Tony Parker, Kendrick Perkins

Baseline to Baseline recaps: Where the Spurs look old


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.

Report: Sixers’ Jahlil Okafor to be shadowed by security guard now

2015 NBA Rookie Photo Shoot

In the run-up to the NBA Draft, there were no questions — at least publicly — about Jahlil Okafor‘s character. But of late there has been a run or incidents since then: He allegedly had a gun pulled on him outside a club in October; in November he was ticketed for driving more than 100 mph on the Benjamin Franklin Bridge; then he had an altercation with a guy outside a club in Boston that the police in that city are now investigating.

Okafor publicly apologized for the incidents. Multiple times.

The Sixers are making sure a security guard follows Okafor around when he steps out now, reports Chris Broussard at ESPN.

After being involved recently in a few embarrassing and potentially dangerous off-the-court incidents, Philadelphia 76ers star rookie Jahlil Okafor will now be accompanied by a security guard whenever he goes out, according to league sources.

The request for security came from Okafor’s handlers, who asked the 76ers to make a security guard available to their first-round draft pick out of Duke. The Sixers did not return a phone call seeking comment, but two sources said the club will honor the request.

Earlier in the day a source had wondered to John Gonzalez of why there wasn’t already security around the young core of the team when they went out.

Another front office member for another team questioned “why the Sixers won’t surround those guys with security.”

“Damn near every team does that,” the executive said, “especially with their top guys. I guess the Sixers know more than everyone else again.”

The Sixers head of security is supposed to be notified when players went out. Apparently that was not happening.

Okafor is 19, has money, and (at the very least) is putting himself in situations where bad things are more likely to occur.

We all made a lot of mistakes at that age, maybe not as potentially serious, but the bottom line is 19-year-olds don’t make good decisions. This is a Sixers team lacking in veteran leadership in the locker room, and while it’s debatable how much that would help in the wee small hours of the morning when Okafor seems to find trouble, it couldn’t hurt.

This is a smart move by Okafor’s friends/posse/handlers/whatever you call them. Get in his face now, tell him he can lose a fan base whether he’s scoring 17.5 points a game a night or not. Tell him to grow up. Then have someone around him to make sure he does the right thing (or those looking to draw him into trouble are kept away).

Watch Rasheed Wallace hit two simultaneous three pointers, one with with each hand

NBA Finals Game 7:  Boston Celtics v Los Angeles Lakers
Leave a comment

Ball don’t lie.

The ball has always loved Rasheed Wallace, and that hasn’t changed since he stopped playing in the NBA. Check out this shot, courtesy Brandon Jennings.

I love everything about this, including the fact Sheed’s wearing the same thing he wore around the NBA for years. I love that Wallace is still a trick shot master, just like always.

(Hat tip to Dan Devine at Ball Don’t Lie.)

Kobe Bryant went from DeMar DeRozan’s idol to his friend

Kobe Bryant, DeMar DeRozan
1 Comment

TORONTO (AP) — DeMar DeRozan was 16 when he was invited to Kobe Bryant‘s camp for the top 25 American high school shooting guards.

A friendship grew between the youngster who would become an All-Star for the Toronto Raptors and the player who would become the third-leading scorer in NBA history.

DeRozan talked at length Sunday night about Bryant, who announced on The Players’ Tribune that he’ll retire after the season, capping a 20-year NBA career.

“The knowledge that he tended to give me every time I got the chance to be around him, especially at a young age, carrying over to the league, it was definitely an honor,” DeRozan said after the Raptors’ 107-102 loss Sunday night to Phoenix. “I tried to listen as much as possible, soak in as much as I could all of the time. It’s crazy how much time flies.”

Bryant was DeRozan’s favorite player while growing up in Compton, Calif.

“I’ve tried to emulate and learn so much from him ever since I was a kid, watching every single game growing up in Los Angeles, having a chance to get with him and learn from him, from conversations even when I was in high school from playing against him, completing against him, being in big games with him,” said DeRozan, who scored 29 points in Sunday’s loss. “It’s definitely a sad, sad day, but he’s been in the game a long time.”

Bryant’s announcement came just before the Lakers’ game against the visiting Indiana Pacers. Fans at the game received a letter of thanks from the 37-year-old player in a black envelope embossed with gold.

Bryant has struggled mightily with injuries the past several years, and is shooting a career-worst 32 percent this season.

“It don’t matter. That man has five rings, 17 all-stars, MVP,” DeRozan said. “There’s nothing he hasn’t done. It’s just father time catching up with him, injuries catching up with him this past year. People will appreciate it when he’s away from the game.”

DeRozan has his favorite Kobe memory – Bryant scoring 81 points against Toronto in 2006. DeRozan, who would join the Raptors as a rookie three years later, said he felt as if he was playing a video game watching the high-scoring spectacle unfold on TV.

DeRozan is in his seventh season with Toronto. He can’t imagine playing 20 years.

“Especially playing at a high level, doing the things he was doing … people don’t understand how hard that is,” DeRozan said. “Even now, a lot of us find ourselves tired (on) back-to-backs. It’s tough. It’s really tough. To do it 20 years at a high level, you have to give that man every credit in the world.”

Hornets’ Al Jefferson out 2-3 weeks with strained calf

Al Jefferson
Leave a comment

The Hornets have been playing well of late, going 7-3 in their last 10 and outscoring opponents by 6.3 points per 100 possessions. They are solidly in the playoff picture out East, in the six slot right now.

This is not going to help matters.

The team announced that an MRI confirmed center Al Jefferson will be out two to three weeks with a strained left calf muscle, suffered during Charlotte’s 87-82 win over Milwaukee on Sunday.

Jefferson missing a few weeks due to injury at some point during the season is an annual event, like the Rose Parade or the Head of the Charles Regatta — but this year the Hornets are better prepared to deal with it. This is the deepest Charlotte team in recent memory.

Tyler Hansbrough, Cody Zeller, and Frank Kaminsky will get more run — plus Spencer Hawes may be back in the rotation — and if they can step up the Hornets will not slow down much.

This season the Hornets defense has been downright stingy when Jefferson is on the bench, giving up 94.2 points per 100 possessions (which is 10 better than when he is on the court). However, the Hornet offense and rebounding efforts are stronger when he plays.