Baseline to Baseline recaps: Joakim Noah is all the offense Bulls need

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Welcome to PBT’s roundup of the day in NBA action. Or, what you missed while watching the Golden Eagle snatches kid video over and over…

Lakers 101, Bobcats 100: Pau Gasol returned but that kind of got overshadowed by the Lakers barely winning a game they were supposed to cruise in. We’ve got all the details in our Game of the Night post.

Bulls 100, Celtics 89: The Bulls played the night before in Memphis, while the Celtics had been in Chicago resting. But it didn’t look like that at all — the Bulls moved faster, played with more energy and just looked younger and fresher. Which is troubling for a Celtics team that falls to .500 on the season and has lost three straight. They do some things well (Rajon Rondo had 26), but their defense was the weakness as Joakim Noah racked up a triple-double with 11 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists, while Luol Deng and Carlos Boozer each had 21. Chicago shot 56 percent from three on the night. Their bench outscored Boston 37-16.

Heat 103, Timberwolves 92: When Miami is hitting threes they are very difficult to beat — in the second half the Heat went 8-of-16 from three and pulled away from Minnesota to get the win. What is the other rule when playing the Heat? Don’t turn the ball over or they will run you into the ground. Minny turned the ball over 19 times (with Ricky Rubio out). Dwyane Wade had 24 points, while LeBron James flirted with the triple-double — 22 points, 11 assists and seven rebounds. Andrei Kirilenko had 22 points for Minny.

Jazz 92, Nets 90: Brooklyn found another way to lose one in the second half. They led by as many as 13 but the Jazz came back in the third because they grabbed 8 offensive rebounds in the quarter while the Nets turned the ball over 7 times in the same span. Still they had a chance at the end, on a crazy play Joe Johnson made a steal but eventually passed on a three giving it to Gerald Wallace for a three that missed, then Reggie Evans missed the putback and the Jazz held on. Mo Williams had 19 for Utah, Al Jefferson added 16 points and 11 rebounds.

Mavericks 107, 76ers 100: Dorell Wright almost brought the Sixers back. Almost. Dallas had stretched out their lead with a 14-4 run and were up 12 with four minutes left, looking like they would cruise in for the win. But Wright hit four threes in the final 3:15 of the game and got it down to 5, but the Mavs held on thanks to O.J. Mayo and… Chris Kaman? Yes, Kaman. Mayo and Kaman combined for 17 of the Mavericks final 19. That is four straight losses for Philly.

Nuggets 112, Spurs 106: Vintage Tim Duncan showed up for this one — 31 points (12 in the fourth quarter), 18 rebounds, six assists and five blocked shots. But it wasn’t enough. Denver took the lead in the second quarter and never gave it up. The up and down Nuggets picked up a gritty win behind Danilo Gallinari, who had 28 points and drained some key three-pointers in the final minutes that Gregg Popovich said were the difference. With this Denver has won four of their last five and maybe they will start to build on this kind of win. But we’ve thought that before this season.

Bucks 98, Pacers 93: This was a tight one — tied 85-85 — but Brandon Jennings broke that tie, had 13 of his 34 in the fourth quarter and that was the difference. Monta Ellis added 19. When one or the other of the Bucks guards is hot they stand a good chance of winning, that’s hat happened here. On the flip side, not one of the Pacers starters shot over 50 percent, but George Hill still had 18.

Raptors 113, Cavaliers 99: Andrea Bargnani has missed three games and the Raptors have a three game winning streak. Coincidence? Toronto used a 14-4 run at the start of the fourth quarter to pull away and get a win on the road. Toronto had balance — 23 from Jose Calderon, 18 from Alan Anderson, 17 from Amir Johnson. Kyrie Irving had 23 points and seven assists, Anderson Varejao dropped 22 points and had 10 rebounds for the Cavs.

Hawks 100, Wizards 95 (OT): Another tough loss for the Wizards, one that came despite Jordan Crawford having a triple-double with 27 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists. Lou Williams had 24 points, Josh Smith added 17 points and 13 rebounds. Also, in overtime there was a key three from DeShawn Stevenson.

Warriors 103, Hornets 96: Credit the young Hornets for having some fight — they were down a dozen midway through the fourth quarter and fought back to tie this game at 92-92 on an Anthony Davis and-1 (he finished with 15 points and 16 rebounds). But the Warriors have shooters — Jarrett Jack drew a foul and sank a couple free throws, Stephen Curry drained a jumper, Jack got a couple more free throws and that was it. David Lee had 26 points and nine rebounds for Golden State. Ryan Anderson had 28 points for the Hornets.

Miami guard Goran Dragic doubtful to return to game with foot injury

Goran Dragic injury
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
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Goran Dragic, like seemingly every member of the Miami Heat, couldn’t find his rhythm in the first half — 3-of-8 shooting, three assists, but some missed defensive assignments as the Heat started to fall behind.

Part of that may have been a foot injury — Dragic did not come out for the second half and his return is doubtful with a left foot injury, the Heat announced.

There are no other details on the injury as of yet.

Tyler Herro started the second half for Miami in his place.

The Heat has struggled with the Lakers length — and Los Angeles can’t miss from three — with that has the Heat down 26 early in the third quarter.

L.A. Lakers will stay big, start Dwight Howard at center

Dwight Howard start
Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images
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While it is easy to say the Lakers’ best lineups have Anthony Davis at center, the numbers say the Lakers are best playing big with another player at center and Davis at the four.

That’s how the Lakers will start the NBA Finals against the Miami Heat on Wednesday — and Dwight Howard gets the call, the team announced.

This start was expected, especially after how well Dwight Howard played in the Denver series against Nikola Jokic.

It creates an interesting defensive choice for Erik Spoelstra and the Heat: Do they start Bam Adebayo on Davis and have Jae Crowder on Howard, or reverse that. Adebayo is an All-Defensive Team player who may be the best one-on-one matchup in the league for Davis,  but does Spoelstra want to risk early foul trouble for his star center, and would it wear Adebayo down to have to work so hard on both ends. Expect Crowder to start on Davis and Adebayo to get the key minutes later in the game.

The challenge for the Lakers: Howard fouls a lot.

“Probably fouling,” Laker coach Frank Vogel said when asked what was at the top of the team scouting report for the Heat. “I think they are great at getting to the free throw line. If we can play with discipline, not give them opportunities to shoot free throws, set their defense, that will help us win games, because they are great at getting to the free throw line.”

Howard can’t mess that plan up for Los Angeles. But he’s going to get the chance.

 

Two men charged with taking over NBA player’s social media accounts, selling info

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ASSOCIATED PRESS — A Louisiana man and a Florida man allegedly gained access to professional athletes’ social media accounts and either sold the information or used it to extort payments, according to federal criminal complaints released Wednesday.

Trevontae Washington and Ronnie Magrehbi each face wire fraud conspiracy and computer fraud conspiracy counts filed by the U.S. attorney’s office in New Jersey.

The 21-year-old Washington, of Thibodaux, Louisiana, allegedly obtained usernames and passwords for multiple NFL and NBA players and sold access to the information.

Magrehbi, 20, of Orlando, Florida, allegedly obtained an NFL player’s email and Instagram account information and extorted money by publishing explicit photos of the player and threatening to publish more.

Washington and Magrehbi were scheduled to make initial court appearances Wednesday in their respective states. They were not alleged to have worked together on the scams.

Their alleged victims included two NFL players and one NBA player, all of whom lived in New Jersey at the time of the alleged crimes.

According to the complaint, Washington used a “phishing” scam — requesting login information purportedly for a legitimate purpose — to gain access to the accounts of one NFL player in 2018 and locked the player out of the accounts.

Washington also took over the accounts of at least two other players, and acknowledged to investigators after his arrest last year that he had sold access to players’ accounts for between $500 and $1,000 each, the complaint alleged.

Magrehbi also used phishing to take over the social media accounts of an NFL player living in New Jersey in 2018 who eventually paid him $500, according to the complaint.

A few days later, explicit images of the player were posted to his Twitter and Instagram accounts and he was asked for an additional $2,500 to prevent the publishing of additional photos, the complaint alleged. The request came from a prepaid cellphone linked to Magrehbi, according to the complaint.

Court personnel for the Eastern District of Louisiana didn’t provide information on an attorney representing Washington. A message was left Wednesday at the Middle District of Florida seeking attorney information for Magrehbi.

Wire fraud conspiracy is punishable by up to 20 years in prison. Computer fraud conspiracy has a five-year maximum sentence.

LeBron James, Anthony Davis have two of top three selling jerseys during bubble

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The Los Angeles Lakers have the biggest, most popular brand of any NBA franchise. LeBron James is the biggest brand of any active NBA player, nationally and globally.

Combine them and it sells a lot of jerseys.

LeBron sold more jerseys during the NBA restart in Orlando than any other player, the NBA announced Wednesday, hours before LeBron and his Lakers tipped off in the NBA Finals. LeBron’s teammate, Anthony Davis, was third on the list. Here is the list released by the NBA.

Top 15 Most Popular NBA Jerseys

1. LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers
2. Luka Dončić, Dallas Mavericks
3. Anthony Davis, Los Angeles Lakers
4. Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics
5. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks
6. Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors
7. Kevin Durant, Brooklyn Nets
8. Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers
9. Kawhi Leonard, LA Clippers
10. Jimmy Butler, Miami Heat
11. Kemba Walker, Boston Celtics
12. Kyrie Irving, Brooklyn Nets
13. Russell Westbrook, Houston Rockets
14. Nikola Jokić, Denver Nuggets
15. Ja Morant, Memphis Grizzlies

A few notes of interest:

• The sixth and seventh best selling jerseys were players who did not suit up in the bubble, Curry and Durant.
• Rookie Ja Morant sold the 15th most jerseys, making his first appearance on this list, while Zion Williamson did not make the top 15.
• Second is the highest Luka Doncic has ever finished on this list, his spectacular play in the bubble helped spike his popularity.
• These results are based on NBAStore.com sales from July 30 through Sept. 28.

Top 10 Most Popular Team Merchandise

1. Los Angeles Lakers
2. Boston Celtics
3. Chicago Bulls
4. Miami Heat
5. Golden State Warriors
6. Toronto Raptors
7. Dallas Mavericks
8. Milwaukee Bucks
9. Portland Trail Blazers
10. Denver Nuggets