Baseline to Baseline, your game recaps

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Perkins_game.jpgWhat happened Wednesday, while you were celebrating your new Ghostbusters prints

Celtics 104 Bobcats 80: Or, “How The Celtics Got Their Groove Back.” The Bobcats hung for a half, giving the Celtics all they could handle. Then the Celtics broke it open and never looked back. 35 points total for the Cats in the second half. Pierce came back, 9-13 shooting, 27 points, and that along with Marquis Daniels putting in 2 turnovers in 30 minutes, that’s enough if the Bobcats’ offense reverts back to primordial ooze (or earlier in the season).

Tyrus Thomas had 15 and 10 with 2 blocked shots, but the Bobcats were forced into nothing but jumpers. That won’t get it done.

Cavaliers 111, Nets 92: The Cavaliers just toyed with the Nets, like Itchy does with Scratchy. Except not as entertaining after a while. LeBron had eight assists in the first quarter, including a jumping bounce pass to Anderson Varejao off the high pick-and-roll. The Nets kinda, sorta stayed close, but only because the Cavs were toying with them, not trying to finish them. If you watched all of this one you are a better man than I. Five straight wins for the Cavs.

Knicks 128 Pistons 104: Not that Ben Wallace is the sole defensive impact on the Pistons, but with Wallace out with a knee injury, the Pistons did give up double digits to six of the eight Knicks that played.

Tracy McGrady had another flashback game, reminding us that he can be an impact guy. He shot 50% from the floor, and had 7 rebounds and 8 assists. It’s got to be frustrating for McGrady of all people, to know what he’s capable of, but not be able to do it consistently. Then again, if Austin Daye is getting time on him, who knows what can happen?

Bucks 100 Wizards 87: Please notice Ersan Ilyasova. I’m begging you. Great offensive range, good on the boards, excellent length, good lateral movement, can contain the pick and roll, can work from the high post, and just an overall blood getter. 19 points, 10 rebounds, 6 assists, 1 steal, 1 block, and 1 turnover in 32 minutes. That’s good Sova.

Blatche had another good game, but as is the formula against good defensive squads, the team with less talent suffered. The Wizards’ help defense actually wasn’t bad, it’s just that the Bucks didn’t turn it over at all, and they forced 21 .  They created fast breaks, they created confusion, and they got buckets. They are currently the team you don’t want on your schedule.

Hawks 112, 76ers 93: Did you really think this was going to turn out any other way?

Magic 117, Warriors 90: Best shot in this one happened before the game even started — during warm ups Dwight Howard hit a left-handed 30 footer while sitting down in the front row next to general manager Otis Smith. Golden State hung around for 18 minutes, until Vince Carter and the rest of the Magic got serious. Orlando tightened up their defense, took away the transition shots (and threes). Not that this game was ever, ever in doubt. Favorite play of the night came in the third quarter, when Howard made the steal then led the break himself (and got the assist).
 
Grizzlies 104 Hornets 100: Sloppy, ugly game. Fun, but nasty. Both teams turned it over, both teams had defensive lapses (especially the Hornets in the early 2nd). In the end, Zach Randolph hit a ridiculous bank three pointer with the shot clock expiring to secure it.

The only thing more unlikely than Z-Bo’s three falling was Mike Conley having a night to hang his contract on, with 27 points, 5 steals, and 7 assists. Sure, he clanged two free throws late to give the Hornets a shot at stealing a win at home, but his other drives and floaters were what helped get them there.

O.J. Mayo has lost his jumper completely, and I’m afraid Marcus Thornton may have stolen it.

Mavericks 112: Wolves 109: Corey Brewer is legit. He’s having a coming out season for a forgotten team, but he’s the next of the Florida crew to prove he can ball. MEanwhile, Jason Kidd took a night off, Dirk Nowitzki had a bad night by his standards.

And the Mavs won. When you win games against plucky teams having an on night with things not going your way? That’s a good sign.

Kings 84 Houston 81: The teams shot a combined .710 from the field. Combined. As in, if you add their shooting percentages together. This is bad. As a very gracious and eloquent commenter points out, they shot .350 from the floor if you calculate their combined percentage. This is an abomination.Carl Landry had a good game. Let’s all pretend this never happened, lest we use it as the boogeymen in stories for our kids to scare them straight.

Nuggets 119 Thunder 90: The dreaded road SEGABABA (SEcond GAme of a BAck to BAck) for the Thunder, and once the Nuggets foun their rhythm, this was chalk. When Birdman Anderson is hitting jumpers? It’s not your night.

The Nuggs can sure defend and score. After they’ve had their backsides handed to them by two Western Conference contenders and as long as they’re at home against a team on a SEGABABA (second game of a back-to-back). Fine win for the Nuggets, not a huge loss for the Thunder, they were due one of these. Just your regular schedule-based beatdown.

Suns 127, Clippers 101: It’s the old “chicken or the egg” debate: Is it that the Suns offense is that good or the Clippers defense just that bad? The correct answer is “C” — both.

Trail Blazers, 102, Pacers 79: This game is like a teaching tool for the four factors that decide the outcome of a game. Rule number one is the team that shoots better wins, but in this case Portland shot 43.2 percent and Indiana 43.4 percent. Nearly identical. So on to the other factors, like the fact Portland had 30 free throws on the night to Indiana’s 11; Portland had 12 offensive rebounds to Indiana’s five; Portland had 9 turnovers to Indiana’s 18. It was everything but the shooting that made this a blowout.

Mike Budenholzer no fan of Drake’s free run on Toronto sideline

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Drake is the Mayor of Toronto.

Actually, he does fewer drugs than some former mayors of Toronto, and Drake was not elected, but he’s The Mayor in any meaningful way. The man can do whatever he wants.

Such as walk up and down the sidelines of a Raptors game with impunity, and give Nick Nurse a massage during the game.

Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer has much bigger things to worry about — such as were Eric Bledsoe misplaced his shot — but somehow during his conference call with the media on Wednesday, before a critical Game 5, Drake was the topic of discussion. Budenholzer is not a fan of Drake getting to patrol the sidelines. Via ESPN:

“I will say, again, I see [Drake talking to Raptors] in some timeouts, but I don’t know of any person that’s attending the game that isn’t a participant in the game a coach,  I’m sorry, a player or a coach, that has access to the court. I don’t know how much he’s on the court. It sounds like you guys are saying it’s more than I realize. There’s certainly no place for fans and, you know, whatever it is exactly that Drake is for the Toronto Raptors. You know, to be on the court, there’s boundaries and lines for a reason, and like I said, the league is usually pretty good at being on top of stuff like that.”

My guess is the league (and maybe the referees before Game 6 in Toronto) will reach out to Drake and tell him he can’t go Joe Biden on a coach during the game, and to stay near his seat. This is precisely the kind of distraction from the game that fans love to talk about and annoys the league office, which wants the focus on the court.

Personally, the more personality around the game, the better. It’s entertainment people, enjoy the show.

Knicks president Mills says Porzingis threatened to return to Europe if not traded in seven days

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If you thought the Knicks thrashing or Kristaps Porzingis on his way out the door was over, well, you haven’t been paying attention to the Knicks.

Team president Steve Mills was at a Knicks fan forum on Wednesday and was asked about the Kristaps Porzingis trade and dropped this bomb: Porzingis gave the Knicks the ultimatum of “trade me or I’m going back to Europe.”

“When he walked into our office, my office, and Scott [Perry, Knicks GM] was sitting there with me, and point blank said to us, ‘I don’t want to be here, I’m not going to re-sign with the Knicks, and I’ll give you seven days to try and trade me or I’m going back to Europe.'”

To be clear, Porzingis had to mean going back to Europe to work out and hang out, he could not have played professionally this season. European clubs honor commitments to NBA contracts — they will not sign and play a guy under an NBA contract — the same way the NBA does with European clubs (as well as China and all FIBA leagues).

Saying he wasn’t going to re-sign makes things clear for New York, it’s one of the reasons the NBA touted the “super-max” contract extensions because teams would find out earlier about player intentions. The Europe part, he could have signed there this summer, but the most a European team would pay him would still be more than $20 million less his likely next NBA contract (the top Europeans players make less than $3 million annually). But sure, go ahead and believe Porzingis would leave that money on the table.

For the Knicks brass, speaking in front of Knicks fans, this was the chance to make themselves look good — “see, we already had a good trade in place” — and thrash the guy they had been selling as the franchise savior a year before. It’s all about perception.

The Knicks have a lot of cap space this summer and their perception as a front office will hinge on what they do — or do not do — with it.

Porzingis landed in a good spot with Luka Doncic in Dallas, and the Mavericks will give Porzingis a max contract. Then it’s on him to earn it.

New Suns coach Monty Williams: ‘I’m here at the right time, and I’m here with the right people’

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PHOENIX (AP) The Phoenix Suns have gone through coaches like tear-away racing visors, the count up to five in five years.

The instability has hurt them on the court, the run of playoff-less appearances stretching to nine straight seasons with this year’s 19-63 finish.

Monty Williams, the man GM James Jones hired to coach the Suns, hopes to change the trend.

“Continuity, having a staff here for a while and putting in a system that the players can rely upon, but ultimately it will come down to James, myself and the players pushing this thing forward,” Williams said during his introductory news conference Tuesday. “The players are going to have to embrace a level of work and commitment that it takes to be a champion.”

Williams was hired on May 3 to replace Igor Kokoskov, who was fired after one season in the desert.

Williams’s arrival in Phoenix was delayed while he finished out the playoffs as an assistant to Philadelphia coach Brett Brown. The 76ers were eliminated from the playoffs last week by Toronto on Kawhi Leonard‘s hang-on-the-rim buzzer-beater in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Williams’ name had been linked to numerous head coaching jobs, including the Lakers, but he wound up in the Valley of the Sun after multiple discussions with Suns owner Robert Sarver.

“In my conversations with Mr. Sarver, I saw someone who didn’t duck the tough questions,” Williams said. “We both had tough questions for each other and in this day and age where people throw each other under the bus, make excuses, blame, I didn’t see that. I saw a man who really wants to bring success to this city and I mean that with all of my heart or I wouldn’t have come here.”

Williams had a previous stint as an NBA head coach, leading New Orleans from 2010-15. A year after he was fired, Williams’ wife, Ingrid, was killed in a car crash.

He didn’t know if he wanted to get back into coaching after her death, but was pushed by his kids to return to coaching the sport he loves.

“When everything happened to my family, my focus was just take care of my children,” said Williams, who has remarried. “That led me to believe I might not ever be able to coach again, and I was cool with that. But they weren’t. And to have your children want you to go back to doing what you love to do gave me even more confidence, more strength. Hopefully that translates and the players can pick up on that.”

The Suns have been known as a dysfunctional franchise, but were lauded for landing Williams, a well-respected, well-rounded coach.

Williams played nine NBA seasons with New York, San Antonio, Denver, Orlando and Philadelphia. He’s been a head coach, an assistant and spent two years in San Antonio’s front office.

“His experience in all facets of basketball as a coach, player development on the offensive side of the ball and the defensive side of the ball, in the front office gives him a unique perspective that I think is well suited for our franchise,” Jones said.

In the Suns, Williams takes over a young team with two star-quality players at its core: Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton.

Booker has developed into one of the NBA’s best scorers, leading the Suns with 26.6 points per game. He had five 40-point games the final month of the season, including 50 and 59 in consecutive games.

Ayton was the No. 1 overall pick in last year’s NBA draft and didn’t disappoint, shooting 59% while averaging 16.3 points and 10.3 rebounds.

Phoenix should add to its talent base with the sixth overall pick in this year’s draft.

“There’s so much room to grow,” Williams said. “I think we have a young team that’s learning how to win and they will and I have to do my job. I have to enhance the strengths but be honest about our weaknesses and get the players to consider a new way of doing some things. I think I’m here at the right time and I’m here with the right people.”

Hornets’ Miles Bridges on All-Rookie: ‘I didn’t get snubbed. I played like a— all year’

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The NBA released its All-Rookie teams yesterday. Hornets forward Miles Bridges missed out, getting only one first-team vote and four second-team votes.

Bridges:

I love this attitude. Bridges didn’t deserve to make it. It’s silly to for anyone, including him, to pretend otherwise.

He’s obviously being too hard on himself. He had an OK rookie year. It just wasn’t one of the NBA’s 10 best this season.

Players often hold inflated opinions of themselves. That might help them succeed in a high-pressure job, and that’s obviously their priority. To be clear: I’m not criticizing them for adopting an approach that helped them reach this high level. But it leaves them as lousy analysts of their own performance.

Bridges doesn’t have that problem. It’s easy to see how this will drive him to improve.

His humility won’t work for everyone. But it works for him, and it’s a refreshing change of pace.