Baseline to Baseline recaps: Another day, another Thunder comeback

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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.

 

Reports: Lakers, Pacers both confident in tampering case

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The Lakers reportedly expect to be cleared of the tampering allegations brought by the Pacers over Paul George.

As for the Pacers?

Bob Kravitz of WTHR on The Rich Eisen Show

They feel very strongly that there were correspondences between Lakers executives and Paul George’s representative. They had heard those rumors for quite some time. They think there’s some there there.

Wishful thinking by both sides? It sure looks like it.

The Lakers probably tampered, because everybody tampers. But teams are rarely punished for it, so they can also believe they did nothing egregious enough to become an exception.

A paper trail between the Lakers – Magic Johnson or any other executive – and George’s camp would go far. But even that must be more specific. George’s agent, Aaron Mintz, also represents Lakers forward Julius Randle and former Lakers guard D'Angelo Russell. So, he’d have good reason to communicate with the organization.

I don’t know what the NBA will do here. Tampering rules are rarely and arbitrarily enforced. That gives each team plenty of room to believe it’s right.

Only two of 38 rookies surveyed say No. 1 pick Markelle Fultz will have class’s best career

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The 76ers drafted Ben Simmons No. 1 last year, believing he’d have the best career of anyone in his draft class. This year, Philadelphia traded up to draft Markelle Fultz No. 1 for the same reason.

Their fellow rookies – Simmons missed all of last season due to injury – aren’t nearly as enthused.

John Schuhmann of NBA.com conducted his annual rookie survey, polling 39 players who weren’t allowed to vote for themselves or college or NBA teammates. Thirty-eight responded to the best-career question:

Which rookie will have the best career?

1. Lonzo Ball, L.A. Lakers — 18.4%
Jayson Tatum, Boston — 18.4%

3. Josh Jackson, Phoenix — 10.5%
Dennis Smith Jr., Dallas — 10.5%

5. De'Aaron Fox, Sacramento — 7.9%

6. Markelle Fultz, Philadelphia — 5.3%
Harry Giles, Sacramento — 5.3%
Ben Simmons, Philadelphia — 5.3%

Others receiving votes: Jarrett Allen, Brooklyn; John Collins, Atlanta; Jonathan Isaac, Orlando; Luke Kennard, Detroit; Kyle Kuzma, L.A. Lakers; Donovan Mitchell, Utah; Malik Monk, Charlotte

Simmons might not have come to mind to players at the rookie photo shoot, which was for the most recent draft class. And rookies have tended to pick someone other than the No. 1 pick for this question. Anthony Davis in 2012 was the last No. 1 pick to lead voting. Simmons tied for fourth at 6.7% last year – behind Brandon Ingram, Kris Dunn and Buddy Hield. Even Karl-Anthony Towns landed behind Jahlil Okafor in 2015.

But so few votes for Fultz – the consensus top prospect in the draft – is fairly stunning.

Dennis Smith Jr. received the most votes for Rookie of the Year, but at just 25.7%. A large majority of rookies picked someone other than the Mavericks point guard.

Lonzo Ball (71.8% for best playmaker) was the only player to receive a majority of votes in a category. Luke Kennard (48.6% for best shooter) and Smith (43.6% for most athletic), who each tripled second place, came close.

LeBron James reemerged as rookies’ favorite player after a three-year run by Kevin Durant. Maybe that Warriors backlash if finally catching up to Durant?

Kendall Marshall, Marshall Plumlee headline Team USA’s AmeriCup roster

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AmeriCup, previously called the FIBA Americas Championship, lost its luster when FIBA decided the continental tournament wouldn’t double as World Cup qualifying.

But the U.S. is still sending a team, coached by Jeff Van Gundy. The roster (team last season):

  • Billy Baron (UCAM Murcia, Spain)
  • Alec Brown (Windy City Bulls)
  • Larry Drew II (Sioux Falls Skyforce)
  • Reggie Hearn (Reno Bighorns)
  • Darrun Hilliard (Detroit Pistons)
  • Jonathan Holmes (Canton Charge);
  • Kendall Marshall (Reno Bighorns)
  • Xavier Munford (Greensboro Swarm)
  • Marshall Plumlee (New York Knicks)
  • Jameel Warney (Texas Legends)
  • C.J. Williams (Texas Legends)
  • Reggie Williams (Oklahoma City Blue)

The Americans should still be favored, though obviously not as overwhelming as they’d be with NBA players, in a field also comprised of Canada, Argentina, Brazil, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Venezuela, Dominican Republic, Colombia, Uruguay, Panama and U.S. Virgin Islands.

This will be a good benchmark, as the U.S. might take a similar roster into World Cup qualifying.

Report: Tampering investigation stems from Magic Johnson’s TV interview

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In April, new Lakers president Magic Johnson went on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” and discussed then-Pacers forward Paul George:

We’re going to say hi, because we know each other. You just can’t say, “Hey, I want you to come to the Lakers,” even though I’m going to be wink-winking like [blinks repeatedly]. You know what that means, right?

Now, the Lakers – at Indiana’s request – are being investigated for tampering.

Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times:

The investigation, which has been going on since May, stemmed from comments Magic Johnson made on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” that angered Pacers owner Herb Simon, according to several NBA officials who were not authorized to speak publicly about the matter.

This doesn’t mean the Pacers believe Johnson tampered with his televised comments. It seems as if that was the last straw following numerous rumors about George going to Los Angeles.

However, there’s a case Johnson’s televised remarks alone would constitute tampering. The Collective Bargaining Agreement prohibits “assurances of intent, or understandings of any kind (whether disclosed or undisclosed to the NBA), between a player (or any person or entity controlled by, related to, or acting with authority on behalf of, such player) and any Team (or Team Affiliate)” – and even attempts to solicit assurance of intent or understanding – when the player is still under contract with another team. Johnson sure appeared to do that.

But it’d be shocking if Johnson or the Lakers were punished for the interview alone. Indiana probably needs more evidence.

Then again, the arbitrary way the NBA enforces tampering, who knows?