Baseline to Baseline recaps: Bosh looks good in Heat victory

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What you missed while thinking a new study proves your children are brilliant….

Heat 91, Magic 81: Everybody talks about the big man the Heat could use. We often underestimate Chris Bosh — he had 23 points on 13 shots. Dwyane Wade owned the fourth quarter with 14 of his 31 coming then, when the Heat went on a 14-4 run to take control. The Heat, who have been hit and miss of late, remind us that when they are focused they are very good.

Orlando shot 9-25 from three, a respectable 36 percent. That’s good enough for most teams, but when the Heat focused their defense on shutting down Dwight Howard (18 points, 12 boards still) the Magic have to make them pay. They didn’t. Hard to see how they could four games out of seven when it matters.

Jazz 103, Lakers 99: Kobe Bryant shot 3-20 and the Lakers had 24 turnovers — they were lucky to be that close. Utah got some expected big games — Paul Millsap with 24 points — but some unexpected ones such as Enes Kanter with 17 points on 7 shots and Alec Burks who had 13 of his 17 in the fourth quarter and was fantastic down the stretch. The Jazz play hard — you don’t or have a bad night and they will beat you.

Note to the Lakers: When Andrew Bynum is 12-of-14 for 33 points feed him the ball earlier more often. The guy got deep position against an undersized Jazz lineup all night. Give him the rock. You could have won this game that way.

Thunder 111, Trail Blazers 95: Everybody looks good against the Blazers lately, and likely will after Portland’s trade deadline moves, but there was fantastic execution from Oklahoma City in this one. We’ll see if they can build on it. Russell Westbrook had 28, Kevin Durant 26 and for Portland Jamal Crawford had 23.

Grizzlies 97, Wizards 92: The key to this game is the Grizzlies perimeter defenders are aggressive at trying to create turnovers, while the Wizards are very good at turning the ball over. Credit Washington for hanging close — John Wall had 25 — but you just had the feeling this was Memphis’ game. Rudy Gay had 27, good to see Zach Randolph with 13 as he works his way back.

Atlanta 103, Cavaliers 87: The Cavaliers had no way to defend Joe Johnson — he’s too big and strong for their two guard defenders, too quick for guys the right size. He was hot early finished with 28 points on 16 shots and the Hawks controlled this one from the first quarter on.

Clippers 87, Pistons 83 (OT): These teams had to go into OT to get the score into the 80s. So, not the most entertaining game ever. But in the clutch, where the Clippers have been inconsistent, Chris Paul took charge and that’s a good sign. Also in key moments, Pistons center Greg Monroe went right at Blake Griffin and they had to take Griffin out of the game for a stretch. Monroe finished with 23 points on 11 shots.

Suns 99, Rockets 86: Phoenix is just half a game back of the Rockets for the last playoff spot in the West. More on this game tomorrow, but the Suns got a monster 25 points from Michael Redd off the bench.

Kings 115, Timberwolves 99: Minnesota was turning the ball over (21 times) and it just seemed their communication was off. Credit the Kings for taking advantage of it. Marcus Thornton had 24 to lead the Kings, Kevin Love 21 for the Wolves.

 

Kobe Bryant tells Shaq he was planning to leave Lakers for Bulls (VIDEO)

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Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal got their three championships together as members of the Los Angeles Lakers. The two stars were part of the three-peat team that won in 2000, 2001, and 2002. But the story that perhaps overshadows those accomplishments in the modern era is the story of Kobe vs. Shaq, and the long-standing beef that was between the players even after they split in 2004.

The back-and-forth between the two is part of the fabric not just of the Lakers, but of pop culture as it surrounds basketball. The Shaq/Kobe beef even has it’s own Wikipedia page that’s longer and more well-sourced than most of the papers I wrote in college. It’s impressive.

Meanwhile, Kobe and Shaq sat down in a long special that aired on Saturday as All-Star Weekend ramped up that revealed quite a bit about their time together and their relationship. One of the more interesting anecdotes was Kobe telling Shaq that he was planning on leaving the Lakers for the Chicago Bulls in 2004. That plan was quashed when the team sent O’Neal to the Miami Heat in July.

Via Twitter:

That would have been a major shift for LA and for Chicago. The Bulls drafted both Ben Gordon and Chris Duhon that year, and traded for Luol Deng. The team improved by 24 wins the following season, and adding Bryant may have altered that trajectory and of course sent shockwave of consequential changes through the league. Heck, Scottie Pippen retired that October, but perhaps he would have stayed for one more year with Kobe?

The rest of the interview was interesting, and there were lots of tidbits of information that had people talking. Bryant and O’Neal rehashed their fights, Shaq’s infamous rap dissing Kobe, and mooning Sacramento Kings fans after beating them in the 2002 playoffs.

The biggest takeaway from the interview was how the one-upsmanship between Shaq and Kobe, although subtle, still remains.

As context, Bryant has done a fair bit of career revisionism as he tries to alter his public image now that he’s not a player. He’s painted himself as a “storyteller” and has tried to make his single-mindedness appear praiseworthy rather than destructive. It’s mostly so he can sell shoes well into his 50s à la Michael Jordan.

In the sit down between the two Lakers greats, Shaq did some legacy revision of his own. He played off his continuous egging of Bryant over their careers as simple media manipulation, calling himself a master marketer. It really was a thing to see something that hilariously disingenuous, especially as much of the conversation between the two — including many admissions on each side — were about times they made each other sincerely angry.

The two finished the interview by taking photos next to some championship trophies (Kobe with more, of course) and exchanging laughs and hugs.

You can watch the full interview in the video above.

JJ Redick appears to use racial slur toward Chinese fans

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Chinese New Year was February 16, and now we’ve rolled over to the Year of the Dog. The NBA has a huge presence internationally in China, and so its video partner across the Pacific put together a compilation video of NBA players wishing people a happy new year.

The only problem? In one cut of the video that has been making the rounds on social media, Philadelphia 76ers guard JJ Redick appears to use a racial slur aimed at those of Chinese descent.

The instance is absent from the official video, but a reaction-style YouTube video captured a different edit of the Year of the Dog video with Redick still in it. Redick appears to say, “I just wanted to wish all the NBA c—k fans in China a very happy Chinese New Year.”

Redick responded on Twitter, saying he was simply tongue-tied.

It’s difficult to judge intention from a distance, but the result is certainly disappointing. Even with Redick’s apology, it seems possible he’s contacted by the league office as part of a disciplinary inquiry.

Adam Silver says change to 1-16 playoff format has gotten “serious consideration”

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LOS ANGELES — Going into this season, continuing off the recent past went the Western Conference has been deeper in talent than the East., there was a lot of discussion among fans and media about switching to a 1-16 playoff format that ignores the current conference system.

The league has always balked at that — there is tradition, the conferences play an unbalanced schedule so it’s not a fair matchup now, and travel is an issue — but things have gotten more serious, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said during All-Star weekend.

“That is something that’s gotten serious attention, not just recently, but over the last few years at the league office,” Silver said in an address to the media. “I think, as I’ve said in the past, the obstacle is travel, and it’s not tradition in my mind, at least. It’s that as we’ve added an extra week to the regular season, as we’ve tried to reduce the number of back-to-backs, that we are concerned about teams crisscrossing the country in the first round, for example. We are just concerned about the overall travel that we would have in the top 16 teams.

“Having said that, you also would like to have a format where your two best teams are ultimately going to meet in The Finals, and obviously, if it’s the top team in the East and top team in the West, I’m not saying this is the case this year, but you could have a situation where the top two teams in the league are meeting in the Conference Finals or somewhere else.

“So we’re going to continue to look at that. It’s still my hope that we’re going to figure out ways.”

There is no vote scheduled, no change on the immediate horizon.

The idea of teams playing a more balanced regular season schedule, then having the best 16 teams in the playoffs, is appealing. This season, the Finals should be the Warriors and Rockets, a matchup of the two best teams. Instead, it will be the Western Conference Finals.

Fixing it is not simple. If travel is the concern — having something like the Golden State and Philadelphia in a 2-2-1-1-1 series that drags out in the first or second rounds (if the playoffs started today we would get Boston vs. Portland) — there is no easy answer, short of a Star Trek teleporter. Faster travel across the nation is not on the immediate horizon.

As Silver said, the only real answer would be to build the potential for more time into the schedule. However, the NBA is already starting in mid-October and running through June, how much longer are they really willing to go?

The obvious answer is reducing the number of games, but we know that’s not happening. Don’t expect much of a change here.

Adam Silver: Discussions about one-and-done rule ongoing, change not likely soon

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LOS ANGELES — Nobody likes the one-and-done rule. Not the NBA owners, not universities, not players, not anyone.

It’s also not likely to change soon.

The NBA and players’ union are discussing the issue — along with NCAA representatives — NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said. But the sides are not near a deal to make changes, whatever they are.

“In terms of the NBA, we’re conflicted, to be honest…” Silver said in his annual address to the media during All-Star weekend. “So we’ve had some meetings with the Players Association where we’ve shared data on success rates of young players coming into the league. We’ve talked a lot about youth development in terms of whether we should be getting involved in some of these young players even earlier than when they come into college.

“And from a league standpoint, on one hand, we think we have a better draft when we’ve had an opportunity to see these young players play an elite level before they come into the NBA.

“On the other hand, I think the question for the league is, in terms of their ultimate success, are we better off intersecting with them a little bit younger? Are we better off bringing them into the league when they’re 18 using our G League as it was designed to be as a Development League and getting them minutes on the court there?”

Right now an NCAA commission, headed by Stanford President and former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice that is looking into this issue and is expected to make recommendations this spring that the league will look at, Silver said.

He added that another consideration is jobs for veteran players — if the NBA went back to a rule that allowed the drafting of 18-year-olds, it could squeeze some veterans out of the league to create roster spots.

While the NBA appears headed eventually toward some version of the “baseball rule” — players can be drafted out of high school but if they go to college they need to stay two or three years at least — don’t expect changes soon.

“So we’re not by any means rushing through this,” Silver said. “I think this is a case where, actually, outside of the cycle of collective bargaining, we can spend more time on it with the Players Association, talking to the individual players, talking to the executive board and really trying to understand the pros and cons of potentially moving the age limit.”