Baseline to Baseline recaps: Another day, another Thunder comeback

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What you missed while taking Google to court because their “street view” map option caught you urinating in your front yard….

Miami 107, Trail Blazers 93: This score doesn’t do justice to how much the Heat dominated this game, which we broke down as our game of the night.

Thunder 105, Magic 102: Who says the Thunder can’t close out games? For the second game in the row Oklahoma City needed a big comeback, this time they started the fourth quarter down 11 but found a way in the end to get the victory. When it mattered they got the stops, they made the plays. OKC shot 67 percent in the fourth quarter and 60 percent from three in the fourth.

Kevin Durant had 18 points on 5-of-6 shooting in the fourth quarter to lead the comeback, including key free throws and shots down the stretch. James Harden added 8 in the fourth quarter. Orlando’s defense fell apart some after three good quarters, but credit Durant who just could not miss.

Dwight Howard had 33, so it seems weird to say this, but Kendrick Perkins was another key for the Thunder. Howard got most of his points when someone else was on him, Perkins did a solid job on him. The book remains the same on Orlando — if you can single cover Howard you can stop Orlando. The Magic still hit their threes early (6-12 in the first half) but shot just 32 percent in the fourth quarter.

Russell Westbrook tweaked his ankle late and was seen limping after the game. We’ll be monitoring that.

Suns 104, Timberwolves 95: Our man Brett Pollakoff was at the game and sent along this recap:

The Suns were playing for the first time in eight days, and the Timberwolves were playing for the third time in three nights. The game’s outcome wasn’t a surprise, but Grant Hill leading Phoenix with a season-high 20 points and a game-high 37 minutes was a bit unexpected. Hill scored half his points in six third-quarter minutes, keeping the Suns within striking distance while they waited for Minnesota to inevitably run out of gas.

Steve Nash out-dueled Ricky Rubio, putting up a line of 13 points, 17 assists, and eight rebounds to Rubio’s 13, 2, and 2. Kevin Love finished with 23 points and 10 rebounds, but he shot just 8-of-25 from the field, and four of those rebounds were secured essentially on a single play late in the game with the outcome decided.

Rick Adelman said before tip-off that this was a “character game” for his T’Wolves, and they stood up to that test for two-and-a-half quarters, leading by double digits in the first half before things fell apart.

Nash said the word in the Suns locker room was just to keep the game close until Minnesota’s fatigue became evident, and Love pointed to the schedule as a significant contributing factor.

“It just got out of control and the wheels came off,” Love said of the way things turned around late in the third quarter. “Third game in three nights for all these guys and for me being sick, I think we just had tired legs down the stretch and it caught up to us.”

Clippers 108, Kings 100: This was close through two-and-a-half quarters, then an 11-0 run in the middle of the third is when the Clippers started to pull away. Then Mo Williams came in, got hot, scored 12 points in the fourth quarter and the Clips pulled away and led by as much as 19 (until a late 11-0 run made it closer at the very end). Isaiah Thomas, welcome to the NBA — the rookie point guard who has played so well was shut down by Chris Paul on the night. CP3 was just too physical for him. Paul had 22 points and 9 assists. DeMarcus Cousins had 23 for the Kings, six Clippers scored in double digits.

 

Suns’ GM says there is “overwhelming likelihood” team keeps No. 1 pick

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It takes a rare kind of courage, an extraordinary level of organizational backing, and a special kind of draft to do what Danny Ainge did a year ago trading the No. 1 pick. While a consensus had formed around Markelle Fultz as the best player in the draft, Ainge was a Jayson Tatum guy. Doubts about the top pick are common, but that alone is far from enough to trade that pick away — most GMs don’t have the job security to know if they miss on moving the pick and sliding down they will not be let go. Ainge had that, and he had his confidence in his scouting, so he made the move to trade the No. 1 pick to Philadelphia. (While it looks good now for Ainge, it’s too early to judge how that pick plays out — Fultz has barely played, we don’t know what extra pick the Celtics will get out of this, it takes time to fully judge these kinds of moves.)

This year is different. DeAndre Ayton is more of a clear No. 1, a guy with franchise changing potential. Plus Suns’ GM Ryan McDonough may not be standing on the kind of bedrock that allows for the trade of a No. 1 pick.

Recently McDonough said he’d listen to trade offers for the pick. That’s very different from trading it, as Scott Bordow of the Arizona Republic had the GM saying Friday.

Because they should do their due diligence, the Suns will look at Luka Doncic (who does have a relationship with new coach Igor Kokoskov) and Marvin Bagley III, among others. Rumors may leak, spun by agents or other teams. However, at the end of the day, good luck finding anyone around the league who thinks Phoenix will not take Ayton — who attended college in Arizona — to be the inside to Devin Booker‘s outside. It’s the smart play.

Kokoskov and the Suns have a lot of work to do to build a foundation for success with this franchise. However, that almost never starts by trading away the top pick in the draft.

Rumor: Paul George’s agent telling people client will re-sign with Thunder

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That rumor Paul George will leave the Thunder?

How about the exact opposite?

Dean Blevins of News 9:

Allegedly, apparently, Paul George plans to stay with the Thunder. I know. It’s not what people believe. But in separate conversations, I’m told P.G.’s agent has told people associated with the NBA that P.G. believes the injury loss of Andre Roberson was huge and he’s staying. Disclaimer, though: Believing everything that agents allegedly say can be dangerous to your health.

This, by Blevins’ own admission, isn’t the staunchest reporting. Nonetheless, I appreciate him sharing and contextualizing it. We can evaluate it for what it’s worth.

George is known to share his plans – though the previous example was him planning to sign with the Lakers. And he might have really believed it at the time, when he was still with the Pacers.

But throughout the season, George seemingly went out of his way to profess his affection for Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony and the Thunder. That only raised expectations in Oklahoma City of George staying, and if he leaves after doing that, he’d be inviting even more backlash. I think he’s smart enough to understand that, which is why I thought he made those especially strong pro-Thunder comments only after deciding he’d likely stay.

On the other hand, even if my assessment was correct, conditions change. The Jazz brutally exposed Oklahoma City’s flaws, and if George re-signs and Anthony opts in, the Thunder will have minimal cap flexibility to upgrade the roster. In fact, they might take a step back with the supporting cast to keep the luxury-tax bill manageable. George could see free agency as his chance to escape that mess.

Roberson was a huge loss, and if George is focused on that, that would bode well for Oklahoma City. Though Roberson was just a role player, he was pivotal to the Thunder’s defense. And his teammates had learned how to play around his offensive shortcomings. Oklahoma City didn’t have any good replacements for him on the roster. Roberson getting healthy is the clearest way for the Thunder to improve next season.

Of course, that’s predicated on George returning, too. Will he?

One last note of caution: People often believe what they want to hear. It’s easy to see someone in Oklahoma City hearing George bemoan the loss of Roberson and elevate that to George planning to re-sign, even George wasn’t going that far.

Draymond Green guarantees Warriors will beat Rockets in Western Conference finals

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Warriors coach Steve Kerr is confident despite his team trailing the Rockets 3-2 in the Western Conference finals.

Golden State forward Draymond Green goes further.

Green, via Marcus Thompson II of The Athletic:

“We still winning this,” Draymond Green said. “Book it.”

Of course, Green is confident. He’d never say he expects his team to lose.

But he didn’t need to frame it this way. He could’ve said he was just focused on the next game rather than make such a bold proclamation.

He’s taking pressure upon himself and putting his reputation on the line. If Golden State loses, especially in Game 6 at home with Chris Paul out, Green will be widely mocked.

If he and the Warriors pull through, he’ll probably deserve praise for setting a tone that helped them advance.

Danny Green: Kawhi Leonard told me he wants to stay with Spurs

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The Spurs are reportedly worried Kawhi Leonard‘s camp wants to get him to the Lakers, Clippers, Knicks or 76ers.

Leonard hasn’t said much himself – except apparently to San Antonio teammate Danny Green

Get Up on ESPN:

Green:

I talk to him here and there, check up on him, see how he’s doing.

I think he wants to be in San Antonio. He’s let me know that. He’s let me know verbally he wanted to be there. So, we’ll see what happens.

Green has tried playing peacemaker throughout this saga – going as far as denying tension that clearly exists. He’s not the most reliable source.

And even if Leonard explicitly told Green he wants to remain in San Antonio, I’m not sure Leonard is confrontational enough to tell Green he wanted out, even if he did.

Those caveats acknowledged, this could be a huge revelation.

If Leonard wants to stay with the Spurs, the next step is meeting with them, mending their relationship and convincing them he deserves a super-max extension (which projects to be worth $219 million over five years). No matter how Leonard feels about San Antonio right now, if the Spurs don’t trust investing so much in him, that could lead to a fractured relationship and his exit.

So, there’s still a lot to sort out. But Green saying this means something.