Baseline to Baseline recaps: The Martin Luther King Day games

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What you missed while listening to the “I have a Dream” speech…

The Lakers defeating the Thunder in a contest that looked a lot like last-year’s playoffs was our game of the night.

Celtics 109, Magic 106: Kevin Garnett is back. Is he ever.

It was a full slate of 13 NBA games Monday and this was the best one. It felt like the playoffs. The Magic and Celtics stood toe-to-toe, trading Jameer Nelson penetrations for Ray Allen jumpers. It was chippy. The crowd was roaring. Damn, it was just fun. There were a lot of keys — like the aforementioned Allen, who seems to get ignored by the defense at key moments as if he were Jeff Teague. Everyone talks about not letting Allen get open late, but he always does.

The real difference was Kevin Garnett, and not just the dramatic game-sealing steal. The Celtics just play with a different, more intense energy when he suits up. He’s back and the Celtics get the win. Not a coincidence.

Suns 129, Knicks 121: Amar’e Stoudemire again reminded Phoenix fans what got away, putting up 41 and looking all the world like an MVP candidate. But this was won at the point guard — Steve Nash played a controlled game (15 points, 11 assists) while Raymond Felton was 3 of 13 shooting (but with 13 assists). Nash gave his team what they needed. Really impressive all-around game from Vince Carter — hitting the outside shot, driving, tipping in rebounds. Carter also passed the 20,000-point level for his career.

Wizards 108, Jazz 101: There are games where Andray Blatche comes to play and when it happens the Wizards are a much more dangerous team. This was one of those games. Blatche had 21, JaVale McGee had 11 rebounds and we could swear we saw him pass the ball, and John Wall looked as good as he has this season with 19 points (7-of-12 shooting) and 15 assists.

Bulls 96, Grizzlies 84: Memphis shot terribly against that tough Bulls defense, hitting 37.7 percent overall and 1-of-7 from three. The Bulls did a great job of jumping on the Grizzlies early, Derrick Rose had his first-ever triple-double (22 points, 12 assists, 10 rebounds), Luol Deng dropped 28 on 11-of-17 shooting and Kyle Korver was raining threes.

Pistons 103, Mavericks 89: In his second game back, Dirk Nowitzki really looked like he had his legs back with 32 points on 10-of-17 shooting. The problem with Dallas remains on defense — the Pistons shot 57.5 percent (60.3 eFG%, once you count in the made threes). Once they start defending again the Mavs will break out of this slump. For the Pistons, Greg Monroe continues to grow and look like a guy starting to figure it out.

Sixers 96, Bobcats 92 (OT): This one went to overtime because the Sixers got some big shots out of Lou Williams and some smart play from Andre Iguodala down the stretch. They won it in overtime because the Sixers just executed better.

Down two with less than 20 seconds remaining in overtime, the Bobcats ran a pick-and-roll, and just as you would expect in a late game situation the Sixers switched. That left Jrue Holiday on Boris Diaw, who already had a triple double (25 points, 11 boards and 11 assists). D.J. Augustin got Diaw the ball, he backed Holiday down, made a move into the middle then seemed surprised when the help came — so he dumped it to Kwame Brown. That means the Bobcats need Kwame to make a quick, smart decision. You can see the problem there. He throws it away and from there it’s all Sixers and free throws. Which the Sixers executed.

Rockets 93, Bucks 84: The Bucks were, for a change, the better shooting team in this one — 44 percent to 36.8 percent. But the Rockets did everything else needed to win — they got to the free throw line more, got more offensive rebounds and just generally out worked the Bucks.

Hornets 85, Raptors 81: Chris Paul had six points on eight shots. He had 11 assists but he did not look right. Emeka Okafor had 12 offensive rebounds,  setting the Hornets’ franchise record for offensive rebounds in a game, and finished with 17 points on 8-of-12 shooting.

Clippers 114, Pacers 107: Damn the Clippers and their 1-13 start to the season. I want to see this team in the playoffs, but they dug such a deep hole in a still pretty deep West that it’s going to be hard to climb out of it (they are six games out of the eight seed with four teams ahead of them). Blake Griffin is a stud.

Warriors 109, Nets 100: We have a David Lee sighting, 24 points and 10 boards. The Nets, they really could have used someone like Carmelo Anthony in this game.

Hawks 100, Kings 98: The Kings almost got a quality win, they led from the opening tip all the way until midway through the fourth quarter. With the game tied 98-98 and time running out the Hawks went to their standard end-of-game Joe Johnson isolation play (which isn’t bad when he is hot, and he had 36 in this one). With Tyreke Evans on him Johnson drove right got to a spot, pulled up and Evans caught him on the arm with the foul. Two free throws with 0.6 left and that was he ballgame.

Blazers 113, Timberwolves 102: Minnesota had Michael Beasley back from a sprained ankle, and he had 12 on 4-of-8 shooting. Portland pulled away from Minnesota in the second half because nobody on the Wolves could stop LaMarcus Aldridge, who had 37 points and 12 boards.

JaMychal Green throws down mean dunk on Ersan Ilyasova’s attempt to draw charge (video)

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Bucks forward Ersan Ilyasova takes a lot of charges. A lot of charges. It’s what he’s known for.

But that sure backfired against the Grizzlies’ JaMychal Green last night.

Three Things to Know: Boston plays up to level of its competition, earns win over Toronto

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Every day in the NBA there is a lot to unpack, so every weekday morning throughout the season we will give you the three things you need to know from the last 24 hours in the NBA.

1) Boston plays up to the level of its competition, which is enough to earn big win over Toronto. Speaking on behalf of basketball fans everywhere, after watching the last two meetings between these teams, I would like to order seven more of these games for late May. Please. This is a playoff matchup that has to happen.

Now, about last night…

“What is wrong with the Boston Celtics” has been a favorite parlor game around the NBA this season, and while the “too talented” theory and others exist, Wednesday night’s performance and win at home against the Toronto Raptors shed light on maybe the real issue:

These Celtics play to the level of their competition. That gets them in trouble against lesser teams, but when the big guns come to town Boston shows up.

One week ago, the Celtics dismantled a strong Indiana team by 27 points. Boston then turned around and lost to Miami, Orlando, and Brooklyn (the Heat and Nets are .500 teams, the Magic are trying to find their way into the playoffs).

Boston came out Wednesday night like none of those losses happened and played one of its best games of the season to beat Toronto, the team with the best record in the NBA. It was a huge effort led by Kyrie Irving, who had 27 points and a career-high 18 assists, and he outplayed Kawhi Leonard down the stretch of the game (the Kyrie vs. Kawhi duel is what the game became at the end). Irving hit all the big shots.

The Celtics have won 2-of-3 against the Raptors and now are 6-3 overall against Toronto, Milwaukee, Indiana, and Philadelphia this season. When the Celtics need to raise their game up, they can, they just don’t do it nightly. After the game, to a man, the Celtics said they need to play like this in their upcoming games (struggling Memphis, then at Atlanta, Miami, and Cleveland).

“We have to play all those teams that aren’t the Toronto Raptors and the Milwaukee Bucks and the Philly 76ers, we have to play those teams like they are,” Smart told NBC Sports Boston. “That only helps us, keeps us in a rhythm, a great rhythm and it holds us accountable for doing the right things.”

Irving took the blame for some of that, admitting he had to call LeBron to apologize and talk leadership.

“It just comes with our maturity as a team,” Irving said. “I did a poor job of setting an example for these young guys of what it’s like to get something out of your teammates. You go and say something publicly and it ends up being received in so many different ways. You never know how fragile or what guys are going through if you say things like that. You’re expecting results but at the same time I should have kept it in-house. Going forward, I want … to get the best out of them but I won’t do it publicly like that.”

Was this win a turning point for Boston? It felt like it, not just in the fact that the had to fight back from behind twice in the game and showed real grit and will, but those postgame comments are a positive. Boston may be learning its lessons and growing into a contender.

Only time will tell. With some soft games on the schedule coming up, we may quickly see if Boston is learning its lessons.

2) Stephen Curry explodes for 23 points in third, Warriors storm back then hold off Pelicans for the win. For the second night in a row, Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors put on a basketball fireworks show.

Anthony Davis and the Pelicans were playing maybe their best game of the season and were up 16 on Golden State at Oracle Arena, then Curry went on the kind of run they will show in his Hall of Fame career retrospective video — 23 points on 7 threes in the third.

Curry finished with 41 points on 22 shots, hitting 9-of-17 from beyond the arc. Kevin Durant had 30 points, maybe scariest of all for coaches who have to game plan against the Warriors Draymond Green shot 4-of-7 from three on his way to 17 points (sagging off Green at the arc has been a thing this season, and for a while now).

The Warriors got the win 147-140 in a game with the most threes made in any game in NBA history (43).

It wasn’t a defensive masterpiece by anyone, but the game had amazing shot making all night long.

It was the second night in a row the Warriors looked like the Warriors, and why they are back as the No. 1 seed in the West.

All of that overshadowed a 30 point, 18 rebound game from Anthony Davis, who reminded everyone why he should be in the MVP conversation even if the Pelicans are three games below .500.

3) James Harden scores 58 but the Rockets still lose to Brooklyn in OT. We could be seeing variations of that headline a lot in the next month — James Harden continues to play at an MVP level, but it’s hard to underestimate just how much Houston is going to miss Clint Capela this season, both on defense and in the overall scheme of how they play. (Capela is out 4-6 weeks with ligament damage in the thumb of his right hand.)

Harden was spectacular again on Wednesday, scoring 58 points.

But the loss of Capela was glaring, and Danuel House Jr. being back in the G-League — because the sides couldn’t agree on how to convert his two-way contract — was a more painful loss than expected.

Also, the Nets just do not quit .

After a P.J. Tucker three, Brooklyn was down eight with 1:02 left in the game. But them Sixth Man of the Year Spencer Dinwiddie drained a key three. Then one more. Then a third — this one to send the game to OT. That’s where the Nets got the win.

Brooklyn is a .500 team with this win — an amazing season considering the roster, the expectations, and the fact this team lost Caris LeVert (their best scorer) for much of the season due to an ankle injury. They are building something in Brooklyn that in a few years could be very special.

Yesterday was one of highest-scoring days in NBA history

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The Pelicans scored 140 points last night.

And lost.

The Warriors’ 147-140 win over New Orleans was the first time both teams scored 140+ in regulation since 1992. And it didn’t even claim sole possession of yesterday’s highest-scoring game. The Nets beat the Rockets 145-142, though that one went to overtime.

It was a wild night throughout the league.

James Harden scored 58 points. Stephen Curry scored 41 points on nine 3-pointers, seven in the third quarter. Kyrie Irving created 67 points, 27 scored directly and 40 on 18 assists.

The Rockets attempted a record 70 3-pointers. The Warriors and Pelicans made a record 43 combined 3-pointers. The Trail Blazers played at the equivalent of the NBA’s slowest pace, getting just 94 possessions, and still scored 129 points (137.2 offensive rating).

All in all, teams scored 120.7 points per game yesterday. The full results:

  • Warriors 147, Pelicans 140
  • Nets 145, Rockets 142
  • Cavaliers 112, Trail Blazers 129
  • Jazz 129, Clippers 109
  • Pistons 120, Magic 115
  • Celtics 117, Raptors 108
  • Bucks 111, Grizzlies 101
  • Spurs 105, Mavericks 101

That was just the eighth day teams averaged at least 120 points in the last 30 years. But those other days featured only one to three games. There were eight games last night.

Of the more than 3,000 days in NBA history with a slate so large, yesterday’s 120.7 points per team game were the second-most ever.

Here are the most points teams have scored per game in days with at least eight games:

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April 10, 1977

New York Knicks 144, Detroit Pistons 126

New Orleans Jazz 139, Denver Nuggets 125

Milwaukee Bucks 133, San Antonio Spurs 125

Washington Bullets 131, Philadelphia 76ers 121

Phoenix Suns 128, New York Nets 104

Boston Celtics 115, Cleveland Cavaliers 105

Chicago Bulls 120, Buffalo Braves 99

Los Angeles Lakers 113, Seattle SuperSonics 104

Jan. 16, 2019

Golden State Warriors 147, New Orleans Pelicans 140

Brooklyn Nets 145, Houston Rockets 142

Cleveland Cavaliers 112, Portland Trail Blazers 129

Utah Jazz 129, Los Angeles Clippers 109

Detroit Pistons 120, Orlando Magic 115

Boston Celtics 117, Toronto Raptors 108

Milwaukee Bucks 111, Memphis Grizzlies 101

San Antonio Spurs 105, Dallas Mavericks 101

Jan. 29, 1971

Baltimore Bullets 145, Cincinnati Royals 118

Milwaukee Bucks 142, Philadelphia 76ers 118

Phoenix Suns 131, Portland Trail Blazers 122

Los Angeles Lakers 122, Seattle SuperSonics 115

Detroit Pistons 131, San Diego Rockets 104

Atlanta Hawks 119, Cleveland Cavaliers 111

New York Knicks 118, Boston Celtics 111

San Francisco Warriors 106, Buffalo Braves 100

March 12, 1985

Golden State Warriors 145, San Antonio Spurs 122

Houston Rockets 131, Denver Nuggets 129

Phoenix Suns 123, New York Knicks 119

Boston Celtics 126, Atlanta Hawks 115

Kansas City Kings 120, Portland Trail Blazers 114

Los Angeles Lakers 123, Utah Jazz 108

Chicago Bulls 111, Detroit Pistons 110

Indiana Pacers 109, New Jersey Nets 108

March 23, 1979

Los Angeles Lakers 156, San Diego Clippers 119

Indiana Pacers 141, Houston Rockets 134

Denver Nuggets 137, Boston Celtics 113

Detroit Pistons 124, Washington Bullets 114

Phoenix Suns 126, Kansas City Kings 107

Golden State Warriors 116, Milwaukee Bucks 113

Atlanta Hawks 115, San Antonio Spurs 108

Chicago Bulls 116, New Orleans Jazz 99

Philadelphia 76ers 110, New Jersey Nets 98

Dec. 22, 1979

Denver Nuggets 130, Los Angeles Lakers 128

San Antonio Spurs 141, Detroit Pistons 112

Chicago Bulls 126, Cleveland Cavaliers 117

Indiana Pacers 130, Atlanta Hawks 110

Philadelphia 76ers 126, Boston Celtics 113

Washington Bullets 122, Houston Rockets 114

Phoenix Suns 115, Kansas City Kings 111

Golden State Warriors 107, New Jersey Nets 101

April 9, 1978

New Orleans Jazz 153, San Antonio Spurs 132

Detroit Pistons 139, Denver Nuggets 137

Boston Celtics 131, Buffalo Braves 114

Cleveland Cavaliers 120, Kansas City Kings 117

Washington Bullets 123, Philadelphia 76ers 113

Seattle SuperSonics 111, Golden State Warriors 105

Portland Trail Blazers 114, Los Angeles Lakers 99

Atlanta Hawks 99, Chicago Bulls 85

March 16, 1984

Chicago Bulls 156, Portland Trail Blazers 155

Seattle SuperSonics 126, San Antonio Spurs 123

San Diego Clippers 128, Houston Rockets 118

New Jersey Nets 117, Detroit Pistons 108

Denver Nuggets 118, Cleveland Cavaliers 102

Phoenix Suns 110, Washington Bullets 109

Boston Celtics 109, Milwaukee Bucks 99

Atlanta Hawks 105, Philadelphia 76ers 102

Feb. 2, 1983

Indiana Pacers 141, Detroit Pistons 135

Houston Rockets 135, Denver Nuggets 128

Dallas Mavericks 122, Los Angeles Lakers 120

Kansas City Kings 117, Washington Bullets 115

Seattle SuperSonics 117, Milwaukee Bucks 114

Boston Celtics 120, San Diego Clippers 110

New Jersey Nets 118, Cleveland Cavaliers 105

Phoenix Suns 112, Utah Jazz 96

New York Knicks 109, San Antonio Spurs 98

April 6, 1989

Los Angeles Clippers 133, Portland Trail Blazers 123

Denver Nuggets 132, Indiana Pacers 118

Golden State Warriors 132, Boston Celtics 118

Phoenix Suns 126, Seattle SuperSonics 119

San Antonio Spurs 122, Sacramento Kings 116

Detroit Pistons 115, Chicago Bulls 108

New York Knicks 112, Milwaukee Bucks 99

Washington Bullets 101, Miami Heat 93

March 30, 1990

Philadelphia 76ers 149, Denver Nuggets 131

Washington Bullets 143, Orlando Magic 115

Seattle SuperSonics 139, Golden State Warriors 108

Phoenix Suns 126, New Jersey Nets 119

Los Angeles Lakers 135, Portland Trail Blazers 106

Atlanta Hawks 122, Los Angeles Clippers 118

Boston Celtics 123, Detroit Pistons 111

Chicago Bulls 107, New York Knicks 106

Cleveland Cavaliers 105, Miami Heat 104

Minnesota Timberwolves 84, Dallas Mavericks 82

Feb. 14, 1990

Orlando Magic 135, Chicago Bulls 129

Indiana Pacers 133, Cleveland Cavaliers 131

Portland Trail Blazers 132, Los Angeles Lakers 128

Milwaukee Bucks 127, Denver Nuggets 117

Philadelphia 76ers 122, New Jersey Nets 112

Phoenix Suns 114, Utah Jazz 103

Boston Celtics 106, San Antonio Spurs 95

Minnesota Timberwolves 95, Charlotte Hornets 86

Jan. 2, 1980

Washington Bullets 139, Seattle SuperSonics 134

Denver Nuggets 135, Detroit Pistons 116

Kansas City Kings 128, Utah Jazz 121

Los Angeles Lakers 127, Indiana Pacers 120

San Antonio Spurs 118, Phoenix Suns 109

Boston Celtics 111, Houston Rockets 103

Golden State Warriors 111, Portland Trail Blazers 92

San Diego Clippers 103, New Jersey Nets 97

Nov. 3, 1979

Milwaukee Bucks 136, Chicago Bulls 134

San Diego Clippers 126, Utah Jazz 109

Philadelphia 76ers 120, Indiana Pacers 114

Golden State Warriors 130, Denver Nuggets 103

Cleveland Cavaliers 123, Kansas City Kings 110

Houston Rockets 114, Detroit Pistons 111

Atlanta Hawks 110, New Jersey Nets 107

Boston Celtics 118, Washington Bullets 97

Feb. 28, 1978

Milwaukee Bucks 136, Washington Bullets 135

New York Knicks 138, San Antonio Spurs 123

Chicago Bulls 126, Phoenix Suns 115

New Orleans Jazz 125, Buffalo Braves 108

Denver Nuggets 122, Indiana Pacers 106

Seattle SuperSonics 114, Kansas City Kings 107

Portland Trail Blazers 113, Philadelphia 76ers 92

Atlanta Hawks 117, Boston Celtics 85

NBA ramping up security, education as sports gambling grows around United States

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You don’t have to look any further than today’s headlines — four professional tennis players in Europe arrested for match-fixing — to understand the NBA’s concern.

With sports betting cleared by the Supreme Court and more and more states in the USA making legal, the concerns about the integrity of the game increase as well. The NBA wants a cut of that sports gambling money — they’ve been asking for one percent, although that is a long process — and say part of that money will go toward not letting gaming become a problem within the sport.

With the NBA in London — where sports betting is legal and big business — for the Knicks vs. Wizards on Thursday, NBA Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum talked about it to ESPN.

The NBA is preparing to double down on policing its players, teams and staff amid the expansion of legalized sports gambling in the United States, deputy commissioner Mark Tatum told ESPN…

That will mean extra resources to prevent the kind of in-house infractions that have plagued a number of sports, such as soccer, tennis and cricket…

“A lot of it has to do with education with respect to our players, with respect to our teams,” he said. “We’re spending a lot of time learning from the mistakes that were made and what we’re seeing in sports betting in places around the world.

“We’re trying to educate our fans. We’re educating our players and our teams. We’re taking a little bit of a cautious approach here. … But generally, we think it’s a good thing for sports betting to be regulated, to be legalized, so there is better information being captured.”

In the NBA, the concern isn’t as much the old-school “we’ll pay Player X $10,000 to throw the game” type of operations because the handful of players each game who could actually influence a game that way make so much money the gamblers couldn’t give them enough and make it pencil out (that’s more of a college concern where NCAA players are unpaid).

However, a player with a gambling addiction that gets into deep debt could be another matter.

The NBA will have to go forward with these initiatives, regardless of how much — if any — money they get from states as a cut of gambling revenue. While all the professional leagues want their piece of the pie, the casinos and online betting industry aren’t going to just give that money away. Also, the states are going to want their cut. There are a lot of hands out with this newfound revenue source.

It’s all about the money and it’s something to watch unfold in the next few years.