Baseline to Baseline recaps: Another day, another Thunder comeback

Leave a comment

What you missed while taking Google to court because their “street view” map option caught you urinating in your front yard….

Miami 107, Trail Blazers 93: This score doesn’t do justice to how much the Heat dominated this game, which we broke down as our game of the night.

Thunder 105, Magic 102: Who says the Thunder can’t close out games? For the second game in the row Oklahoma City needed a big comeback, this time they started the fourth quarter down 11 but found a way in the end to get the victory. When it mattered they got the stops, they made the plays. OKC shot 67 percent in the fourth quarter and 60 percent from three in the fourth.

Kevin Durant had 18 points on 5-of-6 shooting in the fourth quarter to lead the comeback, including key free throws and shots down the stretch. James Harden added 8 in the fourth quarter. Orlando’s defense fell apart some after three good quarters, but credit Durant who just could not miss.

Dwight Howard had 33, so it seems weird to say this, but Kendrick Perkins was another key for the Thunder. Howard got most of his points when someone else was on him, Perkins did a solid job on him. The book remains the same on Orlando — if you can single cover Howard you can stop Orlando. The Magic still hit their threes early (6-12 in the first half) but shot just 32 percent in the fourth quarter.

Russell Westbrook tweaked his ankle late and was seen limping after the game. We’ll be monitoring that.

Suns 104, Timberwolves 95: Our man Brett Pollakoff was at the game and sent along this recap:

The Suns were playing for the first time in eight days, and the Timberwolves were playing for the third time in three nights. The game’s outcome wasn’t a surprise, but Grant Hill leading Phoenix with a season-high 20 points and a game-high 37 minutes was a bit unexpected. Hill scored half his points in six third-quarter minutes, keeping the Suns within striking distance while they waited for Minnesota to inevitably run out of gas.

Steve Nash out-dueled Ricky Rubio, putting up a line of 13 points, 17 assists, and eight rebounds to Rubio’s 13, 2, and 2. Kevin Love finished with 23 points and 10 rebounds, but he shot just 8-of-25 from the field, and four of those rebounds were secured essentially on a single play late in the game with the outcome decided.

Rick Adelman said before tip-off that this was a “character game” for his T’Wolves, and they stood up to that test for two-and-a-half quarters, leading by double digits in the first half before things fell apart.

Nash said the word in the Suns locker room was just to keep the game close until Minnesota’s fatigue became evident, and Love pointed to the schedule as a significant contributing factor.

“It just got out of control and the wheels came off,” Love said of the way things turned around late in the third quarter. “Third game in three nights for all these guys and for me being sick, I think we just had tired legs down the stretch and it caught up to us.”

Clippers 108, Kings 100: This was close through two-and-a-half quarters, then an 11-0 run in the middle of the third is when the Clippers started to pull away. Then Mo Williams came in, got hot, scored 12 points in the fourth quarter and the Clips pulled away and led by as much as 19 (until a late 11-0 run made it closer at the very end). Isaiah Thomas, welcome to the NBA — the rookie point guard who has played so well was shut down by Chris Paul on the night. CP3 was just too physical for him. Paul had 22 points and 9 assists. DeMarcus Cousins had 23 for the Kings, six Clippers scored in double digits.

 

Danny Ainge: Josh Jackson canceled Celtics workout while Brad Stevens and I flew there

Leave a comment

The Celtics were the first playoff team to win the lottery, which brought a complication: Some draft prospects and their agents wanted to avoid Boston, which has a deep roster and fewer avenues to immediate playing time.

Lonzo Ball wouldn’t work out for the Celtics, and neither would Josh Jackson. Ball was straightforward all along on his intent to work out for only the Lakers, who ultimately drafted him No. 2.

With Jackson – who was drafted No. 4 by the Suns after Boston took Jayson Tatum No. 3 – it was more convoluted.

Celtics president Danny Ainge, via CSN New England:

Never talked with Josh. No one in our organization did. I know someone wrote that that was difference, but that’s not the case.

They cancelled a workout on us when we flew out to Sacramento, and they just decided to cancel it as we flew – just Brad and I and Mike Zarren flew cross-country.

So there was something that he didn’t want to play for the Celtics. In spite of that, we’ve watched Josh for two years, and we’re fans. He’s a terrific kid and a good player. So we tried not to overreact to those kinds of things and make a big deal of it.

Agents and players have all sorts of motivations to get to certain places, as we’ve seen in the past. You remember last year, Kris Dunn didn’t want to come here. We didn’t hold it against him. We felt like we were just taking the player that we wanted.

And I think the same thing this time. I don’t think we were trying to penalize Josh too much, but we didn’t get to see him or talk to him face-to-face.

I was mad. We flew cross-country. Are you kidding me? I had to get up at 4 o’clock and fly back home.

There’s nothing to do in Sacramento.

At first glance, this sounds sloppily rude by Jackson and/or his agent, B.J. Armstrong. And maybe it was.

But perhaps there’s more to it? The best professional athletes enter the workforce in conditions unlike anyone else in this country, forced to join whichever single company in their chosen field picks them – the worst companies receiving priority in selection. Players should feel no obligation to help companies in this cartel gather information. Rather, players’ priority should be getting to the company they find most desirable.

Jackson canceling a workout as the Celtics flew to California almost certainly turned them off more than never scheduling the workout in the first place would have. This might have been smart in the long run by Jackson if he didn’t want to go to Boston.

It stinks Ainge, Zarren and Brad Stevens had to deal with it. But it also stinks Jackson has no realistic choice but to participate in a system so unfair to labor.

Still, Ainge responded correctly – trying not to hold the sudden schedule change against Jackson. The Celtics will be better off with the better prospect, whether that’s Jackson or Tatum. If they drafted Jackson, he’d likely get over it. Evaluating Jackson only on what he’d bring to the team is easier said than done, and I’m not sure how well Ainge actually did that. But at least trying to keep that mindset was the right approach.

Jimmy Butler’s trainer calls Bulls GM Gar Forman a liar, less moral than drug dealers

Anthony Souffle/Chicago Tribune via AP
Leave a comment

The Bulls traded Jimmy Butler to the Timberwolves last night, reuniting the star wing with Tom Thibodeau.

Butler apparently took it well. Vincent Goodwill of CSN Chicago:

Butler’s agent showed perspective. Bernard Lee:

Butler’s trainer, on the other hand, took a completely different tone. Travelle Gaines‏:

I don’t like the implication that drug dealers are immoral.

Otherwise, is Gaines right about Bulls general manager Gar Forman? I don’t know what Forman told Butler.

K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune:

I do know Forman probably shouldn’t have allowed himself to be drug into public a back-and-forth with Gaines, especially coming across as scolding the trainer. There’s little to be gained there – much like the trade itself.

Watch NBA deputy commissioner crack up as fan announces pick before he does

Leave a comment

If you’re on Twitter during the NBA Draft, there is no suspense. Every pick has been announced minutes before NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, or later Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum, head to the podium to make the announcement.

On Thursday night, deep in the second round as the crowd at the Barclay’s Centre had mostly left and only a few, not completely sober, diehards remained, Tatum walked up to the podium to give the 52nd pick — and thought it was funny when a fan beat him to it.

I love that he thought it was funny. You think David Stern would have laughed?

Five guys not taken in NBA Draft worth watching

Getty Images
Leave a comment

As a rule of thumb, about 15 percent of the NBA at any point is made of up guys who went undrafted and fought their way into the league. They tend not to be stars, but quality role players who have found a role — and are getting paid. Jeremy Lin, Kent Bazemore, Seth Curry, Tyler Johnson, Joe Ingles, Matthew Dellavendova, Langston Galloway and Robert Covington, are just part of the list of undrafted guys currently in the league.

Here are five guys that went undrafted Thursday night worth watching.

1. P.J. Dozier 6’6” shooting guard (South Carolina). He has already signed with the Lakers and will be on their Summer League team. He passes the eye test of “has all the physical tools you want in a quality NBA two guard” but has yet to show much polish or string together consistent play. He shows it in flashes, but he needs to be more consistent, particularly finishing with floaters or from the midrange. If he can become more consistent with his shot and handles, he has potential as a combo one/two guard who can both work off the ball and be a secondary shot creator (he has good court vision).

2. Johnathan Motley, 6’9” power forward/center (Baylor). He plays like a center, and he’s undersized but a 7’4” wingspan covers for a lot. He is an amazing rebounder who can score in post. He’s a good athlete who could fit as a small-ball five off the bench to start. He’s an average rim protector, and he is not going to stretch the floor (although he has shown some improvement in that area). He’s a bit raw, he’s inconsistent, and he’s coming off an injury. All that said, some team will give him a shot, this is one of the bigger surprises of guys not taken.

3. Isaiah Hicks, 6’8” power forward (North Carolina). He’s signed with the Clippers and will be on their Summer League team. He’s got an NBA body, which is part of the draw here, but in college he was a power player who could use his strength to his advantage and overwhelm opponents. In the NBA he will find it much harder to do going against men. He does have a soft touch and can run the floor to get points. He’s got to work on his left hand, and developing a more diversified offensive game.

4. George De Paula, 6’6” point guard (Brazil).
At 21 he was the starting point guard for the team that made the Brazilian League finals. He has all the physical tools teams could hope for, including a 7’0” wingspan. He’s made big strides the past couple of years in the things teams want from a point guard such as decision-making and being a floor general, but he is still very raw. This is a project and may continue to develop in Brazil or Europe, but show up in the NBA at some point.

5. Devin Robinson, 6’8″ forward (Florida).
 Already signed with the Washington Wizards to be on their Summer League team. He’s got the versatility of an NBA forward who can cover multiple positions, plus he shot 39.1 percent from three last year. It’s all a bit raw, especially on defense, but he has the tools to fit into the NBA game. His shooting needs to be a little more consistent, he’s got to get stronger and fight through stuff, and there are just concerns about his decision-making and feel for the game. Still, smart gamble by the Wizards.