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32 posts from May 2012

May 31, 2012

Media column: Time for Barkley to get off D-Wade's back; Pundits rip Dolphins; ESPN to hire J.T.


In the recent history of athlete commercials, few were as clever or memorable as Charles Barkley and Dwyane Wade kibitzing on those catchy T-Mobile cell phone ads. Wade finally cracked Barkley's Fav Five, to the relief of much of America, but then immediately lost his spot after Barkley discovered Wade's nickname was "Pookie."

Fast forward three years, and here’s my question: Why in the world does Barkley keep needling D-Wade?

It’s one thing to criticize Wade for his horrendous Game 3 against Indiana, from which he has rebounded splendidly. But it’s quite another for Barkley to level puzzling shots at his former T-Mobile partner. Among them:

### Wade, Barkley said recently, “gets far too much credit” for the Heat’s 2006 championship, asserting that Shaquille O’Neal and Alonzo Mourning made the difference against the Mavericks. You might recall – even if Barkley doesn’t - that Wade averaged 34.7 points and 7.9 rebounds and led the Heat to four straight wins against Dallas. Even O’Neal, on TNT’s set, scoffed at Barkley’s theory.

### Wade, Barkley said, “doesn’t make players around him better.” You know who might disagree? That mostly undistinguished cast that Wade led to the playoffs – without LeBron James – in Erik Spoelstra’s first two seasons as coach.

### While making a broader point that James should be taking more late-game shots, Barkley inexplicably felt compelled to add this:

“You know the thing that’s funny? Dwyane Wade never gets any criticism because he didn’t close in the Finals last year. I actually think LeBron got tired. He used a lot of energy shutting down Derrick Rose. Then he had to guard Jason Terry. I think he got tired. But it's funny how Wade doesn't get any criticism for not finishing in the Finals last year. Wade’s a great offensive player, but LeBron makes everybody around him better.”

Barkley should check the stats. Wade scored more than any other player in last year’s Finals – his 26.5 average a shade over Dirk Nowitzki’s 26.0 and much higher than James’ 17.8. He also shot 54.6 percent – better than James’ 47.8 and Nowitzki’s 41.6. Could Wade have done more late in close games? Certainly. But so could have everybody else on the Heat.

And Barkley wants to make an issue of Wade’s play in the Finals? As the ESPN NFL studio guys would say, “C’mon, Man!”

Let’s be clear: Barkley shouldn’t speak favorably about Wade just because they worked together. And Wade wouldn’t expect that. But Barkley comes off as if he’s searching for something negative to say about him.

Wade said he wasn’t aware of Barkley’s comments and “I respect Charles for being a great player. I respect the relationship we have. He has a job to do. Whatever he’s going to say, he can say it. It doesn’t change the time I go to sleep, the time I wake up, and what I do in between. It’s TV ratings.

“It’s not going to change ’06. So sorry, Charles, it’s not going to change ’06 at all. I was a big part of that championship. Did I do it all by myself? No. I had a lot of help. But I had a couple of games in there that helped lead my team to a championship.”

Wade said he has not spoken to Barkley “in a while. When I see him, I show respect as being a player that came before me that helped pave the way, especially a guy that’s not that much taller than me in a sense of what he did in the game. But I don’t get involved in what those guys say because they have a microphone and get to talk."


### This was predictable: National pundits ripping the selection of the Dolphins to appear on HBO’s Hard Knocks. “Other than Reggie Bush, the Dolphins?” ESPN’s Michael Wilbon asked incredulously. “Who are they?”

Woody Paige, on ESPN’s Around the Horn, complained: “Who really cares about the Dolphins? They’re no longer relevant in the National Football League.”… NFL Network announced it will retain Warren Sapp, who was dropped by Showtime.

### ESPN plans to hire Jason Taylor as an analyst on assorted studio shows - including NFL Live, NFL 32 and SportsCenter, according to industry sources.

### Stephen “Screaming A.” Smith, whose show was canceled by ESPN in 2009, is back with a fairly prominent role. Hired to do a talk show on ESPN Radio’s New York affiliate in February 2011, the bombastic Smith will join the cast of ESPN2’s First Take beginning Monday, serving as Skip Bayless’ sparring partner.

Both are as polarizing as anybody on the ESPN payroll, and their debates could either enthrall viewers or send them reaching furiously for their remote control.

### Don’t be surprised if WQAM-560 pursues Jorge Sedano if the station and Michael Irvin part ways. WQAM said it’s uncertain whether Irvin will remain beyond July. Sedano left 790 The Ticket last month to focus on his TV career. He does a sports fantasy show for CBSSports.com.... WQAM and WMEN are making progress in negotiations that would allow Sid Rosenberg to escape his WQAM non-compete clause and soon begin his job as WMEN-640's morning host. But a deal isn't done, and if the sides can't break through the final stages of talks, he could not begin the gig until the second week of August.

### Oops: WPLG-10 news reporter Sasha Andrade said last Saturday that the Heat would play the winner of the series between the Celtics and “the Philadelphia 69ers.”

Was Andrade the victim of a co-worker’s TelePrompter error? No, the station said. Andrade bears sole responsibility, and she has suffered enough for the mistake, including lampooning on talk shows and web sites.

Note: Check out my last post for Heat notes from today, and check on the home page for my story previewing Game 3 of Heat-Celtics.

Thursday evening Heat-Celtics notebook: Bosh news; Rivers on why Heat is tougher now

Chris Bosh is traveling with the Heat for the first time since suffering his abdominal injury but will not play in Games 3 or 4 in Boston, coach Erik Spoelstra said Thursday.

Spoelstra said Bosh took the trip to continue doing rehabilitation and some on-court work with the team’s training staff and assistant coaches.

Asked when Bosh will be able to participate in contact practices, Spoelstra said, “That’s way.” Then he stopped himself and said, “It’s too early to tell.” But he said he is encouraged by the progress.

The Heat remains very hopeful that Bosh will be ready for the NBA Finals, which will begin June 10 or June 12. A return during this series has not been completely ruled out, though nobody is obviously counting on that.

Bosh, who suffered the injury May 13 in Game 1 against Indiana, has done an on-court workout three consecutive days, which included some shooting. The Heat is 5-2 in the seven full games that Bosh has missed.


Celtics coach Doc Rivers said it has become clear that Heat players “trust each other better” than they previously did. He said it was easier to defend Miami in earlier matchups because “the ball is in Dwyane Wade’s and LeBron James’ hands. Now more guys are involved and it’s making it more difficult to guard them. Mario Chalmers is playing with far more confidence.”

Celtics guard Keyon Dooling said Chalmers is “extremely underrated, in my opinion.”

### Asked if he is OK with Chalmers, Udonis Haslem and players other than James and Wade getting their points, Rivers said, “That has to be taken away. Chalmers made shots and you have to give him credit. [But] 10 to 12 [of his 22 points] were our fault. Almost all of Haslem’s [13 points] were defensive breakdowns.”

### Rivers said the Celtics “did not involve” Kevin Garnett enough in the offense. He scored 18 points but shot 6 for 18, including 0 for 2 in overtime.

Former NBA guard Wally Szczerbiak, who works for CBS Sports Network, ripped Garnett, tweeting: “KG is another one lacks the clutch gene; always has.” That tweet was later deleted by Szczerbiak, who reportedly didn’t have a good relationship with Garnett as Minnesota Timberwolves teammates.

### Wade said the way he handled the defensive assignment on Ray Allen’s open three-pointer that tied the score with 34 seconds left in regulation was “a bone-head play on my part. If I was going to rotate, I should have stayed with my body on Kevin Garnett, made the pass tougher. I had to make something happen in overtime to make up for it.”

### In its history, the Heat has won all nine previous series in which it won the first two games. The Celtics have rallied from an 0-2 hole to win a series just once in 13 such scenarios (the 1969 Finals against the Lakers).

### Rondo played the entire game for the first time in his career. Orlando’s Dwight Howard did that twice in last year’s playoffs. “I felt fine,” Rondo said. “I wanted to play every minute.”


May 30, 2012

Thursday update: Bosh will travel; Heat-Celtics Game 2 fallout

Some postgame notes and reaction from Wednesday night's Heat-Celtics thriller:

### Erik Spoelstra said Thursday afternoon that Chris Bosh will travel to Boston with the team but won't play in games three or four against the Celtics. Spoelstra said Bosh will take the trip to continue doing rehab work, and some court work, with the team's training staff and assistant coaches. "We want him around so he can work with [trainer/physical therapist] Rey Jaffet and [assistant coach] Keith Askins."

Asked when Bosh will be able to participate in contact practices, Spoelstra said, "That's way." Then he stopped himself and said "It's too early to tell." But he said that he is encouraged by his progress.

The Heat remains very hopeful that Bosh will be ready for the NBA Finals, and a return during this series has not been completely ruled out, though nobody is obviously counting on that. Bosh suffered an abdominal strain in Game 1 of the Pacers series on May 13.

Bosh has now done an on-court workout five consecutive days. The workouts, according to Spoelstra, have been a mix of rehab and basketball work, including shooting. But he has not participated in a team practice. The Heat did not practice Thursday.

### Spoelstra said it's not realistic to have LeBron James or Dwyane Wade defend Rondo for the entire game, though they will both continue getting the assignment during stretches.

### Spoelstra suggested he likely will stick with Ronny Turiaf as the starting center, even though Joel Anthony started the second half.

Some reaction from Wednesday night's game:

### Celtics coach Doc Rivers: "Rajon Rondo was absolutely phenomenal. It's tough to have him play that way and not win the game, honestly, because he did basically everything right. We had a lot of opportunities to win the game."

### Rivers, on the foul discrepancy (Boston committed 33, Miami 18): "LeBron James took 24 free throws and our team took 29. Paul Pierce fouled out of a game where he was attacking the basket. It's just tough. I tell my guys, doesn't matter, we can't get distracted. We will not get distracted in this series."

### Dwyane Wade scored just two points before halftime, 21 after. "In the third quarter, he isolated and made some shots over us." Said Rivers: In the first half, "We trapped him, got the ball out of his hands, made him be a passer. That's what we thought we would do. I love the game plan. We just didn't follow through with it in the second half as well as we did in the first half."

### Rondo took no solace in his masterpiece (44 points, 10 assists) because it came in a loss. "It's irrelevant. We lost. It's as simple as that." He played all 53 minutes. "I wanted to play every minute," he said. "It was a mental grind."

### Rondo thought he was fouled on a driving layup with 1:35 left in overtime and the game tied. Said Ray Allen: "We all thought he got hit but what can you do about it?"

### Wade: "It was exhausting. We put a lot of effort into coming back. We should have never dug ourselves such a hole. We did what we needed to do to get a win.... They blitzed me a lot on pick and rolls. In the third quarter, I tried to be aggressive when I had my one-on-one opportunities. Right now, I'm making the right adjustments for my team to win.... We're not celebrating. All we did was win two games at home.... We know we are going to get this team's best shot. Tonight, they gave us a great shot."

### Wade, on Rondo: "It seemed like he didn't miss. We tried to keep mixing it up on him. There was nothing you could do about it. We'll keep switching it up with different defenders."

### Wade said Allen's open three pointer to tie the game with 34 seconds in the fourth quarter "was a bone-headed play on my part... We shouldn't have come off the shooters." 

### LeBron James: "So many ups and downs throughout the whole game. Rondo was absolutely amazing. It will go down in the record books. He showed why he's one of the superstars in this league. He's a unique player.... I told Mario [Chalmers] after the game that he kept us afloat. He made some big shots, gave us a lift, the third punch we needed. He played a great game."

### James, on missing the last shot in regulation: "I had a great look at it. It just didn't go down."

# # #

While the focus of the Heat’s coaching staff remains squarely on the playoffs, a portion of the team’s front office is splitting its attention between this series and pre-draft preparation.

The Heat, which has the 27th selection in the first round but no second-round pick, has begun summoning prospects to AmericanAirlines Arena for workouts, including Georgetown forward Hollis Thompson and Vanderbilt shooting guard John Jenkins.

Several other prospects are booked for upcoming auditions, including power forwards Drew Gordon (New Mexico), Andrew Nicholson (St. Bonaventure), John Shurna (Northwestern) and Miles Plumlee (Duke), Vanderbilt center Festus Ezeli and Gonzaga center Robert Sacre.

Heat officials will attend a pre-draft camp in Minneapolis beginning today and the Chicago pre-draft camp next week.

Syracuse 7-0 center Fab Melo (7.8 points, 5.8 rebounds, 2.9 blocks this past season) would be an intriguing possibility if he slips to 27th. A mock draft on hoopshype.com has Melo going 24th and the Heat taking Baylor small forward Quincy Miller 27th, with Ezeli and Jenkins going next.

Duke shooting guard Austin Rivers, son of Celtics coach Doc Rivers, is projected to go anywhere from the middle of the lottery to the middle of the first round.

Under one NBA schedule scenario, Game 7 of the Finals could be held two days before the June 28 Draft.


Forward Chris Bosh, out since May 13 with an abdominal strain, did some on-court work for the fourth consecutive day.

“It’s more rehab oriented,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “While [assistant coach] Keith Askins is doing some basketball drills, it’s more Rey Jaffet, our trainer and physical therapist doing the work.”

Spoelstra said he watched the workout “to show him some support and see how much he’s progressing. I didn’t need to have to watch it. It hasn’t got to that point.”

### The NBA Finals would begin Sunday, June 10, if both conference finals end in five games or fewer. Otherwise, the Finals would begin June 12. If the Heat makes it, it would host games three, four and five.

### The admiration for Shane Battier keeps growing inside the Heat. Coach Erik Spoelstra said Battier “competes as hard as anybody I’ve ever been around. He’s a tough hombre.”

Doc Rivers said of Battier: “Early in the year, people were wondering when he wasn’t making shots. We kept thinking his contribution will be on the other end. He’s a great individual defender and he’s maybe a better team defender. When you add him and the way he recovers to Dwyane Wade and LeBron James, it makes them awful quick defensively. Great pickup by them.”

### When Rivers spoke to Ray Allen Tuesday about the possibility of sitting out a game because of his troublesome ankle injury, Allen said his reaction was, “Hell, no. This is not the time to sit.”

Allen was already shooting on the AmericanAirlines Arena court on Wednesday morning well before his teammates arrived for shoot-around. Rivers walked in and cracked, “I’ve been looking for Ray all morning.”

The Celtics limited Allen’s game-day activity in recent weeks but changed course Wednesday. “So many people call and tell me, ‘You’ve got to get the ball in the air more,” Allen said. “I’m like, ‘Thank you for the advice. I’ve only been doing this for 20 years.’”

### The 21.5 local rating for Game 1 of the series was the Heat’s highest local rating ever on ESPN and also topped the 17.7 average rating for Dolphins games last season - the first time that has happened this postseason.



May 29, 2012

Tough talk at Tuesday Heat-Celtics session; Dolphins Tuesday practice notes; mentality change at UM


Heat-Celtics chatter on the eve of Game 2:

### Rajon Rondo’s comment that Heat players have “got to hit the deck” drew a succinct response from Dwyane Wade Tuesday. “We’re men just like they’re men,” Wade said. “We’re not going to let anyone come in and punk us... But that's not our mentality, go out there and make people hit the deck.”

To which Rondo responded: “I didn’t say [do] anything dirty, anything flagrant. People hit the deck every day. I don’t think anybody is going to punk anybody. There’s only so much tough guy… [stuff] you can do.”

Rondo made clear “we have 15 guys” who can commit fouls, though only 13 can be active, and “we have to make them uncomfortable.” Kevin Garnett added:  “Everything can’t be so simple and easy. You’re playing against two of the greatest to ever play the game. We’re a defensive team and we didn’t slow down anything. Everybody has to look at themselves and give more.”

Garnett expects a “physical” game but snapped when asked about hard fouls, blurting, “You’re getting into some fine [expletive].”

### Rondo was flabbergasted that he and Paul Pierce got no free throws in Game 1. “It’s crazy,” Rondo said. “I took 20 shots, three jumpers, no free throws. Joel Anthony took more free throws than me [four] and took 20 less attempts!” Actually, Anthony shot twice.

### Wade and LeBron James seem undaunted by all this talk of physical play. “I expect to be quote-unquote put on the deck,” James said. “I don’t have to prepare for something I already think is going to happen every game. Physical play has always been a part of opponents’ play against me... Just go the free throw line and make it.” (James is shooting 76.1 percent on free throws in the playoffs, Wade 68.5.)

Of the expectation of more hard fouls, Wade said, “That’s what we’ve become accustomed to. Obviously, we have to protect ourselves…. One thing about us, we feel like we can play any style. Physical game? It's the playoffs. It's fine either way.”

### Here’s what especially galled the Celtics about Game 1: Celtics coach Doc Rivers said the Heat was 21 for 27 in the paint, with 19 layups. Boston was 19 for 37. “We’ve got to protect the paint better,” Rivers said. “It doesn’t mean we’re going to start knocking people down.”

Rivers began the team’s video session Tuesday by showing his players a tape of the 19 Heat layups, on a loop. “There weren't a lot of happy guys when we started out by showing 19 straight layups. Who wants to see that?” Rivers said. “I watched it four, five times.”

### It’s difficult to envision the Celtics making this a long series if they get nothing from Ray Allen, who shot 1 for 7 on his injured ankle and is shooting 39 percent in the playoffs. Rivers considered sitting him for a game, but ruled that out. "I really do not want to go that route," Allen said Tuesday. Allen said the anle has regressed: "The last three or four days have been pretty painful."

River said: "We're going to keep rolling him out there and see what we can get. When we feel like he can't give it to us, we'll go with someone else. But I think right now, you have to give Ray a fighting chance.... “He’s not as quick in his release probably because of his feet. I don’t think Ray has his balance."

### Rivers challenged Paul Pierce, who had 12 points and two rebounds, compared with James’ 32 and 13. “Paul has to be more assertive and attack more,” Rivers said. “Paul is every bit as physical as LeBron with his body type. He just has to do it.”

### Miami shot 48 percent against zone defenses this season (compared to 38 last year) but was 1 for 7 in Game 1. “But five were wide open and I told our guys that was a horrendous zone,” Rivers said.

### Garnett accused the Heat of showboating late in Game 1. To which James responded: "I think we all know how K.G. is. He means no harm."

### There’s optimism around Chris Bosh about his chances of playing in The Finals (barring a setback), with a return before that not ruled out. Erik Spoelstra said his work remains “more rehab related than basketball related.”… Wade, on the Dolphins being chosen for HBO’s NFL reality show: “I love Hard Knocks. It makes you wish we kind of had it.”


Tidbits from Tuesday’s Dolphins practice, the second of six open to the media this offseason:

### Matt Moore was somewhat better than Ryan Tannehill, who was erratic. (David Garrard was back in Jacksonville attending to his storm-damaged home). Tannehill scrambled for two scores but failed to connect on several end zone throws and forced a pass to Roberto Wallace, which Reshad Jones intercepted and would have returned for a 90-yard touchdown if allowed to continue.

“Is every pass as accurate as it needs to be? No,” coach Joe Philbin said of the quarterback play. “Is timing of every play where we want it? Absolutely not. But we’re making good progress.”

Many of Tannehill's completions Tuesday were short passes over the middle or screens. His best throw of the day was a sideline dart to Marlon Moore. But Tannehill showed better touch in two earlier practices that were open to the media, so there's certainly no need to worry about him.

### Jones had three interceptions (two in seven-on-seven drills) but also gave up two touchdown passes to Davone Bess, both thrown by Moore… Moore threw one of Jones' picks (Tannehill threw the other two) and also was picked off by undrafted Maryland rookie Trenton Hughes... Moore made a terrific throw to Roberto Wallace, who beat Sean Smith for a touchdown.

### With Jonathan Martin still at Stanford, Artis Hicks replaced Lydon Murtha as first-team right tackle… Drops remain a problem for sixth-round receiver B.J. Cunningham…. Philbin said receiver Clyde Gates “has a ways to go” to make adjustments on “each particular coverage call. You’ve got minimize hesitation and play fast.”

### Linebacker Gary Guyton was very active Tuesday - including good work on blitzes - and Philbin sees him challenging starter Koa Misi, who’s getting first-team snaps… Cam Wake, who’s playing defensive end in a 4-3 base for the first time since his CFL days, made note of Olivier Vernon’s impressive motor: “That’s one thing you can’t teach.”

### Marlins executive Larry Beinfest made clear he expects more from disappointing closer Heath Bell: "Maybe change has been a little bit different for him with the new ballpark and coming to the East Coast, but it's no excuse. The quality of pitches is still there... You can see he can do the job. He just has to do it consistently."

### So why is the UM football team in so much better conditioned than last year, with 36 players bench-pressing 225 pounds 20 times, compared to 11 last year? “Last year, guys listened to Al Golden, but didn’t understand where he was coming from,” Eduardo Clements said. “Some of those guys have moved on. Some changed their” attitude.

The difference is the players who didn’t completely buy into Golden’s grueling program either left or “don’t want to go 6-6 again, so we’re more willing to do the work, instead of lagging,” Maurice Hagens said. As Brandon Linder put it: “Seeing the results last year, everyone knows what coach Golden says is real.” 

Said Golden: “When people are saying we’re getting pushed around by K-State or Boston College or Virginia, we weren’t strong enough. You can make excuses, complain about it or fix it. Hopefully, we’re fixing it.”

### College hoops tidbits: Louisville coach Rick Pitino has agreed to play his son, new FIU coach Richard Pitino, in a Dec. 19 game at Louisville.… UM’s Jim Larranaga, recuperating from hip replacement, removed his team from the Orange Bowl Classic at BankAtlantic Center in order to play in a tournament in Hawaii in December.


May 28, 2012

TIme slot opened for Sid Rosenberg; Heat Game 1 reaction; Bosh update

We''ll get to postgame reaction from Game 1 of the Heat-Celtics series in a second, but first, a quick broadcast note:

WMEN-640 has decided to use former WQAM host Sid Rosenberg on its morning show, according to the people who are being replaced. Rosenberg could start very soon if WMEN and WQAM can agree on a "trade" that would waive a non-compete clause that prevents Rosenberg from appearing on air until the second week of August.

If the sides cannot reach an agreement, he would start in August.

Rosenberg was dropped by WQAM last month after he was arrested and charged with DUI. Rosenberg worked the 3-7 p.m. shift on WQAM, a slot now handled by Dan Sileo.

Armando Salguero and Chris Perkins have been WMEN's morning hosts, but Salguero left the station on Friday after being informed that Rosenberg will be hired to handle that time slot.

# # #

Some reaction from the Heat's Game 1 win against Boston:

### Rajon Rondo was upset that "we gave up too many points in the paint" and layups: "We've got to make those guys [Dwyane Wade and LeBron James] play outside the paint. They got where they wanted to." He said the Celtics shouldn't do "anything dirty" but "they [the Heat players] have got to hit the deck, too."

###  Said James: "We expect to hit the deck every single game, me and D-Wade. Teams... feel like they need to put us on the floor, hard-foul us. It doesn't change our approach. We still have to be in the attack mode no matter what happens, because that's when we're at our best as a team."

### Kevin Garnett said, "We can't beat this team by giving up layups. Second half, they got what they wanted. We have to put up more of a fight."

### Garnett said the Heat showboated "a little" at the end: "They are home and they are comfortable. When you're comfortable, you do things like that. We have to make sure we take them out and of their comfort zone."

### Paul Pierce, who scored 12 points on 5 for 18 shooting: "I've got to be better on the offensive and defensive end. I've got to slow LeBron down a little bit."

### Wade, who scored 22: "We're playing great team ball. We're not playing as much hero ball as we did last year. We're trusting each other a lot more. That comes with time." Wade said he and James "are doing a good job of playing off each other. We're playing a lot of minutes together." He said Chris Bosh's absence means "we have to get better looks because we have one less guy who can get us 20 points a game."

### James (32 points, 13 rebounds), on playing with Wade: "We just feel more comfortable out on the court, no matter who is out on the floor with us. We try to complement one another. We try to feed off each other's energy." James said: "We didn't play our best game tonight. We had a lot of breakdowns defensively.''

### Celtics coach Doc Rivers: "The third quarter got away from us. Our offense was rushed. They had way too many layups. There's no way any team should get that many layups against our defense. When we took our time in the second quarter, we got everything we wanted. We let Wade and James play in extreme comfort and gave the other guys everything they wanted as well. LeBron and Wade - their defense was phenomenal. They're cat quick. Their speed at times overwhelmed us."


Though Erik Spoelstra called Chris Bosh’s light on-court work Sunday a “positive sign,” he warned not to overstate the significance.

“There is still not a timetable,” Spoelstra said of his return to game action.

Bosh, who has been out since suffering an abdominal strain May 13 in Game 1 against Indiana, did light shooting and worked on lateral movement during Sunday’s session, which was witnessed by Heat president Pat Riley, among others. He did some light on-court work again on Monday.

A return before the end of this series hasn’t been ruled out. "Seeing him like he is right now is significant progress, but his return is still indefinite."

Spoelstra said Sunday's session "was a very light workout. He just did the next step in the progression of his rehab. It was more of the progression of his rehab than it was more of a basketball workout. I wouldn’t over-read into his workout. We’ll continue to re-evaluate every day. He’ll continue to do rehab. When he starts legitimate basketball work, I’ll pay attention a little bit more.”

Dwyane Wade said Bosh remains an active participant, attending team meetings and giving input on defending the Celtics’ big men.

Celtics coach Doc Rivers said: “In some ways, you can say they’re more dangerous because those 15 shots Bosh had – they’re going to Wade and LeBron James. It almost activates them to be more aggressive, which puts a lot of stress on the defense. Obviously, Bosh makes them better. [An injury] shouldn’t make you… worse. It should make you different. I say that with all the guys we’re missing.”

Forward Paul Pierce said the Celtics have planned as if Bosh will play at some point in the series: “We’re prepared to see him. If he’s able to come back, that’s great. As a competitor, I don’t mind taking on the opposing team’s best. It helps prepare you for the championship round.”


### Pierce said it has reached the point with Rajon Rondo that “we almost ask him to get a triple double every night. He’s capable of it.”

### Ray Allen’s ankle injury has made it impossible for the Celtics to know what to expect from him.

“It’s tough, because we don’t know game to game with him,” Rivers said. “We don’t know how he’s feeling and how he’s going to deal with it during the game. If we feel like he’s moving enough to help us, we keep him on the floor. If we don’t, then we take him off the floor.

“In the huddle in Game 7 [against Philadelphia], the argument our staff is having is take him out, bring him in. Honestly, it’s just luck sometimes. We left him in and he made two threes. The hook was close. He’s getting more and more comfortable with his shot.”

### Game 1 marks the 19th time that James and Pierce have faced each other in a playoff game.

Wade said for James, Pierce has become “closest thing to a rival if he has one.”

James said, “We know each other more than any other matchups in the league. It’s always fun to go against the best and he’s one of them.”

### Spoelstra predicted Celtics and former Heat guard Keyon Dooling, a Fort Lauderdale Dillard alum, eventually will be “a future coach or a radio talk show host. He’s one of the funniest guys around.” Rivers said Dooling “is one of our best defensive guys.”

### Despite the Heat’s collection of stars and the Spurs winning 19 in a row, Pierce reiterated, “We feel the championship is wide open” this year.

### Pre-game predictions from the TNT studio analysts: Shaquille O'Neal and Kenny Smith surprisingly picked the Celtics in six but were given no opportunity to elaborate. Charles Barkley shook his head at those predictions and said the Heat will win in five.

May 26, 2012

Heat players on why they think Spo is better; UM freshmen impress; Heat, Fins, Marlins notes


He has been criticized by fans, yelled at by Dwyane Wade and blasted by Charles Barkley for not giving the ball more to LeBron James late in games. But Erik Spoelstra has also begun to earn something else from his players and opponents: credit.

There was James’ unprompted testimonial after Thursday’s win at Indiana: “He coached a spectacular series to put us in position to succeed. He made some unbelievable adjustments.” (James asserted earlier in the playoffs that because of Spoelstra, "We're never blind-sided by anything.")

Then there was Bulls guard Richard Hamilton gushing on NBA TV: “Spoelstra doesn’t get enough credit for the job he has done with that team. Awesome job.”

In private interviews, Heat players cite several reasons why Spoelstra is a better coach than a year ago: improved communication, more flexibility and a willingness to take their input.

Not everything has worked, such as starting Dexter Pittman in Game 3 against Indiana. But many of his moves paid dividends recently: starting Shane Battier in Chris Bosh’s absence and having him defend David West; fronting Carmelo Anthony in Game 1 of the Knicks series (which flummoxed him) and often fronting the Pacers' big men (Roy Hibbert said the Heat kept them from getting the ball as much as they wanted); and moving Bosh to center late in the season.

But Heat players said Spoelstra's best adjustment in the final three games of the Pacers series was putting West, instead of Hibbert, in pick-and-rolls "where LeBron and Dwyane can get past him and attack Hibbert," as Battier explained.

And of Spoelstra drawing a $25,000 fine Friday for talking about how much James and Wade are hit in the head, Wade said: "I love it - coach stepping up for his guys."

Contrary to conventional thinking, Battier asserts, “Spo’s job is maybe the most difficult in the NBA because of the level of talent, the expectations. It would be hard to imagine someone else coaching this team. He’s detail-oriented and prepared, and in this league, if you don’t have the details, players know it. He has done as good a job as anyone can with this team.”

Last summer, Spoelstra met with Oregon football coach Chip Kelly, who plays a relentlessly-attacking offense, and implemented some of his ideas on spacing and pacing. The up-tempo approach worked for a while, but players couldn’t maintain it after the All-Star break because of the compacted schedule and mediocre rebounding. “Offensively, Spo’s been more open to thinking outside the box with this team,” Battier said.

But Haslem noted a subtle defensive shift that players appreciated: “We’ve always been a protect-the-paint, non-gambling defense. Now we pride ourselves on being disruptive defensively more than any year I’ve been here. To get our guys in the open floor, you have to maybe gamble a little defensively.”

Bosh, before his injury, said: “You can tell how much effort and hard work Spo put in during the offseason. He’s just gotten better all over the board. You can see in the way he carries himself and delivers his message.”

Bosh said Spoelstra’s willingness to relinquish most of the play-calling during the regular season “was a huge thing because he wants to put his imprint on every game. Sometimes, you just have to let players figure it out.”

Mario Chalmers said Spoelstra called only about 10 plays a game this season and “it made us a better team. We play more freely. I don’t have to look over at him. Last year, he called plays on every possession” except fast breaks. Chalmer said Saturday that Spoelstra is calling more plays in the playoffs "but we're on the same page."

Also, Haslem said this season, “communication between the coaches and players is at the highest it has ever been. This year, Spo’s been real open to a lot of suggestions from players.”

In Wade’s eyes, here’s the biggest change in Spoelstra this year: “Trusting people, everyone from the assistant coaches to the players. When you’re a young coach, you want to control everything. He’s shown the ability to let go some. We commend him for that.” Naturally, appreciation from most of his fan base will come only with a championship.


### What’s the Heat’s best lineup without Chris Bosh? In the playoffs, it’s James, Wade, Battier, Chalmers and Joel Anthony, a unit that is plus 31 in 53 minutes. The Heat is minus two in 41 minutes with starter Ronny Turiaf instead of Anthony paired with the other four, but Anthony is more comfortable coming off the bench.

### Spoelstra said Bosh, at this point, is only able to ride a bicycle and do conditioning work, but no on-court work, which would suggest he's not going to be ready for the early stages of the Eastern Conference Finals, and potentially beyond. Spoelstra said he is "still out indefinitely."

### Game 6 of Heat-Pacers was ESPN’s most watched program since the BCS national championship game. The 17.4 rating in Miami-Fort Lauderdale was comparable to the 17.7 average Dolphins rating last season.

### Dolphins owner Stephen Ross has noticed a shift in sentiment: “With Jeff Ireland, now you see people are recognizing, maybe the guy did have a plan! Maybe we did do something right!”

Conversations with players have convinced Ross the coaching has improved: “Everything I hear from the players is, ‘This is different. We’re happy with what’s going on.’” And this is the first time I’ve been able to have my imprint on the team. I inherited an awful lot of what Wayne [Huizenga] did.”… The Dolphins are among a handful of teams that have been receiving consideration to appear on HBO’s Hard Knocks training camp series.

### There’s some support on the Marlins coaching staff to try to trade for Houston first baseman Carlos Lee, earning $18.5 million in the last year of his contract. But the front office has not pursued that, believing the Marlins have enough at first and that demoted Gaby Sanchez will get back on track. Lee (.306, four homers, 27 RBI) is 35 and subpar defensively.

### With Emilio Bonifacio out, the next six weeks will be critical for outfielder Chris Coghlan, who hit .321 and won Rookie of the Year in 2009 but has hit .241 in 674 at-bats since, including a 5-for-48 start this year before his big home run Friday. The Marlins are puzzled by the decline; Coghlan attributes it to injuries and not playing everyday. “I’ve been hitting the same way since college,” he said. “I know I’m a good player, but I need to stay out of my own way, not over-think.”

### Teammates’ eyebrows were raised when running back Duke Johnson and cornerback Tracy Howard, both five-star recruits, arrived on UM’s campus a week ago. Maurice Hagens saw enough in one week to call Johnson “amazing.”

“Wow,” Eduardo Clements said of Johnson. “Last week, in 7-on-7s, he caught a pass, made a move, ran for a touchdown, and I’m like, ‘Damn.’ And Tracy is everything everyone makes him out to be – the footwork, breaking on the ball.” Several Hurricanes like what they have seen of receivers Malcolm Lewis and Robert Lockhart.

### Former players love how they have been welcomed back by Al Golden, but when Clements saw Clinton Portis on campus last week, “I was scared to say something. He’s a guy I look up to.” So good guy teammate Mike James got Clements on the phone with Portis, who counseled him about sharing carries with two other backs – the likely scenario for James, Clements and Johnson this fall.

May 24, 2012

Two Canes quit football; Heat postscripts; Dolphins' WR and safety battles; Sapp out; Marlins notes


Friday afternoon update: UM is expected to announce soon that two players with eligibility remaining have retired from the sport: C.J. Holton and Billy Sanders. Neither likely would have played much if they remained. Both will remain enrolled at UM.

Both players were recruited by Randy Shannon but never developed. Holton was used at both safety and linebacker but was listed as a running back this spring. Sanders was low on the depth chart at tight end. Holton had one year of eligiblity left, Sanders two.

# # #

Some postgame reaction from the Heat's series-clinching win against Indiana: 

### Erik Spoelstra says he has no idea when Chris Bosh will be available. "It's still indefinite," Spoelstra said. "Unfortunately, I have to plan without him." Dwyane Wade said the extra rehab opportunities the next few days will help Bosh "move that much closer to being able to rejoin us."

Because he hasn't been cleared to do any on-court work, it would be surprising if he plays in the opener of the series on Monday. But Bosh said he's making good progress in his rehab, so we could see him at some point against Boston or Philadelphia.

# # # Pacers coach Frank Vogel: "We didn't have enough yet. Hopefully, we'll be back and see these guys in the future. Chris Bosh is an awesome player, but when he goes down, that means more touches for LeBron James and Wade. That's not exactly an advantage. They were spectacular in this series.

"We had our whole focus on Derrick Rose last year. [With Wade and James], it's like having two of them out there - only bigger. We put up a good fight, gave them a little wake up call. Ever since that Game 3, these guys played at such a high level that I don't know if anyone can beat them."

### Wade, who tied Tim Hardaway's Heat playoff record for points in a half (26 in the first): "I felt good, I felt strong. My teammates continued to look for me. Just because offensively myself and LeBron have had most of the points, we couldn't do the things we do without their defensive help - to spread the floor, to set the screens. This is the most [LeBron and I] have dominated in the playoffs, the way we played off each other. We needed it more in this series because we're missing a very big piece with Chris being out.... Miller might be the toughest guy on this team with what he goes through physically."

### James: "Dwyane was spectacular, from the beginning to the end. Made jump hooks, got in the post, made floaters, rebounded. Coach Spo made some unbelievable adjustments to allow us to do the things we did on the floor. He coached a spectacular series to put us in position to succeed."

### Spoelstra: "Our role players really impact the game. You look at Shane Battier's line and you see the 1 for 7 and don't see all the big plays he made... Rio and Mike Miller being offensive minded really took the pressure off Dwyane and LeBron."

### Heat tickets for the Eastern Finals go on sale at noon Friday at heat.com or through Ticketmaster.

# # #

As the Dolphins kept passing on familiar free agents this offseason at receiver (Vincent Jackson, Mario Manningham, Eddie Royal, among others) and safety (Reggie Nelson, LaRon Landry, etc.) - even after trading Brandon Marshall and dumping Yeremiah Bell - this much became clear: Jeff Ireland and Joe Philbin are generally comfortable with what they have at both spots, supplemented by bargain-basement additions Legedu Naanee and Tyrell Johnson.

Ireland said in recent days he feels “good” about both groups, even without a longtime high-end starter at either. “In this receiver group, somebody needs to rise to the top and I think they’re going to,” Ireland said. “As it stands now, we’re going with a young group. Am I done yet? I don’t know.

“Safety is like the receiver position. I’m looking for someone to separate himself. They’re young, tough, have the makeup we’re looking for. This is my favorite time of the year. Let all the competitions play out.”

Some chatter on both positions:

### The Dolphins feel confident starting the season with Brian Hartline (35 catches, 546 yards) and Davone Bess (51, 537) as starters and believe Naanee can be a serviceable No. 3 or No. 4. “Naanee has looked really good in on field sessions,” Ireland said.

And the Dolphins remain very hopeful two other regulars will emerge from among Clyde Gates (“I have a high regard for him. He has to develop,” Ireland said), Marlon Moore (six career catches for 128 yards), Roberto Wallace (six catches for 62 yards), Julius Pruitt (“he’s having a heck of an offseason,” Bess said) and rookies B.J. Cunningham, Rishard Matthews, Jeff Fuller and long shots Derek Moye (Penn State) and Chris Hogan (Monmouth).

For the skeptics, Hartline has a message: “This coaching staff has made their own analysis, and if receiver was a glaring issue, we would go out and fix it.”

### Though Hartline ranks among the least-known top receivers on any team, he has grown on this staff, which is impressed by his intelligence (critical for receivers in this offense), sneaky speed (“he runs real well,” Philbin said) and his production and acrobatic catches in the second half of 2011. “He’s the caliber of player I like to have; when you throw him the ball, he usually catches it,” Ireland said. “And there are things left in his repertoire he can still show.”

Hartline initially assumed the Dolphins would replace Marshall (81, 1214) with a pedigreed veteran but was told otherwise. “It’s flattering,” he said. “We’ve had conversations about that. I want to carry more weight. I know I can. Brandon brings a presence that kind of demands the football, and that’s OK. But that’s not really our staff’s philosophy.”

### Among the undrafted players, the Dolphins are intrigued by 6-4 Fuller, who caught former Texas A&M teammate Ryan Tannehill's best pass in Tuesday's practice. “He has a lot of skills,” Philbin said. “A year ago, had he come out, some people thought he might have been a second- or third-round pick.” But he had too many drops in college and his stock tumbled during an injury-plagued senior season.

### We’ve seen drops but also some good work so far from sixth-rounder Cunningham and seventh-rounder Matthews. Cunningham, Michigan State’s all-time leading receiver, “is courageous,” Philbin said. “We like the way he caught the ball over the middle.” But Sports Illustrated draftnik Tony Pauline said “he’s slow – nothing more than a fourth or fifth receiver.”

### Reshad Jones and Chris Clemons began offseason practices as the starting safeties, but Johnson, former cornerback Jimmy Wilson and Tyrone Culver also have a legitimate chance. “Tyrell has speed, Clemons is a 4.3 guy,” Ireland said. “I got to see Jimmy play safety as a senior at Montana and he’s a hard hitter, got a knack for the ball, fearless.”

### Wilson said he’s “happy” he was moved to safety because “it fits more with my skills. I’m physical and I can read the quarterback’s eyes.”… Defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle got the most out of his safeties in Cincinnati (Chris Crocker, Nelson, etc.) and the Dolphins are optimistic he can extract more from Johnson, whose NFL Combine and pre-draft workout performances got him picked in the second round in 2008. He didn’t make enough plays for the Vikings, who lost patience….

Culver said he would like to fill the leadership void left by the release of Bell, who - incidentally - picked off Tim Tebow at Jets practice Thursday. Several Dolphins were genuinely upset to see Bell go. And Vontae Davis cracked, "C'mon, the Jets? Why the Jets?"

### Philbin told ESPN he prefers to name a starting quarterback before the third preseason game.... By the way, I made a couple brief cameos this week on Armando Salguero's Dolphins blog while Armando is vacationing. If you did not see that post, we should note here that Jake Scott - who was rated seventh among all 77 guards by Pro Football Focus last year - would love to play for the Dolphins and the Dolphins are fully aware of that. Ireland said he hasn't ruled out Scott, but he wants to give John Jerry every chance to win the right guard job first: "He still has developmental upside."  


### Though John Buck is hitting .173 and Brett Hayes .295, manager Ozzie Guillen said Thursday, "I'm not going to take the job from Buck. Hopefully, Buck will get out of his slump soon." But Guillen left some wiggle-room; Hayes is starting a second consecutive game on Thursday, and Guillen suggested he might ride him if he keeps hitting.

### Despite the injuries on offense (Emilio Bonifacio and Austin Kearns are on the disabled list), general manager Michael Hill said the Marlins haven't summoned Gaby Sanchez back from Triple A because the Marlins want to make sure he continues "to get back to his [former] approach" at the plate, including hitting more balls in the gap, before a long slump that essentially began after last year's All-Star break. He reached base 10 of his first 16 plate appearances at New Orleans: four hits, six walks. He was hitting .197 in 36 games for the Marlins before he was demoted to the minors last weekend.

### The Marlins entered Thursday two games out of first, and imagine where they would be with better clutch hitting. They’re batting .223 with runners in scoring position (the MLB average this season is .245) and .159 with runners in scoring position and two outs -- by the far the worst in baseball (the MLB average is .230). Inexplicable: The Marlins are baseball’s worst-hitting team on the road (.213) but fourth-best at home (.279).

### You know what Heath Bell appreciates? During his horrendous start, owner Jeffrey Loria “came up and said, ‘Don’t worry because you’re going to help us win a championship.’ He has been nothing but supportive. I was the perfect guy to come to because I [stunk].” Improved velocity and a sharper curve are the primary reasons he's back on track.


We're told Showtime has decided to drop former UM and NFL star Warren Sapp from Inside the NFL. The network confirmed that to us. The other cast members - James Brown, Phil Simms, Cris Collinsworth - are expected back. NFL Network hasn't said whether it will renew Sapp's contract this summer. Sapp drew criticism for accusing Jeremy Shockey of telling the league about the Saints' bounty program - a claim that Shockey and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell have denied.

May 22, 2012

Fins, Heat, UM notes; Philbin discusses QB battle and Ross prediction; S. Rosenberg news


Lots of Dolphins and UM notes, from Tuesday's Dolphins practice and UM availability this week:

### The Dolphins quarterback battle began in earnest Tuesday with the start of full-speed practices, and coach Joe Philbin told us it’s going to be a bit tricky staging a three-way battle. And even though owner Stephen Ross said Monday that he expects Matt Moore will begin the season as the starter, Philbin said Ross was told it will be an open competition.

Philbin said splitting practice snaps among Moore, David Garrard and Ryan Tannehill “is not going to be easy. We’re going to have to figure out ways to get guys equal opportunities. We’re trying to tweak the practice plan, maybe add more team periods to get a dozen more snaps. We’re going to have to track their reps to make sure we keep them somewhat even.”

During Tuesday’s session, Moore and Garrard split snaps with one group of players (including the starters), while Tannehill and Pat Devlin simultaneously played 11-on-11 against another defensive unit (mostly non-starters). But Philbin wants to get all three contenders substantial snaps with the starters.

Asked if Ross’ comment about Moore being the likely starter affects anything, Philbin cracked: “Anyone have Steve’s number? I got to check who the treasurer is. I know he’s the owner but he might not sign my check. I told him – we want a competitive situation at that position” and others.

Moore's reaction? “For Mr. Ross to say something like that, it means a lot. The best guy is going to play.”

But Garrard said Ross’ comment adds “more fuel for me. Just somebody else I got to try to prove wrong. The owner... can make all the comments he wants. I’m never going to dispute him. I’ll just let my play on the field show for it…. The cream will rise to the top. The best guy will play.”

Tannehill said of Ross’ comment: “I’m going to compete to one day play. Whatever the decision is at the end of camp, that’s what it is. We want the best player to play.”

### Tannehill made a few sharp throws, including nifty slants to running back Lamar Miller (who was very impressive Tuesday and will continue to line up at receiver at times) and former A&M teammate Jeff Fuller. But Tannehill also unwisely forced the ball at least twice (one was knocked away by Nolan Carroll) and had a few passes dropped (Charles Clay, Rishard Matthews).

“You can tell Ryan is quality, quality player,” Moore said. “He definitely can throw the ball, has got a good handle on what he’s doing.”

Garrard said most rookies have the issue of “not knowing your plays, having to think about your plays. Ryan doesn’t have that problem.” But Garrard cautioned that the Dolphins have shown players the offense that Dolphins offensive coordinator Mike Sherman used at Texas A&M “and you see [A&M] guys running free out there. You’re not going to see that much here. Everyone is covered tighter. That’s the big difference.”

### Garrard, who missed last season with a herniated disc, made quick decisions and showed nice touch but threw the only interception in team drills, with Sean Smith fighting off Roberto Wallace for the pick on a deep ball. “I like what David’s done so far,” Philbin said. “Strong arm, can still move well.” Moore was decent Tuesday; he threw well while rolling out - which will be a part of this offense.

### Tannehill’s initial NFL impressions: “Guys are a step faster in every aspect. Knowing the offense really helps me get adjusted to the speed of the game. It’s exciting to get to work with guys for the first time. Last week, was half speed.”

He already knew Sherman’s offense from their Texas A&M days, and he also “picked up the things we’ve brought in from Green Bay. The comfort level with the offense - I feel really good.” But “I have a lot of work to do – speeding my reads up.”

### One major change: In Philbin practices, there is less time between plays than in a Tony Sparano practice, because Miami wants to play up-tempo. Garrard said the offense "is basically like a two-minute drill the entire game. It is going to give the defense a lot of problems." Reggie Bush was so surprised by the pace that he asked the team's running backs coach, "Is this going to be the tempo in the game?" Said Bush: "We need to slow down a little bit to save some guys."

Receiver Marlon Moore says Dolphins players need to be in great shape to play a lot of no-huddle, and Philbin said “some have a ways to go” to get there… But Tannehill said even though “it was quick” Tuesday, “we’ve got to play a lot faster.”… Tannehill said Sherman “jokes around a little more” than he did when he coached him in college. Having Sherman and Philbin is "awesome," Tannehill said. "Two great guys to learn from."

### Matt Moore, on the lack of a clear-cut No. 1 receiver: “I know a lot of people are worried we don’t have a standout guy. That’s baloney. We’ve got five guys that are that guy, especially in this offense. Any one could get the ball at any time.”

### Reshad Jones and Chris Clemons opened the first full practice as the first-team safeties, though Tyrell Johnson, Jimmy Wilson and Tyrone Culver are in the mix, too. Wilson tipped away a Tannehill throw into double coverage that B.J. Cunningham caught and ran in for a touchdown.…

Among other competitive battles, Koa Misi opened ahead of Gary Guyton at outside linebacker in Miami’s 4-3 base; John Jerry was at right guard and Lydon Murtha at right tackle, though second-round right tackle Jonathan Martin is still at Stanford. Legedu Naanee joined Brian Hartline and Davone Bess in three receiver sets.


### Former UM coach Butch Davis’ son, Drew, has strong interest in walking on as a quarterback at UM, the family confirmed. But it's not definite yet; he hasn't enrolled. After North Carolina fired Davis last summer, the chancellor said he was upset that Davis offered Drew a scholarship without the school’s permission. A lightly recruited, two-star prospect, Drew Davis threw 16 touchdowns and seven picks last season at East Chapel High in North Carolina.

### UM had 28 catches from tight ends last season, and offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch said he has added "more schemes to get them involved [more] because of how young we are at receiver." He's determined to raise the number of tight end catches to the 60 range… Cornerbacks finished spring in this order in the staff’s eyes: Brandon McGee ("definitely ahead of the others," defensive backs coach Paul Williams said), Thomas Finnie, Ladarius Gunter, then freshman Larry Hope. “At least two of the freshmen will play,” Williams said. Tracy Howard assuredly will, and Deon Bush has a decent chance.

### UM offensive line coach Art Kehoe predicted this week: “We’re going to win like crazy. I know what’s expected of this program, and it’s coming. Trust me on that. I don’t know if it will be this year.” Kehoe said the culture “is not remotely close, anywhere near where it was” when Golden hired him.... Among the 10 players who enrolled this week: Howard, Bush, elite Norland running back Duke Johnson (who will make an immediate impact), and receivers Robert Lockhart and Malcolm Lewis.


### Danny Granger left for good with an ankle injury early in the third quarter and said he doesn't know if he will play in Game 6. "But I have a history of recovering fast," he said. "I'll take a bunch of pain medication. It's too important" not to play.

### Tyler Hansbrough said he did not know if Udonis Haslem should be suspended for his flagrant foul on Haslem - which came in response to Hansbrough's flagrant foul on Dwyane Wade. "It was a hard foul," Hansbrough said. "He came at me. It was pretty clear. Some people told me that it looked pretty bad." The NBA will review both fouls, and Haslem is clearly at risk of a suspension.

### No Pacer voiced great objection to Haslem's foul except Granger. "It looked bad [live]," Granger said. "It was three times worse [on tape]. It was just as dangerous as what Metta World Peace did to James Harden."

### Wade said Hansbrough's foul on him "was kind of uncalled for. Today when I got hit, I wanted to stay focused on the game."

### Pacers president Larry Bird told The Indianapolis Star: "I can't believe my team went soft. S-O-F-T. I'm disappointed. I never believed it would happen."

### Notable: The Heat set a franchise playoff record by shooting 61.4 percent and came within one of its postseason record for points (116)... LeBron James now has scored at least 30 points in 45 of 102 postseason games... Mario Chalmers' 11 rebounds were his most ever in an NBA game.... The Heat not only is 6-0 in its next home game following a home loss this season, but has won by those six games by an average margin of 21.5 points.


The general manager of WMEN-640 AM said he intends to hire Sid Rosenberg, who was dumped by WQAM last month after a DUI arrest. WQAM will allow Rosenberg out of his non-compete clause (which runs through early August) in exchange for financial concessions; discussions between the stations are ongoing. An agreement is expected to allow Rosenberg to start very soon at 640, but WMEN manager Steve Lapa said he wants to hire Rosenberg even if he has to wait for several months.

Lapa said he has met with Rosenberg and is not concerned about Rosenberg’s past personal problems (involving drugs, alcohol and gambling) but hasn’t decided what daypart to use him in. “He’s a talented guy, and he wants to work,” Lapa said.

WMEN currently uses Armando Salguero and Chris Perkins in the mornings, followed by Troy Stradford, Andy Slater and then Orlando Alzugaray in afternoon drive.  

May 21, 2012

Ross expects Matt Moore to start; Bosh update; Heat notes; NBA sked released; Jacory cut

Here’s some Dolphins news and a full Heat practice report from Monday:


Dolphins owner Stephen Ross told NFL.com on Monday that he expects Matt Moore will be the team’s starting quarterback at least initially this season.

“I think Matt Moore will probably be the starter in week one, and I wish him the best,” Ross said.

Asked about rookie Ryan Tannehill, Ross said, “I don’t think they’re going to rush Tannehill into anything. He’s going to have to win the starting job…. If Matt Moore develops, so be it. We want a franchise quarterback.”

After drafting Tannehill last month, general manager Jeff Ireland said, “I didn’t take him with the eighth pick in the draft for him to be a backup quarterback.”

Ireland hasn’t ruled out Tannehill starting but said the process must play out.

### Philadelphia cut former UM quarterback Jacory Harris less than two weeks after signing him.

 # # #

 Shane Battier, the Heat’s new starting power forward, is giving up 30 to 35 pounds to the man he’s guarding, David West. The Heat’s starting center, Ronny Turiaf, is four inches shorter than Indiana’s 7-2 Roy Hibbert, and the Heat’s backup center, 6-9 Joel Anthony, is five inches shorter.

Then there’s Udonis Haslem, who was draining clutch jumpers Sunday while playing with nine stitches and an irritating bandage hanging above a bloody cut over his right eye.

Such is the demanding and difficult predicament that most of the Heat’s power forwards and centers have faced in this playoff series in the absence of Chris Bosh.

And it’s a plight that will continue indefinitely, with Bosh continuing to do rehab on his abdominal strain but not ready to return by any means.

"He's not even near any court work right now," coach Erik Spoelstra said.

Then Spoelstra added it’s “too early to tell” whether Bosh could be back Saturday, when the Heat would potentially play a Game 7 in this Indiana series (which is tied 2-2) or a Game 1 in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Tuesday’s critical Game 5 at AmericanAirlines Arena will hinge, in good measure, on whether LeBron James and Dwyane Wade can approach their extraordinary efforts of Game 4. But the outcome also will rest, in part, on the work of the Heat’s patchwork crew of power rotation players – a group that left an imprint on Sunday’s critical win.

After a light practice Monday, Wade celebrated the return of “the U.D. that I’ve grown to love in nine years – tough guy making big shots.”

Haslem, who struggled with his mid-range jumper all season, hit four in the final 5:57, aided by a change in strategy suggested by James and Wade.

After Bosh was injured, “LeBron and D-Wade suggested I get back to what I do – pick and pop,” Haslem said. That means popping out into open space after he sets a screen – something he did successfully for many years here - instead of rolling to the basket, as he has often done this season.

“Fourth quarter Sunday, me and D-Wade started doing it, and it felt like old times,” he said. “The pick and pop, it’s no secret that’s where I’m most comfortable.”

That Haslem was even in the game late required a shift in approach for Spoelstra, who played Haslem 12 minutes in Game 2, seven in Game 3, but 25 in Game 4.

Between Games 3 and 4, Spoelstra woke up irked about not using Haslem more. “This is such a competitive, physical series and I realized we’ve been in too many battles” for Haslem not to play more, Spoelstra said. “This guy is built for a series like this. You can’t define some players by statistics and trends. U.D.’s heart transcends all that.”

Haslem said his vision was fine Monday, a day after a fourth-quarter elbow from Indiana’s Lou Amundson left him bloodied and boiling. “I was [angry],” he said. “Anybody would be. I had to calm myself down.”

Spoelstra said Haslem and Wade “are similar that way. The more physical it is, the more blood you see on the face, the more engaged they are in the competition.”

Spoelstra continues to tinker with his lineups to adjust to Bosh’s absence. He had some success with a small lineup in parts of the first two games, and Game 4. On Sunday, when two among Turiaf/Anthony/Haslem were on the floor, the Heat was plus-7. And when Indiana went small, Spoelstra gave Haslem his first minutes at center in this series, and Miami was plus-6.

Battier said Monday he logged considerable minutes at power forward for Houston and Memphis, but the past two games represent the most he has done it for the Heat. Haslem and James also have spent time at power forward in this series. “It’s a different type of physical stress,” Battier said.

Though Battier shot 1 for 14 in the past two games, he has capably defended West, who had eight points in Game 4.

“Shane throws his body around, but he can’t guard West one-on-one,” Spoelstra said. “West is too good, too big, outweighs him by 30 pounds. But within our system and to try to guide him where there’s help, Shane can be very disruptive because he’s relentless. It’s his toughness that allows him to be who he is.”

Hibbert has predictably outscored the Anthony/Turiaf combo (13.5 to 8.5 per game) and outrebounded them (12.3 to 8.0).  But Anthony, in particular, has had some good moments.

As for James, he said “it’s not realistic” to routinely expect what he and Wade achieved Sunday, when Wade scored 30 and James delivered a stat line (40 points, 18 rebounds, nine assists) matched by only one other player in playoff history (Elgin Baylor).

Wade called James’ performance “amazing, video-game-like. I was watching the game on the plane and I turned to Turiaf and I said, ‘I’ve played in this league for nine years and I’ve seen some amazing things, but I’ve never played with a guy that I’m amazed by some things he does. 

“I’m used to not being awed. Some of the things he does – I say, ‘How did he just do that?’”

Wade, meanwhile, was asked to reflect about the avalanche of criticism after his clunker in Game 3.  “It’s part of life,” he said. “I’m not someone who thinks he’s above anything. I understand how this world works. I’m 30 years old. I kind of get it. I didn’t get down on whatever was said about me. I didn’t hear much.”

That’s all history now. What matters is this: “We don’t want to go to Indiana down 3-2,” Wade said. “We expect their best and their best is good enough to win.”

### Wade said it was "hilarious" that Juwan Howard went over to Indiana's side of the court before Sunday's game and confronted Lance Stephenson about giving the choke sign while James was shooting a free throw in Game 3. Wade also said everyone laughed on the plane ride home about James Jones trying to drive for a dunk in the game. (Jones missed badly.) "Probably the funniest thing that's happened all year," Wade said.

### The NBA announced that Eastern Conference Finals games will be played every other day, beginning either Saturday or Monday. All games will start at 8:30 p.m. and air on ESPN, except a potential Game 1 on Saturday, which would be at 8 p.m. and air on ABC.

If the Heat and Celtics series end in six games, Game 1 of the Eastern Finals would be Saturday night in Miami. Otherwise, there would be one or two seventh games played on Saturday, and the Eastern Finals would start Monday.

May 20, 2012

Heat-Pacers Game 4 postscripts and reaction; Bush apologizes for Nazi tweet

### To put LeBron James’ monster game (40 points, 18 rebounds, 9 assists) in historical perspective, consider this marked only the seventh time in the past 25 years that a player has posted at least 40 points, 15 rebounds and five assists in a playoff game. And according to Elias, the only two players to achieve playoff numbers as lofty in all three categories were James (Sunday) and Elgin Baylor (in 1961). 

### For the final 27 minutes, this was vintage Dwyane Wade, in arguably his most important non-NBA Finals game in many years. After a 1-for-8 start, Wade hit 11 of his next 12 shots en route to a 30-point, 9-rebound, 6-assist masterpiece. Those 11 baskets included two threes, a fadeaway jumper, three layups off exceptional passes from James, two driving layups, a driving dunk, a layup off a pass from Mike Miller, and a driving floater.

"Those two guys are as good as it gets," Pacers coach Frank Vogel said afterward.

### Wade said in the past two days, he spent time just "figuring out what I needed to do differently. Me and Bron played off each other very well, both were aggressive at the same time. That's beautiful basketball for the Miami Heat when we play that way. You go through moments that you struggle, but you've got to always stick through it. Coach did a great job of giving me sets I could be very effective in. We did a good job of getting more space [through high screens and other adjustments]. Shane, Udonis, Turiaf setting screens to make my shots easy."

He also credited Indiana coach Tom Crean, Wade's coach at Marquette, for giving him recent film of Wade's makes and misses. The Heat's coaching staff also did that. Wade visited with Crean on Friday.

"I'm the kind of person that always believes in myself and ability and believe it will turn around," Wade said. 

James said, "I didn't say anything to Dwyane" after his poor Game 3. "He's in this position for a reason. He took it hard on himself. The best thing for a scorer is to try to get him an easy bucket, an easy layup. I was able to get him a back door pass and he was able to dunk. That's what got him going."

### Heat assistant coach Bob McAdoo told ABC at halftime that Wade's knee was bothering him. Wade has declined to discuss the matter.

### James said this was "a team with a lot of competitors and lot of fight and wants to play better than it did in Game 3. " James, who played 44 minutes Sunday, said he was prepared to play all 48.

### Good to see Udonis Haslem hit four jumpers in the fourth quarter – shots he hit less than 30 percent of the time during the regular season. Haslem this season shot 30.4 percent from 3 to 9 feet and 25.9 percent from 10 to 15 feet. He looked like the Udonis of old Sunday, closing with 14 points on 5 for 6 shooting.

The Heat outscored the Pacers by 15 with Haslem on the floor. No other Heat bench player was better than plus one, though Joel Anthony gave Miami good minutes.

“Udonis had a major impact on the game,” Erik Spoelstra said. “U.D. had a warrior performance.”

### The Heat had success not only with the small lineup, but also with a big lineup in which Haslem and Anthony played in tandem. Spoelstra smartly opted for that combo after Roy Hibbert and David West (both in foul trouble) returned in the fourth quarter with the Heat leading 86-81.

Because of Hibbert’s foul trouble, Indiana played small a lot of the second half, which allowed Haslem to play substantial minutes as a center in the Heat’s small lineup. Ronny Turiaf started at center.

### The Pacers outscored the Heat by 30 with Hibbert on the court in Games 1 through 3. But Hibbert’s plus/minus was zero on Sunday.

### On NBA TV’s postgame show, former NBA coach Sam Mitchell credited Spoelstra for “running a lot of movement, a lot of counters to give Wade and James open space. Now, Hibbert and West couldn’t clog the lane. It gave driving lanes and passing angles for Wade and James that they haven’t seen in this series.” Spoelstra downplayed the changes, calling them “very minor tweaks” to put players in the areas where they "are comfortable."

Said Mitchell: “Spoelstra said they tweaked a few things. No they didn’t. They did some things they didn’t do the previous games. Spoelstra just doesn’t want Indiana keying on those things.”

### Shane Battier, who started at power forward, shot 1 for 7 but did excellent work defending West and others.

### Danny Granger insisted afterward "the pressure is on them" because the Heat is "expected" to win championships. He said the Pacers have needed to send a message with their physical play because the Heat "are the media darlings of the NBA." OK then.

### After being outrebounded by 10 in Game 3 and by 16 in Game 4, the Heat closed with a 47-38 rebounding edge. James (18) and Wade (9) combined for 27 of those.

### Indy, which led 54-46 at the halftime, HAD been 15-0 this season when leading by at least eight points at halftime. That streak is over.

### Mitchell scolded Juwan Howard, who confronted Pacers reserve Lance Stephenson before Sunday's game because Stephenson made the choke sign during a James free throw in Game 3. Stephenson apologized on Saturday. "You don't go to the other end of a court when a team is warming up," Mitchell said.

### Spoelstra admitted the previous two days were a “nightmare.”

# # #

Dolphins running back Reggie Bush apologized Sunday for a "Nazi" comment that drew a lot of angry reaction on Twitter over the weekend.

After Didier Drogba hit the winning penalty kick in the UEFA Champions League soccer game, Bush tweeted: "Shoot Drogba might even hit a Nazi chick tonight in Germany."

When some people complained about that comment on Twitter, Bush tweeted: "Oh, Goodness, bunch of sensitive crybabies on twitter! It's just jokes, people. Send me your address and I'll personally FedEx you some tissues."

Bush tweeted Sunday, "If anyone was offended by my jokes on twitter yesterday, I apologize. They were only jokes and were not intended for anything other than that."

# # #

For a look at what NBA people were saying about the Heat before Game 4, and encouraging news on Ryan Tannehill, see the Sunday Buzz Column in our last post.