The King has his ring.
Finally playing like the team the rest of the league feared Miami Heat roared to an NBA title Thursday night. NBA finals LeBron James had a triple double in the biggest game of his career, Heat role players drained threes like they were layups, the Heat offense fired on all cylinders and was aggressive on defense — all of it eventually overwhelmed them blew out the Thunder out. It turned Miami’s AmericanAirlines Arena into a 12-minute Championship party in the fourth quarter.
Miami won Game 5 121-106 and are now the NBA champions. LeBron James was named finals MVP.
It was the kind of game Heat fans envisioned and the rest of the league — including the Thunder — worried could happen when the Heat really clicked. Miami looked clear and away like the best team in the league.
“Today they were on fire…” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. “We couldn’t handle everything they threw at us.”
Miami smelled blood in the water early. They came out with a business-like focus from the opening tip — LeBron had his head down and was driving the lane from the start, setting guys up for threes on kick outs and dominating the game.
Miami had some great ball movement, shot 51.9 percent and were 14-26 from three on the night. They overwhelmed a good Thunder team that played hard but is still learning how to execute and win on this level. They will be back. Kevin Durant brought it and finished with 32 points and 11 boards, but as a team the Thunder shot just 41.4 percent (and that went up during the garbage time fourth quarter, they were under 40 percent most of the game).
Miami started to pull away in the second quarter but in the third the Thunder made one more push and got the lead down to 7. The Heat answered with a 19-1 run that blew the lid off the game. The did it because everyone pitched in. Mike Miller, who looked like he could barely walk this series, was 7-of-11, all of his makes from three, for 23 points. Bosh was fantastic with 24. Dwyane Wade had 20. Mario Chalmers, Norris Cole, pretty much everyone hit shots.
In the end LeBron and Wade were hugging on the sidelines, they are NBA champions. Together.
With time running down in the third quarter, LeBron James went hard to the basket for a layup, and the shot was contested by Jeremy Lamb, who ended up poking LeBron in the eye on the play.
It isn’t intentional, but it looks painful.
That blow could have LeBron sitting out Saturday night when the Cavaliers take on the Washington Wizards in Cleveland. From Joe Varden of the Cleveland Plain Dealer:
LeBron James said he suffered a scratched cornea in his right eye in Friday’s 112-105 win over Charlotte after being examined by a Hornets team physician.
James, who scored 32 points in 40 minutes, could not keep his right eye open during his postgame interview session and said his vision was blurry… Summing it all up, James said “if coach decides to give me a game off (Saturday), it’s not because I’m resting. It’s because I’m banged up.”
He was treated by the Hornets’ team doctor who administered eye drops, but the Cavaliers will make the call closer to game time depending on how LeBron is feeling.
The Cavaliers are 0-6 without LeBron this season. They also have just a one-game lead over the Celtics for the top seed in the Eastern Conference. (Boston beat Phoenix on Friday, despite Devin Booker dropping 70, and they have a key game with the Heat on Sunday.) That said, the Cavaliers are two games up in the loss column on the Celtics, which is a decent lead, but the Cavs need to start winning consistently.
And beating a hot Washington team will not be easy even with LeBron.
Devin Booker was the story of the NBA Friday night.
The 20-year-old Suns’ guard — who never scored more than 19 points in a game at Kentucky in college — dropped 70 on the Boston Celtics in a losing effort. He becomes only the sixth player in NBA history to score at least 70 in a game. At the end the Suns were fouling and calling time outs to stop the clock and get the ball back to Booker, but as Phoenix coach Earl Watson said to those who complained, “You got a problem with that? Do something. Simple as that.”
NBA Twitter exploded at what Booker did.
Booker himself responded this way.
There was no hesitation. None was expected.
After UCLA was eliminated from the NCAA Tournament in the Sweet 16 by Kentucky, the Bruin’s Lonzo Ball — who is expected to be a top-three pick — declared for the NBA draft this June.
Ball is expected to go second or third in the upcoming NBA draft. Speaking with people around the league Washington’s Markelle Fultz is a clear No. 1, but after that if the Lakers — the team with the second-worst record in the league — have the No. 2 pick they are expected to snap up Ball. Depending on how the lottery shakes out the top of the draft, Ball could fall a little — there are teams that like Josh Jackson — but not much.
Ball is a 6’6″ point guard who averaged 14.7 points, 7.6 assists and 6.1 rebounds a game for UCLA last season. He has fantastic passing vision, impressive shooting range (although he can take some questionable shots), and a great sense of floor spacing and how to run an offense, particularly in transition. However, his weaknesses were exposed in his final game some as De’Aaron Fox of Kentucky completely outplayed Ball. Defensive pressure took Ball (and the Bruins) out of rhythm, forced them to play in the half court (where Ball is not as strong), and it’s one of the things Ball is going to have to adapt to at the next level where everyone is more athletic. Also, he’s going to need to get more consistent defensively.
The potential for Ball to be special is there, which is why he will go high in the draft.
And no, the rantings of his father will not change that. Teams see the father as a distraction that can be handled, they aren’t going to let him get in the way of drafting talent.
Kobe Bryant said “Thank you. I learned so much from you as a player.”
Jerry West said he loved him like a son.
Jeanie Buss said “No one celebrates a championship like you, but please no more asking Mark Madsen to dance.”
The Lakers unveiled a new statue for Shaquille O’Neal Friday night, one flying high over a Staples Center entrance, and the stars were on hand for the event. Phil Jackson was there making Snoop Dogg jokes. Shaq and Kobe were sharing laughs. It was a big night for a big man with a big personality. And a big heart.
Check out the highlights above.