Baseline to Baseline recaps: The Bobcats and Pistons both won. Seriously.

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What you missed while playing a sport where you use stun guns on your opponents

Pistons 88, Lakers 85 (OT): This is why I can’t take the Lakers seriously as a contender — because after each of their big wins this year they turned around the next game and laid an egg (beat Boston lost to the Knicks, for example). Because they are 6-13 on the road. Because they don’t take care of business like a contender.

Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol combined for 50 points on 21-of-32 shooting plus had 24 rebounds (Bynum had 30 of those points and was the best player on the floor all night). So of course, those two didn’t touch the ball down the stretch of a close game. Instead the Lakers relied on Kobe Bryant and a perimeter game where they shot 3-of-22 all night. Bryant made the big shot to send the game to overtime because he was able to go right and get to his favorite spot near the elbow, but he was 8-of-26 shooting for 22 points on the night.

A play before Kobe sent it to overtime Rodney Stuckey hit a big three to give the Pistons the lead — a shot he might well have hit anyway because he was hot (he had 34 points on the night — 17 in the fourth quarter and overtime) but when Metta World Peace didn’t even try to rotate out Stuckey got to set his feet and there was no doubt that was going down. It’s those kinds of things, those kinds of nights for the Lakers that makes me question them.

Charlotte 100, Orlando 84: The Bobcats were down 20 early in the second quarter and coach Paul Silas was ejected just before the half, so this was just going to be another routine Bobcats loss, right? Wrong.

You can’t stop Corey Maggette… well, at least nobody could on Tuesday as he had 10 points during the Bobcats fourth-quarter run and finished with 29 total. Bismack Biyombo outplayed Dwight Howard for long stretches. Orlando shot just 24 percent in that fourth quarter. Magic starters not named Howard shot 30.2 percent. It was just a disastrous performance by the Magic combined with about as well as the Bobcats can play.

Dallas 95, Knicks 85: I thought if Carmelo Anthony got roasted by the New York media because of fit issues around Jeremy Lin that it would be unfair. However, if he gets roasted for this performance — 2-of-12 shooting and an inbounds play where he jaws with Shawn Marion and throws it away to the Mavs — I can see it. But he shouldn’t take all the blame, the Knicks played about 7 minutes of inspired ball all night — a 15-0 fourth quarter run that made it close. Dirk Nowitzki was the closer with 11 of his 28 points in the fourth quarter. Jeremy Lin had 14 points on 13 shots with 7 assists but was pedestrian on the night.

Miami 100, Nets 78: Miami is very, very good. The Nets are very, very bad. Not sure there is anything else we need to say, other than the Heat avoided the upsets the Lakers and Magic could not. This was over by half, so Dwyane Wade got to rest his ankle.

Celtics 97, Rockets 92 (OT): There are no easy wins over the Rockets — they make you work for everything — but this didn’t have to go to overtime if Rajon Rondo had hit the game-sealing layup with three seconds left. But he missed, Goran Dragic knocked down the shot and this one went the extra distance. Paul Pierce — the only Celtics who attacked on offense all night — had seven of his 30 in the overtime and Boston got the win. Ray Allen had 21 on the night.

Hawks 101, Pacers 96: It is test week for the Pacers and they are 0-2 now, with losses to Chicago and Atlanta. Miami and Orlando are up next. Josh Smith led Orlando with 27 points and the guy playing on revenge after being snubbed for the All-Star team did it on a night Zaza Pachulia outplayed All-Star Roy Hibbert in the fourth quarter. In fact, the Hawks won in the fourth largely thanks to a Tracy McGrady pick-and-roll play (he had six fourth quarter assists) that set up Pachulia and Jannero Pargo (11 points in the fourth quarter). If the Pacers can’t stop that combo they are in trouble.

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?

Report: Nerlens Noel hires Rich Paul as agent, looking for big deal from Mavericks

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It’s been a rough year for restricted free agents (and plenty of unrestricted ones). After NBA teams spent like drunken sailors on shore leave last summer, this time around — with the cap not rising as much as had been expected — the market got tight quickly, and few questionable contracts were handed out. A year ago the Brooklyn Nets were making the Miami Heat pay big to retain Tyler Johnson and the Trail Blazers pay big to keep Allen Crabbe. This year teams were not biting the same way on restricted free agents.

Which left guys like Nerlens Noel, who expected to be maxed out by the Mavericks (or someone), still looking for a deal. Noel was frustrated enough to switch agents, picking up Rich Paul of Klutch Sports, according to Michael Scotto of Basketball Insiders.

Paul is LeBron James‘ agent, and in recent years has done well getting Tristan Thompson and Eric Bledsoe good contracts as extensions to their rookie deals. In both cases, he showed a fearlessness in holding out longer and being willing to push the envelope. That had to appeal to Noel.

But it doesn’t change the underlying dynamics at play — and not just with Noel. Paul also represents restricted free agents this summer Shabazz Muhammad — who has yet to sign a deal — and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who had to take a one-year deal with the Lakers for $18 million (well below his max). Throw in Noel’s injury history, and teams were not eager to jump in with a big offer for the athletic big man.

At this point, no team has the money to offer Noel a max contract right now — the Bulls have the most available money at $17.3 million, the Sixers and Suns have about $15 million and $14 million. Noel’s max is $24.7 million a year. Dallas is playing hardball because they can — without another offer on the table, Noel’s only real threat is to sign the qualifying offer (about $6 million) and play the season for that, then become an unrestricted free agent next summer. That’s possible, but a guy with Noe’s history of injuries may want to be careful betting on himself like that.

With Paul in the negotiations, expect them to drag out. That’s about the only sure thing.