Deshawn Stevenson

Baseline to Baseline recaps: Time to fear Brook Lopez?

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What you missed while you were spilling beer on the German Chancellor….

Nets 93, Mavericks 92: Dallas, you did a terrible job of trying to impress Deron Williams and make him want to join your roster. Starting late in the third quarter the Mavericks went on an 0-13 shooting streak, they didn’t have a field goal in the fourth quarter until the 3:30 mark. Their sets on their final two possessions were unimpressive and sloppy. On the night they generally looked old and a step slow. A lot of teams would have beaten the Mavs handily, but this is the Nets so it took a couple late free throws from Brook Lopez to seal the win at the end.

Lopez had a monster night overall, finishing with 38 points. They are not a good team with Lopez back in the lineup, but the Nets are a much better one than they showed the first half of the season.

Timberwolves 109, Clippers 97: This was a game where you kept waiting for the Clippers to run away and hide from the Timberwolves. Blake Griffin was getting to the rim at will (he had 30 points) and Chris Paul could spin into the lane whenever he wanted (27 points). But the Timberwolves just hung around. They started double-teaming Griffin in the fourth quarter and that shut Griffin down. Then it was all the Minny bench — Derrick Williams and Michael Beasley each had 13 in the fourth quarter, 27 for the game, and it was the Timberwolves who pulled away for the win. With the game close late, the execution and ball movement of the Timberwolves was just vastly superior.

Celtics 86, Cavaliers 83: Credit due to Kyrie Irving, he got the best of Rajon Rondo — 24-0. That is right, Rondo had no points in this one, although he did have 11 dimes. It’s not a pretty win for the Celtics, but it snaps a five-game losing steak, so they will take it.

Pacers 102, Warriors 78: After just limping into the All-Star break, this looked like the Pacers we know. Indiana took control of this one with an 11-1 run right before then half. Then Danny Granger dropped 15 of his team-high 25 in the third and the Pacers pulled away.

Sixers 97, Pistons 68: Philly had lost five straight but looked rested and ready in this one. It was close for a quarter, then Thaddeus Young had 12 points in the third quarter helping the Sixers on an 11-0 run and that was the ball game. Six Philly players scored in double figures.

Bucks 119, Wizards 118: This was fun as it was up-tempo all night and that plays right into the wheelhouse of Brandon Jennings and John Wall, those two took turns getting into the lane at will. Wall looked like he had the game winner late but Jennings got into the lane and… missed. But Ersan Ilyasova was there for the game winning tip. Mike Dunleavy might have been the difference as he had 28 points on 17 shots off the bench.

Rockets 88, Raptors 85: Toronto fought their way back into this one, down 13 they made of game of it. But Kyle Lowry scored 7 of his 26 down in the fourth quarter for the win. DeMar DeRozan led the Raptors with 17 but sat the entire fourth quarter — coach Dwane Casey said he wanted to ride the hot hand, but DeRozan was their hottest hand on the night. The Rockets are just solid.

Bulls 99, Hornets 95: This game was tied at 95-95 as the Hornets had come from 11 down to a real game of it. Then Derrick Rose happened — he hit a jumper with 19 seconds left to put the Bulls up two, then blocked a Jarrett Jack shot to tie it. A couple more Rose free throws gave him 32 points and the Bulls the win.

Kings 103, Jazz 96: Really entertaining game for the Sacramento fans, who were already pretty delirious about the new arena. Utah normally wins because Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson are a formidable front line, but DeMarcus Cousins was the best big man in this game and finished with 22. When he plays like this you can see all the promise right there. Devin Harris had a great game and looked like the Harris of old with 18 points — is somebody being showcased for a trade?

Good news: Anthony Davis listed as probably vs. Utah Saturday

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Watching Anthony Davis fall to the court clutching his knee, not being able to put any pressure on his leg as he was helped to the locker room, it was frightening Friday night in Los Angeles.

It turns out it’s not that bad. After the game the injury was described as a “knee contusion” and not the serious damage that was feared. Saturday the Pelicans said Davis was good to go.

Whew. Nobody wants to see Davis miss time.

The Pelicans had won three in a row until they ran into the Clippers Friday night. Davis has played better of late — the New Orleans defense is 7.2 points per 100 better when he is on the court — and New Orleans has gotten better point guard play out of Ish Smith.

Stephen Curry abuses Sun’s Price with behind-the-back, pull-up three (VIDEO)

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That is just cruel.

An on-fire Warriors team dropped 44 on the Suns in the first quarter Saturday, and Curry had 19 of those points going 5-of-6 from three. The Suns’ had no defender who could begin to hang with him. Certainly not Ronnie Price, who came in off the bench and got abused for his efforts.

Curry finished with 41 points, never had to set foot on the court in the fourth quarter, and the Warriors improved to 17-0 on the season. Just another day at the office for them.

Philadelphia has dropped record 27 in a row dating back to last season

Brett Brown

We tend to think of record streaks having to be in one season, not broken up across two.

But if you can suspend that, the Philadelphia 76ers are now the owners of the longest losing streak in NBA — and major professional sports — history.

With their tough two-points loss to Houston Friday night, the Sixers have lost 27 in a row. The Sixers dropped their final 10 last season and with the loss to the Rockets are 0-17 to start this one.

That bests the 26-game losing streaks of the 2010-11 Cleveland Cavaliers and these same Sixers from 2013-14. Looking across sports, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers of 1976-1977 also lost 26 in a row, which when you consider the length of the NFL season is pretty embarrassing.

The Sixers struggles are born from a plan by GM Sam Hinkie (and approved by ownership) to get better long-term by being bad now and hoarding draft picks. It’s a strategy that can work if Hinkie nails the draft picks (the book is out on how Hinkie is doing on that front). And they are committed to it through at least this draft.

But don’t think for a second the players and coach are trying to lose.

If you have watched the Sixers play their last few games you know the players are trying hard to get that victory (and almost have a couple of times). The effort is there, they are just outmatched and lack the kind of presence at the end of games to execute under pressure (something a couple of quality, regularly-playing veterans might help, but that’s another discussion). They have the point differential of a team that should have a couple wins; they just haven’t been fortunate. It happens. Go ahead and blame management if you think this plan is an abomination. Just don’t question the desire or effort of the players or coaches, that is not in doubt.

The Sixers play at the Grizzlies Sunday, then have maybe their best shot at a win for a while when they host the Lakers on Tuesday.



Byron Scott, is it time to bench Kobe Bryant? “That’s not an option.”

Kobe Bryant, D'Angelo Russell, Byron Scott

Kobe Bryant‘s shooting woes this season have been well documented. Let me explain… no, there is too much. Let me sum up. Kobe is shooting 31.1 percent overall and 19.5 percent from three, all while jacking up more threes than ever before. He was 1-of-14 shooting against Cleveland, and that’s as many shots as rookies D'Angelo Russell and Julius Randle got combined.

If Kobe keeps shooting like this while dominating the ball, is it time to bench Kobe? Coach Byron Scott laughed at the idea, as reported by Baxter Holmes at ESPN.

“I would never, never, never do that,” Scott said after practice at the Lakers’ facility. “That’s not an option whatsoever. No, that’s not an option.”

It’s not an option because this is the guy the fans have paid to see, at home and on the road (the Lakers have still sold out every road game this season, the only team to have done so). Kobe is the draw, he’s going to play.

That doesn’t mean Scott is handling all this well, Kobe has no repercussions for his actions.

Byron Scott is an enabler with Kobe. In his mind Kobe has earned the right to play poorly because of his career, which is just hard to watch.

The real issue I have with Scott enabling Kobe is the double standard — minutes for Russell and the other young players get jerked around when they make mistakes. Scott sounds and acts like a guy with a couple rookies on a veteran team where the objective is to win as many games as possible.

This can’t be emphasized enough: the primary goal for the Lakers this season is to develop Russell, Randle, and Jordan Clarkson (and Larry Nance Jr., who has impressed). But Russell has sat a lot of fourth quarters, and when Scott is asked if playing in those blowout minutes might help develop the young point guard faster, he says, “Nah.” Scott has benched Clarkson at points and called him out in the media.

Reduction of minutes can be a valuable teaching tool with young players — if the conditions of them getting those minutes are precisely laid out. Clear rules with rewards and consequences. That is not the case in Los Angeles, where Russell has said Scott has not spoken to him much about what he’s doing wrong and why he’s spending the ends of games benched. That’s not coaching a guy up; that’s not player development. There need to be clear guidelines and structures for young players to follow.

The only guideline in LA seems to be “Kobe has carte blanche.”