Baseline to Baseline, where Kenyon Martin was not the difference

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What happened Saturday while you were mourning the Arrested Development movie

Spurs 104 Nuggets 85: Kenyon Martin’s back! Kenyon Martin’s back! Oh… that didn’t go quite how we planned.

The biggest way the Spurs have improved lately is that they’re catching teams off guard, finally. Those little cuts that seem to come out of nowhere, the screens and off-sets and things they do which create confusion are finally looking in sync. Denver on the other hand looked gassed and upset with the officials. Melo got tossed, and Billups and J.R. Smith both got T’d up. Richard Jefferson chewed up the Nuggets. He only had 15 and 7, but in reality, he was a huge factor for the Spurs.

I don’t want to alarm anyone, but outside of J.R. Smith, the Nuggets bench is about as bad as any team in the league outside of Memphis. They have some shot blockers, but that’s pretty much it.

Hawks 105 Wizards 95: You’ve got to hold JoeJamal to under 40. That’s just a rule. If you don’t limit Joe Johnson and Jamal Crawford to under 40 points, you’re going to have a hell of a time getting a win. The rest of the Hawks are simply too talented and consistent not to fill in the rest, and they’re going to play solid defense too often.

A big warning sign is that point guards have a ton of success against the Hawks. Mike Bibby no longer matches up, Jeff Teague isn’t ready, and guarding a good point takes too much away from Johnson and Crawford. Mo Evans is shaky there. Something to keep an eye on.

Pacers 115 Nets 102: Little bit of column A. Little bit of column B. Little bit of terrific defense from the Pacers, who were locked in, talking to one another, shutting off the movement from the Nets and dogging them into bad possession after bad possession. Those airballs resulting in shot clock violations will kill you. And they did. I don’t know if the Nets were zoned out, but they were in the game, they were in the game… and then they were not. Good win from a Pacers team that is poorly constructed, but does have some true pros on it.

I’m pretty sure absolutely every person on earth is surprised when Dahntay Jones hits a bucket. Marv Alberts is a person on earth.

Nets have secured lottery spot number one. Since like, November, but officially, now.

Bobcats 99 Pistons 95: You can call off the APB for Ben Gordon’s jumper. It’s fallen the last two games and may actually be back. The issue?  Everyone else’s took off.

I wouldn’t call it a good game for the ‘Cats, but it’s pretty typical. Lots of missed shots, lots of inconsistent play, and then someone random steps up and hits shots and everyone across America freaks out when the line goes across the bottom of the screen at your local sports bar, saying “THAT GUY had X points?!”

Larry Huges was THAT GUY. 18 points for Hughes, to go with 4 boards, 5 assists, 5 turnovers, but two steals.

Larry Brown will never cease to amaze me.

Sixers 120 Grizzlies 101: I haven’t looked it up, yet, but I’m pretty sure the Grizzlies may actually have a negative winning percentage on back to backs. I don’t mean it’s considered bad, I mean the number may actually be negative. They have zero bench, so they’ll compete for about two more quarters, and then they just run out of steam.

But they’re a bad defense anyway. And the Sixers? They earned this. Worked for it, hit huge shots, looked good. This is the best I’ve seen the Sixers all year. They looked plugged in, ready to play, and came out and executed. A big factor? Marreese Speights, who, if they will just accept his learning curve, can come out and be a decider for them. 22 and 5 in 20 minutes for the youngster. Dang.

The real issue was three point shooting. The Sixers were en fuego, and Memphis was too gassed to run ’em off. And they dropped all night long. Good win for the Sixers.

Celtics 105 Bucks 90: You know? Tony Allen really isn’t all that bad.

I don’t get it either, but he’s been good this year, His line isn’t huge (7 points, 5 boards, 2 assists, 1 steal, 2 blocks), but he was a big part of a second quarter surge for the Celtics once they got their legs under them.

The Bucks have matchup advantages against Boston… when Andrew Bogut is playing. We’re going to be saying that no matter who Milwaukee ends up against. Luke Ridnour is going to have to play better if the Bucks are going to get anything done in the playoffs, even if it’s just a first round push. He’s struggling as of late, and it’s bad timing.

Paul Pierce is still Truth-ful.

Mavs 128 Kings 106: High-post. Cut, drive. Dish. Rotate. Rotate. Three.

And that’s your ball game.

The Mavericks lit ’em up, and the Kings don’t have enough weapons in the gunfight even with Evans and Landry combining for 58 points. Mavs shot 62% from the arc. That’s reDirkulous.

Oh, and speaking of, Dirk is good.

Clippers 107 Curry 104: Clippers realized that if you pound ’em inside, the Warriors will break. That’s what happened, with Kaman dropping 27.

Stephen Curry had another great line (29, 9, 4) and another night of really pretty terrible defense.

Shaq donates a year’s rent to a paralyzed Atlanta boy

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ATLANTA (AP) — Basketball Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal has donated a year’s rent in a new home to an Atlanta woman whose 12-year-old son was paralyzed in a shooting at a football game.

O’Neal tells WXIA-TV  that Isaiah Payton’s family had been living in a one-bedroom apartment that wasn’t accessible for people with disabilities.

“It’s just sad. It could have been any one of us,” Shaq told the Atlanta station. “It could have been my son. It could’ve been your cousin. She was living in a one-bedroom apartment with her two boys, so we found her a house in a nice area.”

Now they have a home in a good neighborhood. He says he’s helping furnish the home and will pay its rent for the next year.

Isaiah was shot through the spine in August after a football scrimmage between two high schools. Sixteen-year-old Damean Spear also was wounded and treated for minor injuries. Isaiah’s mother, Allison Woods, has said relearning how to care for Isaiah meant she had to leave her job, adding financial stress to her emotional turmoil.

Jazz reportedly extend contract of coach Quin Snyder, locking him down well into future

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Quin Snyder has evolved into one of the best coaches in the NBA (and my pick to win Coach of the Year this season). He’s built a development program and system in Utah that has turned Rudy Gobert into a two-time Defensive Player of the Year, Donovan Mitchell into the face of a franchise, and Joe Ingles into a guy other teams covet. His players like and respect Snyder, and he has worked well with the front office of Dennis Lindsey and Justin Zanik.

So the Jazz are locking him up with a contract extension beyond the two seasons remaining on his deal. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN broke the news.

Utah Jazz coach Quin Snyder has agreed to a long-term contract extension, league sources tell ESPN. Snyder had two years left on his deal, and a new contract extends multiple years beyond that term, sources said.

After upgrading the team’s talent base over the summer, locking Snyder into an extension had been a top organizational priority.

Jazz fans should be ecstatic about this.

Snyder has built a system team in Utah, one that moves the ball beautifully on offense, and that has been tough to defend in the regular season, with the Jazz winning 50 games last season. Utah has made it to the second round of the playoffs the past two seasons, but when the level of play made that leap a lot of the system gets taken away by good defenses, and the Utah offense became Donovan Mitchell against the world. It didn’t work, Mitchell (still just 22) wasn’t fully ready and there was not enough shooting around him.

This past summer, the Jazz added Mike Conley at point guard and Bojan Bogdanovic on the wing, two excellent shooters who also can create off the dribble. Expectations are high in Utah.

Whatever happens, Snyder is their coach now for a long time.

Giannis Antetokounmpo says he learned from Kawhi Leonard: “He was calm”

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Milwaukee was up 2-0 in last season’s Eastern Conference Finals on Toronto, having won those games by an average of 15 points. Giannis Antetokounmpo had scored 54 points, pulled down 31 rebounds, dished out 11 assists, and was looking every bit the MVP.

Then the games shifted to Toronto, Kawhi Leonard took over — including guarding Antetokounmpo more — and the Raptors rattled off four straight wins to take the series on their way to the NBA title. The Greek Freak still averaged 20.4 points a night in those final four games, but the buckets were much harder to come by.

Milwaukee returns this season as the Eastern Conference favorites and legit title contenders, in part because of what they learned from that loss. Antetokounmpo told Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports he learned a lot directly from Leonard in that series.

“I learned a lot from him,” Antetokounmpo said. “He knocked down free throws. He was calm. When double-teams came, he was swinging the ball but getting it right back. He was aggressive. He was calm but he was on a mission.”

Leonard is the living embodiment of the old John Wooden axiom “be quick, don’t hurry.” He’s not rushed, he’s rarely forced into shots he doesn’t want to take or plays he doesn’t want to make.  That’s true of all champions on some level. LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan all bring an inner calm.

If Antetokounmpo brings that to his game, the Bucks are one big step closer to a title.

Domantas Sabonis on trade rumors: ‘I know exactly how the Pacers feel about me now’

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The Indiana Pacers have started to explore the trade market for Domantas Sabonis. There are logical reasons for this: Sabonis is good (he was second in Sixth Man of the Year voting last season), yet he and the Pacers are nowhere near agreement on a contract extension, and the Pacers already paid big money for Myles Turner to be their center, how much do they want to pay Sabonis, too?

That’s sound logic if you’re in the Pacers’ front office.

If you’re Sabonis, it can feel like a slap in the face to a guy who put in a lot of sweat and passion for the franchise. That’s what Sabonis sounded like in this quote, via Scott Agnes of The Athletic.

The Pacers are not talking about the report, which started with the well connected and reliable Sam Amick at The Athletic.

Pacers’ brass needs to talk about this with Sabonis (and likely already have, behind closed doors). If the Pacers trade him, it’s likely not until after Dec. 15 at the earliest (when most players signed this summer can be included in a deal) and probably closer to the February trade deadline. That’s a lot of season to play out, and Sabonis remains a vital part of the Indiana rotation.

There is likely to be a lot of interest in Sabonis on the market. However, because he’s a center (a position teams are careful not to overspend on in today’s market) and in the last year of his rookie deal — meaning he becomes a restricted free agent next summer and gets more expensive — teams are not going to overpay for him. Right now the Pacers are asking for too much and interested teams are lowballing their offers. The sides will meet in the middle.

That middle could shift if Sabonis has a rough start to the season. Both sides need him to play well and feel comfortable, whatever is going on with the business side of his contract.