Baseline to Baseline recaps: The Celtics may not have needed Perkins for this one

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What you missed while wishing Ricky Gervais would host the Oscars…

Nuggets 120, Wizards 109: This was the dreaded fourth game in five nights for the Wizards, usually the night every team mails it in. The good news is that Andray Blatche didn’t — he hustled. Didn’t see that coming, did you Flip? It was certainly not perfect play from him, but there was effort.

John Wall got taken to school by Chauncey Billups and Ty Lawson (Wall’s defense needs work). That combo started to wear down the Wizards, as the Nuggets pulled away for good in the second quarter. And that was without supersub J.R. Smith, who was late to shootaround and got benched for the first half.

Arron Afflalo can play on my team any time.

Celtics 112, Cavaliers 95: Kendrick Perkins returned for this glorified Celtics scrimmage. Boston started to pull away late in the first quarter behind Paul Pierce and in the second quarter they just overwhelmed the Cavaliers. Paul Pierce 8-11 in the first half for 24 points. The Celtics were controlling the paint and getting shots inside on offense while Ray Allen was coming of screens for wide open looks. We’re at 18 straight Cavaliers losses and counting.

Mavericks 112, Clippers 105: This is a game where Dallas started out slow on offense and the Clippers were up 10 quickly, putting up 33 points in the fist quarter. But you knew the Mavericks run was coming. What you didn’t expect is that J.J. Barea (25 points) and Tyson Chandler (21) would lead it. Dirk Nowitzki was 6-of-15 shooting and still is struggling since his return.

I wonder if we will see a lot of with the Clippers on the road more — them not able to hold leads.

Bobcats 94, Kings 89: You can say the Bobcats were playing good defense or that this game was sloppy. Either way you’d be right. The Kings shot 36 percent and were 1-of-12 from three. You don’t win doing that.

Lakers 120, Jazz 91: The Lakers on three days rest — all the time hearing from Jerry West and reporters about how they can’t play defense — taking on a struggling Jazz team. Not a shock the Lakers were up 15 after one and 66-38 at the half. Nothing much to say here, the Lakers are good and were focused, the Jazz have lost five straight (with the Spurs on tap for Wednesday).

Just a reminder, Anthony Davis is very good at basketball, dropped 43 on Knicks

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Anthony Davis went into this season wanting to be seen as the best player in basketball.

Part of that perception is team success, and while the Pelicans are a good-not-great 8-7 to start the season it’s not because of Anthony isn’t doing all he can. He dropped 43 points and 17 rebounds on the Knicks, helping spark the Pelicans comeback against the Knicks. Check out the video above.

Davis is averaging 26.5 points with a quality 56.4 true shooting percentage, plus 17.1 rebounds a game. His PER of 26.8 is sixth best in the NBA. When Davis gets some help, and the Pelicans play a little defense, this is the kind of team AD might want to stick with.

Allen Iverson: “No way Melo should retire… he got a lot left in the tank, man”

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Carmelo Anthony is in limbo now. He’s not with the Rockets, not suiting up for games or playing, but he’s still on the roster. Houston has yet to waive him because they and his agent have not yet found a landing spot for him — other teams don’t want to get into the Carmelo Anthony business right now. Maybe that changes as injuries come and rosters shift, but right now there are no takers.

It has led Tracy McGrady and others to suggest Anthony retire.

Allen Iverson disagrees, speaking to Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Iverson is right, Anthony needs to be in the right situation. I’m just not sure what that is.

Anthony, like all great athletes, wants to leave the game on his own terms. The challenge is he is no longer a top two or three player on a good team, yet he feels entitled to be put in that role (or, at least, be treated like one of those guys). ‘Melo came off the bench in Houston but didn’t like it. The problem is that’s where his game is at that point — he’s a bench role player who can get some buckets but hurts the team defensively. That limits when he can be put on the court, especially in the playoffs. Can he accept that spot on a team?

Eventually, a team is going to give Anthony a chance, and I hope that works out. I would like ‘Melo to leave the game with us remembering him as the Hall of Fame player and elite scorer that he was, not like this.

 

Jimmy Butler: “So much more fun to play with these guys”

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Jimmy Butler is in Philadelphia now, but he is not done throwing shade at his former teammates in Minnesota.

Butler had 28 points on 12-of-15 shooting, including the game-clinching layup, as the 76ers beat the Jazz 113-107 Friday night. After the game, he got the walk-off interview with Serena Winters and took a dig at his former Minnesota teammates.

“It’s so fun to win. So much more fun to play with these guys… Everybody wants to win, and when somebody messes up, you talk to them and they do their job.”

Part of Butler’s issues with Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins was he felt they didn’t want to win badly enough, that they didn’t measure up to his level of passion. Butler is still in the honeymoon phase with Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and the Sixers, but so far he likes the intensity so far and is happy to make a note of the difference.

By the way, they’re happy in Minnesota without him — the Timberwolves are 3-0 since the trade, Karl-Anthony Towns is back to playing like his All-NBA self, and he says the communication is better now and guys are taking responsibility.

 

Pelicans Elfrid Payton returns, starts, injured again

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NEW ORLEANS (AP) —The New Orleans Pelicans say point guard Elfrid Payton has a fractured finger on his left hand.

Payton injured his finger in the first quarter of his first game back on Friday night after he’d missed New Orleans’ nine previous games with a right ankle sprain.

Soon after, Payton was ruled out for the remainder of the game against the New York Knicks.

Acquired as a free agent this past offseason, Payton has played in six games for New Orleans. He entered Friday night’s games with averages 11.6 points and 6.4 assists through his first five games, but did not have a point or assist in eight minutes against New York before his latest injury.