Baseline to Baseline recaps: Clippers collapse leads to a lot of talk

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What you missed while watching your NCAA bracket go up in flames….

Suns 91, Clippers 87: Phoenix was on the second night of a back-to-back-to-back so coach Alvin Gentry decided to rest Grant Hill and Steve Nash — and the Suns still rallied from 12 back in the fourth quarter to win. The Suns have some fight in them, they are just 2.5 games back of the last playoff spot in the West and they want it. Shannon Brown felt at home in Staples and had seven fourth quarter points (21 for the game) and led the Suns 12-4 run to close out the contest and get the win.

The Clippers end of game execution has been terrible over the last month or so. They struggle to get off good shots when the defensive intensity picks up and teams try to take away their first option on the pick-and-roll. Chris Paul was particularly passive in this game (as evidenced by his one free throw all night) and when he did try to attack late he spun into Sebastian Telfair who made the steal. The Clippers whole fourth quarter was like that.

After the game, the Clippers had a team meeting that lasted more than an hour. I’m sure that solved everything.

Wizards 99, Hornets 89: The Wizards pulled away in the fourth quarter with a 17-2 run — and Roger Mason had 14 in the fourth quarter. John Wall had 26 points and 12 assists and was the best player on the floor. For a change the Wizards did a good job spacing the floor and moving the ball. Part of that may be that the Hornets defense is terrible. Actually that may be a lot of it.

Mavericks 101, Bobcats 96: Dallas has struggled in recent weeks and they were behind in this one by double digits after a 25-6 run by the Bobcats in the second quarter. But the Mavericks have a lot of talent and the Bobcats defense can politely be called “scattered” and Dallas made its own push to get the lead back, then a 20-7 fourth quarter sealed it (although the Bobcats made it close late). Dirk Nowitzki had 27 for Dallas, Corey Maggette led the Bobcats with 21.

Jazz 111, Timberwolves 105 (OT): Utah led most of this game but a 19-7 run to close it out by the Timberwolves sent this one to overtime. An overtime that was almost averted but Paul Millsap missed a layup at the end of regulation. In the overtime an 8-0 run by the Jazz got them the win. Gordon Hayward had 26 to lead six Jazz players who scored in double figures. Kevin Love had 25 points and 16 boards because he is Kevin Love.

Thunder 103, Nuggets 90: Oklahoma City started out the second half on an 8-0 run, held the Nuggets to 21 percent shooting in the third, pulled away and never looked back for a nice win. But the Nuggets were without JaVale McGee who didn’t get to town yet, he would have changed everything. Right. The big news for the Thunder is they got Thabo Sefolosha back, and while he just played 12 minutes this can return the Thunder to their normal rotations soon.

 

Kobe Bryant’s “Musecage” is like if Sesame Street had an NBA film room (VIDEO)

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Kobe Bryant’s video “Musecage” aired on ESPN on Sunday, and it’s one of the craziest things I’ve watched on an NBA broadcast. That includes watching Kobe’s own alley-oop to Shaquille O’Neal in Game 7 of the 2000 Western Conference Finals.

Someone on Twitter called it a “drug-fueled Muppet nightmare” but that’s selling short how remarkable the video was. In it, Kobe delivered a message about finding motivation as a young basketball player alongside a talking “Lil’ Mamba” puppet.

But here’s where it gets good: this video was made true to Kobe’s own person. Despite the happy, glockenspiel-laden background music with puppet accompaniment, Kobe’s message in “Musecage” was to use the dark part of your psyche as motivation to conquer your enemies.

I’m dead serious.


It doesn’t get any more Kobe than that.

The first video ends with Kobe’s advice to Lil’ Mamba, who goes off to become strong by using the dark musings as his fuel. Meanwhile, the second video talks about — and I’m not kidding — tactics James Harden and Russell Westbrook use to defeat their opponents in the pick-and-roll.

It’s like if Sesame Street was also a film room session.

Needless to say, all 10 minutes of Musecage are incredible. I don’t mean that in any sarcastic way, either. Bryant has been working on his Canvas series for a while, and his message shines true to the person we’ve known for the last two decades.

Use your happy feelings to push yourself? No! Use self-doubt as a motivator to Jawface your way through to six championship rings.

He debuted the original episode on Christmas Day, and it too had a kid-friendly feel.

I literally cannot wait for the next edition in this series.

Mark Cuban on Blake Griffin’s fall vs. JJ Barea: “We sent flowers to his family, condolences”

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The Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Clippers got into a bit of a scuffle the other night during their game. Clippers big man Blake Griffn and Mavericks PG JJ Barea tussled, with Barea earning a Flagrant 2 and an ejection for putting his hands on Griffin’s neck and pushing him to the ground.

It really was a sight to see, whether Griffin flopped or not.

Meanwhile, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban was asked about the incident and responded with some heavy sarcasm that feels par for the course.

Via Twitter:

Griffin does have a bit of a reputation for acting and flopping, and Barea is hilariously undersized compared to him. Then again, the throat is a vulnerable area. Who knows if the fall was real or fake?

I’m just glad Cuban has a sense of humor about it.

Watch Derrick Rose leave Patty Mills standing still with eurostep, huge dunk

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New York Knicks point guard Derrick Rose still has some explosivity left in his legs. Against the San Antonio Spurs on Saturday night, the former MVP left Spurs guard Patty Mills standing still on a thunderous dunk.

The play came in the fourth quarter with Rose on the break and Mills the only Spurs player defending the basket. Rose had a full head of steam, and it appeared Mills was going to for the charge call.

Rose then craftily eurostepped his way around Mills, leading to the jam.

San Antonio beat New York, 106-98.

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich on resting players: “It’s complicated … kind of like healthcare”

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San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, along with LeBron James, has been at the center of the discussion about resting players in the NBA. The legendary coach has been credited with the idea to rest star players en masse during the season to save them for the playoffs. Meanwhile, after the Cavaliers sat LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love during a primetime matchup on ESPN, the team received a call from the league.

Commissioner Adam Silver has been active in talking about the issue as of late, and has even issued a memo to team owners to be considerate about resting players.

Popovich, meanwhile, thinks the issue isn’t quite as easy to clear up. Speaking with ESPN, the Spurs coach noted that each party in an NBA team has a different role and goal, and that sometimes those goals pull opposite each other.

Additionally, Popovich said asking owners to step in to make a decision over a coach or GM could be a serious issue.

Via ESPN:

But we all have different roles, different jobs, and different goals. We can’t satisfy everybody. But I think that every owner’s gonna be different. I think it’s a slippery slope, and makes it difficult to keep trust, and camaraderie to the degree that I think you have to have to be successful in this league if owners get too involved in what coaches and GMs are doing.”

“I think keeping owners informed about what’s going on is mandatory, and having input is fine,” Popovich said. “But I think there has to be an understanding that coaches and GMs have brains also, and we know who pays the bills. It’s a slippery slope, I think, if owners got too involved in that process. That trust relationship in those three areas is really important in creating a culture and making something that can be long-lasting.

What Popovich is basically pointing out is that GMs and coaches are hired to be the basketball minds for a reason. Having owners meddle in day-to-day decisions like resting players could muddy that relationship.

The San Antonio coach did concede that the best idea might be to rest players when they are at home, in front of home crowds who are more likely to have already seen their top players that season simply due to repetition. But Popovich isn’t in favor of broad, sweeping mandates on resting players from the league since that wouldn’t always be prudent.

“That’s why no basic rule has been written, so to speak,” said Popovich. “Because you can’t write a rule that covers everything. It’s complicated … kind of like healthcare.”