Dwyane Wade, LeBron James

As always, Erik Spoelstra wants Miami to play faster

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Last season, in the run up to the season, Erik Spoelstra tried to make the Heat’s identity a team that used pressure defense and fast break attacks to overwhelm opponents. And at the start of the season they did that.

But as the season wore on the Heat’s pace dropped back to about the league average (a little below, actually, they finished 19th in the league). In part that was due to injuries, in part due to teams adjusting to what the Heat tried to do. The Heat did play faster than the year before, but not fast all the time (only in spurts).

So guess what Spoelstra’s mantra is again going into this season? From Ira Winderman at the Sun Sentinel.

Talking to WQAM on Tuesday, Spoelstra shed some light on his game plan for next season.

“I hope to play faster,” Spoelstra said. “We turned it up a gear last year and I think we have the personnel to hopefully go even faster. I think with a normal training camp and a normal season we can build up that habit even more.”

I can find you 29 other NBA head coaches who are vowing to play faster this year, too. It must be part of the “Off-Season Cliche Handbook” the NBA passes out to coaches.

Obviously, part of this is how healthy Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh are when they return next season. Wade has said he will be playing his way into trusting his knee, which means he could be a step slower to start.

It seems like the Heat might if they do play more small ball with Chris Bosh at the five. But one of the more knowledgeable Heat guys out there, Couper Moorhead, suggested Bosh may not start at the five next year. He likely finishes games there, but not always start. And if the Heat are saving the small lineup, we’ll see how fast they really play.

But, we know what Spoelstra wants.

Patrick Beverley shuts down Westbrook on final play, bowls through own coach (VIDEO)

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Houston Rockets G Patrick Beverley is known around the NBA for being a dogged defender. His skill set was on full display on Friday night, where Beverley shut down Oklahoma City Thunder superstar Russell Westbrook on a potential game-winning 3-pointer in the closing seconds.

It all started early in the matchup, when Beverley — notorious for getting under the skin of both Westbrook and other NBA opponents — flopped with some serious gusto just 36 seconds into the first quarter.

Via Twitter:

The game continued like this, but the real highlight of Beverley’s defensive night was stopping Westbrook — who dropped his 7th straight triple-double — on an isolation play with six seconds left in the fourth quarter.

With the ball on the left garden spot, Westbrook gave a couple of dribble hesitation moves to Beverley, then tried to rise up for the go-ahead bucket.

Beverley was right up on him, and forced an airball from Westbrook:

The Rockets guard was so happy about the stop and the eventual win that he celebrated a little too enthusiastically with Houston coach Mike D’Antoni.

Going for a chest bump, Beverley wound up blasting through his own coach:

Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan’s bromance continues after beating Celtics (VIDEO)

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Toronto Raptors stars Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan are becoming one of the best duos in the NBA, on and off the court. They joked around in the locker room after their win over the Boston Celtics on Friday night, 101-94, but the comedy started before the two even left the floor.

In a postgame interview with CSNNE DeRozan was asked what the message was at halftime from coach Dewane Casey.

DeRozan — with Lowry looking devious in the background of the shot — was gracious.

“Just get [Lowry] the ball,” DeRozan smiled.

Pleased with the result, Lowry responded with a “That’s a good message right there!” before running off to the locker room.

The interview continued to be interrupted, with Raptors big man Jared Sullinger giving the camera a drive by “DeMar for President!”

New England Patriots RB LeGarrette Blount even showed up to show DeRozan some love.

Kevin Durant gets fouled by Stephen Curry, officials whistle Joe Johnson instead (VIDEO)

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The Golden State Warriors are so talented, perhaps the officials are predisposed to blowing whistles in their favor. At least, that’s the only explanation you could give to a Utah Jazz fan after seeing what happened between Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, and Utah’s Joe Johnson on Thursday night.

As Durant came off a curl on the far side of the court, he used a screen set by Curry on Johnson.

With the ball in his hands, Durant rose to fire but found himself locked in arms with another player. Durant’s shot attempt helplessly bounced away as he shot, and officials whistled Johnson on the play.

Of course, a closer look reveals that the player Durant’s arms were tangled up with was … Curry.

Yes, Curry had arm locked what he thought was Johnson on the screen but was instead his teammate and MVP candidate.

It didn’t matter, as referees awarded Durant the free throws, of which he only made 1 of 2.

Perhaps that’s some solace?

Golden State beat Utah, 106-99.

DeMarcus Cousins trolls Joakim Noah on shooting form (VIDEO)

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New York Knicks C Joakim Noah has an awkward jumper and free throw technique, there’s no denying that. His two-handed, horizontal approach to shooting a basketball is ripe for criticism.

DeMarcus Cousins thinks so, at least.

During a game between the Sacramento Kings and the Knicks, Cousins decided to give Noah a little tongue-in-cheek trolling about his form.

Via Twitter:

Looks about right.