Paul Pierce, DeMarre Carroll

Baseline-to-Baseline recaps: Boston gets best win of the year

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Welcome to PBT’s roundup of yesterday’s NBA games. Or, what you missed while talking about Anne Hathaway’s nipples….

Nuggets 119, Lakers 108: On the second night of a back-to-back the Lakers looked old and slow next to a Nuggets team that ran right past them, exploited the Lakers transition defense and scored a ridiculous 78 points in the paint. We broke it all down in more detail, but Lakers fans may not want to read it.

Celtics 110, Jazz 107 (OT): Boston was playing its fifth game in seven nights all on the road, the second night of a back-to-back up in the altitude in Utah — this is a schedule makers loss. Except someone forgot to tell the Celtics. Doc Rivers called this Boston’s best win of the year.

In the first half on Boston played like a tired team — they missed a lot of good looks, they weren’t rotating out to Jazz three point shooters and they just didn’t look like themselves. Yet they were in it, this was just a five-point game at the half. Then in the third quarter Boston stepped up their defensive pressure and took the lead getting easy buckets in transition off turnovers. And we had a ballgame.

Paul Pierce stepped up in the second half (he finished with 26). He made a last minute, 17-foot up-and-under jumper that had Boston up two late. Utah tied it when Gordon Hayward (who had a great game and 26 points) created off a broken play and found a cutting Alec Burks who hit a layup to tie it. Pierce missed a contested 20 footer and we were headed to overtime. Which Pierce owned. Boston went on a 7-0 run at one point and that was that.

Utah has a tough schedule the rest of the way and the Lakers are getting hot. These are the kind of games they need to win if they are going to stay in the playoffs.

Wizards 90, Raptors 84: A fun contest between two teams playing much better ball lately. Not well played — both teams shot below 36 percent in the first half — but it was close and hard-fought. Washington led the rest of the way after a 19-6 second quarter run but they could never really pull away from a gritty Raptors team, in fact an 11-2 third quarter run had the game tied 49-49 with 4:16 left in the third. Then Bradley Beal (20 points on the night) knocked down a three, Washington went on a 15-5 run and they never looked back. John Wall had 10 points including the dagger layup late.

DeMar DeRozan had 25 for Toronto. Rudy Gay had a rough 1-of-11 shooting night.

Hawks 114, Pistons 103: The Hawks started to pull away in the second quarter behind a big game from Al Horford — 23 points and 22 rebounds — as the Hawks cruised to a win in Detroit. It was a team effort with Atlanta pushing the pace when they could and moving the ball beautifully most of the night. Josh Smith chipped in 23 points and Jeff Teague added 20 points and 12 assists for the Hawks. Jonas Jerebko had 21 points to lead the Pistons. Atlanta has won five of six.

Craig Sager to get third bone marrow transplant thanks to anonymous donor

CLEVELAND, OH - JUNE 16:  Legendary TNT sideline reporter Craig Sager talks with Game 6 of the 2016 NBA Finals between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors at Quicken Loans Arena on June 16, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. Sager is on a one game assignment for ESPN. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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Craig Sager couldn’t be in Rio covering the Olympics for NBC, his cancer wouldn’t allow it. That didn’t stop Team USA from reaching out to him before they left. Or from Nike designing a sweet pair of shoes for him.

Now there is good news on his battle against leukemia — he will have a third bone marrow transplant, according to his son Craig Sager II.

This is fantastic news for a man and family who have been through a lot. Hopefully, this treatment is a step forward for Sager, a man beloved by everyone around the NBA.

Report: With Joffrey Lauvergne trade, Mitch McGary likely done with Thunder

DALLAS, TX - MARCH 16:  Mitch McGary #33 of the Oklahoma City Thunder at American Airlines Center on March 16, 2015 in Dallas, Texas.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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The Oklahoma City frontcourt is crowded. Enes Kanter and Steven Adams will start, and they will have Nick Collison, Ersan Ilyasova, Domantas Sabonis, and now Joffrey Lauvergne behind them.

Which likely means Mitch McGary‘s done as a member of the Thunder, according to Royce Young of ESPN.

McGary has battled injuries his two seasons in the league and got on the court for only 72 minutes total last season for the Thunder (he played in more games and put up solid numbers in the D-LEague). He was not part of the future there regardless. He’s an undersized five trying to play the four and what he brought as a rookie — energy — was not enough as a sophomore.

McGary will make $1.5 million this season. He may be tough to move because he’s suspended for the first five games he’s eligible to play next season for failing the league’s drug policy (five games is the standard suspension for testing positive for marijuana three times). Maybe a team looking to develop players will give him a shot, but there is little trade value for him.

Dwight Howard is shooting 19-footers to improve his free throw stroke

Dwight Howard
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If you can knock down a 19-foot shot, then a 15-footer should be easier. Right?

Apparently that — and just basic muscle memory — is the latest attempt to improve Dwight Howard‘s free throw shooting. And, he seems to be knocking down those shots.

It’s not hard to see the logic in this approach.

The challenge is form and reps are not the problems for Howard — or DeAndre Jordan or Andre Drummond or others — when it comes to hitting free throws. Anyone who says “why don’t they just practice the shot” doesn’t pay attention, these guys put in a lot of work on the shot. Pregame and in practice (I’m Los Angeles based), Jordan probably hits 65 percent from the line. At least.

The problem is mental. That can be a tougher hurdle to clear. Maybe taking 19 footers and knocking them down will have Howard feeling more confident at the stripe this season.

But we’re going to need to see it to believe it. Just like we’re going to have to see a rejuvenated Howard in Atlanta before we believe this season will be different from the last few.

Report: Veteran big man Jason Thompson agrees to deal in China

BEIJING, CHINA - OCTOBER 15:  Jason Thompson # 34 of Sacramento Kings in action during the 2014 NBA Global Games match between the Brooklyn Nets and Sacramento Kings at MasterCard Center on October 15, 2014 in Beijing, China. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)
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Until this season, Jason Thompson had never been to the playoffs. He spent seven seasons in Sacramento before getting traded to the Warriors last offseason, and then signing with the Raptors midseason when Golden State waived him to make room on the roster for Anderson Varejao. His NBA days appear over, at least for now. International basketball reporter David Pick reports that Thompson has agreed to a deal to play in China.

Since the CBA’s season ends in March, Thompson could theoretically join an NBA team for the stretch run next year. But he didn’t appear to have much interest on the free-agent market this summer.