Baseline to Baseline, your game recaps

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Our game recaps from Thursday, or what you missed while getting geeked about the return of Tecmo Bowl…

Heat 114, Lakers 111 (OT): Just was just a fun one to watch –there was a duel between Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade, there was spots of good defense but better offense, there was a playoff feel. Just an entertaining game.

A couple defensive things that were interesting in this game. One was when Miami went to a zone for a stretch, which the Lakers struggled with. The Lakers reverted back to their isolation ways and were happy to shoot over the top of the zone rather than attack it inside by getting the ball to Bynum or Gasol. If teams make it hard to make a post entry pass for the Lakers, their guards will give up quickly. Miami only gave up on this when Kobe started getting into the soft middle of the zone with dribble penetration.

The other fun matchup was Ron Artest guarding Wade. Artest was Artest — relentless and trying not to let Wade get the ball in spots he wanted on the floor. It sort of worked. The problem was when Wade did get the ball Artest was often up tight on him and Wade blew past him. When Artest stepped back, Wade hit some jumpers. Still, Wade was just 9 of 21 on the night. Artest did his job.

The problem for the Lakers was with Artest on Wade, Kobe was on Quentin Richardson. Kobe loves to “play free safety” and gamble off his man to jump passing lanes and make steals. Richardson made him pay. A usually solid three point shooter (38% so far this season), Richardson was 7 of 11 from beyond the arc on the night and got looks because Kobe was roaming. And that was  a key difference. (To be fair, Artest spent a handful of possessions on Richardson as well, and nobody was stopping him on Thursday.)

Grizzlies 105, Bulls 96: This is going to happen to the Bulls again in the next three weeks, or however long it is until Joakim Noah returns to the Bulls lineup. They don’t have the body to stop anybody inside — they start Brad Miller and Taj Gibson as their bigs. So you get Zach Randolph putting up 31 and grabbing 18 boards. You get Memphis scoring 62 points in the paint. Teams like Memphis with a powerful inside game are going to be very tough for the Bulls to beat for a few weeks (although Brad Miller did a good job on Mark Gasol).Good effort, as usual, from the Bulls.

Jazz 116, Suns 108: There are plenty of fans who scoff at the idea that NBA teams do or should struggle in the second game of a back-to-back, that these are professional athletes who shouldn’t get tired. Which is crap but people think it. Games like this are perfect evidence of what happens in a back-to-back. The Suns seemed to be in control of this one, jumping out to the early lead and leading by 12 early in the fourth. Grant Hill had been hanging with Ponce de Leon at the fountain of youth. Then the two nights of running hit them in the fourth quarter. The Jazz are too good, Deron Williams is far too good (13 points in the fourth quarter) and Mehmet Okur to hot to give the Jazz the added advantage of tired Suns legs.

The other thing in this one were the little things — Utah grabbed 19 offensive boards, or 40% of their missed shots on the night. Phoenix had 18 turnovers, 21% of their possessions on the night. That is just too many giveaways to a good team to expect to win.

Report: Top draft prospects trying to avoid Kings

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The Kings – with their image as “basketball hell” – struggled to get top draft prospects to work out for them in 2016 and, to a lesser degree, last year.

This year, Marvin Bagley went to Sacramento and declared, “I love it here.”

That differentiated Bagley from Luka Doncic, Jaren Jackson Jr. and Mohamed Bamba – to the point the Kings are increasingly expected to draft Bagley No. 2 overall.

Jonathan Givony of ESPN on The Lowe Post podcast:

Who even wants to go to Sacramento? Because a lot of the top guys in this draft are openly trying to avoid going there. Jaren Jackson, Mo Bamba, Doncic – no medical for Sacramento. So, if they’re going to take one of these guys, they’re taking him blindly without knowing, what is this person’s medical status going to be down the road?

The one guy who wants to go there is Marvin Bagley. He actually went out there to work out, and they have his medicals.

He’s the kind of guy that he dreamed of being the No. 1 pick his whole life. And so if he’s not going to go No. 1, then he has to go No. 2.

You earn more money, and it’s prestige thing. And so, he’s been in competition his whole life with DeAndre Ayton, his former teammate. So, DeAndre is going to go one. Bagley is going to go two. We were the first ones to put Bagley at two, and Kings fans were up in arms and said, “Oh my god. There’s no way that Vlade passes on Luka. Can’t see it happening.” And, yeah, that’s the way it’s looking right now. But a lot of things can happen.

Zach Lowe:

It’s at least three or four months now that this buzz has been permeating the world, that Vlade Divac does not like Luka Doncic as a prospect.

The buzz has been so loud and so universal that it’s almost strange. So, it’s either true and Vlade has been telling everyone in the world that he does not like this guy for whatever, does not like him as a prospect, taking him at No. 2, anyway. Or it’s the greatest con job in NBA history.

Givony:

All year, it’s not just Vlade, but also his staff was very openly criticizing Luka, saying he’s not athletic enough. He’s too emotional. He’s not this. He’s not that.

Some of it might be, like we talked about, who wants to go to Sacramento? The fact that Marvin Bagley went to a workout, wore the Kings jersey and did that whole thing, I think that really put him in position to be No. 2, because I don’t know if they’re feeling that same love for Luka.

It’s just not the kind of embarrassment that they want right now. They’re really trying to show people that it’s a new Kings, that they’ve changed. It’s not the same mistakes that they’ve made two, three years ago. It’s a thing of the past. So, that potential embarrassment, I think, of him coming out and saying, “Trade me. I’m not coming to training camp,” that’s enough maybe to steer them into thinking that they shouldn’t take him.

This is hustling backward. The Kings seem to care more about their reputation than the actual things that gave them that reputation in the first place. Those surface-level fixes won’t work.

Want to improve the team’s image? Draft the best prospect available and use him to get good. Attack the substance of the problem.

Sacramento has made many ownership and management missteps that indicate a chaotic culture. But nothing lowers the Kings’ prestige more than their 12-season playoff drought (which is obviously influenced by ownership and management but is far more easily identifiable).

If that best prospect is Bagley, great. But I don’t think it is, and his eagerness to get drafted high to the point he’s embracing Sacramento doesn’t change his abilities as a player.

Fear of Doncic staying in Europe seems to be overthinking. If the Suns draft Deandre Ayton, Doncic would be my choice.

Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe the Kings are right to take Bagley.

But it seems increasingly likely they’ll pick him for the wrong reasons, which only lowers the odds of him actually be the optimal choice.

Sterling Brown’s lawsuit: Police officer involved in tasing/arrest posted on Facebook about getting same chance with J.R. Smith after NBA Finals Game 1

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Bucks guard Sterling Brown said he’d sue the Milwaukee police department over his tasing and arrest last January. The now-filed lawsuit makes the involved police officers look even worse than videos of the incident already did.

Somehow, J.R. Smith and his gaffe in Game of the NBA Finals got involved.

Wesley Lowery of The Washington Post:

Lowery posted the full lawsuit here.

There is a systematic problem where police too frequently trample on the rights of people, disproportionately minorities. Celebrating that intrusion of governmental forces is disgusting and speaks to the mindset that fuels the problem.

A few suspensions won’t fix the problem. Brown’s lawsuit won’t fix the problem.

But, hopefully, it sheds light on the bigger issue and is a step toward a solution. Unfortunately, history suggests the city will settle and just views it as a cost of doing business.

Report: Mavericks targeting Luka Doncic in draft

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It appears increasingly likely the Suns will draft DeAndre Ayton No. 1 and the Kings will take Marvin Bagley No. 2.

So, Luka Doncic – once more of a consensus top-two prospectcould fall.

All the way to the Mavericks at No. 5? They apparently hope so.

Adrian Wojnarowski on ESPN:

Dallas at five, they’re asking themselves, “Can we stay at five and get Luka Doncic, or do we have to move up to get the player?” Because that is the guy they have targeted for the Mavericks.

I doubt Doncic gets past the Grizzlies at No. 4, though I wouldn’t rule it out. The Hawks could even take him at No. 3.

Could Dallas trade up with Atlanta at No. 3 to get Doncic ahead of Memphis? What about swapping picks with the Grizzlies, maybe even taking Chandler Parsons‘ toxic contract (though that’d come with complications)?

This is a common situation. The Mavericks have the No. 5 pick. They want a player most people rate higher than fifth. Many teams want players rated higher than where they’re drafting.

The big question: What will Dallas do about it?

Rumor: Chris Paul telling people LeBron James wants to join Lakers

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Chris Paul is reportedly recruiting LeBron James very hard to the Rockets.

The response?

Stephen A. Smith of ESPN:

According to my sources, several things are happening. A, Chris Paul is telling folks Lebron ain’t trying to come to Houston. He wants to be in L.A. These are things I’m getting through the grapevine. Chris Paul is saying LeBron wants to be in L.A.

That’s quite believable. LeBron reportedly said he doesn’t like Houston as a city, and we know he likes Los Angeles. Lifestyle matters.

But it won’t be the only consideration. LeBron is still in “championship mode,” and the Rockets are closer than anyone to beating the Warriors. Perhaps, Paul can still convince his friend to join Houston.

But it sounds as if Paul recognizes he’s playing from behind – and so are all other non-Lakers suitors for LeBron.