 turnovers. It just wasn’t their night, but some of that had to do with the Sixers. Thaddeus Young came off the bench and was the most athletic guy on the floor, hitting 10-of-16 on his way to 21 points.

Trail Blazers 100, Spurs 92: No Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili or Tony Parker for the Spurs — all rested with injuries. Credit the Blazers for getting the win, but I’m surprised it was this close.

Wizards 100, Jazz 95 (OT): John Wall had 25 points in the first half, Jordan Crawford had 19 after the break, Mo Evans had 7 in the overtime. This was road win number two for the Wizards this season, break out the champagne.

51Q: Does Ty Lawson vault the Rockets into the top tier of championship contenders?

DENVER, CO - MARCH 07:  James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets controls the ball against Ty Lawson #3 of the Denver Nuggets at Pepsi Center on March 7, 2015 in Denver, Colorado. The Rockets defeated the Nuggets 114-100. 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.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
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I see five clear upper-echelon championship contenders –  Warriors, Spurs, Clippers, Thunder and Cavaliers.

Do the Rockets belong in that group, or do they fill the next tier by themselves?

Ty Lawson – acquired for pennies on the dollar – could put Houston over the top.

But, really, this premise might not be fair to the Rockets. They earned the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference last season and reached the conference finals last season. James Harden finished second in MVP voting. Dwight Howard looked like a star during the playoffs. The supporting cast – Trevor Ariza, Terrence Jones, Donatas Motiejunas, Patrick Beverley, Corey Brewer and even Jason Terry – played better than anyone expected. Young players like Clint Capela, K.J. McDaniels, Sam Dekker and Montrezl Harrell could make a leap at any moment.

There’s a case to be made we should have taken Houston more seriously even before trading for Lawson.

I didn’t, though, and I don’t think many others did either.

I suspect one of the biggest reasons is the Rockets’ balance. Houston – 12th in points scored per possession, sixth in points allowed per possession – was one of only two teams to win more than 51 games last season without ranking top five in either category. Of the seven teams with so many victories, the Hawks – sixth, seventh – were the only other. Atlanta was a darling team, winning 60 games after going 38-44 the season prior. The Rockets’ modest win increase, from 54 to 56, drew less attention.

But balance shouldn’t be punished. Houston’s surprisingly strong defense should be celebrated. Lawson might push its middling offense over the top.

There are reasons to question that, though.

The biggest is Lawson’s sobriety. If he’s not focused and engaged, this all goes out the window. His comments about going to rehab only because it was court-ordered raise doubts, though they hardly foretell anything.

Let’s say Lawson’s off-court problems are behind him. How big of an upgrade is he? The Rockets already had a pretty good point guard who fit well with Harden in Beverley. Lawson is a clear offensive upgrade, but in the biggest moments, the ball will still run through Harden. At that point, would you rather have Beverley or Lawson on the floor? Beverley is a far superior defender, and his off-ball offensive game isn’t far from Lawson’s. Beverley is is a fine spot-up shooter, and Lawson’s strengths involve having the ball and creating. Lawson’s biggest boost could come when Harden sits, but that was fewer than 12 minutes per game last season.

Sure, a secondary ball-handler could ease pressure on Harden throughout a long regular season. Lawson and Harden can take turns running the attack.

But we’re talking about title contention, and in those high-leverage situations, it’s Harden’s show. How much does Lawson matter then?

The Rockets have a chance to win a championship. As good a chance as the NBA’s five best teams? I’m not so sure.

UNLV following Kentucky’s lead with combine for NBA scouts

Goodluck Okonoboh, Patrick McCaw
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Kentucky held a two-day combine last season for NBA scouts.

Now, LSU and UNLV are following suit.

Rob Dauster of NBC Sports:

The Runnin’ Rebels will hold their event on October 23rd and 24th at the Mendenhall Center, UNLV’s practice facility, sources told The expectation is that all 30 NBA teams will be in attendance.

LSU has potential No. 1 pick Ben Simmons and another first-round prospect in Tim Quarterman.

UNLV features lottery prospect Stephen Zimmerman.

This won’t replace scouts attending games and watching practices, but the fact that all 30 teams plan to attend shows how seriously the pro league takes these. No college team wanted John Calipari to have that competitive advantage in recruiting, so the smart ones are leveling the field with their own combines. Soon, more college teams will follow.

As the calendar gets packed, NBA teams might have to pick and choose which they attend. At that point, we might get little clues about which prospects they’re scouting hardest.