Chicago Bulls' Noah celebrates basket against Boston Celtics' Terry during NBA basketball game in Chicago

Baseline to Baseline recaps: Joakim Noah is all the offense Bulls need

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Welcome to PBT’s roundup of the day in NBA action. Or, what you missed while watching the Golden Eagle snatches kid video over and over…

Lakers 101, Bobcats 100: Pau Gasol returned but that kind of got overshadowed by the Lakers barely winning a game they were supposed to cruise in. We’ve got all the details in our Game of the Night post.

Bulls 100, Celtics 89: The Bulls played the night before in Memphis, while the Celtics had been in Chicago resting. But it didn’t look like that at all — the Bulls moved faster, played with more energy and just looked younger and fresher. Which is troubling for a Celtics team that falls to .500 on the season and has lost three straight. They do some things well (Rajon Rondo had 26), but their defense was the weakness as Joakim Noah racked up a triple-double with 11 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists, while Luol Deng and Carlos Boozer each had 21. Chicago shot 56 percent from three on the night. Their bench outscored Boston 37-16.

Heat 103, Timberwolves 92: When Miami is hitting threes they are very difficult to beat — in the second half the Heat went 8-of-16 from three and pulled away from Minnesota to get the win. What is the other rule when playing the Heat? Don’t turn the ball over or they will run you into the ground. Minny turned the ball over 19 times (with Ricky Rubio out). Dwyane Wade had 24 points, while LeBron James flirted with the triple-double — 22 points, 11 assists and seven rebounds. Andrei Kirilenko had 22 points for Minny.

Jazz 92, Nets 90: Brooklyn found another way to lose one in the second half. They led by as many as 13 but the Jazz came back in the third because they grabbed 8 offensive rebounds in the quarter while the Nets turned the ball over 7 times in the same span. Still they had a chance at the end, on a crazy play Joe Johnson made a steal but eventually passed on a three giving it to Gerald Wallace for a three that missed, then Reggie Evans missed the putback and the Jazz held on. Mo Williams had 19 for Utah, Al Jefferson added 16 points and 11 rebounds.

Mavericks 107, 76ers 100: Dorell Wright almost brought the Sixers back. Almost. Dallas had stretched out their lead with a 14-4 run and were up 12 with four minutes left, looking like they would cruise in for the win. But Wright hit four threes in the final 3:15 of the game and got it down to 5, but the Mavs held on thanks to O.J. Mayo and… Chris Kaman? Yes, Kaman. Mayo and Kaman combined for 17 of the Mavericks final 19. That is four straight losses for Philly.

Nuggets 112, Spurs 106: Vintage Tim Duncan showed up for this one — 31 points (12 in the fourth quarter), 18 rebounds, six assists and five blocked shots. But it wasn’t enough. Denver took the lead in the second quarter and never gave it up. The up and down Nuggets picked up a gritty win behind Danilo Gallinari, who had 28 points and drained some key three-pointers in the final minutes that Gregg Popovich said were the difference. With this Denver has won four of their last five and maybe they will start to build on this kind of win. But we’ve thought that before this season.

Bucks 98, Pacers 93: This was a tight one — tied 85-85 — but Brandon Jennings broke that tie, had 13 of his 34 in the fourth quarter and that was the difference. Monta Ellis added 19. When one or the other of the Bucks guards is hot they stand a good chance of winning, that’s hat happened here. On the flip side, not one of the Pacers starters shot over 50 percent, but George Hill still had 18.

Raptors 113, Cavaliers 99: Andrea Bargnani has missed three games and the Raptors have a three game winning streak. Coincidence? Toronto used a 14-4 run at the start of the fourth quarter to pull away and get a win on the road. Toronto had balance — 23 from Jose Calderon, 18 from Alan Anderson, 17 from Amir Johnson. Kyrie Irving had 23 points and seven assists, Anderson Varejao dropped 22 points and had 10 rebounds for the Cavs.

Hawks 100, Wizards 95 (OT): Another tough loss for the Wizards, one that came despite Jordan Crawford having a triple-double with 27 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists. Lou Williams had 24 points, Josh Smith added 17 points and 13 rebounds. Also, in overtime there was a key three from DeShawn Stevenson.

Warriors 103, Hornets 96: Credit the young Hornets for having some fight — they were down a dozen midway through the fourth quarter and fought back to tie this game at 92-92 on an Anthony Davis and-1 (he finished with 15 points and 16 rebounds). But the Warriors have shooters — Jarrett Jack drew a foul and sank a couple free throws, Stephen Curry drained a jumper, Jack got a couple more free throws and that was it. David Lee had 26 points and nine rebounds for Golden State. Ryan Anderson had 28 points for the Hornets.

Three players most likely to be moved on Trade Deadline Day

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There will be trades today. Unexpected ones.

Probably not the big names fans are hoping to see. The offers for Carmelo Anthony have been so poor that as much as Phil Jackson wants to move ‘Melo he can’t take those offers. Indiana isn’t eager to trade Paul George, same with Chicago and Jimmy Butler, and it’s going to take a very unlikely Godfather offer to get those deals done (such as Boston parting with one of their Brooklyn picks). Andre Drummond likely remains a Piston.

Sorry to be Debbie Downer on the big trades.

But here are three guys likely to be moved.

1) Jahlil Okafor, Philadephia 76ers. He’s been in more rumors than Khloe Kardashian the past few months. The latest rumors have the Chicago Bulls making a push to land him, but demanding the Sixers take Nikola Mirotic back in the deal. The Bulls don’t need Mirotic — a stretch four shooing 29 percent from three this season — with the emergence of Cristiano Felicio. where Okafor would give Chicago more scoring inside. However, why exactly do the Sixers want Mirotic when they have Dario Saric? The Bulls are going to have to throw more in that deal.

Other teams have expressed interest in Okafor, including Indiana. The Sixers need to move people around up front, the only question is because there is a glut of centers on the market — Brook Lopez, Tyson Chandler, Greg Monroe, to name a few — the price is low. Bryan Colangelo may decide to wait until this summer, but he’s prefer to just get this done.

2) P.J. Tucker, Phoenix Suns. He’s a physical, tough defender who can get you buckets on the other end, a lot of teams could use him. The Clippers had interest and offered a couple of second round picks, but the Suns wanted a first-rounder. The Knicks also had interest at one point, but they don’t have a first-rounder they can move until basically the second coming. Still, Tucker is on the market and I expect some veteran team will come in and try to scoop him up.

3) Darren Collison, Sacramento Kings. After owner Vivek Ranadive finally changed his mind, the Kings moved quickly to trade DeMarcus Cousins and put the team on a path. A rebuilding path. One that doesn’t have a lot of roster spots for older players. That includes Darren Collison. He’s a solid point guard averaging 13.7 points per game this season, shooting 42 percent from three, and he knows how to run an offense. There’s a lot of teams that could use him, and the Kings can listen to multiple offers than take the best one. But there’s no reason to keep him around the rest of the season.

 

Report: Unless they trade for Jimmy Butler or Paul George, Celtics likely to keep main assets

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The Celtics have been linked in trade talks to the Bulls’ Jimmy Butler and Pacers’ Paul George, but that requires the other team to deal with Boston. Indications are neither Chicago nor Indiana is particularly amenable.

So, time for the Celtics to pick another star to target?

Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald:

With less than 24 hours until the NBA’s 3 p.m. trade deadline today, the Celtics were said to be still holding out hope that internal discussions within the Bulls and Pacers would lead to one or both making their best player available.

But short of that, the view from around the league is that the Celts are becoming more and more enamored with the idea of keeping their main assets and using the first-round draft pick they have coming from Brooklyn in June via a swap of positions. (They also have the Nets’ 2018 first-rounder unencumbered.)

Sources continued to say that, while there remains a chance things could change as the deadline draws nearer, Chicago and Indiana are more likely to retain Jimmy Butler and Paul George, respectively. Those All-Star talents have been the Celtics’ two main targets

This could just be the Celtics playing hardball — either through leaks to the media or through conversations with other teams that have trickled out. But Bulpett is well-connected, especially in Boston. This is more likely than most reports of this nature to be accurate, but it’s always difficult to break through the smokescreens this time of year.

The Nets’ upcoming first-rounder is extremely valuable, as they’ll likely finish with the NBA’s worst record. The Celtics could do far worse than keeping that pick.

But Boston’s top players — Isaiah Thomas (28) and Al Horford (30) — are already at ages where they can’t necessarily wait for a 2017 pick, even someone as talented at as Markelle Fultz or Lonzo Ball, to develop. It makes sense to cash in chips now.

Still, the Celtics’ deep pool of assets mean the window isn’t closing yet. There should be no desperation to make a win now trade.

If Boston keeps its main assets — mainly the Nets picks — past the trade deadline, we’ll just revisit all this again in the summer.

Cavaliers sign forward Derrick Williams to second 10-day contract

Cleveland Cavaliers' Derrick Williams, right, drives to the basket against Indiana Pacers' Rodney Stuckey in the first half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2017, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
AP Photo/Tony Dejak
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The Cleveland Cavaliers have signed forward Derrick Williams to a second 10-day contract.

The NBA champions have been impressed with Williams, a former No. 2 overall pick, and it’s likely they will sign him for the remainder of the season when his current contract expires. The Cavs announced Wednesday they signed Williams again. He has averaged 9.8 points and 3.0 rebounds in 22 minutes for the Cavs, who have been bringing him off their bench with their second unit.

Before signing as a free agent with Cleveland on Feb. 9, Williams played for Miami this season before being released.

The Cavs returned from the All-Star break Wednesday and will practice before hosting the New York Knicks on Thursday, just a few hours after the trade deadline.

Hornets’ Miles Plumlee out at least two weeks with leg injury

Charlotte Hornets' Miles Plumlee (18) dunks against the Philadelphia 76ers in the first half of an NBA basketball game in Charlotte, N.C., Monday, Feb. 13, 2017. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
AP Photo/Chuck Burton
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The Hornets are essentially two different teams with and without Cody Zeller.

They’re 22-17 when he plays and 2-15 when he doesn’t. They play at a 62-win pace with him on the floor and a 29-win pace when he sits.

So, with Zeller banged up, Charlotte traded for Miles Plumee. But Plumlee hasn’t provided much, just 3.2 points and 3.8 rebounds in 13.4 minutes per game in five contests.

And now he’ll add even less.

Hornets release:

The Charlotte Hornets announced today that center Miles Plumlee underwent a Magnetic Resonance Image (MRI), which revealed a second-degree calf strain in his right leg. Plumlee will be out for Charlotte’s game tomorrow at Detroit and will be re-evaluated in two weeks.

The Hornets incurred significant long-term costs ($37.5 million over the next three years) to use Plumlee as a short-term bandage. Without him providing even that, this situation looks bleak.

Depending on Zeller’s health, this could turn Charlotte — 2.5 games and three teams out of playoff position — into sellers before the trade deadline. At minimum, it makes the Hornets less likely to buy.