Caron Butler

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.

 

Watch Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant trade shots Saturday night

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Kevin Durant won the one-on-one battle — he dropped 40 points on the Golden State Warriors, while Stephen Curry had “just” 26 and needed 26 shots to get there (but did add 10 assists).

But the Warriors built up a lead thanks to their depth and were able to withstand a late Thunder run to get the win.

Enjoy watching Curry and Durant putting on a show Saturday night in the Bay Area.

Nerlens Noel uses length for ridiculous reverse jam

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Nerlens Noel‘s 7’4″ wingspan can come in handy at times.

Such as when driving on Brook Lopez, and getting forced under the basket, he can just reach around the Nets’ center for the impressive dunk.

Noel finished the game with 18 points, Jahlil Okafor had 22, and the Sixers picked up a win against the Nets 103-98.

Kobe Bryant’s 25 points not enough to upset Spurs

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SAN ANTONIO (AP) — The San Antonio Spurs have watched helplessly as Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant has tormented them for the better part of the past two decades.

Bryant did so again in his final appearance in San Antonio, but the Spurs were able to enjoy this one.

LaMarcus Aldridge scored 26 points and the San Antonio Spurs overcame a throwback performance by Bryant to beat the Los Angeles Lakers 106-102 on Saturday night to remain unbeaten at home.

“I thought it was great,” San Antonio point guard Tony Parker said. “It was a great game, fans were into it. It felt a little bit like the old days in the playoffs, Spurs and the Lakers.”

Kawhi Leonard added 20 points and 13 rebounds to help the Spurs win their 28th straight home game to open the season. The Spurs’ 37th straight home victory dating back to last season was surprisingly difficult.

Bryant had 16 of his 25 points in the third quarter, going 3 for 6 on 3-pointers in guiding the Lakers to an 81-79 lead entering the fourth.

“I watched him growing up,” said Lakers guard and San Antonio native Jordan Clarkson, who finished with 21 points and four assists. “I watched him kill the Spurs.”

San Antonio has trailed for only two minutes in the fourth quarter at home this season, but the Lakers led for all but 23 seconds in the opening seven minutes of the period.

Bryant finished 9 for 28 from the field, but was 7 for 18 in a dynamic second half that electrified a pro-Bryant crowd.

“It’s like watching Michael (Jordan),” San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said. “I was just watching. It was great. It was great. We made some mistakes. He took advantage of it. He’s fantastic.”

After rising to drain a 3-pointer with Leonard squarely in his face contesting the attempt, Bryant turned to an injured Tim Duncan on the bench and shrugged his shoulders.

“He was like, `No way,’ and I was like `Dude,’ ” Bryant said. “What could I do? I miss the easy ones and make some B.S. like that. I don’t even know what to tell you. It was Tim’s version of a yell, so it was a strong whisper.”

The Lakers trailed 101-99 lead after trading 3-pointers following Bryant’s improbable shot, but the Spurs’ were able to hold Los Angeles to just three points in the final 2 minutes.

“Missed defensive assignments,” said Lakers guard D'Angelo Russell, who had 12 points. “They executed their offense to perfection. We were young and that’s an excuse I could give you.”

Bryant had a sore right shoulder, but he was not about to miss one last game against his fiercest rivals. He has faced the Spurs 90 times in the regular season and postseason, his most against any opponent.

TIP-INS

Lakers: The Spurs honored Bryant with a 3-minute video. The Spurs’ Big Three of Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili all paid tribute to Bryant’s competitiveness along with San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich. Bryant walked over to the Spurs’ bench prior to tipoff and hugged Popovich, sharing a few words with San Antonio’s longtime coach.

Spurs: San Antonio’s 12-game lead in the Southwest is the largest ever since the division was formed in 2004-2005. … In addition to Duncan and Ginobili, the Spurs were also without Matt Bonner. The reserve forward suffered a left calf strain Friday against Dallas, which was just his 20th game of the season. … Pop star Selena Gomez sat courtside, wearing a Tony Parker jersey.

 

Spurs honor Kobe Bryant in his last game in San Antonio (VIDEO)

LOS ANGELES - MARCH 30:  Kobe Bryant #8 of the Los Angeles Lakers stands next to Tim Duncan #21 of the San Antonio Spurs on March 30, 2006 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.  The Spurs won 96-85. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
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The Kobe Bryant farewell tour has gone all around the NBA, but some stops are more emotional than others. His final trip to San Antonio certainly qualifies — the Spurs and Lakers have played each other in the playoffs eight times in his career, including twice in the Western Conference Finals (the Lakers won both times). The only player who has rivaled Bryant’s longevity is Tim Duncan, and the Lakers and Spurs were the two most dominant teams of the 2000s, winning nine of the 12 championships from 1999 to 2010 between them.

So, of course, the Spurs had an elaborate tribute video planned for Bryant. The video ran two and a half minutes and featured narration from Gregg Popovich, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili. Watch it below: