Kevin Love, Eduardo Najera

Baseline to Baseline recaps: Fear Kevin Love

17 Comments

What you missed while tweeting pictures of your food rather than eating it…

Knicks 108, Magic 86: It was pretty much a perfect storm for the Knicks, and they need more like it. We broke it all down here.

Minnesota 88, Bobcats 83: Kevin Love is in full on NBA2K12 beast mode — he had 40 points and 19 boards in this one and is averaging 31.2 points per game in the month of March. He’s inserting himself into the MVP discussion (even though he can’t win it on a losing team, not with today’s voters). Minnesota led most of the second half but could never really pull away, then a late 6-0 run by the Bobcats made it close. Kemba Walker had 11 of his 20 for Charlotte in the fourth quarter.

Clippers 103, Suns 86: Don’t look now, but the Clippers have won three in a row and on Wednesday played good defense. The Clippers defensive rotations were good and even DeAndre Jordan played within the system The Suns give you a steady diet of Steve Nash in the pick-and-roll and while he had 15 assists he only scored 1 point. This was close until a 9-0 fourth quarter run by the Clippers spurred by Chris Paul. Blake Griffin had 25 for the Clips and showed good chemistry on the pick-and-roll with Chris Paul. Marcin Gortat 23 for the Suns.

Raptors 105, Nuggets 96: How does Denver go from beating the Bulls two nights ago to losing to the Raptors? Well, giving up a 17-2 run late in the fourth quarter will do it. So will shooting 0-15 to close out the game. Toronto played a zone and rather than attack it inside Denver settled for jumpers. Andrea Bargnani had 10 of his 26 in the final frame.

Nets 100, Pacers 84: This looked nothing like the Pacer team that beat the Heat a few days ago. Just a sloppy game from Indiana, they’ve had a few lately where they just seem to be going through the motions. This game was tight for three quarters then the Nets went on an 8-0 run to start the fourth and threw another 16-3 run in there that quarter to pull away. Deron Williams had 13 in that fourth quarter and 30 for the game.

Celtics 94, Jazz 82: This win by the Celtics moves them back into a tie on top of the Atlantic Division with the Bucks. Boston was up 18 in the third quarter but Utah is scrappy and battled back because they dominated the glass. The fourth quarter was Kevin Garnett — he had 10 of his 23 in the quarter to help the Celtics pull away. KG always seems to have a good game against Al Jefferson. Paul Pierce had 20, Gordon Hayward had 19 to lead Utah.

Bulls 98, Hawks 87: Another game without Derrick Rose and Rip Hamilton, another win thanks to good defense (the Hawks shot just 40 percent as a team). Luol Deng can knock down the three if you leave him open and Atlanta did — he was 5-8 from deep, finished with 22 and got to rest most of the fourth quarter.

Detroit 87, Cleveland 75: The Pistons pulled away with a 17-5 run in the third quarter and never looked back. Cleveland scored 31 points in the second half. Tayshaun Prince had 29 to lead Detroit.

Spurs 117, Kings 112: It’s jut fun to watch Manu Ginobili play basketball. Watch him for a while next time you see the Spurs on, he just plays a clever, well-rounded game. He had 20 and the Spurs got the win you’d expect, but the Kings did make them really work for it.

Hornets 102, Warriors 87: Well, someone had to win this game. This was a blowout starting with a 10-0 Hornets run in the second and New Orleans had three guys with more than 20 points. Golden State relied on the offensive stylings of David Lee (28) but that’s not going to get it done.

John Stockton working with Bucks point guards at training camp

SACRAMENTO, CA - APRIL 30:  John Stockton #12 of the Utah Jazz dribbles in Game five of the Western Conference Quarterfinals against the Sacramento Kings during the 2003 NBA Playoffs at Arco Arena on April 30, 2003 in Sacramento, California.  The Kings won 111-91.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by: Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
3 Comments

The Bucks are coached by one of the greatest point guards in NBA history, Jason Kidd. But Kidd invited another legend of the position to camp to work with his point guards. John Stockton, the NBA’s all-time leader in assists and steals, was at Bucks practice on Thursday working with Michael Carter-Williams, Matthew Dellavedova and Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Not a bad person to learn from, especially since the Bucks have one of the weakest point-guard positions in the league.

Blake Griffin says he’s working on improving his three-point shot

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 21:  Blake Griffin #32 of the Los Angeles Clippers shoots a jumper over Serge Ibaka #9 of the Oklahoma City Thunder during a 100-99 loss to the Thunder at Staples Center on December 21, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and condition of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
1 Comment

2016-17 is going to be a big year for Blake Griffin. He missed much of last season with a quad injury and a broken hand stemming from a punching incident, and he has the ability to opt out of his contract next summer. When Griffin was healthy, he was his usual All-Star self for the Clippers, but he played just 35 games. He’s healthy now, at the start of training camp, and he says he wants to improve his three-point shot.

From Dan Woike of the Orange County Register:

“I want to be someone who shoots from there confidently, for sure,” Griffin said after Thursday’s practice at UC Irvine’s Bren Events Center. “A lot of us power forwards, our strength is inside or our versatility. You look at the best power forwards, Anthony Davis, LaMarcus (Aldridge), Draymond (Green) … they can all shoot but they can all put the ball on the floor and they can all score inside. I don’t necessarily think falling in love with the 3-point shot is a good idea, but shooting it confidently from there is great.”

Not only has Griffin not hit his threes in his career (his overall mark from beyond the arc is an awful 27.1 percent) but he doesn’t take very many of them. The most threes he’s ever shot in a season is 44 in 2013-14, and he hit 12 of them. Griffin is only 27, so he’s theoretically not done improving as a player, but it’s hard to imagine a dramatic jump this far along when that hasn’t been a part of his game at all to this point.

 

Steve Kerr endorses shorter preseason to limit back-to-backs

OAKLAND, CA - JUNE 19:  Steve Kerr of the Golden State Warriors speaks to members of the media after being defeated by the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals at ORACLE Arena on June 19, 2016 in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Leave a comment

There are too many preseason games. The NBA has its reasons for playing them — namely, to allow for games in non-NBA markets — and sometimes they can be valuable for teams to experiment with rotations. But most teams play seven or eight preseason games, which is unnecessary. Warriors coach Steve Kerr agrees, according to the San Francisco Chronicle‘s Connor Letourneau:

“I kind of like the idea that’s been tossed around the last couple summers to start the regular season a little earlier, maybe a week early,” Kerr said Thursday afternoon after Warriors practice. “Play five exhibition games instead of eight. I kind of like that, just so you have fewer back-to-backs in the regular season.”

The NBA has floated the idea in the past of cutting the number of preseason games in order to stretch out the regular season, thereby lessening the burden of travel and back-to-backs. The NBA has made an effort this season to cut down on back-to-backs, and this would be a logical way to do that.

Hornets’ Batum won’t let big contract affect how he plays

MIAMI, FL - APRIL 20: Nicolas Batum #5 of the Charlotte Hornets drives on Joe Johnson #2 of the Miami Heat  during game two of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals of the 2016 NBA Playoffs at American Airlines Arena on April 20, 2016 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Leave a comment

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) Nicolas Batum said he isn’t planning to alter how he plays the game after signing a five-year, $120 million contract with the Charlotte Hornets.

And that’s just fine with coach Steve Clifford.

Clifford said Batum doesn’t need to put additional pressure on himself to score just because he’s now the highest-paid player in Hornets history. He told him to play how he plays.

“You don’t change the nature of how you play. I think guys get messed up with that,” Clifford said. “… I don’t think you try to reinvent yourself because the money changed. We gave him the money because he played so well. In my opinion he was an All-Star-caliber player last season when healthy.”

Batum was acquired in a trade with Portland before last season and turned out to be a gem for Charlotte, which won 48 games and tied for the third-best record in the Eastern Conference. Batum averaged a career-high 14.9 points and 5.6 assists while becoming one of the team’s top three go-to options.

Batum said he’s learned from experience that it’s not worth putting pressure on himself just because he signed a big contract.

He did in that 2012 after inking a four-year, $46 million deal to remain with the Portland Trail Blazers. While he still played well, he said it was pointless.

“I was a young guy at the time and I didn’t know what to expect,” Batum said. “Now I know. I know what I have to go through right now. I know what the views of the media and the public will be. I know that, and I’m good with it.”

For Batum, pressure no longer enters the equation because the Hornets trust him and believe in him.

“It’s more relief than pressure,” Batum said.

The Hornets made re-signing him their No. 1 priority, offering the Frenchman a huge deal about an hour into the free-agency signing period. Batum also received several offers from other teams shortly after the deadline, which he called flattering.

The 6-foot-8, 200-pound Batum enters the season as Charlotte’s best all-around player and a favorite among teammates.

“Guys are so much more comfortable when he’s out there on the floor because he makes it so much easier at both ends,” forward Marvin Williams said.

Williams said there’s a naturalness to Batum’s game, and he’s incredibly unselfish – he’s always looking for the better shot option.

“He likes to make the assist, and he likes to get everyone involved,” Williams said. “I think that is why so many people like playing with him. It’s why I love playing with him.”

And why Clifford views him as irreplaceable.

When Batum went down in the second half of last season with an ankle injury, the Hornets struggled to find their rhythm.

“He’s not a numbers guy to me,” Clifford said. “People can say, `Well, he’s making this or he’s making that (much money),’ but if he plays at the level he played at last year when he was healthy, we have a chance to be a really good team.”

The Hornets continue to work on 5-on-5 scrimmages extensively during practice as Clifford gets a feel for his team.

But there were several key players missing on Thursday.

Point guard Kemba Walker (knee) and center Cody Zeller (knee) remained out of practice while rehabbing from injuries. Guard Jeremy Lamb did not practice after stepping on a basketball and twisting his ankle, while Brian Roberts was held out after injuring his hamstring when he slipped on some water on the court. Clifford said he hopes to have Lamb and Roberts back in a few days.