Baseline to Baseline recaps: Nate Robinson beats the Heat

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What you missed while being addicted to cracking your knuckles

Wizards 93, Raptors 78: The Wizards win! Theeee Wizards win!

Warriors 111, Heat 106: This was another Miami route, they were up 17 late in the third quarter, but then Nate Robinson happened. And then Dorell Wright happened. And suddenly Mark Jackson and the rebuilding Warriors had a signature win.

Miami dominated this game with Dwyane Wade returning to action and putting up 20 in the first half (34 for the game). LeBron James was in attack mode getting to the rim (he finished with 26). Miami’s pressure defense was forcing turnovers and getting the team easy buckets. They were in cruise control but they got a little passive.

That’s when Nate Robinson took over — he had 15 in the fourth quarter. He’s inconsistent but when he is on he can light up the scoreboard and he was on. He and the Warriors knocked down threes and attacked the rim on the drive drawing fouls. David Lee continued to outplay Chris Bosh and the Heat switched James onto him. But nothing changed the tide, a late 8-0 tied the game and it was headed to overtime. That is when Wright knocked down two big threes and Miami had no answer.

Warriors’ owner Joe Lacob was jumping out of his seat all night. For a franchise looking to change its culture, this is the kind of signature win it needs. For the Heat, it’s a reminder they can never take their foot off the gas. As much as Robinson and the Warriors took advantage, the Heat lost this game because the got soft.

Lakers 99, Suns 83: That whole thing about the Lakers running offense more through the big guys in the paint and leaning less on Kobe Bryant will have to wait. Kobe had 48 points — highest scoring game by any player this season — on 31 shots. He had 17 points in the first quarter and 16 points in the fourth quarter when the Lakers went on a 16-1 run to pull away for the victory. He’s banged up and older, but there are nights he can still score on anyone like he was 25 and when it happens the Lakers are tough to beat. The other reason the Lakers won this one was defense — the Suns scored one point the final 5:30 of the contest. Los Angeles was able to contain Steve Nash. Channing Frye led the Suns with 17 points.

76ers 112, Kings 85: One thing we’ve learned over the first couple weeks of the season — Philadelphia is much better than under .500 teams. The Kings are a mess, and the Sixers did what they have been doing all season against a soft schedule — six guys in double figures (three of them off the bench), plus holding the other team to under 40 percent shooting. Not to knock Philly much — they are playing well and beating the teams in front of them, but they take on the Knicks on Wednesday as their schedule starts to toughen up.

Mavericks 100, Pistons 86: What slow start? Dallas is a .500 team. They raced out to a 23-9 lead — Dirk Nowitzki hit is first seven shots — and stretched it out as they shot 63 percent for the first half. This game was pretty much what you expected from there, Detroit was overwhelmed.

Rockets 82, Bobcats 70: The winning team shot 38.6 percent. The winning team was led by 20 points from Chandler Parsons (while Kevin Martin, Kyle Lowry and Luis Scola combined to shoot 29 percent). It wasn’t pretty but the Rockets will take it.

Thunder 100, Grizzlies 95: It was the Russell Westbrook show. In the same building where he was so criticized last year during the playoffs he owned this game — his jumper was falling early, that opened up driving lanes and he had 30 points. The other keys were the Thunder taking care of the ball in the fourth quarter (zero turnovers). Kevin Durant finished with 22 points, while Marc Gasol had 20 points and 14 rebounds for Memphis.

Bulls 111, Timberwolves 100: Minnesota becomes the first team to lose the third game of a back-to-back-to-back (teams were 6-0 coming into the game). They landed in a tough spot however, with tired legs they asked Luke Ridnour to cover Derrick Rose (who had 14 in the first quarter). Chicago was up by 24 in the second quarter but fell asleep at the wheel and the Timberwolves closed out the first half on a 15-0 run to make it a game at 53-47. Kevin Love found space away from Joakim Noah and sparked that run with 11 second quarter points. It was close the rest of the way, but Rose had 14 in the fourth quarter and Ronnie Brewer’s late seven points sealed the win.

One interesting note: Wolves coach Rick Adelman leaned heavily on his bench players (like Ricky Rubio and Derrick Williams) in this one, with starters Wes Johnson, Darko Milicic and Wayne Ellington benched in the second half.

Bucks 106, Spurs 103: San Antonio was up 10 in the first quarter as they shot 68 percent for the first frame behind a dozen from Tim Duncan. But as they did all night the Bucks went on a quick run (13-1 this time) and took the lead back. They made similar runs (10-2, another 11-3) in the fourth quarter to get the win, although it was close. It took an Ersan Ilyasova three to seal it late, while Richard Jefferson missed a couple late threes for the Spurs. Tony Parker had 22, but he can’t create offense for the Spurs the way Manu Ginobili did.

Stephen Jackson has 12 of Milwaukee’s first 18 points. He finished with 34 and also had some nice assists. Why doesn’t he play like this every night?

Jazz 113, Cavaliers 105: Al Jefferson had 30, Josh Howard had 11 off the bench in the fourth quarter and the Jazz get the win. Let me be honest, on a night with 11 games there some games I see little of, this was the sacrificed game tonight.

Trail Blazers 105, Clippers 97: Pretty intense game for this early in the season, the Blazers took the lead in the second quarter then held off Clippers charges all night — even into the last minutes, when Raymond Felton turnovers gave the Clippers hope. But Portland is overcoming its mistakes and continues to play like the best team in the West so far. They had 20 points from Gerald Wallace, 18 from LaMarcus Aldridge and 17 from Felton. The Clippers show flashes but their late game execution — bad fouls, poorly drawn up plays when they need buckets — shows they have a ways to go. And Vinny Del Negro — you can trust Chris Paul to close out the first half, even if he has three fouls. If you can’t trust CP3 to play smart, who can you trust?

Jimmy Butler trade sets the stage for looming free agency

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(AP) — As draft night approached, some of the heavy hitters in the NBA – Cleveland, San Antonio, Houston, Boston, the Clippers among them – were jockeying, making calls and looking for deals to try to position themselves to make a run at the Golden State juggernaut.

The Warriors’ greatness has forced the rest of the league to do deep self-examination and be aggressive in upgrading their rosters if they’re even going to have a chance to compete. The Celtics and Cavaliers were looking hard at Pacers star Paul George and Bulls guard Jimmy Butler, the Rockets and Spurs were looking at clearing cap space to make a run at some big-name free agents next week and the Knicks were, well, the Knicks.

Draft night always lays the groundwork for what will happen when the circus (officially known as free agency) begins on July 1. And with all of those contenders looking to make a splash, the biggest move was made by … the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The Wolves reunited Tom Thibodeau with Butler, giving up two promising young players in Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn and the No. 7 overall pick to land one of the best two-way players in the game. The move should jumpstart Minnesota’s pursuit of its first playoff spot since 2004 and, the Wolves hope, pave the way for success in free agency.

“I think it will (help) a lot,” Thibodeau said. “With players, they look around the league, they see the makeup of the team, they see how they play, play together. That’s the main thing. Both offensively and defensively.”

The Timberwolves have long had difficulty attracting free agents to a relatively small market that spends four months of the year covered in ice and snow. Landing a top-15 player like Butler to team with Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins sends a sign of how aggressive the teams could be.

The Bulls plunged head-first into a rebuild with the decision, and now it’s up to the Pacers to decide if they want to do the same.

Much to the dismay of Pacers GM Kevin Pritchard, George let it be known last week that he did not plan to re-sign in Indiana when he becomes a free agent next summer. Most of the league assumes that he wants to play for the Los Angeles Lakers, who appear to be in a tug-of-war with the rival Celtics for George’s attention.

“I’m confident we’ll get something,” Pritchard told reporters in Indianapolis on Friday.

One of the big markets affected on Thursday night was at point guard, the deepest position in the league. Philadelphia, the Lakers, Sacramento, New York and Dallas all drafted point guards in the top 10, which could diminish the options for veterans like Jrue Holiday, George Hill, Jeff Teague and Patty Mills.

The elite point guards available – Chris Paul and Kyle Lowry – should have no trouble finding significant contracts. With Tony Parker suffering a serious injury in the playoffs, the Spurs were reportedly trying to clear space to make a run at Paul, who is widely considered the best point guard in the league. Paul has spent the last six seasons with the Los Angeles Clippers, but has yet to advance to the Western Conference finals.

The Clippers are trying to make a decision about retooling around the core of Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, but really it’s a decision that depends largely on Paul’s thinking. He has long struggled to win big in the postseason, and heading to San Antonio to join with Kawhi Leonard or Houston to team up with James Harden could prove to be more attractive.

Lowry figures to remain in Toronto with a Raptors franchise that he has helped put back on the map, but after that there will be few teams in the market for a high-priced starting point guard. Denver, Utah, New York and Indiana could wade into those waters. But if they look at themselves as still being a couple of year away, they might be hesitant to spend big bucks on a veteran.

Other big names available include Gordon Hayward, Paul Millsap and Andre Iguodala. And while some of the very biggest names like Kevin Durant and Steph Curry figure to stay put, it only ramps up the sense of urgency for teams that have big holes to fill.

The clock is ticking and Thursday night provided the first steps toward making big improvements to the roster.

The Timberwolves rocked the boat with Butler, but the waters were calm after that, which should only mean one thing: It’s about to get real choppy when the clock strikes midnight on July 1.

 

Report: Dallas picks up option on Yogi Ferrell for next season. As expected.

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When teams sign a guy out of the D-League, or late second-round picks/undrafted guys as you see this summer, they are often announced as “a three-year deal.” The reality, this is a non-guaranteed contract (or at most a guaranteed contract for a short period of time) with team options for future years.

Why teams do that is guys like Yogi Ferrell.

Dallas snapped him up out of the D-League last season when they needed a point guard, and Ferrell proved to be a solid rotation-level player to bring off the bench. With that Dallas now has the option to bring him back at a good price next season, and they will do just that, reports Tim MacMahon of ESPN.

Sources say the Mavs have informed PG Yogi Ferrell that they are picking up his team option for next season, an easy decision after he proved himself capable of being a rotation player after his promotion from the D-League.

Ferrell will make $1.3 million next season, a steal for a rotation player. Dallas needs that, because the cost of keeping Nerlens Noel could push the Mavericks close to the luxury tax.

If Ferrell keeps playing like he did last season, and his big payday is coming in a couple of years.

What exactly was on the table for Bulls in Jimmy Butler trade?

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It’s been the cry since the Bulls’ front office traded Jimmy Butler for Zach LaVine (coming off an ACL surgery), Kris Dunn, and the No. 7 pick (Lauri Markkanen):

Why didn’t the Bulls get more?

I’m in the camp they didn’t get enough, starting with the question why did they give Minnesota the No. 16 pick in the deal? Even if the Bulls keep that pick, it doesn’t feel like they got enough for an All-NBA player, a top-flight wing defender who can also get buckets with the ball in his hands. The Bulls could have been patient and waited out a better offer, one of this quality would always have been on the table.

However, the deals for Butler may not have been as rich as fans assume. Here is part of what ESPN’s Zach Lowe wrote breaking down the trade.

It’s not as if Chicago didn’t canvas the league, either. The Bulls talked to Phoenix about a package centered around Eric Bledsoe and the No. 4 pick, but nothing came close, according to league sources. (Those talks may have been linked at one point to Cleveland’s pursuit of Butler, which apparently fizzled Thursday as Dan Gilbert, the Cavs’ owner, tried to hire a new president of basketball operations on the freaking day of the draft.)

They poked around with Denver, but the Nuggets drew a line at Jamal Murray, sources say. Those teams had to weigh the possibility of Butler bolting in 2019, which cooled the market a bit, sources say.

Boston has danced around Butler for almost a year now, and would not include the No. 3 pick in any package for him as the draft approached, sources say. Other reports suggest they refused to offer next year’s Nets pick, or the Lakers-Kings pick they snagged from Philly in the Markelle Fultz deal.

Boston’s Danny Ainge wanted a deal, a bit of a discount, and the Bulls were not going to give it. Those pick requests are reasonable for a Top 15 player, but Ainge knows he can be patient and the Celtics will still win more than 50 games next season and be a contender in a couple of years. Ainge knows he has a real shot at Gordon Hayward as a free agent this summer. He knows it’s not Butler or bust, so he didn’t go all in. He can afford to be patient right now, but eventually he will have to make a move.

The lack of a better market for Butler speaks to a couple of things. Phoenix, Denver, and other teams are correct to worry about overpaying for a player that could leave in a couple of years. Maybe they can win him over with their culture, maybe a team like Denver becomes very dangerous with Butler in the mix with Nikola Jokic, but is that enough. This is also where the looming shadow of Golden State, the Mount Everest looming over all things in the West, comes into play — how much do teams want to pay to try to contend right now?

Still, the Bulls could have done better. At least know a direction is set, the Bulls are rebuilding. Can Gar/Pax pull that off is another question entirely.

Klay Thompson goes up for 360 dunk in exhibition… and he’s not a dunker (VIDEO)

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Klay Thompson has an amazing skill set — one of the best pure shooters in the league, he can put the ball on the floor and create, and he’s a very good perimeter defender.

He’s not a dunker. Oh, he can dunk, but he’s not the guy you’re inviting to the Dunk Contest.

Case in point, this video out of China where Thompson was part of an exhibition and tried to show off his dunking skills.

Thompson’s shoe sponsor is China-based Anta, which explains why he’s there playing some exhibition ball. In case you missed it, Thompson had a Finals shoe released.

Those are about as good as the 360 dunk.