Baseline to Baseline, your game recaps

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What happened Saturday while you were watching Pacquiao do work

Magic 109 Wizards 95: So it wasn’t the epic beatdown we were fearful of, which is a good thing. Washington actually led after the first, but then the fact that it was their third game in three nights caught up with them. Either that or the fact they were playing a far-superior Magic team caught up with them. Either way, the Magic scored 41 in the second and that was that.

Shaun Livingston had 18 points and eight assists, and if that doesn’t make you feel good, then you’re dead inside. Andray Blatche had 32, and looks more legit by the second.

Meanwhile, for the winners, J.J. Redick and Brandon Bass got to feel like they were actually part of the Magic, leading the second quarter comeback.

Atlanta 112 Detroit 99: The Hawks kind of gave up a huge run after being up by a ridiculous amount, which has to concern Mike Woodson. It’s not really a matter of focus, it’s more like they hit the ceiling and there’s a period of ricochet afterwards.

This sounds simple, and it is. When Jamal Crawford is locked in? Getcha toetags ready. Cause he’ll just mow ’em down.

Nuggets 125 Grizzlies 108: In the words of Ron Burgandy, that really got out of hand, fast. I’m pretty sure J.R. Smith killed a guy with a trident. The Grizzlies had a lead, a sizable one. They were getting penetration, causing turnovers, running and gunning and everything looked good. And just like that, the Nuggets flew by in a whoosh so loud it blew the amps out on Beale Street.

J.R. Smith was in full form tonight draining pull-up threes in transition, hitting from ridiculous range, and mocking the crowd. A Memphis crowd. Sam Young had probably his worst game as a professional, and Marc Gasol wasn’t as aggressive as he needed to be when the defense started clamping down on Randolph and Mayo.

Rockets 116 Nets 108: Luis Scola can ball. Tonight was a Scola highlight reel. Scola scored 44 points on 25 shots. Do you know how insane that is? That’s crazy. That’s cuckoo for Cocoa-Puff. 20-25 from the field. And he hit everything. Putbacks, 20 footers (two feet beyond his usual range). Turnaround Duncan-esque glass-bankers. The whole barrage. And he was the entire difference the Rockets held off a Nets team that, no joke, keeps playing better each night.

Chris Douglas-Roberts did not play.

Spurs 118 Clippers 88: Yeah, let me tell you, LeBron would much rather play for the Clippers with the worst owner in the league for a team with an aging gunner point guard that got blasted off the face of the earth than a Nets team with fewer losses but a better future.

George Hill got to coach in this one. I’m not kidding. Pop gave HIll the clipboard late in the game and had him show D-League call-up Cedric Jackson how he blew an assignment. Then Hill asked Pop what play he wanted to run, and Pop said “I don’t know, whatever you want.” This means that A. Popovich is the most awesome coach in the history of the NBA and B. the Clippers got outcoached by a second year backup point guard.

I’d be willing to give the Clippers a pass on this one, after all, how often does Matt Bonner score 21 points, if it weren’t for the fact that they let Matt Bonner score 21 points.

DeAndre Jordan showed more signs of something special, mixed with signs of nothingness.

Knicks 128 Mavs 94: See, this is why if I’m a coach and I’m up 40 points late in a game, I’d deliberately peel it back down to 30. It’s tough not to open a floodgate that can lead to a comeback, but this game is a pretty good indicator of why you don’t want to win by 50 like the Mavs did last time these two met.

You give the other team the motivation of revenge for pride’s sake. And that’s a powerful thing for a professional athlete. Now, the Mavs were a part of this, too. They just couldn’t find net, no matter what they did, and they couldn’t find a way into their offense if they had neon signs point them in the right direction.

Toney Douglas had 21 and 8 assists, and it only took D’Antoni four months to figure out he should play more.

Warriors 124 Raptors 112: No one played defense. The Raptors played defense less. Stephen Curry is very, very good.

The end.

Gordon Hayward does not plan to leave bubble for birth of son

Gordon Hayward birth of son
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When Boston first went to the NBA restart bubble in Orlando, Gordon Hayward was upfront: He was leaving the bubble for the birth of his fourth child.

Hayward ended up leaving the bubble for another reason β€” he severely sprained his ankle and was out for more than a month. During his rehab, Hayward left the bubble and spent time at home, returning a couple of weeks ago. Saturday he played his first game back for Boston, helping it to a win against the Heat.

Hayward’s wife, Robyn, has yet to have their son, but now Hayward does not plan to leave the bubble for the event, something first reported by Rachel Nichols of ESPN during Saturday’s game.

Hayward confirmed this after the game. So did Robyn in a social media post, adding the reports she was in labor already were not true.

I don’t envy the Hayward family having to make this choice. As a parent, I can’t imagine having missed the births of any of my children, but, like everything else in 2020, this is far from a typical decision at a typical time. The Haywards are making the best of it they can. They deserve support no matter what they choose.

LeBron James, Dion Waiters’ son engage in a little trash talk

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“Yeah, right.”

That was Dion Waiters Jr.’s response to pretty much everything LeBron James during the Lakers’ practice on Saturday before Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals.

LeBron was getting up some corner threes and told Waiters Jr. he would make 100 straight.

“Yeah, right.”

When LeBron missed one,Β “I missed that on purpose.”Β 

“Yeah, right.”

“I missed that on purpose, so you’d think I’m human,” LeBron joked.

Got to love Dion Waiters Jr. β€” he’s got some of his dad’s spunk.

Families have been allowed in the bubble for teams for a couple of weeks, although LeBron’s sons are not there, with LeBron saying it’s not a great place for kids (he’s right, for anyone over about 7 or 8, there would be little to do).

Aggressive, attacking Boston drives right into heart of Miami defense, wins Game 3

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On Boston’s first possession of the game, Marcus Smart drove right to the rim and got an and-1 on a reverse layup.

Next possession, Jaylen Brown got a bucket cutting for a layup, with the assist from Smart. Next possession, Brown drove the lane and banked in a floater. The next Boston bucket was a Jayson Tatum driving layup.

The first nine Boston points came with them attacking the heart of the Miami defense (going at Duncan Robinson in particular), and that continued all game with the Celtics getting 60 points in the paint.

“Boston came out with great force. You have to give them credit for that,” Heat coach Eric Spoelstra said after the game.

Throw in 31 quality minutes from Gordon Hayward in his return from a sprained ankle β€” providing more quality wing play and good decision making β€” and Boston raced out to a comfortable lead then hung on at the end for a 117-106 win in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

The Heat lead the series 2-1, with Game 4 not until Wednesday night (a little delay to allow the West to catch up).

After a sloppy Game 2 loss where the Celtics became passive in the face of Miami’s zone defense in the second half, followed by a postgame meltdown and meeting of the minds, the guys at the heart of the Celtics young core stepped up their game on Saturday night.

Particularly Brown, who had 26 points on 11-of-17 shooting and was getting to the rim all game. He also was playing smothering defense.

Smart β€” an All-Defensive Team player β€” had his best game of the series, blanketing Goran Dragic, who had been the Heat’s best scorer and shot creator through two games. Without Dragic breaking down the Celtics’ defense and getting points in the paint, Miami has to live by the three and the Celtics defenders did a better job staying home.

“Marcus’ ball pressure on Dragic was important,” Celtics’ coach Brad Stevens said postgame. “It’s something we need to continue to look at. Marcus did a great job on a guy who is playing better than I’ve ever seen him.”

Boston also got more minutes from Gordon Hayward than expected, minutes Stevens called a “stabilizing force” for the team.

“I’m extremely tired right now. My ankle is pretty sore,” Hayward said postgame, adding with the extra days off he should be good to go for Game 4.

Hayward’s presence also allowed Boston to play small ball without Daniel Theis or any true center on the floor, the Celtics switched everything defensively, and Miami didn’t take advantage. Look for Eric Spoelstra to turn to more Bam Adebayo against that small lineup next game.

“They got us on our heels. They were out there hooping and having fun. I guess that was the difference in the game,” Bam Adebayo said postgame.

Miami didn’t shoot the ball well Saturday night, hitting just 27.3% from three. Jae Crowder, who had been hot, was 2-of-8 from deep, while Tyler Herro was 4-of-12. Adebayo had 27 points and 16 boards to lead the Heat.

Boston had four players with more than 20 points: Brown (26), Tatum (25), Kemba Walker (21), and Smart (20).

Boston will need another game like that β€” and they will need to close better, Miami made it interesting late β€” to even the series on Wednesday.

Miami said postgame they saw what happened in this game as a challenge to them. Game 4 is going to be intense.

Ja Morant points out one person who didn’t vote him Rookie of the Year

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Ja Morant was not the unanimous Rookie of the Year β€” 99 out of 100 media members voted for him, one voted for Zion Williamson.

When the media votes became public Saturday, Morant got to see who the one voter who voted for someone else was: Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times.

Crowley stood up for his vote, and everything was good between them (at least on social media).

While the votes come from media members, the NBA goes out of its way to put together voters who see things differently, something ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne talked about is an excellent thread on Twitter, although she was speaking about the case for LeBron James over Giannis Antetokounmpo for MVP.

To be clear, I was one of the Morant voters, and I will readily admit that Zion is the better player (at least right now). I consider the impact on winning heavily when voting, which led me to Morant because he played 59 games before the bubble and had his team in a playoff position, while Zion played only 19 and did not (only games before the NBA restart in Orlando were to be considered, per NBA rules). I also expect and respect the fact that not everyone will see it that way, or even define what matters most in winning the award the same way. Diversity of thought and views is a good thing, it leads to better outcomes. Crowley should vote what he sees and believes, and that should be respected.

Unanimous or not, Morant will go down as the 2019-20 Rookie of the Year. The voting will be a footnote at most.