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14 posts from February 2014

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Bosh would support ban on all foul language and not just derogatory slurs

Chris Bosh has never been one to ride the fence on social issues. On Wednesday, he weighed in on the growing sentiment in professional sports leagues to ban the use of derogetory slurs.

Bosh said the N-word is most often used during NBA games as a friendly gesture, but that shouldn't excuse the use of the word. The NFL is considering penalties for teams whose players use slurs during games, and Bosh said it would be a good idea for the NBA to do the same, but if the NBA is going to ban one slur, it needs to ban all inappropriate language.

"It's a very tough situation," Bosh said. "If that's the case, they should ban all slurs. And I know it's a big deal, because I think that word is used too much, especially in the mainstream nowadays."

Unlike the NFL, the NBA is not currently considering in-game penalties for offensive language. NBA players have been fined in the past for the use of derogatory and offensive language. Bosh said social acceptance of some slurs makes the issue somewhat confusing.

"It's in mainstream America now," Bosh said. "And a lot of people say, 'Aw, I'm not a racist because I used it in a friendly way.'

"It's like I said. If you're going to [ban] one word, then put them all in there. Use every slur, every negative curse word, if you will, and that will simplify it a little bit."

Sunday, February 23, 2014

LeBron ruled out against the Bulls; Oden gets first start with Heat

Nursing a broken nose, LeBron James was ruled out of Sunday's national televised game against the Chicago Bulls, and, in a surprise move, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra replaced LeBron in the starting lineup with center Greg Oden.

James broke his nose on Thursday against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Missing Sunday's game will give James a full week off to recover from his injury.

"We will take it day-to-day and see how he feels tomorrow and go from there," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said before the game.

James scored a game-high 33 points against the Thunder before being knocked out of action by Thunder defender Serge Ibaka.

Oden, who has played in 10 games for the Heat, is averaging 7.8 minutes per game. He last started a game on Dec.5, 2009.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Before leaving with a bloody nose, LeBron James tightened the race with Kevin Durant for MVP

LeBron's blood is red, just in case anyone was wondering.

James was smacked in the nose by Serge Ibaka on Thursday night in Oklahoma City after finishing a spectacular dunk and was taken to the locker room with 5:56 left in the Heat's 103-81 victory. James finished with 33 points, going 15 of 22 from the floor, and thoroughly outplayed Kevin Durant in the head-to-head matchup of contending MVP candidates.

James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade combined for 81 points, matching the Thunder's entire team in scoring. Bosh and Wade scored 24 point each. Shane Battier provided excellent defense against Durant, who scored just nine points in the first half. Durant finished with 28 points, but most of that came after the game was decided. In his first game back from a knee injury, Russell Westbrook had 16 points on 4 of 12 shooting.

The Heat is 7-1 in the month of February and went 5-1 on its difficult, 17-day road trip.

HEAT NOTES: Miami Trades Mason to Kings; Westbrook Returns for Thunder

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards

OKLAHOMA CITY -- The Heat didn't do much before Thursday's trade deadline, but did create a future roster spot for an unknown future player by shipping guard Roger Mason Jr. to Sacramento.

The Heat received a 2015 conditional second-round pick (one it will probably never see) for Mason.

"Obviously this is the tough side, the business side, of basketball,'' coach Erik Spoelstra said after Thursday's morning practice.

"The game side of it is beautiful, but sometimes you have to make tough business decisions. Roger was terrific. He earned his spot in training camp, the first cut date. Right now the business side says we need flexibility.''

For Miami, the most important part of the deal was being able to create roster flexibility all while shedding a little money to help ease its luxury tax bill.

Mason -- who was promptly put on waivers by the Kings -- played in 25 games with the Heat after signing with Miami as a free agent last summer.

"The business of the game is very, very tough,'' LeBron James said, adding he had yet to speak with Mason. "He's been with us the whole time and then you wake up and he's not here. No one saw this coming. It's something you can't control. It sucks.''

The Heat, now with 14 players on its roster, will be watching the waiver list to see which players are available.

As long as a player is released by March 1, he is eligible for the postseason.

Former Heat guard Caron Butler is a player thought to be on Miami's radar if he is bought out of the remainder of his contract by Milwaukee.

"We have enough, there's no question about it,'' Spoelstra said. "We're not going around the league looking for a piece to get us a title. The answers are in our locker room. Concerning health, we have the depth.''


As expected, Oklahoma City guard Russell Westbrook returned after missing parts of the past two months after having knee surgery.

The Thunder were 21-4 in Westbrook's absence.

"It's always good for competition, having the best players out there,'' Spoelstra said. "One way or another you have to be prepared for that speed, quickness, athleticism they bring, the tempo they bring in this building. It goes from quick to quicker.''

-- The James-Kevin Durant rivalry picked up on Thursday with Durant aiming for the MVP award James has won the past two seasons.

"It's a 82 game season and the competition doesn't end until Game 82,'' Chris Bosh said. "It's a competitive atmosphere around them.''

James has been paying attention to what Durant's been doing what with Westbrook out of the lineup. With a lot of games remaining, James knows the award is still up for grabs. Durant, however, appears to be the frontrunner.

"For me, it's meant a lot receiving the award but I never put pressure on myself for that,'' James said. "I just went out, played my game and what happened came of that. I try to be the MVP for our team every night and put us in position to win.''

-- James on Indiana shipping Danny Granger to the 76ers on Thursday: "I didn't think Granger would last as long as he did, not after Paul George became the player he did. I wasn't surprised at all. Obviously Grainger is a very good player. He just hasn't found his niche after coming back from his injury.''



THUNDER STRUCK: LeBron Injures Nose But Scores Game-High 33 in Miami's Rout of OKC

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards

OKLAHOMA CITY -- The Heat saw its future flash before its eyes late in Thursday's 103-81 win over the host Thunder.

Star forward LeBron James lay in a heap along the baseline, blood dripping from his face as play continued on the opposite side of the floor.

James may have broken his nose as he scored the final of his game-high 33 points. James, hit by Serge Ibaka twice during his rise to the rim, was hurt with just under six minutes left in Miami's surprisingly easy win over the Western Conference leaders.

"You're used to seeing him be Superman, get up and sprint back after tough hits and tough falls,'' coach Erik Spoelstra said of his initial thoughts when seeing James on the ground.

"He got hit pretty hard.''

After a few minutes of laying face down just off the court, James held a towel to his face and walked off the court with teammate Dwyane Wade's arm around his waist.

James' exact injury wasn't immediately known with Spoelstra saying he'll be evaluated when the team returns to Miami most likely early Friday morning.

"He has a swollen nose, it's bleeding,'' Spoelstra said. "It's sore. He took a shot and probably should have been at the free throw line. He was aggressive.''

James did not speak to the media following the game but was sitting in front of his locker stall, his face shrouded in white towels.

"I saw him take a fall and then you see blood,'' Wade said. "You just hope he's OK and not overly serious. It was an unfortunate injury. But he got up and was talking to us, communicating with us. So that's good.''

A potential injury to James was one of the few down moments for the Heat on Thursday as it opened to a big lead, watched the Thunder close to within five only to open things up again.

Miami's victory was a nice reply after Oklahoma City rallied from an 18-point deficit and beat the Heat by 17 in Miami on Jan. 29.

"They smacked us pretty good. They beat us and it's not very often that we get dominated like they did us,'' said Chris Bosh, who tied Wade with 24 points behind James to lead Miami. "That leaves a bad taste in your mouth.''

The Heat has won 10 of 12 now as it heads home to face Chicago on Sunday. Miami went 5-1 on a road trip that started Feb. 5 against the host Clippers.

On Thursday, the Heat led by 19, but the Thunder whittled its deficit to five early in the second half.

Yet a big third quarter -- fueled by James and Wade -- got the Heat back in control. James scored 10 of his 33 in the third as Miami outscored the Thunder 22-18 in the period. Wade had four of his 24 in the third.

Kevin Durant, considered the front-runner for this year's MVP award, scored a team-high 28.

"It's not decided,'' Wade said, "and that wasn't a message. That was just LeBron James being LeBron James. The MVP race is a long way from being over.''

Miami saw the Thunder get the first basket of the second half as OKC made it a five-point game. But the Heat then blew the game open, embarking on a 16-2 run.

The third resembled big portions of the opening half that the Heat dominated.

James, who had a game-high 21 at halftime, was a one-man band early.

Miami's first 12 points all came via James with Wade getting Miami's first non-LeBron points when he broke out off a turnover and dunked to give Miami a six-point lead with 7:29 left.

James continued his torrid pace, pushing the Heat to a 34-17 lead at the close of the first by scoring 16.

Norris Cole gave Miami a 17-point lead with 8:36 left in the half with a 3-pointer but the Thunder soon mounted a comeback.

With 1:05 left before the break, Russell Westbrook -- playing in his first game since Christmas Day in New York --- scored OKC's final five points to make it a seven-point game.

Ibaka opened the second half with a lay-up to pull the Thunder within five, yet James hit a fade-away jumper and Chalmers hit a long jumper to get Miami going. Things wouldn't be close again for a while.

With 5:05 left, James sank his first 3-pointer of the night to hit the 30-point mark as Miami had its biggest lead at 22. Miami was up 11 going into the fourth.


With sense inside front office that something is lacking, Heat deals Roger Mason Jr.

Making room for an extra wing player, the Heat dealt Roger Mason Jr. to the Sacramento Kings on Thursday.

The move at the NBA trade deadline suggests the Heat is still in the market for a shooter, despite Heat coach Erik Spoelstra telling reporters that "we're not looking around saying we need another piece to contend for a title." While that is true — obviously, the 15th man on the roster isn't going to be the reason the Heat defends its back-to-back championships or falls short— there is a sense in the Heat's front office that its roster is lacking slightly compared to the previous title runs.

In other words, the Heat really misses Mike Miller.

Miller was amnestied over the summer to save money against the luxury tax and the Heat added Mason in the hopes the veteran combo guard could fill Miller's role. It didn't work out the way the Heat envisioned. Recently, Spoelstra has gone to a combination of Toney Douglas and Ray Allen to fill in for Wade. That's less than ideal, considering Allen is much older than Wade, Douglas isn't known for his shooting and neither player is a consistent rebounder.

Miller's skill set provided those things for the Heat and, most importantly, he was clutch in the playoffs. Let's not forget, Miller shot 44.4 percent from three-point range in 17 games in the 2013 playoffs and shot a sparkling 59 percent from distance in The Finals. Wade has missed 15 games this season after missing 13 in the 2012-13 season, but the real concern for Miami is that Wade will once again be limited by injuries in the postseason. It has happened the last two years, although Wade has played courageously in must-win situations.

Buyout candidates that could help the Heat include Caron Butler, who is obviously close friends with Dwyane Wade, but also revered inside the Heat organization for his toughness. There is also a possibility the Heat could look at free agents like Stephen Jackson or Richard Hamilton.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

HEAT NOTES: LeBron's Comments to NBA-TV; Wade Returns; Birdman Changes Look

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards

DALLAS -- A number of Miami players said LeBron James' comments during a taped interview Monday didn't offer a relief to building tension in the team locker room.

That's because there is no tension nor, at least as far as future plans go, any concern.

James, speaking to NBA television analyst and former Heat guard Steve Smith, said he couldn't picture himself playing anywhere else but Miami at this current time.

As echoed by the likes of Chris Bosh and Shane Battier on Tuesday, James said his sole focus right now is getting the Heat a third straight NBA title.

"It's going to take everything we have to win a championship,'' said Bosh, who like James and Dwyane Wade, can opt out of their current contracts this summer and either re-sign new deals with the Heat or move on to another team. James can also opt out next summer.

"We realize what lays ahead. It's going to be extremely difficult and you don't have room to think about anything else. If you're giving something else attention, you're not fully committing what you need to win it all. There's chatter outside the team about the summer, but we're not. We're looking at right now.''

In an interview that ran on NBA-TV Monday night, Smith asked whether James could "picture yourself someplace else.'' James said he couldn't -- although that could change.

"At this point I can't,'' James said. "But we don't know what can happen from now until July. So, what I've been able to do this season up until this point is what's at hand. And that's winning a championship.

"Hopefully at the end of the year I can put myself in the position where I can hold that Larry O'Brien Trophy once again and then I'll assess what I have to do with my future after that.''

On Tuesday before Miami's game against the host Mavericks, James said he didn't watch the interview but said friends gave it good reviews.

"Winning is No. 1, of course, and that's the reason I came down here,'' James said. "The organization speaks for itself.''

Smith brought James back to his first season in Miami, one in which the 'Big 3' didn't get off to the start they had hoped for. James admitted that he and Wade didn't click at first, with Miami's 9-8 start bringing up some serious self-doubt. And playing the role of villain wasn't something James felt comfortable with.

"At one point in the season we were 9-8. We weren't playing good basketball, we were out of synch,'' James said.

"Me and D-Wade, we looked at each other like 'did we make the right choice, man? Is this what we really wanted.' That was that moment. Two guys who held franchises on their shoulders, we gave one shoulder to each other. D-Wade came to me and said 'in order for us to be great, you have to be the guy. I'll take a step back'.''

Coach Erik Spoelstra certainly remembers that time, one in which there was plenty of clamoring for team president Pat Riley to replace his coach and take over the team as he did early in the 2005-06 campaign when Stan Van Gundy stepped down. The Heat won its first championship that season.

Spoelstra stuck around and is now in his sixth season as Heat head coach. Being in Dallas, he said Tuesday morning, often brings up those memories of the lone failure of Miami's 'Big 3' era.

"Some of our best times with this particular group came through adversity,'' Spoelstra said. "The tough things we had to go through; the Finals loss against this team. There probably would have been a lot of coaches fired that year. Even after 9-8. We were able to stay the course and grow. .-.-.

"That was a very humbling time for us. We had to re-invent ourselves, had to improve. The game we were playing wasn't good enough. We came back more committed. That pain? We'll never forget that. Coming to this arena, we'll never forget that.''

-- Wade was back in the lineup after missing Miami's final two games before the All-Star break.

-- Dallas rookie Shane Larkin has gotten off to a slow start after the Mavs took him with the 18th overall pick last summer.

Larkin, who led Miami to the Sweet 16 as a sophomore last spring, suffered a broken ankle in July and missed Dallas' first 10 games.

"We've been a fan of his since he was at the University of Miami, got to know him a little bit,'' Spoelstra said. "The slow start is because of the setback with the injury. He'll have a fine career in front of him.''

-- Miami's Chris 'Birdman' Andersen looked a touch different Tuesday after buzzing his spiked mohawk. Spoelstra smiled when asked if he was worried the multi-colored tattooed forward would still be recognizable without his painted coif.

"No,'' Spoelstra deadpanned, "I think he still has quite a few other things people can look at.''


ROLLING IN DALLAS: LeBron James Gets 42 as Heat Top Mavs 117-106

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards

DALLAS -- If it looks like LeBron James gets up for the Mavericks a little bit more than other teams, well, there may be something to that.

"They are the reason why I'm the player I am today,'' James said of the team that beat Miami in the 2011 NBA Finals. "When they beat us, I went to a place I hadn't been before.''

On Tuesday, James was a one-man wrecking crew against the Mavs. James threw down a season-high 42 points in Miami's rousing 117-106 victory at AmericanAirlines Center.

Afterward, James got a celebratory hug from Dallas quarterback Tony Romo as he walked off the court. For a lifelong Cowboys fan, not a bad night.

The Heat are now 4-1 on this trip that ends Thursday against west-leading Oklahoma City.

"You have to learn how to win on the road again and we've had some key ones on this trip,'' said James, who has averaged 32.2 points in Miami's current six-game winning streak against the Mavs.

Dallas hasn't beaten James and the Heat since Game 6 back in 2011.

Miami looked a touch rusty coming off this weekend's All-Star break although James -- who got into town at 5 a.m. on Monday morning -- showed signs of fatigue even if his numbers didn't.

With the Heat down four in the fourth, James went on a personal 8-0 run -- he hit back-to-back 3-pointers before throwing down a dunk in transition -- to help fuel Miami's fourth win of this road trip.

"If I'm on the court, I have to make things happen,'' James said. "I'm still tired, but it feels good to be on the floor. If out there, I'm not making excuses.''

Miami eventually turned that into a 14-0 run with James getting 10 and Chris Andersen -- who buzzed off his usually-spiked mohawk -- dunking for the other four points as Miami opened up an 11-point lead.

James had 23 points in the second half as Miami swept the season series against Dallas for the third straight year.

"Obviously, LeBron was terrific offensively,'' coach Erik Spoelstra said. "At that point, you're just watching him make great plays.''

Miami swept the two-game season series from the Mavericks for the third straight year as Miami has won six straight against Dallas dating to Opening Night of the 2011-12 season.

Dallas, of course, raised its NBA title banner won against the Heat that previous summer.

"You have to get over it,'' Spoelstra said. "It's not like we've completely erased those memories, but we've moved on from it. They deserved to win. [Tuesday] was more about us building some road toughness.''

Yet James doesn't seem to forget. On Tuesday, he looked focused and in tune as he led the Heat despite a shaky third quarter.

James scored 19 in the opening half as he scored in a variety of ways. Was James a little perturbed at being told by a local reporter that Dallas' Shawn Marion left him off his so-called NBA 'Mount Rushmore?'

Looked like it.

"I really don't care what people say, what people think,'' James said before the game. "I don't care what anyone says about the way I play about the game of basketball.''

James scored off half-court lobs from Dwyane Wade (who was back after missing Miami's final two games before the break) in the opening quarter to drilling a fadeaway baseline jumper while being fouled by Marion with 2:45 left in the half to give Miami a seven-point lead at 55-48.

Miami led for much of the first quarter but Dallas retook the lead early in the second and held a five-point lead with 6:29 left in the half before Mario Chalmers drained a 3-pointer.

The Heat took off from there and led by 9 when Chalmers hit a lay-up as he and James broke free on a 2-on-1 break.

Miami led by six at the break.

Dallas, however, took advantage of Miami's cold shooting and sloppy play and quickly erased its deficit.

By the time Jose Calderon drained a 3-pointer with 6:02 left in the third, Miami was down six.

James got things flowing again as Miami went into the fourth down one.

With James on the bench for the first four minutes of the fourth, Wade & Co. had to carry the load for a while. Wade took a nice feed from Ray Allen and drove the lane, his reverse finger roll giving Miami the lead with eight minutes left.

A four-point play from Vince Carter (15 points) negated that -- although James tied things moments later with his third trey of the night. James hit another three not long afterward to stoke Miami to a three-point lead before he threw down a jam to complete his eight-point run.

A 3-pointer from Bosh from the left corner with 1:18 left all but ended it for Miami. If that didn't, an alley-oop from James to Andersen with 53.5 remaining sure did.

Andersen ended with a season-best 18 points.


Monday, February 17, 2014

MOUNT JAMES-MORE: LeBron Says Goal is to Be Tops

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards

DALLAS -- LeBron James caused a bit of stir around basketball circles when he said he would include himself on a 'Mount Rushmore' of NBA all-timers.

James put himself in with Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and Oscar Robertson.

"The facts are the facts and I believe in myself. These are my personal goals,'' James said after Miami's practice Monday evening at AmericanAirlines Center in Dallas.

"I don't care if no one else puts me with the best ever or where the so-called gurus of basketball put me when I'm done. I believe I can be one of the best if not the best to ever play this game. And that's my personal goal.''

Bill Russell, who won an NBA-record 11 titles with the Celtics, noticed he wasn't part of James' list of legends and apparently mentioned it to him at the All-Star Game. Russell reportedly says he was always about being team-first so he wasn't upset about being left off such a list. James said he wouldn't comment on Russell's comments.

"Obviously I have the utmost respect for Bill Russell for what he's been able to do not only on the floor but off it,'' James said when asked about Russell. "He paved the way for guys who came after him.''

-- Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said he had a full compliment of players at practice Monday.

-- Dwyane Wade was back on the court Monday after missing Miami's previous two games prior to the break.

On Monday, Wade took part in Miami's full practice after playing limited minutes in Sunday's All-Star Game.

Wade said he wanted to play in the game as a thank you to fans who voted him onto the starting lineup.

"I wanted to play for my fans from around the world who voted me in,'' Wade said. "I tried to represent them as much as possible then got out of the way to let the young guys get in there. Guys did that for me when I came in. In my first All-Star Game, Vince Carter started but I was the one out there playing in the fourth quarter.''


When, Where: 8:30 p.m.; AmericanAirlines Center, Dallas

TV/Radio: Sun Sports; WAXY 790-AM, 104.3-FM, WAQI 710-AM (Spanish)

The series: Mavs lead 29-25

Scouting report: Dallas was playing real well going into the break by winning six of seven. The Heat, which won five of six before the break, beat Dallas in the the first meeting 110-104 in Miami back on Nov. 14.



Saturday, February 15, 2014

Chris Bosh delivers all the jokes after making two half-court shots and winning the Shooting Stars Challenge

Screen Shot 2014-02-15 at 9.20.01 PM

If the Heat needs a half-court shot to win Game 7 of the NBA Finals, I think we know who's taking it.

Chris Bosh drained both of his half-court shots on the first try to help his team win the Shooting Skills Competition for the second-straight year at NBA All-Star Saturday Night. Bosh, Swin Cash of the WNBA and Dominique Wilkins defeated Kevin Durant's team to win the exhibition contest. The Shooting Stars Competition consists of a team making a layup, a free throw, a three-pointer and a shot from midcourt.

Bosh made the three-pointers and the half-court shots for his team.

"Straight luck," Bosh said of his half-court shots. "Throw it up and you pray. And I did a quick prayer, and they both went in. So, if it wasn't for Dominique missing two easy ones on purpose — I knew he was trying to do. He was trying to get us in the zone and it worked."

Bosh practiced his half-court shots before the competition without much success. He then changed up his form for the competition, going with his normal jump shot. It made a difference.

"I just decided to switch it up last minute and just shoot my normal regular jump shot, because I have range," Bosh joked. "I keep asking Coach to let me shoot that shot in the game. He won't let me do it yet, but I think that today will give him confidence if he was watching."

Chances Spoelstra was watching the Shooting Stars Competition? About as unlikely as Bosh making both of those shots.

Bosh, Cash and Wilkins' news conference following the event was the highlight of the night. They joked about their championship and Cash joked about "going for a three-peat" when the All-Star weekend moves to New York next season.

Asked which back-to-back was more satisfying, the Shooting Stars Competition or the NBA championships, Bosh went along with the joke.

"Good question," Bosh said. "Today's back to back was extremely difficult. They were both hard. It's tough dealing with expectations, but that's what champions do. We just find a way."



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