Baseline to Baseline recaps: Some nights Atlanta can just shoot the rock

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What you missed while remembering the lives lost at Pearl Harbor…

The Wizards making a game of it against the Lakers is our game of the night.

Hawks 116, Nets 101: Atlanta just shot lights out — 60.3 percent on the night and a solid 37.5 percent from three. Josh Smith had 34 on 14 of 16 shooting, Al Horford 24 on 10 of 18, Jamal Crawford with 27 on 11 of 17. That will get it done.

Bobcats 100, Nuggets 97: Larry Brown denies George Karl the chance to join him in the 1,000 win club, but did not laugh in Karl’s face about it afterwards. Denver hung around in this one because they hit 11 of 27 threes (41 percent) but they were not efficient. DJ Augustin was efficient, 18 points on 7 of 11 shooting, with 6 assists. Also, Gerald Wallace was attacking the rim again, a good sign. That ended Denver’s seven game win streak.

Sixers 117, Cavaliers 97: Everytime you read about Cleveland right now or see highlights of them, just start singing “Free Falling” to yourself. Use the Tom Petty or John Mayer, versions if you must, but I recommend The Almost as the best one.

Rockets 97, Pistons 83: Tracy McGrady hit a big three pointer to make it a one-point game with eight minutes left, but was nowhere to be seen when the game was decided (foul trouble). Sounds about right to Rockets fans. Luis Scola with 35 and a lot of big shots down the stretch.

Mavericks 105, Warriors 100: It was an Ian Mahinmi party — 12 points and 10 boards. Tyson Chandler was out sick (has he been hanging with the Magic players?), Brendan Haywood got the start but when it mattered at the end it was Mahinmi. He was brought in this summer as a backup and project, he looked like someone that could pay off down the line.

Dallas bench with 47 points, Warriors 16. And there is your ballgame. That’s 10 in a row for Dallas.

Blazers 106, Suns 99: Portland put up 37 in the final quarter to come from behind and win with an interesting lineup —Nicolas Batum, Rudy Fernandez, Lamarcus Aldridge, Wesley Matthews, Brandon Roy and Patty Mills (for part). A lot of wing players, but they penetrated and dished and worked hard on defense (it’s a lineup that can work against the Suns but not many other teams). Portland’s 32 of 33 from the line helped the cause.

NBA’s minor league to offer $125,000 salaries to not-yet-draft-eligible 18-year-olds

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The NBA will lower its age limit to 18, effectively ending the one-and-done era.

Eventually.

In the meantime, the best option for most top players leaving high school is college basketball. But while the NBA takes its time changing a rule (that it never should have implemented in the first place), the NBA’s minor league will offer an alternative route.

G League release:

The NBA G League today announced a Select Contract as part of a comprehensive professional path that will be available, beginning with the 2019-20 season, to elite prospects who are eligible to play in the NBA G League but not yet eligible for the NBA.  The contracts, which will include robust programmatic opportunities for development, are for elite players who are at least 18 years old and will pay $125,000 for the five-month season.

NBA G League Select Contracts are designed for year-round professional growth and will include opportunities for basketball development, life skills mentorship and academic scholarship.  These offerings are slated to include basketball workouts during the summer months through existing NBA infrastructure like NBA Summer League and NBA Academies, year-round education programs designed to increase players’ ability to personally and professionally manage their careers, and a scholarship program for athletes who want to pursue higher education after their playing days.  Additionally, the NBA G League will further enhance player experience through existing partner relationships and NBA player development programming.

The $125,000 salary is nice and a sizeable jump from the standard minor-league salary, which these players were already eligible to receive. Select Contract players can also sign endorsements and receive loans from agents while remaining eligible to play, unlike in the NCAA.

But it’s not as if college basketball players aren’t compensated. Though their compensation is limited by the NCAA cartel, players still get tuition, room and board and cost-of-living expenses. And of course many get under-the-table money, too. The value of that compensation – particularly the tuition – varies by person.

Access to NBA infrastructure could swing some players, but that also comes with risk. Older professionals could expose younger, even more talented, players. Experience and physical advancement matter.

So does the stage. Top college-basketball players are nationally recognized stars who appear regular on television and are revered on campus. Minor-league players are relatively anonymous and play in mid-sized cities away from much fanfare.

There’s still plenty to sort out, and the details could affect how many players enter this new program out of high school. But it’s nice they have another option.

It’d be far better if they could just declare for the NBA draft if they feel they’re ready.

Anthony Davis challenging Michael Jordan as best opening-game player on record

AP Photo/Michael Wyke
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Anthony Davis called himself the NBA’s best player.

He sure backed it up last night.

Davis posted a 32-16-8-3-3 to lead the Pelicans to a 19-point win over the Rockets, considered by many to be the NBA’s second-best team. The performance immediately vaults Davis to the forefront of any MVP discussions.

But for him, it was just par for the course. Davis has repeatedly dazzled in season openers. When 18-6-2-3 qualifies as the dud, you know Davis is doing something right.

Davis’ box scores in New Orleans’ first game each season:

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That makes Davis’ average season-opener game score 24.1, one of the best ever. Only Michael Jordan has a higher mark on record (since 1983, as far back as Basketball-Reference records go; minimum: three games).

Here are the leaders:

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Obviously, Davis cares more about how he finishes than starts. The Pelicans have made the playoffs only twice with him, getting swept in the first round in 2015 and falling in the second round last season.

But it should be clear by now: Davis comes to play as soon as the season tips.

PBT Extra: Boston can be team to dethrone Golden State Warriors

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I’ve heard it from friends. I’ve seen it on NBA Twitter. I’ve debated it with sports talk radio hosts.

“This NBA season is already decided, nobody has a chance against the Warriors.”

Not true.

Boston has a shot, as I get into in this PBT Extra.

Absolutely the Warriors are the odds-on favorites to win it all, if healthy they should three-peat. They were my pick. But I believe Boston has a legitimate shot to dethrone the Warriors — they have the wing athletes, the switchability on defense, the scoring, the versatility. A Boston/Golden State Finals is going six or seven games… if we get there. It’s just day two of a long season.

But I believe in Boston.