Baseline to Baseline recaps: Celtics, Spurs need OT for wins

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Welcome to PBT’s roundup of the day in NBA action. Or, what you missed while out buying a $4.2 million gold Christmas tree

Spurs 111, Raptors 106 (2OT): Now this is a close game — at the end of every quarter and the first overtime this was a one-point or tied game. Toronto needs to find solace in that moral victory. The Raptors hung in there despite an off-day shooting for most of the team (36.4 percent for the game, led by Andrea Bargnani who was 2-of-19). They got a great game from Jonas Valanciunas who had a career best 22 points on 13 shots and did a respectable defensive job on Tim Duncan (who still had 26 points and 6 dimes). DeMar DeRozan had 29 and hit the shot that forced the second overtime.

But Tony Parker had 32 points, Manu Ginobili took over for a stretch in the third and the Spurs had enough when it mattered despite some big minutes for the older vets. The second overtime started with a Danny Green three, the Raptors couldn’t climb out of one more hole and Parker sealed it with a couple jumpers.

Celtics 116, Magic 110 (OT): Rajon Rondo got heat for how he extended his double-digit assist streak the other night, but he earned this one — with Boston down six inside five minutes he had four assists to Kevin Garnett, the last one a jumper that tied the game at 102-102 (Rondo now tied John Stockton for consecutive games with double-digit assists). Boston closed the OT on a 12-4 run and the Celtics got a win. Jameer Nelson had some hot streaks — this time he took over for 8 straight points at the end of the third to keep the Magic in it — and J.J. Redick had 21. Boston got really good production out of its bench and that may have been the difference.

Knicks 121, Pistons 100: New York needed an easy win to get back on track after a couple losses — and enter Detroit. The Knicks took control of the game with a 21-9 run in the first quarter and pulled away more in the second, turning this into a laugher early. Carmelo Anthony had 29, 15 in the first quarter when the Knicks took control. Steve Novak had five threes, J.R. Smith had a double-double (15 points, 10 rebounds) and Rasheed Wallace added 15 points. Maybe the most interesting thing about this game is Darryl Strawberry and Philip Seymour-Hoffman sat courtside at Madison Square Garden.

Nets 98, Trail Blazers 85: This game was tied 70-70 entering the fourth quarter but Brooklyn pulled away for a pretty easy win. Portland had a few problems in this one, starting with LeMarcus Aldridge being out, but also there were the seven turnovers in the fourth, and that their bench didn’t score a point for the first three quarters (and still they were in it). Joe Johnson had 21 to lead a balanced Nets attack. Deron Williams had 15 points (but needed 13 shots) and 12 dimes.

Sixers 104, Suns 101: This was the most fun game of the day, with the two teams trading shots down the stretch — until Michael Beasley missed a layup with 2.8 seconds left that likely would have sent the game to overtime. Jrue Holiday had a monster day with 33 points (a career high) and 13 dimes as Doug Collins just kept the ball in his hands all game. Evan Turner added 16. Beasley had 21 points on just 13 shots, Marcin Gortat had 18.

Nuggets 102, Hornets 84: Denver started to take control of this one with an 11-1 run late in the first half, then owned the third quarter behind Ty Lawson’s 11 in the frame (17 overall). By the fourth quarter this one was garbage time. This is four straight wins for the streaky Nuggets. Anthony Davis is still out (4 games now) for New Orleans, who had Brian Roberts score 17 off the bench and Ryan Anderson add 16.

LeBron James: ‘The closeout game is always the hardest, and Boston is going to make it even harder’

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BOSTON (AP) — It took 10 games and halfway through the third round of the NBA playoffs before the Cleveland Cavaliers finally encountered their first true dose of resistance this postseason.

After cruising to a 2-0 Eastern Conference finals lead over Boston, the Cavs were humbled at home in a Game 3 loss, and needed a 42-point night from Kyrie Irving to battle back from a 16-point hole and win Game 4.

The chatter about an NBA Finals’ matchup of two teams with unblemished playoff records is gone, but the challenge from the Celtics has sharpened the focus of the defending champs. Cleveland is expecting another unflinching effort in Game 5 from a Celtics team that isn’t backing down despite facing a 3-1 deficit in the series.

“The closeout game is always the hardest, and Boston is going to make it even harder,” said LeBron James, who rebounded from a playoff-low 11 points in Game 3 to score 34 in Game 4.

James had been saying that he felt like the Cavs needed to go through some adversity after a blistering 10-0 start to the postseason.

The way they responded Tuesday night – particularly on the defensive end – is a good sign for their prospects of wrapping up their third straight Eastern Conference crown on Thursday.

Boston shot 47 percent from the field and 35 percent from the 3-point line in the first half of Game 4 on their way to building as much as a 16-point lead.

While Irving’s scoring ignited the Cavs’ comeback, it was made possible thanks to Cleveland’s defensive effort over the final 24 minutes. Cleveland limited the Celtics to 41 percent from the field and 29 percent from beyond the arc.

“We have to go in with a bunker mentality that we had in Game 1 and Game 2, to go out and do what we do, but we have to defend,” James said. “We have to execute offensively. We have to have low turnovers, and we have to try to make them miss because some of those guys play a lot better at home. That’s just how the game be played.”

If the Celtics were playing with house money heading into the series, they are flush with it again as they return to the Garden.

They’ve given themselves a chance to erase the sting of their 44-point loss in Game 2. The Celtics are also guarding against ending their season by having to watch the Cavs celebrate a conference title on their home floor.

Boston lost All-Star Isaiah Thomas for the remainder of the postseason to a hip injury in Game 2, forcing coach Brad Stevens to shuffle his lineup and rotations in Games 3 and 4.

In addition, Jae Crowder suffered a strained left thigh in the third quarter of Game 4 as well, but returned to play the entire fourth quarter.

It’s an indication that despite still being in a dire 3-1 hole, the resolve inside Boston’s locker room remains strong.

“We owe our fans a better performance, and we know that, and we’re going to play hard,” Celtics guard Avery Bradley said. “You’re going to see a team playing hard, very hard, the entire game.”

It’s also why Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said that his team must keep all thoughts of being on the cusp of a return to the NBA Finals at bay for now.

“You can’t (think about it). As much as you want to, it’s not over,” he said.

If nothing else, Lue said their recent taste of adversity should help them remain humble heading into Game 5.

“I think it is making us better. And it’s making us tougher. It’s making us work,” the Cavs coach said. “Because they got a tough group over there. (Terry) Rozier is tough, Avery is tough, (Marcus) Smart’s tough. Crowder. So, they got a lot of tough guys that are going to compete so they’re making us compete, which is good for us.”

 

PBT Podcast: Celtics draft or trade? Carmelo future? All from your Twitter questions.

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What will Boston do with the No. 1 pick, keep it or trade it?

What does the future hold for Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks?

Is there a correct way to eat pizza? Actually, the answer to that one is yes, and it is not with a knife and fork, Donald Trump.

PBT’s Kurt Helin and Dane Carbaugh discuss all that that and more from your Twitter questions.

As always, you can check out the podcast below, or listen and subscribe via iTunes (just click the button under the podcast), subscribe via the fantastic Stitcher app, check us out on Google play, or check out our new PBT podcast homepage and archive at Audioboom.com.

Lakers hire Kardashian trainer Gunnar Peterson

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LOS ANGELES (AP) A celebrity trainer known for getting the Kardashian clan into shape is going to work for the Los Angeles Lakers.

Gunnar Peterson is the Lakers’ new director of strength and endurance training, the team announced Wednesday.

Peterson has been a favorite trainer among entertainers and athletes for many years while running a well-regarded private gym in Beverly Hills. His client list has included Sylvester Stallone, Halle Berry, Ben Affleck, Jennifer Lopez, Sofia Vergara and Pete Sampras, along with most of the Kardashian family.

Peterson will develop a strength and conditioning program for the Lakers, general manager Rob Pelinka says.

The 16-time NBA champion franchise has replaced several key members of its internal staff since Magic Johnson and Pelinka assumed control of basketball operations earlier this year.

Report: Bucks interested in Cavaliers GM David Griffin

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The Magic hired Jeff Weltman, and the Hawks are reportedly close to hiring Travis Schlenk.

In other words, Cavaliers general manager David Griffin – who’s still without a contract for next season – lost his leverage with other teams.

But to the rescue are the Bucks, who will not necessarily promote assistant general manager Justin Zanik to replace Orland-bound general manager John Hammond.

Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com:

Multiple sources told cleveland.com that the Bucks, who lost general manager John Hammond to the Orlando Magic this week, have interest in Griffin, 47.

Griffin and Cavs owner Dan Gilbert have spoken about continuing their partnership in recent days, sources said, though no agreement was reached.

I still think Griffin stays in Cleveland. He helped assemble a championship contender, and he has LeBron Jamesendorsement. Plus, the Cavaliers can afford him.

But whomever gets the Milwaukee job will inherit a roster stocked with promising young talent like Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton, Jabari Parker, Malcolm Brogdon and Thon Maker. The Bucks wouldn’t be a bad fallback option for Griffin – if he can’t use them to get a deal with the Cavs.