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.

Rockets star Russell Westbrook says he tested positive for coronavirus

Rockets star Russell Westbrook
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Russell Westbrook, James Harden and Luc Mbah a Moute didn’t travel with the Rockets to Orlando for the NBA’s resumption at Disney World.

Westbrook says he tested positive for coronavirus:

It’s good that Westbrook is feeling well. And, once he had coronavirus, it’s good he tested positive before the team departed. He can quarantine in the comfort of his own home rather than a hotel room. He didn’t risk spreading coronavirus during the flight.

When will he join the Rockets? That’s tough to say. He must clear coronavirus first, and it’s unclear how long he has had it. Then, upon arrival at Disney World, he faces an in-room quarantine. The length of that can vary.

With Harden as the centerpiece, Houston has built its secondary attack around Westbrook’s aggressive style. The Rockets’ unique center-less approach is a direct response to Westbrook’s minus outside shooting. Empowered by spacing later in the season, Westbrook has really thrived.

He’d be a huge loss. Houston could go from a championship-contending wildcard to one-man show – or less.

This revelation also raises questions about Harden and Mbah a Moute, whose late arrivals haven’t been publicly explained.

Report: Rockets’ Bruno Caboclo violates quarantine, must remain in room 10 days

Rockets forward Bruno Caboclo
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Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard and 76ers star Joel Embiid expressed doubt about players following the NBA’s protocols in the bubble.

See Rockets forward Bruno Caboclo.

Tim MacMahon of ESPN:

Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle:

Players first arriving at Disney World is one of the most perilous times in the NBA’s plan. A player leaving his initial quarantine with coronavirus could undermine the whole operation.

The league has no practical choice but to be strict.

James Harden, Russell Westbrook and Luc Mbah a Moute didn’t arrive with the rest of the Rockets in Orlando. This makes four players who are behind in their ability to build chemistry and train with their teammates. At least Caboclo is just four days away from being four days away – major progress for him.

Houston has already clinched a playoff spot. But there’s some danger of slipping to the No. 7 seed and facing the powerful Clippers in the first round. So while they don’t have the most urgency for the seeding games, the Rockets are playing for something in the seeding games.

Lakers star LeBron James: #FreeWOJ!!

Adrian Wojnarowski
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Missouri U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley sent out a press release complaining about the NBA’s list of approved social-justice messages for jerseys.

ESPN NBA reporter Adrian Wojnarowski replied to the email, “F— you.” (Wojnarowski did not censor the first word.)

Wojnarowski apologized. ESPN condemned his behavior and, according to Andrew Marchand of the New York Post, suspended him two weeks.

Several NBA players have publicly supported Wojnarowski:

Lakers star LeBron James:

Clippers guard Lou Williams:

Clippers guard Patrick Beverley:

Nuggets guard Jamal Murray:

Heat big Bam Adebayo:

Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie:

Kings forward Harrison Barnes:

Pacers center Myles Turner:

Grizzlies forward Anthony Tolliver:

Wizards wing Troy Brown Jr.:

Trail Blazers guard Jaylen Adams:

LeBron’s message is particularly notable.

Obviously, he’s the NBA’s biggest star. His words carry weight.

Wojnarowski also has a long history of harshly criticizing LeBron. Here are just a few examples.

But if he can get over The Letter from Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert, LeBron can probably get past anything written about him.

Report: Brooklyn near deal with Lance Thomas for restart

Lance Thomas Brooklyn
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Still rounding out their roster for the NBA restart in Orlando, the Brooklyn Nets have reached out to bring back veteran forward Lance Thomas.

Thomas, who went through training camp with Brooklyn but was cut right before the season, will sign as a substitute player for Brooklyn, reports Alex Smith with SNY.TV.

Thomas is an eight-year NBA veteran who spent the last four of that with the Knicks. He can play the three or a floor-spacing small four, with New York using him more as a power forward in recent years. He’s averaged 5.2 points per game in his career and is known more as a good player to have in the locker room and guy who can soak up 15-20 minutes a night and not hurt a team. Brooklyn had Thomas in at training camp and liked his fit, but they didn’t have a roster spot for him.

They do now. Three Nets players — Spencer Dinwiddie, DeAndre Jordan, and Taurean Prince — tested positive for the coronavirus and will not be at the Orlando restart. Wilson Chandler opted out of playing. All four of them can be replaced by substitute players for the remainder of this season, so the Nets signed Jamal Crawford, Michael Beasley, and Donta Hall. Thomas rounds becomes the fourth member of that group. (Note: The Nets cannot sign players to substitute for Kyrie Irving or Kevin Durant because they are out due to injury; substitute players are only for players missing due to coronavirus issues.)

Thomas will be a free agent this offseason.

Lance Thomas and Brooklyn enter the bubble in Orlando as the seven seed in the East.