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48 posts from April 2016

Saturday, April 30, 2016

"Purple Shirt Guy" says he's dumping his Hornets tickets

It's not that often when fan bases on opposite sides of a series are annoyed by the same person.

That, however, was the case Friday night, when Heat fans had enough of the demonstrative courtside fan Michael Deason...

And so did Hornets fans, after Dwyane Wade used Deason as a foil in shooting the Hornets out of Game 6.

(You can see the latter on a Hornets subreddit) 

It appears that all of it got to Deason, who told the Charlotte Observer that he's dumping his Hornets season tickets after seven seasons. 

“No, I didn’t lose the game for them last night,” said Michael Deason, 43, the owner of that courtside seat. “Hell, did I win the game for them in Game 3 and 4? Because I was cheering a hell of a lot louder in Game 3 and 4.”

Deason, a Greensboro resident, has gotten into it with Wade before, and he's made a LeBron James a target too.
And he acknowledges he holds less back against the Heat. 
“Those guys, they don’t like me,” he said. “The coach (Erik Spoelstra) doesn’t like me, the players get in trouble if they talk to me, (Heat guard) Gerald Green he tries his best not to talk to me and every time he does they ream him a new one. So when the Heat come to town, I try to step it up a little bit more.”
Wade said at the podium that he didn't want to give Deason any additional attention.
But he did acknowledge earlier that he heard much of what Deason said: mostly telling Wade he should retire. 

Sunday's early Game 7 start time will create strange scenarios

Dwyane Wade joked that he might as well stay taped.

This was late after Friday's Game 6 win in Charlotte, when Wade was hearing the start times for the two Eastern Conference first round Game 7's on Sunday, the one between the Heat and Hornets at 1 p.m., and the Raptors and Pacers at 8 p.m.

The reason for Miami's early start?

ABC needs to take two games on Sunday, it had a slot prior to the Warriors-Blazers game at 3:30 p.m. Eastern.

So that means TNT is taking the Pacers and Raptors at 8 p.m. 

That creates a weird deal for the Heat and Hornets.

If the Heat wins, it won't know until roughly seven hours later whether it is flying to Toronto on Monday, for a Game 1 against the advancing Raptors on Tuesday, or staying in Miami, for a Game 1 on Tuesday at AmericanAirlines Arena against the advancing Pacers. That's because the Heat has a higher seed than the Pacers, but not the Raptors. 

And what about the Hornets?

If they win, do they fly home, in case the Pacers win, because they -- like the Heat -- would host Indiana?

Or do they wait, in case they just need to fly to Toronto?

Friday, April 29, 2016

Joe Johnson, Hassan Whiteside share views on Courtney Lee's big rebound at end of Game 5

CHARLOTTE – The Heat’s Joe Johnson and Hassan Whiteside on Friday each took a little blame for how the Hornets Courtney Lee was able to swoop in and grab a big offensive rebound late in Game 5 moments before hitting the game-winning three-point shot with nobody really guarding him.

“I got switched onto Kemba [Walker] and I jumped with Kemba when he took the jump shot,” Whiteside said. “Then, I could see Kemba out of the corner of my eye so that's why I kind of stayed looking at Kemba [and didn’t move]. Then, me and Josh [Richardson] got switched up [after Lee grabbed the rebound]. I didn’t realize Josh was behind me."

Most fans naturally blamed Dwyane Wade for not boxing out Lee since Wade was guarding Lee on the play. But when Whiteside jumped out to contest Walker's shot, Wade moved inside to help Josh Richardson, who had the Walker assignment prior to the pick-and-roll and was trying to box out 7-foot center Cody Zeller.

Once the ball caromed off the rim, Johnson, who was free and could have stepped up to grab the rebound, reacted too slowly and Lee instead swooped in to grab the rebound. Johnson said he was in the right spot on the floor, but was upset he didn’t get to the ball quick enough.

“I [saw Lee] late,” said Johnson, whose defensive assignment was Jeremy Lin. “It happens. It's a tough spot. Give Courtney Lee credit. He came up with a big rebound."


Joe Johnson, who signed with the Heat in late February and was expected to be much more impactful in the Heat’s playoff push, went into Game 6 on Friday hoping to be more aggressive on the offensive end.

Through the first five games of the series, Johnson, 35, was averaging 11 points and had the fourth-most field goal attempts (44) on the team. That was half as many shots as Wade had put up. Most expected Johnson to be the team’s No. 2 scoring option behind Wade in the playoffs.

“Anybody that's wants to get more aggressive I'm with them,” Wade said. “Joe is a great playmaker. He's a guy who can get into the teeth of the defense with his height, strength. I'm with Joe being more aggressive. But that's a question he needs to answer."

Johnson said shortly after he signed with the Heat he wanted to be a part of the team’s future. Friday, though, he sounded a little less committed.

"We'll see what happens in the summer. I can't predict that,” Johnson said. “I don't know what's going to happen. That's the least of my worries at this point. But being in this league for 15 years man I'm just happy to be here playing.

"It's been great [playing with the Heat]. I've enjoyed every bit of it. I was in a tough situation before I got here. This is definitely where I want to be. Being in this position down 3-2 to be honest with you is better than sitting at home watching."

> Coach Erik Spoelstra said combo guard Tyler Johnson would no longer be available only in an emergency role. Johnson was active Wednesday for the first time since undergoing left shoulder surgery, but didn’t play..

“He really got cleared three weeks ago by the doctors,” Spoelstra said. “But [team trainer] Jay [Sabol] really felt he needed two to three more weeks of strength training to build all the muscles up."

Dwyane Wade says NBA's Last Two Minute reports are 'pointless'

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Dwyane Wade wouldn’t mind seeing the NBA’s Last Two Minute reports go away –- and it has nothing to do with the NBA saying officials were correct when they didn’t call Cody Zeller or Courtney Lee for fouls on Wade in the final seconds of the Heat’s Game 5 loss to the Hornets.

For Wade, partial transparency is not enough transparency and the 12-time All-Star said the league needs to be upfront about how games are called differently early compared to the pressure packed moments of the fourth quarter and overtime.

“Those last two minute [reports] are pointless – it does nothing for us and it does nothing for any other team,” Wade said after the Heat’s workout prior to Game 6.  “Go through the whole game and break it down, I it would help the refs and this league continue to grow. But those last two minute [reports] – that’s not a good thing. That's not a good light shining on the game.”

Former Heat teammate LeBron James agreed with Wade Friday telling reporters in Cleveland that the league’s Last Two Minute reports “change absolutely nothing” and “sends a bad message to our fans of thinking the game is only won in the last two minutes.”

Shortly after Wednesday’s 90-88 loss at home, Wade, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra and Wade’s wife Gabrielle Union were adamant a foul should have been called after Wade drove toward the basket and drew contact from both Zeller and Lee before losing the ball.

The NBA ruled Thursday that Zeller maintained legal guarding position because he jumped vertically to defend Wade’s shot and that Lee made contact with the ball during Wade’s upward shooting motion, which thus made his minor arm contact with Wade after that incidental.

Wade said he watched Thursday’s Game 6 between the Celtics and Hawks and saw plenty of examples early in the game when similar plays happened and fouls were called. Wade’s point is that the NBA needs to acknowledge that games are called differently late, something that he personally has no problem with.

“[There's] a lot that happens in the game that can affect even those last two minutes,” Wade said. “A player’s actions or something that happens [in the game] can affect those last two minutes or why something was or wasn't [called] right. If there's something I've done earlier in the game maybe there's a reason I didn't get that [call] late in the game. Who knows. I just don't think two minutes is a real indication. That's just my personal opinion."

The Heat voiced concerns about the officiating after Game 4 and Game 5 and center Hassan Whiteside accused the Hornets of flopping on drives to the basket after Game 4.

Still, Wade said the Heat can’t blame the officiating for their struggles in the series.

“It's easy to Monday morning quarterback. We can all do that in life with different people,” Wade said. “I mean there's a lot of times I go back and I look and say [the refs] were right. Sometimes I go back and say they were wrong. But I've never been a player who has cared to [call the league] to complain. It does nothing for us, for this team.

“At the end of the day we all get frustrated. In the moment you're frustrated… but [the refs] had nothing to do with the ball bouncing to Courtney Lee the last two games. So, there’s certain things about the game you can't put on one call. You can’t say ‘If they would have called that we would have won.’ "

Wade’s wife had suggested after Wednesday’s game that officials who make mistakes should be fined and their records of missed calls made public.

After the NBA’s two minute report from Game 5 was released late Thursday afternoon, the NBA referees official Twitter account included Union when it sent out the following message: “The referees are not always right, but on this call we were.”

Wade said the fact the officials included his wife in their statement was “pretty good.”

“She's pretty popular,” Wade said. “That means she got her point across – whatever she was trying to get across. She did good."

Hassan Whiteside tired of counting Al Jefferson's time in line

First, he called this the "flop-offs," upset about Jeremy Lin, Cody Zeller and others flailing about to draw fouls on him.

Now Hassan Whiteside has given us what might be called the count-off.

The latest revelation of frustration occurred after he was asked -- following Thursday's practice -- about how the Hornets are playing him, when he's on offense.

"They're a team that's really big on just taking away the paint, at the center position, and making it a little tough," Whiteside said. "That's all they focus on, taking away the paint. A lot of times, I've got four or five guys around me. It's not really about me scoring. As long as I can open up things for my teammates, I feel like I'm doing a great job." 

Asked about whether he can pass out, Whiteside focused instead on it being tough for teammates to get him the ball.

"It's amazing they haven't gotten a defensive three-seconds (violation) yet," Whiteside said. "They stay in the paint. So... I don't know." 

Whiteside has been seen regularly chatting up officials, including at halftime of the Game 5 loss at home to Charlotte.

What's that been about?

Well, in part, it's been about Al Jefferson's stays in the lane on defense. Just as on offense, players are only allowed to be in the lane for three seconds. 

"I mean, on every offensive possession, I'm counting, I'm counting for the ref," Whiteside said. "I got up to like six at one time, in front of him, and he still didn't call a defensive three. I'm just going to just keep trying to get a defensive three on one of their guys.... I'm right beside him. I'm counting them off. I'ts like preschool, we're counting together." 

The officials tell him that Jefferson is moving.

"I'm like, yes, he's moving," Whiteside said. "He's moving in the paint. I'm going to just try to help my guys out, just try to get them out of the paint." 

Whiteside also said he's afraid to catch the ball when he's shot towards him, "because it looks so crazy," and he's wary of being called for goaltending. 

Incidentally, the NBA ruled that Whiteside should have been called for offensive three-seconds during the final two minutes of Game 5.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Spencer Hawes out for Hornets for rest of series

The Hornets have surged back into the series as they've gone to bigger lineup.

And while Spencer Hawes has played only 53 minutes in the first five games of the series, he has the best defensive rating of any player on Charlotte.

So now Charlotte coach Steve Clifford will need to make a minor adjustment, since Hawes is out of Game 6 with a knee injury, and a potential Game 7 as a week. The Hornets say he will be re-evaluated in a week. 

Without Hawes, it's possible that Clifford goes back to an eight-man rotation.

Or he could slide Tyler Hansbrough -- not a Heat favorite -- as the Hornets' fourth big. 

Either way, it's likely that Nicholas Batum will continue to come off the bench, with Frank Kaminsky starting at power forward. 

League rules that Dwyane Wade was not fouled on final drive

Dwyane Wade said he didn't need to see the NBA's official "last two-minute report."

He definitely won't want to look at it now.

The NBA has released the report from Wednesday's Game 5 Hornets win, and determined that neither Cody Zeller nor Courtney Lee fouled Wade on what turned out to be the decisive possession.

Here's what the league said about Zeller:

Zeller (CHA) comes towards Wade (MIA) from across the restricted area, planting his foot and jumping vertically to defend Wade’s shot. Zeller absorbs contact when it occurs and, while his arms are not completely vertical, multiple angles confirm they do not make contact with Wade. Therefore, Zeller maintains a legal guarding position as he attempts to defend the shot.

And here's what the league said about Lee: 

Lee (CHA) makes contact with the ball during Wade’s (MIA) upward shooting motion, which makes his subsequent, minor arm contact with Wade incidental. Lee then makes contact with Wade’s arm again at about 00:04.9, however, Wade has already lost possession of the ball.

The league also said, while Luol Deng should have been called for a foul on Charlotte's initial inbound -- the one that Josh Richardson nearly stole -- no one on Miami was able to commit an intentional foul on the subsequent inbound. That's the one on which Deng and Richardson collided. 

Who was at fault for Courtney Lee's late rebound?

Courtney Lee has made what his coach, Steve Clifford, called the two biggest plays of the series.

The first, of his own miss -- and over Hassan Whiteside -- helped the Hornets run out the clock in Game 4 on Monday. 

Click HERE for the video. 

The second came Wednesday in Game 5, when Kemba Walker's 16-footer clanked out.

Lee then stepped back and made a three-pointer for a two-point lead, and what turned out to be the final score. 

So who was at fault?

Well, everyone assumed it was Dwyane Wade, since Lee had been his man throughout the game.

But watch the video HERE....  

Wade was playing hedging toward the lane as Lee stood in the corner. But when Hassan Whiteside jumped out to contest Walker's shot, Wade helped Josh Richardson (who had the Walker assignment prior to the pick-and-roll) box out Cody Zeller. 

Even Erik Spoelstra mentioned that in his post-game press conference. 


Credit Lee for darting into the paint to grab the carom. 

But watch the free man for the Heat, Joe Johnson. He's in the area, and he hardly budges. 

His reaction was much too slow. 

Justise Winslow was not on the floor in that situation but, as much as Johnson gives the Heat better spacing, Spoelstra may need to think more about offense-defense substitutions late.

We don't know that Winslow would have grabbed the board. 

But we've seen him do it plenty of times already.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Nic Batum expected to be available for Hornets off the bench in Game 5

The Charlotte Hornets expect to have starting swingman Nic Batum available for Game 5 off the bench.

"As long as he feels good after he warms up before the game, he’s going to try to play," Cifford said.

Clifford said Batum wouldn't play his normal minutes and would come off the bench.

"He wanted to try to play the other night," he said. "He was moving, cutting, planting."

Batum, a starter for the Hornets, missed Games 3 and 4 with a left foot sprain. But he told reporters after shoot around Wednesday he expects to play. He said he's asked to come off the bench.

"I told coach after the game and this morning I don’t want to mess up the way we’re playing right now," Batum said. "I asked him to come off the bench. I’m not really 100 percent yet. I’ve got to be honest with the team and the coaching staff. I just want to go out there and play as much as a I can and as effective as I can."

Bring Bosh Back? For the first time, the family goes public

The Chris Bosh saga has largely played out in secret, a subject that Barry Jackson and I detailed in our story on Saturday.

As we wrote, there have been clear differences between the scenes as far as the course of recovery and return, with the Heat continuing to be the more cautious party.

That, however, had not even been hinted at publicly.

Until now.

Tuesday evening, Bosh's wife Adrienne added her own spin to a tweet that I'd sent to a follower during Monday's game, when I identified a situation in which the Heat really could have used Chris Bosh.

Here's the tweet:

That hashtag (#bringboshback) traveled quickly on Twitter.

And then, later Tuesday, Bosh posted a video of himself on Snapchat, shooting at AmericanAirlines Arena and bemoaning how much he misses the game.

Here's the snap:

Expect the Heat to continue to deflect questions about Bosh.

But the questions may get louder, as it becomes clearer to everyone that Bosh wants back in. 



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