Baseline to Baseline recaps: Nate Robinson beats the Heat

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What you missed while being addicted to cracking your knuckles

Wizards 93, Raptors 78: The Wizards win! Theeee Wizards win!

Warriors 111, Heat 106: This was another Miami route, they were up 17 late in the third quarter, but then Nate Robinson happened. And then Dorell Wright happened. And suddenly Mark Jackson and the rebuilding Warriors had a signature win.

Miami dominated this game with Dwyane Wade returning to action and putting up 20 in the first half (34 for the game). LeBron James was in attack mode getting to the rim (he finished with 26). Miami’s pressure defense was forcing turnovers and getting the team easy buckets. They were in cruise control but they got a little passive.

That’s when Nate Robinson took over — he had 15 in the fourth quarter. He’s inconsistent but when he is on he can light up the scoreboard and he was on. He and the Warriors knocked down threes and attacked the rim on the drive drawing fouls. David Lee continued to outplay Chris Bosh and the Heat switched James onto him. But nothing changed the tide, a late 8-0 tied the game and it was headed to overtime. That is when Wright knocked down two big threes and Miami had no answer.

Warriors’ owner Joe Lacob was jumping out of his seat all night. For a franchise looking to change its culture, this is the kind of signature win it needs. For the Heat, it’s a reminder they can never take their foot off the gas. As much as Robinson and the Warriors took advantage, the Heat lost this game because the got soft.

Lakers 99, Suns 83: That whole thing about the Lakers running offense more through the big guys in the paint and leaning less on Kobe Bryant will have to wait. Kobe had 48 points — highest scoring game by any player this season — on 31 shots. He had 17 points in the first quarter and 16 points in the fourth quarter when the Lakers went on a 16-1 run to pull away for the victory. He’s banged up and older, but there are nights he can still score on anyone like he was 25 and when it happens the Lakers are tough to beat. The other reason the Lakers won this one was defense — the Suns scored one point the final 5:30 of the contest. Los Angeles was able to contain Steve Nash. Channing Frye led the Suns with 17 points.

76ers 112, Kings 85: One thing we’ve learned over the first couple weeks of the season — Philadelphia is much better than under .500 teams. The Kings are a mess, and the Sixers did what they have been doing all season against a soft schedule — six guys in double figures (three of them off the bench), plus holding the other team to under 40 percent shooting. Not to knock Philly much — they are playing well and beating the teams in front of them, but they take on the Knicks on Wednesday as their schedule starts to toughen up.

Mavericks 100, Pistons 86: What slow start? Dallas is a .500 team. They raced out to a 23-9 lead — Dirk Nowitzki hit is first seven shots — and stretched it out as they shot 63 percent for the first half. This game was pretty much what you expected from there, Detroit was overwhelmed.

Rockets 82, Bobcats 70: The winning team shot 38.6 percent. The winning team was led by 20 points from Chandler Parsons (while Kevin Martin, Kyle Lowry and Luis Scola combined to shoot 29 percent). It wasn’t pretty but the Rockets will take it.

Thunder 100, Grizzlies 95: It was the Russell Westbrook show. In the same building where he was so criticized last year during the playoffs he owned this game — his jumper was falling early, that opened up driving lanes and he had 30 points. The other keys were the Thunder taking care of the ball in the fourth quarter (zero turnovers). Kevin Durant finished with 22 points, while Marc Gasol had 20 points and 14 rebounds for Memphis.

Bulls 111, Timberwolves 100: Minnesota becomes the first team to lose the third game of a back-to-back-to-back (teams were 6-0 coming into the game). They landed in a tough spot however, with tired legs they asked Luke Ridnour to cover Derrick Rose (who had 14 in the first quarter). Chicago was up by 24 in the second quarter but fell asleep at the wheel and the Timberwolves closed out the first half on a 15-0 run to make it a game at 53-47. Kevin Love found space away from Joakim Noah and sparked that run with 11 second quarter points. It was close the rest of the way, but Rose had 14 in the fourth quarter and Ronnie Brewer’s late seven points sealed the win.

One interesting note: Wolves coach Rick Adelman leaned heavily on his bench players (like Ricky Rubio and Derrick Williams) in this one, with starters Wes Johnson, Darko Milicic and Wayne Ellington benched in the second half.

Bucks 106, Spurs 103: San Antonio was up 10 in the first quarter as they shot 68 percent for the first frame behind a dozen from Tim Duncan. But as they did all night the Bucks went on a quick run (13-1 this time) and took the lead back. They made similar runs (10-2, another 11-3) in the fourth quarter to get the win, although it was close. It took an Ersan Ilyasova three to seal it late, while Richard Jefferson missed a couple late threes for the Spurs. Tony Parker had 22, but he can’t create offense for the Spurs the way Manu Ginobili did.

Stephen Jackson has 12 of Milwaukee’s first 18 points. He finished with 34 and also had some nice assists. Why doesn’t he play like this every night?

Jazz 113, Cavaliers 105: Al Jefferson had 30, Josh Howard had 11 off the bench in the fourth quarter and the Jazz get the win. Let me be honest, on a night with 11 games there some games I see little of, this was the sacrificed game tonight.

Trail Blazers 105, Clippers 97: Pretty intense game for this early in the season, the Blazers took the lead in the second quarter then held off Clippers charges all night — even into the last minutes, when Raymond Felton turnovers gave the Clippers hope. But Portland is overcoming its mistakes and continues to play like the best team in the West so far. They had 20 points from Gerald Wallace, 18 from LaMarcus Aldridge and 17 from Felton. The Clippers show flashes but their late game execution — bad fouls, poorly drawn up plays when they need buckets — shows they have a ways to go. And Vinny Del Negro — you can trust Chris Paul to close out the first half, even if he has three fouls. If you can’t trust CP3 to play smart, who can you trust?

Celtics’ Terry Rozier on Game 3: “We needed to get our butts whooped”

Associated Press
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Cleveland dominated Game 3 Saturday night. They played harder, to start. The Cavaliers’ defensive pressure on the ball was better, they were sharper rotating out to shooters and covering passing lanes. Cleveland’s role players stepped up and helped LeBron James.

Boston, meanwhile, wilted in the face of that pressure Saturday, something it has done a few times on the road these playoffs. The Celtics got away from the things that got them to the Eastern Conference Finals. Guard Terry Rozier put it more bluntly, via A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston:

“I feel like we needed this (loss) to get us back … to get us ready for Monday,” Rozier said.

Rozier later added, “We needed to get our butts whipped. Come back to reality and take care of business on Monday.”

Cleveland is a championship team — from LeBron James on down through the core guys, they all have rings. They have been down before, and heading home it was expected they would play with force. Cleveland’s back was against the wall and they responded.

From the Celtics’ perspective, they also got a little too fat and happy and were not ready for what the Cavaliers came with in Game 3.

Now the pressure is on Boston to push back, to get back to their level of execution and do it under pressure. Make the Cavaliers prove the improved defensive effort was not a one-off game. The Celtics must move the ball and play with some pace, then see if the Cavaliers can keep it together in the face of crisp play.

When this series heads back to Boston Wednesday, it will either see the Celtics in control up 3-1, or the series will be a best of three (with the Cavs still having to figure out if they can win on the road). At home, the Cavaliers are going to play with force again and have some depth. We’ll see if Game 3 was enough of a wakeup call for Boston.

PBT Extra: Can Rockets take Game 2 energy, execution on the road?

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Houston found its blueprint to beating Golden State in Game 2: Strong defensive pressure on the ball, quick switches and communication on defense, getting out in transition when possible, and starting sets earlier in the shot clock and attacking downhill with James Harden and Chris Paul.

Now can they do that on the road? Against a more focused and sharper Warriors’ team?

That will be the question in the next two games of the Western Conference Finals, and it’s what I discuss in this latest PBT Extra.

Cavaliers cruise past Celtics in Game 3, change complexion of Eastern Conference finals

AP Photo/Tony Dejak
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The Cavaliers were heavy favorites over the Celtics entering the Eastern Conference finals. LeBron James has dominated the East for years, and Cleveland appeared to hit its stride in a sweep of the Raptors last round. Boston was shorthanded and inexperienced.

Were the Celtics’ two wins to open the series, as impressive as they were, really enough to override everything else we knew about these teams?

The Cavs walloped Boston in Game 3, 116-86, Saturday. Cleveland now has four of the NBA’s last five 30-point playoff wins – two against the Celtics last year, one over Toronto last round and tonight. (The Cavaliers lost the league’s only other 30-point game between, to the Pacers in the first round.)

Boston still leads the series 2-1, and teams up 2-1 in a best-of-seven series have won it 80% of the time.

But the team up 2-1 is usually the one seen as better entering the series. That isn’t the case here, not with LeBron on the other side. And the leading team usually isn’t so woeful on the road, which will remain a major storyline entering Game 4 Monday in Cleveland.

The Celtics bought themselves margin for error, but they blew a lot of it tonight.

It’d be an oversimplification to say the Cavs just played harder, but they did, and it went along way. They chased loose balls, tightened their defense and moved more off the ball offensively. Cleveland jumped to a 20-4 lead, led by double digits the rest of the way and spent most of the game up by at least 20.

LeBron (27 points, 12 assists, two blocks and two steals) dazzled as a passer and locked in as a defender. He received help from several players:

In a low-resistance effort, Boston didn’t goon up the game at all.

The Cavaliers still have plenty of work ahead to reach their fourth straight NBA Finals, but tonight, they showed a path to advancing. Climbing out of their early series deficit now looks far less intimidating.

Luka Doncic named EuroLeague MVP at age 19

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Luka Doncic, the likely top two pick in the upcoming NBA draft, has led his Real Madrid team to the EuroLeague finals at age 19.

Now he has been named the youngest player ever win the EuroLeague MVP.

For those unfamiliar, EuroLeague is the equivalent of the Champions League in soccer — the very best club teams from around the continent face off against each other. On this biggest of European stages, Doncic has been a force. He is a gifted passer with great court vision. He can take his man off the dribble. He can hit threes. And he knows how to be a floor general and run a game. Did we mention he’s just 19?

Doncic said before the start of EuroLeague that he hasn’t decided what he is going to do about coming to the NBA or going back to Real Madrid. Don’t buy it. This is like asking a major college basketball star right before the NCAA Tournament if he is coming back to “State U” next year, they don’t want to say “no” right before the tourney so they give a non-committal answer. Same here. He’s not leaving millions on the table, he’ll be in the NBA next season.

And he’ll bee good.