Manu Ginobili; DeMar DeRozan;

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.

Monty Williams is back coaching with Team USA, ready to get back on NBA sidelines

LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 18:  Draymond Green #14 of the 2016 USA Basketball Men's National Team drives against assistant coach Monty Williams of the 2016 USA Basketball Men's National Team during a practice session at the Mendenhall Center on July 18, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Getty Images
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Watching Monty Williams back on the court at the USA basketball camp/practices in Las Vegas, you could see he was at home. He’s easily the best 44-year-old defender on the planet — he went toe-to-toe with Kevin Durant, Jimmy Butler, and the rest, was physical, and made them work for buckets. Then he’d instruct. He’s just a natural.

Back in February, Williams’ wife was killed in an auto accident. It devastated the devout family man, in ways it’s hard for us to understand who have never experienced it. He walked away from coaching the rest of the NBA season with the Thunder, and nobody questioned it for a second.

Now, after getting his feet wet with Team USA (where he is an assistant to Mike Krzyzewski), he told Darnell Mayberry of the Oklahoman he is ready to get back on the sidelines.

“I wouldn’t even think that if I didn’t know, one, my wife would want me to; my kids talk about it all the time. And there have been some things that have happened in my life lately that have allowed me to get that back. I’m so juiced up and ready to get back into it again.”

He is one of the better respected assistant coaches in the league, and a guy who will get another shot at a top spot someday. Soon. Can’t wait to see him back on the sidelines.

Ben Simmons says he plans to work on shooting, handles, getting stronger before camp

Philadelphia 76ers' Ben Simmons cheers from the bunch during the first half of the team's NBA summer league basketball game against the Brooklyn Nets, Thursday, July 14, 2016, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Associated Press
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The leap from college — even high-level college programs — to the NBA can be hard to describe. Now everybody is bigger, longer, and far more athletic — the guy at the end of the bench barely getting any burn was one of the best players on his college team.

Players get their first taste of that at Summer League. The Sixers’ No. 1 pick Ben Simmons looked pretty good when he got that taste, but you can see the development that needs to go on as well.

He’s spending the time between now and the start of training camp working on his shooting and getting stronger, among other things, he told Jessica Camerato of CSNPhilly.com.

“I think just getting in the gym and making sure I’m getting reps up, shooting-wise, dribbling,” Simmons said earlier this week after an appearance at Sixers Camp in Wayne, Pennsylvania. “The weight room as well, making sure I get my strength back and my weight up.”

All good things. Handles and shooting in particular — he’s about to start seeing much better defenders nightly. It’s going to take time, and we’ll see how far he can go, but Simmons unquestionably brings a lot of skill and potential to the table. That he’s putting in the work is a good sign — that was one of the concerns about him heading into the draft.

New GM Bryan Colangelo is going to benefit from Sam Hinkie’s process. So long as he doesn’t screw it up.

Report: Warriors sign JaVale McGee to make-good training camp contract

JaVale McGee
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JaVale McGee is getting another shot in the NBA.

He played just 34 games off the bench for Dallas last season. He played 23 games the season before that due to injury.

But the Golden State Warriors are thin up front — Zaza Pachulia will get the bulk of the minutes at the five (when the Warriors use a traditional center), and there is the often-injured Anderson Varejao behind him. The Warriors could use another big. So they are giving McGee a look, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.

This is a low-risk move by the Warriors, and it’s worth the gamble. Vintage McGee, for all his Shaqtin’ a Fool flaws, is far more athletic and a better rim protector than any of the guys the Warriors now have at the five. If it doesn’t work out — and the odds are it will not — they cut him, if it does they pay him a minimum deal.

I hope he makes it, just because the league is more fun when McGee is in it.

Russell Westbrook laughs off question about Kevin Durant

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 21:  Russell Westbrook #0 of the Oklahoma City Thunder and Kevin Durant #35 discuss play during the first half against the Los Angeles ClipperLos Angeles Kingsat Staples Center on December 21, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and condition of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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At some point, Russell Westbrook will sit down with members of the media and discuss Kevin Durant leaving the Thunder, how he felt about the move, and how it impacted him both personally and professionally.

But not right now. He remains silent.

This Vine making its way around, where Westbrook laughs — probably at the question, although read into that whatever you want — when asked about Durant sums up where we are.

https://platform.vine.co/static/scripts/embed.js

In the full Facebook clip, Westbrook walks away, too. It’s his right. He can talk about it on his schedule.