Oklahoma City Thunder v Miami Heat - Game Three

Spoelstra calls Chris Bosh Heat’s ‘most important player’


PHOENIX — On a night when Lebron James was playing through illness and needed to save himself as much as possible, Chris Bosh provided the offensive support Miami needed to take care of business.

Bosh had 16 first-half points, and finished with 24 on 9-of-11 shooting, to go along with nine rebounds, three assists, and two blocked shots. Without that effort, it’s unlikely that Miami would have had the horses to get this win. Both James and Erik Spoelstra were well aware of this afterward, and had nothing but high praise for their team’s most quiet superstar.

“He’s such an impact to our team, so efficient,” James said. “He gets his points so quietly, makes jumpshots, gets to the free throw line, makes things happen for our team and we all feed off of that. And I tried to feed off of that as well.”

Spoelstra took it a step further, after noting it took him two and a half minutes into his postgame press conference before Bosh’s name even came up.

“He is our most important player, and he’s as steady and consistent as he always has been for the last two and a half years,” Spoelstra said. “He makes it look easy and he makes it look quiet, and yet he’s so impactful in the game. He was big under the rim and not just his scoring, but the big plays defensively at the end.”

Bosh said he did come in with more of a mindset to shoulder the offense with Wade out and with James being less than 100 percent.

“We can’t always expect LeBron to be LeBron all the time,” he said. “He’s not just going to be [perfect], whether it’s physically or whether it’s a bad game. It’s just not going to be A+ all the time.

“I just try to make shots, but I don’t do anything differently. The shots were open, my teammates found me, and I was just working out of the mid-range post a little bit, just trying to get some flow going to the game and it worked out.”

The Suns slowed Bosh a little in the second half from a scoring standpoint, but it didn’t change the impact he had on his team’s success. The attention Bosh required from the defense opened things up a little bit on the wings, and James and Mario Chalmers both took advantage of the increased opportunities.

The fact that Bosh plays at an All-Star level, but does so without the ego and the need for the spotlight makes him a perfect fit to play alongside Wade and James. It also makes it easy to see why Spoelstra and James speak so highly of him, and understand just how important he is to the team’s overall success.

“I let the game develop and I let it come to me,” Bosh said. “I don’t just go hunting for anything, if I have post-ups and I get doubled I move off the ball. I don’t like to force bad shots, I like to take high percentage shots. And that’s what makes us so dangerous. We move the ball so much and we play together to put pressure on the defense.”

PBT Extra: Kobe Bryant understands now is time to walk away

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It was expected Kobe Bryant would retire at the end of this season.

It was not expected Kobe would make that official on Nov. 29 — it’s caught the media at Staples Center Sunday (of which I was one) and the fans by surprise.

In this PBT Extra, I talk with Jenna Corrado about the mood inside Staples Center Sunday.

More importantly, I discuss the sense I got that Kobe understands it’s time to walk away, and he is at peace with that.

Luke Walton: Warriors concerned about health, not 72 wins

Andre Iguodala, Luke Walton
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Stephen Curry acknowledges the Warriors – who are 18-0 and won four straight to end last season – talk about the NBA record of 33 consecutive wins.

But what about another major record Golden State is chasing, 72 wins in a season?

Shooting guard Klay Thompson called it possible. General manager Bob Myers deemed it impossible.

Interim coach Luke Walton would prefer everyone just keep quiet.

Walton, via CSN Bay Area:

“The 72 thing is far, far away,” Walton said. “We shouldn’t be spending any time thinking about that.

“I’ve also said before that we’re not going to coach this season trying to chase that record,” Walton said

“We’re still going to give players nights off on back-to-backs,” he added. “And we’re going to do our best to limit minutes for some of our players. Our main concern is being healthy come playoff time.”

I don’t think Golden State will win 72 games, but prioritizing health won’t necessary stop the Warriors. They’re so deep.

They outscore opponents by 5.8 points per 100 possessions when Curry sits, 5.6 when Draymond Green sits. Those marks would rank seventh among all NBA teams.

Golden State has the luxury of resting players and continuing to win. That’s what makes the chase for 72 realistic. This team is less likely than most to wear down late in a season where it’s pushing to win every game.

Health entering the playoffs is important, but a 72-win season would raise these Warriors to legendary status. If they’re in range late in the season, I think they’ll go for it – even if the top seed is already secured.

But for now, Walton is probably taking the right approach. Plenty of teams start fast (though never this fast) then drift back toward the pack. No point risking Golden State’s health yet.

Kevin Durant to media: You treated Kobe Bryant ‘like s—‘

Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant

Kevin Durant once told the media, “You guys really don’t know s—.”

The Thunder star expressed regret, but if he knew how we were going to treat Kobe Bryant, he might have stuck to his guns.

Durant, via Anthony Slater of The Oklahoman:

I did idolize Kobe Bryant. I studied him, wanted to be like him. He was our Michael Jordan. I watched Michael towards the end of his career when he was with the Wizards, and I seen that’s what Kobe emerged as the guy for us.

I’ve been disappointed this year because you guys treated him like s—. He’s a legend, and all I hear is about how bad he’s playing, how bad he’s shooting. It’s time for him to hang it up. You guys treated one of our legends like s—, and I didn’t really like it. So hopefully, now you can start being nice to him now that he decided to retire after this year. It was sad the way he was getting treated, in my opinion.

But he had just an amazing career, a guy who changed the game for me as a player mentally and physically. Means so much to the game of basketball. Somebody I’m always going to look to for advice, for help, for anything. Just a brilliant, brilliant, intelligent man. And it’s sad to see him go.

Kobe is shooting 20% from the floor and 30% on 3-pointers for a 2-14 team. How else should we describe his season?

Why not bash the person most publicly critical of Kobe? Or the many people around the NBA who recognize how far Kobe has fallen? Or Byron Scott, who has repeatedly intensified discussion of Kobe’s demise?

Why is the media, which is not some monolithic entity anyway, the primary target?

There are writers who fawn over Kobe, writers who criticize him and many more who do both. We don’t all think alike.

If we did, Durant would be bound to treat Kobe like s—, too.

Hassan Whiteside thanks Hassan Whiteside in Kobe Bryant tribute


Like many players, Hassan Whiteside posted a tribute to Kobe Bryant upon the Laker star’s retirement announcement.

But Whiteside’s is a bit, um, different.

Whiteside salutes himself for making Kobe smile. (That’s not a smile.) The Heat center also tweeted a screenshot of the Instagram post with the hashtag “#koberetire,” which sounds pretty commanding.

Is Whiteside in on the joke or is he that self-centered? I’m honestly not entirely sure.