Baseline to Baseline (your game recaps): Friday night is for nail biters, apparently

1 Comment

What you missed installing your all-in-one toilet paper roll holder and iPod Dock

There are more notes from the Hornets 96-93 win over the Heat here.

Celtics 110, Bulls 105 (OT): I could have sworn I saw Ray Allen dunk in the overtime. I must be hallucinating. Give the Bulls credit, down 16 in the third quarter on the second night of a back-to-back, a lot of teams would have just packed it in. The Bulls fought back, even got the lead. But when it mattered most the Celtics did what winners do and found a way.

Pistons 97, Bobcats 90: Rodney Stuckey sat and Tracy McGrady started — if I were a betting man I would have run out and put money on the Bobcats. And this is why I’m not a betting man. First win for the Pistons, who did not shoot the ball well — 42.7 percent to the Bobcats 55.2. Most nights, that means a lot. But the Pistons got to the line 16 more times and had 5 fewer turnovers and that was the difference.

Bucks 94, Pacers 90: Not a terribly impressive night for anyone shooting, the Pacers were just worse, hitting just 26.7 percent beyond 10 feet. The Bucks were without Andrew Bogut (migraine), but they outscored the Pacers by 10 in the final quarter to get a win. They’ll take it.

Knicks 112, Wizards 91: The Knicks had another very good offensive game, including shooting 41 percent from three for the game. Every Knick looked pretty good… except Anthony Randolph (1-7 shooting). Gilbert Arenas had 18 off the bench and was 4-8 from three. He’ll be starting soon.

Cavaliers 123, Sixers 116: The Sixers were a solid defensive team through their first few games but the Cavaliers crushed that for a night. Not a lot of defense from either side in this one, which made it entertaining if not good basketball. Anderson Varejao is 10-for-10 from the floor in this one.

Magic 105, Nets 90: The Nets shot poorly, especially from deep the last couple games, then they came out in this in this one and could not miss. They knocked down 45.5 percent fr0m three on the night and were up five at the break because of their shooting. Then Jameer Nelson got the Magic back into it, winning the third by 16 and never looking back.

Dwight Howard owned Brook Lopez on the night, Lopez had 10 points on 3-of-17 shooting.

Hawks 113, Timberwolves 103: The Hawks remain undefeated but know this — they have had the softest schedule in the NBA so far this season.

Lakers 108, Raptors 103: The Lakers were up and cruising in the first half when Toronto went to a zone defense. Then the Lakers reacted like it was the Western Conference finals all over again and started just passing the ball around the perimeter then jacking up the jumper. From there on in it was close. The Lakers defense still isn’t good, but Toronto’s is worse. And the Lakers can score the rock. The Raptors had 19 offensive rebounds against that long Lakers front line.

Nuggets 111, Clippers 104: Rare efficient night for Carmelo Anthony, 30 points on 14-of-20 shooting, and when he’s efficient that is a tough team to beat. The Clippers look better with Eric Bledsoe and Eric Gordon in the backcourt than they do with Baron Davis

Suns 123, Grizzlies 118 (2OT): Oh Memphis. One point lead and Gay gets fouled with 0.4 seconds left, so hit the first, miss the second and you win. Gay misses the first and hits the second, so time out Suns. Damn. Still, two point lead with 0.4 seconds left, the only way you can lose is a lob to the rim (unless Derek Fisher is in the building). Then Darrell Arthur slips trying to get back as Jason Richardson cuts to the rim, and the Suns get the lob and bucket and the tie to force overtime. Then double overtime (because Mike Conley missed a free throw).

Then in double overtime the Grizzlies starters — now all having played over 40 minutes — started to show that fatigue. Tough way to lose, watching Jason Richardson score 5 points in 1.1 seconds.

Warriors 85, Jazz 78: The Warriors beat the Jazz because they crashed the boards — 21 offensive rebounds — and played good defense. Basically, they beat the Jazz at their own game. Curry looked pretty good in his return and for the first time in three games he played without rolling his ankle.

Report: Pacers interview former Thunder coach Billy Donovan

Billy Donovan coaches Thunder vs. Pacers
Joe Robbins/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Pacers were reportedly expected to hire Mike D’Antoni as coach.

But if set on the former Rockets coach, Indiana isn’t acting like it.

Shams Charania of The Athletic:

Former Thunder coach Billy Donovan interviewed for the Pacers last week, sources said. The Pacers are expected to interview a pool of around 12 candidates, trim the candidates approximately in half, and conduct in-person interviews.

Donovan joins a list of known candidates that’s already way longer than 12:

  • Former Thunder coach Billy Donovan
  • Former Kings and Grizzlies coach Dave Joerger
  • Former Pistons and Nuggets star Chauncey Billups
  • Warriors assistant and former Cavaliers and Lakers coach Mike Brown
  • Nets assistant and former Magic coach Jacque Vaughn
  • Spurs assistant Becky Hammon
  • Spurs assistant Will Hardy
  • Heat assistant Dan Craig
  • Heat assistant Chris Quinn
  • Mavericks assistant Jamahl Mosley
  • Mavericks assistant Stephen Silas
  • Bucks assistant Darvin Ham
  • Bucks assistant Charles Lee
  • Magic assistant Pat Delany
  • Timberwolves assistant David Vanterpool
  • 76ers assistant Ime Udoka
  • Trail Blazers assistant Nate Tibbetts

Leaving the potentially rebuilding Thunder, Donovan clearly expected to land on his feet. The Pacers are equipped to win now, but maybe only moderately.

Donovan has shown impressive adaptability to his roster. That’d come in handy if Indiana is set on continuing the talented but challenging Domantas SabonisMyles Turner pairing.

Report: Clippers teammates rolled eyes at Paul George’s postseason calls for togetherness

Leave a comment

Paul George and Montrezl Harrell reportedly had a heated exchange on the bench during the Clippers’ loss to the Nuggets.

Apparently, that wasn’t an isolated incident.

Shams Charania of The Athletic:

Paul George had a disappointing series against Denver, and had several moments that left him in compromising positions with his teammates — beyond just his production. Multiple teammates had verbal spats with George throughout the postseason, citing in their exchanges a lack of accountability from him.

In the postgame locker room Tuesday night, George was preaching to teammates to remain committed, for all the players to return to the team this offseason and stay ready to make another run. It was met by some eye rolls and bewilderment, sources said, because George did not back up his words with action in the series and the team has multiple free agents with decisions to make.

George wanted more time with his teammates. They already had enough of him.

This had been a simmering problem – George and Kawhi Leonard getting preferential treatment, their teammates resenting it. Harrell sounded particularly bothered by the dynamic.

Losing exacerbates issues like that, and getting upset by Denver was a big loss. Both George and Harrell faced oncourt and offcourt stressors – only further contributing to squabbling.

Harrell will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason. The Clippers should try to keep him. He’s a good player, and they wouldn’t gain much cap flexibility without him.

But the 26-year-old might also want to explore the market and secure the most lucrative deal. It’d be reasonable for him to resent a teammate pressing him just to take the Clippers’ offer – especially if Harrell felt George wasn’t as committed to the team in the first place.

George and Leonard have earned preferential treatment. Leonard in particular has shown he benefits from load management.

However, that can annoy teammates. That doesn’t mean it’s a bad plan. It just means that downside should be accounted for.

It’d be nice if Leonard were more vocal or George rubbed fewer people the wrong way. But their basketball talent means dealing with their shortcomings. It’d be nice if George’s eye-rolling teammates realized that, too.

Clippers coach Doc Rivers bears responsibility for managing this tension. A this best, he connects well with players and gets everyone pulling for the same goal. That’s his job as the Clippers try to make the next step.

Miami’s Meyers Leonard adjusting to going from starter to out of rotation

Meyers Leonard
Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images
Leave a comment

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) — Meyers Leonard was bent forward at the waist, standing a few feet away from Miami coach Erik Spoelstra on the Heat sideline, screaming with every bit of the volume that his deep and booming voice can generate.

This is his role right now for the Heat.

His only role.

Leonard is in a tough spot these days; a full-time starter during the regular season, he is now out of the rotation as the Miami Heat have made their run to the Eastern Conference finals. It is a bitter pill for him to swallow — yet to his credit, he hasn’t acted the least bit bitter about his current reality.

“My team knows this, and our coaching staff knows this,” Leonard told The Associated Press. “I would do anything to be out there. And I’d be lying if I said that I’m not competitive as hell. I wish I was impacting the game on the floor. I’m not, but as a person and as a player, I want what’s best for everybody.”

So for now, the 7-foot, 260-pound, chiseled center is the tallest, strongest and best-paid assistant coach in these playoffs. He calls out what he’s seeing on every possession, pulls aside teammates for quick one-on-one chats when necessary, and on off days he’s getting his on-court work in just in case he’s needed to play.

Leonard has started 49 of his 51 appearances with the Heat this season, more starts than he made in his seven seasons with Portland combined. But in the playoffs, he’s logged a total of nine minutes, all in one appearance.

“Meyers is one of the most special people I’ve ever had the opportunity to coach and to be around,” Spoelstra said. “He is just an incredible human being and teammate. He has all our hearts. We will do anything for him because he is so pure.”

Leonard, more than anything else, got unlucky at the worst possible time.

He badly sprained his left ankle in early February and wasn’t anywhere near being ready to return to the lineup when the NBA season was suspended March 11 because of the coronavirus pandemic. And then when team facilities shut down as a precaution, Leonard’s rehab process had to be amended as well.

That was the first issue. The second was Miami became a different team a few days after he got hurt, pulling off a trade to bring Andre Iguodala, Jae Crowder and Solomon Hill to the Heat. Crowder has become a starter, and Spoelstra told Leonard before Miami resumed play in the NBA’s restart bubble that he was taking the rotation in a different direction.

It was tough on Leonard mentally. He was struggling when he got to the bubble because of his ankle, then spent days wrestling about whether he should stand for the national anthem or kneel with his teammates, and on top of all that he essentially lost his job as well.

“There’s just two things that I won’t ever let be questioned and that’s character and work ethic,” Leonard said. “Every day when I walk through the door, I’m going to be a great guy, a great teammate. It’s not fake. So I’m trying to make my impact now from the sideline.”

There are a few starters who aren’t in the same roles that they were for the four teams remaining in this NBA season. Avery Bradley opted out of joining the Los Angeles Lakers in the bubble. Will Barton — who led Denver in minutes per game this season — has a knee injury and has missed the Nuggets’ entire postseason run. Gordon Hayward has missed much of Boston’s playoff stint while recovering from a sprained ankle. Heat rookie Kendrick Nunn, a starter all season, is in Miami’s second unit now.

Leonard saw the Heat change, and his role change with it. He didn’t sulk, lash out or complain.

“It’s not easy, being in this kind of situation, going through the injury he went through and having the hiatus where he didn’t get the full opportunity to rehab it,” Spoelstra said. “But he’s making the most of it, and if he gets his opportunity, he will be ready.”

Leonard also sees the reason why he should be helping the Heat however he can right now. He’s never been this close to an NBA championship; the Heat lead the Celtics 2-1 in the East finals, with Game 4 on Wednesday night.

He’ll be ready to scream some more then, too.

“I am, in the best way possible, the most jealous of watching our team’s success,” Leonard said. “I literally said this to my wife the other night. I said, ‘Elle, we are six wins away from a ring.’ That is so damn special.”

Anthony Davis yelled “Kobe” after he sank game winner

Anthony Davis Kobe
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Lakers played in the Kobe-designed Black Mamba jerseys on Sunday night, when Anthony Davis did about the most Kobe thing possible — he drained a buzzer-beater game-winner.

When Davis did it, he yelled “Kobe.”

The Los Angeles Lakers have talked a lot this season about honoring the legacy of Kobe with their play and effort this season, and coach Frank Vogel did after this game.

“That’s a shot Kobe Bryant would hit,” Vogel said. “AD flying to the wing like that, catch and shoot with the game on the line, the biggest moment of the season, nothing but net? That’s a Mamba shot.”

The Lakers are now 3-0 in those black Mamba jerseys these playoffs. Expect to see them again.