LeBron James

Baseline to Baseline recaps: Miami gets third win in three nights

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What you missed while watching the Chipotle ad that was the best thing during the Grammys…

Knicks 90, Raptors 87: What else can you say? The legend of Lin just keeps on growing. This was our game of the night.

Heat 105, Pacers 90: Miami was playing their third game in three nights, Indiana had been off since Saturday, and yet it was Miami who came out playing with energy and owned this game from the opening tip. Absolutely owned it. LeBron James was a force early and he and Dwyane Wade combined for 19 first quarter points. The Pacers wilted under Heat defensive pressure and shot just 26 percent for the first quarter and struggled all game. It was a sad level of effort and willingness to fight back from Indiana, and eventually they were down as much as 35 (only a late 12-0 run made the score look as close as it was).

Miami swept to wins in all three of their back-to-back-to-back by a total of 53 points and looked pretty close to dominant in doing it.

Spurs 99, Pistons 95: San Antonio looked to be in complete control of this game from about the middle of the second quarter on, leading by as much as 16. Then came an early fourth quarter 14-0 run by Detroit — sparked by Ben Wallace, the 16-year vet had 8 points in the quarter — and we had a game. A serious game. A Ben Wallace actually drained a three-pointer game. The Spurs might have lost this game had it not been for Manu Ginobili’s flopping being in playoff form (his shot, however, is not). He drew a late charge on Tayshaun Prince, and you can say it was a charge if you want but I say flop all the way. Also helping out was Tony Parker, who was hot late and scored 8 in the fourth quarter, helping spark a late 11-3 Spurs run that secured the win.

Lakers 86, Hawks 78: (To borrow a Clipper Darrell chant) U-G-L-Y you ain’t got no alibi, this game was ugly, it was ugly.

The Lakers actually went to their big men early and often in this one (without Al Horford or Jason Collins the Hawks had no answer). Andrew Bynum had 15 points and 15 boards and had the hot hand early. Pau Gasol had 20 points, 13 rebounds, and 4 blocks, and took over late . The Lakers took control with a 15-1 third quarter run and then shot 58 percent in the fourth quarter to hold on for the win. The Hawks shot just 34.4 percent for the night, you don’t win doing that.

Bulls 121, Kings 115: The Bulls gave Derrick Rose and their vaunted defense the night off and still won. They won because the Kings defense was worse all night long. Luol Deng played 42 minutes and had 12 of his 23 points in the third quarter as Chicago looked like they would run away and hide. The Bulls were up 19 early in the fourth. But then Tyreke Evans, DeMarcus Cousins and Marcus Thornton led a comeback that made the Bulls sweat it out at the end.

Now the Kings get Linsanity on the second night of a back-to-back.

Thunder 111, Jazz 85: Utah was on its third game in three nights and it showed. The Thunder were up early after a 14-2 run and never looked back. James Harden had 22 points, Kevin Durant 21.

Wizards 124, Trail Blazers 109: Portland lost to Washington? At home? This game was about as bad as the Blazers can play. LaMarcus Aldridge went down two minutes into the game with a sprained ankle when Trevor Booker stuck his foot under Aldridge during a jump shot. X-rays were negative but Aldridge did not travel with the team to Golden State for Wednesday’s game (and this is the first of a back-to-back-to-back for Portland, so don’t expect him Thursday either). Portland played terrible defense and Nick Young (35 points) and John Wall (29) took advantage.

Grizzlies 93, Rockets 83: Kyle Lowry put up 24 on his old team but the Rockets PG did not get enough help — Kevin Martin had zero points and his back issues may be to blame. Memphis got a good game up front from Marc Gasol (18 points) and Marreese Speights. Houston made an 8-0 run in the fourth quarter and made it look like it would be close at the end but Mike Conley hit a three to restore order and that was it.

Nuggets 109, Suns 92: Steve Nash and Grant Hill got the night off on a back-to-back and that led to about what you’d expect from the Suns. Arron Afflalo had 20 points, third consecutive game he has reached at least that. The guy has found his stroke.

Hakeem Olajuwon has nothing but praise for Joel Embiid, can “see himself” in rookie

Hakeem Olajuwon
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The most interesting comparison I heard a scout make about Joel Embiid was this is what people expected Greg Oden to be, before Oden’s body betrayed him.

But do you see some Hakeem Olajuwon in his game?

Olajuwon does, and he has nothing but praise for the rookie, as you can see in this video via the NBA’s Twitter account.

https://twitter.com/i/web/status/821424375819685888

I can see it in terms of mobility — Embiid is agile for a big man. He’s also a good passer and has a good feel for the game.

But he’d be the first to admit he has a long way to go to be in the same club with one of the greatest centers ever to play the game. Embiid needs to become a much better defender, and he needs a lot more polish on the offensive end.

Embiid has the potential to get there. That’s what we all see.

It’s official: NBA, NBPA announce new CBA signed

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 12:  NBA commissioner, Adam Silver speaks during a press conference prior to the NBA match between Indiana Pacers and Denver Nuggets at the O2 Arena on January 12, 2017 in London, England.  (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
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When was the last time you saw any labor contract — not just the NBA, not just pro sports, but in any business — get done before either side could opt-out, let alone the actual deadline?

That’s what happened with the NBA’s new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). The teams had until Dec. 15 of last year to opt out, with the real deadline for a new deal being July 1 of this year. Yet the two sides reached a deal before either side even opted out.

Thursday the NBA and National Basketball Players’ Association announced that the new CBA had been signed. It’s a seven-year deal that kicks in July 1.

The deal got done primarily for two reasons. One, the league is awash in cash with the new television deal and neither side wanted to put that at risk. Second, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and NBPA Executive Director Michelle Roberts do not have the long, scarred history of their predecessors (David Stern and Billy Hunter), so they didn’t come to the table with distrust and looking to settle old scores.

The new CBA is largely status quo, which is another reason it got done quickly. Here are the highlights.

• The roughly 50/50 split of revenue remains in place (the players get between 49-51 percent of “basketball-related income” depending on if the league meets revenue goals). It’s always about the money, once this got done the rest tends to fall in line. The rising tide of the new national television contract has floated all boats and nobody wanted to rock that boat.

• The college one-and-done rule will remain. However, both sides will continue to look at the issue. (Will it change eventually? It’s a negotiation, if one side really wants the limit moved they are going to have to give something else up.)

• A new “designated player” rule, which we should just call the Kevin Durant rule. The rule allows teams that have a player they drafted that is entering their seventh or eighth year in the NBA to be offered a longer, larger contract extension — five years starting at 35 percent of the salary cap, same as 10-year veterans. The qualifications are the player has to be with the team that drafted him (or have been traded during his rookie deal, the first three seasons), and have been MVP or made the All-NBA team that season (or two of the previous three). Other teams could only offer four years starting at 30 percent of the cap. For example, Golden State can and will offer Stephen Curry that extension this summer. The more interesting test will be DeMarcus Cousins — the Kings say they will offer it and Cousins has said he will sign it.

• The NBA players’ union now will handle negotiations for player-likeness rights (such as those used in video games). This is something the union wanted and they see as a growth area of revenue, and how were the owners going to push back on the idea of players controlling their own images?

• The preseason will be shortened by three or four games, allowing the regular season to start a week to 10 days earlier. That additional time will be used to reduce the number of back-to-backs and nearly eliminate four games in five nights situations.

• The scaled salaries for rookies will increase.

• There will be some changes to cap holds that will make it harder to do what Kawhi Leonard and Andre Drummond did with their rookie deals, delaying signing an obvious max extension to allow the team to use that cap space to put a better team around them.

• The NBA will create a fund to help with medical expenses and more for retired players who need it.

• NBA teams can have up to three “two-way contracts” that will pay between $50,000 and $75,000. This is something the NBA borrowed from the NHL. These players will have two salaries on the books, their D-League salary and an NBA salary (the minimum, most likely) and will get pro-rated portions of said salaries depending on where they are playing. Teams will be able to move the player between the leagues much more freely.

• There will be changes to the NBA’s domestic violence policy which will clarify the disciplinary procedures in dealing with domestic violence incidents. This will include fines and suspensions, but also will go beyond that and include counseling and other steps to end the cycle.

There was the time Barack Obama taunted Joakim Noah for his shot, so Noah shut him down

Barack Obama
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Barack Obama is the biggest basketball fan ever in the White House, and the best basketball player ever to be president (Abraham Lincoln maybe could have given him a run for his money, except the game hadn’t been invented yet).

Over the past eight years, Obama has hosted a number of pick-up basketball games with NBA players, celebrities, and government officials. It’s pretty standard for half of Washington D.C. to pick up the hobby of the president, and when Obama took office suddenly everyone was a baller. Or wanted to be.

At GQ, they put together a great oral history of some of those games, and there are a bunch of great stories. But this one with Joakim Noah is my favorite.

David Axelrod: [The President] ticked off Joakim Noah because the president was trash-talking him about his shot, [which is], shall we say, unorthodox. The president said, “Where’d you get that shot? That’s the ugliest shot I’ve ever seen.” So at some point, Noah decided, “Okay, let’s see about yours.” And he completely smothered the President. I mean he was guarding him and the President could not go anywhere. But I will say that with all of that, somehow playing against all these NBA players, he mysteriously was able to hit the winning shot.

Obama is a lefty with — according to those who played against him — some old man at the Y in his game. He’s crafty.

Here’s another good story, but you should go read the entire piece.

Marty Nesbitt: The first possession when the president had the ball, Chris Paul was guarding him. He took a couple of dribbles right, and then he crossed over and went left, and then he threw this behind-the-head pass to Pau Gasol, who made a lay-up. It was spectacular. I was teasing Chris Paul a little bit. He said, “Hey, man, I led the NBA in steals. If I wanted to take that—” And I said, “No question, but you didn’t know the man could really play, right? So he surprised you.” He just didn’t expect that Barack could play as well as he could.

Chris Paul (Guard, Los Angeles Clippers): I was shocked at how good he was. Nice lefty jump shot. But he got lucky one time on the break. I sort of jumped out, made him guess which way to go and he made the right play, crossed over, made it look like he crossed me up. It’ll never happen again. Hopefully now that he’s out of office we’ll have some time to see if it was real.

I’m going to miss having a Baller-in-Chief in the White House.

TNT to cover NBA games with only former players, no traditional play-by-play men

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 19:  Grant Hill #33 of the Phoenix Suns looks to move the ball as Derek Fisher #2 of the Los Angeles Lakers defends in the first quarter of Game Two of the Western Conference Finals during the 2010 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center on May 19, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. 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 Harry How/Getty Images)
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NEW YORK (AP) — TNT will use broadcast teams featuring only former players and no traditional play-by-play men during five NBA doubleheaders later this season.

The “Players Only” schedule runs Monday nights from Feb. 27 to March 27 and includes matchups such as Golden State-Oklahoma City on March 20 and Cleveland-San Antonio a week later.

Brent Barry will serve as the primary host of one team with Derek Fisher and Grant Hill, while Greg Anthony partners with Kevin McHale and Richard Hamilton on the other.

Lisa Leslie and Dennis Scott will serve as reporters.

Turner Sports says Thursday that Chris Webber will anchor the studio coverage with Isiah Thomas and Baron Davis, and that additional NBA players will contribute to the five-week program.