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3 posts from June 12, 2013

June 12, 2013

2 p.m. Parker/Heat lineup update; Heat/NBA Finals notes, UM/NCAA news; UM gets transfer

Thursday morning update: 1) Spurs point guard Tony Parker indicated he plans to play tonight despite a hamstring strain. He gave the same answer this morning to three questions about his hamstring: "I'll be ready to go."

2) ESPN's Brian Windhorst, quoting sources, reported the Heat is considering starting Mike Miller tonight in place of Udonis Haslem. The move would get more shooters on the floor. Miller is 10 for 11 on threes in these Finals.

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If you haven't seen the Wednesday buzz column that was posted overnight -- with a lot of UM/NCAA news --- please see the last post. Also has news of a UM hoop signing:

Here are a bunch of NBA Finals notes from today (Colleague Joe Goodman will have a story on LeBron James posted later):

SAN ANTONIO – ABC announcer and Hall of Fame guard Magic Johnson said off the air Wednesday he is “shocked by the way” LeBron James played in Game 3 of The Finals and implored him to stop deferring as much to teammates.

Johnson also said that regardless of the results of these Finals, the Heat needs to change its roster. 

“No matter what happens, things have to change with this team,” Johnson said on a conference call. “Everyone has caught up to them. Teams are not afraid of them. They have adjusted to the Big Three.”

Asked how losing The Finals would hurt James’ legacy, Johnson said: “It may take a little hit, but I don’t think much. What I think you may see is the end of the Big Three.”

But trading a member of the Big Three this offseason would seem unlikely.

Though James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh can exercise opt-out clauses in the summer of 2014, Bosh has said in the past he wants to spend his entire career here and Wade’s affinity for South Florida and the Heat is well established.

The Heat also believes James is happy here.

As for James’ play in this series, Johnson said he “has to score points. He’s still trying to get everybody involved. That can’t be his game plan. Dwyane Wade is what he is now. You know he can’t give you 25, 30 points…. Chris Bosh is a great player but not a dominant force. You are a dominant force! He should know that when you come on the road, you can’t expect Mario Chalmers to score 19 points….

“He has to take a more assertive role as far as scoring, especially in the [first half]. I want him to be more like Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan than like me. This is the worst team Miami could play – they play so well together.”

James shot 2 for 14 outside the paint in Game 3 and is 7 for 30 on those shots (23.3 percent) in this series. Should James keep taking those shots or should he try to force the issue against a Spurs defense that is determined not to allow him to penetrate?

“You’ve got to do a combination,” he said, emphasizing the need for James to get out in transition. “On the half-court side, he knows guys are sliding over. He can’t go all the way to the basket. Pull up for a 5, 8, 10 footer. Hit that midrange shot.”

The Heat was outscored by 32 points with James in the game Tuesday, the worst plus/minus of his career. What’s more, he had no free throw attempts for the first time in a game since December 2009.

### Ray Allen said the responsibility of fixing the problems that plagued the Heat in Game 3 extend beyond the players.

“Our coaches have to do a better job of getting D-Wade more involved, getting C.B. more involved,” he said. “Mike Miller had a great game, but we didn’t really look for him down the stretch.”

### After scoring 22 points combined in the first half of the past two games, Wade has managed just four combined in the past two second halves, on 2 for 11 shooting, including 2 for 8 in Game 3.

“I got some shots in the second half that I liked – I just missed them,” he said. “Second half, we all need to be better.”

Asked if there’s a correlation between his knee injury and second-half production, Wade said: “If it is, I won’t tell you.”

### Johnson, asked about Wade, mentioned that with players who get older: “Your ego won’t allow you to say you can’t do the same things you used to do. You’re still thinking you’re the same player, but your body would tell you something different.”

### Mario Chalmers said there was “dead silence” during the team’s review of the Game 3 film today. Bosh said what became clear was “we didn’t give the effort we needed to give. It’s really embarrassing to be a part of.”

### The Big Three combined to average 64.6 points per game during the regular season. They’re averaging 43.3 in this series.

### The Heat has won 11 games in a row after losses, by an average margin of 19.7 points. And Miami has followed its five previous playoff losses with wins by margins of 37, 18, 11, 23 and 19.

### The Heat’s 36-point drubbing Tuesday not only was its most lopsided loss in the Big Three era, but the third-worst loss in NBA Finals history.

SPURS NOTES

Spurs point guard Tony Parker, slowed by a hamstring injury, hopes to play in Game 4 but said he and coach Gregg Popovich will not decide until they see how he feels on Thursday.

An MRI revealed Parker has a Grade 1 strain, which is the mildest level of strain. He did not participate in light shooting drills that were open to the media on Wednesday.

“I’m day to day,” said Parker, who sustained the injury early in the second half of Game 3. “It depends on when I wake up [Thursday], how I feel.”

He said he would not play if this were a regular season game.

“I want to wait until [Thursday] before I make a decision whether he should play or not,” Popovich said. “A lot will have to do with what happens to him during the day, and how I think his play will affect our team, whether good or bad.”

Spurs guard Manu Ginobili said if Parker misses the game, “or if we have him limited, it’s going to be very, very difficult. We need his speed, his judgment, his pick and roll.” 

### Several Spurs opined on LeBron James’ offensive struggles.

“It’s LeBron stopping himself out there,” guards Danny Green said. “I hope he continues to miss shots… Normally, you don’t see this happening to the best guys in the league in the Finals.”

Ginobili said when James “gets to the paint, we’re all there. We’re not giving him lanes to the rim.”

Green said he and Kawhi Leonard each defended James about the same amount in Game 3. “We’re just contesting all his shots,” Leonard said.

Said Tim Duncan: “We’re guarding him with five guys.”

### According to Elias, Spurs backup guard Gary Neal’s 24 points in Game 3 were the most by an undrafted player in an NBA Finals game since John Starks scored 27 for the Knicks against Houston in Game 6 of the 1994 Finals.

Neal played in Turkey, Italy and Spain before finally making it to the NBA this season. The Spurs gave him an unexpected invitation to a mini-camp, then invited him to join their summer league team in Las Vegas, which he parlayed into a training camp invitation.

Accepting the Vegas invitation last summer meant canceling a trip to Atlantis for his honeymoon. “I had to kind of just smooth it over with my wife,” he said. “She decided it would be a good thing if we went to Vegas instead, so I could make an NBA push.”

### Neal, who averaged 9.5 points in 68 games this season, is hardly the only Spurs’ only somewhat surprising success story. Green, cut three times previously (including twice by the Spurs) leads all scorers in this series with 56 points --- more than James’ 50 and Dwyane Wade’s 43.

Green said if somebody told him a week ago that he would be leading the NBA Finals in scoring through three games, “I would say, ‘You’re lying. Stop messing with me.’”

His 16 three-pointers are the most over three NBA Finals games in history, topping Ray Allen’s previous mark of 15.

Popovich said when he signed Green for a third time, his former coach at North Carolina (Roy Williams) talked to him about having the confidence to sustain an NBA career.

"Coach Williams really convinced me that he deserved another shot,” Popovich said.

### Since the NBA Finals went to a 2-3-2 format in 1985, 12 series have been tied 1-1 after two games. The Game 3 winner had gone on to win 92 percent of those series.

### After posting 34 and 29.7 ratings for the first two Finals games, WPLG-10 generated a 28.4 for Game 3, a number diminished by the lopsided score in the fourth quarter. Substantially more Dade/Broward residents watched Game 7 of the Heat-Pacers Eastern Finals than any Finals game so far, according to Nielsen Media Research.

 

11 a.m. update: UM adds player; SI's UM expose;UM/NCAA news;Heat Game 3 postscripts;Dolphins

1) Wednesday news item: Power forward Donnavan Kirk, who once played for UM but left for DePaul, says he is returning to UM for one final season of eligibility (this season). He said today he picked UM over Colorado State.

2) FOR POSTSCRIPTS ON GAME 3 OF THE NBA FINALS, AND EVERYTHING LEBRON JAMES HAD TO SAY AFTERWARD, PLEASE READ THE LAST POST.

WEDNESDAY BUZZ COLUMN (updated at 11 a.m. Wednesday after first paragraph with news from SI's UM story)

 

Tidbits heading into UM’s hearing in front of the NCAA’s infractions committee this week:

### A high-ranking UM source involved in the case said the school will be surprised if it’s socked with another bowl ban but is fully braced for the potential of scholarship reductions in football and basketball.

It’s widely believed UM would accept modest scholarship reductions but probably would appeal a bowl ban. But UM president Donna Shalala hasn’t discussed that strategy with her people, so that’s not definite.

### UPDATE: Here is what Sports Illustrated posted on their web site in advance of the release of its full article on UM and the NCAA later today. It talks about the NCAA's mishandling of the Miami case and Shapiro's gambling allegations:

“People are questioning the need and effectiveness of an enforcement staff in general,” says former NCAA enforcement rep Abigail Grantstein, “to the point that I wonder if the membership will say we don’t want it.” “The time is ripe to cheat,” adds an ex-enforcement staffer. “There’s no policing going on.”

Shapiro, whose initial allegations that he supplied improper benefits to more than 100 Miami football and basketball players between 2002 and ‘10  came to light and was mostly corroborated in an August 2011 Yahoo! Sports report, now claims that he used inside information from Hurricanes players, coaches and athletic department staffers to win bets on 23 Miami football games between 2003 and ’09. Shapiro supplied SI with financial statements and bank records from 2005 to ’08 that show dozens of five- and six-figure sums moving from Shapiro’s entities to Adam Meyer’s during the college football season. Meyer is the operator of a handicapping website AdamWins.com. Meyer’s lawyer, Joel Hirschhorn, told SI that Meyer would place bets for Shapiro when his client was in Las Vegas.

An example of Shapiro’s new claims: He told SI that several days before favored Miami lost 19-16 to N.C. State on Nov. 3, 2007, he learned from a coach that quarterback Kyle Wright would be benched due to a bad knee and ankle. Shapiro said he got his bet in before the benching became public, and the line moved from 13 points to 11. Records show that six days after the game, nine wires moved $1.18 million from one Shapiro business to another. Shapiro claims it was all money from the N.C. State game.

### Though UM previously sent a strongly-worded letter to the NCAA reiterating that it reserves the right to sue, several UM officials say Shalala is reluctant and will consider it only if UM is punished far beyond expectations.

### Though NCAA president Mark Emmert wants the case to be resolved sooner rather than later, UM has not been told whether the decision will be expedited and isn’t counting on that.

Sanctions typically are announced no sooner than six weeks after a hearing, and the North Carolina case took four months. Football coach Al Golden said he wants finality before camp opens in early August, but odds are against that.

### Shalala will lead UM’s contingent at the hearings, accompanied by legal counsel, senior UM officials and coaches Golden and Jim Larranaga -- neither of whom are accused of any violations. The former UM coaches who are there to defend themselves against charges – Clint Hurtt, Aubrey Hill, Frank Haith, Jorge Fernandez and Jake Morton – can sit in only during the hearings directly involving them.

Procedural issues will be heard Thursday; UM and at least four of the coaches again will ask for the case to be dismissed, which UM doesn’t expect to happen.

### All of the football allegations will be addressed in a marathon Friday session, and basketball charges will be dealt with Saturday. “If this were in a regular court, it would be thrown out,” one UM official said, requesting anonymity. “How [the enforcement staff] handled this was disgraceful.”

### UM announced Monday that it will not comment publicly to reporters before, during or after the hearings, which will be held in a downtown Indianapolis hotel.

### The allegations against UM are voluminous, but UM’s optimism that it won’t be pounded are rooted in a few factors. Here are five: 1) UM already has self-imposed two bowl bans and 10 player suspensions and believes that will greatly help its case. 2) UM privately is hopeful the enforcement committee will be receptive to its contention that convicted Ponzi schemer Nevin Shapiro lacks credibility, a position strengthened when The Herald learned recently that he lied under oath in an unrelated matter.….

3) Twenty of the charges were uncorroborated by anyone besides Shapiro – including the biggest one (a $50,000 payment to Vince Wilfork). At least two others were corroborated only by his former girlfriend, who has a felony conviction on her record.

UM believes it has a decent chance of not being penalized for at least some of those and other charges, especially because “the enforcement staff acknowledged it discredited the testimony of former student athletes to accept the word of a convicted felon.”

4) UM hopes it can convince the eight people hearing the case to put far less weight (as in: little or none) on photos of Shapiro with athletes than the enforcement staff did, asserting they prove nothing.

5) An involved UM official believes there’s some sentiment on the infractions committee (which hears the case) to not simply shrug off the numerous examples of dubious conduct by the enforcement staff in investigating the case (using Shapiro’s lawyer to get depositions, writing a note on Shapiro’s behalf to his sentencing judge, etc.).

### One source on the UM/coaches side said he is concerned, however, that generally there isn’t enough arm’s length between the infractions committee and enforcement staff, and that they have socialized at times in the past, including going to baseball games.

### A quick synopsis of the charges, as the Associated Press has reported: The NCAA claims Shapiro provided $170,000 in impermissible benefits to athletes, recruits, coaches and others from 2002 to 2010, and more than half of that total ($90,000) was used to get Wilfork and Antrel Rolle to sign with his sports agency.

Forty-eight players received VIP access and beverage service from Shapiro at Miami nightclubs; 38 were entertained at Shapiro’s home; 18 received invites to bowling alley events and seven dined with Shapiro at Benihana.

### The NCAA did not include the salacious allegations in the Yahoo! story that Shapiro paid for prostitutes or an abortion for one player.

Among some of the more colorful accusations: Shapiro paid for Devin Hester’s $3000 engagement ring; purchased a $700 television (Shapiro said it was for Andrew Williams and Sam Shields); bought Heat tickets for Williams, Andrew Johnson and others; bought a used washer/dryer set for Wilfork; and directed his girlfriend to give no-show jobs for a couple months to Tavares Gooden and Bryan Pata, who was shot and killed in 2006.

### In response to the lack of institutional control charge, UM will tell the committee that it hired an investigator (Wayne Black) to check into Shapiro about a decade ago, and he found nothing; and also that no UM athletic department official had prior knowledge of his violations.

UM told the NCAA: “Charging the university with lack of institutional control, because two administrators who had no day-to-day athletic responsibilities or expertise in the area allegedly had knowledge of Shapiro’s sports company, is unreasonable and illogical.”

### The NCAA proposed scholarship reductions during settlement talks with UM in February, but before UM could make a counter offer, NCAA general counsel Donald Remy called UM and the ex-coaches and said talks were off, suggesting that the enforcement committee didn’t support it. UM also was led to believe Emmert didn’t have support from the two boards that he reports to.

### The NCAA’s shoddy work extends to simple things, too, such as calling DeMarcus Van Dyke by the wrong name in the Notice of Allegations (Marcus) and referring to Reggie Johnson “Reggie Mitchell” in emails to UM.

CHATTER

UM baseball player/quarterback David Thompson will undergo arthroscopic surgery for the second time on his right (non-throwing) shoulder on Wednesday. And though his father Ed said David hasn’t decided whether to play only baseball, he said: “This doesn’t bode well for football. There is a point where you have to become realistic. He knows how far behind he is in football.

“It’s a discouraging setback. We’ll know more after the surgery. We’re hoping it’s a 6-to-8 week recovery.” Thompson had surgery on the shoulder last June but has had occasional pain in recent months.

### The Dolphins remain open to upgrading over Jorvorskie Lane at fullback, and two moves Tuesday provided more indication of that. First, Miami booked a Wednesday visit with three-time Pro Bowl fullback Vonta Leach, who was cut by the Ravens this week.

Miami also claimed fullback Evan Rodriguez off waivers from Chicago Tuesday. Rodriguez angered the Bears with two offseason arrests: one on Miami in March for disorderly intoxication (charges dropped) and May for 2012 and speeding. A fourth-round pick from Temple in 2012, he played in 12 games for Chicago last year and caught four passes for 21 yards.

### No mystery around the Dolphins’ running back job: Lamar Miller said he has been with the first team all offseason, with Daniel Thomas running No. 2.

Notes, quotes from Heat's Game 3 loss; What LeBron said afterward; Parker injury update

Notes, quotes and postscripts from the Spurs’ 113-77 thumping of the Heat in Game 3 of the NBA Finals:  

### Could this have been any more dismal? This was the largest margin of defeat in the three years of the Big Three era, regular season or playoffs. What’s more, it was the worst playoff loss in Heat history, and with a 36-point final margin, it was the third-most lopsided loss in NBA Finals history.

The only two more lopsided margin in Finals history: a 42-point Bulls win against Utah in 1998, and a 39-point route by the Celtics against the Lakers in 2008.

### Tony Parker has a hamstring injury and will undergo an MRI on Wednesday. Parker suffered the injury in the third quarter but said he isn't sure how. He returned briefly to start the fourth, but left 1:27 into the fourth.

"Hopefully it's nothing big and it's just cramping," he said. "It was just a weird feeling. I played two minutes in the fourth and we were up big so Pop didn't want to take a risk. We will see tomorrow."

Asked if he was hurting, he said "No."

### LeBron James shot just 2 for 14 outside the paint and 7 for 21 overall on a thoroughly disappointing 15-point night. He had 11 rebounds and five assists but didn’t have a free throw attempt, the first time that’s happened all year.

“That’s shocking – a big reason he couldn’t get into a rhythm,” Spurs guard Danny Green said. “I hope he continues to miss shots. It’s LeBron stopping himself out there. We’re making it tough for him.”

### The Heat was outscored by 32 with James on the floor - his worst plus/minus number of his entire career.

### For the first time in memory, LeBron did not play well enough to even merit an appearance at the postgame podium. Here’s what he said by his locker afterward.

“We got a good old butt-kicking.  They got everything they wanted—--- 50/50 balls, threes, transition basketsand usually that’s going to result in a loss. We’ve got to regroup and figure out what we did wrong, which is a lot of things, and get ready for Game 4.”

What did you tell your teammates? “I’ve got to be better. It’s that simple. If I’m better, we’re better. And I’ve got to be better. I’m putting everything on my shoulders. My teammates are doing a great job and I’m not doing my part.”

What’s the frustration level? “It’s frustrating when you get smashed like that in a Finals game. You feel like you came in with a great game plan and pretty much nothing works, you’re frustrated about it. I’m absolutely not happy and very upset about the game. But there’s a tomorrow. We will prepare, we will be better. I will be better.”

What should you be doing differently moving forward? “Honestly I’ve just got to play better. I can’t have a performance like that tonight and expect us to win. I’ve got to shoot the ball better, make better decisions. I’m not putting the blame on nobody. I’m owning everything, what I did tonight. We gave up everything. And you can’t do that.

What do you think about your scoring average in the Finals?

"I’ve got to do more. It’s that simple. Offensively and defensively. Tonight I had some great looks but they didn’t go. I have to be able to make more plays offensively for our team.”

Just trying to get a rhythm. I was in a decent rhythm at the end of the third when we made that mini run, just seeing the ball go into the basket, it helps all of us. I’m not making no excuses.”

What kind of feel do you have for the Spurs?

"We'll we have to be better, much better. We didn’t do anything right tonight and it showed in the box score.

What were you thinking on the bench at the end?

I was actually thinking it’s just one win for them. They played a great game. They got everything that they wanted. But at the end of the day you only get one win no matter how many points you score. And we have another opportunity on Thursday.”

How demoralizing is seeing them make 16 3s? “We got smashed. Everything is demoralizing. There’s nothing positive out of this game. Everything was a disaster. As a team, we have a veteran ball club but we know we can’t play like that and win.

“We have to make adjustments. As much as we want to get back out there and redeem ourselves, we have to get back to the lab tomorrow and figure out exactly where the cracks were, if it was effort or schemes. I think effort was more of it than anything and we’ve got to do better.”

### On his own game, LeBron said: “I’m just missing shots. They’re going under my pick and rolls and daring me to shoot. Anytime I get into the paint they’re putting two bodies in front of me. They’re doing a good job. But I’ve got to hit shots. I went a whole game without shooting a free throw to show you how my game was tonight.”

Why is he settling at times for jumpers? “If it’s there, you’ve got to take it. There’s no such thing as settling for jumpers when they’re laying off of you.

Is there anyone from the outside he will go to for advice? “No. I don’t even have a phone. So even if I wanted to, I couldn’t.”

Biggest thing you need to fix? “I can answer that a lot better after tomorrow’s practice. There’s a lot going through my mind right now—offensive rebounds, closing out on shooters, transition, you name it. We had 19 offensive rebounds. That can’t happen.”

### Erik Spoelstra: “We got what we deserved. Every shot they wanted to get they got. We did not disrupt them. We never got to our game.”

What about the offensive woes (40.8 percent shooting, 33 points in the second half, 16 turnovers)? “I don’t even want our guys bringing up that side of the floor,” Spoelstra said. “If that’s what we’re going to pinpoint this to, we’re kidding ourselves.”

### With LeBron again scoring below his norm, the Heat needed gems from Dwyane Wade nor Chris Bosh. Neither could deliver one in Game 3.

The two combined for just six points in the second half, and four of those (from Wade) came after the outcome had long since been decided.

Oh, Miami got the vintage version of Wade in the first half (12 points), but his excellence abruptly ended at halftime, and D-Wade unraveled in a dreadful second half, when he shot 2 for 8. He closed with 16 points. And he watched the opposing starting shooting guard, Danny Green, erupt for 27 points (22 in the second half) while making 7 of 9 threes.

Bosh crashed the boards for the second game in a row (10 rebounds) but was underwhelming offensively, attempting only two shots in the second half and scoring 12 for the night.

### The Spurs are basically packing the paint and tell the Heat to shoot.

“They’re daring us to take shots,” Bosh said. "Sometimes, we’re going to have to step up and knock those down with confidence. Unless you make them pay for playing so packed into the paint, they’re always going to stay there.”

### The idea of Green easily outscoring Wade over the first three games of an NBA Finals would seem hard to believe before this postseason. But it’s the reality now. Green has outscored Wade 56-43 in the series.

On Tuesday, Green gave Wade so much room on his jumper early in the game that Wade could have placed a couple of chairs between himself and Green. Wade was 1 for 3 on jumpers in the first half and 0 for 5 in the second half. His only two baskets in the second half were within five feet of the basket.

Wade got to the free throw line only twice, continuing a disturbing trend that has spanned most of these playoffs.

“We’re playing against one of the best defensive teams,” Wade said. “But we have to step up and make shots, like those guys did tonight.”

### As for Bosh, his modest offensive contributions continue, at a most inauspicious time. After averaging 16.6 points during the regular season, Bosh hasn’t topped 13 points in seven playoff games in a row. Here are his point totals for the past seven: 7, 7, 5, 9, 12, 13 and 12.

He attempted only two shots in the second half: a jumper in the third quarter and a missed three midway through the fourth.

The Heat entered having won 30 in a row in games when Bosh makes at least half his shots. He finished below 50 percent, at 4 for 10, in Game 3.

### Mike Miller hit all five of his threes, tying Danny Green’s record (set in Game 2) for most threes without a miss in the Finals game. Miller scored 15, but Gary Neal had an even bigger night off the Spurs’ bench with 24 points (including 6 for 10 on threes).

### The Spurs hit a Finals-record 16 threes (in 32 attempts) and outrebounded the Heat, 52-36.

### Mario Chalmers was awful: 0 for 5 shooting, no points, one assist, four turnovers.

### Tim Duncan, who had 12 points and 14 rebounds: “We've both answered the losses very well, but not answered the wins very well."