Baseline to Baseline (your game recaps): Where Dirk does what Dirk does, just with shorter hair

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What you missed while watching Conan debut his new show.

Atlanta at Orlando reran a playoff game from last season and that was our… wait, this was a new game? Because it looked a lot like the old ones. Anyway, it’s still our game of the night, learn more here.

Mavericks 89, Celtics 87: Fun little stat from this one — coming into this game both Dallas and Boston averaged nearly 24 long two pointers a game (16 feet out to the arc). That’s the least efficient shot in basketball, less of those is good. Monday night Dallas did cut their long twos and took 15 total, and they hit 40 percent of those. Boston took 31 long twos and hit 38.8 percent. Boston balanced that out somewhat with 11 more shots at the rim, but the bottom line is Dallas was getting a more balanced attack and was hitting everywhere against the vaunted Celtics defense. Plus Dallas was attacking and getting to the line, with 13 more free throws.

The freshly shorn Dirk Nowitzki does what he does, hitting the game-winning jumper with Glen Davis right in his face. Then the Mavericks played some good defense — Rajon Rondo with the three ball to win it was the shot Boston took. Dallas will take those odds every time. It clangs out then the Mavs win a big one.

Bulls 94, Nuggets 92: Carmelo Anthony is a better player than Joakim Noah, but why you don’t include Noah in any trade for Anthony was in evidence in this one — you think you need Anthony to win it all, but you need Noah, too. You need a physical presence inside that can block both Al Harrington and Carmelo Anthony shots near the basket in the final few minutes. You need the guy who can get the offensive board, go back up and foul Harrington out with less than a minute left. Noah scored an inefficient 13 points on the night but it was the 19 boards, four blocks and other changed shots near the rim that really won this for the Bulls.

Warriors 109, Raptors 102: Golden State is a beast on the boards. Weird to say that, but Golden State was second in the league in percent of missed shots gotten for offensive rebounds then went out and pulled down 11 more against Toronto.

Spurs 95, Bobcats 91: A Gregg Popovich team against a Larry Brown team. This game stood no chance of being entertaining to watch.

Grizzlies 109, Suns 99: Zach Randolph with 23 and 20 tonight. Yes, I wish I had him on my fantasy team, too. But the point is Suns did not have an answer. Second straight meeting where the Suns spotted the Griz an 18 point lead and tried to come back, but that trick only works once.

WNBA team rehearses ring ceremony at practice of team it beat in Finals

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The NBA does petty very, very, very, very, very, very, very well.

The WNBA is trying to give the NBA a run for its money.

The Minnesota Lynx and Los Angeles Sparks have met in the last two WNBA Finals, the Lynx winning last year and the Sparks winning the year before. Minnesota hosted Los Angeles in the season opener Sunday, and the Lynx unveiled their banner and presented players with rings.

Before that, while the Sparks were practicing in Minnesota, the Lynx played their video for the event.

Holly Rowe of ESPN:

The Sparks beat the Lynx on Sunday, but I don’t think that’s enough to override Minnesota’s power move.

Kobe Bryant on Kanye West’s comments: “What the hell are you talking about?”

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Kanye West, the President Trump backing hip-hop star, drew a lot of backlash for his comments on TMZ:

“When you hear about slavery for 400 years — for 400 years? That sounds like a choice. You were there for 400 years and it’s all of y’all. It’s like we’re mentally imprisoned.” 

Mentally, maybe in some cases. But more so physically, with guns and whips and attack dogs and a whole lot more weapons that were all on one side. Nobody chooses slavery.

Tuesday, Kobe Bryant surprised a group of about 300 high school students at WE RISE — a 10-day pop-up festival dedicated to sparking a movement for change in the mental health system — in Downtown Los Angeles. One of the students asked him about Kanye’s comments. Kobe is not down.

“I’m sure (I feel) the same way everybody else here in this room feels. What the hell are you talking about? I think that was my reaction as is everybody else’s reaction….

“The thing about our country is that you have the right to say whatever it is that you want to say…that’s the beautiful thing about living in a democracy. I think, for him, he’s one of these entertainers that’s always in a constant state of growth, he’s always challenging … himself, doing a lot of questioning internally himself…so I just take it for what it is and completely disagree.”

If I need to explain to you why Kobe is in the right here, you need to take a basic American history course again.

Good on Kobe for his comments. More importantly, good on Kobe for taking the time to promote mental health awareness.

“It’s easy for us as people to kind of ignore the emotional side of it,  especially when it comes to things that deal with negativity, things that deal with insecurity, things that deal with fear,” Kobe said. “It’s very easy to take the fear and just push it down, try to act like it doesn’t exist. The reason why it starts with imagination is because you first must imagine the life that you want to have. You must first imagine what it is you dream of becoming.”

Kobe did that, and now he’s got an Oscar. Oh, and a few basketball awards, too.

PBT Extra: LeBron, Cavaliers even series but Celtics far from dead

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If you want to make the case that the Cleveland Cavaliers are in the driver’s seat of the Eastern Conference Finals after sweeping two games at home, you’re in a good space. It’s a best-of-three and Cleveland has the best player on the planet on their side.

However, I still like the Celtics to hold on and win in seven.

I get into it in this PBT Extra, but the Celtics looked like a team that figured things out in the final three quarters of Game 4 (they just couldn’t make up for a disastrous first quarter), and they still have two games at home.

Either way, this feels like a series going the distance.

Did the Warriors deal Rockets a knockout blow in Western Conference finals?

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The Warriors beat the Rockets by 41 (!) in Game 3 of the Western Conference finals Sunday.

Biggest playoff win in Golden State franchise history.

Biggest playoff loss in Houston franchise history.

Biggest playoff loss ever handed to any team as good as the 65-17 Rockets.

“At the end of the day, it’s one win,” Warriors forward Draymond Green said. “It doesn’t matter if you win by 40 or if you win by one.”

Maybe it matters more than Green is letting on.

Golden State was the 17th team to -win a playoff game by more than 40 points. Of the previous 16, 15 – including the last 14 – won the series:

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The only exception came in my favorite playoff series of all-time, the best-of-three 1956 Western Division semifinals:

  • Game 1: St. Louis Hawks 116, Minneapolis Lakers 115
  • Game 2: Minneapolis Lakers 133, St. Louis Hawks 75
  • Game 3: St. Louis Hawks 116, Minneapolis Lakers 115

So, teams to win a playoff game by more than 40 are 15-0 in best-of-seven or best-of-five series. Will the Rockets buck the trend?

They can make adjustments. Maybe Houston’s strong regular season – better than any above blown-out team’s – indicates a rare capability to recover from this. Andre Iguodala‘s injury hurts Golden State. Teams sometimes make historic comebacks from blowouts, including against the Warriors.

But that Golden State ran toppled the Rockets so decisively in Game 3 suggests the Warriors are hitting a gear Houston won’t keep up with.