05/30/2014

Friday night update: Birdman, Beasley, Bird's order to Stephenson, Barkley speaks out; Vogel's memory issue

Some pre-game Heat notes:

### Birdman is back. Chris Andersen is active for Game 6 tonight after missing two games with a bruised thigh. Michael Beasley and Justin Hamilton are inactive for the Heat.

Rashard Lewis will start for the third straight game.

###  On the day of their biggest game of the season, the Pacers on Friday morning were again riddled with questions about some of their unusual gamesmanship tactics in this series, Lance Stephenson’s primarily.

Stephenson said Pacers president Larry Bird told him he should not blow in a player’s face, as Stephenson did with LeBron James in Game 5.

“Whenever he says something to me, I take that to heart,” Stephenson said. “He definitely kept me on the right path my whole career. He said don’t do it again, so I’m not going to do it again.”

Stephenson has said his peculiar behavior – including the blowing incident and poking his head in a huddle with Erik Spoelstra and Norris Cole --- are done to enhance the Pacers’ chances of winning.

Asked Friday how blowing in the ear contributes to winning, Stephenson wasn’t permitted to answer. A Pacers media relations official ended the session and told Stephenson to “Go shoot.”

For all his efforts to distract James in this series, Stephenson conceded Friday morning: “I don’t think I can get into his head. He’s the best player in the league. He knows how to break through that stuff. I don’t think it bothered him at all.”

Meanwhile, Pacers coach Frank Vogel sidestepped a question about shouting at Shane Battier and Norris Cole as they shot three-pointers earlier in the series.

“I don’t know if I’ve done that or not, to be honest,” Vogel said. “I don’t remember if I’ve done that in the past. In the spirit of the game, I’m talking constantly.

"If the ball is over on the sideline, I’m getting in our guys’ ears to pick up their pressure. Anything we can do to enhance our defensive disposition, we try to do. We’re just coaching the game.”

BARKLEY’S TAKE

TNT’s Charles Barkley, on Dan Le Batard’s ESPN Radio show, said he doesn’t “have a problem” with Stephenson blowing in James’ ear but “it’s silly and childish. It’s not like he upset LeBron. It’s just stupid. Come on, you’re a grown man.  He’s a very good player but stuff like that takes away from him as a player. He’s not distracting anyone.”

And Barkley cracked: “Somebody blows in your ear, you’re supposed to kiss them next.”

Barkley also said Stephenson has “cost himself money” in free agency this summer. “You have to ask yourself: If you give him a lot of money when he’s acting like that, we won’t be able to control him at all.”

Barkley, on other topics:

### He blamed “that old idiot Skip Bayless” --- the ESPN commentator --- for making an issue of James passing to Chris Bosh late in Game 5 instead of taking the last shot: “Your star doesn’t have to take the shot all the time!”

### He reiterated that “those Miami fans are fake and phony…. Those fans aren’t going to do anything to me. I’ll beat them… if they jump in my face.”

### TNT’s Reggie Miller, on Stephenson’s Game 5 antics: “I never would have done that to Michael Jordan, who was the best player in the game. You never want to tug on Superman’s cape… I respect what he was trying to do by trying to get under the skin of LeBron. Will it work? Probably not.”

05/29/2014

Stephenson's antics draw interesting reaction Thursday; Eye-opening late-game Big 3 numbers; Dolphins, UM

FRIDAY BUZZ COLUMN

Lance Stephenson’s infantile behavior elicited a mix of reaction Thursday, from his coach defending some of his conduct, to Ray Allen ridiculing it, to Chris Bosh asserting that Stephenson’s antics “take away from the sport.”

Start with Pacers coach Frank Vogel, who had no issue with his mischievous guard eavesdropping in a private discussion between Erik Spoelstra and Norris Cole during Game 5.

“People are in my huddle all the time,” Vogel said. “Every player in the NBA does that. That’s nothing.”

Asked if he wishes he could have said something to Stephenson at that moment, Spoelstra said: “Look, some players do that. He’s not the only one. Jason Kidd used to do that.”

And Stephenson claimed Cole --– or “Cole Norris,” as he called him –-- “does the same things, gets under your skin, but in a different way.”

But Vogel said Stephenson blowing in LeBron James’ “face probably crosses the line. We want to be a competitive team but we don’t want to cross the line.”

As Dwyane Wade said: “Our teammates wouldn’t do that. That’s not how we are.”

Pacers president Larry Bird told USA Today that he also was bothered by Stephenson blowing in LeBron's ear.

On Thursday, Bosh and Allen took issue with Stephenson’s conduct in general.

Allen called it “buffoonery” and said the blowing incident “shows bad character on his part.”

Allen said Stephenson hasn’t remotely gotten under the Heat’s skin and “for most of us, it’s laughable. It makes him look bad. It’s something he’s got to clean up."

Allen, by the way, also said with the way Stephenson is playing defense, "there’s a point where you will be getting fouled because he’s trying to get too close. The referee will call it.”

Bosh said Stephenson’s bizarre behavior "takes away from the sport. We’re talking about his antics, not the real purpose of the game. It takes away even from Paul George’s performance…

“I’ve been watching the game since I was a kid and I’ve never seen anything like that. What can you do? He’s his own man and he doesn’t have any effect on what we do….

“It’s funny. It seems surreal that it keeps happening. We can use it as fuel, especially for LeBron…. We’re professional. There’s a such thing as sportsmanship. You have to respect the game.”

Bosh said Stephenson’s behavior should be treated “like your kids. If they throw a tantrum on the floor, just ignore them and they’ll stop.”

Bosh said if a teammate behaved this way, he would tell him: “Just stop!”  

James again tried to avoid the topic Thursday, saying: "I'm not going into a game worried about Lance or his antics."

Stephenson said Thursday his antics “just come out of the blue” and that blowing in James’ face “just happened. Just having fun. I have a lot of respect for him. You’ve got to do whatever it takes to get under him in the game because he’s that good. So if I got to do all that stuff, I’m going to do that to win the game.

“The whole series, I felt like he was comfortable and nobody really bothered him.”

Does Stephenson mind being cast as a villian? “Just trying to help my team win, whatever it takes.”

CHATTER

James’ decision to pass to Bosh for what was a missed three-pointer late in Game 5, rather than drive to the basket, generated plenty of debate, as expected. We have no issue with it because James was struggling (1 for 5 in the paint, 2 for 10 overall) and because Bosh has hit that shot many times. A couple points to consider:

1. During the Big Three era, including regular season and playoffs, Bosh is 4 for 10 on shots in the final 10 seconds of games, with the score tied or the Heat trailing by three or fewer.

Conversely, James is 9 for 30 on those shots, including 2 for 5 in the playoffs as a member of the Heat and 1 for 6 during the regular season this year, according to my analysis of year-by-year numbers on NBA.com.

Wade is 4 for 17 on those shots in the regular season and postseason during the Big Three era, Mario Chalmers 0 for 6.

And Allen is 2 for 3 on those attempts in his two years with the Heat, including the biggest shot in franchise history late in Game 6 of the 2013 Finals.

If you cut the sample size to potential game-tying or go-ahead shots with less than five seconds left, as ESPN did, Bosh is 3 for 7 since joining the Heat (3 for 4 on threes) and James 3 for 18.

2. Roy Hibbert said James driving would have been the higher-percentage shot and that’s accurate in theory.

Keep in mind that James shot 65 percent within five feet of the basket against Indiana when Hibbert was in the game this season, and shot 78 percent within five feet of the basket overall in 2013-14, according to NBA.com data.

But opponents are shooting 42 percent against Hibbert at the rim in the playoffs, according to ESPN.

Bosh, conversely, shot 33.9 percent on three-pointers this season and 40.7 in the playoffs.

Even so, I'm not among those with any great objection to how LeBron handled this, considering a second defender came over to help on LeBron on that play; because LeBron was having a dreadful night; and because Bosh has been the Heat's most effective clutch shooter over the past couple of years.

### Please see the last post for more Heat notes from Thursday night, including a Chris Andersen update and why Chris Bosh said everybody was especially ornery today (even beyond Wednesday's loss).

### Dolphins tight end Michael Egnew said new offensive coordinator Bill Lazor is splitting him out as a receiver more often than Mike Sherman did. That’s the role Jeff Ireland envisioned for him. Ireland, by the way, will not get a job with the Seahawks after working as a draft consultant for them.

### The dynamic between Mike Wallace and the Dolphins coaching staff --- which teammates have raised concerns about in the past --- definitely has improved, with Joe Philbin making a point to say how happy he is with Wallace’s attitude and others praising his work habits.

### While UM and UF are working on scheduling a home-and-home in basketball (in Gainesville in November, in Miami the following year), UF athletic director Jeremy Foley warned this week that a neutral site football game “would not be a renewal of the series” and that nothing is imminent: “At some point and time, it may make sense.”

### Twitter: @flasportsbuzz

Thursday evening Heat tidbits

Some quick hit Heat items: (Check back in an hour for a lot more)

### Heat center Chris Andersen, sidelined the past two games, said Thursday his thigh bruise has improved but remained non-committal about whether he will be able to play in Game 6 on Friday.

“I’m not limping anymore,” he said. He said he doesn’t feel much discomfort and regardless, “I’ve got a high tolerance for pain.”

Andersen was limited in practice Thursday and called himself a game-time decision.

Players defended by Andersen are shooting just 31.5 percent against him this postseason, by far the lowest (or best) of any Heat frontcourt player, according to synergysports.com.

### The NBA fined Pacers guard Lance Stephenson $10,000 and center Roy Hibbert $5,000 for flopping during Game 5. Stephenson’s fine was larger because he was penalized $5000 for flopping earlier in the series.

Forward Paul George was fined $25,000 for criticizing the officiating after Game 4.

### The fact the Heat practiced Thursday after a road game the night before was highly unusual.

“Everybody’s a little ornery,” Chris Bosh said. “Everybody got in late. The ideal situation, we stay in bed all day.”

### Even though most of the five fouls against James were hardly egregious, LeBron James and other Heat people did not publicly question the officiating in Game 5, choosing to avoid a fine.

Among those rising to James’ defense: ESPN’s Bill Simmons, who said superstars should be afforded more respect and shouldn’t be called for the type of ticky-tack fouls that James was whistled for.

Conversely, the Heat’s eight free throw attempts tied for the fewest in a playoff game by any team since Miami had eight against Chicago in a first-round game in 2006.

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra attributed that to the Pacers’ defense. “We have to be committed to get our attacks,” he said.

### More evidence of how things can change from the regular season: Hibbert, who shot 2 for 10 against Udonis Haslem in the regular season, is 8 for 15 when Haslem is in the game in this series but 13 for 35 when Haslem is out of the game.

Hibbert is a plus-28 with Haslem in the game, a minus-41 with Haslem on the bench.

### The Heat, which has the 26th and 55th picks in the June 26 draft, on Thursday reportedly worked out forwards Casey Prather (Florida) and Khem Birch (UNLV) and guards Jordan Adams (UCLA), Jordan Clarkson (Missouri) and Bryce Cotton (Providence).

### Notable numbers: Bosh’s 21 shots were his most in a playoff game since joining the Heat. Before Game 5, the Heat was 10-0 all time when Bosh took at least 20 shots in any game…

James’ teams, in Miami and Cleveland, are 0-9 in playoff games when he scores fewer than 15 points… The Heat went 15 for 31 on three-pointers, only the fourth time in NBA playoff history that a team lost a game after making at least 15 threes….

According to Nielsen Media, 24.6 percent of Dade/Broward homes with TV sets watched the game --- the highest Heat rating of the postseason. The rating peaked at a 31.3 during the game’s final minutes.

A lot more to come shortly...

Postscripts, reaction, notes, quotes from Heat's Game 5 loss

Thoughts and reaction from Indiana’s season-extending 93-90 Game 5 win against the Heat that sends this series back to Miami on Friday:

### As reality television goes, that was pretty riveting stuff. From LeBron’s most unusual night, to Paul George’s 31-point second half, to Lance Stephenson blowing sweet nothings in LeBron’s ear, to Rashard Lewis’ out-of-nowhere three-point eruption. Heck, there was even a Michael Beasley sighting. (And Toney Douglas, too!)

### James, limited to 24 minutes by foul trouble, finished with seven points, one fewer than his previous career playoff low (set against Dallas in the 2011 Finals), on 2 for 10 shooting. It wasn’t LeBron’s lowest scoring playoff game ever; he once scored three points in a regular season game. (ESPN noted that Michael Jordan never scored fewer than 15 points in a playoff game, by the way.)

“It sucks for me because I’m not able to make plays to help our team win,” LeBron said. “24 minutes is not enough for me to make an imprint on a game.”

His only baskets were an alley-oop dunk to open the game and a fourth-quarter three. He had more turnovers (three) than baskets.

“I picked up some early fouls,” James said. “It was something I’m not accustomed to. My teammates put us in position to win. That’s all I can ask for.”

### The Heat was plus 13 without James in the first half but unraveled after he left with his fifth foul with 8:34 left in the third quarter and the Heat ahead 45-37. By the time he returned with 10:30 left, the Heat was down 69-62.

### Stephenson shot 4 for 11 on a 12-point night but was an irritant, blowing in LeBron’s ear and playing stout defense on LeBron and others. He also poked his head in a conversation between Spoelstra and Norris Cole.

Asked about Stephenson’s antics, LeBron said: I’m just here to play basketball. All the extra curricular activities I don’t get into. We put ourselves in position to win.... Professionals, that's who we are. All the extra whatever, Lance wants to do I don’t really care about that. Lance is Lance. He’s going to do what he does to help his team win.”

Paul George cracked: "I hope his breath wasn't too bad for LeBron."

### George was magnificent: 21 points on 8 for 10 shooting in the fourth quarter. George (who finished with 37) and David West scored Indiana’s last 36 points over the final 13:30, shooting 13 for 17 over that stretch. All other Pacers shot 0 for 6 over the final 13:30.

"In the back of my mind the whole night was how I can be an impactful player for us," George said.

### Off a pass from LeBron, Chris Bosh had a good look on his missed potential go-ahead three-pointer with five seconds left. Remember Bosh was third in the NBA in field-goal percentage (54) in clutch moments during the season. “We’ll take that look,” Erik Spoelstra said.

Roy Hibbert said afterward he was relieved that LeBron didn’t take the shot or drive to the basket.

Asked about Hibbert’s comment, James said: “My teammates trust me I’m going to make the right play to help us win. It doesn’t matter from somebody else’s perspective. We got a great look. I was able to get into the paint, drew two” and passed to Bosh.

Bosh closed with 20 points on 9 for 21 shooting and 10 rebounds.

### Lewis, who shot 0 for 7 in the previous two games, sank 6 of 9 threes and his 18 points kept the Heat afloat amid LeBron’s foul trouble.

“We just wanted him to be aggressive,” Spoelstra said. “He had been getting good looks in these scenarios. He has an absolute neon green light. We want him attacking his opportunities like that with a clear mind. We didn’t even run a play for him.”

“His timely shots, his defensive activity, he’s been great ever since he was inserted into the lineup,” James said.

### Dwyane Wade had 18 points on 7 for 14 shooting but also six turnovers. “We have to be better, led by me, having six turnovers. That was a poor job by us, led by me. But we still gave ourselves an opportunity.

“I thought our defense was great. We gave ourselves a chance all night because of our defense. We gave ourselves a chance to win. On the road, that’s all you can ask for, even without LeBron putting his imprint on a game.”

### With James sitting out most of the third quarter with foul trouble, Spoelstra briefly summoned Beasley, who missed his only shot in three minutes in his first appearance in this series. The Heat was outscored by four points with him in the game. Spoelstra opted for Beasley over Douglas (who played five scoreless minutes in the first half) or James Jones (who didn’t play at all).

### This was huge: The Pacers --- down 42-33 at the half --- had 11 turnovers in the first half, just one in the second.

### This was odd: The Heat shot better on three-pointers (15 for 31) than two-pointers (19 for 44). “Their shot making was ridiculous, but we were still able to prevail,” Pacers coach Frank Vogel said.

But Miami attempted only seven free throws, compared with 22 for Indiana; was outscored by 20 in the paint; committed 17 turnovers; and was outrebounded 45-38.   “Some of the careless turnovers, some the entry passes where we were just careless with it, that’s some of the stuff you can clean up,” LeBron said.

### Ray Allen scored 15 but didn’t play much of the time in crunch time, with Spoelstra opting instead to use Mario Chalmers.

### Norris Cole had his worst game of the series, with three turnovers and 0 for 2 shooting. Cole replaced LeBron when he picked up his fifth foul in the third, and the Heat squandered its lead over the ensuing minutes.

### Bosh had the Heat’s best plus minus at plus 10. Udonis Haslem had the worst: minus 13 in seven minutes.

### Spoelstra: “When we needed three or four stops in a row, we couldn’t do it. We will collect ourselves and get ourselves ready for another great opportunity. They stepped up their pressure, and once they got us into a few sloppy possessions, their energy picked up.”

### Bosh's take afterward: "Game 6 is our Game 7. We defend our homecourt. We have to put this behind us, get a day of rest. Turnovers were the key for us tonight. We can't have 17 turnovers." 

### Paul George: "It's not going to be like this in Game 6. We're expecting LeBron to be LeBron. [But] we're capable of winning a ball game with LeBron scoring 30 or 40 points. It's containing the role players and making sure they don't have a big night. This Game 6 is going to be about performing like champions."               

05/27/2014

9 a.m. Fins signing; Tannehill, Jordan, JT & lots of Dolphins chatter; A dozen Heat notes; Marlins, Canes buzz

9 a.m. update: According to a close associate, the Dolphins are signing former Buccaneers cornerback Anthony Gaitor, an FIU grad who has played in 12 NFL games. Gaitor played in eight games for Tampa in 2011, four in 2012 (with two starts) but missed all of last season with a knee injury. He has 12 career tackles.

A former seventh-round pick in 2011, Gaitor played with Marcus Forston, Sean Spence, Jacory Harris and others at Miami Northwestern. He has experience covering slot receivers.

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Chatter from the first day of Dolphins’ full-squad offseason practices:

### The pressure is heightened on the Dolphins’ 2012 and 2013 first-round draft picks, and coaching issues surround each.

For Dion Jordan, the question is whether coordinator Kevin Coyle and his staff can be creative enough to carve out more playing time amid their decision to keep him at defensive end behind Cameron Wake and Olivier Vernon and not move him to linebacker.

For Ryan Tannehill, the issue is whether new coordinator Bill Lazor --- who said he is very “demanding” with quarterbacks – can extract from Tannehill what he and Eagles coach Chip Kelly squeezed out of Nick Foles (27 touchdowns, two picks last season). Foles was drafted 88th in 2012, 80 spots after Tannehill.

Tannehill struggled at times Tuesday, throwing an interception to Cortland Finnegan, overthrowing a deep ball to Mike Wallace and throwing two other passes nearly intercepted by Finnegan and Jamar Taylor.

“It’s been exciting but challenging, completely different system,” Tannehill said. “Lot of stuff we haven’t done before. There’s still a learning curve. It’s not going to come overnight. Receivers are running routes they haven’t run before. [Lazor] wants to run it fast. We’re going to huddle but once we break we want to put pressure on the defense.”

Lazor will push Tannehill hard.

I asked Lazor where Tannehill needs to improve. Lazor's reponse: “I want to see the ball coming out on time, his footwork telling him when it’s time to throw it. I want to see that he trusted us that this is how it all fits together. The quarterback has got to play at game speed every day in practice.

“The receivers will catch up to him. That’s the first thing we’re trying to do with Ryan…. If you see them back there holding the ball or patting the ball, you’ll know I’m not happy.”

Lazor said with quarterbacks: “You’ve got to make it very clear what you expect, not only what to do but how to do it. And No. 2, you’ve got to be very demanding. If you’re demanding but didn’t go a good job explaining how you want it done, then you’re a jerk who just yells all the time.

“If you do a great job teaching it but you don’t hold them to a real high standard, then their play is only going to reach a certain level and it’s going to stop. But if you can do a great job teaching that 'this is what I want done and exactly how I want it done’ and hold them to it every single day. Every guy has traits that can be improved, but if a quarterback is accurate and he’s decisive, you get a feel that you can work with him. You can mold him. You can push him.”

Though Zac Taylor is the QB coach in title, it will be fascinating to see what Lazor can get out of Tannehill.      

As for Jordan, the third overall pick in 2013 played the fewest snaps of any defensive player drafted among the top 20 last April. Jordan said he was 260 last season and is now just over 265.

“I needed it,” he said. “I was too light to go against some of those offensive tackles. It wasn’t weight. It was mainly getting stronger. I’m trying to better myself in a lot of areas.”

Though Jordan’s defensive coordinator at Oregon believes he would be better suited to linebacker, Philbin said the staff has decided against that because “to develop him and those [pass-rushing] skills requires a time commitment. And if you’re always worried about pass drops and who you have in zone --- not that we haven’t used him in there” then there’s less time to focus on being a pass rusher.

### Jason Taylor, at practice on Monday, approached Philbin about working with the defensive linemen as a volunteer, and the Dolphins hope that will help Jordan.

“I think he’s going to be around a lot in OTAs,” Philbin said.  “I don’t know if there could be a bigger mentor for our young players. He’s energetic and enthusiastic about helping out and contributing.”

Jordan, who has been compared physically to JT, is thrilled to have him around: "It’s wonderful. Just his presence alone I feel like it’s a benefit to this team because not only was he a great player, he’s a great person. He’s dropping a lot of knowledge. He’s going to be in there watching film and working with us out here, so I’m going to pick his brain.”

Nick Buoniconti addressed the team last week and Philbin said he has reached out to other former Dolphins.

### Philbin stopped short of saying Koa Misi’s move to middle linebacker is permanent but the Dolphins are intrigued by the possibility. With Misi in the middle, “we should be more stout,” Philip Wheeler said. “He’s obviously a bigger guy.”

And Dannell Ellerbe, who played middle linebacker last season, said, “I got to show more athleticism outside. In Baltimore, I played outside. Koa's athletic and fast enough to do it. We have to get him on the field more.”

The job carries a lot more responsibility for Misi, who will be responsible for barking out the calls if he stays in the middle.

By the way, Wheeler took all the first team snaps and said he expects to be the starter. (So far, there's no indication Jelani Jenkins is seriously challenging him.) Also, it was interesting that Misi and Wheeler --- and not Ellerbe --- were on the field in some traditional nickel packages.

### What did we see of Lazor’s offense Tuesday? Lots of: shotgun, screens, motion, dump offs to running backs, three-receiver sets (one with tight end Charles Clay lined up on the opposite side), two tight end sets, sets with either one back or two backs with each lining up next to the quarterback and a few read option plays and a receiver reverse.

The Dolphins huddled “most of the day,” but “there will be times we operate a different way,” Lazor said. “If No. 1 [top receiver] is one-on-one, we expect him to win and we expect to throw the football.”

### Mike Wallace loves the offense: “It’s fast. It’s going to be good. We catch a lot of people off guard. We got a lot of play action, a lot of shots. I feel like I know what’s going on. I feel a little more in control.”

Philbin likes how Wallace is doing a lot of work on his own. He was the last one to leave the field Monday. “He feels a lot more comfortable, better about being a Dolphin,” Philbin said. “Really like what he’s doing.”

### Lazor is a no-nonsense type and made clear Tuesday: “They’ve got to get the communication ironed out right away. We’ll make that point  real fast to them.”

### Finnegan joined Brent Grimes as the first-team cornerbacks and said when he’s playing at his feisty best, “I’m a jerk. I think everyone will attest to that.”

### With Marcus Thigpen out with a back injury, Jarvis Landry, Brian Hartline, Brent Grimes and ex-Titans receiver Damian Williams worked as returners. Williams and Landry will be the primary competition for Thigpen when he returns…

Armon Binns caught a 70-yard bomb from Matt Moore, beating Taylor, and will push Williams and Rishard Matthews hard for the No. 5 receiver job. The Dolphins love Binns' size (6-3) and have issues with Matthews for reasons unrelated to performance…

Sam Brenner, getting work at backup center, struggled with snaps. Nate Garner played everywhere, as usual (backup left tackle and guard).

CHATTER

### Please see the last post for a lot of Heat notes from Tuesday night. We separated Heat into a separate post tonight for length reasons.         

### Per ESPN, UM and USF are the two leaders for power forward Kamari Murphy, who is transferring from Oklahoma State after averaging 6.1 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.2 blocks as a sophomore last season. UM lost out in its bid for three other transfers in the past month.

### The UM football team will try using 6-9 former UM basketball player Raphael Akpejiori as an offensive lineman. Akpejiori had been working as a tight end but has had trouble catching passes consistently, according to someone who observed him working with receivers coach Brennan Carroll during spring ball.

### Though it makes sense for Andrew Heaney, MLB’s top left-handed pitching prospect, to take struggling Randy Wolf’s rotation spot eventually this summer, the Marlins would be at risk of making Heaney eligible for free agency after 2019, instead of 2020, if they call him up now instead of mid-to-late June. (That's also the difference with him becoming arbitration eligible after 2016 instead of 2017, unless he's sent back to the minors.)

Heaney threw six scoreless innings, allowed one hit and struck out seven for Triple A New Orleans tonight.

Also, the Marlins have some wiggle room with Wolf because his $1 million salary won’t become guaranteed until late June.... Apparently not having seen his work with the Marlins, the Reds reportedly agreed to terms with Carlos Marmol.

### Twitter: @flasportsbuzz... And again, please see the last post for Heat chatter (including interesting Stan Van Gundy comments) heading into Game 5 Wednesday.

6 p.m. Tuesday Heat update: Injuries to two key Heat players; George fined; Vogel yells; Notes, quotes

A 6 p.m. Heat update: (Please check back shortly for lots of Dolphins news, plus Canes and Marlins):

### Erik Spoelstra said Chris Andersen (thigh) and Ray Allen (thigh, hip) will be evaluated Wednesday. Their status is in question for Game 5.

"He's the human bruise, so he has a lot of different things going on all over his body, and he's been able to play through all of that," Spoelstra said of Andersen. "He's a tough guy. We all know that. He plays through pain. But you have to understand the difference between pain and injury."

### Pacers coach Frank Vogel told his players on Tuesday to stop worrying and complaining about the officiating. The warning came too late to save forward Paul George, who later was fined $25,000 by the NBA after saying Monday night that the Heat’s 34-17 edge in free throw attempts “maybe was just home cooking.”

Vogel told his players: “We can't control calls.  We've got to worry about what we've got to control: our turnovers, our shot selection, our passing, our defense.”

Vogel said he wasn't disappointed in George's comments, but LeBron James noted late Monday night: “We only had five turnovers, seven steals and 20 points off their turnovers. That has nothing to do with the free throw line.”

Asked if he disagreed with some calls in Game 4, Vogel said: “Can’t go there.” But Vogel, who was given a technical in the third quarter, said: “We weren’t disciplined with our fouling.”

### Paul George’s claim that the Heat got “home cooking” with the officiating, and that the Pacers “attacked the basket” just as often as the Heat, is ridiculous considering James drove to the basket nearly as many times in Game 4 as the entire Pacers team (10 to 11). The Heat had 27 drives, according to SportVU.

Vogel said he regularly sends tapes to the league when he questions officiating calls but declined to say whether he did that after Game 4.

###  Vogel said he believes Lance Stephenson’s “sign of weakness” comment about LeBron James on Sunday had nothing to do with James’ 32-point performance in Game 4.

But Vogel conceded that “maybe Lance tried to walk the walk a little too much and maybe put too much pressure on himself, didn't get going early, and then he got in foul trouble. It might have had an effect. It's tough to say.”

Several Pacers players expressed disappointment with Stephenson’s comments. “We got to stay away from giving guys bulletin board material,” David West said.

George said: “Lance is young and that’s a learning lesson for him. We’ve just got to be smarter with situations.”

### Pacers center Roy Hibbert said he took only four shots in 22 scoreless, foul-plagued minutes because the game plan “wasn’t to utilize me as much.”

On Tuesday, Vogel said: “Look, Roy Hibbert's hurt the Miami Heat more in the pick and roll game and on the glass in previous years.  That's where he's put up his biggest numbers while mixing in the post game.  It's not like he's had success getting 20 to 30 post ups a game.

“That's how we're trying to utilize him. They're doing a great job with their hands and deflecting those passes.”

### NBA teams with a 3-1 lead in a series are 214-8 in those series.

“Any time you lose three in a row in the playoffs, it shakes your confidence some,” Vogel said.

### Vogel has yelled at Shane Battier and Norris Cole before launching three-pointers in this series, though neither player said he heard it.

“He’s the man, he can do what he wants for his team,” Battier told Bleacher Report's Ethan Skolnick. “It makes them feel part of the game."

But Battier, who said Lawrence Frank and Vinny Del Negro also did that to him, added Vogel is “one of the guys who does not like when I call out what plays come in. I've been doing it my entire career. But some coaches it irritates. I don't think he likes me very much. When the play comes in, he waits until I turn away, and I stare right at him." 

Asked about Vogel yelling at players, new Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy told Dan Le Batard, Greg Cote and Jon Weiner on ESPN Radio: "You don't see it often, so when you do, it's strange to see."

Has he done it? "Not that I know of."

### Norris Cole and Mario Chalmers have each played 98 minutes in this series, but the Heat has outscored Indiana by 28 with Cole on the floor in this series but been outscored by 22 with Chalmers. “I’m doing terrible this series,” Chalmers said earlier this week.

### Even though Rashard Lewis is shooting 0 for 7 in this series, the Heat is somehow plus-35 in his 42 minutes.

### The Heat often draws its highest local TV ratings after a loss and that remains the case; its 24.4 local rating for Game 2 against Indiana ranks as South Florida’s highest in these playoffs. That equals 24.4 percent of South Florida homes with TV sets. Game 4 got a 23.9, the second highest of the postseason.

### Stan Van Gundy said after Miami lost in the opener of this series, he texted his brother, ABC's Jeff Van Gundy, and predicted Miami would win four straight to win the series.

Stan Van Gundy said the Pacers' reaction Monday night suggests "a team running from accountability." (Great to see Stan so candid even though he's back in the NBA.)

### The Heat is on the verge of becoming the first team to make four consecutive Finals appearances since Boston (1984-87)…. The Heat’s 11-2 record is its best-ever postseason record at this point. Miami was 10-3 after 13 games the past three years. 

Postscripts, reaction from Heat's Game 4 win; Pacers upset with officiating

Postscripts and reaction from the Heat’s 102-90 win against the Indiana Pacers that leaves Miami with a commanding 3-1 lead in the Eastern Conference finals:

### By late in the first quarter, Chris Bosh (25 points, 7 of 12 from the field) had already surpassed his scoring output in his any of his previous SEVEN playoff games against Indiana.

“Beginning of the game, coach drew up a play for me, and I pretty much decided I was going to shoot,” Bosh said. “When the shots do go in, teammates look for me a little more.

“I put the cerebral stuff to bed. Not thinking as much. I felt I could give more to the team. My mindset was a defensive first type of feel. I will make sure I do that for the rest of the series and the season.”

Did Bosh have to overcome a mental crisis? “Mental crisis? No. That’s for the weak minded.”

Bosh entered having failed to reach double figures in any of his previous seven playoff games against Indy. He had nine points in each of the first three games.

### The difference tonight? "Chris Bosh," LeBron James said. "We've been talking the last couple days about how we're going to get Chris going."

Still, Paul George inexplicably said: "I thought we outplayed them."

### Did Stephenson’s sign of weakness comment about LeBron fuel him on a 32-point, 10-rebound night for James? "I don't need any motivation," he said. "I'm motivated enough to try to get back to the Finals. Being one of the leaders of this team, I have to do my part to help us win."

Does he find Stephenson comical? "No," LeBron said. "I got a smirk out of him."

### A day after he made his foolish comments, Stephenson was outscored 32-9 by James, with the Pacers guard scoring eight of those points in the final 5:31.

Stephenson made himself accountable afterward, but only to an extent. He said he doesn’t regret anything he said.

“I tried to get into his head,” Stephenson said afterward. “I guess he stepped up and got the win. I can take the heat; I can take the fire.”

Said Paul George, afterward: “When you make comments,… you got to bring it. It wasn’t a good time for him. Sometimes you got to watch what you say. We’ve got to be smarter.”

Dwyane Wade: "We try to beat you at basketball. We don't go into the back-and-forth talking."

### But Stephenson’s ineffectiveness was matched, even exceeded, by Roy Hibbert, who went scoreless, missing all four of his shots and never getting to the free throw line. The Pacers were outscored by 23 points in his 22 minutes on the floor.

Both dealt with foul trouble, with Stephenson picking up his third less than a minute into the second quarter and Hibbert called for his fourth with 8:32 left in the third.  

“Silly fouls by both that have had no impact on the game,” ABC’s Mark Jackson said.

### Hibbert, who had five rebounds, entered averaging 15.7 points and 8.0 rebounds in this series. But on Monday, he often resembled the player who looked passive and lost during several games earlier in the playoffs.

“The game plan wasn’t to utilize me as much,” he said. “Would I have liked more touches early in the game to get going? Yes. But that’s how the cookie crumbles. I can only control what I can control.”

Hibbert also was helpless to prevent Bosh’s first offensive eruption of the series. Defending him is “tough, especially when he’s hitting threes,” Hibbert said. “My teammates told me he was going to cool down.”

### Stephenson missed his first three shots before finally scoring when he hit the second of two free throws with 4:34 left in the third quarter.

“I was in foul trouble, never got my rhythm,” he said.   

### The Heat shot twice as many free throws (34-17), and West said: “There were some new rules tonight. I thought we were as aggressive as we've been in terms of driving the ball. We were consistently getting two feet in the paint. I thought we shot the ball well enough [49.3 percent].”

### George, on the foul disparity: “You can’t tell me we don’t attack the basket as much as they attack the basket. We’re just as aggressive. Maybe it’s home cooking.”

James shrugged off that "home cooking" comment, saying several aspects of the Heat's performance (seven steals, 20 points off turnovers) have "nothing to do" with fouls.

### Wade, who scored 15 points on 4 for 12 shooting: Game 5 "will be the toughest game of the series. But we're up to the challenge, as always."

Said James: "We don't want to come back [to Miami] for a Game 6. It's not going to be easy. They're the No. 1 team in the Eastern Conference."

### Rashard Lewis, who replaced Udonis Haslem in the starting lineup, shot 0 for 5 but had three rebounds and two steals and Miami was a plus-14 in his 26 minutes.

### Chris Andersen (thigh bruise) will be re-evaluated Wednesday. “He wanted to fight through it,” Erik Spoelstra said. “This is the one thing we didn’t allow him to play through.”

05/26/2014

8 p.m.: Birdman out; Heat, Pacers respond to Stephenson accusing LeBron of "sign of weakness"; Heat summons draft prospects; Dolphins, UM

8 p.m. update: The Heat announced a short time ago that Chris Andersen will miss tonight's Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals with a bruised thigh. He is day-to-day. That's a big loss for the Heat. Andersen had averaged 11.8 points and 10.3 rebounds through three games of the series.

Also, Rashard Lewis will replace Udonis Haslem in the starting lineup.

### Heat players on Monday offered several amusing retorts in response to Pacers guard Lance Stephenson’s comments that he not only has gotten inside LeBron James' head, but that James responding to his trash-talking in Game 3 was a “sign of weakness.” 

Meanwhile, Pacers forward Paul George suggested Stephenson probably should have kept his mouth shut.

"If getting in his head is averaging 27 points, then I hope he stays there,” Chris Bosh said.

Asked if he has seen any weakness from James, Shane Battier cracked: “Not in the last decade.”

Norris Cole, asked the impact the comments might have on James in Game 4, said: “It might be worse for Lance. Sometimes LeBron gets in that gear when he has to prove a point. Paul Pierce did it [two weeks ago] and LeBron had 49. It doesn’t take much.”

Stephenson said he has no regrets about making the comments.

“I don’t care how he feels,” Stephenson said Monday morning, when asked if the comments might motivate James. “When I talk junk, it makes me happier to do my job. I like the challenge. I like to bring the best out of people. If it’s going to bring the best out of him, we’re going to have to get the win tonight.”

Stephenson said no Pacers coach or official spoke to him about his remarks.

But George told reporters Monday: “He’s doing it to the wrong guy, barking up the wrong tree. LeBron feeds off that. It motivates him. That’s Lance. That’s him being from Brooklyn. Some of the stuff Lance says is genuine. Some you can dial it back, keep in house, be modest. He’s got to be smarter about it.”

Asked if Stephenson’s comments will create a monster out of LeBron, Pacers forward David West said: “More than what he is? I don’t know.”

Pacers coach Frank Vogel said Stephenson’s comments will have no effect in Game 4. “I don’t think LeBron, Dwyane Wade are going to play any harder than they’re already playing,” Vogel said.

Bosh said the Heat generally doesn’t trash-talk because “we don’t have any of those guys on this team. We’ve never been into that in the first place. It takes all your energy to win a game. This is a good team we’re facing.”

### Chris Bosh, who hasn't topped 10 points in any of his last seven playoff games against Indiana, was asked today if teammates are giving him encouragement.

“For the most part, I don’t need any encouragement," he said. "Encouragement for us is a win. I’ve never been selfish and I’m not going to start now. But I do want to play better.”

DRAFT TALK

While Heat players and coaches are immersed in this Eastern Conference Finals, the team’s front office has begun studying possibilities for the 26th selection in the first round of the June 26 NBA Draft.

According to ESPN college basketball writer Jeff Goodman, the Heat will host a workout with several players on Tuesday, including North Carolina 6-5 shooting guard PJ Hairston, Wichita State 6-8 small forward Cleanthony Early, Connecticut 6-9 forward DeAndre Daniels, 6-5 UCLA guard Jordan Adams and Louisville 6-0 point guard Russ Smith.

Hairston, who averaged 14.6 points last season and shot 39.6 percent on three-pointers, is considered a mid to late first round pick. So is Early, who averaged 16.4 points and 5.9 rebounds for Wichita State.

Adams, projected as a late first-round pick, averaged 17.4 points, 5.3 rebounds and shot 48.8 percent for UCLA.

Daniels, a potential second-round pick who can play either forward position, helped lead Connecticut to the national title, averaging 13.1 points, 6.0 rebounds and 1.4 blocks.

Smith, considered a potential second-round pick, averaged 18.2 points and 4.6 assists for Louisville last season and shot 46.8 percent from the field.

Tennessee 6-8 forward Jarnell Stokes, considered a late first-round pick or early-second rounder, will audition for the Heat on Thursday, according to ESPN. He averaged 15.1 points and 10.6 rebounds last season.

Because the Heat traded its 2015 first-rounder to Cleveland as part of the 2010 sign-and-trade for LeBron James, Miami is not permitted to trade its first-round pick before this year’s draft in accordance with NBA rules prohibiting dealing a No. 1 pick in consecutive years.

But the Heat can select a player on behalf of another team and trade that player after the draft.

DOLPHINS, UM ITEMS

### In case you missed it, the Dolphins cut three undrafted rookies this weekend: Cornerback Deion Belue (a starter at Alabama the past two years), Arkansas offensive lineman David Hurd and CFL offensive lineman Michael Ola.

The Dolphins signed offensive lineman Michael Philipp after he auditioned over the weekend. Philipp started 48 games for Oregon State and can play tackle and guard. He attended the Cleveland Browns’ rookie minicamp earlier this month but was released.

### We mentioned in the Sunday buzz column that UM called Jake Rodrigues, who was one of the nation’s top prep quarterbacks in the 2012 class and is transferring from Oregon. Rivals.com reported this morning that he will sign with San Diego State.                   

05/25/2014

4:30 Sunday: Lance says LeBron shows 'sign of weakness'; Dolphins CBs Taylor, Davis ready; Dolphins, UM buzz

A quick 4:30 p.m. Heat-Pacers news update from Sunday:

Asked about his trash-talking with Lance Stephenson in Game 3, LeBron James said Sunday: “One thing I’m not going to do is give you all a storyline with LeBron and Stephenson," who mocked James with the choke sign after James missed a free throw during their 2012 playoff series.

“I’m not going to do it.”

Leave it to Stephenson to throw gasoline on the flames.

About an hour later, Stephenson said the fact James responded to his trash-talking in Game 3 “is a sign of weakness.”

Said Stephenson: “He never used to say nothing to me. I always used to be the one that say, ‘I’m going to get under you. I’m going to do something to get you mad.’

“Now he’s trying to do it to me. So I feel like there’s a weakness. I feel like I’m doing something right, and I’m getting under his skin. I’ve got to keep stepping up to the plate and be more aggressive when he do that…. It’s definitely a sign of respect. I don’t have no beef with him. It’s just basketball. When you’re on the court, it’s no friends.”

James said earlier in the day that he never starts trash-talking:  “I’m not much of a talker, but I can. I don’t ever start it. But I can get involved in it and am still able to keep my head and understand what still needs to be done to help our team win.”

Does trash-talking make him more engaged? “Sometimes,” James said. “Eastern Conference Finals, the competition is already high. You don’t need it.”

But Dwyane Wade said James got “closer” defending Stephenson after the trash-talking. “It gives him a challenge, a game within a game,” Wade said.

Considering Wade’s comment, isn’t it counter-productive for Stephenson to trash-talk James?

I’m going to say whatever it takes,” Stephenson responded. “I’m not afraid of him if he’s going to be more aggressive on defense on me. I’m going to keep taking it to him. That doesn’t bother me at all.  I love it when someone challenges me.”

Other Pacers reacted to Stephenson’s trash-talking:

### Coach Frank Vogel said: “You don’t want it to be counter-productive, to give him a spark.” But… “I don’t think it matters one way or the other, if he’s silent or if he’s talking. Both guys are playing as hard as they can. I’ll say [he should do] whatever he feels he’ll be at his best.”

### David West: “There’s a time and place for it. Your mind has to be clear.”

### Paul George: “I’m not a trash talker. That’s his deal. I try to play the right way. But I like it as a fan of the game.”

Stephenson said the Pacers are like the “little brother” tired of being beaten by their “big brother.” Vogel used that analogy with his team Sunday.

“These guys have beat up on us so many times,” George said. “It’s about time we get angry.”

########################################################################################## 

SUNDAY BUZZ COLUMN

Beyond offensive line, no Dolphins position has more uncertainty than cornerback, excluding Brent Grimes. Cortland Finnegan hasn’t had a good year since 2011, and Jamar Taylor and Will Davis played just 110 defensive snaps as rookies last season and allowed 12 of 14 passes to be completed against them, for 17.3 yards per reception.

Because Miami made no effort to keep Nolan Carroll (now with Philadelphia) and Dimitri Patterson (Jets), Taylor and Davis project to be among Miami’s top four corners. Joe Philbin said both will be given every chance to beat out Finnegan for a starting job.

“Those are guys we thought highly of; they had injury issues,” Philbin said.

Taylor, selected 54th overall out of Boise State, was inactive for seven games, partly because of a groin injury related to offseason hernia surgery. He played just 45 snaps and allowed all four passes thrown against him to be caught, for 100 yards.

“I felt down plenty of times,” he said late last season. “It’s frustrating. When you’re healthy, you don’t play much. When you’re not healthy, you don’t play. It’s tough when you see teams like Buffalo playing their rookies. I had great guys in front of me. [But] I got drafted here to help and I haven’t.”

He said “stuff that worked in college isn’t going to work here. [But] I know I’m damn good.”

Taylor told The Idaho Statesman recently: "It was to the point last year I thought I was done playing football. I didn't want to play anymore. I was out of it. Coming back, not being myself, being slower, not as quick, not as agile -- watching on Sunday, knowing you're better than some guys. I'm healthy and ready to take over the world. I’m going to turn a lot of heads.” 

Davis, selected 93rd out of Utah State, flashed  ball-hawking skills during training camp. “He made a lot of plays during practice,” quarterback Matt Moore said. “You would like to see that in a game.”

The Dolphins haven’t yet, not in a small sample size that included 65 regular season defensive snaps. Pressed into service against New England because of injuries, Davis struggled and finished 2013 allowing 8 of 10 passes thrown against him to be caught, for 108 yards.

“When I came here, I gambled more,” he said. “Now I’m a little more disciplined. The coaches love my aggressiveness and they don’t want to take that away from me.” One Dolphins receiver said Davis needs to improve coming out of his breaks.

Davis said his frustration never reached the point of Taylor’s. “That’s more of my personality, a happy-go-lucky kid who enjoys life,” he said. “The higher the draft pick, the more frustrated you get. And Jamar had injuries. And it’s not like we’re playing behind chumps.”

### At the NFL owners meetings in Orlando in March, two front office executives with other teams told me that Finnegan’s physicality and feistiness should help Miami if he’s disciplined and provided his skills do not diminish.

Rams coach Jeff Fisher insisted Finnegan hasn’t lost speed and St. Louis wanted him back as a nickel-back. One NFL executive said then-Rams coordinator Tim Walton (since fired) didn’t use Finnegan to his strengths. (Walton previously was d-coordinator at UM.)

“I’m on my worst behavior, in a modified way,” said Finnegan, 30, once a Pro Bowler when he played for Tennessee. “Just stay tuned. I won’t hurt the team by any stretch. I’m back. I lost that edge, but it’s back.”

Incidentally, the Dolphins’ fifth and sixth cornerbacks are rookie fourth-round pick Walt Aikens and journeyman Jalil Brown, who played 34 games with two starts for the Chiefs and Colts.  

CHATTER

### A close associate of LeBron James has made the Heat the heavy front-runner to retain James next season, with Cleveland a distant No. 2. And though the Cavaliers winning the draft lottery could help them lure James back several years from now if they draft a future star, it probably won’t help them land James this summer because his No. 1 priority is winning championships now, and Cleveland is unlikely to be in position to do that next season. James can opt out of his six-year contract this summer or next summer.

### Content with Matt Moore, the Dolphins decided not to inquire about a trade for Tampa Bay’s Mike Glennon, and the Buccaneers say they want to keep him anyway…

Though they’re already deep at receiver, the Dolphins conveyed interest in moving running back Marcus Thigpen (who has been sidelined with back problems) back to receiver and want him to have competition for his return jobs, with rookies Jarvis Landry and Aikens and ex-Titans receiver Damian Williams among potential challengers.

### Among undrafted Dolphins rookies worth keeping an eye on: LSU defensive tackle Anthony Johnson (“A lot of people thought he was better than [fellow LSU tackle] Ego Ferguson, who was picked 51st by the Bears,” Sporting News analyst Russ Lande said. “He has most of the traits you look for in an NFL starter”) and Marshall tight end/H-back Gator Hoskins, whose 15 TD catches last season led the nation. “Hoskins knows how to get open,” Lande said.

### Please see the next-to-last post from earlier Saturday for 10 more Dolphins notes.

### It’s too soon to tell if the Dolphins erred by not signing Colts pickup Erik Swoope, who’s trying to follow another UM alum, Jimmy Graham, in the transition from basketball player to tight end.

But Colts coach Chuck Pagano said Swoope, so far in practice, “has exceeded our expectations way beyond anything that you’d ever imagine for a guy that never played. Off the charts. He looks natural running routes. Great hands. High ceiling.”

### UM is among several schools that reached out last week to quarterback Jake Rodrigues, who is transferring from Oregon after attempting just six passes there. A California native, Rodrigues was rated Rivals.com’s fifth-best pro style quarterback in the 2012 class. He has two years of eligibility left but must sit out this year. Michigan and San Diego State are among others that have inquired.

Rodrigues reportedly prefers a school with a senior starter, allowing him to come in and play in 2015. Here, though, he would need to beat out Kevin Olsen and Brad Kaaya, among others, in 2015.

### The Marlins’ Jacob Turner is closing in on unfortunate history: He hasn’t won any of his first 18 big-league road starts (0-11). Since 1921, only two pitchers have opened their careers with a longer road drought: Rube Fisher (20) and Dewon Brazelton (19). Turner won his first game of the season on Saturday, pitching 6 1/3 scoreless innings against Milwaukee at Marlins Park.

### An interesting study by Scout.com’s Jamie Newberg revealed that a remarkable 7.5 percent of all NFL Draft picks the past three years (57) are from Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties. UM had nine of the 57. The Los Angeles area produced the second most with 42. Miami-Dade and Dallas Fort-Worth tied for the most from one county (27).

### Best wishes to Miami Herald recruiting guru and WQAM host Larry Blustein, 58, who had a kidney transplant recently (a longtime friend donated one) and then suffered a heart attack five days later, which will require quadruple bypass surgery in a few weeks. 

### Again, a reminder to please see the last post for Heat-Pacers chatter.... Twitter: @flasportsbuzz 

Postscripts, reaction to Heat's Game 3 win

Postscripts, reaction in the wake of the Heat's 99-87 Game 3 win over Indiana, which gives Miami a 2-1 lead in this Eastern Conference Finals:

### Even at 38, Ray Allen is still capable of moments like this --- 13-point fourth quarter, including 4 for 4 from beyond the arc. The Pacers had power forward David West defending him in the fourth.

“Whenever I see a big on me, I salivate,” Allen said.

But West said he’s fine with that defensive assignment, which he has handled in games the past two years when the Heat uses a small lineup.

“That’s not a problem for me,” West said of defending Allen. “He got free one time. It was a breakdown on my part.”

LeBron James said Allen "creates so much for our team --- he shifts the defense by himself. It's great that we have that. He's one of the few on the team that can create two on the ball. He's always in constant motion. I was able to find him for the majority of the shots he got in the fourth quarter."

### Dwyane Wade, who entered shooting 26 for 38 in this series, was again highly efficient, shooting 9 for 16 on a 23-point night. Wade has now scored 28, 27, 23 and 23 in his past four games.

Wade hit two threes, equal to his total of the entire postseason before tonight.

### LeBron scored 16 of his 26 in the second half, with six turnovers but also seven assists, five rebounds and four steals. James went to the locker-room briefly in the third quarter with cramping, the result of dehydration.

"We hate the way we played to start the game," James said of falling behind 17-4 early. "We can't play that type of basketball. We have to play like we're down 15 to start the game or it will bite us in the butt."

### Lance Stephenson (10 points, 3 for 9 shooting, 11 rebounds) downplayed his trash-talking with LeBron.  “Nothing personal between us,” Stephenson said. “There are no friends on the court. We’re just playing hard basketball.”

Asked if he tries to respond every time LeBron scores, Stephenson said: “I’m not trying to go back and forth with him.”

### Several Pacers bemoaned their 19 turnovers, which led to 26 Heat points. David West had five, George Hill four.

“They pressured us and we collapsed,” Stephenson said.

### The Heat closed at 54.4 percent from the floor, scored 33 and 28 points in the last two quarters and hit 10 of 18 three-pointers.

“Their guys were getting the shots they wanted every time down the floor,” West said. “We have no ball pressure. They got us on our heels. They’re not doing anything special. They’re just moving the ball, we’re allowing them to do it and they’re teeing off on us right now.”

### The conventional thinking before the season was that Greg Oden would be the Heat’s best way to counter the Pacers’ frontcourt size advantage.

The conventional thinking (and Erik Spoelstra’s) after the first quarter of Game 1 of these Eastern Conference Finals was that starting Udonis Haslem alongside Chris Bosh would be the best way to open games against the Pacers’ combo of Roy Hibbert and David West.

Turns out, neither has turned out as Miami envisioned.

But nobody could have predicted this: The Heat did some of its best work in Game 3 when using a power forward, Rashard Lewis, who didn’t even play in the first two games.

And Hibbert and West, after strong starts, combined for just four points in the fourth.

With Haslem and Bosh on the court together, the Heat was outscored by nine points in nine minutes on Saturday and by an obscene 37 points in 34 minutes in this series.

But with Lewis on the floor, the Heat outscored the Pacers by 21 points in 17 minutes on Saturday, including a terrific close to the third quarter, when Lewis played alongside Chris Andersen, who had a team-high seven rebounds in 23 minutes. The Pacers shot 30.4 percent when Lewis was on the court.

LeBron and Wade praised Spoelstra for inserting Lewis. "If you look at the stats, it doesn't look like he did much. But he did a great job defending David West and on pick-and-rolls," Wade said.

Lewis’ numbers (no points, rebounds or assists and 0 for 2 shooting) don’t tell the story of his contributions. He blocked a shot and capably defended West, who made his first three shots but then went 27 minutes of game time before his next basket. And ball movement was crisp with Lewis in the game.

### West closed 5 of 8 from the field, with 13 points, five turnovers and five rebounds.

### The Pacers were outscored by 21 with West in the game and by 21 with Hibbert in the game.

### With 1:10 left in the first quarter, Hibbert had as many points as the Heat (10). But Hibbert scored just six points the rest of the game, had just two rebounds overall and took only two shots in the fourth quarter.

“I got my chances,” Hibbert said. “I got to do a better job finishing. I got to be more effective.” In the fourth quarter, “we just couldn’t get into a rhythm and couldn’t score. We weren’t defending at a high level.”

### Pacers backup power forward Luis Scola gave Indiana a big lift with eight first half points. But he missed his only shot of the second half.

### Spoelstra insisted before the game that the Heat never signed Oden “to be a Roy Hibbert stopper.” And he didn’t play Saturday, despite being active for the first time in this series.

### The Heat got more strong work from Norris Cole, who had nine points (4 for 6 shooting), two assists and more stout defense on Stephenson.  "Norris is great for our team," James said. "He changes our tempo. That's what you need coming off the bench, energy guys. He makes his mark defensively. He attacks the rim."       

### More struggles for Bosh, who had 9 points, missed 8 of 12 shots and was limited to 23 minutes because of foul trouble. He is averaging 7.9 points, 4.6 rebounds and shooting 29.9 percent in his past seven playoff games against Indiana.