Baseline to Baseline recaps: Vintage Tim Duncan alert

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What you missed while debating if you would give up sex for internet access

Bulls 96, Heat 86 (OT): Neither team looked like a playoff title contender, but this win moves the Bulls four games up on the Heat and pretty much cements them in as the top seed in the East. Our own Brett Pollakoff broke this game down for us.

Spurs 107, Grizzlies 97: Remember that whole thing we said after the Spurs loss to the Lakers about San Antonio not being able to handle big front lines? Maybe we shouldn’t go too far down that road yet. San Antonio took charge in the third quarter behind Tim Duncan (who scored 14 of his 28 points in the third) and Manu Ginobili. Duncan was on fire and the Spurs started running isolation plays to set him up against Marc Gasol, and it worked. The Grizzlies made an 11-0 run in the fourth, but it wasn’t enough.

Clippers 95, Timberwolves 82: No Kevin Love (concussion), no Ricky Rubio, no Luke Ridnour, and yet the Timberwolves led for much of the first half. But the Clippers opened the second half on a 19-5 run and pulled away for an easy win (and one they need in the race between them and the Lakers to avoid Memphis in the first round). Blake Griffin was attacking the rim (19 points, 13 rebounds) while Randy Foye and Caron Butler were knocking down threes. Nikola Pekovic led the Timberwolves with 17 points.

Pistons 109, Bobcats 85: Charlotte has lost three games at home in a row by more than 20 points. They are just terrible, particularly on defense. Greg Monroe scored 25 points and grabbed 11 rebounds for the Pistons.

Mavericks 112, Warriors 103: Big win for Dallas as this gives them a little cushion in the playoff race. Dallas seemed to be running away with this and Dirk Nowitzki was knocking down everything (he finished with 27 points). But with a run at the end of the third into the fourth, the Warriors cut it to three and tried to make a game of it, but the Mavericks bench led by Brandan Wright (16 points).

John Wall scores 37 as Wizards down LeBron James, Cavs 127-115

Associated Press
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CLEVELAND (AP) John Wall scored 37 points, Bradley Beal added 27 and the Washington Wizards began a challenging road trip by beating LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers 127-115 on Saturday night.

Wall scored 18 in the first quarter, when the Wizards shot 82 percent, and Washington held on down the stretch to avenge an overtime loss to the NBA champions last month.

James, who briefly wore goggles to protect an eye injury sustained Friday night, scored 24 and added 11 rebounds and eight assists. Kyrie Irving added 23 points and Kevin Love 17 for Cleveland, playing at home for the only time in a seven-game stretch.

Washington’s victory cut Cleveland’s lead in the Eastern Conference to a half-game over idle Boston.

Rudy Gobert calls out Jazz teammates after loss: “We’ve just got to compete. We’re too nice.”

Associated Press
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Utah and the L.A. Clippers are almost locked into a first round, four vs. five battle in the Western Conference. The only question is which team will have home court, and the Clippers took a big step towards that beating the Jazz at home Saturday. While the Jazz still has a half-game lead, the Clippers have a much softer schedule the rest of the way.

After that loss, Jazz center Rudy Gobert was ticked off and called out his teammates. Via Tim MacMahon of ESPN.

“We’ve got guys that compete, but some of us don’t compete. Some of us just think about scoring. That’s what it is. … Coach keeps repeating it: We’ve just got to compete. We’re too nice. Those guys, we know they’re going to get calls. We’ve just got to come out aggressive and ready to fight.”

Interesting comments for a team that is third in the NBA in defensive rating and 13th in offense.

Gobert is frustrated as Utah has dropped four of its last five, and the slump has been on both ends of the court. The defense has struggled, but if guys are looking to score too much they aren’t doing it efficiently because the offense has been worse.

This slide likely costs Utah home court in the first round, which could matter in what will be a tight matchup with Los Angeles. Utah needs to find its grinding rhythm again heading into the playoffs, at their best they can knock off the Clippers in the first round. Just not like they are playing now.

One thing to watch, Utah’s Gordon Hayward asked out of the game in the fourth quarter due to what is being called a bruised muscle in his leg. If he misses any time or if this lingers, it could be trouble for the Jazz in the postseason.

 

LeBron James starts game with protective goggles. That lasts about a minute.

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LeBron James suffered a scratched cornea Friday night when he went up for a layup late in the third quarter and Jeremy Lamb tried to contest and caught him clean across the face. LeBron got the and-1, but had trouble keeping his eye open in postgame interviews Friday.

Saturday he did play — wearing protective goggles. As you can see above.

That lasted about a minute.

LeBron was likely frustrated as the Cavaliers defensive woes had the Wizards up double digits much of the first half.

Kobe Bryant says he’s “only a phone call away” if organization needs his advice

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For the first time since he walked off the court in his final game, Kobe Bryant was back at Staples Center Friday night.

The reason was Shaquille O’Neal was getting a statue out in front of Staples Center (a building that may not have gotten built without the two of them). The two famed feuders sat next to each other and joked around through the ceremony. Time heals all wounds.

With the new management of the Lakers — specifically Kobe’s former agent Rob Pelinka as GM — there has been speculation Kobe could take on a role. He’s not looking for something formal, according to reports, but he didn’t say no, either, when asked.

I picture Kobe as a guy who someday buys a team, not a guy who wants to haggle with agents over the details of a contract. He’s not going to take on a day-to-day role, he likes the retired life and what he is building with the Kobe brand.

That said, the Lakers front office can use all the smart voices it can get as they try speed up a rebuild. They should give him a call every once in a while.