« May 2012 | Main | July 2012 »

34 posts from June 2012

June 22, 2012

Heat gets Super Bowl-type rating here; Lots of Heat reaction; Hall of Famers on LeBron

All Heat in this space today, on a euphoric night in South Florida.

### In South Florida, 40.3 percent of homes with TV sets were tuned to the game - the highest in Heat history and on par with the 40.6 local rating for the Super Bowl last season. For perspective, Dolphins games last season averaged a 17.7.

### LeBron James picked quite a moment for his first triple double of the season. He and James Worthy are the only players whose first triple double of the season came in an NBA title-clinching win. And he’s the fifth player to have a triple-double in a series-clinching Finals win – the first since Tim Duncan in 2003.

This moment, James said, “is everything and more. I dreamed about this opportunity and this moment for a long time, including last night, including today. My dream has become a reality now, and it’s the best feeling I ever had.

“The best thing that happened to me last year was us losing The Finals, and me playing the way I played. It was the best thing to ever happen to me in my career because basically I got back to basics. It humbled me. I knew what it was going to have to take, and I was going to have to change as a basketball player, and I was going to have to change as a person to get what I wanted. It happened just one year later.”

How hard was it to win this championship? “It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done as a basketball player, since I picked up a basketball when I was nine year old.”

### James was asked what he has learned about himself. “The biggest thing,” he said. “is you can’t control what people say about you, what people think about you. You just have to be true to yourself and true to the people around you and your loved ones. I took one week – I think one and a half, maybe two weeks off after we lost the NBA Finals, and I just got in the gym and I got back to basics. It just shows when you’re committed and you give everything to the game, the game pays off and it gives back to you.”

### Said a jubilant owner Micky Arison: “LeBron’s the best! He’s gotten so much crap and he doesn’t deserve it.”

### Mike Miller, who had a surreal, storybook night with seven three-pointers, said he faces a decision about whether to retire. “I’ve got to make the best decision, not only for the organization, for the players, for the Arisons who believed in me, for Coach Riley for bringing me here, and then my family. Just got to make sure it’s the best one.

“If it is, I couldn’t picture a better point to go out on top like this as a champion. But we’ll see. We’ll visit the doctors and see what parts work and don’t, and go from there. Through the injuries, I'm just glad they didn't take me back to the barn and put me down.”

### Dwyane Wade, who score 20: “Winning the championship in 2006 was amazing. Now six years after that, I’ve been through a lot in my personal life, and I’ve been through a lot in my professional life, and this means so much more. From the first day, from Christmas Day, we were on a mission, and that mission was not complete until tonight.”

### Wade admitted that when this team came together "we all expected it to be a little easier than it was. As much as it hurt, we had to go through that pain and that suffering."

### Wade, who passed the proverbial "team leader" baton to LeBron James earlier this season, said: "This year I know I'm playing with the best player in the world, and that doesn't take anything away from me at all. It was hard for me to do it, and no one will understand, but it was easy for me to do it for this team."


Sometimes, when you’re witnessing greatness, it’s not easy to place it in historical context. So how does James’ postseason stack up historically?

We asked five Hall of Famers, with some calling it arguably the best since Michael Jordan in the 1990s.

“It’s probably one of the top 10 playoffs of all time,” Magic Johnson told us Thursday. “LeBron is now the most unstoppable force in the NBA, the best player in the league. Before, my biggest knock was he was playing off his God-gifted talent. He was just the best athlete. But he didn’t play with his head to match that. Now he [does]. Watch out – this guy is going to set the league on fire for a long time.”

ESPN’s Chris Mullin ranks James’ postseason “up there with the all-time performances, with every great player that ever played.” Some numbers to put his postseason in perspective:

### Only two players have averaged 30 points, nine rebounds and four assists in a single postseason: Oscar Robertson (1963) and James twice (2009 and this year).

### James’ player efficiency rating for the entire postseason, using ESPN’s formula, is third-highest among players who reached the Finals in a particular season (minimum 500 postseason minutes), behind only Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain.

“You’re talking only Oscar, Wilt and Jordan comparable as far as points, rebounds, assists,” Hubie Brown said. “And we’re not even talking defense. And to play 44 minutes a game at this level? People take that for granted.”

### James on Thursday broke his own record by scoring at least 25 points in a 15th consecutive playoff games. He fell three points short of becoming the fifth player to score at least 700 points in a single postseason.

### Of the leading points-producers in each of the past 43 postseasons (since 1970), James’ scoring average (30.3) would rank 14th, behind seven seasons from  Jordan, two from Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and one apiece from Hakeem Olajuwon, Jerry West, Shaquille O’Neal and Allen Iverson.

### If you compare the leader in points from every postseason, James’ scoring average is highest since Iverson’s 32.8 in 2001. But Iverson shot 38.9 percent; James 50.0.

### This playoff run by James is better, statistically, than any long postseason authored by Kobe Bryant, who won two of his five titles without O’Neal. Their point and assist totals are comparable – comparing James in 2012 with Bryant’s best work – but James’ rebounding and shooting percentage are far superior. Bryant shot under 46 percent in the playoffs during the two years he was Finals MVP.

### James is producing the best across-the-board playoff numbers since O’Neal averaged 29.8 points and 14.4 rebounds in the 2000 to 2002 playoffs. James’ points, rebounds (9.7) and assists (5.6) add to up to 45.6 – a number exceeded in the past 25 years by only Jordan (five times), O’Neal (twice) and Olajuwon (once). Tim Duncan (45.3) was close in 2003. Wade was at 40.0 in 2006.

ESPN’s Jack Ramsay and Heat assistant Bob McAdoo cannot think of a better playoff run – post-Jordan – than this one, though Ramsay ranks Bryant’s 2009 and ‘10 as comparable.

“This is better than Shaq,” Ramsay said. “What you see is LeBron really has lifted his game in areas he was deficient in. Taking the ball to the basket more frequently, more productively. Posting up. He made a commitment to defense this year.”


### Chris Bosh, on James: “He’s made some mistakes. The part I really admire is he’s learned from his mistakes. His passion and will to win have been spectacular in these playoffs. This meant everything to him. I’m really proud to call myself a teammate of his. It’s just been unbelievable to witness.”

### Here’s how James’ and Jordan’s career playoff stats compare: Jordan averaged more points (33.4 to 28.5) and shot better (48.7 to 46.8). But James averaged more rebounds (8.7 to 6.4) and assists (6.6 to 5.7). Surprisingly, Charles Barkley said Thursday night that James is the better all-around player.

### James Jones, 31, who has two years and $3 million left on his contract, said Thursday he expects to play next season but hasn’t ruled out retirement.

### Don’t underestimate the importance of how the Heat treats its players and alums; that has helped cultivate the family environment that appealed to James and other free agents.

Examples abound: Owner Micky Arison giving financial help to Tim Hardaway when his house was nearly foreclosed on last year… A couple hundred Heat employees showing up on Haslem’s lawn for a surprise birthday party… The loyalty Riley and Arison show in retaining or even promoting longtime employees.… Riley inviting players and their families to an annual Christmas party and gala at his home. “Never saw that before,” Bosh marveled Wednesday.

Much has changed since the early years, when owners Lewis Schaffel and Billy Cunningham stopped serving food on team flights. As one original Heater noted, “Glen Rice said, ‘Not even peanuts? It’s tradition!”

Now, Heat players get a choice of chicken or fish or beef on most flights. Everything is first class. Shane Battier said the Heat ranks among the league’s best in providing “whatever it takes to help us perform at our highest level - hot tubs, massage therapists. You would be surprised how far behind the curve some teams are in that. But a lot is expected of us.” Most demanding place he has played? “Easily,” Battier said.

It all paid off Thursday night.

"It's about damn time!" LeBron said.


June 21, 2012

Thursday update: LeBron feels fine; Tannehill gets lots of first-team work as Fins wrap up offseason work

Quick report from the Heat's Game 5 shootaround and the last day of Dolphins minicamp and the last day before Dolphins players adjourn for a five-week vacation:

### LeBron James, who missed 2:05 of the fourth quarter of Game 4 with cramps, said Thursday morning: "I feel good. I plan to stay hydrated." He said he did not anticipate needing to use an IV before the game.

Chris Bosh cracked that he "gave LeBron a six-pack of Gatorade and salt tablets. He's going to be fine."

James said he felt no anxiety or butterflies Thursday morning. One win away from his first NBA title, James said: "It's always been a dream of mine even when I first picked up a basketball and started getting into the history of the game, how great it would be to hold that trophy up some day and be part of a championship team.''

### Dwyane Wade said he woke up "tired. No sleep. That's what the Finals bring." Wade summoned highly-regarded trainer Tim Grover from Chicago earlier this week because "everybody that knows my body, I decided to have here now and get me as much of an edge as possible.''

Wade has battled leg and knee issues this postseason. Wade also said Heat president Pat Riley has shared some wisdom with him the past couple days, which he declined to share.


For the first time in the offseason program, Ryan Tannehill got a lot of snaps with the first team. "It was the first day I got in with an extended period with the ones," he said. The results were mixed.

The good: He made several sharp throws, including an excellent slant to Julius Pruitt, who took a 20 yard pass and ran another 30 for a touchdown. Clyde Gates also had a long gain on a short pass from Tannehill, mostly from run after catch.

He made a terrific throw to Legedu Naane and another on a 25-yarder to Roberto Wallace, who made a sideline catch on Chris Clemons. On another play, he rolled right and delivered a nifty 15-yard throw to Anthony Fasano. His mobility was on display when he rolled left, then turned and ran to the right for an eight-yard game.

The bad: He threw an interception to Sean Smith on a jump-ball end zone play. And in the two-minute drill to close practice, a deep ball from Tannehill was picked off by Reshad Jones, who timed his leap perfectly.

On another play, he led Michael Egnew too far on a crossing pattern. On another, the pass bounced off Clyde Gates’ helmet because Gates didn’t know the ball was coming. On another, Kevin Burnett knocked away what could easily have been a pick.

At times, Tannehill holds onto the ball too long – he doesn’t make decisions as quickly as Matt Moore and David Garrard, though that’s not surprising because of his lack of experience.

And receivers seem to drop a few of Tannehill’s passes during each practice, as they did last year at Texas A&M (nearly 80 drops). A lot of that is bad luck (including Fasano’s drop of a perfect pass Thursday), but the timing could be better on some of his throws. He throws the ball with a lot of zip (which could be a factor with some drops), but Charles Clay said the velocity is no different from the other quarterbacks.

Here was Joe Philbin’s assessment of Tannehill: “He made a lot of progress. I thought there were a lot of good things. Ryan threw a couple real nice balls. He made a couple good adjustments in terms of recognition of protection. We like his poise, intelligence, continuity.”

But… “We can’t throw interceptions in a two-minute drill.”

Philbin said later of Tannehill: “It’s not fair to say he’s not going to be ready this year.”

Tannehill's assessment: "I've gotten better. Am I making mistakes? Yes. But I'm learning from them.''

Overall, Philbin said, “I don’t think our awareness is the passing was very good. Too many double catches.”

Asked how close Garrard and Moore are at this point point, Philbin said, “It’s been close.” He said the coaching staff will rank players at every position on Friday morning.

Is there a quarterback front-runner heading into camp? “Not that I know of,” he said.

### Pruitt stood out among the receivers Thursday, scoring three touchdowns, including a 30-yarder from Garrard after a rollout.

### Philbin, on the state of his team heading into summer: “We’ve got a long way to go. We have a ton of work to do…. If you’re professional, you can’t take 4 ½ weeks off it you want to be good at something.”

Check back later for a lot of postgame news and reaction from Game 5 of the NBA Finals and other Heat notes.

Joe Philbin's comments from Dolphins mini-camp; Jake Long lashes out at teammate

For my two Heat stories in today's newspaper (including one on LeBron James, potentially on the eve of his first NBA title), please look on the sports home page next to this blog. In the meantime, here's a brief update from the second day of the Dolphins' three-day minicamp:

Matt Moore took the majority of the first-team snaps Wednesday and was better, overall, than David Garrard. Ryan Tannehill, continuing to play primarily with young players and backups, made some strong throws but also threw a pick to undrafted rookie linebacker Cameron Collins. Olivier Vernon had a couple of sacks, Davone Bess was the best receiver on the day, and there were two altercations: between Vernon and Jake Long and Richie Incognito and Ryan Baker.

After Rashad Jones hit Garrard on a blitz (which defensive players are told not to do), Long ran on the field cursing and said: "Rashad, don't [bleeping] punch the quarterback, [bleep-hole]." Jones responded with an obscenity. Splendid.

Long's eventful day also included two false-starting penalties.

Rookie Jonathan Martin was first-team right tackle and Artis Hicks first-team right guard. Martin had difficulty blocking Cam Wake, which is to be expected.

Here's everything Joe Philbin had to say afterward:

(On Brian Hartline missing the Minicamp) – “He’s got a personal situation that’s working itself out that he’s attending to that at this point in time.”

(On the last play of the two minute drill) – “(Laughing). The defensive coaches had the advantage and were over working the official a little bit. I didn’t have a good look and haven’t had a chance to watch the tape yet, but I was giving Kevin Coyle and George (Edwards) a hard time in the lunch line. I guess I would be doing the same thing too, but that’s what’s nice about being a Head Coach. I told Jimmy Turner, you can yell at the offense for giving up a sack, but then congratulate the defense. That’s the first time I’ve been able to do that. So on one hand I can’t win, but on the other hand I can’t lose either, so it’s been good.”

(On the energy level at today’s practice) – “I thought it was good. There was a little lull there during the two minute drill. Obviously you’re trying to create the thing and get it moving fast with first downs and clock plays. The defense has to communicate. We had a couple of procedure penalties in a row, which created a little bit of a lull, but fortunately we got through that and it ended up being a good drill. Then we had a down by two score drill, which wasn’t a two minute necessarily because there were eight minutes on the clock, but that was great because both coordinators had to make calls. So one time your down by ten but on the other side you’re up by seven, so for Kevin (Coyle) , Mike (Sherman) and Darren (Rizzi) it was good for them to be in that situation. It was good for us too, from a clock management standpoint. You know we have three (timeouts), we can use the two minute warning, do we want to take one here? You know just good discussion that provokes a lot of thought and conversation. They can have conversations in the quarterback room and go over all of that stuff, because you want your quarterbacks to be involved in clock management to a certain degree. So I think there will be  a lot of good learning from it.”

(On the competition level during practice) – “Again I haven’t watched the film, but obviously I wasn’t very happy that we lost two players in a drill. That could be a critical play in a game, so you have to be able to keep your poise and play. It’s great to be tough and it’s great to be physical. I went up to the defensive staff room briefly and told them I want to watch the film and have them tell me what they thought happened, but you can’t lose a player. Obviously 15 yards lost, loss of down and the clock, all those things (come into play). There was good competitiveness, but you have to be smart.”

(On skirmishes happening during practice) – “It happens. It’s not one thing that I generally kept track of (frequency of skirmishes), but you obviously want good competition. You want the guys to play hard, but be smart. You have to protect one another at all times. It’s not like we have the luxury of importing guys left and right, so I think we have to be smart, use good judgment, play hard. It’s a physical game and there’s going to be injuries in practice. You don’t want them to happen but they are going to happen, but I think our guys have done an excellent job overall. I’ll have to watch the tape to see maybe who provoked the situation that happened today.”

 (On Matt Moore’s comfort level in the new offense) – “I think he’s doing well. He has a good feel for the game and I thought he did a good job in those situations today. In the eight minute situation I thought he did a good job and I thought that he threw a couple of very catchable passes in the two minute drill that weren’t caught, so I thought he had a good day. I like the way he has caught onto the system. The good thing, and this happens at times, where you get so competitive and the staffs get competitive and they start game planning against one another by spending their walkthrough time on what they will see in practice, as opposed to what we’ve been stressing, which is let’s teach these guys our system. The concepts of how to play cover two or a six man slide protection and don’t worry about what the look is and what the other side does. Then we’ll see if our (system) rules stand up and see if our system needs tweaking. Because I’ve been there, I’ve been coaching a while and sometimes the assistants want to look good and they want their unit to look good because they want their guys to have confidence. For me, in the spring, especially when you’re new as a staff, you need to teach the system and let that sink in for the players.”

 (On Matt Moore’s leadership qualities) – “Yeah I think he has definite leadership qualities. The thing we look for in a leader is the guy that sets a great example, a guy that sits in the front row in the team meetings, attentive, takes notes, listens. We want a guy that can communicate in a positive fashion, and I think he does that very well with his teammates. I think you want a guy that cares about winning, cares about other people and not just himself, not just Matt Moore being the starting quarterback. Obviously you want to be selfish to a certain degree, but at the same point in time he’s interested in making the guys around him better. I think if you can find that kind of leader within the program, at any position, we want all our guys to set a great example and communicate positively and care more about winning than themselves, a big statistic or a big contract.”

 (On Reggie Bush’s skill set in the new offense) – “Well obviously time will tell how good of a fit it is, but we like the skills that he has, we like his running ability. He has good vision, good explosiveness, quickness, and I think he has some elusiveness as well. So obviously we like the way he runs the football, and he also has great hands, and he’s good in space. If you’re good in space, you can break and tackle and maybe turn an easy six yard catch into a longer run, which is one of the better plays in football. You know it’s tough to design 20 yard completion passes all the time in the air, so if we can get him the ball in space a little bit, and if we can hand him the ball and get some defenses to spread out so we can get him the football in different ways, I think that will help us.”

 (On whether Reggie Bush will get enough carries in this offense to allow him a chance to lead the league in rushing) – “We haven’t given any thought to that obviously. We’re not at the game plan stage yet, but that wouldn’t be the thing we will be up on Monday nights worried about, an individual player leading the league in rushing attempts. We’d be concerned about getting first downs, getting into field position and scoring points.”

(On his vision for the tight ends in this offense) – “Well, part of coaching is using the people that you have, and featuring what they do best. One of things that our guys have to have is versatility. You’d love a guy to be able to put his hand down on the ground and block a defensive end in the run game, and at the same point in time, be effective in the passing game as a threat down the middle of the field, as a guy that can win matchups against safeties and linebackers in match coverage underneath. You’d love to see a guy be able to do all those three things. A guys has to pass block as well, that’s another thing you’d love to see. Now, are those very many of those animals in the National Football League that do all four of those things really well? There are not a whole lot of those guys, but that’s part of coaching is putting guys in a position to be successful and featuring what they can do well, as opposed to our tight ends in Miami doing those four things come hell or high water. If they can’t block a defensive end, and we’re asking them to block a great pass rusher, I don’t care what the down is, that bad coaching by us. We could complain that the player isn’t a good pass blocker, but we shouldn’t jam it down his throat if that’s not what he does.”

 (On Anthony Fasano’s role in the offense) – “When I interviewed for the job, and I’m not going to sit here and tell you that I watched 1000 plays of the Miami Dolphins, because I didn’t, but I watched some football and I liked what I saw out of Anthony (Fasano). I thought he caught the ball well and found a way to get open. I don’t know what his forty time is, but he found a way to find seams in the coverage and he has some instincts as a route runner. I think he has very good hands, we like the way he catches the football and finds a way to get open. I think that he’s a guy that can block on the line of scrimmage, but again we may decide that one week we like the matchup where we feel like he can knock the heck out of their sub defensive end, we might run a bunch of plays with him on the line of scrimmage in a three point stance. If they keep a guy in on second down, and we don’t like the matchup, we might do some other things with him. So I think he’s going to be a good player, and I’m looking forward to watching his development.”

(On Charles Clay’s ability) – “Some of the same things (as Fasano). He doesn’t have as much experience with his hand in the ground on the line of scrimmage, but he can line up in the backfield and give you some versatility. He can give you some two-back attack when really you are in two tight ends and one back, so that’s a nice thing. I think we can play him in space as well by lining him up outside so you can get a true one-back look. Hopefully, we can use him in two tight end sets where we will have two tight ends have their hands on the ground. There’s some versatility there and I like his skills. He’s a young player, a developing player and I like the way he came back and made a catch on the last drive, I think he dropped a couple of passes in the two minute drill but he came back and made a nice play down at the end of practice.”

(On inspiration from the Miami Heat) – “I think it’s fantastic. I mean it’s a big enough city for everybody to do well and be successful. I actually stayed up last night till there was about 30 seconds left (in the Heat’s game 4 win), which is a late night for me. I’m delighted for them, and I wish them all the best and I don’t want to put any undue pressure on them, so I’ll just leave it at that.”

(On the state of the right side of the offensive line) – “We’re kind of fiddling around, which I guess is the best way to put it. We’ve rolled some guys in there and I don’t think we’re done with that process because we still need to get a look at some different people. We want to see how they respond in game-like situations and who can be the most effective, consistent player for us and execute the best. I don’t know if we have a great answer (at this point), but that’s okay. We’ve looked at some different combinations, and I don’t know that we’re done looking yet.”

(On Jonathan Martin’s progress at right tackle) – “I think it’s an adjustment, there’s no doubt about it. I’m going to sit here and say that on the one hand, football is football and it’s not a complicated game. Blocking is blocking and pass blocking is pass blocking. The fundamentals don’t change whether you are on the right side or the left side, and I believe in that 100%. I think a difference today in the NFL from when I came into the league nine years ago is that nine years ago almost every good pass rusher was over on the quarterback’s blind side, and I don’t think that’s the case today. I think it is more matchup driven, where if defensive coordinators think your right tackle is weaker than your left tackle, they will put their best guy over there. My point is that the fundamentals of pass protection, the set, the punch, the mirror, is all the same whether you’re playing left or right (tackle). I also think we have to take into consideration Jonathan Martin, and I’m throwing out a figure here I don’t know any specific numbers, has 3400 snaps at left tackle in college, but he only has 197 at right tackle with the Miami Dolphins. So there is an adjustment period that he is going through. Does he look as smooth at right tackle as he does at left tackle? No. Do I believe he can make the transition effectively? Yes.”

(On getting Martin extra reps at right tackle) – “He’s getting a bunch. Obviously he missed some so we’re trying to catch him up a little bit, but he’ll catch up. I don’t know that it’s a whole lot more, yesterday I thought we had 143 competitive snaps out on the field, now that wasn’t all eleven on eleven, and I don’t know how many we had today, but that’s a lot of work. He’s getting his fair share.”

(On Martin facing Cameron Wake in practice) – “That’s great stuff. You know, Coach Turner can sit in a meeting room and talk about how you pass set and I can tell you to time up your punch and that it’s a six inch punch and act real smart, but until you get out there and do it, it’s a different animal going up against that type of athlete. It’s great experience for him.” 

June 20, 2012

Heat Game 4 reaction, postscripts; Pat Riley and Phil Jackson speak out; Dolphins mini-camp report

Lots of Heat buzz, beginning with Game 4 postscripts:

### Erik Spoelstra confirmed leg cramps were the reason LeBron James sat for 2:05 of the fourth quarter. "Playing on one leg, I don't know how he did it," Chris Bosh said.

James said he "got hydrated" after leaving initially with the cramps with 5:15 remaining. He came back with 4:05 left, but the cramps returned and he left for good with 55 seconds to go.

James said: "I'm feeling a lot better. I'll see how I feel [Wednesday]. It was basically like your body shut down, your legs shut down on you. There's nothing you can do about it. I've had cramps before. I was blessed I was able to make a big shot." James, of course, was referring to his three-pointer with 2:51 left that broke a tie and put the Heat ahead for good.

### James became the first player with at least 26 points, 12 assists and nine rebounds in an NBA Finals game since Larry Bird in 1986. James also is the first player in NBA history with at least 650 points, at least 200 rebounds and at least 100 assists in a single postseason.

"This was a big-time team effort, from Mario Chalmers' spectacular game to Norris Cole, who gave us a spark when we were down in the first quarter," James said. "We're a complete team. A lot of people don't realize that."

### Teams down 3-1 in the NBA Finals are 0-30 all-time in the FInals. In overall NBA playoff history, eight teams have come back from a 3-1 deficit to win a seven-game series, most recently Phoenix in a 2006 first-round series.

 ### Chalmers had been mired in a 2 for 18 slump before closing 9 for 15. "We kept telling Rio he was about overdue for a great game," Bosh said. "You've got to love his mentality. He wants to be the best and he truly believes in his talent. We knew we needed him to be a better point guard."

Chalmers scored 12 of his 25 in the fourth. "He's a big game kind of player," Dwyane Wade said. "He actually thinks he's the best player on this team. That's a gift and a curse. He always feels like, 'I can make a play.' What he has, as he says on his arm, 'Mr. Clutch.' It's a clutch gene. You have to be born with it."

Chalmers said the Thunder putting Kevin Durant on him was "a sign of disrepect." (Because OKC wanted Durant to avoid foul trouble.)

### Wade (25 points), on being on the cusp of a championship: "This team had to go through something - going through a heartbreaking loss in the Finals - to get to this point where we are resilient."

### Russell Westbrook, who was generally brilliant on a 43-point night, said "miscommunication" was the reason for his foolish late foul on Chalmers, whose two free throws stretched Miami's lead to five with 13 seconds left. Westbrook did not know that the shot clock had not been reset.

### Westbrook's 43 points were the most in a Finals game since Wade scored 43 in Game 5 of the 2006 Finals.

### Kevin Durant (six points) and Westbrook (17) combined for all of OKC's 23 fourth-quarter points; other Thunder players were 0 for 6 in the fourth, including 0 for 4 from James Harden, who closed 2 for 10. Durant, who said he was denied the ball at times, had only two rebounds.


Heat president Pat Riley, who received the Chuck Daly Lifetime Achievement Award on Tuesday night, reiterated he has no desire to coach again but also made clear he has no intention of leaving his current post of Heat architect anytime soon. And he made very clear the high regard he has for his current coach.

“I’m looking to build this thing even better, and I don’t have any timeline,” he said. “I still have a lot of bite left in my bark.

“But it’s directed in another direction. Building the team, being around the players, working every day with a group of people that I’ve come to know and love in a big way, for me it’s a privilege because it’s worth their time. You want to be around those kinds of people.”

### Riley said of coaching, “I don’t really miss it. I feel it in the gut right now [before Game 4], like anybody else. But we have a very, very good young coach, who’s growing leaps and bounds. I did it 30 years. That’s enough.”

### Spoelstra’s job security is very strong, regardless of the outcome of this series. “He’s very mature, and I see him all the time,” Riley said. “I don’t bump into him. I don’t call meetings with him. We collaborate. And I feel very privileged that at times he will ask me, ‘Well, what do you think?’ And I’ll give him my opinion.

“There isn’t anybody who wants him to succeed more than I do. I think he’s the right man for it. He has a great relationship with our whole team. I watch him every day and I’m not amazed by what he’s done.”

### What advice does Riley give Spoelstra about coaching superstars? “Say, ‘yes, sir. Thank you’ a lot. Not really.”

### Whereas Oklahoma City built through the draft, Riley said, “We’ve never been a team that wanted to be a lottery team and build through the draft. The first two years were in the lottery here, we got Caron Butler and we got Dwyane Wade, and then I quit. That was enough for me.”

But, he said, “What OKC has done is incredible. We got very fortunate that at the right time and at the right place, three [great] players wanted to play together.”

### Riley said though “the Laker years made me,” – he won four of his five championships there - his “favorite team was the one in 2006 here. Bringing [Shaquille O’Neal] into it and winning the championship for this city and for Miami, for [Micky Arison], that to me will always probably be the one that I cherish the most.”

### He said “the game is as good as it’s ever been. I just hope they don’t the charge out of the game. I know the commissioner has become an expert on flopping, so I don’t want them flopping back and forth on this issue.”


### Speaking about James, Phil Jackson told HBO: "I still think his game is going to grow. But he was like Scottie Pippen was to the Bulls. He's maybe a pass first, shoot second player. Whereas, Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant... every time they get the ball, they're looking to score. LeBron's not like that and I love that about him. But when he goes after scoring, he's also terrific. You want a player than can do both."

### Jackson said James and Wade “play off each other well” but that he never has considered coaching them. Could he work for or with Pat Riley? “Of course,” he said. “We both have respect for each other. But I’d probably rather have him working for me than me working for him.”

### NBA TV’s O’Neal said off-air he believes Wade always has been “more comfortable being in that second spot. He’s more comfortable with guys not talking about did he play well or not. This suits him better.”  

As gets older, “he needs to average 19 to 20 points a game,” O’Neal said. “[But] all that slashing, he has to change up a little.”

### Knicks center Tyson Chandler, whose Mavericks beat the Heat in last year’s Finals, said one difference between the two Heat teams is “they’re more of a team this year. They have great team camaraderie. They make plays and you see the whole bench get excited. They’ve added guys great for the locker-room, like Shane Battier.”

### James is getting plenty of support from other local teams. “I might be rooting for him more than his own family is,” Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen said. “I’m not a Heat fan but I’m rooting for LeBron because that kid takes so much [expletive]. Every time they lose a game, it’s that poor guy’s fault.”

He said some former players who criticize James “are jealous.” Guillen cracked that he would advise James to hold his middle finger up at the championship celebration.

The admiration for James extends to the Dolphins locker-room, including Reggie Bush; when Bush was at a Heat game this year, James congratulated him on his 2011 season. “That was cool,” Bush said. “I admire his ability to overcome adversity and impose his will when the pressure is on his back.”

### Most spent by anyone for a Finals seat so far? $19,500, by a rapper. Among others snagging good seats: NFL players Darnell Dockett and Julius Peppers.

Note: Please see our last post for a full report on Dolphins minicamp Tuesday. 

June 18, 2012

LeBron says Ibaka is "stupid"; Lots of notes from Tuesday Dolphins mini-camp

Note: This is updated from earlier in the day. See below for Dolphins notes from Tuesday afternoon.

# # #

Dumbest remark of the playoffs so far? Had to be Thunder forward Serge Ibaka saying that LeBron James "is not a good defender." That's the same LeBron James who earned the most votes in balloting for the NBA's all-defensive team.

James responded Tuesday morning. "I don't really care what he says," LeBron said. "He's stupid. Everyone says something to me every series. Then [the media] keeps trying to get a quote. I don't care what he says. It's stupid."

Ibaka, per the Post, went on to the say that James "can play defense for two to three minutes but not 48.... LeBron can't play [Kevin Durant]" one-on-one.

Responded James: "First of all, I'm not playing 48 minutes and K.D.'s not playing 48 minutes. I'm not sitting there saying I'm a Durant stopper because there's no such thing."

Durant missed four of five shots when James was guarding him in the fourth quarter of Game 3. Durant was asked Monday what James did to him in the fourth quarter. "Nothing," he said. And the news conference ended thusly.

It will be interesting to see how Ibaka explains himself. Some backtracking is likely, or at least a scolding by Scott Brooks.


### Chad OchoCinco made three receptions at the first day of the Dolphins' three-day minicamp on Tuesday, including two terrific catches on the sideline, both from David Garrard. He jumped over Vontae Davis to make one of them.

"He's fast, he's quick, and he's got that attacking mentality you love in a wide receiver," Matt Moore said.

### He spoke to reporters less than two minutes afterward.  He said he wants to get "back to who we're all used to seeing and how I became what I am. I think I kind of lost that. For me, it's about getting back to basics, getting back to where it started. I'm looking to go back to Chad Johnson and just make it live again."

### OchoCinco said playing for the Dolphins "has been a childhood dream of mine growing up watching the Marks Brothers, watching Dan Marino. To be able to wear teal and orange, it's a pretty good feeling."

### He cracked, "I'm developing Brokeback Mountain chemistry with the players." He ended his session with reporters by saying: "I love you. Enjoy the show."

### Asked how OchoCinco is learning the playbook - which was a problem for him in New England - Joe Philbin said, "So far, so good." Philbin added: "It looks like he's fitting in well."

### David Garrard took the majority of the first team snaps but said he and Matt Moore are splitting them about evenly overall, with Ryan Tannehill receiving very few with the starters. Garrard looked the best of the three on Tuesday, which was also the case during the last practice open to the media, eight days ago.

### Garrard led a touchdown drive that ended with a rollout and strong throw to Roberto Wallace for a score. The offense was forced to punt on Matt Moore's final drive.

### Garrard's only glaring error was an interception to Sean Smith, who would have returned it for a touchdown if the play had been allowed to continue. Smith has been very impressive all offseason. "I like what I've seen from Sean," Philbin said. "His approach has been serious."

### Matt Moore also threw what would have been an interception return for a touchdown, to Karlos Dansby.

### Tannehill made some sharp passes - to tight end Les Brown, Marlon Moore, Wallace and others - but also threw a pick to Jason Trusnik.

### Jonathan Wade, competing for Nolan Carroll for the No. 4 cornerback job, made three terrific plays to break up potential receptions. And rookie Josh Kaddu, who couldn't join the team until this month because of his Oregon class schedule, looked sharp - including a would-be sack of Tannehill. (We say would-be because sacks aren't allowed.) Kaddu also knocked away a Tannehill pass over the middle.

### Wallace made several impressive catches, and Garrard raved about him afterward. Also, Philbin spoke very highly of receiver Legedu Naanee, noting "you like his size and ability and he can attack the middle of the field."

### Jonathan Martin, the second-rounder out of Stanford, got a lot of work with the first team at right tackle, with Artis Hicks at right guard. Lydon Murtha also got some first-team work at right tackle. And Martin got some snaps in relief of Jake Long at left tackle, which was Martin's position at Stanford.

### Reshad Jones and Chris Clemons remain the first-team safeties, backed up by Jimmy Wilson and Tyrone Culver. Free-agent pickup Tyrell Johnson continues to work with the third team.

### Rookie third-round tight end Michael Egnew, who was used a lot as a blocker in earlier practices, made two receptions across the middle, showing nice burst after the catch.

### Dan Carpenter kicked a 59-yard field goal but missed, to the left, from 57.


### Encouraging news for the Orange Bowl: College presidents are expected to approve a four-team playoff, with plans to be announced perhaps as early as this week, and ESPN reported Monday night that the decision-makers are leaning toward incorporating the semifinals within the current bowl system, meaning the Orange, Fiesta, Rose and Sugar would alternate as hosts. It's not definite by any means, but the OB certainly would take that scenario.

The national championship game is expected to be put up for bid, with Cowboy Stadium among the potential suitors. The new format would take effect with the 2014 season.


Lots of Heat-Thunder Game 3 postscripts, reaction

LeBron James was the better superstar in the fourth quarter of Game 3. James had eight points (2 for 4 shooting) and four rebounds in the fourth; Kevin Durant had four points (2 for 6 shooting) and one rebound.

“Last year, I didn’t make enough game-changing plans,” James said afterward. “I pride myself on that. Just trying to step up in the key moments and be there for my teammates.”

James closed with 29 points (11 for 23) and 14 rebounds. Durant had 25 points (11 for 19) and six rebounds. James' streak of five consecutive 30-plus point playoff games ended, but it didn't matter. He was very, very good. As usual. 

 "He's a totally different player" from last year's Finals, Dwyane Wade said. "He was thinking too much [last year]. Now he's playing very aggressive. I love when he's attacking the basket because good things happen for us. That's the difference from last year and the difference for our team."

“I try to do a little bit of everything, where I’m not just isolating,” James said. “It’s a good mixture of what I have right now.”

### Wade has said the team is still drawing on the experience of losing last year’s Finals. “We talk about it all the time,” James said. “It has been a great teacher for us, the experience.”

Said Wade: "Nothing is promised. You can't always say we have next year, because you never know what can happen. Last year, I don't know if we were experienced enough as a unit to deal with what came at us, and it showed. We're a more experienced team. It's not saying we want it more, but we understand the situations more and can deal with it better. Experience is not overrated at all. Tonight, that helped us. We were down 10 and kept grinding and grinding.

"We feel like every series, we've gotten better. We're not a satisfied team at all. It was an ugly game. We can't wait to look at the film to see where we can get better. We're more confident. We've seen almost everything, and we're able to adapt and adjust. Dallas was an unbelievable offensive team and they picked us apart and we weren't able to regroup. This team is a great offensive team and we feel like when they're picking us apart, our conversation is different. We understand a little different."

### Durant made 6 of his first 8 shots with James guarding him, but James obstructed Durant on two badly-missed 10-foot jumpers in the final 2:20. Durant shot 1 for 5 with James guarding him in the fourth. Durant also missed two free throws in the fourth. He was in foul trouble in the second half, picking up his fifth with 3:47 left. "Unfortunately, I'm getting some fouls called on me," Durant said. "I've got to play smarter the next game."

### According to ESPN, Durant shot 11 for 17 when Shane Battier defended him in the first two games of the series. But Battier guarded him only briefly in Game 3, with Durant missing his only shot during that time.

### The Heat won despite shooting 37.8 percent, the worst shooting percentage in a Finals win since the Lakers shot 32.5 percent in Game 7 of the 2010 series. It also was the second-lowest field goal percentage in a postseason game that the Heat has won in team history - better only than the 36.5 percent in an overtime win at New York in May 2000.

### Amazing: The Heat shot just 5 for 31 outside the paint. The 16.1 percentage is the worst by an NBA Finals team in 15 years, according to ESPN. The Heat shot 1 for 8 outside the paint in the third quarter and 1 for 7 in the fourth. James for 2 for 9 outside the pain and Wade and Chris Bosh were each 0 for 5. But Miami was 23 for 43 inside the paint.

### Wade matched Durant's 25 points - including 14 in the second half -  but missed 14 of 22 shots. He made several terrific passes (seven assists) but also had five turnovers. "I had some shots I normally make that I didn't make."

### The Heat went 31 for 35 from the line; the Thunder – which led the league in free throw percentage during the season – shot just 15 for 24.

“We’ve got to do a better job defending them without fouling,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. “Kevin had five fouls on him, only four free throws. He has to be able to get to the free-throw line. That’s when we’re at our best.”

### Also key: Miami outrebounded OKC, 13-6, in the fourth.  Each team had 32 rebounds after three quarters. OKC has the bigger team, but the Heat has won the rebounding battle in the past two games.

“We don’t care about teams being bigger than us,” James said. “We don’t feel it’s a disadvantage.... It’s will and determination.”

### After Durant hit a turnaround over Wade in the first half, "He said [to me] I'm too small." Wade did a double-take and asked Durant what he said.  "He's got seven inches on me," Wade noted.

### The Thunder was ahead by six when Durant left with his fourth foul with 5:41 left in the third. Brooks then removed Russell Westbrook from the game 40 seconds left.

The Thunder lead grew to 10, but the Heat then ended the third with a 15-3 run – all with OKC’s two stars on the bench. “I knew we weren’t playing our game,” James said. “They made us stagnant. We didn’t play good to start the third. We can’t do that. It shows our character we were able to come back from that.”

It didn’t help that Serge Ibaka and Derek Fisher fouled Shane Battier and James Jones on three-point shots, which resulted in six free throws and fueled the Heat rally late in the third.

### Why would Brooks remove Westbrook from the game for five minutes with Durant also on the bench? “You’ve got to rest guys sooner or later,” Brooks said. Also, “Russell had a bad stretch of about three or four possessions. I took him out to kind of calm him down.”

### Game 3 marked the sixth time in these playoffs that the Heat has rallied from a double-digit deficit to win a playoff game.... The Heat is 12-0 this postseason when leading after three quarters and 50-5 including the regular season.... With nine more points, James will break Wade's team record for points in a postseason.

### Battier was limited to two shots but made both (both threes) and is now 11 for 15 on threes in The Finals. "It's kind of weird because I'm a stretch four [power forward] now and the most comfortable I have been on this team all year has been at that position giving up 50 pounds," Battier said. "I can't explain it."

June 16, 2012

Heat keeps shattering myths; Fins, Marlins, Canes notes; two Heat stories


As the Heat navigates through these playoffs, these players have started shattering myths and criticisms and premature conclusions that have polluted airwaves and poisoned perceptions. Eight of our favorite:

### LeBron James and Dwyane Wade don’t make each other better. That theory has been espoused by Jon Barry and others. Consider: With Wade and James on the court together this postseason, James is shooting 53 percent (44 percent otherwise) and averages more rebounds, assists and free throws. Meanwhile, Wade is shooting 49 percent with James on the court, 37 percent the rest of the time.

Then there’s this: When Wade and James play together this postseason, the Heat has outscored opponents by 178 (12.4 per 48 minutes), compared with plus-7.3 per 48 for Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook together. No two players on any team have a better plus/minus postseason number than James and Wade. Conversely, when James is playing without Wade, the Heat is minus 15 in 165 minutes. And when Wade is playing without James, the Heat is minus 32 in 99 minutes.

### James can’t deliver in the clutch. In the seven games of these playoffs with the series tied (excluding series openers) or the Heat trailing, James' numbers have been especially remarkable: 32.9 points per game, 52.3 percent shooting.

“Other than Michael Jordan, I haven’t seen a run like this in the playoffs,” NBA TV analyst and former Raptors coach Sam Mitchell said off the air Friday. “Has he had a bad game in the playoffs? He hasn’t had one. He has answered every critic. He walked on the floor in Boston and said, ‘You guys won’t have a [bleeping] chance to win the game.' He did what Jordan used to do.”

James also is the first player to score 30 or more (40, 45 and 32) in the three games his team has trailed in a series since - drum roll, please - Wade in 2006.

### The Heat badly needs a center. In an era without a lot of classic back-to-the basic pivotmen, Chris Bosh has proved highly capable of manning the middle, averaging 15.2 points and 9.6 rebounds in the nine games he has started there this year (excluding the Pacers series opener when he was injured before halftime) and the two recent playoff games where he played 30-plus minutes off the bench. In postseason only, (excluding his low-minute first two games back from the abdominal injury), he’s averaging more points than opposing centers (13 to 5.4) and roughly as many rebounds (8 to 8.5.)

Bosh admitted Saturday he was "shell-shocked" when the Heat asked him to play center at times during the 2010-11 season. "I was still fighting it a lot last year, for like the ninth year in a row," he said. "But in this day and age, I'm a center, so to speak. I just had a conversation with myself. I had to own up [to] it and accept it. If we're at our best when I'm at center, so be it."

### The Heat are front-runners. (Another Jon Barry quote). Miami is now 3-0 when trailing in a series, the only NBA team without a loss in that situation.

### Miami needs to get in the open court to win. That’s often a recipe for success for this team, but after scoring at least 18 fast-break points in five early playoff games, Miami has scored five, 12 and 10 in its past three wins (Games 6 and 7 vs. Boston, Game 2 vs. OKC) and been outscored, 38-27, in that category in those games. The Heat’s halfcourt offense, often criticized, has produced the third-most points per possession in postseason.

### The Heat's lack of size will be its undoing. Even without Bosh for nine games, the Heat has outrebounded opponents by 18 in the playoffs. And the Heat has 100 postseason, compared to 75 for opponents, including a 51-48 edge among centers and power forwards.

### Udonis Haslem cannot hit the short jumper any more. In the regular season, he was 9 for 41 on those shots (in the paint, but outside the restricted area). In the playoffs, he’s 9 for 14.

### Shane Battier doesn’t have much left and wasn't worth the Heat's exception last year (three years $9 million). After Game 3 of the Boston series, Battier had the lowest field-goal percentage of any Heat player (minimum 50 shots) in playoff history. Since then, he’s 17 for 31 on threes. And Battier has proved more valuable, of late, than most anybody else Miami could have landed for $3 million last summer.

And don't overlook this: Despite playing power forward and routinely defending bigger, taller players, playoff opponents have shot just 38 percent against him, 37 percent on postups, according to synergysportstech.com.

Battier said because he isn’t the most athletic player, “most people think what I do is a fluke. They think I don’t belong. But it’s to my advantage they think that way. James Jones told me, ‘I didn’t know what you did, but you’re actually a pretty good player.’”


### Here’s why Mitchell, who picks OKC, says Miami should be worried: “What’s scary is you played a great first half in both games, and you got beaten by double digits in Game 1 and barely won the second, even though all three of your top guys played great in the second, and Westbrook didn’t play great. If Westbrook starts shooting 50 percent or better, this series will be over quickly. And Wade is having a hard time beating people to the basket.”

### Smart-aleck tweet of the week: From former NBA guard Speedy Claxton: “Way to put your best defender on the worst offensive player to start Game 1, [Erik] Spoelstra.” Mitchell said James – who opened Game 1 against Kendrick Perkins but Game 2 against Durant - should have told Spoelstra, “Don’t even think about wasting me on Kendrick Perkins.’ LeBron is the best defender in the league at 6-8. My best has to play your best.”

### Mitchell makes a good point when he notes that “it’s amazing with Miami, when they have to win a game, the ball moves. When their backs are not up against the wall, they revert more to, ‘LeBron, you go one-on-one’, then Dwyane, ‘it’s your turn.”

When they cut to the basket, James and Wade have been brilliant in these playoffs, with James shooting 24 for 29 on cuts and Wade 22 for 36. Conversely, James is shooting 41 percent on isolations, Wade 33 percent. And here’s what’s killing Wade: On two-point jumpers of 17 feet and beyond, he’s shooting 21 percent in the playoffs (13 for 61), compared with 40 percent in the regular season.

### Even if Mike Miller retires, as ESPN has suggested - Miller initially denied that but then added he doesn't know what he will do  - the Heat would have only the $3 million mini-mid level exception this summer, which it would have regardless. If Miller retires and the Heat uses the amnesty clause on Joel Anthony (due $11.3 million through 2014-15), the Heat would still be above the cap but would have the $5 million full mid-level instead, which is available to non-tax-paying team.

But some other teams still would have more to offer the likes of Chris Kaman and Steve NashRay Allen, who might take $3 million, and Jamal Crawford reportedly have the Heat high on their list.

### Quote of the day Saturday, from Thunder guard Thabo Sefolosha: "I think we don't like that team and we've got to play angry and I think that's what we're going to do." OK then.

### Battier, perhaps the only NBA player who is learning the harmonica and routinely uses words like “monolith,” is so smart that when Spoelstra “asks a question, he will say, ‘Anybody but Shane answer,’ Joel Anthony said. Eddy Curry said Spoelstra “comes in with a quote, and Shane can not only tell you whose quote it is, but a lot of times coach gets it wrong and Shane will correct it.”

Battier, happily married, said he has received several marriage proposals, mostly from older women. Some others “say if I was 30 years younger, I’d have my eye on you. Or a 60-year-old woman saying, ‘If I hadn’t already been married….

### Besides lining up Reggie Bush and Lamar Miller at receiver, the Dolphins have added another wrinkle, with Daniel Thomas splitting out some at receiver…. Cornerback Sean Smith told WQAM's Joe Rose that Ryan Tannehill's zip on his passes "is something that stands out when you watch the quarterbacks. The ball comes out fast with a lot of force. He's making all the right checks.”

### Amid a report that the Marlins won’t offer Giancarlo Stanton a seven-year deal, Red Sox and ex-Marlins outfielder Cody Ross bemoaned last week: “You offer Albert Pujols seven years, so why not Stanton?” The Marlins have not decided when they will begin talks with Stanton, who’s under team control through 2016…

### Well-regarded South Ft. Myers safety Jayron Kearse, nephew of former NFL standout Jevon Kearse, de-committed from UM on Friday after spending four days in Clemson but said he has no favorite and hasn't ruled out the Hurricanes.

### Determined to avoid leaks in the UM investigation, the NCAA has ordered former UM coaches not to discuss the case with other former or current UM coaches or anyone else, for that matter.

(Note: For more Heat talk from Saturday's availability, see our Heat notebook in our last post, including Wade talking about his squabble with Spoelstra and other items.)

Saturday Heat notes: Wade on Spo dustup; Westbrook: I'm not changing; and more

In addition to our Heat-intensive Sunday buzz column already posted, here are some other Heat notes from Saturday:

LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh all mentioned Saturday that coach Erik Spoelstra has been far more willing to listen to players’ suggestions this season than in the past. And in the context of discussing that, Wade - for the first time - acknowledged the Game 3 incident in Indiana when he yelled at Spoelstra before being pulled away by teammates.

“Something was made of that blow-up in Indiana, but that shows how our relationship has grown,” Wade said. “We’ve been together for a long time. You don’t have those kinds of moments if you haven’t been together. It’s just like family members, just like a brother.

“We have moments, but we love each other and we move on from it. We grow from it. I’ve enjoyed seeing him grow. The biggest growth in him this season has been his openness to ask other guys what they think…. That’s key for players to feel they have that openness with their coach, that he’s going to listen to what they have to say, and sometimes use it, sometimes not.”

Bosh said Spoelstra has “become a better listener, taking our opinions a lot more… to make better adjustments.” Those suggestions, according to Bosh, have included play suggestions. “Most of the time, they’ve worked out,” Bosh added. “That’s a huge part in really trusting each other. It has to come from the front office all the way down to the players.”

James twice called Spoelstra “awesome” and added: “Two straight Finals appearances, and he’s put us in position to win every game.”

### Spoelstra said he is speaking so much to Heat president Pat Riley that “it almost as if he’s a member on my staff. If I’m not calling him, if I’m not bumping into him at the office, I’m texting him. Our dialogue has been very good. It’s most relevant with a team like this. He’s walked in my shoes before.”

### Since the NBA went to a 2-3-2 Finals format in 1985, the home team has won Games 3, 4 and 5 only twice (the Pistons against the Lakers in 2004 and the Heat against the Mavericks in 2006). The road team has won Games 3, 4 and 5 on three occasions.

### Magic Johnson called Russell Westbrook's Game 2 performance the worst he has seen from a point guard in a Finals game (he had 11 assists and 27 points but shot 10 for 26, while Kevin Durant had four fewer shots). But Westbrook said: "I'm not making no adjustments." So there.  

### Even after becoming the first Heat player to produce the combo of 16 points and 15 rebounds in an NBA Finals game, Bosh said: “I don’t think it was that good. I’m not satisfied with that and I hope nobody else is satisfied.”

### Udonis Haslem raised an amusing analogy when discussing how James and others sometimes scold Mario Chalmers during games. “LeBron has taken him under his wing, like big brother, little brother. Obviously, little brother gets picked on. When he’s walking in front of you, you trip him and pull his pants down and tease him a lot. But you do it out of love and want the best for him.”

### Asked about the Heat falling behind in three playoff series, Bosh said: “I don’t think it’s a question of talent with this team. It’s always a question of the effort. As long as we bring the effort and determination and play in that desperate form, we’re really tough to beat. We can’t let our guard down because we’re at home. I’m expecting a much harder fought game than Game 2.”


June 14, 2012

Heat Game 2 postscripts, reaction; Jon Barry says he's not a Heat-hater; Hard Knocks fallout

Postscripts and reaction from the Heat's Game 2 NBA Finals at Oklahoma City:

### Erik Spoelstra: "This is going to be probably like this every single game. This postseason shows this group has resolve, resourcefulness, resiliency. We're all a stubborn group.  We got dominated in all of muscle, power areas of Game 1. [Those were] flip-flopped in the second."

### Spoelstra said it was a "mutual" decision for LeBron James (32 points, eight rebounds) to open against Kevin Durant defensively. "As soon I as brought it up, he was absolutely on the same page." Said Battier: "LeBron doesn't get enough credit for the toughness that he shows."

LeBron said he felt "exhausted" afterward. "We want to score enough points to win games, not to answer any questions people ask about us.... This was a huge game. We wanted to split. It was good to see the sense of urgency to start the game. I don't think there's one guy that can guard me and allow him to be on an island and defend me one-on-one."  

### The Heat picked a good time for one of its best free throw performances of the postseason (22 for 25), including 12 for 12 from James.  Only Terry Porter (15 for 15 in 1990) has made more free throws without a miss in an NBA Finals game.

"When I have double digit free throws, that tells me I was in attack mode," said James, who hit two free throws to seal it with six seconds left. "The big stage like this, every point matters. We needed every point tonight."

### Dwyane Wade played his most efficient game in a while (10 for 20 shooting, 24 points).  Asked if he was insulted by questions after his Game 1 performance, "I'm not sensitive. I can take it. Just know I will always keep coming back until I don't play this game no more. Tonight, I was able to attack."

"He made a concerted effort to get layups," NBA TV's Kenny Smith said. "That was the difference in the game."

### Chris Bosh (16 points, 15 rebounds) started for the first time since returning from his abdominal injury and was "sensational," Spoelstra said. "We needed every bit of his big tonight. And that's what he brought." At practice Wednesday, Bosh walked on the floor with the starters and camped himself under the basket, which Spoelstra liked because it suggested to Spoelstra what Bosh's mentality would be in Game 2.

Bosh was very happy about starting because "that's my comfort zone. You know it's time. I just wanted to make sure I played good defense and spaced the floor correctly."  Wade said Bosh starting - "was key, having our best players on the floor early."

 ### Spoelstra on Shane Battier, who's having a terrific series (17 ppg average): "Everyone notices Shane Battier when the ball is going in. We notice it before. He allows us to play our roster the way we want to. We weren't necessarily able to do that last year." Said Battier: "We've got a lot of experience on this team and a lot of toughness. It takes a little more than a loud crowd to rattle this team."

### Durant, on his miss that would have tied the game with seven seconds left: "That's a shot I shoot all the time. I just missed. It's tough to lose that one." ESPN's Steve Javie, the former NBA ref, said James should have been called for a foul on that play. Durant scored 16 in the fourth quarter and is the first player in NBA Finals history to score at least 16 points in the fourth of two consecutive Finals games.

### The Heat had been 0-6 in the playoffs when it was outscored in the third quarter. Make it 1-6 after Thursday. And the Thunder lost for the first time in eight games this season when James Harden scored at least 17 in the first half.

### Thunder coach Scott Brooks told his team afterward: "We're good enough to beat their team on their floor. We can get the next one and we can get the next one."

# # #

Here's our weekly media column:


ABC’s Jon Barry knows many Heat fans (and some radio hosts, for that matter) have tagged him with that moniker – more so than any other announcer who doesn’t go by the nickname “Sir Charles.”

Not guilty, Barry says.

“I am aware of it because Chris Broussard goes on the radio in South Florida and said, ‘They think you hate the Heat,’” Barry – who picked Oklahoma City to win this series in six games - said by phone this week, hours before the start of the Finals. “It’s not that. I think LeBron James is the best basketball player in the world. Pat Riley is great. I think the world of the Arisons. I think Erik Spoelstra is a great coach.

“Because I don’t pick them doesn’t mean I hate them. Every fan of teams – if you don’t pick them, they call you a hater. If they win this series, I’ll still go to sleep at night. I don’t have Oklahoma City or Boston pompoms on. I picked Miami to get to the Finals. I don’t root against them.”

But Barry explains he could not in good conscience pick the Heat to win the title during the first two years of the Big Three era “if they did not improve the team around them, and I don’t believe they have. I don’t feel their team is as a good now as it was last year. I like Mario Chalmers, but they still need pieces to be a championship team. They have never addressed the center position. They have no interior presence, not a lot of depth. Teams that win have great depth.

“There’s no real calling card. What do you know that you’re going to get out of the Heat on a nightly basis? You don’t quite know what you’re going to get. The great teams, you always know what you’re going to get.”

How about LeBron? Can’t you assume greatness out of him?

“He played great in last year’s Finals until the fourth quarter,” Barry responds. “He’s been inconsistent in fourth quarters. I don’t know if Dwyane Wade has lost a step. He hasn’t been the same player over 48 minutes.”

I raised to Barry three remarks he made about the Heat last week – comments that fuel the “Heat-hater” perception. He elaborated on each:

### On his comment that James and Wade don’t make each other better: “When one guy is doing something, does that make the other guy better? Just because LeBron can break his man down, that doesn’t help Wade. They play well together, but I don’t think it enhances their games. I don’t think LeBron is any better today than he was four ago because of Dwyane. At the end of games, both need the ball.”

### On calling the Heat front-runners and accusing them of pointing fingers: “Rajon Rondo pointed out about them whining at officials. I saw a lot of frustration with this team – them looking at each other – more so than last year.”

### On saying (after Game 5 of the Celtics series) that the Heat cannot be trusted: “They’re inconsistent. But when the chips were down, they answered the bell. If they get ahead in this series, do they take their foot off the gas like they’ve been prone to?”

Barry said of his candid, critical style: “I have no personal agendas. I try to stick to my convictions. I like to think I bring good information. I can’t talk about putting on a ring and being in the locker-room of a championship team. But other than that, I’ve got everything covered.”


The decision to do HBO’s Hard Knocks has been met with mixed reaction among Dolphins players.

Anthony Fasano told Sirius XM: "I wasn't too thrilled. There were a lot of groans when it was announced."

“I’m on the fence,” Reggie Bush said. "Training camp is so tough as it is, you got guys trying to make the team, training and fighting and scratching. At the same time, we’re trying to gel together. It adds another thing. But it will bring a lot of buzz to the city, and that’s something we can all use as a city and team.”

Bush – who has dealt with paparazzi during his past relationship with Kim Kardashian, said he’s OK with cameras “but not following me around 24-7.”

It's widely known that Dolphins owner Stephen Ross loved the publicity that comes with doing the show. But he insisted to season-tickets holders this week that coach Joe Philbin was “insistent” about doing it. “I told Joe, ‘It’s your first year as head coach. You have a lot to absorb and deal with.’ I said we can do it next year or the next year. He said, ‘I want to do it now.’ That really surprised me.

“He said he wants people to know what our brand is all about. He said these are not going to be the Dolphins we have seen the last eight seasons. The fact he has the confidence to do that made me feel we made the right decision. I didn’t think any coach would want to take that on the first year.”

CBS’ Phil Simms told us he is surprised the Dolphins agreed to do it “but it’s a great idea. They need the publicity. They’ve got to get back on the map. Get people excited about the Dolphins again. You forget they’re in the NFL.”

### Musing of the week: From ABC’s Jeff Van Gundy, who noted Thunder assistant coach Maurice Cheeks “was so good when I coached him, I named my cat after him. He died 18 years later.”

June 12, 2012

NFL people weigh in on OchoCinco signing; NBA Finals Game 1 postscripts, reaction; UM, Marlins


The Dolphins’ signing of Chad OchoCinco elicited a wide range of reaction around the NFL Tuesday. We’ll start with the positive:

“Watching the Patriots practice three times for the Super Bowl, I was really impressed with Chad,” NBC’s Cris Collinsworth said. “He was much sharper physically than I anticipated. The key is to find things he does well and stick to basic routes.

“I was impressed how Chad handled himself in New England; he was very much a team player. I might have shied away from him after he left Cincinnati, but that experience did him a lot of good. I wouldn’t be worried about him having a negative influence over younger players the way I might have been [when he played with] Terrell Owens in Cincinnati. There’s no downside to this, and if I’m in Miami’s situation, I would have done it, too. If he can’t do it, you can get rid of him. Physically, he has something left. He has this non-stop brain that would call [Bengals coach] Marvin Lewis at 3 in the morning and suggest a play.”

Said CBS’ Phil Simms: “I have no doubt physically, he is still capable of being a solid NFL receiver and have an impact. It’s a really good signing, especially with the situation they are in with receivers. The energy I saw at Bengals practices [before 2011] was awesome, and it was driven by one guy: Chad. Full speed every play.”   

After OchoCinco’s first Dolphins practice Tuesday, Sean Smith tweeted, “[No.] 85 still got it!”

OchoCinco encouraged people to "tweet Vontae Davis and ask him how I look. They wont [sugar] coat." Davis, asked how he looked on a scale of 1 to 10, tweeted: "10; for not knowing the playbook, he still got it."

As for concerns: “He was overwhelmed by the complexity of New England’s offense,” CBS’ Rich Gannon said. “Tom Brady didn’t have a lot of trust he would be in the right place and do the right thing. You would think a veteran guy could learn a game plan. They kept him around in the offseason program this year and he was still struggling. Now, going to a West Coast offense, he may struggle there.”

Patriots receiver Deion Branch had to tell OchoCinco where to line up during a May 24 practice witnessed by reporters. The Patriots cut him last week.

Gannon once asked former Bengals offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski why they didn’t move OchoCinco around more, and “Bob said, ‘We don’t want to overload him.’ That tells you right there. He’s not a bad guy. But his extra curricular activities take away from his focus on the game.” But Gannon said in spite of all that, there's no risk to signing him because it's a low-risk, low-money move.

Former Texans general manager Charley Casserly, of NFL Network, said: “He still has enough physical skills to be productive, but route discipline has always been a question. Does Chad get it, at the end of his career, that he has to be a good soldier and it has to be about the team, not him?”

NFL Network’s Joe Thiesmann, noting his problems against Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis, said: “He’s got great feet, but when it comes to being physical, he can’t do it. He’s physically not strong enough to get off jams. With OchoCinco, [Brian Hartline, Davone Bess and Legedu Naanee], you have four guys who can be functional.”

One longtime NFL executive told us Tuesday: “The guy ran the wrong route on the first play of a game last year, after you practice it all week. How can you screw that up? With Ryan Tannehill, you want a receiver to be in the right spot to help your young quarterback, and that would concern me with Chad. You’re a new coach trying to build a program there; I wouldn’t have touched him.”

### OchoCinco’s former teammate, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, who reportedly needed to sometimes tell OchoCinco where to line up, told Bengals.com: “If I went with Tom Brady and didn’t produce, I’d hang it up. Are you kidding me?”

### OchoCinco, 34, is in great shape and showed quickness during his Dolphins workout Monday. Though he had just 15 catches for 276 yards last season, he is one year removed from a 67-catch, 831-yard season with Cincinnati in 2010, when he also dropped eight passes. If he makes the team, he will earn the veteran’s minimum $925,000, with potential to push that to more than $2 million if he meets incentives such as catching 80 passes, according to Peter King.

### Chad's best tweet from Day One as a Dolphin? He said anyone attending fiancee Evelyn Lozada's book-signing in the Bronx should "tell her to wire me my allowance."


### Comparison of fourth-quarter numbers: LeBron James - seven points, 2 for 6 shooting; Kevin Durant - 17 points (tied for most in a fourth quarter of a Finals game in 15 years), on 6 for 10 shooting.  According to ESPN's Stats and Information, James scored 17 of his 30 and shot 58 percent on Durant, but scored just six on 29 percent shooting (2 for 7) against Thabo Sefolosha.

### Durant (36) closed with more points in his first NBA Finals game than any player except Allen Iverson (48). James guarded Durant "quite a bit," Erik Spoelstra noted, but notably, Shane Battier started the game on Durant. James said that was Spoelstra's suggestion and James added that he thought it was a good idea. "Obviously, we have to do a much better job [on Durant] collectively," Spoelstra said.

### This was critical: The Heat managed only four points in transition - 20 fewer than OKC. "They beat us at their game - and a game that's very similar to us when we're playing well," Spoelstra said. "Loose balls - they were quicker to every single one of those.'' Said Battier: "We had way too many careless turnovers. They were in the paint all night long."

And as Chris Bosh noted, the Heat didn't do nearly a good enough job getting back on defense in transition. The good news, Bosh added, "is we're the best team at making adjustments in the league."

### Dwyane Wade (19 points, just 7 for 19 shooting) disputed a reporter's assertion that he wasn't attacking enough: "I was attacking. Some nights I have big nights scoring, some nights I don't. That's the way it's designed for me. I thought we had good shots. We just have to make more of them.... I'm a winner. I'm not going to sit up here worrying about scoring 30 points. I don't know if that will make you guys feel better."

### To expand on Wade's point about missing shots: Wade, James and Bosh were a combined 9 for 35 on shots beyond 10 feet, according to ESPN. Miami opened 9 for 15 on such shots, then went 7 for 31 the rest of the game.

### Though Russell Westbrook  wasn't consistent with his jumper, he created all sorts of problems with his penetrations. "We can live with him shooting 10 for 24 from the field," James said. "K.D. got a couple looks we don't like - he had two transition threes and a couple jumpers we didn't like with nobody on him." Durant and Westbrook outscored the Heat on their own in the second half, 41-40. OKC had 58 in the second half.

### Spoelstra played only eight players, and just six who got significant minutes. (Mike Miller played 10, Joel Anthony two.) James Jones was unavailable because of a migrane. "I'll probably try to go a little deeper in Game 2," Spoelstra said.

James said, "We have to have more guys in there to give me and D-Wade a rest, and Shane. Spo will figure that out."

### Though Battier and Udonis Haslem played well, a strong case can be made for starting Bosh, to maximize his minutes. He played 34 Tuesday but needs to be in the 40 range. "You have to open up lanes for Wade and LeBron," Magic Johnson said. 

### Teams that win the first game of the NBA Finals have gone on to win the series 72.3 percent of the time.

### NBA's TV Chris Webber asked, "Why is Mike Miller in the game? He doesn't play defense, can't rebound." Well, he can rebound, but less so now because of back problems.


### With this week’s addition of three-star St. Petersburg-based 6-6 tight end Jeremy Kerr, UM has seven oral commitments for 2013, including four in ESPN’s top 200: New Jersey quarterback Kevin Olsen (67), Delray Beach Atlantic defensive tackle Keith Bryant (134), New Orleans-based tight end Standish Dobard (135) and South Plantation running back Alex Collins (200/Wisconsin is making a strong push for him). UM says it expects to have in the range of 20 scholarships.

### Though the Marlins are 11th in the National League in runs and 12th in batting average, hitting coach Eduardo Perez said, “I don’t see it as frustrating. You can’t evaluate after two months. I have to listen to the players and make suggestions. If I don’t, I’m not doing what I’m supposed to.”  It’s notable three of the Marlins who have struggled most (Gaby Sanchez, Chris Coghlan, Logan Morrison) are protégés and huge supporters of John Malee, who was fired as hitting coach last June.

### At what point do you say it’s not a slump and that the Marlins simply overestimated their offensive talent? “You can’t say that because two weeks ago, we were good,” manager Ozzie Guillen said. “But they’re not hitting the way they’re supposed to.”…. Sanchez made slight adjustments during his Triple A stint that he believes will help. The message delivered to him by owner Jeffrey Loria? “Just relax, which is what he always says.”