Baseline to Baseline recaps: Where streaks came to an end

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What you missed while wishing you were spending a beautiful day in Big Sur

Mavericks 98, Hornets 95: It was bound to happen. It was doubly bound to happen after this humble blog — and basically everyone else — put the undefeated Hornets atop their power rankings this week.

Player of the game? I’d vote Tyson Chandler. Certainly not for the 7 points (although he did hit 3-of-4) or the 5 rebounds. It was his defense. For much of the game he was on David West and he was 5-24 on the night. Also, in the second half he did a great job protecting the rim, and Chris Paul went 1-for-5 in the half. (Part of that goes to Paul himself, who seemed more tentative in the second half.)

Thunder 115, Jazz 108: Once again the Jazz were down double digits and tried to come back, but that streak was not going to last forever. Once again the Thunder win a game at the free throw line — they got to the stripe 34 times and hit 33 of them.

Bobcats 113, Timberwolves 110: The Timberwolves were up 8 with less than two minutes left in this one but found a new and exciting way to lose this one. Bobcats won at the line, getting their 40 times and making 30, compared to 23 attempts and 15 makes by the Timberwolves.

Magic 89, Grizzlies 72: This one was over early so you were sure not to miss an episode of The Event.

Suns 100, Nuggets 94: Tired legs on a back-to-back led the Suns to hit just 4-of-20 from three — the fact they ground out a win anyway says something about the team really starting to find itself. Combined these teams were 7-37 from three, so this was a great game to watch if you like long rebounds.

Nets 110, Clippers 96: The Nets dominated this one inside — the starting front line of Brook Lopez, Travis Outlaw and Kris Humphries scored 60 points on 64.9 percent shooting in this one. Devin Harris got ejected in this one for tackling Blake Griffin on a breakaway and can expect to make a donation to the league for that one.

Warriors 101, Pistons 97: Warriors get a win — not a pretty one, but a win — in the first game under the new owners. Another sign that things are frayed in Detroit: Tayshaun Prince and coach John Kuester got into it during a timeout. After the game both played it off as nothing, but there has been a lot of that nothing around the Pistons this season.

Markell Fultz takes ugly pump-fake free throw

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A key question after the 76ers traded for Jimmy Butler: How would the demanding star affect Markelle Fultz‘s confidence?

Butler isn’t even playing for Philadelphia yet, but this isn’t an encouraging sign.

Kyle Neubeck of The Philly Voice:

Maybe the ball just slipped out of Fultz’s hands on the way up, and he had to continue pushing it toward the rim to avoid a violation. That could happen to anybody.

But given everything we know about Fultz’s shooting woes, it’s impossible to take this as anything other than a ghastly low point in an ongoing problem.

LeBron James: ‘I almost cracked’ with Lakers’ slow start

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LeBron James has played in eight straight NBA Finals.

How’s he handling reduced expectations with the Lakers, who started 2-5 before rising to 7-6?

LeBron, via Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports:

‪“I haven’t changed anything outwardly, but you know me. You know how I am. I almost cracked [last week]. I had to sit back and remind myself, ‘[Expletive], you knew what you were getting yourself into,’” James told Yahoo Sports while laughing after Saturday’s win in Sacramento. “This process has been good for me. I just have to continue being patient.”‬

LeBron warned everyone to stay clear when he loses his patience, but he has never sounded close to losing it this season. He signed a four-year deal with the Lakers, said he doesn’t feel urgency to win quickly before his prime ends and seems content to wait for a co-star.

If anything, it seemed LeBron might be too relaxed, enjoying the Los Angeles lifestyle and focusing on showbusiness.

So, this is a welcome sign of his competitiveness.

Also kudos to LeBron for harnessing it unlike others in the organization. These Lakers need time to determine how these oddly shaped pieces fit together – unless a star becomes available. Then, all bets are off.

Dwyane Wade: Making Carmelo Anthony ‘fall guy’ doesn’t address the ‘real problem’

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LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul – the banana-boat buddies – comprise the NBA’s most famous friendship group.

With Anthony nearing his end with the Rockets, that puts Houston teammate Paul in an awkward place. But Wade and LeBron are speaking up. So are the Trail Blazers’ Evan Turner and Damian Lillard.

Wade:

LeBron:

Evan Turner:

Damian Lillard:

It’s unclear whether Wade is scolding the Rockets or fans/media. That comment is far more loaded if he’s referring directly to the organization. I wonder what he sees at the “real problem” in Houston.

A struggling team waiving a minimum-salary player is rarely viewed as making that player the scapegoat. But Anthony has an outsized reputation due to his long, star-level career. With that in mind, Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tried to defend Anthony.

But Anthony is a part of Houston’s problems. He’s awful defensively and shooting poorly. There is mounting evidence he’s washed up. Downgrading his role, whether or not that includes waiving him, is a step in the right direction for the Rockets.

It won’t solve everything, and Anthony – after all that he has done in the NBA – should be treated with respect. But there’s no way around his substandard current level of play.

Report: Jimmy Butler planned to hold out from Timberwolves unless traded, informing team during Friday’s game

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According to one narrative, the Timberwolves decided after Friday’s loss to the Kings to trade Jimmy Butler.

But he might have forced their hand, resulting in his trade to the 76ers.

Jon Krawczynski and Shams Charania of The Athletic:

Butler decided he would play on Friday night, but he viewed it as the fork in the road. If the Timberwolves didn’t find a deal to fulfill his long-simmering trade request after that, he would begin to sit indefinitely, league sources told The Athletic.

The Kings defeated Minnesota 121-110 to push the Timberwolves to 4-9 and a winless road trip; Butler had 13 points, eight rebounds and eight assists in 41 minutes. He had played almost 124 minutes in the last three games, all losses, and at halftime of the final one, the Wolves were informed that this was it for Butler, sources said.

Butler reportedly held out for a game a couple weeks ago, though he and Minnesota both denied it. It’s quite believable he would’ve held out again if not traded. Still, informing the team during a game he’s playing would have been quite bold.

I’m not sure who actually blinked first. This could be an I-quit, no-you’re-fired (or vice versa) scenario. Both Butler and Timberwolves president-coach Tom Thibodeau are stubborn.

But the most important thing is Butler is gone and both sides can move on – whatever ugliness preceded the trade.