Kevin Durant, Ryan Anderson

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.

 

Watch Kyle Lowry’s tip-pass alley-oop to Jimmy Butler in USA win

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There were a lot of ugly things for Team USA in its exhibition win over Venezuela — the 4-of-25 shooting from three comes to mind. There was more, it was not a strong offensive performance from Team USA.

But like usual, we can overwhelm teams with athleticism, and that means wins and highlights. Like Kyle Lowry‘s tip-pass alley-oop to Jimmy Butler.

Or DeMar DeRozan‘s late-game windmill dunk.

Kyrie Irving helps USA to ugly 80-45 win over Venezuela

OAKLAND, CA - JULY 26:  Kyrie Irving #10 of the United States Men's National Team looks to make a move with the ball against the China Men's National Team during the first half of a USA Basketball showcase exhibition game at ORACLE Arena on July 26, 2016 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
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CHICAGO (AP) — Kyrie Irving scored 13 points, DeMarcus Cousins powered a dominant performance in the paint, and the United States pulled away from Venezuela for an ugly 80-45 exhibition victory Friday night.

Coming off three straight flashy victories in Las Vegas and California, the United States shot 42.4 percent from the field and committed 13 turnovers in by far its worst offensive performance of its five-city tour in preparation for next week’s Rio de Janeiro Olympics. But the Americans used their superior athleticism to limit Venezuela to 24 percent shooting and owned the interior with a 54-29 rebounding advantage.

Returning to Chicago for the first time with the U.S. national team, Bulls star Jimmy Butler was cheered every time he was announced at the United Center. He had four points and eight rebounds in 21 minutes in his first start with Team USA.

Butler had one of the few electric plays for the U.S. when he ran out on the break and dunked Kyle Lowry‘s tip pass in the fourth quarter. DeAndre Jordan also had a vicious dunk off a lob from Kevin Durant, and DeMar DeRozan drew chants of “USA! USA!” with a windmill jam in the final minutes.

Klay Thompson also scored 13 points, and Cousins finished with seven points and 12 rebounds. Durant had nine points of 3-of-9 shooting.

John Cox scored 14 points for Venezuela, which will play the U.S. again on Aug. 8 in the Olympics.

Irving and company were greeted with a round of hearty cheers when they came out for pregame warmups. Fans lined the side of the court where the Americans had their layup line, and Anthony and Durant posed for pictures with a couple of eager boys.

Before Butler’s introduction drew the most applause of the night, former Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau received a thunderous ovation when he was announced with the U.S. coaching staff. Thibodeau took a year off after he was fired by the Bulls in May 2015, and then was hired as Minnesota’s coach and president of basketball operations in April.

The star power also extended to the sideline near the U.S. bench, where former Olympians Scottie Pippen and Dwyane Wade watched the action attentively. Wade was joined by his wife, actress Gabriel Union, hours after he held his introductory press conference for his new contract with his hometown Bulls.

Pippen played on the 1992 Dream Team that rolled to gold in Barcelona, and also helped the U.S. win gold in 1996. Wade was on the Americans’ gold medal-winning teams at each of the last two Olympics.

Jay Cohen can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/jcohenap

Monty Williams is back coaching with Team USA, ready to get back on NBA sidelines

LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 18:  Draymond Green #14 of the 2016 USA Basketball Men's National Team drives against assistant coach Monty Williams of the 2016 USA Basketball Men's National Team during a practice session at the Mendenhall Center on July 18, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
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Watching Monty Williams back on the court at the USA basketball camp/practices in Las Vegas, you could see he was at home. He’s easily the best 44-year-old defender on the planet — he went toe-to-toe with Kevin Durant, Jimmy Butler, and the rest, was physical, and made them work for buckets. Then he’d instruct. He’s just a natural.

Back in February, Williams’ wife was killed in an auto accident. It devastated the devout family man, in ways it’s hard for us to understand who have never experienced it. He walked away from coaching the rest of the NBA season with the Thunder, and nobody questioned it for a second.

Now, after getting his feet wet with Team USA (where he is an assistant to Mike Krzyzewski), he told Darnell Mayberry of the Oklahoman he is ready to get back on the sidelines.

“I wouldn’t even think that if I didn’t know, one, my wife would want me to; my kids talk about it all the time. And there have been some things that have happened in my life lately that have allowed me to get that back. I’m so juiced up and ready to get back into it again.”

He is one of the better respected assistant coaches in the league, and a guy who will get another shot at a top spot someday. Soon. Can’t wait to see him back on the sidelines.

Ben Simmons says he plans to work on shooting, handles, getting stronger before camp

Philadelphia 76ers' Ben Simmons cheers from the bunch during the first half of the team's NBA summer league basketball game against the Brooklyn Nets, Thursday, July 14, 2016, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
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The leap from college — even high-level college programs — to the NBA can be hard to describe. Now everybody is bigger, longer, and far more athletic — the guy at the end of the bench barely getting any burn was one of the best players on his college team.

Players get their first taste of that at Summer League. The Sixers’ No. 1 pick Ben Simmons looked pretty good when he got that taste, but you can see the development that needs to go on as well.

He’s spending the time between now and the start of training camp working on his shooting and getting stronger, among other things, he told Jessica Camerato of CSNPhilly.com.

“I think just getting in the gym and making sure I’m getting reps up, shooting-wise, dribbling,” Simmons said earlier this week after an appearance at Sixers Camp in Wayne, Pennsylvania. “The weight room as well, making sure I get my strength back and my weight up.”

All good things. Handles and shooting in particular — he’s about to start seeing much better defenders nightly. It’s going to take time, and we’ll see how far he can go, but Simmons unquestionably brings a lot of skill and potential to the table. That he’s putting in the work is a good sign — that was one of the concerns about him heading into the draft.

New GM Bryan Colangelo is going to benefit from Sam Hinkie’s process. So long as he doesn’t screw it up.