Baseline to Baseline recaps: Celtics smack Heat around. Again.

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What you missed while eating a pizza stuffed with hot dogs in the crust (no, that does not come with a free side of angioplasty)…

Bulls 98, Knicks 86: Derrick Rose missed another game — that is now 23 this season — but the Bulls were the better team and got the win in our game of the night.

Celtics 115, Heat 107: If you want, go ahead and dismiss this as “just one of those games” where Boston was hot — they shot nearly 61 percent on the night as a team. Those random nights happen in an NBA season. But when you combine this win with the Celtics mopping the floor with the Heat nine days before, you have to wonder if the Celtics have to be mentioned as contenders as well.

Miami played fairly well in this one, but it wasn’t enough. In a battle of defensive teams there was a whole lot of offense and the Celtics had more of it — 27 points from Paul Pierce, 24 from Kevin Garnett. Boston knocked down its jumpers — they hit 61.5 percent from 10 feet out to the arc and were 9-of-14 from three. Even Rajon Rondo was knocking down midrange jumpers consistently. Boston had fantastic ball movement. Boston had the better and more timely runs, including a 15-4 one in the fourth quarter that gave them a comfortable lead they would not relinquish.

You can argue that kind of offensive performance is not something Boston can sustain. Maybe not. But they have the league’s best defense and they have now beaten the Heat twice in the last 10 days. Convincingly. There may be a third team in the East we need to talk about as a contender now.

Wizards 93, Magic 85: Dwight Howard was out again and Orlando was terrible on offense again, shooting just 37 percent as a team. The Magic shot 20.8 percent in the second quarter and scored 12 points. Meanwhile Kevin Seraphin dropped 24 for Washington with no Howard in his way, and Jordan Crawford continued to play well and scored 17. This loss shows you just how bad Orlando is right now.

Cavaliers 103, Bobcats 90: Charlotte has been blown out by the Wizards and Cavaliers this week. It’s not that they are trying to tank, they are just that bad. The Bobcats need one more win this season to avoid finishing the year with the worst winning percentage in league history, and you begin to wonder if they can do that. For the Cavs, Lester Hudson keeps on scoring, he had 25.

Mavericks 110, Kings 100: Dirk Nowitzki was off (4-of-14 shooting) but Dallas responded with a balanced attack that Sacramento could not match. No Mavericks player had more than 15 points but six scored in double figures and even Yi Jianlian came in off the bench and scored 8. DeMarcus Cousins had 25 points, 18 rebounds to lead the Kings.

Sixers 107, Nets 88: Philly moved the struggling Spencer Hawes to the bench and started Nikola Vucevic at the five… but come on, that was not the difference here. The reason the Sixers found a groove and pulled away in the second half for an easy win is this is the Nets. The Sixers looked like their early season selves with a balanced attack — five guys with at least 13 points — and good defense that held the Nets to 39 percent shooting. The question is can Philly build on this kind of win?

Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov was in the building for this one. He must be proud.

Report: Pelicans picked up Alvin Gentry’s option for next season before sweep

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Last summer the buzz was all over the league: Pelicans GM Dell Demps and coach Alvin Gentry were given a “playoffs or bust” mandate by management. If the Pelicans were not in the postseason — and just barely getting in and then blown out in the first round might be good enough — there was going to be a housecleaning.

The Pelicans made the playoffs as the six seed with 48 wins despite losing DeMarcus Cousins to a torn Achilles midway through the season.

That alone was good enough to get Gentry another season in New Orleans, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

As noted, this happened before the Pelicans swept the Trail Blazers out of the first round and into a summer of re-evaluation. This option season is the last of Gentry’s original deal with the Pelicans.

Gentry has the Pelicans playing fast, using the elite defense of Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday to get stops, and right now Davis is leading an offense that is just getting it done, with guys such as Nikola Mirotic stepping up. Gentry has earned another year, and a shot to integrate Cousins into this style and level of play, to see where that could take New Orleans next season.

It will be interesting to see if Demps can add more shooting and versatility with a capped out roster.

Report: Suns talk to Jason Kidd, Vinny Del Negro about coaching job

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Mike Budenholzer is out (and may be thinking New York). Suns’ interim coach Jay Triano and former Grizzlies head coach David Fizdale are still in the mix.

The Suns also have reached out to Jason Kidd — who was let go by the Bucks mid-season — and former Bulls and Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro, reports Scott Bordow of the Arizona Republic.

This is still early in a lengthy search process, there is a long way to go before anyone gets offered this job.

Kidd now lives in Phoenix. He’s considered a smart coach but one who falls in and out of love with players fast, pushes hard for the players he wants (and against those he doesn’t), and didn’t utilize the talent on the Bucks to its best advantage. The Suns have to ask if he is the right guy for a rebuild. He can coach, he’s going to get another chance, but do the Suns want to give it to him?

Mentioning Del Negro will lead to howls from the Suns’ fanbase, but to be fair he gets a bit of a bad rap as a coach. Del Negro won 53.3 percent of his games as a coach, and no team he coached ever finished below .500. He’s had some success developing players, starting with Derrick Rose. All that said, there are reasons Suns’ fans are right to howl: simplistic offenses, a heavy reliance on pick-and-roll sets, and remember he broke the confidence of DeAndre Jordan (Doc Rivers had to build it back up).

Phoenix fired Earl Watson just three games into the season and are looking to replace him. The new coach will have a very good young scorer in Devin Booker on the roster and after that a lot of young question marks. This is a development job where the Suns need to hire a guy who can put in a system, then bring in more talent and stay out of the new coach’s way. We’ll see if the Suns can do that.

Hours after game-winning tip, restaurant told Giannis Antetokounmpo he had to wait

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Giannis Antetokounmpo was the toast of Milwaukee Sunday night: With the game on the line after a Boston comeback, he tipped in a missed Malcolm Brogdon lay-up that proved to be the game winner. (Jayson Tatum was in good position for Boston, he tried to move Antetokounmpo out of his rebounding spot, it just didn’t matter.)

Well, you would have thought Antetokounmpo was the toast of the town, but when he went to BelAir Cantina (a chainlet of Mexican restaurants in the area) he was told he had to wait. And wait. To the point he eventually left.

As you might imagine, the 6’11” Antetokounmpo walking into a restaurant a couple hours after tying up the series with the Celtics drew fast attention on social media. So did the fact he couldn’t get service.

First, good on Antetokounmpo for not pulling the “do you know who I am?” line. He was reportedly unassuming and just left after a while. No hard feelings, his girlfriend later tweeted this out.

As for BelAir Cantina, I kinda get it — I worked my way through college as a waiter and bartender. The restaurant got slammed, everyone working there was in the weeds, and things fall through the cracks. It happens.

But when the 6’11” toast of the town walks in, he cannot slip through the cracks. Cannot. Rather than social media posts about him not getting served and walking out, there would have been pictures all over of him eating the lamb barbacoa or whatever. It’s good for business. If you give the man a little special treatment after the game, nobody is going to complain (except the people who were going to complain about everything anyway… in that sense working in a restaurant was good preparation for me to use Twitter someday).

 

 

Kevin Durant apparently likes Instagram comment critical of Russell Westbrook (photo)

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Last summer Kevin Durant tweeted and deleted that the Thunder’s surrounding cast around him and Russell Westbrook was lacking when he played for Oklahoma City. Those tweets – another criticized Thunder coach Billy Donovan – appeared to be intended to come from a burner account, but Durant said he actually meant to send them from his own account.

Now, he apparently liked an Instagram comment with the opposite message about Westbrook. (I say apparently, because I can’t verify the authenticity of these screenshots, but they at least pass the initial smell test.)

“Like” is Instagram’s word. Maybe Durant uses the function for a different purpose – to note a comment, rather than endorse it.

Perhaps, Durant misread the conversation. The comment he liked rejected the notion that the Thunder were “subpar,” but it criticized Westbrook for them not living up to their ability. Perhaps, Durant focused on the comment sticking up for Oklahoma City overall and missed the part about Westbrook being the shortcoming. Skimming that conversation, it’s a plausible mistake.

Maybe Durant just actually hit the like button. It’s easy enough to do.

Or maybe Durant and Westbrook haven’t really gotten less hostile toward each other. Maybe Durant meant to like this from a burner account.

Those nefarious possibilities are the scintillating ones.

After getting crushed for those tweets last summer and repeatedly downplaying his feud with Westbrook, the Warriors star clearly wanted to move on from these storylines. But all those questions have suddenly reemerged. Perhaps for legitimate reasons, perhaps for benign ones. But we won’t know more about Durant’s intent until he answers to this.