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April 26, 2014

G3: Heat 98, Charlotte 85: LeBron's 30 has fired-up Miami 3-0; plus Heat 3 Stars & 3 Sunday reflections (on defense, discipline, Donald Sterling)

1) It is SUNDAY, APRIL 27. Click on Random Evidence for today's Sunday notes-column package, leading with Heat-Bobcats. 2) Click on The Perfect Quarterback for our latest column, a farewell to Earl Morrall. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Earl Morrall dead at 79, Dolphins schedule and poll, Heat angry over McMuggerts, Miami Corporate Run, FIU sand volleyball, Springsteen & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote.

SUNDAY REFLECTIONS ON HEAT'S VICTORY: I'd offer three thoughts sitting over a Sunday morning cup of java:

1. A reminder of the bedrock of the Heat's strength: This was the best the Heat has looked to me in a long time, especially on the road. Let there be no doubt any more who the best team in the Eastern Conference is, and remains. The entire NBA playoffs are a muddled, competitive scrum ... except for Miami sitting pretty at 3-0. The Heat is awfully tough to beat when they're in the mood to bring their A-effort defensively, as they did last night. That is the foundation of this team's power. LeBron James is the engine. But defense is where it all starts. "Our defense was phenomenal," said Dwyane Wade. That is not a word tossed around this lockerroom casually. Phenomenal. And LeBron of course continues to be just that, and to make excellence routine. Last night was the 18th playoff game in his career with at least 30 points, 10 rebounds and six assists, the most ever.

2. A veteran team shows discipline, focus: Viscerally the Heat wanted to floor Charlotte's Josh McRoberts last night with payback for his flagrant foul to the neck of LeBron in Game 2. Udonis Haslem would have loved the assignment. But give coach Erik Spoelstra credit here. He directed the team to offer its payback on the scoreboard. That was smart, and classy, befitting a champion.

3. LeBron's stand on Donald Sterling: Before James impressed on the hardwood last night, he impressed in the pregame lockerroom, blasting L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling for the racist comments attributed to him. "There is no room for Donald Sterling in our league," James said, among other amplifications. Usually, the bigger the stars the less the outspokenness because big-paying sponsors don't like controversy. Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods toed this line their entire careers. Last night James impressed by speaking as a man, a black man but first just a right-thinking man, not speaking as a corporate brand. That the NBA -- of all leagues -- would have a racist owner is reprehensible, a crisis for the league, and good for LeBron giving voice to that.

G3: HEAT 98, CHARLOTTE 85: MIAMI DELIVERS PAYBACK NOT WITH ELBOWS, BUT WITH DOMINANCE: Plenty of folks including me thought Miami (likely enforcer Udonis Haslem) would exact retribution last night on Charlotte's Josh McRoberts for his Game 2 flagrant foul against LeBron James. We were wrong. No physical payback. Just another kind: Dominance. Miami led by as many as 26 last night before coasting to a comfortable win and an even more comfortable 3-0 series lead heading to Game 4 back in Charlotte Monday night. In the history of the NBA 108 teams have held a 3-0 series lead. Here is how many of those 108 teams went on to win the series: All 108. The only drama left in this series is whether Monday's Charlotte funeral game completes the sweep, or whether it ends the following game back in Miami. Heat 3 Stars: 1. LeBron James (30 points, 10 rebounds, 6 assists); 2. Dwyane Wade (17 points, 6 assists after not scoring until middle of second quarter); 3. Chris Andersen (12 points, 7 rebounds and a bench spark from Birdman).

Heat Postseason MVP Standings (through 3 games): Entering Game 4 on Monday: LeBron James 8 points, Dwyane Wade 6, Chris Bosh 2, Chris Andersen 1, James Jones 1. (We name 'Heat 3 Stars' every game and award points on 3-2-1 basis).

LIVE BLOG ON HEAT GAME 3: 4th Quarter: MIA subs including Battier in with 2:04 left. Game time. ..... LeBron hits 30-point mark. ..... CHA on 14-5 run, within 14. ..... Miami with 26 assists. Ball movement has been great. ..... Commissioner Adam Silver on NBATV talking about Donald Sterling issue. Sounds like league will come down on him like Heat is coming down on Bobcats tonight. /// 3rd Quarter: Heat up 86-66 after 3Q. ..... Walter Brennan with first FG since first quarter. ..... CHA timeout and in a 79-53 hole. LeBron roaring with 24. ..... McRoberts mugs LeBron again, shouldering into him on a breakaway. Could have been called a flagrant or a clear-path but was called neither. ..... James steal and tomahawk jam, looks right at Michael Jordan as he freight-trains to basket. ..... Wade still only 6 points on 3-9 shooting. ..... LeBron with 18, Heat up by 16. ..... Bosh rejects Jefferson. ..... Bobcats arena sounding very quiet right now. /// Halftime: Turned up defensive intensity turned this game Miami's way. LeBron has 16 points fueled by 7-8 on FTs. MIA 6-8 on 3's also is big. Need more from Wade (6 points). For CHA, Jefferson has 17 on 7-10 shooting. Bobcats otherwise are 10-28 shooting. Defend Jefferson better and B-cats have no chance. /// 2nd Quarter:  Heat up 58-46 at half with a 35-point 2nd quarter. ..... CHA has no shot when Walter Brennan Jefferson isn't in game. ..... We want Bismack Biyombo! ..... MIA 6-7 on 3's, back up. ..... Prince's hairdresser with breakaway layup. ..... Wade first points mid-quarter. ..... Bird hard foul on McRoberts, but not flagrant. Still early, but, could it be there might be no payback for McMuggerts? ..... Douglas-Roberts looks like he might be cast as Prince's personal hairdresser. ..... Allen big 3, has five straight points. It's what Heat needs from bench. /// 1st Quarter: Bobcats win 1Q by 27-23, shooting 56% to MIA's 34%. ..... Jefferson en fuego for 7-0 CHA run, has 15 points in 1Q. ..... Heat first lead at 19-18 on pair of Bird FTs. ..... MIA within 18-17 on 6-point run; CHA timeout. ..... LeBron rejected by Zeller, makes amends with a 3. ..... Credit Jefferson for playing while moving like Walter Brennan in 'The Real McCoys'. ..... CHA 7-11 FGs early, MIA only 5-15. ..... Boom! LeBron hard driving basket over a fouling McRoberts. That isn't payback yet, but it's a start. ..... Haslem two early fouls. ..... Michael Jordan's giant loop earring in the left lobe makes him look like a fey pirate. ..... Mavs beat Spurs on ancient Vince Carter buzzer-beater, lead series 2-1. ..... McRoberts looks like Jesus, fouls like Satan. ..... Heat 0-for-5 to start game before Chalmers layup. /// Preamble: Cannot confirm that Udonis Haslem has just been assessed a flagrant foul during pregame warmups for what he's thinking of doing to Josh McRoberts tonight. ..... Racist comments attributed to the L.A. Clippers owner have been a pregame topic and the Heat are pulling no punches. "There is no room for Donald Sterling in our league," said LeBron James.

G3: HEAT @ CHARLOTTE: MIAMI HAS TWO THINGS ON ITS MIND TONIGHT: Original post: The main imperative is to win, sure. The difference between a 3-0 Miami series lead and 2-1 is huge. At 3-0 the thing is effectively

1aa1aheatcha
1aa1aheatchag3over. At 2-1, with Game 4 back in Charlotte Monday, there is an infusion of drama in this first-round NBA playoff series and maybe even a smidgen of doubt. For me, though, who wins tonight won't be as much fun to watch as the other thing on Miami's mind: Retribution. Coach Erik Spoelstra can talk all he wants that there will be none of that; it's what he has to say. But 1aa1ahaslemuJosh McRoberts' flagrant foul against LeBron James in Game 2 -- that hard forearm to the throat -- is very much on the Heat's mind tonight. McMuggerts was fined $20,000 by the league (a piddling) but not suspended as he should have been. And I will be surprised -- no, shocked, -- if McRoberts is not on the receiving end of some mayhem tonight. Enter Udonis Haslem (pictured), the team's warrior-enforcer. Will it be an "accidental" elbow to the ear? A forearm to the neck? When will it occur? Join us here toght for a live blog on the fight game. Should be delicious.

Poll result: Opener vs. Pats is Dolphins' sexiest home game: We asked and your answer was no surprise. The Sept. 7 season opener vs. New England was the best-home-game choice of 56.5 percent. Second place was a surprise, though, at least to me, with the Oct. 12 visit by Green Bay beating the Dec. 28 season-ender vs. the Jets, 23.5% to 12.9%. The other five home games shared the crumbs.

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