Baseline to Baseline recaps: Dirk Nowitzki is still good

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What you missed while trying to find something to watch now that Downton Abbey is over…..

Nets 100, Knicks 92: Deron Williams would like you to know he is the best point guard in the greater New York area, and will be next year when the Nets move to Brooklyn (unless he leaves to play in Dallas). Anyway, this is our game of the night.

Mavericks 89, Celtics 73: Dirk Nowitzki re-entered midway through the second quarter, proceeded to score 14 of his 26, with that Dallas pulled away from Boston and never looked back. No real shock as Boston was without Kevin Garnett (personal reasons), Brandon Bass (knee) and Rajon Rondo (suspension). Add in the fact Jermaine O’Neal and Chris Wilcox got injured (and are likely out for Oklahoma City) and Boston had little chance. Still, All Hail Dirk!

Bulls 90, Hawks 79: Derrick Rose returned to the lineup and scored 23, but that was not the reason the Bulls won. This was about Chicago’s defense, which had Atlanta second-guessing its every shot and decision. The Hawks hesitated, they faked, and that gets you in a lot of trouble against the aggressive Bulls. Carlos Boozer had 16 points including some key threes in the second quarter to help the Bulls pull away.

Rockets 97, Grizzlies 93: Remember that the Grizzlies traded Kyle Lowry for the draft pick that became Mike Conley. Lowry always gets up for the Grizzlies and he had 24 points (on 17 shots) and 9 assists to lead the Rockets. Kevin Martin added 22 and Patrick Patterson had a good game for Houston.

Magic 93, Bucks 90: It seems odd to criticize Dwight Howard after a 28 point, 16 rebound performance — which included him stealing the ball from Brandon Jennings and scoring on the one-man fast break at one point — but we can’t help ourselves. His defensive effort is inconsistent. He is so talented he puts up numbers, but it’s hard to watch him and think he is fully invested. Ryan Anderson had the go-ahead three for the Magic in what was a close game. Jennings had 22 for the Bucks.

Thunder 101, Hornets 93: Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant only combined for 62 points in this game. Slackers. This game was not as close as the final score would indicate — OKC led 60-38 at the half and by as many as 26 at points, then got bored and let New Orleans make it close late. But the talent gap in this one was HUGE.

Suns 104, Wizards 88: This game was tied early in the third quarter, but Phoenix went to a zone defense that confounded Washington, and the Suns wen on a 31-7 run and that was it. The Wizards can vacillate between good play and moments of horrible decision making so quickly, that was something the Suns happily exploited. Marcin Gortat had 20, Steve Nash had 12 points and 11 assists.

Nuggets 103, Timberwolves 101 (OT): Kenneth Faried had a good game, locked up on Kevin Love he held the All-Star forward to 7-of-22 shooting and 22 points. But Love had key free throws at the end of regulation thanks to an Al Harrington foul — Harrington had 31 and was taking on the scoring load for the Nuggets in the first half and finished with 31. This entire game had that tired-legged lockout feel to it.

Ty Lawson tweaked his ankle again, which could be bad for Denver.

Spurs 106, Jazz 102: The way the Spurs will make the extra pass is a thing of beauty— as they did up two with less than 10 seconds left, the game in the balance, and Gary Neal passed up a good look to get Richard Jefferson a great look at a three that he nailed to seal the win with six seconds left. The Jazz tried to exploit the Spurs in the paint — they outscored San Antonio by 26 in there — but Tony Parker was again the difference with 23 points and 11 assists.

Lakers 103, Trail Blazers 92: The Lakers were in total control of this one from the start, up 22 after the first quarter (29-7, Portland shot 18 percent in the opening frame) and by as much as 30 at times. The Lakers got the ball inside, the Blazers defense collapsed and the Lakers exploited them inside and on the perimeter. The Blazers made a late run to make the final score more respectable, but it was never close. Kobe Bryant had 28 to lead the Lakers.

Warriors 104, Clippers 97: When Monta Ellis is hot like he was in this game, the Warriors have a puncher’s chance against any team on a given night. The Clippers were up 2 with 2:10 left in the game, but a Brandon Rush three-pointer sparked a 9-0 Warrior run to end the game. This is the second poor closeout of a game by the Clippers in a row, and they could use the steady hand of Chauncey Billups late in games. Ellis had 32, Ekpe Udoh had a career high 19.

Report: Cavaliers hire J.B. Bickerstaff to John Beilein’s staff

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The Cleveland Cavaliers are still trying to figure things out. LeBron James left for the Los Angeles Lakers last summer, and now the team has hired John Beilein to be its head coach. The team doesn’t have a top pick the way it has in years past, and barring any trades they will select 25th overall in the 2019 NBA Draft.

But at least they are figuring out there coaching staff Issues.

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Cavaliers have hired former Memphis Grizzlies head coach J.B. Bickerstaff to be its top assistant coach. Bickerstaff was apparently also in talks with the Philadelphia 76ers, Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Lakers, and Sacramento Kings.

Via Twitter:

Bickerstaff previously headed the Houston Rockets from 2015 to 2016, and was the top man for the Grizzlies over the last two seasons after the team canned David Fizdale.

This is a solid hire for the Cavs. Bickerstaff has been a respected assistant in the league for the past decade-and-a-half, and he should give some veteran NBA oopmh behind Beilein, who most recently coached at Michigan for 12 years and is headed into his rookie season.

Raptors outlast Bucks in 2OT to take Game 3 of ECF

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Don’t count the Toronto Raptors out yet.

On Sunday, Kawhi Leonard and his bench mob outlasted Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals, 118-112, in 2OT.

Finally back at home, Toronto showed up in the biggest way possible, and in exactly the way they had been needing in Games 1 and 2. Pascal Siakam, a non-factor in those contests, scored 25 points on 50 percent shooting from the field, grabbing 11 boards to go with three steals. Norman Powell scored 19 off the bench, including hitting three 3-pointers.

Of course, the Raptors were led by none other than Leonard, who had 36 points and dominated at the free-throw line, going 12-of-13. Toronto’s best player also had nine rebounds and five assists.

As a team, Game 3 was about Toronto finally hitting on all cylinders from the 3-point line. Where before almost no players outside of Leonard were able to get it going from deep, Game 3 was a much different story. Eight Raptors combined to make at least one three each, and Toronto shot 37.8% from the arc.

By the same factor, the Bucks struggled. As the home crowd pushed Toronto forward, Antetokounmpo and his squad just couldn’t get it going. The first half only treated the Raptors right, who scored 58 points. And although Antetokounmpo started to come on a bit better in the third quarter, the game eventually developed into a bit of a rock fight by the fourth.

Toronto looked like it had sealed up the win the end of regulation. Fred Van Vleet came up with a crucial block on Khris Middleton on the final possession, but the Milwaukee guard scooped up the loose ball and put it back in the hoop to push it to extra time.

By the time the second overtime rolled around, Antetokounmpo only had one foul left to give. The Bucks’ superstar then fouled out just 36 seconds into the second overtime while trying to draw a charge on Siakam.

That allowed Leonard score eight of Toronto’s 15 points in the second OT en route to the six-point victory.

It took a wondrous night on defense for the Raptors to force Antetokounmpo to shoot just 5-of-16 from the field. Even still, Milwaukee’s star had 23 rebounds and seven steals, and it took until he fouled out in the second overtime for Toronto to grab a win.

The Raptors should be happy about what they were able to accomplish on Sunday night. Getting wins at home in a crucial playoff games is what championship hopeful teams should do. Still, it took every single ounce of what Toronto had, and even then it was only just barely enough to grab their first win of the series at home.

Nick Nurse will need to build on what he learned from Game 3 and see if they can improve upon it to level the series in Game 4 on Tuesday night.

Report: Grizzlies interviewed Igor Kokoskov for head coach gig

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The Memphis Grizzlies now have the No. 2 overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. Many believe that Memphis will trade Mike Conley and draft Ja Morant as a means to move the franchise forward.

The only problem? The Grizzlies still don’t have a head coach.

Memphis fired coach J.B. Bickerstaff and demoted general manager Chris Wallace to scout back in April. The Grizzlies are moving forward with some non-traditional front office hirings that include Jason Wexler, Zach Kleiman, Rich Cho, and Glen Grunwald.

According to one report, at least one inquiry has been made about the head coach position: former Phoenix Suns head coach Igor Kokoskov got a shot to interview with Memphis.

Via Twitter:

Memphis is taking its time selecting their coach, and it’s not necessary that the team has someone in place leading into the draft. Whether the next guy will be “the guy” or simply “the guy who helps them rebuild in the future” we aren’t yet sure.

Kokoskov got a raw deal in Phoenix, with many feeling as though the Suns wasted their hiring of the Slovenian national team’s coach by not drafting Luka Doncic with the No. 1 overall pick last year. It would be nice just to see him back on an NBA bench at the start of next season.

Draymond Green on techs: ‘I was doing more crying than playing’ (VIDEO)

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Draymond Green believes he’s the best defender ever. The Golden State Warriors star was certainly incredible against the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday night, with the Warriors beating the home team, 110-99.

But one thing that has bothered Green’s detractors over the years is how much he speaks to the referees, particularly to his own detriment. It’s one thing to work referees the way that Chris Paul or Damian Lillard or James Harden does. It’s another to continuously antagonize refs en route to a whole mess of technical fouls, which have been a problem for Green in the playoffs in the past.

But Green has been pretty subdued when it comes to technicals this postseason, and that’s apparently in due to a concerted effort by the Golden State forward to curb his attitude and realize that he’s doing more damage than good.

Via Twitter:

This postseason, and particularly this Western Conference Finals, have been an interesting shift in the narrative around Green. Where before it seemed like haters could glom onto how much Green whined, at this point he’s simply dominating the Trail Blazers from a play standpoint and nothing else.

It’s been impressive to see, and I think all of us are happy to watch Green play the way he has without flapping his gums and putting the Warriors at a disadvantage because he wants to yell at the boys in gray.