Posted on: March 4, 2012 3:04 pm
Edited on: March 4, 2012 3:09 pm
Posted by Royce Young
Kevin Durant has the backpack. LeBron James has... the purse?
Decide for yourself: Did LeBron walk into Staples Center ready to take on the Lakers carrying a purse? Or is it not a purse, but simply European? Or a man-purse? Here's how you know you're a bad man: When you can totally pull it off. And LeBron is pulling it off. Kind of makes me want one.
The question is, what's in the tiny little bag? Is it a bag carrying a toothbrush and shaving tools? Shampoo and conditioner? Or maybe that's where he keeps his clutchness? Who knows.
Posted on: March 3, 2012 1:01 am
Posted by Royce Young
LeBron James knows it. He knows what you're saying after Miami's loss against the Jazz. He choked. He's not clutch. He's shrunk again.
With the game on the line and the Heat down a point, LeBron passed to an open Udonis Haslem for the game-winner. Haslem missed, and now we're all talking about LeBron. After the game, LeBron tweeted this:
I fell short again. I don't know if LeBron just happened to phrase it that way, but that's real talk. That's digger deeper. That's laying it out there in a way that opens you up to his world.
He knows he failed late against the Mavericks. He knows he has a history of those moments. He doesn't deny it. He desperately wants to win and he did everything but make that shot for Haslem to get his team there. Eighteen points in the fourth, 35-10-6 for the game and brilliant defense and shotmaking down the stretch. But it's that one moment where he failed.
Except he didn't even fail. Haslem did. LeBron set him up beautifully, his teammate just missed the shot. But LeBron takes responsibility because as he tweeted, he could've done more. He could've made a difference. You can say a lot about yourself in 140 characters or less, and LeBron really did.
Posted on: March 3, 2012 12:51 am
Posted by Royce Young
You want the LeBron James story summarized in a tidy 12-minute quarter? Take Friday's fourth quarter against the Jazz.
With Utah hammering the Heat, LeBron completely took over the game, scoring 18 points on 8-9 shooting bringing Miami within a chance of winning their 10th straight game. He was brilliant. He was spectacular. He was the best player on the floor, the best player on the planet, something straight out of a comic book. He did things only he can do and just had us all shaking our heads at his ability.
But that's not we're all talking about. We're talking about his pass to Udonis Haslem.
Was it the right basketball play? Sure it was. Open man, high percentage shooter from that spot. It's what you ask for there. But still, it feeds the beast. The beast that says LeBron isn't clutch, that LeBron doesn't want the ball late, that LeBron shrinks in the fourth quarter.
Nevermind that Kobe Bryant pulled a similar move with Derek Fisher for a game-winner against the Dallas earlier in the season. Difference is, Fisher made it. Haslem didn't. And now it's LeBron's fault.
But it is though, isn't it? There's this crazy dichotomy between making the right play and just hogging the ball and taking an off balance shot on your own. Thing is, LeBron had just done that hitting this wild shot to put Miami up three with 26 seconds left. Would you rather have had another one of those, or the open look for Haslem?
LeBron told reporters after the game, "It’s just the way I’ve always played ... When the teammate doesn’t make the shot it doesn’t matter much from a media perspective."
Could the right basketball play actually be wrong? It's all about the crunch-time debate. The statheads all say to run your offense and get a high percentage shot in those moments. The guys like Kobe, Durant and CP3 says forget that and want the weight on their shoulders. Maybe they pass in some circumstances, but it certainly isn't a habit. Can you picture Kevin Durant passing to Serge Ibaka for an 18-footer with the game on the line? I can't. Durant wants that shot.
There's a unique difference there, something we can't put our finger on. I don't think LeBron's shy or scared or afraid. I think LeBron just wants to make the right play. But sometimes, maybe it's the wrong one. It's a trend with LeBron. He's might be too perfect a player. The reason everyone made such a big stink about him passing the ball at the end of the All-Star Game was because it was part of a bigger theme. It fit the story. And then five days later, he does it again. We all want to say it's not a big deal, especially if Haslem makes the shot, but it doesn't feel that way, does it? It feels like it means something, right?
At a point, you have to be willing to live with the consequences of taking that shot. You have to be fine with answering questions of how you missed. You have to apply that same mentality that had you dominating 11 minutes and 25 seconds of a quarter and just say, "Screw it, this is my game." You have to be willing to face the music after a game and just say, "So what, I missed." That's a whole lot easier than answering questions about why you passed to Udonis Haslem.
Posted on: March 1, 2012 3:17 pm
Posted by Royce Young
The Miami Heat will be without All-Star forward Chris Bosh Thursday against Portland as well as Friday against Utah because of a personal matter.
Without Bosh, the team will likely turn to Udonis Haslem, a very capable backup. Thursday's matchup in Portland will be a challenge as the Blazers have an All-Star up front as well in LaMarcus Aldridge.
The Heat though don't have a lot of interior depth, so without Bosh, the second unit will likely rely on Juwan Howard, Dexter Pittman and Eddy Curry even. Then again, the Heat can obviously survive as they have LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. Which is an interesting wrinkle, because LeBron could see some of that time at the 4 in place of Bosh.
On the season Bosh is averaging 18.4 points and 8.3 rebounds per game.
Posted on: February 29, 2012 5:56 pm
Edited on: February 29, 2012 6:10 pm
By Matt Moore
Charles Barkley had more to say on Jim Rome than just wishing someone could shoot 20 percent of NBA fans.
Rome asked Barkley about his feelings on LeBron James, and well, you know Chuck.
This is the eternal debate with James. And the biggest problem, honestly, is Michael Jordan.
You see, Jordan set a new bar for alpha dogs. It wasn't enough to make the game winning play. To be the best, you have to rise up and knock down a mid-range jumper, preferably fading away, to win the game. That's the bar. Passing may be the best play, it may be the right play, it may be considered the best thing to do the other 47 minutes of a game, but when things get close down the stretch, that jumper's what you're expected to do. Problem is, James isn't very good at it. He's gotten better at it, but he's not automatic. This, maybe more than anything else, defines him.
Consider this. Inside three minutes to go in a game separated by five points or less, James has seven of the Heat's ten total assists in that range this season. By comparison, James has 11 field goal attempts, the same as Wade and just one more than Bosh, in that same situation. He has made just three of them. (Wade is 5 of 11, Bosh 7 of 10.)
So James is handling the ball a lot. He's just not hitting. And he's passing the most as well, at least on made buckets. The assertion remains that James is the best player on the team, and he keeps deferring to lesser players. But it's entirely possible that James simply isn't the best player in these situations. At least not right now, with this team, with where his game is at now.
(For comparison's sake, Kobe Bryant is 9-35 this season in that same situation. He also has seven assists in that situation, though the Lakers have been in far more tight games than the Heat.)
("ROME with Jim Rome" debuts on CBS Sports Network April 3rd. You can follow him on Twitter @JimRome.)
Posted on: February 28, 2012 4:39 pm
Posted by Royce Young
Pretty much everyone had the same reaction to Dwyane Wade's oddly hard foul on Kobe Bryant Sunday during the All-Star Game. What the crap was up with that?
In a regular game nobody would've batted an eye, but in the relaxed, fun setting of an All-Star Game, it definitely appeared out of place. Wade explained it afterward by saying he didn't mean to draw blood and was just getting Kobe back for some fouls on the other end.
But what ended up happening was that Kobe broke his nose, suffered a mild concussion and has to wear a mask for a little bit. So Wade feels a little bad now. And would like to say he's sorry. Via the Sun Sentinel, Wade says he sent "a message" of apology to Kobe for the broken nose and stressed he didn't mean any harm.
"I sent him a message, with my apologies. Unfortunate that happened to him, but that's all I could do," Wade said following Tuesday's practice at AmericanAirlines Arena, the first time he has commented on the incident since Sunday. "He knows it's no ill intent on me to do that. Did I take a foul? Yes, I took a foul. So, talk about me for taking a foul. But I never wanted that kind of outcome."Wade really didn't have to apologize like that. It's basketball. Bloody noses, busted lips and black eyes happen all the time. When it does, you say, "My bad" and keep moving on. This only became something bigger because in the traditional manner of the All-Star Game, you don't see things like that. Wade said he was just "taking a foul" to stop play so he could talk to the ref about two calls he didn't get on the other end. It was an accident, end of story. It might've looked funny, but the fact Kobe got his nose broken wasn't the intention.
Still, people like TNT's Reggie Miller were extremely critical of Wade's foul on Kobe and called for him to apologize publicly. Wade isn't into that.
"Reggie don't know what was said," Wade said. "When I saw his blood, obviously I didn't try to do that. I don't know if anybody wants me to get down on my knees in front of the world and do it. I don't have to do that.And guess what, you guys? The Heat play the Lakers on Sunday. So that should be a little more fun now. If Andrew Bynum clotheslines Wade on a drive to the basket, I think you'll know why.
Posted on: February 27, 2012 6:36 pm
Edited on: February 27, 2012 8:10 pm
By Matt Moore
As the NBA catches its breath after a hurried rush to the season and a whirlwind All-Star Weekend, we turn our attention to the NBA's stretch run, the second half. We're at the point with the trade deadline looming two weeks away where teams will begin to make moves to either ramp up for a playoffs run or bottom out in rebuilding projects. Will the Heat keep up their pace? Can the Bulls finally get healthy and if so, how good can they be then? Are the Thunder legitimate title contenders? Are the Spurs "back" once again?
So many questions, so little time.
A huge element in the second half of the season is going to be minutes. The best teams will rest their players while desperate teams will have to play to the bone. The Bulls are somehow a great team and a desperate team. They want every advantage including homecourt advantage, and below we'll tell you how that could impact the MVP race.
So we present the Baseline Awards second-half predictions, focused on who will be taking the various trophies for the second half of the season.
Projected Eastern Conference Player of the Second Half: Derrick Rose
LeBron James is the runaway MVP leader, the best player on the planet, and was nearly flawless in the first half, despite the end to that All-Star Game. So why isn't he here? Because the Heat will have a top-two seed locked up by early April, and then you're going to see James take more and more games off as the Heat rest him for the playoffs. What he does between now and then will determine is MVP, but in the meantime, Tom Thibodeau plays his players 35 minutes a game even when they're hurt. Assuming that the All-Star rest helped Rose recover from the back and leg injuries that hampered him this season, he'll get the minutes, he'll get the production, he'll get the win. I expect big things from the reigning MVP in the second half.
Projected Western Conference Player of the Second Half: Kevin Durant
It's terrifying that a kid, a 23-year-old kid, can lead the league in scoring two years in a row and then make the leap. But that's what Durant has done. Everything is better. His efficiency. His productivity. His team. His leadership. His clutch play. And his defense. It's a phenomenal streak the kid's on and there's zero reason to think he'll slow down in the second half. The West is just competitive enough for the Thunder to keep Durant playing nightly and yet not good enough to challenge the Thunder for the top spot in the West (though San Antonio's making a good show of it).
Most-Likely to Succeed: Miami Heat
They have it together. They have no discernible weaknesses, outside of "Can LeBron James succeed in the clutch?" and that's not a regular season concern. The offense is clicking, their chemistry is good, they've had fewer distractions, they're playing at an elite level on both sides of the ball and their injuries haven't been significant. It may be sickening, but it doesn't change the fact that this is the baddest team in the land until further notice.
Least-Likely to Succeed: Charlotte Bobcats
Here's the worst thing about the Bobcats. They don't even have anything of value to firesell. Tyrus Thomas is having a terrible season, Corey Maggette has been injured, D.J. Augustin is just good enough to be their best player and not good enough to draw huge offers on the market. Gerald Henderson may be their best asset and he's too good to move. If they keep this team, they'll be horrible. If they sell off the parts for future components, they'll be terrible. If the lottery doesn't help this team, it's going to be classified as negligible cruelty.
Best Dressed: Indiana Pacers throwbacks
Those blues and yellows are just sharp as all get out.
Worst Dressed: Memphis Grizzlies throwbacks
Let us never speak of these again.
Class Clown: JaVale McGee
Runs the other direction, denies things he's said into tape recorders, goes for triple-doubles in blowouts, makes ridiculous goaltends and has somehow failed to get better with John Wall on his team. McGee is funny. But someone really needs to get into his head and straighten things out or a world of potential is going to be lost.
Projected Defensive Player of the Year: Luol Deng
Andre Iguodala deserves it, but Deng may end up winning it simply based on reputation. If Deng is healthy, he's the best perimeter defender in the league. Dwight Howard has struggled at times and hasn't been as dominant. If the coaches really vote this one right, Deng should win as long as he continues to get healthy and Tom Thibodeau doesn't run him into the ground.
Smoke and Mirrors Award for False Relevance: Atlanta Hawks
Always a top-six team in the standings, never a top-six team in the conference. The Hawks have managed to survive a drop-off from Joe Johnson and the injury to Al Horford. The team is supremely in need of a complete makeover but none seems imminent. So they will continue to drift through the season, winning games and getting no credit, losing games and getting hammered, never going up or down. Consistency in this league is often heralded as success. But with the Hawks, it's always seen as evidence of either a mediocre student over-achieving or an excellent student never living up to potential.
Most Likely to Blow It Up: Boston Celtics
The holes have not been plugged. They have not rounded into shape. They have not righted the ship. The experience has not come through. The casual approach to conditioning has not yielded the results they want. They did not coast, they stumbled. They did not cruise, they crashed. They are alive only because of Rajon Rondo and the weakness of the Eastern Conference. The time has come to end this and move on. Sentimentality is not worth wasting time, because if the big free agents get re-aligned and the Celtics have nothing to move forward with, they'll be back in the stone age they were in before the Big 3 arrived.
Carmelo Anthony Award for MeloDrama: Dwight Howard
"I want a trade! But I love it here! But I want more input on decisions in the front office! But I'm just trying to play! I'm not talking about free agency! Except to talk to you about how much I'm not talking about it! I love my teammates! But I love Deron Williams! I love New York! But I love Orlando! I love my mom! But I make my own decisions!"
It's like watching a teenage girl decide between four boys while the one she's with can't figure out what he did wrong.
Projected Rookie of the Year: Kyrie Irving
Ricky Rubio's a nice story. Neat passes. Irving should have been an All-Star and is going to be an elite player in this league over the next decade. Cleveland's rebuild is on its way, just 19 months removed from "The Decision."
Most Likely to be Traded: Stephen Jackson
Steve Nash could go. Dwight Howard might go. Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum, Josh Smith, Rajon Rondo, Jose Calderon. But Jackson is owed a lot of money, the Bucks don't need him, and he and Skiles hate each other. He's a bad fit in the locker room and a bad fit on the floor. It's .50 cents on the dollar time in Milwaukee for CapJack.
The 2012 Version of the 2011 Memphis Grizzlies:
The Houston Rockets. I'm starting to buy into Houston as a surprise team. Memphis used team play, star power from Zach Randolph and a unique matchup with San Antonio to get into the second round. Houston has a Should-Be-All-Star in Kyle Lowry and world of versatility in lineups they can deploy. Throw in the work that Kevin McHale has done and the fact they're 4-4 this year against division opponents (three of which are likely playoff teams) and you've got a great shot at Houston making a surprising, if ultimately futile, run. Hurray, another mid-first-round lottery pick!
Most Likely to Hit the Rookie Wall:
MarShon Brooks. Brooks is going to be a terrific scorer in this league for a long time. He's got an elite set of offensive skills and tremendous length. He can play in an offense, too. But his game is predicated on shooting percentages and that's the kind of thing that can drop off when it hits the rookie wall. I full expect to have jinxed Brooks and he will now go out and win Rookie of the Year. His play in the win over the Knicks last week was superb.
Most Likely to Make Himself a Name by Season's End: Paul George
Should have won the dunk contest. Played Rose great last year. The Pacers are better than last year and are primed for a playoff run. Getting them out of the postseason is going to be a serious job, and George is going to be a huge part of it. More versatile on offense, better on defense, athletic, explosive, with range. George isn't going to score 40. But he's going to be a part of a lot of playoff wins for Indiana and is going to be that guy in the playoffs that make sports bars of opposing teams groan "Not that guy again!" time and time over. By the way, I've started calling him Mega-Man because it seems like every game he picks up a new ability he didn't have before.
Posted on: February 27, 2012 1:48 am
Edited on: February 27, 2012 7:53 am
By Matt Moore
The Lakers announced Sunday that Kobe Bryant suffered a nasal fracture during the All-Star game after a foul from Dwyane Wade. The Lakers say that Bryant will be re-evaluated Monday by an ear, nose, and throat specialist and is expected to resume practice Tuesday, according to the Orange County Register.
Update: Yahoo Sports reports that Bryant also sustained a "mild concussion" on the play. If so, Bryant will be subject to the NBA's new concussion policy, which requires league approval for him to return to the court.
Here's video of the play from Wade in the third quarter which resulted in the broken schnoz:
Clearly a purposeful foul in an All-Star game, which isn't going to endear Wade to Lakers fans. Bryant stayed in the game and passed Michael Jordan for all-time leader in points scored in the All-Star Game. Wade also famously was involved in the injury to Rajon Rondo in last year's Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Celtics.
The Salt Lake Tribune reported that Bryant was suffering from headaches after the game, which lead to him missing media availability after the game.