Dwight Howard, J.J. Redick

Baseline to Baseline recaps: Orlando with another bad outing

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What you missed while realizing that Homeland Security is monitoring your tweets….

Clippers 112, Thunder 100: There was a lot more to this than just Blake Griffin dunking on Kendrick Perkins, which is why it was our game of the night.

Sixers 74, Magic 69: The Magic were just terrible shooting the ball in this game — had it not been for Ryan Anderson’s shooting barrage once the game was decided Orlando would not have gotten all the way up to 33 percent shooting as a team. Hedo Turkoglu was 1-of-9, J.J. Redick 3-of-13. Dwight Howard had 17 points but needed 17 shots to get there. This performance comes after last week’s 56-point game.

There are effort and desire issues in Orlando, and Howard can’t lead them out of it.

Bulls 98, Wizards 88: Derrick Rose was frustrated after missing key free throws last outing so he took it out on Washington. He had 13 points and three assists in the first quarter, then tacked on 15 points in the third. Rose finished was 35. The Bulls pulled away at the start of the third to get up by 21 and the game was over. John Wall had 20 for Washington, but they were outgunned.

Heat 109, Hornets 95: New Orleans led for most of the first half — they shot 70 percent for the first 18 minutes and led by 12 at times. Dwyane Wade late in the second quarter and LeBron James in the third had some stretches to change that. Miami cranked up the defense and ran past New Orleans, as they should have.

Spurs 83, Grizzlies 72: The score makes it seem closer than it was, San Antonio was in control of this game the whole way. It was a very balanced attack, with a lot of guys scoring but no one guy over 15 points (that was Matt Bonner, draining threes). Tony Parker had a dozen assists. Memphis, they are really starting to miss Zach Randolph.

Bucks 103, Pistons 82: Stephen Jackson was a healthy scratch and with him out the Bucks had one of their best offensive nights of the season — the ball moved, things seemed more crisp, there were no random heat check shots. Brandon Jennings put up 11 of his 21 in the third quarter to make sure it never got close. The Pistons are not good and shot 38.6 percent as a team. Milwaukee needed a laugher, and they were in control of this one from the start.

Timberwolves 120, Rockets 108: Minnesota had maybe its best offensive performance of the season — 122.4 points per 100 possessions pace (and there were 98 possessions in this one. Kevin Love had 29 points, Ricky Rubio 18 points and 11 dimes, and the Wolves shot 58.2 percent as a team. The Rockets defense had a bad game, but this is a defense that has question marks a lot more nights than you would think. Minnesota does too, but the last two games they have gone heavy zone to cover that up.

Mavericks 122, Suns 99: Fear Delonte West — 25 points on 9-of-12 shooting, as he had his best game of the season easily. Vince Carter had 21 points on 13 shots and seemed to find the Way Back machine. Dallas just was dominant on offense. For Phoenix, no Steve Nash, he is still out with a bruised thigh, and that’s tough because the Phoenix offense isn’t very good even with him. They are counting on Marcin Gortat (17 points) and Jared Dudley (15) to carry them, but those guys should be role players on a good team.

Jazz 93, Trail Blazers 89: Portland was up 11 and in control of this game midway through the third quarter (Utah decided to single cover LaMarcus Aldridge in the third and he had 14 in the quarter). Then a 10-0 Utah run changed the dynamic. Utah got the win, maybe their best one of the year. Portland should just feel sick. This was a physical game and Utah wore down Portland. Paul Millsap had 19 to lead a balanced Jazz attack.
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Report: J.B. Bickerstaff withdraws himself from consideration for Rockets’ coaching job

HOUSTON, TX - APRIL 24: Head Coach J.B. Bickerstaff of the Houston Rockets encourages his team in the seconf half against the Golden State Warriors at Toyota Center on April 24, 2016 in Houston, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by dowloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
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The Houston Rockets are still searching for a head coach — with Jeff Van Gundy believed to be their top target — but it won’t be J.B. Bickerstaff, who has served as the team’s interim coach since they fired Kevin McHale in November. According to The Vertical‘s Adrian Wojnarowski, Bickerstaff has informed Rockets management that he’s no longer in consideration for the job:

After a meeting with ownership and the front office on Tuesday, Houston Rockets interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff has informed team officials that he’s no longer a candidate for the head-coaching job, league sources told The Vertical.

Other NBA teams have started reaching out to Bickerstaff about lead assistant coaching positions, and that’s where he’s transitioned his focus, league sources said.

After the Rockets’ disappointing season and disastrous playoff performance — where they lost in five not-very-competitive games to a Stephen Curry-less Warriors —it makes sense that Bickerstaff would rather get a fresh start as an assistant somewhere else, where he could build up his credentials and be a more highly sought-after head coaching candidate in the future. He isn’t a big name, so he likely wouldn’t be able to command as much money as the Rockets’ head coach as a more established figure would be. Given the Rockets’ uncertain future with Dwight Howard almost certain to opt out and not a lot of long-term pieces around James Harden, it’s not the most stable job in the world.

Celtics’ president Ainge embracing expectation-filled summer

BOSTON, MA - APRIL 13:  Member of the Boston Celtics 1986 championship team Danny Ainge is honored at halftime of the game between the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat at TD Garden on April 13, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts. 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 Mike Lawrie/Getty Images)
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BOSTON (AP) — During his tenure as Celtics president, Danny Ainge has developed a reputation as deal maker that pounces on opportunities.

He will forever be tethered to the coup he pulled off in the summer of 2007 to assemble the Big Three of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen just three years into the tenure of then-coach Doc Rivers.

No one is expecting Ainge to recreate that moment this summer, but with a myriad of draft picks and salary cap space at his disposal, he isn’t shying away from the expectation that this offseason could be one of the most important in recent memory.

“We look forward to every offseason. This offseason is bigger,” Ainge said. “My expectations are high this offseason and yet I also know that it takes good fortune.”

Helping those fortunes along will be Boston’s eight draft picks this summer, including three in the first round. The eight picks are Boston’s most since 1987 when the draft had seven rounds.

It not only will provide the Celtics with bargaining chips for potential trades, but the ability to “draft and stash” young players If they want, Ainge said.

A lot will depend on what happens May 17 at the draft lottery. Boston owns the unprotected first-round pick of the Nets, which it picked up in the deal that sent Garnett and Pierce to Brooklyn in 2013.

The Nets finished with the third-worst record in the NBA, so they will hand the Celtics about a 16 percent chance of securing the No. 1 pick with it.

“We need the ping pong balls to bounce our way to give us the best opportunity, whether we use that pick or whether we trade that pick,” Ainge said. “And in free agency we have opportunities. That’s all we have. We have no guarantees of great things happening. We just have a lot of hope.”

Depending on where they land, Ainge could package some of their later picks to move up or trade for future picks.

It’s all in play, and it’s why he is anticipating a much busier lead up to draft night June – both in the number of players they bring in to evaluate and the conversations they have with teams around the league.

What happens in June will then directly affect what trades and free agents the team pursues.

“I don’t think we’ve ever had cap space. So this is a unique opportunity,” Ainge said. “We have to be patient, too. There’s a lot of money around the league. A lot of teams have cap space with the new TV contracts kicking in.”

Ainge said even with the rash of injuries late in the season and into the playoffs, his team is mostly healthy.

The bruised bone in Jae Crowder‘s right foot isn’t serious, nor is the sore left shooting wrist of All-Star Isaiah Thomas.

Avery Bradley wasn’t able to return after his right hamstring injury on the opening night of the playoffs, but Ainge said it was a grade-1 strain and that team simply was being careful not to aggravate it.

The only player that could have surgery is Kelly Olynyk, who played with pain throughout the postseason after aggravating an injury to his right shoulder. Olynyk is expected to make a decision in about a week on how he will proceed.

It’s been a lot to process, but Ainge said he plans to stay as level-headed as possible.

“It doesn’t really do any good to put a noose around our neck and say that there’s all this urgency,” he said. “We have plenty of urgency. Brad wants to win, Isaiah wants to win, Avery wants to win. We all want to win. … But we also have to be patient in doing good deals and not doing bad deals.”

Follow Kyle Hightower on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/khightower

LeBron dodges “Space Jam 2” questions, says focus now only on playoffs

FILE - In this Wed., July 15, 2015 file photo, NBA player LeBron James, of the Cleveland Cavaliers, accepts the award for best championship performance at the ESPY Awards at the Microsoft Theater, in Los Angeles. The NBA star and his company, SpringHill Entertainment, have signed a content creation deal with Warner Bros. that includes potential projects in film, television and other digital properties. Warner Bros. Chairman and CEO Kevin Tsujihara announced the partnership Wednesday, July 22, 2015. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP, File)
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It Hollywood, much like politics and sports, a non-denial is usually a “Yes, but I don’t want to talk about it.”

When LeBron James was asked about reports he’s attached to “Space Jam 2” as a star, he gave Fox Sports Ohio the non-denial answer (hat tip Eye on Basketball):

“I have a great team that handles my affairs off the floor. Since I signed with Warner Bros. we’ve been looking to do some things and figure out some things that best fit both sides. But my team’s handling that and I’m not going to take my focus off what my job is right now, which is handling the postseason right now.”

That’s not a no.

Since he now has his own production company, you can bet LeBron is moving forward with this because he would get a healthy slice of the pie.

I’m sure this is just like a Pixar animated film, where they hire top writers to come up with an emotionally relatable animated script, then worry about the marketing angles secondarily. This is about the art… I can’t even keep writing this line of sarcasm. I expect this to have all the plot subtlety of an Adam Sandler film. It’s a marketing vehicle with a movie attached. I fear it will be another “Thunderstruck.”

But there’s money to be made, so it will happen.

Report: NBA restricts teams ads on jerseys; no alcohol, tobacco, politics, more

adidas-NBA All-Star West Jersey Front H
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The Los Angeles Lakers are not going to have a silhouette of a Patron bottle on their jerseys.

Despite the potential tie in with GM Vlade Divac, the Sacramento Kings are not going to be sponsored by Marlboro.

While NBA teams have been cleared to sell a small patch ad on jerseys for next season — to go on the left shoulder, where the KIA logo was on the All-Star uniforms this season (if you even noticed it) — there are limitations, reports Darren Rovell of ESPN.

In most cases this was not going to be an issue, but the league did not want to risk a local casino or whatever jumping in with a big bid.

Teams are expected to get several million dollars for the ad deals (larger markets will get more, smaller markets less). This is part of a three-year trial program approved by the owners, although once the money starts coming in it’s hard to imagine to owners deciding to scrap the idea.