LeBron says he feels better, rest of Heat sound business like

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MIAMI — There was a calm confidence around the Miami Heat as they went through practice Wednesday in preparation for Game 5 Thursday night. You could sense it. They may be up 3-1 with a chance to close it out, but they were business like.

“Honestly, it feels like a normal prep day,” Shane Battier said. “You come in, get treatment, look at film, talk about adjustments. For us it’s about building, it’s about getting better. After looking at the tape there is so much room for improvement.”

The biggest improvement would be a healthy LeBron James — who cramped badly in his legs near the end of Game 4.

“I feel a lot better than we did last night, that’s clear…” LeBron said Wednesday after a light “practice” that say nothing physical for the key rotation players. “I’m still a little sore because of the muscles just kind of being (used) at an intense level. Very tight, I’m still sore.”

The Heat expect him to be all the way back and ready to go come Thursday night.

There have been no easy wins for the Heat in this series — all three of their victories have been by single digits. They seemed to recognize that if they coast even a little — something that as a team they have been prone to do — they will be on a plane headed back to Oklahoma City for Game 6 rather than in a parade through South Beach.

But they were business-like in their approach to it. Battier said that started with Pat Riley and flowed through Erik Spoelstra.

“You’ve got to absolutely immerse yourself into the process and the focus,” Spoelstra said. “It’s Game 5. We want to treat it as a Game 7….

“It’s been well documented the experience we went though last year and the pain and all that. It doesn’t guarantee anything. Experience is a great teacher. You know, hopefully all those experiences will help us.”

The Heat carried themselves like a wise, experienced team on Wednesday. We’ll find out Thursday night if they really have learned from the past.

Mario Chalmers trips James Harden, Harden shoves him back (VIDEO)

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Memphis came back on an 18-2 run late to in the fourth quarter to knock off the Houston Rockets, a very impressive road win that reminds us Memphis is not a team to be written off.

This is the play everyone will be talking about — James Harden squared up looking for a fight.

Mario Chalmers got knocked down by a Harden screen, and while on the ground tries to trip up Harden, and Harden turns around and shoves him. Harden squared up, but as happens in the NBA everyone stepped in, and nothing actually happened.

Neither man was ejected. The referees called it an offensive foul on Harden for the pick, then there were double technicals. Fines may follow from the league.

Metta World Peace joins Lakers’ G League team as ass’t coach

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EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (AP) — Metta World Peace has joined the Los Angeles Lakers’ NBA G League affiliate as a player development coach.

The veteran NBA forward was added to the South Bay Lakers’ staff Monday.

World Peace played 16 NBA seasons for six franchises, including six years with the Lakers from 2009-10 and 2015-17. He was a standout defensive player who won a championship alongside Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol in 2010.

While he hasn’t publicly retired, the forward formerly known as Ron Artest will assist South Bay Lakers head coach Coby Karl and his staff.

World Peace earned the longest suspension in NBA history for his role in the Indiana Pacers’ infamous brawl in the stands at Detroit in November 2004, but he matured into a valued veteran leader for the Lakers.

LaVar Ball calls out Wizards, Marcin Gortat doesn’t think that was smart

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“I told him after the game, due to all the riffraff his dad brings he’s going to get a lot of people coming at him. He’s got to be ready for that, and I let him know after the game… (I had to) welcome his little young a** to the NBA.”

That was the Clippers’ Patrick Beverley after he tormented Lonzo Ball on opening night, and he speaks for a number of other players I have heard from who said father LaVar wrote checks that Lonzo is going to have to cash, and guys were going to go at him. Not every night, but enough.

Since that rough opener the rookie has had a decent couple of games — averaging 18.5 points, 11 assists, and eight rebounds a night, not efficient but playing better — going against Eric Bledsoe (a capable defender who had checked out mentally in Phoenix) and Jrue Holiday and the Pelicans. Wednesday night John Wall and the Wizards come to town, and that’s another level of competition.

My least favorite thing about this Lakers season is the way the L.A. media sticks a microphone in front of LaVar Ball after every game. I don’t care about LaVar, in the same way I don’t care about the Kardashians.

But what he said has become a thing. After the Lakers loss to the Pelicans LaVar said, “[The Wizards] better beware cause Lonzo ain’t losing again. Not in the same week!”

Wizards’ center Marcin Gortat thought that was funny.

First off, Lonzo is going to lose twice in a week a lot this season — the Lakers are not a good team.

Second, Wall is a top-five NBA point guard by any standard, an All-NBA player who is far more than just quick (although he is that, too). He can shoot, he’s an aggressive defender, and he knows how to set up teammates. He’s going to be more than a handful for Ball. To put it kindly.

Whatever happens Wednesday night (most likely Wall smokes Lonzo) we know one thing for sure: LaVar will say something outlandish. And it will become a thing. The game is secondary for that marketing effort.

Lakers to break out powder blue Minneapolis throwback uniforms this season

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The Lakers have gone a few different directions with alternate uniforms in recent years, such as the black version, but when you have a classic brand you shouldn’t mess with it. Same with the Celtics, Bulls, Sixers, and other classic uniforms — if you’re going to go alternate then go older.

The Lakers are doing just that — going back to Minneapolis.

They are breaking out the George Mikan era jerseys, starting on Wednesday vs. Wizards and in four other games later in the season.

I like it.

Now if the Lakers could get George Mikan in the paint it would help.