Baseline to Baseline recaps: Spurs hold home court, Cleveland gets company on the bottom

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What you missed watching one wild bike race from Chile

Spurs 97, Hawks 90: Huge win for the Spurs because along with the Lakers loss this basically sews up home court for the Spurs in the West. As for why they won what was at times a sloppy game, they attacked inside and controlled the boards, as we have come to expect from San Antonio. They got to the line more, the grabbed more offensive rebounds. Josh Smith was out and he might have helped the Hawks. By the way, Joe Johnson plays terrible defense.

Cavaliers 99, Bobcats 89: And so much for Charlotte’s slim playoff hopes. Cleveland raced out to a double-digit lead from the start and was up 16 in the first quarter after shooting 59 percent while the Bobcats shot 29 percent. Charlotte continued to shoot terribly all night, hence the final score. A good third quarter almost made it interesting but a 12-2 Cavs run early in the fourth basically ended the drama.

Cleveland and Minnesota are now tied in the loss column this season for the worst record in the league with 61 losses. The Wolves have a half game lead because they have one more win.

Nets 107, Timberwolves 106: If Deron Williams has 21 assists and wins the game on a step-back jumper, but nobody sees it because the game is not televised, did it happen? (This game was not televised by either YES or Fox Sports, so we saw none of it.)

Magic 78, Bucks 72: This was the horror flick “Night of the Living Dead offenses). The winning team shot 38.8 percent. Orlando took control of this one early — their stout defense against the Bucks anemic offense meant 14 first quarter points for Milwaukee. The other key was Dwight Howard owned Andrew Bogut — Howard had 18 points and 17 rebounds, Bogut had 2 points and 6 boards.

Wizards 107, Pistons 105: Watch out, the Wizards have a three-game winning streak. It was close to the end but the difference was John Wall, who scored 16 of his 26 in the fourth quarter including the game-winning fast break dunk (thanks to some bad defense from the Pistons — nobody stays back to defend with 15 seconds on the clock?).

Celtics 99, 76ers 82: This may be a first round preview but the Sixers are a banged up squad (no Lou Williams, Elton Brand’s hand, Iggy) so don’t read too much into this. It was very close for a half then the Celtic defense clamped down and the Sixers shot 25 percent in the third and 32 percent in the fourth. If Jeff Green would play like that every game — especially on defense — he’s be a fan favorite. But consistency is the issue.

Knicks 131, Raptors 118: Defense? We don’t need no stinkin’ defense. The tempo was up (97 possessions) but the real key was the Knicks hit 15-of-27 threes, while the Raptors took just 7.

Bulls 97, Suns 94: This looked like a Bulls blowout, they were up 22 early in the third. But the Suns fought back and had a chance, down 3 with the ball and 13 seconds left. The Suns ran a Steve Nash/Channing Frye pick-and-pop, but Derrick Rose did a good job switching to take Frye out. Nash couldn’t find room for a three over Joakim Noah and had to drive with 6 seconds left. But at that point the two was going to be meaningless.

Clippers 82, Grizzlies 81: This was an ugly affair, with the Clippers winning while shooting a weak 41 percent. Memphis led by as many as 13 in the third but a 10-0 run early in the fourth made it a game for the Clippers and Mo Williams took over late with 9 points in the final six minutes.

Kings 104, Rockets 101: This pretty much sunk the Rockets playoff chances — Memphis lost but the Rockets make up no ground. The Grizzlies magic number to eliminate the Rockets is 2 (combination of Rocket losses and Memphis wins). Six Kings in double figures, and they remain a team playing pretty well of late.

Thunder 101, Nuggets 94: This potential first round playoff matchup was close until Oklahoma City went on a 16-0 run in the fourth quarter fueled by Serge Ibaka’s defending the rim and taking away easy layups. Denver struggled to stop Kevin Durant, who finished with 32 points on 21 shots. This is going to be an entertaining playoff series.

Warriors 108, Trail Blazers 87: Portland is not a good three point shooting team and when they start settling for the outside shot (or you can force them to take it) you’ve got them. They settled and missed (3-for-21 from three). Long rebounds and a lot of early turnovers got the Warriors running early, and it just snowballed. Monta Ellis had 30 points, Stephen Curry dropped another 28 with 8 dimes and David Lee had 29 points and 20 boards.

Jazz 86, Lakers 85: This was an ugly game where the Lakers clearly didn’t care until the end and that didn’t clear up the sloppy from both sides. Gordon Hayward can play in this league (Kobe after the game compared him to Jeff Hornacek, which is overstating Hayward’s shooting but you get the idea) and he had the game winning drive, drew the foul and hit the free throw.

This is three sloppy games in a row for the Lakers, so we can call it a trend.

Watch LeBron’s big night: Moves into fourth in assists, triple-double, win over Knicks

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LeBron James always saves something special for Madison Square Garden.

LeBron had a triple-double of 28 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds — he became the first player in NBA history to have a triple-double in his 20th season.

That wasn’t the only bit of history, with those 11 dimes he moved past both Mark Jackson and Steve Nash into fourth on the NBA’s career assists list. And if that wasn’t enough, the 28 points moved him within 89 points of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s NBA all-time scoring record: Abdul-Jabbar has 38,387, LeBron is now at 38,299.

For LeBron, however, what mattered most was the win — 129-123 in overtime, giving a Lakers team starved for wins its first on this road trip out East.

“I didn’t get to this point in my career by thinking about records or how many points I have, whatever the case might be,” LeBron said, via the Associated Press. “I just play the game the right way. I approach the game every night only trying to be a triple threat by scoring, rebounding, assisting, defending, and may the chips fall where they may.”

LeBron had help, with Anthony Davis adding 27 points and nine rebounds. The Knicks got 37 from Jalen Brunson, and Julius Randle had 23 points and 12 rebounds.

LeBron needed that help as he wasn’t the sharpest he had been this season, starting 2-of-8 from the floor, then missing a couple of long jumpers in the game’s final minutes when the Lakers had the chance to seal the win. But he was good enough and put on a show for the sold-out crowd in New York.

LeBron James NBA all-time scoring record tracker

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Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has held the NBA all-time scoring record at 38,387 points since he retired in 1989. It is one of the most iconic records in sports and one thought by many that would never be broken, but LeBron James is on the verge of breaking that scoring record and doing it at age 38. How many more points does LeBron need to take over the scoring record? When is it projected to happen? Let’s break down the latest numbers (this will be updated after every Lakers game until the record is set).

How many points does LeBron James need to set the scoring record?
89

Abdul-Jabbar career points: 38,387
LeBron career points: 38,299

Lakers’ upcoming schedule:

Feb. 2 at Pacers
Feb. 4 at Pelicans
Feb. 7 vs. Thunder
Feb. 9 vs. Bucks
Feb. 11 at Warriors

When is LeBron projected to set the all-time scoring record:

LeBron is averaging 30.2 points per game this season, at that pace he would set the record on Feb. 7 at home against the Oklahoma City Thunder, although that would be by one point, so Feb. 9 against Milwaukee is certainly a possibility.

News and notes on LeBron’s quest for the record:

• LeBron had his first triple-double of the season — and became the first player ever with one in his 20th season — scoring 28 points with 10 rebounds and 11 assists — to help lead the Lakers past the Knicks in overtime on Tuesday night. With those 11 assits LeBron moved past both Mark Jackson and Steve Nash to be fourth on the NBA’s all-time assists list.

• LeBron James did suit up to play Tuesday night against the Knicks (in Madison Square Garden on national television, that shouldn’t have been a surprise). Anthony Davis was cleared to play as well.

• After sitting out against the Nets on Monday, LeBron is officially questionable to play Tuesday in Madison Square Garden against the Knicks and will be a game-time decision. Lakers coach Darvin Ham said LeBron has “really significant soreness” in his left foot (after playing 44 minutes against Boston). LeBron and the medical staff will speak after LeBron starts to warm up Tuesday to determine if LeBron can play in Madison Square Garden, a game he hates to miss because he loves playing in that venue.

• The Lakers have officially listed LeBron (and Anthony Davis) as out for the game Monday night in Brooklyn. That is the first game of a back-to-back for the Lakers, and they have rested LeBron in half of those for most of the season. This will push back the date he breaks the record, making it likely it happens at Crypto.com Arena.

• LeBron scored 41 points — and felt he should have had a couple more — in the Lakers’ overtime loss to the Celtics Saturday on national television.

• Sixers Doc Rivers on what impresses him in LeBron’s run to this record: “LeBron has done it so differently to me [thank Kareem]. Because LeBron is not a natural scorer. LeBron is a playmaker. He got criticized early in his career for making the right decisions. And the fact that he’s now about to break the scoring record, it really points out his greatness.”

• LeBron scored 20 points in the Lakers’ win over the Spurs, a game in which Anthony Davis returned from injury and Rui Hachimura made his debut as a Laker after being traded from the Wizards.

• What has Kareem Abdul-Jabbar said about LeBron passing his record? There has been a bit of frostiness between the two men, but Abdul-Jabbar was gracious in comments to Marc Stein back in 2021 about the possibility of his record falling: “I’m excited to see it happen. I don’t see records as personal accomplishments, but more as human achievements. If one person can do something that’s never been done, that means we all have a shot at doing it. It’s a source of hope and inspiration. Roger Bannister broke the four-minute mile back in 1954. Since then, not only have 1,400 runners beaten that time, but the new record is 17 seconds less. We all win when a record is broken and if LeBron breaks mine, I will be right there to cheer him on.”

Paolo Banchero, Scoot Henderson highlight player pool for Rising Stars during All-Star weekend

Orlando Magic v Miami Heat
Megan Briggs/Getty Images
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The big winner in last year’s All-Star Friday night Rising Stars game was the new format (and Cade Cunningham). The new setup saw players onto four teams of seven, with those four teams going into a tournament bracket. The games were not timed, but players competed to a target score — something that actually had the young stars defending and playing hard. Things too often lacking All-Star weekend.

That format is back, and an impressive crop of players is involved: Rookie of the Year favorite Paolo Banchero, last year’s ROY Scottie Barnes, and expected No.2 pick in the upcoming draft Scoot Henderson of the G-League Ignite. Here is a complete list of the players competing (the rookies and sophomores will be drafted into three teams of seven players each, and the G-League players will make up their own team).

Rookies

Paolo Banchero (Orlando Magic)
Jalen Duren (Detroit Pistons)
AJ Griffin (Atlanta Hawks)
Jaden Ivey (Detroit Pistons)
Walker Kessler (Utah Jazz)
Bennedict Mathurin (Indiana Pacers)
Keegan Murray (Sacramento Kings)
Andrew Nembhard (Indiana Pacers)
Jabari Smith Jr. (Houston Rockets)
Jeremy Sochan (San Antonio Spurs)
Jalen Williams (Oklahoma City Thunder)

Sophomores

Jose Alvarado (New Orleans Pelicans)
Scottie Barnes (Toronto Raptors)
Josh Giddey (Oklahoma City Thunder)
Jalen Green (Houston Rockets)
Quentin Grimes (New York Knicks)
Bones Hyland (Denver Nuggets)
Evan Mobley (Cleveland Cavaliers)
Trey Murphy III (New Orleans Pelicans)
Alperen Sengun (Houston Rockets)
Franz Wagner (Orlando Magic)

The G-League team will consist of:

Sidy Cissoko (G League Ignite)
Scoot Henderson (G League Ignite)
Mojave King (G League Ignite)
Kenneth Lofton Jr. (Memphis Hustle)
Mac McClung (Deleware Blue Coats)
Leonard Miller (G League Ignite)
Scotty Pippen Jr. (South Bay Lakers)

There are former NBA stars to coach each of the teams: Former All-Stars Pau Gasol, Joakim Noah and Deron Williams will coach the three Rising Stars teams, while former Sixth Man of the Year Jason Terry will coach the G League team.

There will be three games Friday night during the Rising Stars challenge, with each game played to a target score of 40. If it’s anything like last year, it’s worth tuning in.

Needing defense, Kings reportedly eyeing 76ers Thybulle for trade

Philadelphia 76ers v Sacramento Kings
Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images
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At 28-21, the Sacramento Kings sit as the No.3 seed in the West with the second-best offense in the league — they seemed destined to break their 16-year playoff drought and very well could even host a first-round playoff series.

However, their 23rd-ranked defense (using Cleaning the Glass’ numbers) will undo them come the playoffs.

That has the Kings looking for some defensive help and they are eyeing Sixers wing Matisse Thybullereports Marc Stein in his latest Substack newsletter.

Sacramento is said to be monitoring the availability of Philadelphia’s Matisse Thybulle as the Kings, unexpectedly holding the West’s No. 3 seed after a league-record 16 consecutive seasons out of the playoffs, ponder the pursuit of a more defensive-minded option on the perimeter.

Thybulle has lived in the rumor mill for a while, this is nothing new. However, those rumors carry more weight because Thybulle’s role in Philadelphia has shrunk considerably with the additions of De'Anthony Melton and P.J. Tucker as defensive-minded forwards who can provide more offense than Thybulle. Doc Rivers also leans into Georges Niang more off the bench because of his shooting.

Thybulle is in the final year of his contract and is headed for restricted free agency, the Kings might be interested in re-signing him (depending on the price and his fit with the roster). The Kings can match salaries easily enough with Davion Mitchell, Terence Davis or Alex Len, the question is who will the 76ers want back, and will the Kings need to throw in a second-round pick?

There’s some logic to this trade getting done in some form, it’s worth keeping an eye on.