Baseline to Baseline recaps: Game winners everywhere, but the Clippers don’t need one

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What you missed while trying to recreate the movie “Up”

Clippers 108, Celtics 103: Boston had a plan — Blake Griffin was not going to beat them. It’s one thing that Boston’s defense has done well in this “big three era” — take away an opponent’s favorite option (sometimes two or three). Griffin was swarmed all night and shot 4-of-14 and had 12 points.

Problem was the other Clippers not named Griffin shot 57.4 percent on the night. Mo Williams had 28 points on 17 shots — including a late three that was the dagger — and DeAndre Jordan had 21 points on 10 shots. (I know the man in question is out injured, but what Jordan did makes you think about how Boston might miss Kendrick Perkins.) The Clippers jumped out to a first quarter lead, pushed that all the way to 23 points early in the second half, then held on to get the win.

Troy Murphy has yet to make a shot as a Celtic.

Jazz 96, Raptors 94: Utah road big fourth quarters from C.J. Miles (10 point in the fourth) and Al Jefferson (8) to erase a 14 point deficit ad have a chance for the win. Then at the buzzer it was Jefferson with the fluky high-arching tip that goes in after the red light goes on and gives the Jazz a dramatic win. Not a pretty win, but the Jazz needed it so they’ll take it.

Bulls 101, Bobcats 84: The Bobcats were supposed to get Stephen Jackson and Tyrus Thomas back for this one, but last second neither was quite healthy enough to go. So the Bobcats struggling offense went up against the best defense in the league and, frankly, did better than I would have predicted. Not good, but not as big a disaster as expected. Gerald Henderson had 20 for Charlotte; Kyle Korver had 20 off the bench for the Bulls (4-of-7 from three).

Thunder 110, Sixers 105 (OT): Philadelphia was up 101-96 with 42 seconds left. But then Kevin Durant happened. And the game went to overtime where the Thunder were in control.

Sure, there was the big shot to send the game to OT, but more importantly Durant had maybe the best defensive game I can remember from him — he shut Andre Iguodala down. Which is the opposite of what was supposed to happen, Iggy was supposed to shut down the league’s leading scorer. Instead Durant had 34 and chipped in 16 boards. Meanwhile Iguodla was 5-for-12 for 14 points.

Nets 94, Warriors 90: A London hangover and Deron Williams off watching his fourth kid be born yet the Nets still found a way to get this win. Of course, it was the last game of a seven-game trip for the Warriors, so you kind of expected them to fade at the end. And they did. Brook Lopez had 24 and 10, plus hit the old-fashioned three-point play with 1:10 left to seal the win. But the best Net was Sundiata Gaines — Jordan Farmar started this for Nets at the point but Gaines finished. He was a +21 and things just seemed to go right when he was in.

Bucks 110, Cavaliers 90: Honestly, I value my time too much to watch a lot of this. But Earl Boykins seemed to spark the normally anemic Bucks offense for a night.

Knicks 110, Grizzlies 108: The Knicks almost blew this one — they were up 10 with three minutes left, but it took a dramatic game winner to get the win. Which is something Carmelo Anthony can get you. He had the ball on the left wing, guarded by one of the better perimeter defenders around in Tony Allen, and he hit a long two with a hand in his face. Great shot. Good win for the Knicks against one of the hotter teams in the league over the last few weeks.

Hornets 93, Mavericks 92: The biggest shocker of the night — because Dallas was up 7 with under one minute to go. But in that final minute the Hornets knocked down a three pointer (Marco Bellinelli) plus a putback (Emeka Okafor), three offensive rebounds, and one forced turnover on a Dirk Nowitzki pass. Then after Tyson Chandler missed two free throws Jason Kidd fouled Jarrett Jack on a three, he sank all three free throws, then Dirk missed a game winner and that was it. Jack hit 8-of-19 shots for 21 points on the night.

Timberwolves 101, Pacers 75: Kevin Love set the record with his 52nd double double. Congratulations to him. Aside that, Indiana is just very bad right now.

Spurs 111, Pistons 104: What the hell is John Kuester doing? A couple weeks back he pulled Tracy McGrady for no good reason and gave him five DNP-CDs in a row. That meant Rodney Stuckey had been the man at the point and he had been good — he’s averaged 20.8 points, eight assists and six rebounds per game over those four. So tonight Stuckey was benched and McGrady was back in. McGrady played well, but that’s not the point. The Pistons are a mess.

The Spurs shot 80 percent — that’s not a typo, 80 percent — in the first half. The Pistons made it look respectable in the final score, but that was a mirage.

Magic 106, Kings 102: DeMarcus Cousins reminded us what a talent he can be, putting up a career high 29 points on Dwight Howard (who fouled out). But that was not enough. The Kings shot 30 percent in the second half against a stout Magic defense, Jameer Nelson got in the lane and Hedo Turkoglu hit the dagger three. The Magic got the win but that was one of the Kings best games in a while.

Is Matisse Thybulle ready for a big step forward with 76ers?

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Matisse Thybulle brings a valuable NBA skill to the table — he is an elite perimeter defender. Two-time All-Defensive Team in three years in the league.

But when the 76ers got up against Miami in the playoffs, Thybulle’s role shrank dramatically. While Doc Rivers needed his defense, Thybulle’s lack of an offensive game became a problem — the Heat largely ignored him and helped off him, allowing Miami to muck up the Philly offense (he was limited in the Toronto series because he was not vaccinated and could not play in road games). The 76ers tried to solve that problem this offseason by bringing in DeAnthony Melton, Danuel House and P.J. Tucker — solid role-playing defenders who can contribute on offense, too.

Thybulle wants to be part of the solution, too, and told Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer he spent the summer focused on his offensive game.

“I’m really proud of what I did,” Thybulle said of his offseason. “I’ve worked harder than I’ve worked. And I had a meeting with [Sixers coach Doc Rivers] early this week and was telling him I feel more bought in than I’ve been before.”

No doubt Thybulle put in the work, we will find out soon if it paid off — and if that will get Thybulle paid.

Thybulle is entering a contract year — the 76ers can extend him up until Oct. 18, after which he would become a restricted free agent next summer. Thybulle said his goal is to remain in Philadelphia (and he’d like an extension).

“At this point, I would always want to stay in Philly,” he said. “And if it’s up to me, that’s always going to be my choice.

“But considering that I’ve realized the reality of how far out of my control it is, if I do get traded or something does end up happening, I can look at myself in the mirror at the end of the day.”

With a win-now Sixers team, Daryl Morey may be in a wait-and-see place with Thybulle, letting the market set his price next offseason. If he signs now, it will likely be on a team-friendly deal (but maybe one that still works for the 25-year-old).

If Thybulle gets on the court this season and shows an improved offensive game, one where he can make teams pay for helping off him, his price goes up and there may be multiple teams bidding for his services next summer. And Doc Rivers would be happy in the short term.

It’s up to Thybulle to prove it now.

 

Markelle Fultz will miss start of training camp, at least, with broken toe

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The basketball gods continue to turn their backs on Markelle Fultz.

A torn ACL had limited him to 26 games over the past two seasons, but he was healthy and ramping up to a larger role this season with a young and interesting Magic team. Then came the news he fractured his left big toe during a training session. As a result, he will be out for at least the start of training camp, the team announced. From the official announcement:

“He has been placed in a walking boot and his return to play will depend on how he responds to rehabilitation and treatment. Fultz suffered the injury during a preseason workout prior to returning to Orlando and imaging confirmed the fracture.

He will not need surgery, according to the team.

Fultz was set to split point guard duties with Cole Anthony, this injury means RJ Hampton could see more run at the point for now. Fultz should be able to return either during the end of the preseason or early in the season.

Fultz was the No.1 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft but never found his footing with the 76ers (in part due to injury). However, since getting out of that spotlight and allowed to develop in Orlando he’s been a solid rotation point guard when healthy. Last season in 18 games he averaged 10.8 points and 5.5 assists a game, and while he’s still not an efficient shooter he can run a team.

How Anthony and, eventually, Fultz will work off the ball as rookie Paolo Banchero gets the opportunity to create more offense will be just one of the interesting things to watch with this Magic team this year. We’ll have to wait a little while to see Fultz.

 

Vintage Kobe: Redeem Team recalls him running over Pau Gasol

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If the goal of a trailer is to get you to want to see the movie, then well done Netflix. I’m in.

Netflix released a trailer for its upcoming Redeem Team documentary on the 2008 Olympics, featuring some vintage Kobe Bryant. Just as a quick refresher, in 2008 the USA’s toughest opponent would be a deep Spanish team led by peak Pau Gasol but also with Marc Gasol, Ricky Rubio, José Calderón, Rudy Fernández, Juan Carlos Navarro and more. This was a legitimately dangerous team and one the USA would face first in group play.

Kobe wanted to set a tone — and did by running through his friend Gasol. (Warning: There is NSFW language in the video clip below.)

“‘First play of the game I’m running through Pau Gasol.’ And we was like, ‘What?’ He said, ‘First play of the game, I know what they’re gonna run.’ And he knew Pau was gonna be the last screen and he said ‘I’m running through him,'” Dwayne Wade said

Spoiler alert: The USA thrashed Spain in group stage play. However, come the Gold Medal game it was a lot tougher for the Americans to beat the Spaniards, with Kobe having to have a big fourth quarter and — what often goes unremembered — a master class from Chris Paul in game management to control the tempo and flow.

I’m all in for the documentary, which drops on Oct. 7 on Netflix.

Spurs’ Keldon Johnson to miss start of training camp with shoulder injury

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Keldon Johnson is poised to have a monster season on a rebuilding Spurs team.

Except he’s going to miss the start of training camp and the team’s preseason games. And could be out longer.

Johnson suffered a “right shoulder posterior dislocation during Spurs open gym” the team announced Saturday. Posterior dislocations are rare (less than 5% of all dislocations) and are usually from a fall on an extended arm. Recovering from the injury depends on many factors but can extend out for months. However, the Spurs said Johnson is expected to be available for the start of the regular season less than a month from now.

Johnson averaged 17 points and 6.1 rebounds a game last season, and is an elite perimeter shooter off the catch-and-shoot (39.8% from 3 overall), who also can put the ball on the floor and finish at the rim. He was the team’s second-leading scorer last season (to Dejounte Murray, who is now in Atlanta).

The Spurs will be cautious with bringing Johnson back. Even in what could be Gregg Popovich’s last season as coach the Spurs are looking more to be part of the Victor Wembanyama sweepstakes than push for a playoff spot. Johnson is a quality player who helps San Antonio win games, which both is why they want him back healthy and why they are not going to rush him.