Baseline to Baseline recaps: Memphis can flat out ball

8 Comments

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.

Interviewer: LeBron James wasn’t dissing Kyrie Irving

AP Photo/Tony Dejak
Leave a comment

LeBron James on Isaiah Thomas, via Howard Beck of Bleacher Report:

“It’s been a while since I’ve had that clear-cut guy who can get guys involved but also score at the same time,” James told B/R Mag.

That looked like a shot at Kyrie Irving. But with more context, it clearly wasn’t.

Beck:

It seems LeBron was saying it’s been a while that he’s had “that clear-cut guy who can get guys involved but also score at the same time.” If he was slighting Kyrie Irving, LeBron was also slighting Dwyane Wade – and I doubt LeBron would do that.

LeBron and Kyrie probably aren’t above taking subtle shots at each other. But this seems like a case of Beck, after hearing LeBron’s words aloud and in context, not realizing how a trimmed version would read as text. It’s unfortunate that people initially got the wrong impression, but good on Beck for clearing it up.

Missouri: Potential No. 1 pick Michael Porter Jr. likely out for rest of season

AP Photo/Jeff Roberson
3 Comments

Missouri’s Michael Porter Jr. – maybe the top contender to supplant European guard Luka Doncic as the No. 1 pick in the 2018 NBA draft – had his campaign undercut after it barely began.

Missouri Basketball:

Michael Porter, Jr. will undergo surgery on Tuesday, Nov. 21, in Dallas, Texas. The procedure, a microdiscectomy of the L3 and L4 spinal discs, has a projected recovery time of three-four months and will likely cause him to miss the remainder of the season. Michael is expected to make a complete recovery

With that timeline, it’s possible Porter returns late in Missouri’s NBA season. But as an elite draft prospect stuck in a cartel system that caps his compensation well below market value, he should probably be cautious.

Porter will likely still go high in the draft – if his medicals check out. This is is a serious injury, and teams will be wary off long-term effects.

But he’s a top talent, and the forward shouldn’t slip far. In fact, in a strange way, this injury could even help him. There were questions about Porter’s ability to handle physicality and tight spaces when the game slows down, challenges he would have met frequently in college basketball. Now, scouts can’t pick apart those aspects of his game. Logically or not, NBA teams tend to favor the unknown in the draft, and Porter is on his way to being one of the biggest mysteries near the top of the 2018 draft.

Kevin Durant reverses course: Playing Thunder ‘just a regular game for me now’

AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki
Leave a comment

Kevin Durant said last season playing the Thunder is “never going to be a regular game for me.”

Now, the Warriors star, who’s questionable for tomorrow’s game in Oklahoma City, is singing a different tune.

Anthony Slater of The Athletic:

Durant:

Just a regular game for me now. I learned how to tune out the crowd. I learned how to tune out the bulls— and just play. Just keep at basketball, and I’ll be alright.

Durant is entitled to change his mind, and maybe that’s all that happened.

But this strikes me as yet another chasm between how Durant actually feels and how he wishes he felt – all while facing immense public scrutiny.

Durant spent eight years in Oklahoma City. Many of his former teammates, including Russell Westbrook, are still there. Durant might want to move on, but how could there not be a different feeling when playing the Thunder, especially in Oklahoma City?

Tony Allen: Russell Westbrook flopped to draw DeMarcus Cousins

AP Photo/David Zalubowski
Leave a comment

DeMarcus Cousins got ejected from the Pelicans’ win over the Thunder last night for elbowing Russell Westbrook in the head.

Afterward, Tony Allen came to his New Orleans teammate’s defense.

Fred Katz of The Norman Transcript:

Did Cousins elbow Westbrook in the head? Yes. Did Westbrook create and/or embellish the contact? I don’t know.

Westbrook stuck his head in close, and he might have been baiting Cousins into a foul. But that doesn’t give Cousins carte blanche to commit a foul.

And even if Westbrook were baiting Cousins, the elbow still might have hurt. Westbrook’s reaction could have been genuine.

Did Cousins’ reputation as a flagrant fouler influence Westbrook’s strategy and how officials perceived the play? It’s much easier to convince me of that.