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.

Report: Gerald Green to sign with Milwaukee for training camp (at least)

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How good is the hot chocolate at the BMO Harris Bradley Center?

I ask because it appears Gerald Green is going to be playing in Milwaukee, at least for training camp, according to Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

Free-agent swingman Gerald Green has agreed on a contract with the Milwaukee Bucks, league sources told The Vertical.

Green will sign a non-guaranteed deal for training camp and is expected to compete for a regular-season roster spot. Milwaukee has looked to add depth at the wing positions, bringing Green and veteran guard Brandon Rush to camp.

The Bucks have 14 guaranteed contracts, so it is Rush vs. Green for that final roster spot. Green played solidly last season in Boston despite inconsistent minutes, but was not brought back as the Celtics revamped their roster. Green shot 35.1 percent from three last season, can play decent defense, and is a good veteran presence on a team with young players.

As for why I asked about the hot chocolate…

Draymond Green: I laughed in Kevin Durant’s face over Twitter fiasco

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Kevin Durant said he hasn’t slept in two days and isn’t eating due to his Twitter fiasco.

Draymond Green – who was mocked by his Team USA teammates, including Durant, over his own Snapchat snafu – said he got revenge.

Anthony Slater of The Athletic:

Green:

It’s a little payback. I stood right there, over there, laughing in his face. And it felt pretty damn good, too.

The Warriors’ chemistry is either in a touchy spot or light years ahead.

Report: Former No. 1 pick Anthony Bennett signing with Suns

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Getting cut by the NBA-worst Nets was a low point for former No. 1 pick Anthony Bennett, but at least he had a guaranteed salary and got paid out through the end of the year.

That won’t be the case with the Suns.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

This is a no-risk flier for Phoenix. If Bennett plays well enough in the preseason, the 24-year-old will make the regular season roster. If not, the Suns won’t owe him anything.

Bennett has a chance to stick. Phoenix has just 13 players with guaranteed salaries, leaving two standard-contract spots open on the regular-season roster. Bennett will compete with Derrick Jones Jr., Elijah Millsap, Peter Jok and anyone else the Suns sign.

I don’t love Bennett’s odds. He hasn’t looked like an NBA player, and he’s reaching the age where current production matters more than potential. But by virtue of being the top pick a few years ago, he carries more intrigue than the typical player of his caliber.

Rockets GM Daryl Morey: Lottery-reform proposal ‘not doing a whole lot’

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Rockets general manager Daryl Morey supports the NBA’s lottery-reform proposal:

But that doesn’t mean Morey believes the proposal is a silver bullet.

Morey, via Bleacher Report:

Let’s be clear. This reform is not doing a whole lot, right?

And I keep saying: If it was already in place, no one would talk about it. If it wasn’t in place – all these people are talking about it because it’s coming up for probably a vote here in a minutes. Otherwise, no one would be talking about it. Everyone would be like, “Oh, yeah. Of course the bottom three lottery odds are flat. That’s how it’s always been.” It’s a very minor change, and it fixes some pretty important problems in terms of how the incentives work at the bottom of the draft, and I don’t think it changes much in any other way.

And then the best argument is the people who are frustrated the league is unbalanced between destination and non-destination cities, they say, “Because that whole system might be broken, I’m going to be against this minor, logical, simple reform.” I don’t really buy that. Let’s fix the other issues in another way, but you can still be for this reform and say we need larger reform that attacks those issues in a more fundamental way. But it doesn’t change that this is a good, logical step we’re taking.

Morey is aggressively logical, and you can see that at work here. If the new rule is better than the old rule, owners should vote for it. It shouldn’t matter which was already in place. For similar reasons, I argued against shelving lottery reform just because new national TV contracts would increase the salary cap.

Morey is also right that this is a minor reform. There’s still value in tanking, even if not quite as much. Finishing with the league’s worst record still guarantees a top-five pick with team control for five years and the inside track on keeping the player for far longer.

There’s even still value in jockeying among the league’s three worst teams, which will have identical lottery odds if this proposal passes. If a team isn’t drawn for the top four, it will be slotted in reverse order of record. The No. 1 seed in the lottery has a 20% greater chance than the No. 2 seed of picking higher between the two, and the No. 2 seed has a 20% greater chance than the No. 3  seed of picking higher between the two, according to fantastic Ryan Bernardoni of Celtics Hub.

So, this lottery reform might only minimally change behavior.

Another thing to consider: NBA owners are far more risk-averse than Morey. If this reform passes, owners will take years to evaluate it before making more meaningful changes to address the problem (if you believe there’s a problem at all). So, a step in the right direction (again, if you believe this is the right direction) is effectively a small step and a pause that could delay bigger steps.