Baseline to Baseline recaps: Lakers win fourth in a row without Kobe

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What you missed while going on Craigslist to try and find the guy who got you pregnant at that Motorhead concert….

Heat 93, Knicks 85: This potential first-round matchup proved that the Heat’s three stars — they accounted for all but 20 of the Heat’s points on the day — were better than the Knicks one (Carmelo Anthony had 42 points). Matt Moore broke down this game for us.

Lakers 112, Mavericks 108 (OT): The Lakers have now won four in a row without Kobe Bryant — the real question is can they keep up this unselfish team play and defense while incorporating Kobe back into the game. For now, Kobe is just being an assistant coach.

This game kind of has me rooting for this to be the first-round matchup — they played a close, intense game trading big shots. There was Jason Terry knocking down key looks, same with Pau Gasol (two threes in the overtime) and Metta World Peace (18 points). Dallas stayed close thanks to 24 from Dirk Nowitzki and as a team they hit the long ball — 12-of-21 from three. The Lakers got 23 points from Andrew Bynum (but on just 9-of-24 shooting, it was not his best day) and 22 points from Ramon Sessions, including a key three late in the clock.

Nuggets 101, Rockets 86: Big victory for Denver in the first game of a home-and-home against Houston, a win that moves Denver into the 7 seed, one game up on Houston in the West. Denver won because they played their kind of game — pushing the pace and sharing the ball. Also, they won because when the started doubling Luis Scola the Rockets struggled to find another scoring option. Arron Afflalo had 20 points for Denver. Down the stretch Ty Lawson outplayed Goran Dragic,

Magic 100, Cavaliers 84: No team could have used a win today more than the Magic. They got an easy one. Orlando led wire to wire in this one with Jameer Nelson stepping up to create opportunities for others (nine assists) and drop in 21 points himself. The Magic moved the ball well and had 25 assists on their 36 baskets.

Bulls 100, Pistons 94 (OT): There was a lot of fight in the Pistons and the Bulls are still getting used to having Rose back in the lineup — he had an off game but was there with the key three that sent this game to overtime. Joakim Noah had 20 points and 17 rebounds. Rodney Stuckey had 32 for the Pistons but missed two key free throws that left the door open for the Bulls.

Celtics 94, Bobcats 82: Boston sat Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce and still won handily. That is 16 straight losses for a Charlotte team that is just going through the motions, while Rondo had 20 points and 16 assists — he has double-digits assists in 22 straight games.

Hornets 88, Grizzlies 75: Memphis jus was not into this game — and could have more serious things to worry about now. The Hornets are not very good but they come to play every night for coach Monty Williams and if you sleep you pay. Eric Gordon had 18 points to lead a balanced Hornets attack.

Raptors 102, Hawks 86: Atlanta took a lot of jump shots and missed a lot of jump shots — if you can keep them out of the paint and make them shoot those you will beat them. Something to watch in the playoffs. DeMar DeRozan had an impressive 25 points.

Kings 104, Trail Blazers 103: What a fun ending. Portland led most of the game but a 10-0 run made it close then Wesley Mathews hit the shot to give the Blazers the lead, only to have Marcus Thornton hit a fade-away from the elbow area. DeMarcus Cousins was a beast in pain and finished with 23 points.

At least one team is off Khris Middleton’s free agency list already (VIDEO)

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Milwaukee Bucks star Khris Middleton has a player option next season that allows him to become a free agent this summer. Milwaukee, currently the best team in the Eastern Conference, would no doubt like to keep one of their top players.

But several suitors will come calling for Middleton, who would like to secure his long-term future at age 27. The Bucks will have some serious thinking to do, especially because their cap situation gets a little less fluid if bidding gets high on Middleton. How much do they really want to go near the luxury tax to keep him around?

In any case, Middleton is starting to gather a list of places he wants to play next year. That’ll include Milwaukee, but Middleton will listen to offers from other suitors. The way teams have paid to add second or third stars to their roster, the Bucks guard could get expensive.

One place Middleton isn’t looking to go? The Cleveland Cavaliers.

Speaking with Kristine Leahy, Middleton said that he wasn’t likely looking at Northeast Ohio this summer.

Then again, whether Middleton returns to Milwaukee is a real question. The Bucks have some cap space to spare, but need to decide what to do with Eric Bledsoe and Nikola Mirotic. They also have just $1 million guaranteed to George Hill, so flexibility is there if they want it.

At this moment, Milwaukee’s ownership appears positioned to try and come in a bit low on Middleton. In a feature published by Zach Lowe on Thursday, owner Marc Lasry said that it’s unlikely Middleton gives the Bucks a discount to stay.

The Bucks know they might have to pay $30 million per season to keep Middleton. “Does he love Milwaukee enough to re-sign?” Lasry asks. “Yes. Enough to give us a real discount? No.”

Milwaukee is a popular choice to make it out of the Eastern Conference right now, which is interesting in and of itself. But things could get even more curious come summer.

Anthony Davis, Jrue Holiday will play reduced minutes rest of season

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The Anthony Davis Saga with the New Orleans Pelicans has been one of the oddest, most missed managed trade request in recent NBA history. And that’s including whatever happened with Kawhi Leonard last season with the San Antonio Spurs.

Davis made himself one of the focal points of NBA All-Star Weekend in Charlotte after leaving at halftime of the final Pelicans game before the break. Davis has issued several statements since then, including a bit of a meltdown at Saturday practice availability in North Carolina.

Of course it’s just a matter of time before Davis plays for another team, but we will have to wait until summer for that to happen. In the meantime, both sides are at sort of an impasse with Davis clearly not wanting to play in New Orleans anymore. The Pelicans, naturally, don’t want their asset to become injured and therefore reduced in value.

But Davis is going to play, and according to the team and interim general manager Danny Ferry, both Davis and Jrue Holiday‘s minutes will be reduced from here on out.

Via Twitter:

This makes sense sort of no matter what. New Orleans is no longer a playoff bubble team, and so a reduction in minutes for their top stars this season makes sense anyway.

Hopefully we don’t have to hear much about this moving forward. If we can get through the rest of the year without dealing with more weird Anthony Davis talk, I think we will be better for it.

Meanwhile, let the Boston Celtics and New York Knicks try to gather up their best offers to snake him away from the Los Angeles Lakers. No doubt something crazy will happen this summer with Davis just given how it’s already gone so far.

Paul George says he talked to Nike about his shoes after Zion Williamson injury (VIDEO)

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The basketball community lost its collective mind on Wednesday night when Duke Blue Devils star Zion Williamson was injured after blowing out a pair of Nike basketball shoes in a rivalry game against the University of North Carolina.

Williamson’s injury was such that shares of Nike actually fell come Thursday. Meanwhile, the debate about whether Williamson should continue to play for free in the NCAA raged on all day.

Of course Williamson was wearing Paul George‘s signature shoe when he experienced the blowout, which apparently prompted the Oklahoma City Thunder star to contact Nike about it.

Via Twitter:

George’s shoes are very popular across basketball, and he told reporters that this had never happened to his knowledge.

I do wonder if players will be more reticent to wear one of the more popular shoes in the NBA. Then again, Williamson is a freak of nature in of himself so it’s not likely that the forces created by his power would be exerted by a normal player in the league.

Zion Williamson’s sprained knee became bad day for Nike

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When presumptive No. 1 pick Zion Williamson went to the ground, his knee twisting, early in Duke’s game against North Carolina Wednesday night, the basketball world collectively gasped.

Former President Barack Obama was there and quickly recognized the problem:

It did, unquestionably. The  6-foot-7, 284 pound Williamson was wearing the  PG 2.5 PEs (the Paul George signature line of Nikes), and when he made a hard cut the shoe gave out and Williamson went to the ground in a heap. The television cameras closed in on the busted Nike.

That’s not good press.

Fortunately, Williams suffered only a mild, Grade 1 knee sprain, and is day-to-day.

Nike released a statement to multiple media outlets that said, “We are obviously concerned and want to wish Zion a speedy recovery. The quality and performance of our products are of utmost importance. While this is an isolated occurrence, we are working to identify the issue.”

Nike stock dropped one percent on Thursday, although that level of fluctuation is not serious.

Bottom line, if this remains an isolated incident, Nike’s reputation — and position as the dominant force in basketball shoes — is not in danger. Fans and players will forgive one random incident. Have it happen again to a high-profile player and… Nike doesn’t want to find out.