Baseline to Baseline recaps: Chicago’s offense is as awesome as the Kings defense is horrid

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What you missed while getting busted for polygamy due to Facebook (damn you Zuckerberg)….

The Celtics beating up and coming from behind to beat the Knicks is our game of the night.

Bulls 132, Kings 92: For a night, there were no questions about the Bulls offense. For a night it was an unstoppable force, shooting 61 percent on its way to 132 points and an easy win. Of course, that may have more to do with the Kings porous defense than the Bulls (even with Carlos Boozers return to action). No Bull had more than 18 points (Derrick Rose and Kyle Korver) but eight were in double figures for the night.

Magic 97, Cavaliers 86: This game was not as close as the score suggests. Orlando was up 15 in the first quarter, 26 in the third quarter and it only got close because of disinterest from the Magic and garbage time. Cleveland simply had no answer for the size and strength of the Magic inside — Dwight Howard and Brandon Bass combined for 50 points on 18-of-21 shooting and 24 rebounds.

Pacers 102, Nets 98: Gritty little win for the Pacers. Not pretty, but when you’re hanging on to the last playoff spot by a thread pretty doesn’t matter you just need the wins. Big nights from Roy Hibbert (24 points) and Danny Granger (20 points). Indy pulled away in the third quarter but a 12-4 Nets run late made it a very close one late and if Sasha Vujacic’s three had not been deflected we might be writing a very different recap.

Grizzlies 103, Jazz 85: Interesting tweet from Brian T. Smith, the Jazz beat writer for the Salt Lake Tribune: “Would not be surprised if Jazz make a hard decision this summer about Jefferson, Millsap. Just does not work defensively with both in post.” That lack of interior defense is a big problem against the front line of Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol, who combined for 50 points.

This loss basically killed the Jazz’s playoff chances.

Spurs 111, Warriors 96: The Tim Duncan injury overshadowed what was a blowout win almost from the start for San Antonio. The good news is that Tiago Splitter looked good (10 points, 14 rebounds) while Duncan was out. The Spurs need him to keep that up over the final couple weeks, although their lead in the West and the NBA is pretty much safe at this point.

Nuggets 123, Raptors 90: Another blowout early. Raymond Felton had 17 points in the first quarter. Wilson Chandler looked good at the two guard in place of the injured Arron Afflalo. Even J.R. Smith was dishing assists (6 in the first half). Also worth noting that this game was played at a ridiculously fast pace (106 possessions) and yet Denver held the Raptors to 90 points.

Rumor: Suns, Magic have inquired about Knicks’ Frank Ntilikina

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Where do the Knicks stand on Frank Ntilikina, the No. 8 overall pick in the 2017 NBA draft (taken ahead of Dennis Smith Jr. Zach Collins, and Donovan Mitchell)?

This should tell you all you need to know: The Denver Nuggets decided to cast Emmanuel Mudiay aside and the Knicks traded for him and instantly Mudiay jumped Ntilikina on the depth chart.

Ntilikina has played good defense but unimpressive offense for the Knicks this season and there is a thought from other teams around the league they may try to trade the young European.

A few teams are interested, according to Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News, but — shocker! — there may be a split in the front office about what to do between president Steve Mills and GM Scott Perry.

Despite the Knicks’ clear lack of confidence in Ntilikina, teams have inquired about the 20-year-old, with the Magic and Suns expressing interest, according to a source. And this is where it gets interesting. There seems to be a debate within the Knicks on whether to deal Ntilikina. He was drafted by Mills and has supporters in the front office. But, according to a source with knowledge of the situation, Perry, who took the job after Ntilikina was drafted, recently approached the Atlanta Hawks to gauge whether the team was interested in dealing for the guard (Hawks have Trae Young and weren’t interested).

The Suns and Magic both desperately need point guards. However, neither are offering much in trades knowing that come free agency next July there will be better, more established targets — D'Angelo Russell, Terry Rozier, among others.

Ntilikina is a good perimeter defender whose skills could be developed in the right situation into a rotation point guard. Probably. But because the offers will be lowball, the Knicks would essentially just be dumping the No. 8 pick of a season ago, a guy who is only 20 years old. That would be a mistake — if the Knicks can’t get decent value back, keep Ntilikina and try to develop him themselves. Point guards take longer to come around in the NBA, maybe Ntilikina will develop into a player the Knicks want to keep.

But the rumors are out there and it’s something to keep an eye on.

Markelle Fultz returns to Philadelphia to do shoulder rehab with team

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Markelle Fultz is back with the 76ers.

Not in uniform for games, but he is back from Los Angeles and in Philadelphia working out with the team to recover from thoracic outlet syndrome, according to multiple reports. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN broke the story, then Noah Levick of NBC Sports Philadelphia confirmed it.

Fultz was in the arena for the Sixers game Saturday against the Thunder on national television (though not suited up to play).

There is no timetable for Fultz’s return, although his agent has said he expects Fultz to be back on the court this season. Whether that would be with the Sixers is another question, teams have called about the availability of the No. 1 pick from the 2017 NBA Draft, but the offers have been so lowball that none of them have been seriously considered by Philadelphia.

After consulting with a number of specialists just a few weeks into the season (and just after the Jimmy Butler trade), the 20-year-old Fultz was diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome, a pinching of the nerve through the collarbone area. Since December he has been in Los Angeles is doing physical therapy to relieve the issue.

Fultz has returned to Philadelphia and is continuing that therapy.

 

Report: Rockets trying to trade Carmelo Anthony, likely to waive Nunnally to create roster spot

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To bring in some front line depth in the form of Kenneth Faried Monday, the Houston Rockets first have to clear a roster spot.

That led to a lot of speculation it could be Carmelo Anthony who is let go, he remains on the roster but not with the team, in a kind of limbo while the Rockets and ‘Melo’s agent look for a landing spot. (He reportedly has several options and will choose one before the trade deadline, but if he really liked any of those options he would have already taken them rather than waiting for a better offer.)

The Rockets are “aggressively” trying to trade Anthony and find him a new home before Monday, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported. However, James Nunnally is the most likely guy out, he was just signed to a 10-day contract.

If the Rockets haven’t waived ‘Melo yet, they’re not going to do it now.

Houston GM Daryl Morey is also working the phone lines to find wing depth to add to the Rockets’ roster. While James Harden‘s historic streak has carried the Rockets back into the playoff picture in the West, this is not the same Houston team that was a threat to the Warriors a season ago. Morey’s off-season gambles — including Anthony — have not panned out, and he is now trying to correct them.

Pelicans’ Anthony Davis out 1-2 weeks with sprained finger

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This is bad.

The New Orleans Pelicans are 21-25 and four games back of the eight seed in the West having lost 3-of-4 on the current road trip. When Anthony Davis is not on the court, the Pelicans get outscored by 4.2 points per 100 possessions.

Davis is not going to be on the court for a week or two due to a sprained finger, the team announced Saturday morning.

Looking ahead at the schedule, Davis is likely to miss between three and seven games.

Davis has played at an MVP level this season, averaging 29.3 points per game on 50.8 percent shooting, plus grabs 13.3 rebounds and dishes out 4.4 assists a night. And that’s just on offense, defensively he is one of the best rim protecting bigs in the league, averaging 2.6 blocks per game. Davis leads the NBA in win shares (8.3) and PER at 30.9. He has been an absolute beast all season long.

Yet he hasn’t been able to lead the Pelicans to a winning record because of the roster around him (and injuries that have sapped what little depth New Orleans had to begin with).

Because of that, the intensely competitive Davis — who has talked about legacy mattering more to him than money — is expected to turn down a $239 million contract extension from the Pelicans next summer. At that point New Orleans will have to consider trading him and 29 teams will be lined up to talk deal (the Celtics and Lakers are expected to be at the front of that line).