LeBron James

Baseline to Baseline recaps: Maybe Miami does miss Wade

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What you missed while wildly overreacting to your team’s loss

Pacers 98, Lakers 96: This contrast in offensive balances was our game of the night.

Bucks 91, Heat 82: Milwaukee turned this into an ugly, grind-it-out game that favored their style and not the high-flying Heat. So, exactly what Scott Skiles wants them to do. Teams do take on the personality of their coach.

No Dwyane Wade so the Heat went heavy with Chris Bosh again, but he had 8 turnovers on the night, which was part of Miami’s problems. Another problem that Luc Richard Mbah a Moute did a good job making LeBron James work for his 28 points (which is about all you can ask).

Miami tried to go small (LeBron at the four) but they looked like a team on the second night of a back-to-back that was just a bit sluggish. It made the game a slower, dogfight of an affair, which plays to the Bucks strengths. Brandon Jennings had 23 points, but it took him 20 shots to get there.

Celtics 100, Wizards 94: Boston had no Rajon Rondo, out with a sore wrist. They were without Ray Allen most of the day after he tweaked his ankle in the second quarter. Still, this is the Wizards, you expect Boston to win this more handily. Without Rondo Boston really struggles to create good looks for each other. The Wizards just struggle to create good looks for themselves — there is no team play. Combine that with some defensive lapses by Andray Blatche and JaVale McGee down the stretch (falling asleep on help responsibilities) and the Celtics get the win. Paul Pierce had 35 points, 10 assists and 7 rebounds.

Clippers 103, Raptors 91: After the Clippers let a team hang around and it cost them against Minnesota on Friday, there was none of that Sunday. Los Angeles took control with a 13-0 run in the first quarter then started the second half on an 11-1 run just to salt it away. D’Andre Jordan had 10 points and 9 rebounds in the first quarter alone. Mo Williams had 26 for the Clips, 19 in the fourth quarter. Toronto shot just 35.8 percent as a team.

Nets 97, Bobcats 87: We watch these games so you don’t have to — two struggling teams, but by rule someone had to win. Charlotte came out turning the ball over 7 times in the first quarter and Deron Williams had 11 points in the first quarter , the Nets took the lead and never looked back. Williams finished the game with 19 points, 10 assists and 9 rebounds, while MarShon Brooks scored 20.

Gregg Popovich pins Spurs’ effort problems on players: ‘I don’t remember playing tonight’ (video)

San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich gives instructions against the Detroit Pistons in the first half of a preseason NBA basketball game in Auburn Hills, Mich., Monday, Oct. 10, 2016. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
AP Photo/Paul Sancya
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The Spurs fell behind by 18 and eventually lost to the Bulls, 95-91, last night – which begged the question:

Does San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich bear any responsibility for his team’s lack of early intensity?

Jabari Young of the San Antonio Express-News:

Popovich:

I don’t remember playing tonight. I didn’t play. Guys get a lot of money to be ready to play. No Knute Rockne speeches. It’s your job. If you’re a plumber and you don’t do your job, you don’t get any work. I don’t think a plumber needs a pep talk. If a doctor botches operations, he’s not a doctor anymore. If you’re a basketball player, you come ready. It’s called maturity. It’s your job.

Like it or not, motivation is part of an NBA coach’s job.

But that’s also precisely what Popovich is doing.

His credentials dwarf any other coach’s. He can play to his own ego and absolve himself of responsibility – and players will seek to please him. His years of success have earned him the ability to motivate this way, a method no other coach could use without alienating his team.

Donatas Motiejunas signing four-year, $35 million contract with Rockets

DENVER, CO - MARCH 07:  Donatas Motiejunas #20 of the Houston Rockets is helped to his feet by teammates James Harden #13 and Patrick Beverley #2 of the Houston Rockets at Pepsi Center on March 7, 2015 in Denver, Colorado. The Rockets defeated the Nuggets 114-100. 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 Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
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Once the Rockets let Donatas Motiejunas back into free agency, this was only a matter of time.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

This sounds remarkably similar to the salaries and incentives set in the original offer sheet from the Nets. But remember, the Rockets didn’t match some of those bonuses that Brooklyn would have been bound to.

So, why not hold Motiejunas to what became a four-year, $31 million offer sheet once matched? Houston got something in return – a later trigger date on guaranteeing Motiejunas’ 2017-18 salary. Originally, that decision had to be made March 1 – which would’ve meant dropping Motiejunas from the team this season to prevent his salary from counting next season. Now, the Rockets can make that call in July, after this season is complete.

The following two Julys, Houston will also have a choice on guaranteeing Motiejunas’ upcoming salary or dropping him.

Essentially, Motiejunas is signing the most lucrative Hinkie Special in NBA history. If he plays well and stays healthy, the Rockets have Motiejunas at an affordable rate. If he struggles or his back injuries flare up, they can drop him with little to no penalty.

After they backed themselves into this corner, Motiejunas and his agent, B.J. Armstrong, didn’t do so bad. Considering the similarity between this contract and the Nets’ original offer sheet, it seems Houston helped Armstrong save face after a bungled free agency (which is easier to accept when you’re adding a talented reserve to a formidable team).

But for how little is guaranteed and how much control the Rockets hold over the next four years, wouldn’t Motiejunas have been better off accepting the $4,433,683 qualifying offer?

Report: Rockets return Donatas Motiejunas to restricted free agency, working on new contract with him

Donatas Motiejunas, Kenneth Faried
AP Photo/David Zalubowski
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The Rockets had Donatas Motiejunas in a bind.

He was beholden to them on a four-year, $31 million deal and unable to sign with other teams. Motiejunas’ choices: Report for a physical or wait in limbo.

But apparently Houston has allowed him out of that constraint.

Marc Stein of ESPN:

This means Motiejunas can’t sign with the Nets, who signed him to the original offer sheet, for one year.

I bet it also means Motiejunas and Houston have agreed to a new contract. Otherwise, why release him from the offer sheet? The Rockets would be giving up a tremendous amount of leverage out of the goodness of their hearts – unless this is just a prelude to a new deal with Houston.

John Wall pushes down Jusuf Nurkic from behind in retaliation (video)

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John Wall didn’t like how Jusuf Nurkic bumped him, so Wall shoved the Nuggets center from behind and sent him to the floor.

An overreaction to the bump? Probably. Wall got hit with a technical foul.

But I’m mostly just impressed Wall was strong enough to push over Nurkic.