Baseline to Baseline recaps: Orlando with another bad outing

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What you missed while realizing that Homeland Security is monitoring your tweets….

Clippers 112, Thunder 100: There was a lot more to this than just Blake Griffin dunking on Kendrick Perkins, which is why it was our game of the night.

Sixers 74, Magic 69: The Magic were just terrible shooting the ball in this game — had it not been for Ryan Anderson’s shooting barrage once the game was decided Orlando would not have gotten all the way up to 33 percent shooting as a team. Hedo Turkoglu was 1-of-9, J.J. Redick 3-of-13. Dwight Howard had 17 points but needed 17 shots to get there. This performance comes after last week’s 56-point game.

There are effort and desire issues in Orlando, and Howard can’t lead them out of it.

Bulls 98, Wizards 88: Derrick Rose was frustrated after missing key free throws last outing so he took it out on Washington. He had 13 points and three assists in the first quarter, then tacked on 15 points in the third. Rose finished was 35. The Bulls pulled away at the start of the third to get up by 21 and the game was over. John Wall had 20 for Washington, but they were outgunned.

Heat 109, Hornets 95: New Orleans led for most of the first half — they shot 70 percent for the first 18 minutes and led by 12 at times. Dwyane Wade late in the second quarter and LeBron James in the third had some stretches to change that. Miami cranked up the defense and ran past New Orleans, as they should have.

Spurs 83, Grizzlies 72: The score makes it seem closer than it was, San Antonio was in control of this game the whole way. It was a very balanced attack, with a lot of guys scoring but no one guy over 15 points (that was Matt Bonner, draining threes). Tony Parker had a dozen assists. Memphis, they are really starting to miss Zach Randolph.

Bucks 103, Pistons 82: Stephen Jackson was a healthy scratch and with him out the Bucks had one of their best offensive nights of the season — the ball moved, things seemed more crisp, there were no random heat check shots. Brandon Jennings put up 11 of his 21 in the third quarter to make sure it never got close. The Pistons are not good and shot 38.6 percent as a team. Milwaukee needed a laugher, and they were in control of this one from the start.

Timberwolves 120, Rockets 108: Minnesota had maybe its best offensive performance of the season — 122.4 points per 100 possessions pace (and there were 98 possessions in this one. Kevin Love had 29 points, Ricky Rubio 18 points and 11 dimes, and the Wolves shot 58.2 percent as a team. The Rockets defense had a bad game, but this is a defense that has question marks a lot more nights than you would think. Minnesota does too, but the last two games they have gone heavy zone to cover that up.

Mavericks 122, Suns 99: Fear Delonte West — 25 points on 9-of-12 shooting, as he had his best game of the season easily. Vince Carter had 21 points on 13 shots and seemed to find the Way Back machine. Dallas just was dominant on offense. For Phoenix, no Steve Nash, he is still out with a bruised thigh, and that’s tough because the Phoenix offense isn’t very good even with him. They are counting on Marcin Gortat (17 points) and Jared Dudley (15) to carry them, but those guys should be role players on a good team.

Jazz 93, Trail Blazers 89: Portland was up 11 and in control of this game midway through the third quarter (Utah decided to single cover LaMarcus Aldridge in the third and he had 14 in the quarter). Then a 10-0 Utah run changed the dynamic. Utah got the win, maybe their best one of the year. Portland should just feel sick. This was a physical game and Utah wore down Portland. Paul Millsap had 19 to lead a balanced Jazz attack.
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DeMarcus Cousins is set to start practicing with Warriors’ G-League team

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We got a report this week that DeMarcus Cousins was already throwing down alley-oop dunks in Golden State Warriors practices. Now, it appears that cousins could be ready to take an NBA floor sooner rather than later.

According to The Athletic’s Anthony Slater, Warriors coach Steve Kerr says that Cousins will start to practice with Golden State’s G-League affiliate the Santa Cruz Warriors.

Via Twitter:

Reports have said that Cousins is slated to return with the team after Christmas, and so this timeline stays with that thinking. Returns from Achilles injuries can be dodgy, and there will be a lot of question marks about his ability, both due to his size and age.

If Cousins can come back and produce efficiently, he will help bolster Golden State against a shifting Western Conference in the playoffs.

David West on Draymond Green-Kevin Durant dust-up: ‘I could’ve stopped it’

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David West used to be a calming influence in the Golden State Warriors locker room. The former two-time All-Star big man retired in August after a long career, and the Warriors are perhaps worse off because of it.

West was known to be the guy who could sort out the problems of other teammates, acting as an enforcer and mediator, a focuser of will. That might have come in handy this season as the Warriors have had some internal strife.

Draymond Green and Kevin Durant have famously feuded with each other, resulting in a blow up during a game against the Clippers which left Green suspended and Durant miffed.

During a recent interview with The Athletic, West said he felt he would have been able to diffuse the situation during the Clippers game and avoid some of the questions about Golden State moving forward.

Via The Athletic:

“I’m gonna be honest,” West told The Athletic by phone last month. “The only moment (where) I said, ‘Man, I wish I was there,’ was at that Clippers game. When Draymond turned the ball over at the end — and he was going to create the play; he was going to make the play, it just sometimes doesn’t happen — at that moment, when I saw the way he was walking, and I saw KD react, and it was like ‘Oh, I know if I was there that shit wouldn’t have happened.’ That’s the only moment where I felt like, ‘Man I could’ve stopped it.’”

At this juncture it’s hard to know just how much the issues between Durant and Green will cause, playoff time. The question about Durant leaving in free agency isn’t of real concern at this moment, mostly because it’s impossible to predict.

From an outside perspective, it does seem like West would have been a major factor during the Durant-Green tiff if he’d been in a Warriors jersey. West went on to say that the idea that Golden State doesn’t have to deal with adversity is “a false narrative”.

Will the Warriors be cohesive enough come playoff time? We’ll just have to wait to find out.

Report: Lakers trying to add Trevor Ariza via trade

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Phoenix Suns wing Trevor Ariza has been a popular target of topic of discussion for NBA fans, either as a potential buyout candidate or as a trade target for playoff teams looking to add a wily veteran.

On Sunday, we got word of one potential deal with the Los Angeles Lakers that could involve Ariza.

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Ariza could be on the move if LA can find a third party to take on Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.

Via ESPN:

The teams have been working to reach an agreement with a third team that would take on Lakers guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope as part of a potentially larger deal, league sources said.

The Suns want to land a playmaking guard and a draft asset as the price of unloading Ariza, sources said. Phoenix and Los Angeles have made progress in third-team scenarios, although no agreements are close and both teams remain active in multiple trade discussions throughout the league, sources said.

This is an early report but it clearly signals that the Lakers are going to be bold as they try to solidify be roster around LeBron James heading into the new year. They’ve already added veteran big man is Tyson Chandler, also formerly of the Suns, so trading for Ariza would be in line with that strategy.

Eric Gordon says Rockets are ‘not using some guys the right way’

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The Houston Rockets aren’t who we thought they were. The team that gave the Golden State Warriors a run for their money in the Western Conference Finals last season have looked unsteady to open the year, and despite jettisoning Carmelo Anthony, have not returned to their former glory.

While this has much to do with overall team construction, individual players in Houston have struggled as well. Do-it-all wing Eric Gordon has had a down year, with just about all of his advanced statistics taking a significant drop. Most important has been his 3-point shooting, which is down five percent year-over-year. Even when Gordon has performed well, it’s not always translated to wins for Houston.

The talk around the Rockets has been about their stars struggling, but so too has their lack of comparative bench depth hamstrung them. Gordon’s solid performances lacking an impact on the win-loss column is illustrative of that.

For his part, Gordon says that he’s still not having fun on the floor in Houston, and that he feels the team’s meager roster isn’t being used properly.

Via The Athletic:

“I’m just not having fun man,” Gordon told The Athletic. “I’m just not. This sucks. Even the times where I have good games. We’re just not using some guys the right way. Are we gonna make the right sacrifices? Do we have the right attitude?

“Last year was the best year I’ve ever had being a part of a team,” he added. “We just never had a bad moment. If we ever had a bad game as a team, you knew the next game we would blow somebody out. It didn’t matter who it was.”

The Rockets are 11-14 and have the second-worst record in the Western Conference. There’s many months left in the season, and there’s plenty of time to rebound. But unless Houston can get their internal struggles figured out — or trade for an impact player — it seems possible they finish the year scraping for a playoff spot or missing the postseason altogether.