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.

Check out top 50 plays from Kevin Garnett’s Hall of Fame career (VIDEO)

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First Kobe Bryant. Then Tim Duncan.

Now Kevin Garnett. The Hall of Fame class in five years is going to be stacked.

But before we move on from Garnett’s announcement this week that he is retiring after 21 years in the NBA, let’s look back at his greatest plays (compiled by the folks at NBA.com). Enjoy this for 11 minutes rather than watching your NFL fantasy team flounder. Again.

D’Angelo Russell said he used to play as Luke Walton on NBA 2K; Stephen Jackson calls that crap

LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 30: D'Angelo Russell #1 of the Los Angeles Lakers speaks during a news conference to discuss the controversy with teammate Nick Young before the start of the NBA game against the Miami Heat at Staples Center March 30, 2016, in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using the photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
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Did anyone ever fire up NBA 2K9 back in the day, decide to be the soon-to-be-champion Lakers, look at a roster with Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, and Lamar Odom then say “I’m going to be Luke Walton”?

D'Angelo Russell says he did.

The Lakers young point guard has praised the new Laker coach at every turn — Russell and Byron Scott did not get along, the point guard is much happier now — and that includes talking about Walton’s playing days to Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report.

“I told him I remember playing with him on (NBA) 2K; I used to always play as him. I’m a fan. I’m definitely a fan. Because he was a point forward. I can’t speak on Elgin Baylor and all those guys, but my era, I know he was a point forward.”

Really? NBA veteran and current analyst Stephen Jackson called Russell out on that.

Jackson has a point.

Report: No, J.R. Smith isn’t talking to Sixers

CLEVELAND, OH -  JUNE 22: J.R. Smith #5 of the Cleveland Cavaliers celebrates with the fans during the Cleveland Cavaliers 2016 championship victory parade and rally on June 22, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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What is with the ridiculous, unrealistic Philadelphia 76ers rumors of late? Last I checked recreational use was not legal in Pennsylvania. Not that the law is stopping anyone.

The latest silliness follows this logic:

This summer the Sixers made runs at veteran guards such as Jamal Crawford and Manu Ginobili (and they forced the Spurs to pay up for the Argentinian to keep him).

The Cleveland Cavaliers and J.R. Smith are in a staring contest, and Smith remains a free agent.

The Sixers have more than $22 million in cap space still.

So…

No. Not happening.

Or, we could have just asked Smith who has said he is not talking to other teams and doesn’t want to play anywhere but Cleveland.

I can get why Sixers management would want to bring a veteran and beloved, hard-working pro such as Ginobili in to lead and mentor a young team. Does Smith bring that same demeanor? I get that Smith in Cleveland has developed his game, and that he has matured and backed off his hard-partying ways (he gets a hall pass for the days after winning a championship), but is Smith the veteran you bring into a young locker room?

Can we move on from the ridiculous in Pennslyvania? Well, probably not until after the election, that is a battleground state.

Paul George says “I’m ready” to challenge LeBron James for supremacy in East

CLEVELAND, OH - FEBRUARY 29: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers looks for a pass while under pressure from Paul George #13 of the Indiana Pacers during the first half at Quicken Loans Arena on February 29, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. 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. Mandatory copyright notice. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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LeBron James is the best basketball player walking the face of the earth. The only guy who could start to challenge that supremacy the past couple of years has been Stephen Curry, and last season’s NBA Finals answered that question for now.

In the Eastern Conference, for years now it has been LeBron James and his team then a step back to everyone else — LeBron has been to six straight NBA Finals, four in Miami and the last two in Cleveland. Most pundits (myself included) think that’s going to be seven in-a-row because the Cavaliers are clear and away the class of the East.

Paul George says he and the Pacers are ready to change that narrative. Here is what he told Michael Lee of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

“Honestly, I look at us challenging them. I’ve been in the East and I’ve been No. 1 with LeBron being on a team,” George told The Vertical in a recent telephone interview, harkening back to when the Pacers finished with the best regular-season record in the East in 2013-14, the season before his gruesome Team USA leg injury….

“I’ve always matched up with him like, ‘I know he can do this, I know he can do that,’ ” George told The Vertical about James. “Not in an awe fashion, but it’s more so, ‘I’m not supposed to win these games. This is supposed to be the best dude in the NBA. I’m trying to challenge him. I know what I’m up against.’ Now it’s, ‘I’m ready. I’m ready for you. I’m a veteran. I know you, you know me. Let’s meet here, let’s get this job done.’ I’m prepared. I’ve had time to figure this out. I’ve had time to lick my wounds. I’m ready.”

Good for George — this is exactly what you want an elite competitor and top player to say heading into the season. He sees Everest in front of him, and he wants to climb it.

I’m also higher on the Pacers than most; I think they are a top-four team in the East that can finish top two. They upgraded at the point with Jeff Teague, plus they added the underrated Thaddeus Young (although they will miss Solomon Hill) and depth up front with Al Jefferson. I don’t get Larry Bird pushing Frank Vogel out the door at all, but Nate McMillan is a solid NBA coach to take his place. I think the Pacers are taking a step forward this season, maybe a fairly significant one.

But they’re still not in the Cavaliers’ class.

The East is still Cleveland then everyone else. Last season Toronto won 56 games and had its best season in franchise history, and they were still a step or two below the Cavaliers. No team in the East — not the Raptors, not the Celtics, not the Pacers — are making up those steps. Unless injuries or something else unforeseen brings the Cavaliers back to the pack, the Eastern Conference once again will look like Secretariat at the Belmont.