Baseline to Baseline recaps: Memphis can flat out ball

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Our nightly roundup of all the action in the NBA. Or, what you missed while thinking maybe you should lay off those breakfast sandwiches….

Lakers 103, Kings 90: The Lakers are 2-0 in the Bernie Bickerstaff era and all anybody wants to talk about is Phil Jackson. We break it all down right here.

Grizzlies 104, Heat 86: As we all expected, Wayne Ellington was an unstoppable force who completely overwhelmed the Heat wing players. Okay, maybe not, but it turns out Memphis is a lot like the Heat in that if they are getting outside shots to fall — and they did, Ellington was 7-of-11 from three — then they become impossible to stop because they have Zach Randolph (18 points, 12 rebounds) in the paint. As a team, the Grizzlies were 14-of-24 from three. Oh, and they have the very good Rudy Gay, who scored 21.

In some ways you could see why Erik Spoelstra thinks that Chris Bosh can hang with big centers — Marc Gasol scored two points while Bosh caught the ball away from the basket and drove around Gasol on his way to 22 points on 12 shots. The problem was Heat players not named Bosh or LeBron James (20 points) shot just 25 percent against the Grizzlies defense.

Thunder 106, Cavaliers 91: This was the best OKC has looked overall this season. Russell Westbrook hit a few midrange jumpers early, seemed to get his confidence going and he went on to score 27 and dish out 10 assists — plus hit a key buzzer-beater three at the end of the third quarter — to spark the Thunder to a win. OKC played good defense and looked every bit the powerhouse in this one. Kyrie Irving had 20 points to lead the Cavaliers because he is really, really good.

Clippers 89, Hawks 76: The battle of two deep teams who love the jump shot went to the Clippers which went on a couple second half runs (including a 20-5 across the third to the fourth when the Clips pulled away) to seal this. The Clippers got double-digit scoring from three guys off the bench — Jamal Crawford (11), Eric Bledsoe (12) and Matt Barnes (10). And what should scare teams is that is not some one-off night. They can do that whenever they want. Blake Griffin led the Clippers with 16 points (on 11 shots). For the Hawks, Al Horford is playing well — he has such a well-rounded game — and scored 11.

Nets 82, Magic 74: The Nets have a thing for giving up leads — there was a 22-point come-from-ahead loss to Minnesota a week ago, Sunday Brooklyn raced out to a big lead with a 35-point first quarter, led by as much as 20 but had to scramble at the end to secure it. The Nets took their foot off the gas and while the Magic are not talented then are playing hard for first-year coach Jacque Vaughn. Kris Humphries had 14 points and 21 rebounds.

Video Breakdown: Cavaliers elevator doors fake out vs. Warriors in Game 4

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The 2017 NBA Finals are over but we just can’t quite move on to the summer without mentioning this play from the Cleveland Cavaliers’ Game 4 onslaught from 3-point range.

Yes, the Cavaliers hit a myriad of insane, falling over, lucky shots in their record-setting Game 4 win. But they also had a number of excellent plays drawn up by head coach Tyronn Lue, with one of them coming here in the first quarter.

The thing I love about this play the most is how it combines multiple actions to confuse one of the best defensive teams in the NBA in the Golden State Warriors. Cleveland mixed Floppy action with a sideline elevator doors play, getting both Klay Thompson and Draymond Green to overreact to Kyrie Irving.

Meanwhile, the real shooter ended up being one of the elevator doors screeners in Kevin Love.

Cleveland will need to regroup for next season if they hope to take on the Warriors yet again in the NBA finals in 2018. Meanwhile, check out this sweet video breakdown of a play that is straight out genius.

Watch Allen Iverson’s first bucket in Big3 League debut

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The Big3 League came to Brooklyn and put on a show (which you can see broadcast on FS 1 Monday night).

That includes coach Allen Iverson putting on a jersey and playing a little.

He got his first bucket taking a ball saved from going out of bounds, dribbling up to the elbow, and knocking it down. The crowd loved it. Iverson coached/played his team to victory thanks to Andre Owens putting up 20 points and 15 rebounds.

 

D’Angelo Russell makes first appearance at Barclays Center, gets booed

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Welcome to New York, D'Angelo Russell.

The Brooklyn Nets made a smart gamble before the draft and traded Brook Lopez (and his expiring contract) to the Lakers for the bloated contract of Timofey Mozgov and the promise of Russell. It’s a smart move to see if coach Kenny Atkinson can lift up the young point guard who shows promise but is inconsistent.

Nets fans don’t seem so thrilled. Russell showed up for the Big3 games at Barclays Center, and he did not feel the love, reports Tim Bontemps of the Washington Post.

These are New York fans, they would boo George Washington.

It’s simple for Russell, he just has to win them over. He gets a fresh start in Brooklyn and the baggage the Lakers saw him carrying is gone. It’s his chance to win a city over and be part of the future — but he will have to earn it.

Otherwise, it won’t be long or he will hear those boos again.

Spike Lee says not everyone at Nike thought Jordan should be face of company at first

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We have mythologized Michael Jordan into a man who could almost walk on water, and could certainly walk on air. He legitimately is the GOAT — or, at the very least, one of a handful of players ever worthy of being in that conversation — but the idea he is perfect is far from true.  (He was 6-7 in getting his team to the Finals, LeBron is 8-4, so LeBron lifted lesser teams farther, to use one devil’s advocate argument).

Not everyone always believed in Jordan, and that came out in a couple recent articles.

The Chicago Tribune ran a June 20, 1984, article about Jordan being drafted from their paper, where then GM Rod Thorn was not exactly selling Jordan as a franchise changing player.

“There just wasn’t a center available,” said Thorn. “What can you do?”

“He’s only 6-5,” said Thorn, who must use a different yardstick than Dean Smith, the Carolina coach. Down where the tobacco grows, Jordan has always been 6-6, not that one inch ever stopped Jordan from crashing the boards, hitting from the outside or playing substantially above sea level. By the time he gets to Chicago, or when negotiations for his wages get sticky, Jordan may be the size of a jockey. The Bulls aren’t even sure where to play Jordan. “Big guard, small forward,” said coach Kevin Loughery.

Jordan ended up being the perfect player at the perfect time — an all-time great who peaked just as the popularity of the game took off, and with a little help from Nike his image blew up.

Except, not everybody at Nike was down with Jordan being the face of the organization, Spike Lee told Sole Collector (remember Lee and his commercials helped blow up Jordan’s image).

“People don’t know about this, but the truth is a lot of people were speaking in Mr. Knight’s ear that it might not be too good for Nike to have Michael Jordan as the face of the company,” Lee revealed to Sole Collector. He added that there were worries that Jordan “might not appeal to white America, or the general market as a whole.”

Jordan, obviously, transcended the market and everything else.

But Jordan had his doubters and had his rough patches. He got his head handed to him year after year by the Bad Boy Pistons, who taught him how to win the hard way. He was thought of as the guy who couldn’t win the big one, who was too selfish a player to lead a team to a title.

In hindsight, it’s laughable. But that’s what you get when you try to define a person’s legacy before his career is over.