Baseline to Baseline recaps: Miami gets third win in three nights

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What you missed while watching the Chipotle ad that was the best thing during the Grammys…

Knicks 90, Raptors 87: What else can you say? The legend of Lin just keeps on growing. This was our game of the night.

Heat 105, Pacers 90: Miami was playing their third game in three nights, Indiana had been off since Saturday, and yet it was Miami who came out playing with energy and owned this game from the opening tip. Absolutely owned it. LeBron James was a force early and he and Dwyane Wade combined for 19 first quarter points. The Pacers wilted under Heat defensive pressure and shot just 26 percent for the first quarter and struggled all game. It was a sad level of effort and willingness to fight back from Indiana, and eventually they were down as much as 35 (only a late 12-0 run made the score look as close as it was).

Miami swept to wins in all three of their back-to-back-to-back by a total of 53 points and looked pretty close to dominant in doing it.

Spurs 99, Pistons 95: San Antonio looked to be in complete control of this game from about the middle of the second quarter on, leading by as much as 16. Then came an early fourth quarter 14-0 run by Detroit — sparked by Ben Wallace, the 16-year vet had 8 points in the quarter — and we had a game. A serious game. A Ben Wallace actually drained a three-pointer game. The Spurs might have lost this game had it not been for Manu Ginobili’s flopping being in playoff form (his shot, however, is not). He drew a late charge on Tayshaun Prince, and you can say it was a charge if you want but I say flop all the way. Also helping out was Tony Parker, who was hot late and scored 8 in the fourth quarter, helping spark a late 11-3 Spurs run that secured the win.

Lakers 86, Hawks 78: (To borrow a Clipper Darrell chant) U-G-L-Y you ain’t got no alibi, this game was ugly, it was ugly.

The Lakers actually went to their big men early and often in this one (without Al Horford or Jason Collins the Hawks had no answer). Andrew Bynum had 15 points and 15 boards and had the hot hand early. Pau Gasol had 20 points, 13 rebounds, and 4 blocks, and took over late . The Lakers took control with a 15-1 third quarter run and then shot 58 percent in the fourth quarter to hold on for the win. The Hawks shot just 34.4 percent for the night, you don’t win doing that.

Bulls 121, Kings 115: The Bulls gave Derrick Rose and their vaunted defense the night off and still won. They won because the Kings defense was worse all night long. Luol Deng played 42 minutes and had 12 of his 23 points in the third quarter as Chicago looked like they would run away and hide. The Bulls were up 19 early in the fourth. But then Tyreke Evans, DeMarcus Cousins and Marcus Thornton led a comeback that made the Bulls sweat it out at the end.

Now the Kings get Linsanity on the second night of a back-to-back.

Thunder 111, Jazz 85: Utah was on its third game in three nights and it showed. The Thunder were up early after a 14-2 run and never looked back. James Harden had 22 points, Kevin Durant 21.

Wizards 124, Trail Blazers 109: Portland lost to Washington? At home? This game was about as bad as the Blazers can play. LaMarcus Aldridge went down two minutes into the game with a sprained ankle when Trevor Booker stuck his foot under Aldridge during a jump shot. X-rays were negative but Aldridge did not travel with the team to Golden State for Wednesday’s game (and this is the first of a back-to-back-to-back for Portland, so don’t expect him Thursday either). Portland played terrible defense and Nick Young (35 points) and John Wall (29) took advantage.

Grizzlies 93, Rockets 83: Kyle Lowry put up 24 on his old team but the Rockets PG did not get enough help — Kevin Martin had zero points and his back issues may be to blame. Memphis got a good game up front from Marc Gasol (18 points) and Marreese Speights. Houston made an 8-0 run in the fourth quarter and made it look like it would be close at the end but Mike Conley hit a three to restore order and that was it.

Nuggets 109, Suns 92: Steve Nash and Grant Hill got the night off on a back-to-back and that led to about what you’d expect from the Suns. Arron Afflalo had 20 points, third consecutive game he has reached at least that. The guy has found his stroke.

Report: Spurs wouldn’t trade Kawhi Leonard to 76ers unless they included Ben Simmons or Joel Embiid

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The 76ers reportedly refused to include Markelle Fultz in trade offers for Kawhi Leonard, which seems misguided to me. Leonard carries major questions about his future, but after his rookie year, so does Fultz! At least Leonard has proven he can reach an elite level. That’s not to say Philadelphia should have definitely dealt Fultz for Leonard. The 76ers definitely have a better understanding of Fultz’s behind-the-scenes progress, and they might have more information on Leonard’s health and willingness to stay long-term. I just wouldn’t have made Fultz a deal-breaker in negotiations.

But it seems the Spurs placed a far more unreasonable restriction on Philadelphia, though.

Zach Lowe of ESPN:

The Spurs made it clear any deal with Philly would require Ben Simmons or Joel Embiid (likely Simmons), and the Sixers weren’t going anywhere near that, league sources say.

Given their age and contract status – and, in Simmons’ case, health – Simmons and Embiid are each way more valuable than Leonard. There’s no way the 76ers would have dealt either of those two for Leonard.

Which apparently took a still-viable suitor off the table for San Antonio.

Between Fultz, Dario Saric, Robert Covington, Zhaire Smith, the Heat’s 2021 first-rounder and Philadelphia’s own picks, the 76ers could have assembled a better package than the Raptors sent the Spurs for Leonard. Maybe the 76ers wouldn’t have. But it would have been worth at least exploring.

It seems San Antonio placed too much on remaining competitive, which led to a deal revolving around DeMar DeRozan. There’s nothing wrong with that strategy per se, but it gets more difficult to defend when the Spurs got so little. In this Western Conference, they could slip out of the playoffs, even with DeRozan and Jakob Poeltl. A long-term approach should have at least been considered.

To be fair, I’d also caution against taking this report at face value with no skepticism. Today, 28 teams – especially those, like Philadelphia, linked to Leonard – are trying to explain why they didn’t get the star. This could easily be the 76ers’ spin and not an accurate reflection of the Spurs’ stance.

But Lowe is a great reporter, and I tend to trust this – which raises red flags about San Antonio.

NBA players bothered by Raptors trading DeMar DeRozan

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DeMar DeRozan is clearly upset with the Raptors for trading him (for Kawhi Leonard).

Is DeRozan’s frustration justified?

To a certain extent, he’s entitled to feel however he wants. I would never tell him his reaction is “wrong.”

But that’s not the same as endorsing his outlook. Should we rally behind him and hold Toronto accountable for mistreating him? Answering that question relies on so much hearsay, I’m not sure it’s possible to answer fairly.

In what I find a telling illustration of the situation, ESPN has updated its story on the trade multiple times today. In an early version:

Sources close to DeRozan told ESPN’s Chris Haynes that DeRozan met with Toronto brass in Las Vegas during summer league and was told he would not be traded.

That got changed to:

Sources close to DeRozan told ESPN’s Chris Haynes that DeRozan met with Toronto officials in Las Vegas during summer league and believed that he would not be traded.

That’s a subtle, but meaningful, distinction.

Did the Raptors tell DeRozan he wouldn’t be traded? Different people involved in the conversation would probably give different answers.

Did DeRozan take away that Toronto wouldn’t trade him? It seems so, and maybe it’s because team officials told him that directly. But it’s also possible he misinterpreted team officials. Not that he’s willing to grant that possibility.

David Aldridge of NBA.com:

Without being privy to the exact wording, I don’t know where to side.

Unsurprisingly, other players are backing DeRozan – some publicly and quite strongly, others anonymously.

Lou Williams:

Isaiah Thomas:

Damian Lillard:

Anthony Morrow:

Enes Kanter:

Chris Haynes of ESPN:

DeRozan meant a lot to the Raptors, and he deserves a proper sendoff. But some of this strikes me as an overreaction.

The Spurs didn’t thank Leonard in their press release, either. Both teams posted cursory messages of gratitude on social media to their outgoing players. Gregg Popovich held a press conference today and said many kind things about Leonard, though. The main difference appears to be Masai Ujiri just hasn’t happened to hold his press conference yet. I’d be shocked if he doesn’t effusively praise DeRozan in it.

And to Kanter’s claim the Raptors gave away DeRozan for nothing? They got Kawhi freaking Leonard.

For what it’s worth, I wouldn’t rule the possibility of the spotlight-seeking Kanter just saying something outlandish to draw attention.

Even if that were Kanter’s intent, that just feeds into this spiraling into a bigger deal than it probably should be.

If the Raptors told DeRozan they wouldn’t trade him, they shouldn’t have done that. If they told DeRozan they didn’t plan to trade him while they were secretly putting the final touches on this deal, they shouldn’t have done that.

But if they told DeRozan they didn’t plan to trade him and truly didn’t at that moment, I wouldn’t blame them. Plans can change, and it would have done them no good to warn DeRozan of that possibility. If he expected more loyalty, that’s on him.

Ujiri will get a chance to explain himself. So will DeRozan – though his narrative is already gaining significant traction, especially among his peers. Maybe we’ll actually become positioned to make an outside judgment.

Most likely, this will remain a he-said, he-said situation that wanes in significance. DeRozan will probably play hard in San Antonio and grow to enjoy it there. Players – even, I bet, including DeRozan – will forgive the Raptors in time. As much furor as these things evoke in the moment, players rarely hold a grudge to the point of avoiding franchises.

But for now, Toronto is dealing with a perception hit right as it begins its courtship of one of the NBA’s top players, Leonard.

PBT Extra: Breaking down Kawhi Leonard to Raptors trade

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While the rumors of Raptors interest in trading for Kawhi Leonard had been around the league for weeks, the thought they would land him always seemed far fetched — Leonard clearly didn’t want to go there, so would GM Masai Ujiri really put one of his big name players in the mix to get a trade done.

Yes. Yes he would.

Leonard is headed to Toronto in a trade package centered around DeMar DeRozan.

I break down what that means for everyone involved in this latest PBT Extra. For the Spurs, they stay relevant and postpone the rebuild for the final few years of Gregg Popovich’s tenure as coach. For the Raptors, they are contenders for a year — and they can take a longshot attempt to win Leonard over.

Report: After backing out of agreement with Sixers, Nemanja Bjelica talking to Kings

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Nemanja Bjelica had found a comfort level in Minnesota, but when Tom Thibodeau pulled his qualifying offer — to sign Anthony Tolliver — it left the Serbian forward without a deal. Philadelphia raced in with a one-year, $4.4 million offer, and he took it.

Then on Tuesday, he backed out, saying he wanted to return to Europe with his family. What he said he wanted was stability, he told Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic.

“It’s not about coach or the Philly organization,” Bjelica told The Athletic in a phone conversation on Tuesday. “Brett Brown, he’s a great guy and a great coach. The most important thing for me is family and some kind of stability…

“I’m thankful for Philly for the opportunity, but I will always do what is the best for my family,” Bjelica said. “At that point, I was considering European life.”

Or, Sacramento. Which I am fairly confident is not in Europe. From Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

Bjelica wanted stability, something that doesn’t always come easily in the NBA life. Clearly, Vlade Divac is pitching a longer-term deal of some kind to provide that stability for Bjelica and his family.

I get why he’s doing it — this is still a bad look for Bjelica and his agent. He gave his word, then backed out of the deal saying he wanted to play in another league. Now he’s talking to another NBA team, a competitor. I get it, teams are not loyal to players either, they lie to them too — just ask DeMar DeRozan — but it doesn’t make this move right. It’s not a great look for the Kings, either.

On the court, Bjelica is a fit with the Kings in that he can be part of the rotation with Marvin Bagley III, Harry Giles and the rest of a crowded Kings’ frontcourt. Bjelica provides needed floor spacing and shooting — I really like him as a player. I liked him in Minnesota and wish Thibodeau trusted him more, I liked the idea of how he fit in Philly, and I would like him in Sacramento.

But this is just awkward.