Tony Parker, Kendrick Perkins

Baseline to Baseline recaps: Where the Spurs look old

4 Comments

What you missed while watching Tim Tebow resurrect after three games….

Lakers 90, Grizzlies 82: This was our game of the night, where the Lakers flaws are showing and it doesn’t matter.

Thunder 108, Spurs 96: Both teams were tired — third game in three nights for Oklahoma City, fourth game in five nights for San Antonio. The difference was young legs. Tim Duncan looked old (11 points on 13 shots) and Tony Parker was flat. Meanwhile, James Harden was explosive (20 points) and Kevin Durant was Kevin Durant (21 points). Ballgame.

In the third quarter, Gregg Popovich decided to experiment, putting athletic rookie Kawahi Leonard on an island with Durant. The rookie gave some real effort (the Spurs have something in him), but Durant finished the quarter with 10 points, 5 assists and 4 rebounds, the Thunder won the quarter by 16 (37-21).

Trail Blazers 98, Cavaliers 78: Cleveland kept it close for a while, but a 9-0 run near the end of the second quarter and a 12-0 run near the end of the third stole the show. LaMarcus Aldridge dropped 28 and 8, just a reminder as you think about your All-Star votes. It seems like every time I watch Kyrie Irving he looks a little better (even on off shooting nights like this), he’s learning. Portland is now 5-0 at home to start the season.

Suns 109, Bucks 93: For the second straight game, the Suns were on a day’s rest facing a team that had played on the road in another city the night before. And just like Friday night against the Blazers, the result was once again a blowout win for Phoenix.

Milwaukee was playing its fifth road game in seven nights, and it showed from the opening tip. Steve Nash registered 10 assists in the first quarter, on his way to a total of 17 for the game in just 27 minutes. The Suns built an early double-digit lead that held at halftime, and blew it open with a 21-5 run that saw the lead balloon to as many as 27 points near the end of the third quarter. Phoenix finished with seven players in double figures.

Channing Frye entered the game just 4-of-23 from three-point land on the season, but he hit all four of his attempts from distance in the first quarter — a performance which may help solidify his spot in the starting lineup, after Suns head coach Alvin Gentry had been hinting at the possibility of making a change there over the past few days.

Milwaukee hasn’t won in Phoenix since 1987. The Suns’ 24-game home win streak against the Bucks is the second longest active streak of its kind in the NBA. The Spurs have the longest active streak, winning 27 in a row (and counting) at home over the Golden State Warriors. (Recap from Brett Pollakoff)

Magic 104, Kings 97: How do you win when you shoot 42.5 percent and your opponent shoots 52.1 percent? First, grab the offensive rebound on 34 percent of your missed shots, which is what the Magic did. Second, pressure your opponent into 17 turnovers, which is how many times the Kings coughed it up. Jason Richardson led the Magic with 22, Tyreke Evans the Kings with 28. These teams combined to shoot 13-of-52 from three (25 percent).

Timberwolves 93, Wizards 72: Washington is just lost on offense. Well, if they get out in transition they can do some damage but this game had 93 possessions, which is below the league average pace. In the half court they are simplistic — everything happens on the strong side — and yet still sloppy. Easy win for Minnesota. Kevin Love had a dull for him 20 and 16. Minnesota looks sharper with Ricky Rubio in the game (14 assists), but he didn’t see athletes like JaVale McGee in Spain.

DeMarcus Cousins has spent All-Star Weekend playing defense on trade, George Karl rumors

TORONTO, ON - FEBRUARY 13: DeMarcus Cousins #15 of the Sacramento Kings handles the ball during the Taco Bell Skills Challenge as part of NBA All-Star 2016 on February 13, 2016 at Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario Canada. 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 Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

TORONTO — DeMarcus Cousins is an All-Star and he just wants to enjoy it. Hang out with other elite players, take part in the Skills Competition, have dinner at Sotto Sotto, play in the ASG itself, chill with friends. Chill being the operative word considering the weather.

But for parts of the weekend, he has had to play defense, swatting away attempts to get him to slam coach George Karl or talk trade rumors that have him leaving Sacramento. Mention his friend Isaiah Thomas making it to All-Star Game and you get the gregarious Cousins, but when the other topics come up you can feel his frustration, and hear it in his clipped answers.

“First of all, I can’t control the trade (rumors) and I can’t control if I’m traded or not…” Cousins said. “But I do want to be in Sacramento, and I know everybody in Sacramento knows that.”

Cousins isn’t getting traded. Teams may call the Kings, but they get shot down quickly (then those teams leak the rumor they called, making them look good to their fan base for trying). For one, the Kings have a franchise cornerstone piece under a reasonable contract, that’s not someone you trade unless forced to. Second, owner Vivek Ranadive loves him. Third, and this is key, the Kings open a new arena in downtown Sacramento next season — you don’t trade your best and most popular player, the face of your marketing program in the city, while you’re trying to sell luxury boxes and sponsorships in a new arena.

Cousins has also batted down questions attempting to get him to slam George Karl.

“I can go long term with any coach, but that’s not my decision….” Cousins said. “He’s a free, open-minded coach, he lets his players play. I think every player appreciates that.”

He was more direct with deserving new basketball Hall of Fame journalist David Aldridge of NBA.com in a video (and he’s laughing more and in more of a joking mood in the video than how this quote reads):

“I’m tired of it. Stop trying to make a story out of it, we’re fine. Our only goal this season is to make the playoffs. That’s it. All the other stuff, just stop, it’s not necessary.”

Undoubtedly there is some tension in and around the organization with Karl, although he will be around through the end of the season. However, the one thing that was clear with this team going back to Summer League — when the core guys bonded on a plane trip together to Las Vegas (and doing the other things one might do in Vegas) — the locker room is pretty solid.

“Throughout all this, the one thing that’s been good about the whole situation is the guys in the locker room stay together,” Cousins said. “There hasn’t been any separation.”

It seems Karl has never found a way to reach and inspire that group.

Ask Cousins about the rest of the season and you get some variation of “just stay positive.” He admits that’s not been easy after some tough losses of late, but it’s what they need to do to make a run.

“We’ve had a lot of ups and downs over the season, but just find a way to remain positive and get over the hump,” he said. 

That may be easier said than done.

But, at least, Cousins will get the chance to enjoy All-Star weekend.

Can we just relive that epic Dunk Contest one more time? Here’s the mixtape.

Leave a comment

TORONTO — Talking to NBA people, fans, and media around Toronto Sunday it seems every conversation starts with some version of “last night’s Dunk Contest was INSANE!

Because it was.

Andre Drummond threw down an impressive two-hand power slam with an assist from soccer playing Steve Nash. Will Barton‘s first dunk might have won him the contest in some weaker years. And we’re not even talking about them because of the eye-popping show that Aaron Gordon and Zach LaVine put on.

Before we move on and talk trade rumors or actual All-Star Game, or whatever is coming next, can we just bask in the joy of that dunk contest one more time? The fine folks at NBA.com put together this mixtape version of the Dunk Contest, I’m passing it along.

Savor this people, it doesn’t get any better than what we witnessed Saturday night.

Michael Jordan to Klay Thompson: “Go ahead and break” Bulls’ 72-win record

CHARLOTTE, NC - NOVEMBER 25:  Owner of the Charlotte Hornets, Michael Jordan, watches on during their game against the Washington Wizards at Time Warner Cable Arena on November 25, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  NBA - 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 Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
4 Comments

Barring a major injury, it seems almost inevitable at this point that the Warriors will surpass the 1996 Bulls’ record of 72 wins in a season and vault themselves into the conversation of the greatest NBA teams in history. All year, members of that ’96 Bulls team have weighed in comparing the teams, but one guy who hasn’t given his thoughts publicly is Michael Jordan.

Apparently, during All-Star Weekend in Toronto, Jordan gave Klay Thompson his blessing for the Warriors to go for 73. Via CSN’s Rosalyn Gold-Onwude:

Not that the Warriors need anybody’s permission to go after the record, obviously. But it had to be cool for Thompson to hear directly from Jordan that he respects what the Warriors are doing and wants them to break his own record. In all likelihood, they’ll do it.

Report: No suitors for Boston’s David Lee. So far.

Boston Celtics' David Lee comes down after dunking during the second quarter of an NBA basketball game against the Brooklyn Nets in Boston, Saturday, Jan. 2, 2016. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
Associated Press
6 Comments

The Celtics are rumored to be involved in a lot of trade talks that in reality are going nowhere — Kevin Love, Dwight Howard, Al Horford. The buzz around the league is none of those deals are coming together, in part because Boston is protective of its picks (particularly things like the 2016 unprotected first round pick of the Brooklyn Nets).

What the Celtics would love to talk about is finding a new home for David Lee. But that is proving difficult, reports Mark Murphy of the Boston Globe.

Lee, who has fallen out of Brad Stevens’ rotation, and would welcome a move to a playoff team that has a role for him, is not drawing suitors.

“David Lee was tough for Golden State to move all of last year,” said the source. “And it finally came down to him being moved for Gerald Wallace. David Lee has no value. It’s his contract. David Lee’s value comes in if they get one of these big name players.” … Isaiah Thomas has been doing his part when it comes to selling players on the virtues of being a Celtic.

Lee is making $15.5 million this season. He’s always mentioned in those superstar trade rumors with Boston because they can use his salary to help match a more expensive players’ contract. But on his own, that’s been a much tougher sell.

Hopefully, the Celtics can find a taker; Lee deserves to be in a place where he has a chance to at least contribute a little. He’s not a starting caliber player anymore, but we saw in the NBA Finals last season in the right circumstance he can play a key role.