Erik Spoelstra, Miami Heat players downplay bump, friction reports

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We just told you there are all kinds of reports about friction in the Miami Heat locker room

Unless you ask the Heat directly.

Ira Winderman at the Sun Sentinel did just that and both players coach Erik Spoelstra downplayed “the bump” and the rumors of locker room dissention.

Of the bump with James, Spoelstra said after Monday’s shootaround at AmericanAirlines Arena that it was typical of the chaos that can ensue when he strides to the foul circle to plot strategy and his players return to the bench.

“I mean, I didn’t even notice until people mentioned it after that game,” Spoelstra said. “It’s a pinball game. I’m colliding into a lot of people.”

Teammate Chris Bosh downplayed the bump.

“I’m sure it’s just something else that blown out of proportion,” We bump into each other all the time.”

“It is so easy for everyone to push the panic button right now,” the third-year coach said. “Panic is probably at an all-time high on the outside. It cannot be on the inside with us.”

Part of this is losing — winning cures all locker room ills. Losing provides friction that creates heat and fires. But the Heat’s ills that have them loosing to good teams will not be simple to fix: the team’s lack of depth has been exposed, Spoelstra urges them to run more but the pace remains slow, and the offensive sets remain stagnant (whether that is the design or execution of them depends on who you ask).

Right now, the Heat can use this speculation as part of an “us against the world” mentality that fuels them and gets them playing better as a unit. Or, the infighting can tear them apart. It’s early in the season, tis can still go either way.

Devin Booker drops 70 points for Suns in loss to Celtics (VIDEO)

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Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker is just 20 years old. He’s a League Pass favorite, and indeed he should be a favorite in Phoenix for years to come. On Friday, Booker dropped 70 points — yes, 70 — in a loss to the Boston Celtics.

Booker’s 70 points is the best outing of the season. It also made him the youngest player to ever reach 70 points.

His final stat line, as you might imagine, was ridiculous. Booker shot 21-of-40 from the field, going 4-of-11 on 3-pointers and a whopping 24-of-26 from the free-throw line. The Suns phenom also grabbed eight rebounds to go with six assists.

Despite the loss to Boston, 130-120, it’s still an incredible milestone for Phoenix and for Booker. There’s a bright spot out there for the Suns.

Magic’s Aaron Gordon skies to finish amazing alley-oop (VIDEO)

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Aaron Gordon may not have had the best dunk contest this year — apparently drones and dunks don’t mix well — but the guy can still get up and finish with the best in the league.

As he did on this alley-oop against Detroit.

Elfrid Payton had to throw a lob that would get over Andre Drummond, but how many guys in the league can get that high, reach back and finish that? Damn.

Former Hawk Pero Antic’s celebration accidentally punches teammate in face in Eruoleague (VIDEO)

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Former Atlanta Hawk Pero Antic is now playing for Turkish powerhouse Fenerbahce, in case you were not aware.

Fenerbahce was facing Anadolu Efes in a EuroLeague game, it was tight late and former NBA player Ekpe Udoh was at the free throw line for Fenerbahce. He missed his second shot, but the rebound caromed out-of-bounds off an Anadolu Efes player. Antic was pumped.

Maybe a little too pumped.

Ouch.

That was Nikola Kalinic, by the way, the guy Antic now owes dinner to. Kalinic would like the dinner more than the hug and kiss he got from Antic right after the play.

Also, Anadolu Efes held on to win 80-77.

(Hat tip to Ball Don’t Lie.)

James Harden helped recruit Lou Williams to Houston

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The Lakers had been shopping Lou Williams around in the run-up to the trade deadline, the only question was would they get a first-round pick for him. Rumors around the league say that Houston had offered them one weeks before, it was on the table, but the Jim Buss/Mitch Kupchak front office held their cards close and hoped a better deal would come through.

While all that was going on James Harden decided to ease the process and did a little recruiting calling up Williams, the sixth-man guard told Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

“When James called, he asked me if I was interested in playing with them,” Williams told The Vertical. “I told him that I loved the Lakers, but James and them have a group that fit my personality, fit how I play. He said he was going to make it happen.”

Williams then laughed, sitting on the edge of a visiting court following a recent practice. “I’ve heard that before, so I didn’t really put stock into it,” Williams told The Vertical. “I guess James did put the word in, and the team made it happen.”

We all know what happened, Jeanie Buss removed her brother and Kupchak a few days before the trade deadline, Magic Johnston stepped in, called around, and quickly pulled the trigger on a trade that sent Williams to Houston (the Lakers also got Corey Brewer). Williams has averaged 14.5 points per game and had some strong performances with the Rockets, although he’s still finding his groove with the team on the court. Still, he’s been an upgrade for the Rockets’ bench.

Harden knew he would be, so he did his part to make sure it happened.