New Jersey Nets v Atlanta Hawks

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

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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.

NBA: Kenneth Faried got away with foul on decisive basket in Nuggets’ win over Bulls

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The Bulls’ biggest loss Friday was Jimmy Butler to injury. His absence certainly contributed to a loss to the Timberwolves the following night.

But Chicago also lost to the Nuggets on Friday, and perhaps that wouldn’t have happened if the game were called correctly down the stretch.

With Denver up two points and 21.1 seconds remaining, Kenneth Faried offensively rebounded a free throw and scored. The Bulls then intentionally fouled down the stretch, and Faried and Danilo Gallinari added a few free throws in the Nuggets’ 115-110 win.

One problem: Faried should’ve been called for offensively fouling Taj Gibson on the key putback, according to the NBA’s Last Two Minute Report:

Faried (DEN) extends his arm into Gibson (CHI) and dislodges him, affecting his ability to retrieve the rebound.

This was a huge swing. Instead of Taj Gibson – a 69% career free-throw shooter – going to the line for two attempts with Chicago down two points, Faried put the Nuggets up four. Even if Gibson split at the line, the Bulls would have been in significantly better shape.

As usual, we can’t know what would’ve happened if this call were made correctly. But it significantly set back Chicago.

NBA considering if jump-on-back foul should be flagrant foul

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The video above is an intentional foul — Chris Paul jumped on the back of Dwight Howard. The same thing has happened to Andre Drummond.

Is it a flagrant foul?

The Boston Celtics tweeted this out on Sunday.

The NBA was quick to let people know that this is just something under consideration — there has been no change in the rules. This may well be where the league is headed, but it’s not there yet.

The NBA defines a flagrant foul as “unnecessary contact committed by a player against an opponent.” To me, leaping on a player’s back like that qualifies. (A flagrant two foul is “unnecessary and excessive contact” and leads to an ejection; this is not that.)

Jared Dudley — one of the more vocal players on union issues — added a good point.

Consider this part of the coming changes on the intentional fouling rules period. But this one tweak could come much faster.

NBA: Foul on Cavaliers that sparked Celtics’ comeback called in error

Cleveland Cavaliers' J.R. Smith makes a move on Boston Celtics' Evan Turner (11) during the third quarter of a NBA basketball game in Boston Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2015. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
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The Cavaliers were in great shape against the Celtics on Friday, leading by four points with seven seconds left.

Then, it all went so wrong for Cleveland.

J.R. Smith was called for fouling Evan Turner on a made layup, cutting the margin to two points. Turner missed the free throw, but the ball went out of bounds off the Cavs. Then, Avery Bradley made a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to give Boston the win.

Rewind, though, and an incorrect call drove the sequence, according to the NBA.

Smith shouldn’t have been called for fouling Turner, per the Last Two Minute Report:

Smith (CLE) makes incidental contact with Turner’s (BOS) body as he attempts the layup.

If this were officiated correctly, the Cavs would’ve had the ball and a two-point lead with 5.9 seconds left. That’s not a lock to win – they’d still have to inbound the ball and make their free throws – but it’s close.

Cleveland is definitely entitled to feel the refs wronged them out of a victory.

Report: Kevin Durant has “done his due diligence on the Bay Area”

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Kevin Durant has not made up his mind about what he will do as a free agent this summer. Until his playoff run ends, whenever that may be for the Thunder, his focus will be on bringing a title to Oklahoma City.

But even he admits he can’t help but think about free agency a little.

The buzz around the league is Golden State is at the front of the line if Durant decides to leave OKC, and he has done some research, reports Marc Spears of Yahoo Sports.

The Warriors play in front of an intimidating Oracle Arena crowd and are expected to debut a new San Francisco arena in 2019. Durant has quietly done his due diligence on the Bay Area, too, sources told Yahoo Sports.

His people — specifically agent Rich Kleiman and personal manager Charlie Bell — would be stupid not to have done some research on not only Golden State but on every other team he might consider: Houston, Miami, Washington, both teams in Los Angeles, the Knicks, and on down the line. Golden State, playing with Stephen Curry, certainly would have its attractions.

I’m still in the camp that Durant signs a 1+1 deal to stay in Oklahoma City (meaning he can opt out after one more season, in 2017), and it’s all about the cash. While he could get 30 percent of a $90 million cap this summer (about $27 million a season to start), with one more year of service in 2017 Durant could get 35 percent of $108 million ($37.8 million to start). That’s a lot of cash. Plus he gets one more chance at a ring with Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka, who both are 2017 free agents.

But you can be sure whatever Durant decides, it will be well researched and thought out. And he’s not going to announce it in a live special on ESPN.