New Jersey Nets v Atlanta Hawks

Baseline to Baseline recaps: It’s the Deron Williams show


What you missed while suing your college because your dorm roommate had too much sex

Celtics 115, Knicks 111 (OT): Rajon Rondo dominated Jeremy Lin, put up a monster line — 18 points, 20 assists, 17 rebounds — and got the Celtics a big win in one of our games of the day.

Lakers 93, Heat, 83: You knew Kobe Bryant would have a big game. The other keys were the Lakers bigs and Metta World Peace having big days too in our other game of the day.

Nets 104, Bobcats 101: Deron Williams was a force of nature — 57 points, 21-of-21 from the free throw line. And that was still barely enough to get the Nets a win against the worst team in the league. Which tells you all you need to know about the Nets.

The Bobcats chose to single cover Williams coming off the pick-and-roll. Why? Because you really need to fear all those other guys on the Nets roster? Brook Lopez is good but you take the ball out Williams’ hands.

Bulls 96, Sixers 91: This was a hard-fought, close game until in the first half of the fourth quarter Derrick Rose and Luol Deng sparked a 15-2 run and suddenly the Bulls started to pull away. You would think that was it, and most teams would roll over. Not the 76ers. They fought back with a 10-1 run of their own and made this a game late — they trapped Rose and dared any other Bull to beat them. C.J. Watson tried with 7 in the fourth quarter. But down the stretch Rose still got a key bucket (a 15-foot leaner baseline) and finished with 35. And the win.

Suns 96, Kings 88: Our man Brett Pollakoff was at this game and sends along this report:

The Suns won their third straight game coming out of the All-Star break, but for the third straight game, it took overcoming a double-digit deficit to do so. It’s the first time since 2002 that’s happened in Phoenix, and that wasn’t the only milestone the Suns were able to reach against the woeful Sacramento Kings.

It was also the third straight game the Suns held their opponent under 40 percent shooting from the field, something the team hasn’t done since 2008. Phoenix obviously hasn’t been known for its defense, but the players have seemed to figure out that it’s the only way to win with the way the roster is currently constructed.

After a slow start, the Suns held the Kings to 20, 19, and 17 points in each quarter following the first, and ended up ahead in the rebound column for the third straight game, as well. Channing Frye continued his horrific shooting with a 3-of-12 outing, after going just 2-for-18 on Friday while checking the Clippers’ Blake Griffin. That’s 5-for-30 in the last two games for the advanced stats crowd out there, but Frye did grab 10 boards and was active inside defensively, which is more important to what this Phoenix team is trying to do anyway. The usually affable Frye clearly isn’t pleased with his lack of offense, as evidenced by the fact that he’s bounced from the locker room two games in a row without speaking to reporters.

Marcin Gortat continues to put up big numbers in this system, and finished with 14 points and 17 rebounds. Steve Nash was average by his standards, leading Phoenix in scoring with 19 while dishing out just seven assists. Shannon Brown provided a nice spark off the bench, hitting back-to-back three-pointers in the fourth which pushed a three-point lead up to nine, and ultimately provided enough separation for the Suns to improve their record to 17-20 on the season.

Raptors 83, Warriors 75: Golden State had a nine-point lead at the break, then scored just 11 points on 23 percent shooting in the third quarter, then 17 points on 33 percent shooting in the fourth. That all added up to a season-low 75 points and a loss. Toronto got 25 out of DeMar DeRozan and 18 from Leandro Barbosa.

Clippers 105, Rockets 103 (OT): It looked like the Rockets were going to win this until the Clippers ended the overtime on a 5-0 run. This is the third loss in a row for the Rockets and has to sting a little, especially for Kevin Martin who was ice cold down the stretch (he hit just one of his last nine shots). Houston did a good job keeping Blake Griffin in check (mostly that was Luis Scola) but the Clippers had the best player on the floor in Chris Paul who had 28.

Nuggets 99, Spurs 94: The key to this game was Denver was able to control the pace — they play at the fastest pace in the league, the Spurs like it slow and Denver won that battle of wills. They got a lot of those transition points in the first half and were able to hold off the Spurs late for the win. It was a fun point guard battle, Tony Parker had 25 and Ty Lawson had 22.

Celtics draft pick Marcus Thornton gets beer dumped on head during Australian game (video)

Marcus Thornton, Will Cherry
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The Celtics drafted Marcus Thornton with No. 45 pick in the 2015 NBA draft. That essentially entitled him to the required tender – a one-year contract offer, surely unguaranteed at the minimum.

Thornton rejected that, which is almost always a mistake.

Rejecting the tender is a favor to the drafting team, which gets to keep the player’s exclusive rights for a year. If Thornton tries to join the NBA now, he’s stuck negotiating with only the Celtics.

By accepting the tender, the player typically gets one of two outcomes. He either plays on that contract and draws an NBA salary or he gets waived. But even getting waived is better than rejecting the tender, because at least the player becomes a free agent and can negotiate with any team.

Players who reject the tender go to another league and play for less money. In Thornton’s case, that mean Australia.

How’s that going?

(Almost) never reject the required tender as a second-round pick.

Byron Scott says they just have to get Kobe Bryant better looks

Kobe Bryant, Joe Johnson, Byron Scott

Kobe Bryant is averaging 15.2 points a game at age 37. It’s just taking him 16.4 shots per game to get there. After his 1-of-14 shooting performance against the Warriors the other night — with too much isolation and too many plays run just for him — there has been a lot of talk about his shot. With reason, this is his shot chart so far this season.

Kobe shotchart season

So what do the Lakers’ do? Get Kobe to shoot less and get the ball in the hands of the young stars they supposed to be developing more? Nah.

They just need to get Kobe better looks, Scott told the Los Angeles Times.

“I know his mentality is that he can still play in this league,” Scott said. “And we feel the same way….

“Obviously he’s struggling right now with his shot, and I think everybody can see that,” Scott said. “So it’s trying to get him in better position to be able to have an opportunity to knock those shots down on a consistent basis. That’s No. 1.

“I don’t know if it’s his legs. I don’t think so. Again, our conversations are pretty blunt. … He tells me when he is tired and he tells me when he’s not tired. And the last few days, he said he feels great. So, I don’t think it’s a matter of him being tired or his legs being tired. I think it’s a matter of his timing being a little off.”

Yes, how could it be his legs? It’s not like he’s a 37-year-old with more than 55,000 NBA minutes played, and coming off an Achilles rupture and major knee surgery.

Honestly, I hope the Lakers and Kobe find a balance soon, because they have become just hard to watch. And I don’t want Kobe to go out this way.

Is Stephen Curry the Lionel Messi of the NBA?

Lionel Messi

Stephen Curry has reached the transcendent point in his career. We’re now talking about if he has passed LeBron James as the best player on the planet (he has), and we’re starting to think about his legacy as the perfect point guard for a modern NBA small-ball, space-and-pace offense. Plus he’s just a joy to watch play.

Does that make him the Lionel Messi of the NBA?

Curry was asked to compare himself to the Barcelona/Argentinian player who (arguably) is the greatest soccer player in the world, certainly as elite a finisher as that sport has ever seen. Here is his answer, via the Sydney Morning Herald of Australia. Is Curry the bigger international star now?

“I don’t know – it’s a chicken and egg kind of conversation,” Curry said while laughing.

“We both have a creative style, a feel when you are out on the pitch or the court. I’m trying to do some fancy things out there with both hands, making crossover moves and having a certain flair to my game and that’s definitely the style Messi has when he is out there in his matches.”

I love Curry, but Messi is the bigger international star.

But I love the comparison in terms of the must-watch nature of the two stars, the flair in their games, the sense that you have to keep an eye on them at all times because the spectacular could happen any time they touch the ball. When the ball comes to them, everybody leads forward in their chairs. That is the sign of a real superstar.