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?

Watch Charles Barkley struggle to pronounce “Jonas Valanciunas” last season

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The Toronto Raptors were good last season, second best team in the East. That means the guys on Inside the NBA on TNT had to talk about them.

Which means Charles Barkley had to say “Jonas Valanciunas” a lot. Which is high comedy. While a lot of people struggle to say his name the guy is a solid NBA center who, with a little practice, you can say (and spell) his name pretty easily.

This comes from a YouTube user, via Reddit, with a hat tip to Eye on Basketball.

Watch highlights of USA’s 111-74 rout of Argentina in exhibition game

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Argentina isn’t considered a medal contender heading into the Rio Olympics. Their golden generation — led by Manu Ginobili — has picked up a lot of speed on the downhill side of their careers at this point.

They didn’t provide much of a challenge for Team USA in an exhibition game Friday night in Las Vegas, one won by the USA 111-74. Kevin Durant impressed playing with his new teammates in dropping 23 points, Paul George had 18, and the Americans had their way in the game.

Which is what we’re going to see a lot of in Rio — the USA’s talent level is just steps above any other team in the tournament.

Kevin Durant: Nobody has said something negative to my face about joining Warriors

OAKLAND, CA - JULY 07:  Kevin Durant speaks to the media during the press conference where he was introduced as a member of the Golden State Warriors after they signed him as a free agent on July 7, 2016 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
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When Kevin Durant chose the Warriors, he received criticism from all angles.

Fans burned his jersey. Charles Barkley decried the decision. Markieff Morris said, “That ain’t right.” Durant’s former Thunder teammates leaked their displeasure with the process.

Durant was so reluctant to face the backlash, he stayed in his bed luxurious rental house for two days.

It, uh, worked.

Michael Lee of Yahoo Sports:

Though he has heard some criticism from Barkley and fellow Hall of Famer Reggie Miller, various talking heads and people in social media who believe he has cheated the system and cut corners to a ring, Durant said the reaction to his choice hasn’t been too bad: “All that stuff happens on the Internet. I haven’t had one person come to me and say anything negative. … It’s easy for the critics on the outside to tell you what to do, to tell you how to play. I’m the one that’s going through it, so I can’t really worry about the outside noise. The work don’t stop. Everything stays the same.”

This is a good reminder how insulated NBA players, especially stars, can be.

And it adds to why Durant signing with Golden State makes sense. While we’re debating his legacy and discussing the backlash (and the backlash to the backlash and the backlash to the backlash to the backlash and the…), he’ll be playing high-level basketball with his friends in a desirable city for a max salary.

Sure, it’s not all rosy. Durant altered his relationship with his friend Russell Westbrook, and Durant will have to return to Oklahoma City for a game. There, he’ll face plenty of booing fans.

But, all in all, Durant should have little trouble tuning out the critics.

They’re too far away for him to hear them much.

US romps over Argentina in first Olympic exhibition

LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 22:  Paul George #13 of the United States passes the ball up the court against Argentina during a USA Basketball showcase exhibition game at T-Mobile Arena on July 22, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The United States won 111-74.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
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LAS VEGAS (AP) New team. Same old result.

Full of new star power – and dominant on the inside – the U.S. men’s basketball team opened its bid for a third straight Olympic gold medal Friday night with a 111-74 exhibition romp over Argentina.

A game that was over almost before it began showed the U.S. has to improve its shooting and conditioning. It also showed that there is plenty of talent among a group of players that seem to want to play well for each other and their country despite the absence of Olympic stalwarts Kobe Bryant and LeBron James.

“There’s a willingness from these guys to work on anything we need and to work hard,” coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “These are very good guys.”

A U.S. team that hasn’t lost a game in 10 years had little trouble with Argentina, which some consider a medal contender in Rio. Paul George scored 14 first-half points, Kevin Durant added 12, and the U.S. blew open the game early before an appreciative crowd on the Las Vegas Strip.

Even with Bryant retired and James taking this Olympics off, there was no real talent drop off on a team heavily favored to win gold once again. The depth of the U.S. showed as coach Mike Krzyzewski rotated players in and out, searching for the right combinations on a team with 10 new players from 2012.

“Nothing is for sure,” Durant said. “We want to get this gold and right now we have a job to do. We have to prepare the right way.”

Count the Argentines among those who were impressed at the first real game for the Olympic team.

“Obviously, they have the best talent and the best size in the world,” Argentina’s Luis Scola said. “That’s a big difference in their favor.”

The game was the first of five exhibitions the U.S. will play before traveling to Rio to defend the gold medal. The U.S. team has spent the last week practicing in Las Vegas in preparation for the tour and the games.

There weren’t any opening night jitters, though the U.S. shot only 45 percent and missed all but 14 of 41 3-pointers. With DeMarcus Cousins pulling down 15 rebounds in just 16 minutes, the U.S. dominated inside, outrebounding Argentina 53-30.

“The big thing is getting in shape and they are not there where they will be,” Krzyzewski said. “But we really have an inside presence on the boards.”

For Durant the game was a chance to play with a pair of his new Golden State teammates, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson. It was also a chance for Durant and Carmelo Anthony – the only two players from the 2012 team – to demonstrate that this will be their team in Rio.

Both players cheered from the bench as the minutes were spread around, jumping up to clap for teammates. Every U.S. player got quality time, with Green’s 12 minutes the least played by any American.

“We’re going to have fun and we’re going to enjoy ourselves,” Anthony said. “If it’s not fun it’s not worth it. We’re going to enjoy ourselves but at the same time we’re going to be focused in trying to get that gold medal.”

Durant finished as the game’s high scorer with 23 points, while George had 18 and Carmelo Anthony 17. Andres Nocioni had 15 for Argentina, while Manu Ginobili added 11 for Argentina, which lost to the U.S. in the semifinals of the 2012 Olympics.

Though at times little defense was played, there was plenty of offense to keep the crowd at the new T-Mobile Arena happy. The teams combined to put up 70 3-point attempts, 41 of them from the U.S.

Oddsmakers had made the U.S. a prohibitive 29.5-point favorite in what at times looked a lot like an NBA All-Star game. But while the U.S. team is loaded with 12 NBA players, the Argentines had only three on their roster and the talent difference showed.

While the team is full of new players, the gold medal run will be the last for Krzyzewski, the national coach for the last decade. His teams have lost only one game during his reign, which will end after the Olympics with San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich taking over.