LeBron James was at the heart of a comeback from 18-points down for the Heat — he had 19 points in the second half and controlled a lot of the key plays. He had another great game.
But with the Heat down one with 4.5 seconds left LeBron got the ball and drove, drew two defenders then passed to Udonis Haslem for a 16-foot jumper that missed, and the Jazz beat the Heat 99-98. That ended the Heat’s nine-game winning streak.
LeBron made the right basketball play — he drew the defenders and passed to the open man. But it goes back to the same old meme — we want James to take charge and take that shot, not Haslem (who could have kicked to Wade who was wide open on the wing, but that’s another discussion). It comes back to the feeling expressed in a tweet by our own John Krolik:
When LeBron’s team is up late, he’ll take the hero J. When down, he’ll go for the drive or the pass. Does not want to miss final J.
There were other guys you could blame for this loss — if Haslem hits that jumper or if Dwyane Wade makes a free throw (or doesn’t foul Devin Harris) we are not talking about this. But they didn’t and it fell to LeBron. A guy who entered the league as a drive and dish player without a jumper who reverts to that under pressure.
We have been down this road before. LeBron will take heat for this. The same way he did for the All-Star game. But it’s the same answer — what happens here does not matter. What matters is what LeBron does in the playoffs. If he makes this pass again in the finals and the Heat lose, it is his fault. If he makes the big plays in the playoffs and the Heat get a ring he can change the narrative. Until then, it’s all just fodder for people to say LeBron isn’t ready to win.
The Houston Rockets aren’t in any rush to hire a new head coach, preferring to interview a wide range of candidates to find the right one. Jeff Van Gundy has been widely believed to be at the top of their list, now that Tom Thibodeau and Scott Brooks are off the market, but ESPN.com’s Marc Stein is reporting another name that has entered the mix: Mike D’Antoni, who last held a head coaching job from 2012 to 2014 with the Lakers and currently serves as the Sixers’ lead assistant.
ESPN sources say Sixers associate head coach Mike D'Antoni is interviewing for the Houston Rockets' coaching job this week
The Pacers, meanwhile, haven’t made a final decision on Frank Vogel’s future with the team, but all signs seem to point to him getting let go in the next few days. And if that happens, Stein reports that Vogel will also be on Houston’s list of candidates.
Sources say Houston will also talk to Frank Vogel as well as part of a Kings-style broad search if the Pacers let Vogel go as many expect.
Given the Rockets’ massive drop-off on the defensive end this season, Vogel would seem to be a better fit than D’Antoni. But it sounds like the Rockets aren’t close to finding a replacement for J.B. Bickerstaff, although it would make sense to have a new coach in place by next month’s draft.
Cavs set single-game three-point record in blowout win over Hawks
On Monday, the Hawks played the Cavaliers close and even led in the fourth quarter, leading plenty of optimism that Game 2 would be equally competitive, that the Hawks had something to build on.
The Cavs dominated from the start on Wednesday, with a 123-98 final score that was far closer than the game actually was — the Cavs led 74-36 at the half and led by as much as 38 at one point in the second half.
The Cavs also hit 25 three-pointers, which is the all-time record for a single game — regular season or playoffs. J.R. Smith hit seven of them, along with four each from LeBron James and Kyrie Irving and three for Kevin Love.
18 of Cleveland’s threes came in the first half, also a playoff record, and this was all Atlanta could do:
LeBron James has always been an incredible passer. In the midst of the Cavs’ Game 2 beatdown of the Hawks, he zipped this one-handed beauty into the paint to Kyrie Irving, who kicked it out to Kevin Love for a corner three:
The three was just one of the 18 Cleveland hit in the first half, which set an NBA playoff record.