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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Report: Pelicans interim GM Danny Ferry trying to convince NBA to soften its Anthony Davis stance

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The NBA reportedly threatened to fine the Pelicans if they sat a healthy Anthony Davis.

Then, Davis got booed by New Orleans fans. He got injured in another game. The Pelicans fired Dell Demps as general manager and elevated Danny Ferry to interim general manager.

New Orleans is reportedly uncertain how to handle Davis the rest of the season. But a key step to changing course is gaining NBA approval, and that’s apparently what Ferry is seeking.

Marc Stein of The New York Times:

There were strong signals in Charlotte that the Pelicans — with Danny Ferry now serving as their acting general manager in the wake of Friday’s firing of Dell Demps — intend to re-engage the N.B.A. this week in hopes of convincing league officials to rethink their stance about forcing them to play Davis.

A big question: What does Davis want? He failed to give a straight answer about about his long-term future, but maybe he can explain his desire for just the rest of this season. He previously said he wanted to play, but that was before he got booed and hurt – developments that could change his thinking.

If Davis wants to keep playing, the players’ union could take up his cause. That might not be a fight the league wants.

Heck, the league might still want Davis to keep playing, regardless. The injury risk was real when the league handed down its initial edict. Unemotionally, Davis’ shoulder scare shouldn’t change the calculus. Davis is in the midst of a great season. Him being a healthy scratch for a month-and-a-half would be a black mark for the NBA.

But NBA commissioner has had Ferry’s back before, even reportedly urging the Bucks to consider him for general manager after Ferry made a racist remark that ended his Hawks tenure. Maybe Ferry will convince the league in a way Demps couldn’t.

If so, attention to will turn to Davis and his desire to keep playing.

Dwight Howard reportedly to return to Washington D.C., start on-court steps in recovery

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The return of Dwight Howard should solve all the Wizards problems…

Low hanging fruit jokes aside, Howard was expected to be out two-to-three months for back surgery that happened at the end of November, that would have him back in the coming weeks, and he is now on his way back to the nation’s capital, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Howard played in nine games for the Wizards this season, scoring an efficient 12.8 points and grabbing 9.2 rebounds a game.

The Wizards have been starting Thomas Bryant, with Bobby Portis playing some five behind him, in recent games. How Howard fits into that when healthy will be a question for coach Scott Brooks.

The Wizards would need to make up three games and jump three teams in the final 24 games of the season to make the playoffs.

Surprise: Emanuel Terry joins Heat, not Team USA as planned

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MIAMI (AP) — Emanuel Terry’s plans to play for his country this weekend have been thwarted, for a very good reason.

He’s back in the NBA instead.

Terry was signed to a 10-day contract Wednesday by the Miami Heat, who made the move after he spent a few days with USA Basketball in its training camp at the University of Miami this week. So instead of playing Panama on Friday and Argentina on Monday in the last games of qualifying for the FIBA World Cup, Terry will be with the Sioux Falls Skyforce for a G League game in Long Island on Thursday and then with the Heat this weekend.

Terry got told of the move just before Team USA broke camp in Miami. He says he’s “had dreams about this.”

Terry averaged 4.5 points in two games with Phoenix earlier this season.

Team USA has already won enough games to qualify for the World Championships in China this summer.

Joel Embiid out week with left knee soreness, no structural damage found

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What the Philadelphia 76ers need is time on the court to get all their new players used to each other, their rotations set, and just to find a way to get the most talented starting five in the East to gel before the playoffs start. They have 24 games to make it happen.

This does not help that cause.

The Sixers announced Joel Embiid will miss at least a week to get treatment on a sore left knee, the team announced. Paul Hudrick of NBC Sports Philadelphia has the details.

Embiid felt some soreness and was getting treatment before the All-Star break but did not miss games.

Obviously, what matters most is Embiid being healthy in the postseason, so rest now is better than the alternative.

But this is still not ideal. Especially as the Sixers try to make up a game and climb past the Pacers to ensure home court in the first round of the playoffs.

Through four games (73 total minutes) the new starting lineup of Ben Simmons, J.J. Redick, Jimmy Butler, Tobias Harris, and Embiid has been a force — a 116.5 offensive rating and a 91.9 defensive rating. Small sample size theater is at play here, things have not always looked completely smooth to the eye test (see the loss to Boston), and both Butler and Embiid have chaffed against coach Brett Brown’s system at points this season, but a +24.6 net rating through four games is an auspicious sign.

They just need more time to come together, and this injury cuts into that. At least a little.

The more significant concern starts when the bench comes into play. In the playoffs, Brown will likely want to keep two of his big four on the court with the subs (probably an eight-man rotation, nine tops). That’s where the real interesting stuff comes in the next few weeks: Which players would be willing to get their rest a little earlier in the first half to get more opportunities (read: shots) with the ball in their hands with the second unit? Butler? Harris? Which four work best together when it gets down to pairs?

Finding all of that out is now on hold temporarily.