Baseline to Baseline, where the Johan Petro was relevant

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What happened Saturday while you were dying Easter eggs…

Raptors 128 Sixers 123: Antoine Wright can be a difference maker if put in the position. He hauled in a hayuuuuge offensive rebound which sealed the game for Toronto. Say what you want about Andrea Bargnani, and Raptor fans will, but if they’re going to play defense the way they do, Bargs hitting 3 of 6 from the arc is a big deal.

Elton Brand had no rebounds for the first time in his career. Wow.

Hawks 91 Pistons 85: Joe Johnson was out, and the Pistons made  a respectable fourth quarter run, but Detroit’s offense is just too miserable to outwork a Hawks team at home, short-handed or not.

Ben Gordon is a complete disaster. There’s no other way to put it. 0 of 7 from the field, and I can’t even tell you many of them were close but rimmed out. That has to be the worst offseason acquisition in the league.

Nets 115 Hornets 87: Well, then.

This, THIS was what the Nets were supposed to look like. Terrence Williams had a breakout game, with 14 points and 14 assists, and Chris Douglas Roberts got on track to get some buckets, while Brook Lopez and Devin Harris took it easy.

The Hornets? That whole “we’re gonna keep trying to build momentum for next year” thing was a lie. Big fat lie.

Heat 97 Wolves 84: Miami’s got it going, at just the right time. Not coincidentally, Dwyane Wade is at his hottest of all season.

Wade scored 82 points in 27 hours, dropping 39. And it was the whole bag of tricks. Drawing fouls, leaners, the pull-up, the transition buckets, the big shebang.

The Wolves? They are officially the worst team in the league in point differential. But hey, they’ve got more wins! That should help! In…. nothing. Nothing at all.

Bulls 96 Bobcats 88: While everyone else is getting banged up, the Bulls are healthy. And hungry. And ready to rock.

Noah was big in this game, getting back to his hot rebounding. But Kirk Hinrich? Dang.

If Hinrich shoots 9-12 from the field? Bulls are going to win most nights. They just are. Because it means he can do what he does best (play defense) and do what he doesn’t do well (play offense) well. And that’s tough to stop.

The Cats just didn’t have enough. Stephen Jackson is banged up, Raymond Felton wasn’t plugged in, and the team didn’t have a big enough lift. They are not securely in the playoffs yet.

Bucks 107 Suns 98: You know about the injury. No need to rehash that. But even after Bogut went down, the Bucks continued to work on the defensive end. And against a team without a real dominant post presence, they could skate with this one.

It’s a testament that the Bucks went out and finished this after what happened to Bogut, and it says something that if you commit to defense and swallow up the perimeter penetration, Phoenix still turns back into a pumpkin.

Thunder 121 Mavs 116: Yeah, I don’t get it either. The Mavs shot well. And if the Thunder don’t play terrific defense, they usually struggle. The Mavs shot 53% from the field. And were never really in this.

Dallas’ defense was worse, even with a lower opponents’ field goal possession, but it’s still a weird outcome. Dallas kept Kevin Durant at least frustrated if not shut down, forcing a low field goal percentage. But man, OKC just always has guys to come out of the woodwork. Last night it was James Harden. Versatile, quirky, interesting OKC.

Officially in the playoffs.

If Dallas plays a team without a legit center when they have two and get worked? That’s a real bad sign.

Nuggets 98 Clippers 90: Uh, the Nuggets are better than the Clippers. If you think there’s something I can tell you about this game, then…

Fine.

Clips had the lead, and then Denver started to work. Clips were working it inside, then started settling, because that’s what Denver’s defense does. Makes you quit.

Johan Petro had 14 points, continuing the theme of “Denver can make a good big out of damn near anyone.”

Blazers 98 Kings 87: I keep waiting for the clock to run out on Portland. And it doesn’t. Never does. This team fights tooth and nail at every turn, and when it has to, comes up with plays. We’ll have to see if they can do it in the playoffs, but the fact that they’re here is something in and of itself.

The Kings are well screwed whenever Tyreke Evans has a bad night. And he had a bad night. And a bad night for him means he still gets 5 rebounds and six assists.

Steve Kerr on Warriors’ late possession vs. Rockets: “I wanted the timeout”

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The Houston Rockets leveled the Western Conference finals against the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday night by a margin of 95-92. The win for the Rockets was ugly, but it leveled the series at 2-2 heading back to Houston.

It was a close game down the stretch, and it looked like Golden State’s last chance to get the win was going to come on a possession with 11 seconds to go following a missed James Harden jumper.

The Warriors immediately turned up the floor and did not call a timeout. The resulting possession was messy, and it wound up ending on a difficult Klay Thompson turnaround jumper. Golden State would get another shot at a 3-pointer with half a second left thanks to a foul on Thompson’s miss, but many were still left wondering why Steve Kerr did not choose to call a timeout during the possession before.

Kerr addressed the decision after the game.

Via Twitter:

You sort of have to side with Kerr in principle, but if you’d seen the way the Warriors played the rest of that fourth quarter you would probably err on calling a timeout and letting them set something up. Curry was 1-of-8 in the fourth, Durant shot poorly most of the game, and Golden State scored 12 total points in the final period.

When you consider Curry got a look at a wide open 3-pointer in the corner with 0.5 seconds left on the clock when the Warriors did call a timeout on the next possession, it makes it look even worse.

In any case, Houston beat out Golden State in a close game and we’re headed back to Texas for Game 5 on Thursday.

Rockets survive gut punch from Warriors, even Western Conference Finals at 2-2

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The Houston Rockets can only win against the Golden State Warriors in one way: ugly.

During their Game 2 blowout against the defending champions, Houston’s 22-point victory was ugly for the Warriors. In Tuesday’s Game 4 win, it was ugly for the Rockets despite the 95-92 score in their favor.

Golden State came out of the gates hot, scoring the first 12 points of the game as it was clear that the Warriors were drawing off of the home crowd back in Oakland. Houston eventually settled, coming back with a massive 34-point second quarter. Mike D’Antoni, using an abbreviated rotation, found a way to up his team’s defense on the Warriors, clamping down on Golden State from the 3-point line.

The Rockets took a 53-46 lead into the half, and needed to brace for the coming changes from Steve Kerr’s squad.

Unsurprisingly, the Warriors answered with a 34 point quarter of their own to open the second half. Golden State found their range from 3-point land as — guess who — Stephen Curry started to go nuclear. Kevin Durant, who scored 27 points but shot a woeful 37.5 percent from the field, started to slow even as he got open looks off jumpers above smaller defenders.

Then came the fourth quarter.

Houston remained resolute, and full of energy as PJ Tucker and Chris Paul jumped for loose balls and battled for rebounds. Meanwhile, Golden State appeared to slowly run out of gas. Steve Kerr said as much after the game, intimating that his own shortened lineup without Andre Iguodala could have played a role.

D’Antoni, who obviously had a game plan to better defend Durant, then focused his attention toward Curry. The Warriors point guard finished the game shooting 1-for-8 in the fourth quarter, including a miss on the final shot of the game.

Curry scored 28 points with six rebounds and two assists. Durant added 12 rebounds and three assists to his scoring total. Draymond Green contributed 11 points, 14 rebounds, and eight assists.

For Houston it was Harden who led the way with 30 points, four rebounds, and four assists. Paul had 27 points to go with four assists and two rebounds. PJ Tucker, who scored just four points, grabbed a whopping 16 boards. Clint Capela was much the same, scoring eight points while grabbing 13 rebounds.

This season’s Western Conference fighters has been both puzzling and Expected. Well the variants of victory margin has been much greater than any of us anticipated for both sides, the fact that the coaches on each bench are trying to out dual each other each game Runs with the idea we have of some of the best playoff series in NBA history. In fact, the back-and-forth battle between two teams as they trade winds is perhaps what makes be later rounds of the NBA playoffs so worth watching.

Houston’s victory was gritty, and defensive, and not much to look at. True to his persona, after the final horn Rockets point guard Paul called it, “A fun game.”

While we finally got ourselves a close conference finals game out West, the question now turns to what the teams will do for Game 5 back in Houston. Will this series become more competitive? Or will Houston and Golden State continue the back-and-forth, big-margin victories we’ve seen thus far?

No matter what, there’s no doubt the Rockets will be trying to recapture the defensive aura they held in Game 4 as Golden State tries to find a way to break through it.

Report: Suns could have traded for Kristaps Porzingis last season

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I’m going to need New York Knicks fans to read this one with their eyes closed. Ready? Here we go.

The Phoenix Suns recently won the right to the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft. That means they will be adding a player like Luka Doncic, Deandre Ayton, or Marvin Bagley to their young roster. Last season, Phoenix selected fourth and picked Josh Jackson. It’s a rebuilding process, to be sure.

But a new report says that if Phoenix would have decided to instead trade the pick they used on Jackson, they could have had Knicks big man Kristaps Porzingis.

Seriously.

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Phoenix had an opportunity to put together a package that would have sent Porzingis to Arizona. That anything the Suns had, plus the No. 4 pick, would have made that happen is just another testament to why Phil Jackson had to go in New York.

Via the Ryen Russillo show:

The Knicks actually hit on Porzingis, and although he may be out for the entire year next season, he’s a keeper to build around, not to trade. On the other side of things, why the Suns didn’t include that pick and pull the trigger is a head scratcher, although we don’t know the full details of the proposed package.

No doubt New York fans are glad the Suns didn’t decide to accept the offer without that pick.

Watch James Harden dunk all over Draymond Green (VIDEO)

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Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals started off hot for the Golden State Warriors. The defending champs scored the first 12 points of the game, but the Houston Rockets rallied before the half was over to take the lead, 53-46, at the break.

One of the biggest highlight plays from Houston came courtesy of James Harden late in the second quarter.

The play came with 6:06 left to play in the half and with the Rockets pushing on the Warriors in transition. Harden found himself with the ball at the top of the key and with an open lane. That forced Draymond Green to slide over as a help defender, and the result was a thunderous dunk for Harden over the Golden State defensive stalwart.

We’ll forget that Chris Paul probably either travelled or double-dribbled before Harden got the ball on the play.

Golden State leads the series, 2-1.