LeBron James

Baseline to Baseline recaps: Miami crushes faith in Atlanta


What you missed while wondering what the heck Nicki Minaj was doing at the Grammys….

Celtics 95, Bulls 91: No Derrick Rose but the Bulls made a late rally and a game of it, in our game of the day.

Lakers 94, Raptors 92: The Lakers are still a disorganized mess at the end of games that looks nothing like a veteran team that won rings a couple years ago. But sometimes Kobe still knocks down shots. Our man Matt Moore broke down this game, too.

Heat 107, Hawks 87: This was a perfect storm. Miami came out aggressive on defense, which let them get out and run on offense (18 fast break points in the first half), and they are beasts when they do that. Miami took control with a 22-5 run in the second half of the first quarter, and it was all but over. However, the final score was as much about Atlanta coming out without any energy or passion. This is the Heat in your sold out building, how do you not fight back? This is why nobody believes in the Hawks. It was for Miami to keep their starters minutes down on the first of three games in three nights. LeBron James had 23 and Dwyane Wade 21.

Wizards 98, Pistons 77: Washington took control of this game midway through the third and ran away and hid. When John Wall controls the game like he did this stretch — and his teammates are playing with him and hitting shots — you get a glimpse of what they could be. JaVale McGee and Nick Young each had 22.

Warriors 106, Rockets 97: Golden State tends to live and die by the jumper — when the shot is falling it can hang with anyone. The Warriors were 13-of-24 from three, Monta Ellis dropped 33 points (on 23 shots) with seven assists. When Ellis and Stephen Curry (14 points) are playing off each other like that it’s fun to watch. It was close for three quarters, but a 17-5 Warriors run to start toe fourth determined this one.

Jazz 98, Grizzlies 88: This game was about the paint — Memphis stayed in it, getting 14 offensive rebounds in the first half. But Utah scored 54 of its points and dominated inside, particularly in the fourth quarter. That last quarter was entertaining, Utah shot 64 percent and Memphis 63 percent, but the six Grizzlies turnovers that quarter were the difference. In a tight Western Conference where these two are fighting for playoff positioning, the Jazz just won the season series and the tiebreaker.

Jimmy Butler wants Mason Plumlee to pay fine after scuffle (video)

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Jimmy Butler and Mason Plumlee got into an altercation in the Bulls’ win over the Trail Blazers last night.

Plumlee lowered his head and tried to barrel through Butler’s chest on a Butler screen. Butler fell and retaliated by putting Plumlee in a leg lock, causing Plumlee to fall.

You might remember a leg lock as what Cavaliers guard Matthew Dellavedova did to Bulls forward Taj Gibson during last year’s playoffs. For all the talk then of Dellavedova being a dirty player, Butler seems particularly aggrieved after getting a technical foul, which comes with a $2,500 fine – the same penalty Dellavedova eventually received. (Plumlee got a flagrant foul.)

Butler, via Vincent Goodwill of CSN Chicago:

“He thought he was playing football for a second there,” Butler said. “Almost had to let the Fort Greene Projects out of me, Brooklyn, you know what I’m saying?”

It was said tongue in cheek considering Gibson was a few feet over and Butler wanted to draw some laughs. Gibson is a Brooklyn native and grew up in the Fort Greene Projects while Butler grew up in Tomball, Texas.

It was no laughing matter when he said he would find a way to approach Plumlee about the fine money, jokingly suggesting he would have his agent email him at “Mr. Dukie@yahoo.com or something” and made a joke about Mike Dunleavy applauding Plumlee’s act.

Plumlee and Dunleavy are products of Duke University.

“Yeah, he cost me 2,500,” Butler said. “I’m not happy about that. Gonna ask him to pay me back and I’m not playing.”

Is that MisterDukie@yahoo.com, MrDukie@yahoo.com or Mr.Dukie@yahoo.com. Or is it Dookie?

These are important questions – at least if you’re trying to turn the conversation away from your dirty play and toward your colorful quotes.

Breaking news: Leandro Barbosa dunked

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The Warriors became the first team in NBA history to start 16-0.

In the process of getting that record-breaking win over the Lakers, something nearly as historic happened.

Leandro Barbosa dunked.

The 32-year-old Golden State guard last jammed in January 2011.

For a little more perspective, look how Barbosa handled a breakaway layup earlier in the fourth quarter:

You think that man can still slam?

Yes. Yes, he can.

Magic benching Victor Oladipo, starting Channing Frye

Stephen Curry, Victor Oladipo, Channing Frye
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Elfrid Payton, Victor Oladipo, Evan Fournier, Tobias Harris and Nikola Vucevic have started eight of the Magic’s 14 games, including the last three.

But after Orlando dropped two straight, Scott Skiles hinted at lineup changes.

The Magic coach will deliver against the Knicks tonight, swapping Channing Frye for Oladipo.

Skiles, via Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel:

“It’s nothing punitive,” Skiles said after the Magic’s shootaround.

“It’s just we feel like we’ve got to try to find a little bit better balance. I’d like Victor to have some more opportunities like he’s had a little bit in the past where he can be on top of the floor and attack and get a little bit more vertical and not only get to the rim but just be a little bit more on the attack but not necessarily start the game that way.”

Here are the offensive/defensive/net ratings for the

  • Former starting lineup: 94.7/111.2/-16.5
  • New starting lineup: 117.2/90.3/+26.8

The new unit has played just 33 minutes in two games, so major sample-size caveats apply. But I like idea of seeing more of what has worked.

I suspect Skiles also wants to keep his players from becoming content. At 6-8 and coming off three straight seasons outside the playoffs, they should have no reason to feel satisfied, but the hard-driving Skiles will be proactive.

If Oladipo – whose defense Skiles values – can get sent to the bench, anyone can.

At some point, the Magic must determine whether Oladipo and Payton – both below-average 3-point shooters – can share a backcourt. But it’s also worth knowing whether Oladipo can excel as a super sub leading bench players.

This switch might help the Magic win now, but at worse, it’ll give them more information for evaluating their young roster. Seems smart all around.

Dwight Howard says he’s cleared to play back-to-backs

Dwight Howard
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The 5-9 Houston Rockets need some wins.

The Houston Rockets have a back-to-back coming up, Sunday against the Knicks then Monday against the Pistons (both on the road). Two teams with quality big men.

Combine those things and you end up with Dwight Howard being re-evaluated by team doctors and getting the training wheels taken off, via Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle.

This, plus a mini training camp the past few days, is part of new coach J.B. Bickerstaff’s effort to turn Houston’s season around.

Houston’s defense is 1.9 points per 100 possessions better this season when Howard is on the court and the Rockets are stronger on the glass. The problem is the offense is 7.8 points per 100 worse with Howard on the court. How much of that can be changed with some roster tweaks — like limiting the time James Harden and Ty Lawson share the court — and how much is due to Howard demanding touches and not doing enough with them we will find out quickly.