Baseline to Baseline recaps: Drama with the Lakers? Shocking.

2 Comments

What you missed while thinking you don’t hate your job as much as this guy

Lakers 104, Warriors 101: What’s a Laker win without more drama?

During the game the drama was the Lakers not pulling away against an undersized Golden State side, then the Warriors fighting back from a double digits deficit in the fourth quarter to take the lead 97-95 on a David Lee bucket. That’s when Kobe Bryant did what he does — he drained to tough, contested jumpers in a row to give the Lakers the lead back for good.

But that’s only half the drama — Andrew Bynum attempted a three pointer from the top of the key two minutes into third quarter and was promptly benched by coach Mike Brown. He played only a short stint (2:49) at the start of the fourth quarter and while on the bench refused to join team huddles. Bynum acted like a pouty child. After the game he sounded even more immature and said the only problem with him taking a three was that he didn’t make it. Trust me, this is going to be a thing for the next couple of days.

Spurs 107, Suns 100: Our own Brett Pollakoff was at this one and files this recap:

The Suns had been playing their best basketball of the season heading into Tuesday’s home game against the Spurs. But Phoenix’s best still wasn’t good enough to take down San Antonio.

The Spurs executed masterfully offensively, while the Suns only did so at times. The result was another win for a deep and talented Spurs team that played with all three of its superstars for the first time in the last four games — all of which were wins.

It was odd seeing Boris Diaw contribute off the bench for the Spurs against his former team from a couple of years ago, but the damage he did was minimal. It was Tim Duncan and Tony Parker combining for 50 points that made the difference.

Shannon Brown did his best to keep the Suns close, filling in for the injured Grant Hill in the starting lineup with a career-high 32 points on 11-for-18 shooting. But the execution from the Spurs offensively never ceased, and when the Suns slowed down, a 13-2 run midway through the fourth quarter provided enough separation for the Spurs to seal it.

Sixers 103, Cavaliers 85: With the win the Sixers reclaim sole possession of the Atlantic Division (half a game over Boston). Philly played like a team with something on the line and the Cavaliers played like a young team playing out the string. Cleveland shot just 32 percent in the second quarter, fell behind by double digits and that was about it. Jodie Meeks had a big night, scoring 31 for Philly on just 16 shots.

Bucks 108, Hawks 101: That is what Monta Ellis can do — 17 points on 9 shots plus four assists in the fourth quarter to key the Bucks win. Ellis and Brandon Jennings still do not blend as a back court, but there are nights they can light up the scoreboard playing next to each other if not with each other. With this win, the Bucks move within two games of the Knicks for the final playoff spot in the East.

Grizzlies 93, Timberwolves 86: No Marc Gasol and Memphis still picks up a nice win. Memphis was the team that attacked the rim, they were rewarded with 28 free throw attempts (they hit 25). Dante Cunningham had an impressive 11 points and 14 boards on the night for Memphis to pick up the slack with Gasol out. Kevin Love with 28 points and 11 boards in a losing effort.

Mavericks 90, Rockets 81: Dallas won this game in the third quarter — they went on a 16-2 run while holding the Rockets to 12 points on 26 percent shooting. Dallas also got 21 points from Dirk Nowitzki and 48 from its bench. The loss dropped Houston half a game back of Denver for the final playoff spot in the West.

Thunder 109, Trail Blazers 95: This was pretty much the blowout you expected — Russell Westbrook owned the Blazers and had 32 points, Kevin Durant had 25 and this game really wasn’t in doubt from the second quarter on. We had a J.J. Hickson sighting, he had 21 off the bench for Portland.

Kevin Garnett: Thon Maker “is going to be the MVP of the league one day. Mark it down.”

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Not to get to inside baseball on NBA journalism, but one fundamental truth is player trainers pump up their guys. There usually is some truth in what they say, but it is in their interest to spin the player the best way possible. On and off the record it happens. It’s like asking a political campaign manager about his candidate, you will only get the positive.

Kevin Garnett worked out and helped the Bucks’ Thon Maker this summer.

In just his second season, Thon Maker has been in and out of the starting lineup for the Bucks at center, and he’s struggled this season with a true shooting percentage of 48 getting him 4.5 points a game, and PER of 9.3. (Bucks fans are understandably disappointed, but this is a second-year player, some patience is required).

Garnett had Makers’ back in a Q&A with Bleacher Report’s Jonathan Abrams.

Thon Maker reminds me a lot of myself. He loves the game. He’s a young, exuberant athlete who has a lot of tools—he has touch; he has agility; he has really, good feet. He has a really good shot from three-point all the way up to 19 to 21 feet. He has very good bones, as we say.

Thon is going to be the MVP of the league one day. Mark it down. He has the bones. He has the appetite to be able to chase something like that.”

Garnett may have the wrong young-stud Buck with an MVP in his future.

Maker has gotten KG comparisons for years, he’s a very mobile and athletic but thin big who can shoot from the wing… but the physical similarities are not enough. Maker is no KG. Not yet. Maker showed promise against the Raptors last playoffs but has not taken a step forward off that progress this season, looking far more prone to fouling than defending. The effort is there, but the maturity of game has a long way to go to catch up.

Garnett is right that Maker has the tools, and he is just in his second NBA season so patience is required, but there were concerns around the league before the draft if he had the makeup to put it all together and become a quality NBA player. That question is still out there, let’s get past it before we heap on accolades.

LeBron James all good with Reggie Jackson’s free throw gamesmanship, “I’ve done it before”

Getty Images
1 Comment

Let’s set the stage: Sunday night, the fast-rising Pistons led the fast-rising Timberwolves by three with  6.2 seconds left when Jimmy Butler drew a foul on a 3-pointer. Butler drained the first two free throws. Before the third, Reggie Jackson interrupted to talk to Stanley Johnson, who was in rebounding position. Butler missed the free throw, and Detroit held on to win 100-97. Here’s the play in question.

It was a bit of gamesmanship by Jackson.

LeBron James was asked about the move at Cavaliers shootaround and endorsed it with a smile on his face.

“I’ve done it before. I won a playoff series before doing that actually. So, I’m all for it.”

That series was in 2007, overtime of game 6 of a first-round playoff series against Washington, and the victim was the Hibachi, Gilbert Arenas. The Cavaliers were down 1, Arenas had two free throws, missed the first, then LeBron stepped in. Arenas missed the second, and the Cavs went on to get the win.

Is interrupting free throws about to become an NBA thing? If it works, players will do it.

Warriors pose for photos with Jahlil Okafor’s dad’s ‘FREE JAH’ shirt

AP Photo/Chris Szagola
3 Comments

Jahlil Okafor‘s father has not been shy about speaking out on his son’s behalf. NBA players are advocating for the 76ers to grant Okafor, who’s out of the rotation and on an expiring contract, his desired trade or buyout.

When both join forces…

Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and Stephen Curry appear to really enjoy Chukwudi Okafor’s shirt. That doesn’t mean they’re necessarily calling on Philadelphia to do anything. But they hadn’t to know how it’d be perceived.

It’s easy to predict free agents will avoid the 76ers as a result of the Okafor situation, but few anticipate getting stuck similarly. Players overwhelmingly value money, winning, role and location. If Golden State’s stars are applying any external pressure, it shouldn’t really move Philadelphia more than anything that has already been said and done.

A couple of Lonzo Ball’s triple-double assists look dubious (video)

Harry How/Getty Images
2 Comments

Lonzo Ball draws outsized attention because his father, LaVar Ball, lures onlookers and because the rookie plays for the high-profile Los Angeles Lakers.

So, when Lonzo gets a triple-double – like his 11-points, 16-rebound, 11-assists game against the Nuggets yesterday – it draws scrutiny.

Mo Dakhil of The Jump Ball:

The NBA defines an assist as a “pass that directly leads to a basket. … An assist can be awarded for a basket scored after the ball has been dribbled if the player’s pass led to the field goal being made.”

I wouldn’t describe either of those passing as leading directly to a basket. Ball’s teammates each hold the ball for a moment after receiving the pass then take two dribbles against set defenses.

But assists are subjective, and the Lakers aren’t alone in offering a home-court scorekeeping advantage.

Kyle Neubeck of Philly Voice

So, criticize/laugh at the Lakers. But your favorite team probably manipulates assists in its favor, too.