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?

Report: Damian Lillard meets with Trail Blazers owner, but doesn’t request trade as Paul Allen feared

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Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen was reportedly investigating whether his team’s problem was roster or coaching. In other words, it sounded as if he were determining whether he should fire general manager Neil Olshey or coach Terry Stotts amid a disappointing season. Portland has the NBA’s fifth-largest payroll and is on track to pay the luxury tax, but the team is just 25-22 and seventh in the Western Conference.

In these turbulent times, Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard – who has strongly supported Stotts publicly – wanted to address Allen directly.

Chris Haynes of ESPN:

Portland Trail Blazers star point guard Damian Lillard met with team owner Paul Allen to gather an understanding of the organization’s direction, league sources told ESPN.

Lillard, who turns 28 on July 15, requested the meeting in part to reaffirm his commitment to the only professional franchise he has ever suited up for, but also to gain assurances that the organization was just as devoted to expeditiously crafting a title-contending team, sources said.

In the weeks leading up to the meeting, Allen feared Lillard would request a trade, sources said, but a trade request was not made.

The meeting, which sources described as a productive, open forum to share opinions and express concerns, could also lead to more sit-downs in the future.

Lillard issued a heartfelt vote of confidence for head coach Terry Stotts, sources said.

They also discussed players to target.

In addition, Lillard sought an explanation from Allen as to why Will Barton was traded to Denver in February of 2015, sources said. Lillard made it known he didn’t agree with the move.

The Trail Blazers traded Barton, because he wasn’t ready to lock down a rotation spot. They got Arron Afflalo, who was more ready to help a team still trying to win with LaMarcus Aldridge. The move was completely logical at the time, and it’s the type of gripe brought up now because Barton has developed with the Nuggets, and Portland is frustrated and in a funk.

Lillard surely suggested win-now moves leading up to the trade deadline, because that’s what players prioritize. I wouldn’t be surprised if Allen would rather shed a few million in salary to avoid the luxury tax in an underwhelming season.

How would Lillard feel about that? Did this meeting open a productive line of communication? Or would he just feel ignored?

Lillard has repeatedly pledged his loyalty to the Trail Blazers. A trade request would have been a huge reversal from his public statements. But did Allen have any reason to suspect Lillard would ask out other than the meeting request and Portland’s middling record?

That Lillard would seek this meeting shows his growth as a player. He’s taking an active role in his team’s fortunes, spreading his reach beyond the court – or at least trying to.

The big question now: Where will that lead him and the Trail Blazers?

Three Things to Know: Jason Kidd out in Milwaukee, now what for Bucks?

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Every day in the NBA there is a lot to unpack, so every weekday morning throughout the season we will give you the three things you need to know from the last 24 hours in the NBA.

1) Milwaukee fires Jason Kidd as coach. It’s the right move, but now what? It’s a move that caught the players in Milwaukee off guard, a move that will be trashed by some of the NBA’s old boy network, but something expected by many officials from other teams and league observers (although most thought it would be an offseason move).

Jason Kidd was fired as coach of the Milwaukee Bucks Monday.

It was the right move. Individual players grew under Kidd — Giannis Antetokounmpo blossomed into a superstar with the ball in his hands, and he was so unhappy with the move he offered to intervene and try to save Kidd’s job — but the team did not. Last season the Bucks went 42-40 in the regular season and were up 2-1 in their first-round playoff series against Toronto before ultimately losing in six, but as had happened too much with this team it was two steps up and one step back. The Bucks didn’t grow from there. The team entered this season with players talking of 50-win season and a top four seed (Las Vegas oddsmakers set the wins under/over at 47.5), and the expectation was the defense would finally come around. It didn’t. Kidd blamed the team’s youth to everyone — the media publicly and team management privately, asking for more veterans — yet he made some, shall we say, “interesting” end of game coaching decisions that left everyone bewildered. Kidd eventually backed off some on the ultra aggressive, trapping defensive style this team played — a style teams figured out how to beat with ball movement — but it wasn’t enough. The Bucks are 25th in the NBA in defense. With that they are 24-22, but with a negative point differential that suggests a 20-26 team, not one clinging to a playoff slot (currently seventh in the East, 1.5 games up on ninth-seed Detroit and missing the playoffs all together, fivethirtyeight.com gives them a 68 percent chance of making the postseason).

Now what?

For the rest of this season, long-time assistant Joe Prunty will run the show, and he will get the chance to Frank Vogel his way into the job if the team excels under him (and the moved was timed as the Bucks enter a soft part of the schedule, they can rack up some wins right now). However, more likely is a big off-season search where the biggest names in coaching without a job will come calling. Already two names bandied about are Jeff Van Gundy and former Pelicans coach Monty Williams. David Fizdale has to be considered. Every coach without a job will want this one — with Antetokounmpo, Eric Bledsoe, Khris Middleton, and a host of long, athletic, quality role players (such as Thon Maker, Jon Henson and others) this team has a world of potential. It should be talked about with Minnesota and Philadelphia as the teams who have next in the NBA.

The Bucks have been rumored to be interested in DeAndre Jordan, is that still the case or will they try to make their moves in the off-season (when they can’t afford to sign Jordan or much of anyone else of consequence without shedding salary)? My guess is now the team now waits, it will want to consult with whoever is hired as coach.

Also, how will the Bucks at times feuding ownership play into all of this? New Yorkers Mark Lasry and Wes Edens have had their differences — Jon Horst is the GM now because the two sides could not agree on a candidate so they compromised on him, someone farther down on both lists. On the court this team is seen as one of the league’s best jobs with the most potential, but the coach may need to navigate ownership landmines along the way.

The Bucks move into their new arena next fall and there will be pressure on the new coach to bring the team up to the level of the building — the Bucks have the pieces to be one of the top teams in the East (a conference that could open up depending on what LeBron James chooses to do next summer). It’s a coveted job, but not an easy one.

2) DeMarcus Cousins has the kind of night nobody has had in 46 years. All-Star starter DeMarcus Cousins went off on the Bulls Monday night — 44 points, 24 rebounds, and 10 assists in the Pelicans’ double OT win against Chicago. These were not meaningless points, Cousins picked up seven of them in the second overtime.

The last time somebody had a 40/20/10 night in the NBA Elton John had just released “Rocket Man” — Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar did it in 1972 when he was still playing in Milwaukee.

3) Locker room issues bubble up in San Antonio and Cleveland, but will it matter? Two things that can lead to locker room dissent in the NBA? Struggling teams on losing streaks pointing fingers, and guys with lingering injuries that were expected back.

We saw both of those creep up Monday, in San Antonio and Cleveland. The question is, will it matter to either organization come the playoffs? Probably not.

In Cleveland, losers of 8-of-11 and heading into a tough stretch of games, they held an emotional team meeting Monday’s practice, and Kevin Love became the whipping boy. Because the more things change, the more it’s still always Kevin Love’s fault. Other players questioned the illness that Love said he suffered that forced him to sit out much of Saturday’s blowout loss to the Thunder (he left the building before the game was over) and then miss practice Sunday. The meeting got heated, but Love spoke to the team to explain himself and that seemed to calm things down, mostly. For now. These team meetings make headlines, but most of the time prove to be meaningless on the court. Are the Cavaliers going to start to care and at least give some effort on defense after this? We’ll see. I wouldn’t bet on it lasting, it almost never does, but we’ll see.

In San Antonio, reports came up that the always quiet Kawhi Leonard has become “disconnected” from the team while dealing with the thigh injury that has let him play just nine games this season. Leonard and Popovich have always been on the same page, is this just frustration with a rehab on a quad injury that is just not healing as fast as anyone hoped and expected? Is it more than that? Both GM R.C. Buford and Leonard’s uncle denied any rift.

What happened with LaMarcus Aldridge shows us how this likely plays out. Aldridge demanded a trade last summer, but rather than panic and ship him out (for less than fair market value) Popovich sat down with Aldridge, figured out why he was frustrated, adjusted how he used him, and now Aldridge is happy — he signed an extension — and is having an All-Star season. Expect Popovich to figure out how to work with Leonard, too.

Are these leaked black and white uniforms the All-Star Game jerseys?

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Nike faced a challenge with this year’s All-Star Game in designing the uniforms — there is no East vs. West. How do you design a uniform for the teams captained — and selected — by Stephen Curry and LeBron James? Maybe go back to 1997 (and a few years after) where players just wore their team’s uniform, either home whites or road colors.

It looks like Nike has solved the problem by going black-and-white.

Conrad Burry of Sportslogos.net — who in the past has nailed early leaks of NBA uniforms — confirmed ongoing Web rumors that the league is going black and white (hat tip ESPN).

What do you think? I’m with Conrad here — if these are the really the uniforms they don’t work for me. Maybe it will work better in person and on the broadcast, but I don’t know. We’ll see.

Hornets’ owner Michael Jordan: “I’m not looking to trade Kemba” but he’ll listen

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The Charlotte Hornets are having a disappointing season. Projected by many (myself included) to be a playoff team (with an under/over of 42.5 in Las Vegas), Charlotte is 19-26 and four games out of the playoffs in the East.

That has left Charlotte management with a question: Is it time to trade Kemba Walker, work to tear the team down and rebuild, or do they chase the eight seed? Walker doesn’t want to be traded.

Team owner Michael Jordan doesn’t want to trade him, but he’s listening to offers, he told Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer.

“We bred him, we chose him, we groomed him to be a good player for us,” Jordan said of Walker, who the Hornets drafted ninth overall in 2011, to a great extent because Jordan saw traits in Walker that reminded him of his own playing career.

“I’m not looking to trade Kemba, but I would listen to opportunities….

“It’s not like we are shopping him. We would not just give him up. I love Kemba Walker. I would not trade him for anything but an All-Star player.”

Charlotte with Walker is in the same place as the Clippers with DeAndre Jordan — moving him would mean a dramatic shift for the organization going forward, so they are only going to do it with a quality offer in return. It’s going to take some combination of good young players and picks that can jumpstart a rebuild, and in the Hornets case they want to attach one of their bad contracts (such as Marvin Williams).

So far, those offers have not come for either team. The trade market has been tight, in part because a lot of teams are in the playoff hunt (such as the Hornets) and don’t want to move quality players, and in part because teams spent a lot of money in 2016 and are pushing the luxury tax (such as the Hornets) and they can’t take on salary (and with that are finding it hard to move bad contracts).

Come Feb. 9, expect Walker to still be wearing the team uniforms of Charlotte as no deal is found. But also expect Michael Jordan to feel cans for another day.