Wade on LeBron: “He’s just a total different player”

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LeBron James was the best player on the floor in the fourth quarter of Game 3 — eight points on four shots, plus he got to the line for five free throws. He steadied his team down the stretch. He and the Heat looked like the experienced team, the veterans, while the young Thunder were missing free throws, and James Harden was turning the ball over and picking up a bad foul 35 feet from the hoop while his coach yelled “don’t foul.”

It’s been like this throughout the playoffs for LeBron. He seems comfortable. He always needed that to be his best and last season he seemed taken aback by being the villain and the pressure about his legacy. But this year he’s at peace with everything.

“He’s just a total different player,” Dwyane Wade said after Game 3. “I thought up until the finals last year he was having an amazing playoffs. He had a game where he struggled and he let that get into his mind a little bit and he was thinking too much. Now he’s playing, he’s on the attack, he’s been very aggressive.

“It’s kind of like when he puts his head down and goes to the rim you have to foul him or he’s going to finish. I love when he is attacking the basket because good things happen for us.”

LeBron is just trying to keep it simple.

“I’m just trying to make plays,” LeBron said after the game Sunday. “I told you guys last year I didn’t make enough game-changing plays. I can kind of pride myself on that, I didn’t do it last year in the finals. I’m just trying to make plays.”

He was attacking — he shot just 2-of-8 outside the paint but 9-of-15 in it, plus he got to the line 8 times for free throw attempts. You get those when you attack (which is why the Heat got to the line more all night, that and OKC fouling three-point jump shooters).

With a ring, LeBron’s legacy changes, at least for some fans. It’s not that he becomes beloved by all, he’ll still be the villain, he just becomes one you have to respect a little more.

LeBron, he seems comfortable with that.

Elfrid Payton slams chasedown block on LeBron James (VIDEO)

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LeBron James is usually the guy handing out chasedown blocks. He’s famous for them, and has carted out his signature move in the biggest moments of his career.

He’s also not used to having his own shots blocked from behind, and certainly not by opposing point guards.

Enter Elfrid Payton.

During a play halfway through the first quarter against the Orlando Magic on Thursday, LeBron was on a drive to the hole with Elfrid trailing far behind.

Thanks to a pinch by two Magic defenders, LeBron had to try and use brute force a bit deeper in the paint than he wanted to.

That allowed Payton — running at full speed — to catch up and pin The King on the glass.

Cleveland still got the best of the Magic, as Isaiah Thomas hit a clutch free throw to win the game with 11 seconds left, 104-103.

All-Star Joel Embiid doesn’t need Rihanna: “On to the next one”

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For about as long as we can remember, Joel Embiid has famously thirsted after Rihanna on Twitter. Fans have tried to boost his standing with the singer, but it apparently that has not been enough.

In 2014, Embiid mentioned on social media that a “famous girl” — presumably Rihanna — told him to “Come back when you’re an All-Star.”

Well, today is that day.

Embiid is a starter out of the Eastern Conference, and on Thursday night he had his chance to speak to Rihanna (or whomever) via national TV on TNT.

Did Embiid decide to reach out to this famous person? Apparently he’s off it.

Via Twitter:

This is like that scene from Private Parts when Howard Stern hits No. 1 and he tells Paul Giamatti’s character to get lost.

Embiid had the chance to curve Rihanna (or whomever) and took it. Long live The Process.

Here are the weirdest NBA All-Star voting results for 2018

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NBA All-Star voting is over, and now we have the results. The starters are in, and what’s left is for us to wait until they announce the teams after they are picked in double secret ceremony.

Of course, the NBA did release the full voting results via their PR website this week, and as such there are some head scratchers. My boy Patrick Redford over at Deadspin did an excellent job rounding up some of the players who got exactly one (1) vote from other players.

The gag here is that these guys presumably voted for themselves.

Of course, what I found most interesting was actually the guys who got multiple votes from their compatriots without being All-Star caliber players.

My favorite list of player-voted non-All-Stars includes: Michael Beasley (4), Gordon Hayward (2), Boban Marjanovic (2), Jahlil Okafor (4), Quincy Acy (2), Tyler Zeller (4), T.J. McConnell (2), Elfrid Payton (2), Zaza Pachulia (3), Taj Gibson (6), Zach Randolph (5), Maurice Harkless (2), Deyonta Davis (3), Lonzo Ball (9), Mike Conley (3).

There’s a whole smattering of guys in there who either didn’t play enough, aren’t stars, are injured, or who aren’t very good.

That multiple players took time to vote for these guys really speaks to the frivolity of the NBA All-Star Game. At least outside of player contract incentives.

Bring on February!

LeBron James throws behind-the-back, nutmeg pass for assist (VIDEO)

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LeBron James is one of the best passers the NBA has ever seen, but even this is too hard to believe.

During Thursday’s game between the Orlando Magic and Cleveland Cavaliers, LeBron through a ridiculous behind-the-back pass that nutmegged Orlando’s Aaron Gordon.

The result of the play was a bucket for Dwyane Wade.

Via Twitter:

I mean, that’s just … insane.