Baseline to Baseline recaps: Lakers win fourth in a row without Kobe

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What you missed while going on Craigslist to try and find the guy who got you pregnant at that Motorhead concert….

Heat 93, Knicks 85: This potential first-round matchup proved that the Heat’s three stars — they accounted for all but 20 of the Heat’s points on the day — were better than the Knicks one (Carmelo Anthony had 42 points). Matt Moore broke down this game for us.

Lakers 112, Mavericks 108 (OT): The Lakers have now won four in a row without Kobe Bryant — the real question is can they keep up this unselfish team play and defense while incorporating Kobe back into the game. For now, Kobe is just being an assistant coach.

This game kind of has me rooting for this to be the first-round matchup — they played a close, intense game trading big shots. There was Jason Terry knocking down key looks, same with Pau Gasol (two threes in the overtime) and Metta World Peace (18 points). Dallas stayed close thanks to 24 from Dirk Nowitzki and as a team they hit the long ball — 12-of-21 from three. The Lakers got 23 points from Andrew Bynum (but on just 9-of-24 shooting, it was not his best day) and 22 points from Ramon Sessions, including a key three late in the clock.

Nuggets 101, Rockets 86: Big victory for Denver in the first game of a home-and-home against Houston, a win that moves Denver into the 7 seed, one game up on Houston in the West. Denver won because they played their kind of game — pushing the pace and sharing the ball. Also, they won because when the started doubling Luis Scola the Rockets struggled to find another scoring option. Arron Afflalo had 20 points for Denver. Down the stretch Ty Lawson outplayed Goran Dragic,

Magic 100, Cavaliers 84: No team could have used a win today more than the Magic. They got an easy one. Orlando led wire to wire in this one with Jameer Nelson stepping up to create opportunities for others (nine assists) and drop in 21 points himself. The Magic moved the ball well and had 25 assists on their 36 baskets.

Bulls 100, Pistons 94 (OT): There was a lot of fight in the Pistons and the Bulls are still getting used to having Rose back in the lineup — he had an off game but was there with the key three that sent this game to overtime. Joakim Noah had 20 points and 17 rebounds. Rodney Stuckey had 32 for the Pistons but missed two key free throws that left the door open for the Bulls.

Celtics 94, Bobcats 82: Boston sat Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce and still won handily. That is 16 straight losses for a Charlotte team that is just going through the motions, while Rondo had 20 points and 16 assists — he has double-digits assists in 22 straight games.

Hornets 88, Grizzlies 75: Memphis jus was not into this game — and could have more serious things to worry about now. The Hornets are not very good but they come to play every night for coach Monty Williams and if you sleep you pay. Eric Gordon had 18 points to lead a balanced Hornets attack.

Raptors 102, Hawks 86: Atlanta took a lot of jump shots and missed a lot of jump shots — if you can keep them out of the paint and make them shoot those you will beat them. Something to watch in the playoffs. DeMar DeRozan had an impressive 25 points.

Kings 104, Trail Blazers 103: What a fun ending. Portland led most of the game but a 10-0 run made it close then Wesley Mathews hit the shot to give the Blazers the lead, only to have Marcus Thornton hit a fade-away from the elbow area. DeMarcus Cousins was a beast in pain and finished with 23 points.

Lonzo Ball makes expected official, declares for NBA Draft

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There was no hesitation. None was expected.

After UCLA was eliminated from the NCAA Tournament in the Sweet 16 by Kentucky, the Bruin’s Lonzo Ball — who is expected to be a top-three pick — declared for the NBA draft this June.

Ball is expected to go second or third in the upcoming NBA draft. Speaking with people around the league Washington’s Markelle Fultz is a clear No. 1, but after that if the Lakers — the team with the second-worst record in the league — have the No. 2 pick they are expected to snap up Ball. Depending on how the lottery shakes out the top of the draft, Ball could fall a little — there are teams that like Josh Jackson — but not much.

Ball is a 6’6″ point guard who averaged 14.7 points, 7.6 assists and 6.1 rebounds a game for UCLA last season. He has fantastic passing vision, impressive shooting range (although he can take some questionable shots), and a great sense of floor spacing and how to run an offense, particularly in transition. However, his weaknesses were exposed in his final game some as De’Aaron Fox of Kentucky completely outplayed Ball. Defensive pressure took Ball (and the Bruins) out of rhythm, forced them to play in the half court (where Ball is not as strong), and it’s one of the things Ball is going to have to adapt to at the next level where everyone is more athletic. Also, he’s going to need to get more consistent defensively.

The potential for Ball to be special is there, which is why he will go high in the draft.

And no, the rantings of his father will not change that. Teams see the father as a distraction that can be handled, they aren’t going to let him get in the way of drafting talent.

Watch highlights of Shaquille O’Neal’s statue unveiling outside Staples Center

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Kobe Bryant said “Thank you. I learned so much from you as a player.”

Jerry West said he loved him like a son.

Jeanie Buss said “No one celebrates a championship like you, but please no more asking Mark Madsen to dance.”

The Lakers unveiled a new statue for Shaquille O’Neal Friday night, one flying high over a Staples Center entrance, and the stars were on hand for the event. Phil Jackson was there making Snoop Dogg jokes. Shaq and Kobe were sharing laughs. It was a big night for a big man with a big personality. And a big heart.

Check out the highlights above.

Report: Knicks’ Joakim Noah to be suspended 20 games for violating league drug policy

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Joakim Noah hasn’t set foot on an NBA court since Feb. 4, and his season was all but ended when he had knee surgery at the end of February. Last summer, Phil Jackson took a $72 million gamble on an aging Noah that has not worked at all, and left New York with an anchor of a contract for three more seasons after this one.

Tomorrow it will be official Noah is done for this season, but not because of the Knicks or his injury.

During his recovery, Noah violated the NBA’s drug policy and will pay for a 20-game suspension, reports Adrian Wojnarowski at The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

Noah tested positive for an over-the-counter supplement that is prohibited under the outgoing Collective Bargaining Agreement, league sources said.

Noah, 32, is expected to serve 10 games of the suspension to finish out the 2016-17 regular season and 10 games to start the 2017-18 season, league sources said.

The National Basketball Players Association’s investigation concluded that Noah hadn’t “knowingly or willingly” violated the policy and cooperated fully with the league’s probe, league sources said.

According to reports, this is not a substance banned in the new CBA that kicks in July 1, but was covered in the previous CBA. Over-the-counter supplements could be something put in his regular workout recovery drinks that he was unaware of, although we are unsure of the details.

Traditionally, the player has to be healthy enough to play before the league starts the suspension. Noah has been out for more than a month, but if a league doctor says he is healthy enough to play the then the clock on the suspension can start. The 10 games this season is no big deal for the Knicks, he wasn’t going to play anyway, but the 10 at the start of next season could sting (depending on how they plan to use him).

 

 

Devin Booker drops 70 points for Suns in loss to Celtics (VIDEO)

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Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker is just 20 years old. He’s a League Pass favorite, and indeed he should be a favorite in Phoenix for years to come. On Friday, Booker dropped 70 points — yes, 70 — in a loss to the Boston Celtics.

Booker’s 70 points is the best outing of the season. It also made him the youngest player to ever reach 70 points.

His final stat line, as you might imagine, was ridiculous. Booker shot 21-of-40 from the field, going 4-of-11 on 3-pointers and a whopping 24-of-26 from the free-throw line. The Suns phenom also grabbed eight rebounds to go with six assists.

Despite the loss to Boston, 130-120, it’s still an incredible milestone for Phoenix and for Booker. There’s a bright spot out there for the Suns.