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?

PBT Extra bold prediction previews: Don’t expect more wins in Toronto

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After winning the Atlantic Division then getting thumped in the playoff two years running, the powers that be in Toronto decided it was time for a change.

The added DeMarre Carroll and made shifts to make this a more defensive-minded team, all because of dreams of playoff success (which for the Raptors would be making the second round). What this changeover is not going to mean is an improvement off the 49 regular season wins the Raptors had last season — they sacrificed some scoring to get this defense, and there is a trade-off.

That said, I still expect the Raptors to win the Atlantic. Maybe they make the second round of the playoffs (way too early to make that call).

How many regular season wins they get — and if they win a postseason series — for me is going to come down to if Jonas Valanciunas takes a step forward. Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan will be strong, Carroll is an upgrade, but the big man in the middle will be the hinge for everything.

Mike Budenholzer smirks at lawyer calling Thabo Sefolosha ‘NBA superstar’

Mike Budenholzer, Thabo Sefolosha
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The funny part, via Robert Silverman:

The substantive part:

NEW YORK (AP) — NBA player Thabo Sefolosha, who was arrested outside a New York City nightclub in April following a confrontation with police officer, has a character “of the highest order,” his head coach, Mike Budenholzer, testified Thursday.

Taking the stand as the final defense witness in Sefolosha’s trial, Budenholzer described the Atlanta Hawks guard-forward as “highly intelligent” and a “hard worker.”

When asked by defense attorney Alex Spiro to describe his character, he said it was, “of the highest order.”

“Thabo is of the highest character,” he said during brief testimony in Manhattan Criminal Court.

The Swiss national is charged with misdemeanor obstructing government administration, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest charges stemming from a confrontation with officers outside a trendy Manhattan nightclub early in the morning on April 8. He has pleaded not guilty.

Officers testified this week that Sefolosha and former teammate Pero Antic repeatedly disobeyed their orders to move off the block and away from a crime scene that had been established following the earlier stabbing of another NBA player, Chris Copeland, and two women.

One of the officers also said Sefolosha lunged at an officer with his arm extended but was intercepted before making contact, eventually taken to the ground and arrested.

Sefolosha has testified that he was complying with orders and moving up the block as a particularly aggressive officer screamed profanities at him.

His attorney has argued that his client was singled out by the officer, who is white, because Sefolosha is black.

Sefolosha testified Thursday that he was trying to give money to a panhandler before entering an awaiting car when he was grabbed by police. He said his leg was kicked in the scuffle and he was taken to the ground, handcuffed and hauled to a police precinct. He suffered a fractured right leg, which forced him to miss the playoffs.

The case is the second one involving high-profile athletes accusing New York Police Department officers of wrongdoing this year. On Wednesday, the city agency charged with investigating police misconduct substantiated claims by former tennis star James Blake that an officer used excessive force when he took him to the ground last month after mistkaing Blake for a fraud suspect.