Baseline to baseline recaps: Dallas has some issues

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What you missed while out celebrating Boxing Day….

Kings 100, Lakers 91: We covered this one already in our game of the night.

Nuggets 115, Mavericks 93: Mavericks forward Sean Williams threw up when subbed out in the fourth quarter of this game, which got a lot of laughs on the Mavs bench but pretty well summed up the Dallas performance. Ty Lawson dominated Jason Kidd and that was the spark… but the bigger issue was Dallas had no spark whatsoever for the second straight night. Denver controlled this game from the start. Not time to panic yet in Dallas, but it is time to be concerned.

Spurs 95, Grizzlies 83: This is the 11th straight season the Grizzlies have lost their opening game. Neither team looked sharp in this one, nothing like the playoff series last season, but the 24 turnovers by Memphis sealed it.

Nets 90, Wizards 84: The craziest game of the night by far. The Wizards led this 35-15 in the second quarter and were in complete control, until Johan Petro started to lead a comeback that had the Nets in the lead in the third quarter. A 21-5 Nets run in the fourth sealed it. This was a sloppy game where nobody shot well, although Kris Humphries was efficient on his way to 21 points and 16 rebounds (the Nets controlled the glass and had 19 offensive rebounds, which was key). John Wall seemed to spend the game trying to make the more difficult, spectacular pass when a simple one would have led to a good look shot.

Pacers 91, Pistons 79: Indiana had a balanced attack and three double-doubles — Roy Hibbert (16 points14 rebounds), David West (11 and 12) and Tyler Hansbrough (15 and 13). Indiana had control of this one from the start.

Magic 104, Rockets 95: If you have big man who cam match up with Dwight Howard — like the Thunder did on Christmas in Kendrick Perkins — you can slow the Magic down. Jordan Hill and Samuel Dalmbert could not do that for the Rockets, Howard had 21 efficient points and things opened up for Orlando. Hedo Turkoglu had 23 points on just 14 shots and it was bombs away for J.J. Redick with 20.

Bobcats 96, Bucks 95: Kemba Walker has gotten his Rookie of the Year bid off to a fast start, hitting two late free throws to win this game. Walker finished with 13 points and seven rebounds. Brandon Jennings had 22 for the Bucks but their offense let them down again (just like last season). Charlotte won this with a dominant third quarter (30-14) where they dominated the glass. Bobcats guard D.J. Augustin sprained his ankle and is listed as day-to-day.

Raptors 104, Cavaliers 96: Not a great game if you enjoy defense, but Toronto brought more balance with seven players scoring in double digits. The Raptors went on a 12-0 run in the second quarter and never gave the lead back.

Trail Blazers 107, Sixers 103: Portland went small in the second half and the 76ers could not make them pay for it. Portland grabbed the lead in the first quarter and despite runs by Philly never gave it back behind 25 from LaMarcus Aldridge and 21 from Gerald Wallace. People who sleep on how good the Sixers are will regret it.

Thunder 104, Timberwolves 100: Young legs will be key for the Thunder this season. Up-tempo game (100 possessions) on the second night of a back-to-back but Oklahoma City gets the win. Kevin Durant had 33, Russell Westbrook 28 for OKC. Michael Beasley led the Wolves with 24 but needed 27 shots to do it. He is a black hole. One key — the Thunder got to the free throw line 31 times and made 29; the Wolves got there 26 times and made just 19.

And by the way, Ricky Rubio looked really good in limited run. More on that later.

Hornets 85, Suns 84: Newly acquired Eric Gordon got the call with the game on the line, squared up Jared Dudley and drained the 20 footer for the win with 4.2 seconds on the clock. The Hornets were able to keep the tempo of the game in check, which was key. Gordon had 20 for Charlotte, Robin Lopez led the Suns with 21. Steve Nash had 14 points and 12 dimes.

Warriors 99, Bulls 91: Stephen Curry can be so, so good — he had 21 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds, outplaying Derrick Rose. But the scary part comes with his fragility — he had to leave the game after aggravating his ankle injury. This was really a win for the Warriors bench — the game was 16-16 in the first when subs started coming in and Golden State went on a 30-11 run and made that lead stand up against a Bulls team on a back-to-back. Chicago’s 20 turnovers helped that cause. Monta Ellis had 26 and David Lee 22 in the win. Luol Deng led the Bulls with 22.

Ben Simmons on feud with Jared Dudley: ‘I don’t really have energy for it. It’s done’

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Jared Dudley called Ben Simmons great in transition and average in the halfcourt.

Simmons responded: “It’s coming from Jared Dudley. C’mon.”

In the 76ers’ Game 3 win over the Nets last night, Simmons did what he frequently does – create high-efficiency transition and semi-transition opportunities for himself and teammates. He was also good in the halfcourt, though one game doesn’t establish Simmons in that facet.

Simmons, via Noah Levick of NBC Sports Philadelphia:

“I don’t really have energy for it,” Simmons said. “It’s done. People are going to say what they want to say. Just gotta play.”

As I wrote earlier, this beef will be only as big as Simmons makes it. Dudley’s scouting report was largely accurate. He didn’t really say anything inflammatory, except to people in Philadelphia looking for a slight.

Apparently, after one dismissive comment and one excellent game, that’s no longer Simmons.

Playoff Edition Three Things to Know: Ben Simmons drives right into Nets, earns 76ers win

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The NBA playoffs are underway and there can be a lot to unpack in a series of intense games, to help out we will give you the three things you need to know from the last 24 hours in the NBA.

1) Ben Simmons drives right to basket, into the heart of Brooklyn, leads Sixers to a road win. Jared Dudley has become enemy No. 1 in Philadelphia for saying out loud what has been in every scouting report on the 76ers all season:

Ben Simmons answered that with his best game of the playoffs Thursday night, driving to get to his right hand at the rim all night long, and the Nets could do nothing to stop him. Simmons was 9-of-10 from inside eight feet of the rim, took just one shot outside the paint all night (an 11-foot hook shot he banked in), scored 31 points and led Philadelphia to a 131-115 win in a game Joel Embiid sat out to rest his knee.

Simmons made his statement and won the argument with Dudley…

or did he?

Whatever it took to get this aggressive Simmons, this is the guy Philadelphia needed. He did have help — Tobias Harris was 6-of-6 from three and had 29 points, while J.J. Redick added 26 — but with Embiid out Simmons has to be the catalyst.

D’Angelo Russell and Caris LeVert each had 26 to lead Brooklyn.

With the win the Sixers are now up 2-1 and in control of the series, making Saturday’s Game 4 basically must-win for the Nets.

Brooklyn could use to be a little more efficient on offense — 8-of-39 from three, as they did Thursday, is not good enough — but the more significant issue is defensive. Brooklyn has to find a way to slow the Sixers, and that starts with keeping Simmons from getting the shots he wants going to his right hand. If Simmons is still attacking and getting his shots, this series will be over soon.

2) Kevin Durant reminds everyone exactly who he is, scores 38 in Warriors blowout win. Doc Rivers was prophetic before his Clippers took on the Warriors in Game 3 Thursday night. Just not in a way he wanted.

“If we get down 31 again, it’s not going to turn out well,” Rivers said.

They did and it didn’t.

Golden State went up by 31 with 7:10 in the third quarter Thursday night. That score and game time was very similar to when the Clippers came back from that record deficit to even the series on Tuesday. However, this time the Warriors did not lose focus, they did not take their foot off the gas and let the Clippers back in the game. Golden State held on to win 132-105, and it wasn’t that close.

The Warriors now lead the series 2-1, with Game 4 on Easter in Los Angeles.

Through 12 quarters of play, the Warriors have completely dominated 10 of them so far. They have been much the better side in this series.

Thursday was Kevin Durant’s turn to dominate as he finished with 38 points. The Warriors made some adjustments on how they attacked the Clippers’ “top lock” defense, leading to a lot of shots at the rim. Durant got more touches where he could isolate and shoot over the smaller Patrick Beverley, although though when Clippers switched up to a taller defender Durant torched them, too. It was just his night.

The Clippers also need to find some offensive outlets. The Warriors did a good job making life hard for Lou Williams (4-of-11 shooting) and Los Angeles struggled to get consistent buckets, shooting 37.2 percent as a team for the game, including going 7-of-32 from three.

The Warriors are in control of this series, they have been all along when they didn’t get bored. These Clippers do not quit, they will be feisty again on Sunday, but that alone will not be enough. Los Angeles needs to find some offense and a way to slow down Kevin Durant. Good luck with that.

3) Derrick White puts Spurs in control of series with Nuggets. Derrick White is a vintage Spurs story. What received zero Division I scholarship offers out of high school, so he played three years of Division II ball, but impressed enough that he transferred to Colorado for his senior season. After impressing there, the Spurs picked him 27th in the 2017 NBA draft in one of those “that could be a good fit,” picks San Antonio always seems to make.

Two years later, White “came out of nowhere” to score 36 points, be +30, outplay Kentucky product Jamal Murray, and lead the Spurs to a Game 3 win. Even Denver coach Mike Malone was impressed.

Denver’s defensive strategy the first couple of games this series was, basically, to not cover White — he was the guy they helped off of, and they dared him to shoot from the outside. On Thursday the Spurs and White attacked that strategy having him cut to the basket or, when the ball swung to him, drive into that space and get buckets. The Spurs also used White as a pick-and-roll ball handler to get the switch because Nikola Jokic isn’t quick enough to stop White in space. It all worked brilliantly.

Now the adjustments fall to Malone and the Denver staff, who already have to scheme for LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan and their midrange games. What it also means is Murray is going to have to step up his game and start winning the battles with White. Denver’s starters need to do better, they cannot get outplayed like they did in Game 3.

If they do, or if White goes off again, the Nuggets will be in too big a hole to climb out of it. A first round exit for the No. 2 seed would be a disappointment.

Mavericks guard Hardaway has surgery for stress fracture

AP
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DALLAS (AP) Dallas Mavericks guard Tim Hardaway Jr. has undergone surgery for a stress fracture in his lower left leg and is expected to resume basketball activities before the start of training camp in September.

The procedure announced Thursday came after Hardaway missed the last 11 games of the regular season. The sixth-year player averaged 15.5 points in 19 games after the Mavericks acquired in him a blockbuster seven-player deal with the New York Knicks headlined by Dallas getting Kristaps Porzingis.

The 27-year-old Hardaway could start alongside 20-year-old star Luka Doncic in the backcourt next season depending on what happens in free agency, and possibly the draft. Hardaway has career averages of 15.1 points, 2.6 rebounds and 1.8 assists.

The Mavericks missed the playoffs for the third straight season, finishing 33-49 for the second time in those three years.

More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Kevin Durant reminds everyone who he is, leads Warriors to blowout Game 3 win

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LOS ANGELES — “I’m Kevin Durant. You know who I am. Y’all know who I am.”

“He’s right. But I already knew who Kevin Durant was,” Doc Rivers joked before Game 3 Thursday night.

Durant reminded Rivers — and everyone else — anyway.

Bouncing back from an off game a couple of nights before, Durant had 38 points on 23 shots, added 7 assists, played good defense, and none of that does credit to how much he dominated early and never let up as the Warriors cruised to a 132-105 win at Staples Center. Golden State is up 2-1 in its first-round series against the Clippers, with a chance Sunday to take complete control of the matchup.

“He said it yesterday, he’s Kevin Durant. He showed everybody who Kevin Durant is,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. Was this was Kerr expected out of his star following a rough outing in Game 2? “Ya. He’s a two-time Finals MVP coming off a poor performance, this is what happens.”

It is what happens, and we have seen this movie a lot over the past five years. Some team comes out and challenges the Warriors, knicking them off for a game with a comeback or maybe just a straight punch to the gut kind of win. Then the Warriors respond with a monster game.

Durant stared in this film, but he wasn’t the only one. Stephen Curry was 3-of-3 from beyond the arc in the first quarter, scoring 13 points. Curry and Durant outscored the Clippers 25-24 in the first quarter, and when the other Warriors jumped in, the Warriors scored 41 in the first quarter, 72 for the first half, and 132 on the night.

“[Durant] came out super aggressive, in kill mode,” Draymond Green said of Durant. “That was all the difference for us. We took control of the game right there in the first quarter and never lost control of it.”

A lot of that control stemmed from the fact the Warriors were more dialed in on defense, holding the Clippers to 33.3 percent shooting and 24 points in the first quarter. Los Angeles shot just 35 percent for the game.

That control meant Golden State went up by 31 with 7:10 in the third quarter, a score and time very reminiscent of Game 2, when the Clippers came back from that record deficit to even the series. This time the Warriors did not lose focus, they never let up on defense.

It wasn’t all focus, Kerr and company made smart adjustments, too. For the first two games, the Clippers had success with a “top lock” defense (meaning the defender isn’t between his man and the basket, instead he stands between his man and the three-point line to cut off his popping out and getting the Warriors’ favorite shot). In Game 3, Golden State started cutting back door more, taking advantage of a weakness of top lock defense. The Warriors got the ball to their cutters in creative ways, at times throwing passes from near halfcourt before the defender was really prepared. Or, the Warriors posted up Andrew Bogut or Durant, then had the top locked guys cut to the rim with their defenders trailing by so much the buckets came easily.

Now it’s on Doc Rivers and the Clippers to adjust. But if Durant is going to make another statement, it will not matter.

Even in KD didn’t see it as a statement.

“I’ve been here for 12 years. I’m 30,” Durant said after the win. “I don’t need to show nobody nothing.”