Baseline to Baseline recaps: Boston is hot, the Sixers not so much

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What you missed while buying a small town for yourself

Knicks 100, Bulls 99 (OT): It took some huge threes by Carmelo Anthony and some missed late free throws by Derrick Rose and Luol Deng, but the Bulls got a key win in their playoff chase.

Celtics 103, Sixers 79: Paul Pierce was hot early but it was an 18-2 run in the second quarter that had the Celtics running away with this game and never looking back. The Celtics are playing well right now, while Philly is not defending (something it did well early in the season) and are turning ball over a lot on their way to four straight losses. Right now they are one game up of getting passed by Milwaukee and falling out of the playoffs.

Thunder 91, Raptors 75: Credit Toronto, which hung around this game on the road until midway through the third quarter. That’s when OKC went on a 24-0 run to end the quarter and start the fourth. That was it. What else did you expect to happen? Kevin Durant had 23 and owned the second half. Jose Calderon had 19 points to lead Toronto.

Heat 98, Pistons 75: Dwyane Wade was out with an ankle injury (a game after saying his legs were tired, but sure it’s an injury). The Heat are now 10-1 when Wade has missed a game this year, mostly because LeBron James decides to take over. He had 26 and the Heat took control with a 9-0 run in the second and never looked back.

Spurs 114, Jazz 104: San Antonio opened this game on a 12-4 run — thanks to Tony Parker’s 10 first quarter points (he finished with 27). Fans in San Antonio were chanting MVP at Parker, and he has to be in the conversation. Maybe third, but he needs to be in the conversation.

Nets 122, Cavaliers 118 (OT): This is why you need league pass — nobody thought this game would be the most entertaining game of the day, but it was. They traded threes in the fourth quarter, went into overtime and it was a 6-0 run in the extra period that got the Nets the win. Gerald Green had 32 to lead the Nets (12 in the fourth quarter), he has come on of late. Antawn Jamison had 34 for the Cavs.

Rockets 104, Kings 87: Kyle Lowry was back, but this was the Courtney Lee show — he had 17 first quarter points on 7-8 shooting including nailing all his threes. The Rockets never looked back from there. With the win the Rockets move up to the six seed in the West, still only 1.5 games ahead of the nine seed but they are not the team fading right now (hello Denver).

Utah’s Donovan Mitchell wins throwback Dunk Contest with Vince Carter tribute

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LOS ANGELES — The 2018 Dunk Contest went retro.

And it worked.

The throwbacks started with Cleveland’s Larry Nance Jr. going quick-change to pay tribute to his father, the 1984 winner of the Dunk Contest.

Nance later had the best dunk of the night, but it wasn’t enough in the face of Utah’s Donovan Mitchell‘s strong and consistent night highlight by his throwback dunk — donning a Vince Carter Toronto dinosaur jersey and doing VC’s famed 360 dunk — which got Mitchell the 48 points he needed to hold-off Nance and win the contest. It was over.

“Growing up I was a big dunker,” Mitchell said. “I wasn’t really much of a basketball player. I just dunked and played defense, and I watched a lot of Vince’s videos. I’ve been seeing what he’s been doing all year at his age, which is incredible.

“So I figured, you know, at my size if I was able to get it, it would be a great dunk and a way to finish it, you know. And actually, funny story is I haven’t made that dunk in like half a year. I tried it in practice the past two days and tried it this morning, didn’t make it. Tried it last night, didn’t make it… But to be able to make it was why I was so excited.”

Earlier in the night, Mitchell had done another tribute worn a Darrell Griffith jersey — Utah’s Dr. Dunkenstien, who went to Louisville like Mitchell — for an off-the-side-of-the-backboard jumping over Kevin Hart dunk.

“You know, just knowing your history, I think, is the biggest thing,” Mitchell said of the throwbacks. “Just understanding where this game originated, I guess the OGs of the game, I guess you would call it. But just understanding. Even if it’s just dunking. Whether it’s dunking in the NBA in general, Darrell Griffith, we went to the same school in college. I know Darrell very well. Both got drafted by the Jazz, and he was an incredible player. To be able to pay homage to him meant a lot to me.”

For my money, Nance had the dunk of the night, his first in the Finals, a double off-the-backboard throwdown that you had to see on replay to get (it wasn’t as evident in the building what he had done until it was re-shown on the big screen).

It was a fun contest all night long.

Mitchell (the leader in the Rookie of the Year race) started it off brilliantly — he brought out a second backboard, and did a self-alley-oop off one to the other.

Larry Nance Jr. did his tribute to his father with his first dunk, and on his second one came from behind the backboard, going around the world, and threw it down hard. That got him into the Finals.

Oladipo missed all three of his dunks in the first round, which almost doomed his night. He, however, did a dunk wearing the Black Panther mask for his second dunk, which impressed.

Mitchell said he wanted to beat Dennis Smith Jr. because the Mavericks’ point guard had beaten him in dunk contests for years. Smith had one monster dunk, when he went between the legs and threw it down hard and got the full 50. It just wasn’t enough to get Smith to the Finals.

Nance started off the final round by bringing out his father again to throw an alley-oop to a windmill. Mitchell responded with a self-alley-oop to a windmill that was flat-out wicked. That got Mitchell a 50-46 lead after one round of the Finals.

Then Mitchell went to Vince Carter and “it was over.”

Larry Nance Jr. throws alley-oop to himself, throws alley-oop to himself (video)

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LOS ANGELES — Cavaliers forward Larry Nance Jr. immediately motioned for the replay to be shown of this dunk. It was necessary to properly appreciate it.

Best dunk of the night.

Donovan Mitchell won the dunk contest, though.

Larry Nance Jr. plays tribute to father — rock-the-cradle dunk in Suns uniform

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LOS ANGELES — Back in 1984, high-flying Larry Nance Sr. won the first NBA All-Star Dunk Contest with this set of dunks — most famously a rock-the-cradle move.

Larry Nance Jr. came into the 2018 Dunk Contest and went nostalgic — all the way back to the Suns’ throwback uniform and the same dunk.

That and a good second dunk got him into the Dunk Contest finals. In that round, Nance Sr. threw an alley-oop to his son for the windmill.

Donovan Mitchell throws alley-oop to himself – off second backboard (video)

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LOS ANGELES – Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell set a high standard with the first slam of the 2018 dunk contest.

Very creative. Very well-executed.

Looks like all that preparation paid off.