Danny Granger, Carmelo Anthony

Baseline to Baseline recaps: Start thinking Knicks vs. Celtics in the first round

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What you missed while avoiding the torpedo of truth….

The Miami Heat proving they can beat Boston (at least once) and the Bulls slipping past the Magic were our Games of the Day.

Knicks 110, Pacers 109: Carmelo Anthony! Hold on, we’ll get back to him in a minute.

Plenty of fans (and you can be sure television executives) were hoping to see New York vs. Miami in the first round. But Boston now looks a lot more likely for New York. Miami’s win almost assures them the two seed, making Boston the three. The Knicks win almost certainly makes them the six seed and 76ers the seven — the only way that changes is if the Knicks go 0-2 this week and the Sixers 2-0. So, don’t go betting the kids college money on that. It’s almost a lock to be New York vs. Boston, Philly vs. Miami.

Back to the contest at hand… We’ve beaten Carmelo Anthony up over the holes in his game, but few guys can create and knock down big shots like ‘Melo. He did it again, a wing pull-up jumper with one-second left over Danny Granger gave the Knicks the win in a game where they were down 9 heading into the fourth.

Thunder 120, Lakers 106: The Lakers fifth loss in a row was not about effort, but it was about execution. And it may be about playoff seedings (read the Mavs game wrap to see what we mean). The Lakers had one turnover through three quarters then nine in the fourth quarter, which helped spark a late Thunder 15-0 run to seal it. Kevin Durant had 31 on 15 shots and was attacking and getting into the lane, he and his teammates were hitting everything (55.6 percent as a team). This should give the Thunder confidence going forward, but the Lakers defense is not what it was a couple weeks back. And it’s all mental.

This game has playoff seeding implications, Keep reading….

Mavericks 115, Suns 90: This win and the Lakers loss ties the two teams with two games to play, and the Thunder are now just one game back of both of them. The Lakers have the tiebreaker over both teams, so if they win out they keep the two seed. If they lose to the Spurs Tuesday (or Kings Wednesday in what is likely the team’s last game in Sacramento) and the Mavs win out then Dallas gets the two seed. Which really means home court in the second round. Oklahoma City could pass both but would need both to win out and to get helped out with some losses.

Pistons 112, Bobcats 101: An enjoyable game for those that don’t like defense to interfere with their hoops. So you can imagine how much the coaches liked this. Detroit got 68 points from their bench, including 24 and 11 boards from Rodney Stuckey.

In a sign the Mayans were right and the world will end next year, Kwame Brown made 9-of-10 shots to score 19 points and added seven boards.

Raptors 99, Nets 92: Jordan Farmar is not Deron Williams, he went 3-of-13 from the floor and struggled to lead what was left of the Nets. Ed Davis continues to find himself at the end of his rookie season and was the best player in the paint

Grizzlies 111, Hornets 89: Memphis just physically pushed around the Hornets. Not sure you need to know much else about this one, when the Grizzlies needed to get position or grab a rebound they physically moved the Hornets off the spot and took it. Carl Landry tried but he cannot do much about it. That physicality is why some teams would like to avoid Memphis in the first round.

Kings 104, Warriors 103: Marcus Thornton can score — he put up 21 — but he was 7-of-17, which is about right. He’s put up 20 points a game since coming to the Kings but is shooting 45.2 percent. Sunday night Tyreke Evans was 3-of-13 and you would think the Kings were in trouble. But the other Kings combined to shoot 51.9 percent, so the Kings were right there at the end. And Thorton hit the big shots down the stretch (a Curry desperation three at the buzzer made it a one-point final score).

Report: Patrick Beverley to drop from All-Star Saturday Skills Challenge title

Patrick Beverley
Associated Press
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Last season, the Rockets’ Patrick Beverley won the NBA All-Star Saturday skills challenge because of his jump shot. In head-to-head battles with the Hawks’ Jeff Teague and the Bucks (now a Sun) Brandon Knight, Beverley fell behind on the passing part of the competition but made up the ground by knocking down his jump shot at the end.

He was set to come to Toronto to defend his skills title but has been forced to back out due to injury, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

After tweaking his ankle Wednesday night in a loss to Portland, Houston Rockets guard Patrick Beverley will not travel to Toronto to defend his skills competition title at All-Star Weekend, league sources told The Vertical.

Beverley wants to rest the ankle over the All-Star break for the Rockets’ final push to make the Western Conference playoffs.

This has yet to be confirmed by the NBA, nor has a replacement been named, but no doubt Woj is accurate on this. No player would risk further injury for a skills competition.

The Rockets have lost six-of-eight, and with the loss to the Blazers Wednesday night have fallen out of the playoffs in the Western Conference. They will need all their players healthy, including Beverley, but they will also need a lot more than that to climb back in the race — they need to start playing defense, they need to stop becoming disinterested for large stretches of the game, and they need someone in that locker room to step up and be a serious leader of men.

Report: LeBron James might not play for Team USA in 2016 Olympics because Kobe Bryant won’t

Kobe Bryant (L) and team mate Lebron James of the U.S. sit on the bench during the game against France during their men's Group A basketball match at the London 2012 Olympic Games in the Basketball arena July 29, 2012. REUTERS/Mike Segar
REUTERS/Mike Segar
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LeBron James admires Kobe Bryant.

How much?

Kobe pulling his name from 2016 Olympic consideration (perhaps an informed preemptive gesture just before the roster finalists were announced) might keep LeBron off Team USA.

Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report:

Bryant not pursuing a spot on the U.S. Olympic basketball team this summer is a very real reason James might also not join the team, according to NBA sources.

James is that disappointed the Rio Olympics will not serve as the final, ultimate celebration of Bryant’s career—and more so that James won’t have the priceless honor of being Bryant’s co-star teammate when it ends.

I don’t buy this.

Kobe said during the 2012 Olympics those would be his final Olympics. Two weeks later, LeBron said he wanted to play in 2016.

Did playing with Kobe on Team USA become more important to LeBron over the last few years?

I suppose it’s possible. Many got behind sending Kobe to Rio as a sendoff into retirement. Perhaps, LeBron got attached to the idea and became bitter once it fell through.

I just have a hard time believing LeBron would tie his decision so strongly to another player. Remember, he left one of his best friends, Dwyane Wade, in Miami to sign with the Cavaliers. Would Kobe’s presence really dictate LeBron’s outlook?

LeBron has been mum on his plans for Team USA. I’m sure the length of Cleveland’s playoff run and the toll it takes on his body will factor. He might not yet know what he’ll do.

The ball is in his court, which can be challenging. There has been backlash from media and fans against players who turn down Team USA, and LeBron could be trying to avoid that.

I trust Ding was told LeBron felt this way, but nobody – including me, including Ding – can know what’s in LeBron’s head. But this report strikes me as LeBron setting up the ability to attribute his absence to Kobe’s rather than facing the full brunt of reaction that comes to turning down Team USA.

Did the Clippers reenact Paul Pierce being stabbed during pregame introductions? (video)

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The Clippers got hyped for Paul Pierce‘s potential last game in Boston by… reenacting the time Pierce got stabbed there? If not, it sure looks like it.

Mock fighting is the norm for the Clippers’ pregame, but I haven’t seen a single player targeted like this. Whatever gets you pumped, I guess.

Markieff Morris flips off Suns fan (video)

Phoenix Suns' Markieff Morris reacts to a call during the second half of the team's NBA basketball game against the Golden State Warriors, Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2016, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)
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Markieff Morris‘ frustrations last night didn’t end with his scuffle with teammate Archie Goodwin. They didn’t end with the Suns’ loss to the Warriors, either.

As Morris was leaving the court, a fan heckled him: “Markieff, you f—ing suck. I can’t wait until you’re traded.” Though Morris probably agrees with the second sentence, he flipped off the fan:

Though it’s difficult to confirm that video was from last night, it jibes with a previous report of the incident.

John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7

Morris will likely at least be fined. Considering his previous behavioral problems this season – he threw a towel at Jeff Hornacek – I wouldn’t completely rule out a suspension. But a fine seems most likely.