Heat come from seven down in final two minutes to beat the Cavs

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The Cavaliers had no business being in this game with the Heat, in Miami, without the injured Kyrie Irving. But they weren’t only in it, they were on track to win it — until the final two minutes, when it all fell apart.

The Heat beat Cleveland 110-108 on Saturday, but they waited until almost the last possible moment to do so.

Cleveland led this one by 11 at the half, and kept Miami at bay for 46 minutes. Every time the Heat made a run, the Cavs seemed to respond. The games are played for 48 minutes, however, and those last two were where Miami turned it on and made sure they’d leave with the victory.

How did the Cavaliers manage to control the game against the defending world champions, despite the disparity in talent? By getting everyone involved to where they had eight players score in double figures, hitting 14-of-31 three-pointers as a team which was good for over 45 percent, and turning the ball over just 11 times.

Still, it wasn’t enough. Because when the game got tight and the Heat had LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Ray Allen all making plays down the stretch, the lack of star power on the Cavaliers finally was exposed.

Cleveland led 108-101 with under two minutes to play, after a three-pointer from LeBron’s former teammate, Daniel Gibson. Those would be the last points the Cavaliers scored all night.

On the next possession, James took the ball at the top of the arc and drove to the basket for a layup as if the defense wasn’t even there. After Chris Bosh stopped an attempt in the lane from Jeremy Pargo, Allen scored on a driving layup and was fouled, giving him the and-1 opportunity to cut the lead to just two, which he did after sinking the obligatory free throw.

With the walls beginning to close in on the Cavs, Gibson airballed a three-pointer from the left wing, and Anderson Varejao missed a 20-foot jumper after an offensive rebound from Alonzo Gee had given Cleveland another shot.

On the Heat’s next possession, Wade fed the ball to LeBron in the post, and when the help defenders came, he quickly tossed it out to an open Ray Allen, who calmly knocked down the three that would prove to be the game-winner. The Cavs had one more chance with possession and trailing by one, but Pargo dribbled into the teeth of the Heat defense, and had his shot blocked by Wade in the game’s final few seconds.

The Heat have talked about the fact that they’re experiencing what all champions experience, which is everyone bringing their A-game each and every night to try to take down the team that hoisted the trophy last June.

An undermanned Cavs team shouldn’t have been able to put up 108 points on the Heat’s home floor, no matter the ultimate result. But Miami turned it on when it mattered, and came away with the victory nonetheless.

Hours after game-winning tip, restaurant told Giannis Antetokounmpo he had to wait

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Giannis Antetokounmpo was the toast of Milwaukee Sunday night: With the game on the line after a Boston comeback, he tipped in a missed Malcolm Brogdon lay-up that proved to be the game winner. (Jayson Tatum was in good position for Boston, he tried to move Antetokounmpo out of his rebounding spot, it just didn’t matter.)

Well, you would have thought Antetokounmpo was the toast of the town, but when he went to BelAir Cantina (a chainlet of Mexican restaurants in the area) he was told he had to wait. And wait. To the point he eventually left.

As you might imagine, the 6’11” Antetokounmpo walking into a restaurant a couple hours after tying up the series with the Celtics drew fast attention on social media. So did the fact he couldn’t get service.

First, good on Antetokounmpo for not pulling the “do you know who I am?” line. He was reportedly unassuming and just left after a while. No hard feelings, his girlfriend later tweeted this out.

As for BelAir Cantina, I kinda get it — I worked my way through college as a waiter and bartender. The restaurant got slammed, everyone working there was in the weeds, and things fall through the cracks. It happens.

But when the 6’11” toast of the town walks in, he cannot slip through the cracks. Cannot. Rather than social media posts about him not getting served and walking out, there would have been pictures all over of him eating the lamb barbacoa or whatever. It’s good for business. If you give the man a little special treatment after the game, nobody is going to complain (except the people who were going to complain about everything anyway… in that sense working in a restaurant was good preparation for me to use Twitter someday).

 

 

Kevin Durant apparently likes Instagram comment critical of Russell Westbrook (photo)

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Last summer Kevin Durant tweeted and deleted that the Thunder’s surrounding cast around him and Russell Westbrook was lacking when he played for Oklahoma City. Those tweets – another criticized Thunder coach Billy Donovan – appeared to be intended to come from a burner account, but Durant said he actually meant to send them from his own account.

Now, he apparently liked an Instagram comment with the opposite message about Westbrook. (I say apparently, because I can’t verify the authenticity of these screenshots, but they at least pass the initial smell test.)

“Like” is Instagram’s word. Maybe Durant uses the function for a different purpose – to note a comment, rather than endorse it.

Perhaps, Durant misread the conversation. The comment he liked rejected the notion that the Thunder were “subpar,” but it criticized Westbrook for them not living up to their ability. Perhaps, Durant focused on the comment sticking up for Oklahoma City overall and missed the part about Westbrook being the shortcoming. Skimming that conversation, it’s a plausible mistake.

Maybe Durant just actually hit the like button. It’s easy enough to do.

Or maybe Durant and Westbrook haven’t really gotten less hostile toward each other. Maybe Durant meant to like this from a burner account.

Those nefarious possibilities are the scintillating ones.

After getting crushed for those tweets last summer and repeatedly downplaying his feud with Westbrook, the Warriors star clearly wanted to move on from these storylines. But all those questions have suddenly reemerged. Perhaps for legitimate reasons, perhaps for benign ones. But we won’t know more about Durant’s intent until he answers to this.

Amir Johnson on South Beach: 2006 Pistons ‘let the streets beat us’

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Amir Johnson is a savvy veteran on the young 76ers.

On the 2006 Pistons, he was a scarcely used rookie straight out of high school.

But he was learning lessons he’d apply to his current role.

Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press:

Philadelphia heeded Johnson’s advice. The 76ers won Games 3 and 4 in Miami to take a 3-1 series lead.

The Pistons went 0-3 in Miami during the six-game 2006 Eastern Conference finals. There was little shame in losing to those Heat. They pushed Detroit to seven games in the 2005 conference finals and were – with Dwyane Wade transcendent while Shaquille O’Neal remained in his prime – even better the following year.

But too much partying is a major charge and a somewhat surprising one. The Pistons were led by the same veteran core – Chauncey Billups, Richard Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince, Ben Wallace and Rasheed Wallace – that made the previous two NBA Finals and won the 2004 title. They’d been around long enough to know better.

Gregg Popovich to miss Spurs-Warriors Game 5

AP Photo/Eric Gay
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Spurs coach Gregg Popovich has missed Games 3 and 4 of his team’s first-round series against the Warriors following the death of his wife, Erin.

Unsurprisingly, he won’t coach the Spurs as they leave San Antonio for Game 5 tomorrow at Golden State.

David Aldridge of NBA.com:

Popovich should take all the time he needs. Ettore Messina is capable as acting coach, and Popovich being with his family now is more important anyway.

This will probably be the final game of the series. Up 3-1, the Warriors are the better team and at home.