Baseline to Baseline recaps: Where the Spurs look old

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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.

Thunder’s offseason moves start here: Offer Russell Westbrook $220 million contract

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The narrative of Oklahoma City’s first-round playoff loss to Houston — and frankly its entire season — was about how little help Russell Westbrook was given. Game 5 was the perfect example: The Thunder were +12 when Westbrook was on the court, but he rested for 6:07 and OKC was -18 in those minutes. The Thunder’s role players are young and many — for example, Enes Kanter — are very one dimensional, but that’s because their role was supposed to be much more narrow and defined. Then Kevin Durant left and players were asked to do things outside their comfort zones, or grow up fast, and it didn’t go that well.

Thunder GM Sam Presti has some work to do this summer to tweak that roster, make it more versatile, and design it to fit better around Westbrook (not to mention take some of the load off him).

But the first thing Presti has to do is keep Westbrook — and that means offering him a five-year, roughly $220 million extension. Royce Young if ESPN has the details on how that works.

After signing an extension last summer in the wake of Durant’s departure, Westbrook can sign another in the ballpark of $220 million over five years this summer. Westbrook is signed through the 2017-18 season, with a player option on the following year, but the Thunder would obviously like to have a longer commitment from their franchise player.

The expectation is that they will make the offer, but should Westbrook decline, all that talk of stabilizing the franchise would get a little more wobbly, and with only a year guaranteed, talk of trading him could spark again. It will certainly be alarming for the front office, especially after what it went through with Durant.

It’s hard to imagine Westbrook walking away from that money — it’s about $75 million more guaranteed and one more year than any other team can offer. That’s a lot of cash to leave on the table, I don’t care how much you make in endorsements. (If Westbrook left, signed a max deal elsewhere for four years, then signed a max deal for that fifth year later, he still would get roughly $35 million less than signing with the Thunder now.) Once Westbrook is locked into place, Presti can start looking to reshape the Thunder roster.

But if Westbrook pauses and doesn’t sign, the NBA rumor mill will be moving at the speed of Westbrook in transition. The Thunder wouldn’t want to lose Durant and Westbrook for nothing, it would set their rebuilding process way back, so Presti would have to consider trades. However, because Westbrook is a free agent in 2018, he would almost have a no-trade clause — no team is going to give up much to get him without an under-the-table understanding he would re-sign in that city.

Expect Westbrook to agree to the extension in OKC. Because he likes the team — remember, he signed that extension last summer (which got him a healthy pay raise) — and because it would make him the highest-paid player in the NBA, and that would feed his ego (and pocketbook).

Once he does, Presti’s real work begins.

After tough loss, Chris Paul wasn’t having any of reporter’s inane question

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LOS ANGELES — The Clippers are feeling a lot of pressure these playoffs, and they have suffered a couple tough losses at home now. That can lead to some interesting postgame press conferences, something we’ve already seen this series from Doc Rivers.

Tuesday it was Chris Paul‘s turn.

The Clippers had just dropped Game 5 at home and are staring a 3-2 deficit series deficit in the face, and they have to win those two games without the injured Blake Griffin. That’s when this exchange happened.

I was in the room with this happened. Yes, there were a lot of eye rolls when the question was asked.

This was not a rookie reporter, it was a guy who gets sound for local radio stations and has been a regular at Staples Center games for years. He knew what he wanted, a fairly standard quote about how the Clippers just need to take it one game at a time but they are confident they will be back, that they can still win the series. We have all heard it before, the kind of generic crap that is all over columns about the game and talk radio. The reporter served up the softball and, frankly, most nights savvy players just give the reporter the quote they want and move on.

Tuesday Paul was having none of it. Which led to a pretty amusing exchange, especially with the follow up that was not going anywhere.

That said, I do not know one reporter worth his or her salt who has not asked a question they regret, and been called out for it. Sometimes we get called out for good questions we do not regret. It is part of the gig.

Rajon Rondo says he will not play in Game 5, doesn’t sound optimistic about quick return

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He tried. Rajon Rondo has seen the Chicago Bulls struggle the last two games without him as a strong defender and stabilizing influence at point guard — something nobody thought Rondo would be mid-season — and he wanted to get back on the court for Game 5 against the Celtics. He took some steps toward getting ready to play.

But it’s not happening, Rondo said at shootaround Wednesday. From Vincent Goodwill of CSNChicago.com and K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune.

And it’s not just the fractured thumb.

If the Bulls are going to win this series, they are going to have to do it without Rondo.

Isaiah Canaan will get the start in Game 5, and he will set a lot of screens in a 1/3 pick-and-roll to try and get Isaiah Thomas switched on to Jimmy Butler. Canaan can do that. He had fallen way out of the rotation and is really a two-guard not a point, but with the terrible play of Jerian Grant and Michael Carter-Williams, coach Fred Hoiberg took a gamble. It worked, at least for one game. Canaan with the other four Bulls starters — Butler, Dwyane Wade, Nikola Mirotic, and Robin Lopez — were +12 in 11 minutes together in Game 4, and played well on both ends of the court. But Canaan was buried on the bench for a reason, he shot 36.4 percent on the season, 26.6 percent from three, and he’s not a great defender. The Celtics will be prepared for him in Game 5.

Hoiberg’s best option is to lean on a no point guard lineup when it matters most, with three wings who can handle the ball in Jimmy Butler, Dwyane Wade, and probably Denzel Valentine. That could be a challenging defensive lineup and Boston will try to get the lightning quick Isaiah Thomas switched onto Wade or Valentine (neither of which can guard him). Also, this lineup would be draining and put a big load on Butler, but he could handle it for critical stretches of the game.

Cleveland OKs last chunk of financing to upgrade Cavs’ arena

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CLEVELAND (AP) — Cleveland officials have committed the final chunk of financing for $140 million in upgrades planned at the Cavaliers’ home arena.

The makeover of Quicken Loans Arena would include more space for dining and gathering.

The cost of renovations to the concert and sports venue is being split by the city, the team, Cuyahoga County, and a convention and visitors bureau. The final total is expected to be roughly double the initial $140 million price tag, mostly because of interest over the next two decades.

Cleveland’s share is an estimated $88 million over 11 years, starting in 2024. Mayor Frank Jackson signed off on that Tuesday.

The county already approved the deal and agreed to sell bonds for the project.

The team committed to extend its lease at the arena to 2034. It is expected the team will make a bid to host the NBA All-Star game once renovations are complete.