Philadelphia 76ers v New York Knicks

Baseline to Baseline recaps: What kind of team are the Knicks?

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What you missed while thinking if you are going to have two wives you may want to get off Facebook….

Lakers 97, Celtics 94: This rematch of a couple recent finals — which looked like those finals if you squinted really hard — was our game of the day.

Sixers 106, Knicks 94: How this game would end was forshadowed in the first quarter, when Andre Iguodala and the 76ers had fast break opportunities where Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire never ran back over half court. There is a lack of commitment to doing the right things — playing defense, moving the ball, so many more — and the Knicks are playing individual ball. Jeremy Lin is not playing well and is not able to organize these egos. There is a lack of passion.

Knicks management has a serious question to ask itself — what kind of team are they trying to build? Right now this is not a team built to run Mike D’Antoni’s system. They haven’t ever really tried to build him that team, they have just tried to collect stars. They need to make a commitment to giving him a roster he can play his style with or get a new coach. What they are doing now clearly isn’t working.

On the other side of the court… Remember a week or so ago when we thought Philly could lose their grip on the Atlantic Division. Yea, not so much. With this win the 76ers are clearly in control of the division (and avoiding the Heat or Bulls in the first round of the playoffs). Lou Williams had 28 and Evan Turner 24 for the Sixers.

Warriors 97, Clippers 93: When the Clippers offense is clicking they are a force of nature. But right now it only happens in spurts — like the 15-2 run in the fourth quarter that made you think this would be a comeback win for them. But they couldn’t maintain it and they are never able to play consistently good defense to get the win. That’s what will haunt them in the playoffs. Golden State did play pretty good defense, they were the more aggressive team all night, and while not as explosive on offense they shot the ball very well all night long (51.4 percent overall and 8-of-15 from three). Monta Ellis had 21 for the Warriors. Blake Griffin had a fantastic second half and finished with 27, Chris Paul was the best player on the floor and had 23 even with a mask.

Bucks 105, Raptors 99: Toronto led by 13 in the second quarter and you thought maybe they had something here with Andrea Bargnani back… but if you’ve watched Raptors games this season you know that’s not how it works. Milwaukee closed the gap in the third when Ersan Ilyasova scored 11 of his team-best 31, then late in the fourth the Bucks went on a 13-4 run to close it out. Toronto banked on too much DeMar DeRozan late and while he had 21 points in the game their offense didn’t flow late.

Cavaliers 118, Rockets 107: The Cavaliers bench went on a 12-0 run early in the fourth to give the Cavaliers the lead, then Kyrie Irving — your clear rookie of the year now — came in and scored 16 of his 21 in the second half of the fourth to seal the win. Antawn Jamison had 28 for Cleveland. Luis Scola had 30 for Houston, but that doesn’t mean the Lakers want to trade Pau Gasol for him.

Magic 107, Pacers 94: The score does not do justice to what a blowout this was — the Pacers were never in this game after a few minutes. It was vintage Magic, with Dwight Howard scoring 30 and grabbing 13 boards while the Magic knocked down 37 percent of their three pointers. The Pacers were 1-of-12 from three. Paul George had 22 to lead Indianapolis

Grizzlies 94, Nuggets 91: Memphis, playing on the second night of a back-to-back, just seemed a little bit better at everything. The Grizzlies got much better production out of their role players. And then down three at the end and needing a big shot to tie, George Karl went Phil Jackson and didn’t call a time out, rather he let his team just play it out. The result was a disorganized mess. Next time, advance the ball with a time out and set up a play.

Hawks 106, Kings 99: DeMarcus Cousins and Josh Smith both scored 28 points and really put on a show. But Smith put on a more rounded one and had a lot more help — Joe Johnson had 21 and seven Hawks scored in double digits. When the Hawks cranked up the defensive intensity in the second half it was too much for the Kings.

Celtics’ Al Horford blows game-winning layup against Rockets (video)

al horford
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images
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The Celtics couldn’t have asked for a much better look on their final possession, but Al Horford missed this layup to give the Rockets a 107-106 win last night.

Maybe Isaiah Thomas should have gone to the line for getting pushed over by Montrezl Harrell, but I’m not 100% sure Harrell should’ve been called for a foul. Besides, that Thomas screen sprung Horford for the layup. I’d take my chances with that barely contested close-range shot.

Michael Beasley, Davis Bertans ejected from Bucks/Spurs for being third/fourth into altercation

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This should have been the usual NBA altercation — two guys jawing with nothing physical happening because teammates step in, everyone does their posturing, and we move along. Monday night in the Spurs eventual win over the Bucks, Greg Monroe and Dewayne Dedmon got tangled up going for a rebound, Dedmon threw a little elbow, Monroe pushed him off, and the two started the well choreographed NBA dance.

Then San Antonio’s Davis Bertans came in and shoved Monroe.

Followed by Milwaukee’s Michael Beasley coming in and shoved Bertans.

Both Beasley and Bertans were ejected for escalating the situation, and you can expect the league will hit both with a fine for being the third/fourth men in.

Three things we learned Monday: Don’t forget, the Warriors have Klay Thompson, too

Golden State Warriors' Klay Thompson follows through on a shot during the third quarter of an NBA basketball game against the Indiana Pacers on Monday, Dec. 5, 2016, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
Associated Press
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What kind of night was it in the NBA? Russell Westbrook had his sixth straight triple-double, and everyone took it in stride like that happens as often as Family Guy reruns. Anyway, these are the three things we decided to feature instead.

1) Oh yeah, don’t forget the Golden State Warriors have Klay Thompson, too. It’s just not fair. The Indiana Pacers have not played good defense this season, they were on the second night of a back-to-back having beaten the Clippers, and they got rewarded for all this by having to face the Golden State Warriors. All that said, the Pacers did hold Stephen Curry to just 13 points, and Kevin Durant was well below his average with just 20 points.

Oh, but the Warriors still have Klay Thompson.

Klay was peeling off screens (15 possessions) and getting his chance on spot ups (eight), but once he got going it didn’t matter the Pacers put Paul George on him and defended fairly well — Thompson was 11-of-14 on contested jumpers (via NBA.com). He was hitting from almost everywhere on the court.

klay shotchart 2

The Warriors offense is a fearsome machine.

2) Cleveland would like to remind Toronto — and everyone else — they are the best team in the East.
The Cavaliers were on a three-game losing streak and had been playing in a malaise. The Toronto Raptors had been the hottest team in the NBA over the past couple of weeks. So when the top two teams in the East met Monday…

Cleveland won, 116-112, but it felt more comfortable than that suggests. They did it in Toronto. The Cavaliers were not sharp defensively in the first half but hung around thanks to 20 points from Kevin Love (he finished with 28), then in the third quarter the Cavs defended like champions holding Toronto to 20 points on 34.8 percent shooting. Cleveland never pulled away to make it a blowout, but they were in control. LeBron James had 34 points, eight rebounds, and seven assists, Kyrie Irving pitched in 24.

DeMar DeRozan (31 points, and carried the team for stretches) and Kyle Lowry (24) played well, but they did not have enough help. Particularly from their starting front line.

If Toronto is going to threaten Cleveland come the playoffs, Raptors GM Massi Ujiri is going to have to make a move. This team simply does not have the talent to beat Cleveland four out of seven as currently constructed. Monday was simply a reminder of the pecking order in the East when Cleveland cares about the game.

3) Jamal Murray went into Joel Embiid’s building and dropped an impressive 22, just to make an early Rookie of Year statement. It’s still too early to have a serious discussion of postseason awards. To me, any discussion before we get to the season’s halfway point is premature. Not that being premature ever stopped us, just providing some context.

Joel Embiid became the early Rookie of the Year leader with his performance this season, but Jamaal Murray won the Western Conference Rookie of the Month award for November because the Denver Nuggets’ reserve guard has shown better handles than we expected, and that’s given him room to get off the shot we knew he had.

Monday night, Murray went into Philly and dropped 22, hitting seemingly everything.

While Denver big man Jusuf Nurkic made things difficult for Embiid, who finished with 16 points on 15 shots.

This is just one game out of 82, it does not define a ROY race that is far too early to talk about seriously (especially this award, which often goes to the rookie who gets hot and more run in the second half of the season), but Murray is making his case for serious consideration. And he’s earned that thought.

James Harden’s 37 helps Rockets over Celtics 107-106

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HOUSTON (AP) — Houston’s coaching staff emphasized to the players that Boston led the league in fourth-quarter scoring.

So when they Rockets found themselves down by six entering the final frame they knew they’d have step things up to escape with a win.

Harden made sure they did that, scoring 13 of his 37 points in the fourth before Al Horford missed a shot just before the buzzer to allow the Rockets to hold on for a 107-106 victory Monday night.

“The fourth quarter we just picked up … we just wanted to lock in and get stops and offensively be aggressive,” Harden said.

The game was tied before Harden scored five straight points to make it 107-102 with less than a minute remaining. Avery Bradley made a jump shot and Harden received a flagrant 1 foul for elbowing Marcus Smart in the face. Smart made both free throws before Isaiah Thomas missed a layup.

But Houston knocked the ball out of bounds with 5.2 seconds left, giving Boston one last chance. Horford drove into the lane, but his shot rolled off the rim and Harden grabbed it to secure the victory.

“I felt good when I shot it, but it just didn’t go down,” Horford said.

Horford had 21 points and Thomas added 20 for the Celtics, who had won two straight.

It was the ninth 30-point game this season for Harden, who also had eight assists and seven rebounds.

An 8-2 run by Houston, powered by a pair of 3-pointers by Eric Gordon, cut Boston’s lead to one with about 8 1/2 minutes left. Smart made a 3-pointer for the first of seven straight points for the Celtics that made it 96-88. Smart also had a big defensive play in that stretch when he blocked a one-handed dunk attempt by Montrezl Harrell.

Houston scored eight straight points, topped off with a dunk from Harrell, to take a 102-100 lead with about 3 1/2 minutes left.

Harden raved about Harrell’s work.

“You see how he’s flying around everywhere,” Harden said. “He does a lot of different things, some things that don’t show up on the stat sheet that helped contribute to this win.”

The Celtics trailed by 12 early in the third quarter before using a 15-2 spurt to take a 68-67 lead with about 7 minutes left in the quarter. Boston made three 3-pointers in that span, capped by one from Horford. Houston missed five shots, including four 3s, and had two turnovers to help the Celtics close the gap.

“We guarded at a different level and our first unit played pretty well in the third,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. “In one stretch in the fourth we turned the ball over and that was hurtful.”

The Rockets were up by three points with 2 minutes left in the first half before Smart fouled Harden on a 3-point attempt and he made all three free throws. Houston had extended the lead to seven when Smart again fouled Harden on a 3-point try and his three free throws made it 58-48 at halftime.

TIP-INS

Celtics: James Young missed the game with an illness. … Thomas received a technical for arguing a call at the end of the first half. … Bradley finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds. … Smart had 13 points.

Rockets: Made 12 3-pointers to extend their NBA record of consecutive games with at least 10 3-pointers to 20. … Trevor Ariza started despite dealing with back spasms and had 15 points and eight rebounds. … Gordon finished with 19 points and made four 3-pointers to give him six straight games with at least four 3s.

PERFECT

Harden tied a franchise record for most free throws without a miss by making all 18 of his attempts on Monday night. Kevin Martin also went 18 for 18 on March 20, 2011 against Utah. He lamented committing the offensive foul on Smart late instead of drawing the foul and getting a chance to go to the line and set the record.

“Of course I wanted two free throws at the end of the game instead of a flagrant, but we won,” he said. “That’s all that matters.”

LATE PUSH

The Rockets have developed a knack for scoring late. After managing just 13 points in the fourth quarter of a 105-103 loss to Oklahoma City on Nov. 16 the Rockets have picked things up, averaging 27.9 fourth-quarter points in the last 10 games.

THEY SAID IT

Stevens on Harden: “Harden is a really good player. I don’t know what else to say. We could go through and dissect every play, but overall he is just a really good player.”