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?

Mark Cuban explains some, though not all, of his role in Mavericks’ hostile work environment (video)

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As a result of the investigation into his team’s hostile work environment, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban will donate $10 million “organizations that are committed to supporting the leadership and development of women in the sports industry and combating domestic violence.” The Mavericks will also report to the NBA on structural changes to their organization.

And Cuban showed accountability by granting an interview to Rachel Nichols of ESPN:

I appreciate Cuban sitting for this interview with Nichols, who grilled him. I appreciate him apologizing to the actual victims. I appreciate him taking responsibility for the wrongdoing that happened beneath him. I appreciate him explaining what he did wrong and what he learned. I appreciate him, along with Mavericks CEO Cynthia Marshall, explaining the changes they’re making to rectify the situation.

But, though he explained his logic and subsequent lesson from handling Earl Sneed’s domestic violence, Cuban gave no real answer to how he let former CEO Terdema Ussery – found to be an serial sexual harasser – remain in power for 15 years. Taking Cuban at his word – that he was blind to the sexual harassment prevalent in the Mavericks business office – means shattering his image as a great businessman. The sharp and in-charge owner Cuban presented himself as would never grant Ussery such unchecked power for so long. “If I was in our business office five times in 15 years, that was a lot,” Cuban told Nichols. “I mean, it’s embarrassing to say.”

And that’s the benign explanation. Embarrassing is nothing compared to the alternative – that Cuban was as involved as he portrayed, which would mean he knew about Ussery’s misconduct and excused it. The choices are that Cuban’s first-rate businessman image was fraudulent or that he’s directly complicit in Ussery’s sexual harassment.

More than anything, hopefully Cuban has truly learned how not to repeat his prior errors.

Report: Clippers emerging as frontrunner to sign Kawhi Leonard

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Does Kawhi Leonard prefer the Clippers or Lakers in 2019 free agency? Reports have been mixed, though credible journalists have increasingly favored the Clippers since LeBron James signed with the Lakers. Yet, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN held out on the Lakers being Leonard’s top choice.

Now – with Jimmy Butler reportedly preferring a trade to the Clippers – Wojnarowski appears to be coming around on the Clippers.

Wojnarowski:

The Clippers have two max contract slots available in July, and are emerging as a front-runner for Toronto’s All-NBA forward Kawhi Leonard when he becomes a free agent in July, league sources said.

Leonard and Butler would form a tantalizing tandem.

Butler reportedly wants to showcase himself in a big city while Leonard seemingly wants both to be in Los Angeles but remain out of the spotlight. Together, maybe they could both get what they want.

Though Butler’s demanding style has worn on teammates in Minnesota, nobody has ever accused Leonard of lacking work ethic or competitiveness. I bet Butler would respect Leonard.

They’re both elite defensively and at least very good offensively. There could be issues with how often each likes to isolate, but get all that talent to L.A. then figure out the rest later.

The question for the Clippers: Do they trade for Butler now or wait to try signing both stars in free agency next summer? The latter option carries more upside, allowing the Clippers to preserve assets. But it also risks Minnesota trading Butler and his Bird Rights to another team and him re-signing there.

The Clippers have several veterans – Tobias Harris, Lou Williams, Patrick Beverley, Avery Bradley, Danilo Gallinari – who might appeal to Tom Thibodeau, who seemingly wants to win now. L.A. could also offer 2018 lottery picks Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Jerome Alexander. However, the Clippers can’t convey a first-round pick until 2021 at the earliest.

I don’t know whether they’ll trade for Butler, but if the Clippers do, I know we’ll crank up the Leonard-Clippers speculation even higher. There’s value in putting that in Leonard’s mind while the Raptors are trying to woo him first-hand over the next year.

Reports: Jimmy Butler’s trade preference is Clippers, Knicks less interested

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Knicks president Steve Mills said New York wouldn’t trade its draft picks and wouldn’t trade for players it could just sign in free agency. In other words: No more Carmelo Anthony– or Andrea Bargnani-type deals.

Then, Jimmy Butler – who can become an unrestricted free agent next summer – requested a trade from the Timberwolves and put the Knicks on his list of preferred destinations (with the Nets and Clippers).

Will Mills hold firm in his patient plan?

Shams Charania of The Athletic:

Brooklyn and the Clippers appear motivated on Butler, while the Knicks have been firm all summer that the team does not want to part with assets and instead prioritize signing free agents outright, according to sources.

The Knicks should be reluctant to trade for Butler now. Especially with Kristaps Porzingis injured, Butler is unlikely to help New York win meaningfully this season. It’d be much better to sign him next summer and preserve assets.

But there’s no guarantee the Knicks sign him next summer. Whichever team has his Bird Rights and ability to offer him a larger contract will have the upper-hand. There is value in trading for him now.

Perhaps, the Knicks can find a worthwhile Butler trade that includes trading picks. The only way to find out is negotiating with Minnesota.  For New York to eliminate the idea outright because the team made mistakes in similar situations would be misguided.

But Knicks are going to Knick.

At least New York isn’t Butler’s first choice.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Might that other max slot go to Kyrie Irving?

First, L.A. must make the best offer to the Timberwolves and one acceptable to a reportedly reluctant Tom Thibodeau. Then, the Clippers must lure Irving – or any star (Kawhi Leonard?) – from his team.

It’s easy to imagine. It’s far more difficult to turn into reality.

Report: Jimmy Butler less enthused about Lakers after they signed LeBron James

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In 2014, Jimmy Butler said, “I like being a role player. Star has never been next to Jimmy Butler’s name. It never will be. I’ll always be an under-the-radar dawg.”

Then, Butler kept getting better and better. He started to appreciate his stature within the game. He took a leadership role on the Bulls. He embraced celebrity.

Maybe his trade request from the Timberwolves – ideally to the New York Knicks, Brooklyn Nets or L.A. Clippers – is the next step in this evolution.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

He is enamored with the idea of playing a central role in a big market, sources said. Butler had once imagined playing for the Los Angeles Lakers, but LeBron James‘ arrival as the franchise’s cornerstone made it less appealing for Butler in the prime of his career, league sources said.

Playing with LeBron isn’t for everyone. Kawhi Leonard reportedly became more reluctant to join the Lakers once they got LeBron. (Interestingly, Leonard is reportedly dissuaded by the hoopla LeBron would attract while Butler apparently believes he wouldn’t get enough of a spotlight).

And of course, Kyrie Irving requested and received a trade from LeBron’s Cavaliers last year. Irving and Butler are friends, and maybe Irving warned Butler about the perils of playing with LeBron.

I’m not sure how this report fits with Butler wanting to play with Irving, though. Irving is more popular than Butler. Perhaps, Irving holding a smaller stature than LeBron is enough for Butler. Maybe playing with Irving would be the exception to Butler’s desire to have his own team in a big market.

Or maybe Butler still winds up in Los Angeles with LeBron. Butler was reportedly open to it, though that’s a pretty low standard.

No matter what, Butler should pursue what he wants. NBA careers are short. Players should make the most of theirs, whatever that means to them.

Butler has so far shown he can balance working hard and playing well with stardom. He has earned the right to seek a larger public profile without major consternation about what it’d mean to his on-court production.