Baseline to Baseline recaps: Are there moral victories for the Knicks?

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What you missed while adopting your girlfriend as your daughter…..

Bulls 105, Knicks 102: Are there moral victories for the Knicks?

They played hard on offense, they attacked the rim, moved the ball at key points and looked pretty good against one of the best defensive teams in the league. But this is the Knicks, a good offense is balanced with poor play at the other end of the floor — the Bulls shot 53 percent for the game and got a lot of good looks.

It was a shootout, like we expected of Knicks games this season. New York put in the effort, but things like 11 turnovers in the second quarter gave Chicago a lead it never relinquished, even when the game got close. Amare Stoudemire had 34 points, his first over 30 this season. Derrick Rose had 32 points and 13 assists, putting on a real show at the Garden.

Grizzlies 96, Hawks 77: Sometimes it is the first game home from a road trip where everything catches up with a team — the Hawks went 4-1 on a road trip but looked like their legs were tired in this one. Memphis took advantage, grabbing control late in the first half and never looking back. Rudy Gay had 21 and the Grizzlies got a quality win. They should thank the schedule maker for it.

Spurs 93, Hornets 81: The Spurs are beasts at home, especially when vintage Tim Duncan shows up and scores 19 points on 8 shots. The Hornets hung tough until the fourth quarter, when the Spurs started the quarter on an 11-2 run to pull away. Tiago Splitter (16 points) and Tony Parker (18) keyed the winning rally.

Kings 95, Trail Blazers 92: LaMarcus Aldridge looked like the All-Star he should be in the first half with 19 points (he finished with 28 and 14 boards) and the Blazers were in control. Then Sacramento started doubling him and daring any other Blazer to beat them and, Portland shot 25 percent in the third quarter and 38 percent in the fourth. Meanwhile Tyreke Evans looked like his rookie self late with some punishing, physical drives to the rim.

Warriors 119, Jazz 101: Utah was without its top three rotation guards (Devin Harris, Raja Bell and Earl Watson all injured) against a guard-oriented team. Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry combined for 62 points on 74.3 percent shooting, and that’s pretty much your ballgame. Utah kept it close until the end of the third quarter, when Golden State pulled away. David Lee also had 23 in this game. Marcus Thornton had 13 second half points on his way to a team-high 20. Portland is now 3-9 on the road.

Nuggets 112, Clippers 91: On paper this should have been an interesting rematch of a Clipper win last week… except for the part where the Clippers were in Utah the night before and played this game like they were tired and at altitude. Doesn’t matter, the Nuggets will take it. Denver pulled away in the second half and never looked back. Ty Lawson had 18 for the Nuggets.

Raptors’ Jonas Valanciunas offers advice to Ball brothers on Lithuania

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Lithuania is a hoops-mad country.

The Baltic nation has fewer people in it than the Seattle-Tacoma metropolitan area, yet it has three players in the NBA right now — Jonas Valanciunas, Donatas Motiejunas, and Mindaugas Kuzminskas — and has put 11 players in the league total (such as Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Arvydas Sabonis, and Sarunas Marciulionis). The country has won three bronze medals in the Olympics ( 1992, 1996, and 2000). It’s Lithuanian league also has been the launching pad for Celtics’ Aron Baynes to make the NBA.

Now the Ball brothers LiAngelo and LaMelo are headed there on professional contracts.

One of those players — the Raptors’ Valanciunas, had advice for the Ball brothers, speaking to ESPN.

“They’re getting themselves into a great opportunity. Lithuania is beautiful country… We have great basketball history. We’re such a small country, but we have many, many great players. Our basketball school is good., so they chose a really good school. They just gotta work hard — it’s all about working. You can be as good as you can be by working. Talent is one thing, but work you put in, that’s gonna show up.

“If they have any problems, let me know. I can help them out.”

Good luck finding anyone around the NBA who thinks this ends well, especially those who know the Ball family. They are sending a college freshman and a high school junior to a small city in a former Soviet bloc country with a very different culture, that will be a major adjustment. The coach doesn’t speak English and his former American players have not spoken highly of him. The Lithuanian league itself has men — far more physically developed than the Ball brothers — and is known for a physical style of play. It’s also known as a league where the players have a reasonably high hoops IQ and don’t like undisciplined players.

But if LiAngelo and LaMelo have any problems, they can call Valanciunas.

Paul George on return to Indiana Wednesday: “For whatever reason, I’ll be booed”

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This week is the Oklahoma City Thunder’s “you can’t go home again” week of the schedule. On Saturday night, Carmelo Anthony will return to New York where Knicks fans should welcome him with cheers and open arms — he meant a lot to that franchise in recent years — but may very well not.

First up, however, Paul George returns to Indiana in a Thunder uniform Wednesday night.

There’s little doubt how he will be greeted by Indiana fans, who felt betrayed by a man they stuck by through recovery from a severe injury. George knows what is coming,

Here are the key lines from PG13:

“Boos. I honestly wouldn’t think it would be any other way. The Pacers fans outweigh the Paul George fans. That’s what I’m looking forward to. For whatever reason, I’ll be booed, but I’m gonna embrace that. I’m gonna thrive on that.”

For whatever reason? You asked to be traded and fans take that personally. There is no loyalty in sports — I have no problem with players asking out because teams show no hesitancy in dumping players they no longer have a use for (and fans are almost always good with that) — but he had to know how this would be taken in Indiana.

What George might want to worry about is stopping the red-hot Victor Oladipo (he averaged 35.7 points per game last week), because he and the Pacers are playing better than the Thunder right now.

Kawhi Leonard returns Tuesday on minutes restriction

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The Spurs have been the Spurs this season, going 19-8 with an elite defense and offense that’s good enough to get them wins, thanks to LaMarcus Aldridge playing at an All-Star level.

Starting Tuesday, they add Kawhi Leonard back to the mix.

He will return to the lineup against Dallas, but will be on a minutes restriction, coach Gregg Popovich said on Tuesday. He would not say how many minutes, although around 20 seems a logical starting spot.

Leonard is one of the five best players in the NBA (and that may be selling him short). He averaged a career-high 25.5 points a game last season, he’s arguably the best perimeter defender in the NBA, and he finished third in the MVP voting last season.

However, there are going to be adjustments. LaMarcus Aldridge has been the focal point of the offense, but he could see fewer touches, particularly in crunch time. Kyle Anderson could see fewer minutes, and Rudy Gay may as well because Popovich liked some small-ball lineups last season with Leonard at the four. A lot of players will see their rotations change.

That said, it’s the Spurs. Do we really expect them to be anything but an incredibly good regular season team? One that is about to get better?

 

 

 

Pelicans’ Tony Allen out 3-4 weeks with fibula fracture

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The injuries just keep hitting the Pelicans. Guys like Solomon Hill and Alexis Ajinca are out for extended periods of time. Anthony Davis has missed four of the team’s last six games and is questionable for Wednesday night due to a left adductor injury.

Now comes the news that reserve guard Tony Allen will be out three to four weeks due to a nondisplaced left proximal fibula fracture, the team announced Tuesday. This is the part of the bone near the ankle.

Allen has played a limited role for New Orleans off the bench this season, averaging 12.4 minutes a game, and averaging 4.7 points. His reputation is that of a defensive stopper, and when he is on the court this season the Pelicans’ defense has been 5.6 points per 100 possessions better. However, father time has started to catch up with him and he is not the defender he once was.

Expect the minutes to bump up for Jrue Holiday and E'Twaun Moore with this injury, which is not a bad thing as they have played well (they were knocking down threes against the Rockets Monday like they were named Curry), plus Ian Clark could get a little more run.