Baseline to Baseline recaps: Bosh gets cheers, boos, win in Toronto

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What you missed while seeing The King’s Speech

The Cavaliers stunning win over the Lakers was our Game of the Night…

Heat 103, Raptors 95: Chris Bosh blew kisses to the crowd and got a mixed reaction of boos and cheers. What that tells us is Toronto is not Cleveland.

The Heat worked hard to get Bosh the ball where he could score (he finished with 25 points) but that made them look disjointed at times. So did the Raptors zone defense. But the Heat still scored at a rate the Raptors could not match. Andrea Bargnani was the pick-and-pop king on his way to 38 points on 26 shots, and DeMar DeRozan slashed his to 24 more points. The rest of the Raptors combined to shoot 29.3 percent and that did not get it done.

Magic 101, Wizards 76: The Magic turned John Wall into a scorer — he had 27 points on 17 shots. But he had just one assist. He was not facilitating and the Wizards shot 34.9 percent on the night. Meanwhile Dwight Howard had 32 points on just 15 shots and he was hitting his free throws. Andray Blatche and JaVale McGee were overmatched.

Celtics 94, Nets 80: Paul Pierce was making up for his one-point game against the Heat — he had 10 in the first quarter. The Nets were not going to roll over though, this game was tied at the half and after three. Then midway through the fourth quarter Boston went on a 16-0 run that coincided with Pierce’s return to the game and he has seven points during it (he was just attacking the rim). The other key in this one: The Nets got 15 free throws to the Celtics 39. That wasn’t the refs, that was Boston attacking on offense and playing good defense.

There are some nights you really see the potential of what Brook Lopez could be.

Knicks 102, Hawks 90: This was a pretty big beat down — New York had a double-digit lead the entire fourth quarter. The Hawks did not stop the Knicks in transition well and gave them open looks in the half court which the Knicks knocked down

Pistons 115, Pacers 109 (OT): For the second night in a row the Pacers got off to a slow start — this time down 11 after one quarter — and fought back only to lose. The Pistons led the entire second half until a Darren Collison layup with 15 seconds left tied it up. In the overtime the Pistons got points from Rodney Stuckey and Ben Gordon were the leaders, while Danny Granger was the only Pacer to score.

Clippers 98, Timberwolves 90: The Clippers really miss the steady play Eric Gordon gives them at the two. So when his replacement Randy Foye hit 6-of-14 shots for 21 points the Clippers are back in business. The Clippers dominated the second half and Blake Griffin had 15 points during that time.

Mavericks 116, Kings 100: Dallas’ depth was on display Wednesday — five guys off the Dallas bench scored in double figures. The most interesting of those was Roddy Beaubois, who had 13 in his season debut.

Sixers 114, Rocket 105: The Sixers were spreading it around — four guys with more than 16 points, seven in double digits. Andre Iguodala was big part of that, finishing with 10 assists and a triple double. The Rockets had their guys — Kyle Lowry torched Jrue Holliday for 36 points on 18 shots, Luis Scola added 26. But the Sixers were the better team in this one.

Nuggets 94, Bucks 87: Nets/Knicks fans, this was a very Carmelo Anthony night this is what you’re getting — he had 38 points but it took 30 shots to get there. He got 12 boards as well. It was good if not an efficient or pretty win for a Nuggets team that may look very different the next time they suit up for a game.

Warriors 107, Jazz 100: Golden State had 26 wins last season, they got to 26 with this victory. That is progress.

With both teams on the second night of a back-to-back it was going to be about energy levels late. Monta Ellis is a closer and had 11 of his 35 in the fourth quarter. He helped spark a 10-2 fourth quarter run that pretty much decided this one.

The Jazz are 2-6 in February and need the All-Star break maybe more than any other team.

Trail Blazers 103, Hornets 96: As LaMarcus Aldridge goes, so go the Blazers. He had 13 first quarter points, they were up nine. He had 12 in the fourth quarter and behind a 17-5 run the Trail Blazers win it. Andre Miller had 10 in the final quarter also. Chris Paul with just 8 points and 5 assists.

Jordan Clarkson urges NBA to allow players to compete in more global events

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The NBA is trying to walk a fine line. On the one hand, the league and its owners want to globalize the NBA — it is the best, most watched basketball league on the globe and they want people in Europe and Asia to follow the NBA the way American soccer fans follow the Barclays’ Premiere League. That will make the owners more money, and never forget this is a business first, second, and third. With that, the owners allow players to compete for their native countries in major events, such as the FIBA World Cup or Olympics.

However, there is a “club vs. country” tug of war in the NBA. Players want to represent their countries — and sometimes are pressured to do so — while NBA teams see injury risk. They look at the story of Dante Exum blowing out his ACL playing for Australia as a cautionary tale.

So when the Cavaliers’ Jordan Clarkson wanted to play for the Philippines in the Asian Games (his mother is a native of that country, so he is allowed), the NBA shot it down at first saying this tournament was not part of the agreement between FIBA and the NBA that allows the league’s players to take part in major international events (the Olympics, the basketball World Cup, etc.). However, the league eventually flipped and allowed a “one-time exception” for Clarkson (plus Houston’s Zhou Qi and Dallas’ Ding Yanhuyang).

Now Clarkson says he wants the NBA to allow players to compete in more global events, he told Agence France-Presse at the Asian Games.

“After being told no so many times, I refused to give up. I kept fighting,” he said. “I’m here now, ready to compete.”

“I think they get the point — in Asia kids are picking up a basketball. I feel like the NBA is allowing us to do our thing.”

Basketball is a growing sport in Asia — it’s huge in the Philippines already, and it’s growing fast there and in countries such as China. The NBA wants its foot in the door there. It wants to be part of that market — the NBA plays exhibition games in China every year for a reason.

The Asian Games — the second largest multi-national sporting event in the world behind the Olympics — is a good exception to make. Clarkson and other NBA stars playing there — including in the future — is good for the NBA.

However, the league is going to face a challenge trying to find that line in future years between promoting the game and the NBA internationally and protecting its investments in its players.

Watch the top 60 blocked shots of last NBA season

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We love blocked shots. One player is attacking the rim, another gets in his way and rejects that shot. Frankly, we overestimate their importance on defense at points (because it’s a quantifiable stat in a world where defense is hard to quantify), but they matter.

And they are fun.

Check out the top 60 blocks from last season, as put together by NBA.com. It all starts with a chase down block by Kevin Durant (who has improved his rim protection in recent years) and ends with Anthony Davis showing why he is a beast.

It’s Sunday, and what else are you going to do? Watch preseason football?

Grizzlies expected to bring rookie Jaren Jackson along slowly

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Jaren Jackson was one of the standout rookies of Summer League. It started in Salt Lake City at the Jazz Summer League, where he looked like the future of the NBA five — knocking down threes, being athletic enough to run the court on the break, blocking shots, and being physical inside. In Utah, he averaged 15.7 points per game and five boards a night.

Expect the Grizzlies to bring Jackson along slowly, however, once the regular season starts. Jackson likely will come off the bench behind the starting frontline of Marc Gasol and JaMychal Green. That will not be popular with the fan base, but the Grizzlies want to trust their veterans and make a playoff push.

Look at what Grizzlies executive John Hollinger told the Peter Edmiston of the Memphis Commercial Appeal.

I think whatever happens, we want it to happen organically, and not get ahead of ourselves, and make sure we’re taking all the right steps on him, and not getting too excited and skipping ahead….

“We don’t want to put him into overtly physical matchups yet because he’s 18 and his body is still filling out,” he said.

Strength is almost always the biggest challenge facing young big men in the NBA (and Jackson is still 18, he will turn 19 during training camp). These are grown men they are going against nightly, and while Jackson had plenty of strength to hang with the Summer League crowd, things are very different when the big boys come to play. Even in an NBA moving away from old-school power ball, it still matters.

While the Grizzlies will work to not rush Jackson, that plan is somewhat dependent on players with a history of injury issues staying healthy. Jackson is not going to get 30 minutes a night, he’s not going to get the touches that fellow rookies such as Trae Young and Luka Doncic will receive, and he may not be in the mix for Rookie of the Year. We’ll see how things shake out, but on a Grizzlies team looking to put itself in the playoff conversation, the coach likely will lean on veterans he trusts.

Where Jackson will rank in this draft class three years from now could be very different. He has the potential to be the star of this class (or at least one of a few breakouts, this is an interesting group).

Victor Oladipo: ‘I play nothing safe now’ because ‘that really didn’t get me anywhere’

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Victor Oladipo transformed last season.

Traded to the Pacers, he showed up to camp in better shape than he had ever been before, and with a new confidence in his handles and shot making. Coach Nate McMillan realized what he had, put the ball in Oladipo’s hands, and got out of the way. The result was a 48-win Pacers team where Oladipo was the league’s most improved player, made an All-NBA Team, the All-Defensive Team, and was an All-Star for the first time.

Oladipo, after going to the USA Basketball mini-camp in Las Vegas, is back in a Miami gym with the same team of trainers and staff who transformed his body and game a year ago. In a fantastic profile by J. Michael of the Indianapolis Star, Oladipo talks about the mental transformation he has undergone as well.

“I push the envelope. I play nothing safe now,” Oladipo says. “I’m the guy if we’re down two, I’m pulling up for three. I work too hard to not push the envelope. I used to be conservative but that really didn’t get me anywhere.”

His trainer, Al Watson, talked about getting Oladipo better prepared for defenses that focus on him and late-game situations.

“Last year we started doing a lot of tightening up his ball-handling skills. This year we took it to another level because I watch a lot of film on him,” Watson says. “In the fourth quarter, he’s like the point guard. Wanted to focus on a lot of combination moves, working on traps. It’s no secret now. They’re going to be double-teaming him.

“You look at the great players, Kobe, they had to do a little bit of everything. His shot from the perimeter may be off so he’s got to learn, ‘Let me get myself going, get to the mid-post, get some fouls.’ He’s got to be able to attack with all different facets of the game. We do a lot of sprinting, getting to your spots. Got to get open. I touch everything with in-game situation stuff.”

Oladipo’s team includes an off-the-court group trying to better position himself to make money off his stardom. He doesn’t want to play it safe off-the-court, either.

Indiana is going to lean heavily on Oladipo again. They added some depth — Doug McDermott, drafting Aaron Holiday — and are counting on more from players such as Myles Turner. However, by and large, the Pacers are running it back, and they are sneaking up on nobody this season. Internal improvement will be their key.

Oladipo is ready. He’s not playing it safe anymore.