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.

 

Thunder give P.J. Dozier No. 35, Kevin Durant’s old number

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The Thunder signed P.J. Dozier, who went undrafted out of South Carolina, to a seemingly innocuous two-way contract.

Then, they let him pick No. 35 – previously worn by Kevin Durant.

Erik Horne of The Oklahoman:

Honoring Reggie Lewis seems like a valid reason for Dozier, who probably didn’t want to get swept into what has become a minor controversy.

Personally, I don’t mind a player wearing any unretired number. Even numbers that will clearly be retired can be fair game until the jersey goes into the rafters. This is a non-issue to me.

But people care about this stuff. Many see it as a sign of disrespect to Durant, who left Oklahoma City on bad terms when signing with the Warriors. The Thunder lose deniability about not caring, considering they told Dion Waiters he couldn’t wear No. 13, which was previously worn by James Harden.

Will Oklahoma City eventually retire Durant’s No. 35? He spent a fantastic eight years there (and another season with the Seattle SuperSonics before they moved). Time will ease the bitterness of his exit. It’s certainly possible he’s honored that way.

In the meantime, let Dozier wear No. 35 in peace. It should have nothing to do with Durant.

Cornrowed Joel Embiid calls minute limit f—ing BS

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76ers center Joel Embiid made clear yesterday he disliked the minute restriction placed on him, which Philadelphia coach Brett Brown said would keep Embiid below 20 minutes per game.

Today, sporting a new hairstyle, Embiid upped the rhetoric.

Embiid, via Jessica Camerato of NBC Sports Philadelphia:

“That’s f—ing BS,” he said after practice Tuesday. “I wish I was playing more minutes. I think I’m ready for more than I don’t know whatever number they have.”

“I think the concept of minute restrictions is kind of complicated,” Embiid said. “I don’t think there should ever be minute restrictions. I think it should always be about how my body feels and how it’s reacting.”

“They know that I’m frustrated, but once again you’ve got to trust the doctors,” Embiid said. “They care about me. It’s all about the long-term view.”

“Like I always say,” he said, “you’ve got to trust the process.”

We’ve been here before – an injury-prone Philadelphia center rocking cornrows (at least Embiid went all the way with them) and Embiid lashing out at his minute limit.

Embiid is incredibly competitive, and he can’t just turn it off. It’s an attribute that contributes to his on-court excellence.

Embiid appears to have just enough trust-the-process perspective here, but Brown will also likely have his hands full keeping Embiid from getting too frustrated throughout the season.

At least Embiid has his contract extension and isn’t restless to get on the court and earn his big payday.

LeBron James game-time decision for Cavaliers-Celtics opener

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INDEPENDENCE, Ohio (AP) — LeBron James may miss Cleveland’s opener Tuesday night against Boston because of a sprained left ankle.

James injured his ankle in practice on Sept. 27 and played in just one exhibition game. He participated in the team’s morning shootaround, and a team spokesman said it will be a game-time decision whether he faces the Celtics. James is officially listed as questionable.

James took some outside shots but did very little lateral movement when the media was permitted to watch the Cavs work out.

It’s hard to imagine James missing the first opener of his career and a chance to play against former teammate Kyrie Irving, who was traded this summer to Boston after telling Cleveland owner Dan Gilbert that he wanted out. James and Irving had a sometimes rocky relationship during three seasons together, but they made it to three straight NBA Finals and won the title in 2016.

 

Why did Kyrie Irving request trade from Cavaliers? ‘I will never pinpoint anything, because that’s not what real grownups do’

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Kyrie Irving said he requested a trade from the Cavaliers because he wanted to be happy and maximize his potential.

But why did he feel that couldn’t happen in Cleveland?

Irving hasn’t come close to directly answering that question, saying things like, “My intent, like I said, was for my best intentions.” Returning to Cleveland with the Celtics, Irving was again pressed to explain.

Irving, via MassLive:

Going forward, I kind of wanted to put that to rest in terms of everyone figuring out or trying to figure out and dive in and continue to dive into a narrative that they have no idea about and that probably will never, ever be divulged, because it’s not important. This was literally just a decision I wanted to make solely based on my happiness and pushing my career forward. I don’t want to pinpoint anything. I will never pinpoint anything, because that’s not what real grownups do. They continue to move on with their life and and continue to progress, and that’s what I’m going to continue to do.

Perhaps, Irving is just following Dwyane Wade‘s advice and taking the high road. But that won’t ease our collective curiosity. Fans will continue to speculate about why Irving wanted out, and reporters will continue to dig into it. Reporting and speculation have both centered on LeBron James.

If Irving eventually wants to set the record straight – and he doesn’t sound interested, lending credence to the theory he wanted to leave LeBron behind – everyone will be all ears.