Baseline to Baseline recaps: Miami beat a good team handily… watch out

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What you missed while reading the Incredible Hulk Buddhist twitter timeline…

Heat 111, Jazz 98: When LeBron James is the ball handler attacking the rim and Zydrunas Ilgauskas is setting the picks and knocking down the pick-and-pop jumpers, it is going to be tough to defend. Together they were 19-30 for 49 points. Wade had 28 points plus he got to the line 11 times and the Heat avenged an early season loss. Just 10 bench points for the Jazz. That’s six in a row for the Heat, all by double digits.

Bulls 88, Cavaliers 83: A blizzard of a snowstorm hit Cleveland in the early evening, one that tied up downtown Cleveland to the point that JJ Hickson, Anthony Parker and other Cavs barely made it to the arena on time for the game. Combine that kind of snow with a slumping team and the building was half full. Those that did come out saw the Cavs up with 30 seconds to go but Derrick Rose hit his big shots down the stretch while the Cavs missed theirs.

Celtics 105, Nuggets 89: Denver’s defense could not stop Boston with Rajon Rondo back in the lineup. Kevin Garnett was 8 of 9 for 17; Ray Allen was 9 of 14 for 28. They were just too efficient

Knicks 13, Raptors 110: Amar’e Stoudemire had 34 points, his sixth straight game with 30 or more. Also the sixth straight Knicks win. Coincidence? Raymond Felton with the dramatic step-back game winner.

Bucks 97, Pacers 95: Andrew Bogut tipped in the game winner off a Luc Richard Mbah a Moute pass with 0.5 seconds left to win — another reminder of how much the Bucks need Bogut on the floor. Indiana, when the game is on the line and only a tip-in works, play a zone. The Bucks shot just 36 percent in this one but their 19 offensive rebounds kept them in it.

Thunder 111, Timberwolves 103: Kevin Love had 22 points and 21 rebounds, and according to ESPN that is the fifth time he has had at least 20-20 this season — nobody else has done it twice. The Timberwolves led 40-22 after one then the Thunder started focusing on defense.

Spurs 111, Warriors 94: Stephen Curry tweaked his ankle and that made room for PBT favorite Reggie Williams to get on the floor and score 31. Doesn’t matter as the Spurs are just flat out better.

Hornets 93, Pistons 74: New Orleans wins the battle of basically ownerless teams. The Hornets shot 50 percent, the Pistons 37.5 percent, that’s your ballgame.

Grizzlies 104, Suns 98 (OT): The Suns could have had this in regulation, but a missed free throw and a catch-and-shoot corner three from Rudy Gay sent the game into overtime, where the Grizzlies thrived. Mike Conley had a career-high 14 assists while Steve Nash struggled against him (didn’t think I’d every write that sentence).

Lakers 87, Clippers 86: Derek Fisher is roughly 164 years old, is too slow defensively, is an inconsistent shooter and yet… game on the line he drives and hits the lefty scoop layup over two Clippers to win the game. That man is clutch. Eric Gordon almost made the game winning play at the other end just before. Second night of a back-to-back and Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom both played more than 40 minutes alternating at center — they need Bynum back before somebody just collapses.

Kings 116, Wizards 91: John Wall was a last-second scratch with a foot injury and Tyreke Evans looked hobbled going 3-9 shooting. But the rest of the Kings starters shot 60 percent against the Wizards porous defense to get the win.

Is FIBA’s decision to move World Cup to year before Olympics reason for USA drop outs?

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FIBA made a mess of World Cup qualifying moving the games from the summer to during the season for the NBA and all the major European leagues. The USA qualified thanks to a team of G-League players coached by Jeff Van Gundy, but the process was not pretty. For anyone.

Now it could be another FIBA decision that has led to the rash of stars — James Harden, Anthony Davis, Bradley Beal, Damian Lillard, and others — deciding not to play for Team USA this summer.

Traditionally, the FIBA World Cup took place every four years, on the even-numbered year between Summer Olympic cycles. For example, the last World Cup was 2014, the Rio Olympics were 2016 with the Tokyo games in 2020. However, FIBA pushed this World Cup back a year to 2019 (instead of 2018) and that has changed the calculus for players, something Michael Lee of The Athletic speculated about.

For American players, the Olympics are the bigger draw, when more people watch. We grew up with the Dream Team at the Olympics, not the World Championships. That means if players have to choose, despite the allure of the Chinese market, they will choose the Olympics next year.

The other factor: The NBA feels wide open, with as many as eight teams heading into the season believing they can win the title. A lot of those contending teams have new players, which is leading players to prioritize club over country this time around.

This is different from 2004, when the NBA’s top players stayed home from the Athens Olympics because of a combination of terrorist concerns and players not liking coach Larry Brown. Today’s players love Gregg Popovich, but other concerns are weighing on them more.

It has left team USA without the biggest stars of the game — Kemba Walker is the only All-NBA player on the roster — but USA Basketball has such a depth of talent that they are still the World Cup favorites. The margin for error just got a lot smaller, however.

Giannis Antetokounmpo was working on jump shot with Kyle Korver (VIDEO)

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Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s jumper is getting better. Last season after the All-Star break he shot 31.5 percent from three (up from 22.3 before the ASG) and in the playoffs that jumped to 32.7 percent. He struggled on catch-and-shoot threes in those final 19 games after the ASG, shooting just 16.7 percent, but off the bounce he shot 33.8 percent after the break. Also, all of last season he didn’t take many long twos, but when he did he shot 41 percent on them.

What would make his jumper better? Working on his shot with the newest Buck, Kyle Korver.

Which is happening.

Be afraid NBA. Be very afraid.

Antetokounmpo recently said he is only at about 60 percent of his potential. If he can start to consistently hit threes off the bounce when defenses sag back off the pick-and-roll (trying to take away his drives), he might become unstoppable. Or, more unstoppable. If that’s a thing.

Zion Williamson signs shoe deal with Nike’s Jordan Brand

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Russell Westbrook. Jimmy Butler. Blake Griffin. Chris Paul.

And now Zion Williamson has joined them as a Jordan Brand athlete. Williamson announced that he had signed with Jordan on his Instagram.

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Let’s Dance #JUMPMAN

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Williamson was probably the biggest shoe free agent on the market this summer. While still a rookie, he already is a huge marketing presence — Summer League in Las Vegas sold out to see him the first two nights (people ended up disappointed) — and it was estimated he would make north of $10 million a year on his rookie shoe deal.

While we have not heard official numbers yet, the rumors are he did get that money.

If true, this is the second-largest rookie shoe deal in history. LeBron James got seven-years, $87 million, however, Williamson is second and bumps Kevin Durant to third (seven years, $60 million).

There are rumors Puma had offered even a larger contact, but Williamson wanted to be a Jordan brand guy.

“I feel incredibly blessed to be a part of the Jordan Brand family,” Williamson said in a statement. “Since I was a kid, I dreamed of making it to the league & having the type of impact on the game Michael Jordan had & continues to have today. He was one of those special athletes I looked up to.”

“Zion’s incredible determination, character and play are inspiring,” Michael Jordan said in a statement. “He’s an essential part of the new talent that will help lead the brand into the future. He told us he would ‘shock the world,’ and asked us to believe him. We do.”

Nike continues to dominate the NBA and basketball shoe market, with more than two-thirds of NBA players wearing Nikes. Even still, landing Williamson — who will play for the New Orleans Pelicans — was such a big score that Nike stock jumped up one percent on the news. He has the potential to be the next LeBron or Durant for Nike, if he can live up to the hype and weight of being the most discussed No. 1 pick in a decade.

He’s the kind of player who could sell a lot of shoes, and Jordan is betting on just that.

Al Horford calls Celtics’ reported tampering allegations ‘ridiculous’

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The Celtics have reportedly complained about the 76ers tampering with Al Horford.

Horford opted out, and it seemed he could return to Boston. But more than a week before free agency officially began, a report emerged he’d leave the Celtics while expecting a four-year, $100 million contract elsewhere. He committed to the 76ers on the first day of free agency, getting $97 million guaranteed and up to $109 million over four years.

What did Horford make of tampering allegations coming from Boston, where Danny Ainge runs the front office?

Horford on The Dan Patrick Show:

It’s pretty ridiculous. But it is what it is. Danny – I love Danny. Danny was always really good to me. I know that he’s definitely frustrated with things didn’t work out with us.

Notice the lack of a denial.

But Horford is right: It’s ridiculous. Because the Celtics are hypocrites who locked up Kemba Walker before free agency officially began.

Though Boston’s specific complaints don’t hold water, there are legitimate issues with the wider landscape.