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

17 Comments

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.

Watch Pacers fan boo Paul George during introductions (video)

1 Comment

Paul George – who told the Pacers he’d leave in free agency, prompting them to trade him to the Thunder – expected boos in his return to Indiana.

Pacers fans delivered.

They’ve also booed him every time he has touched the ball, which will certainly persist.

John Wall returns for Wizards-Grizzlies

AP Photo/Nick Wass
Leave a comment

WASHINGTON (AP) — Point guard John Wall was in the Washington Wizards’ lineup Wednesday night against the Memphis Grizzlies after missing nine games with a sore left knee.

Coach Scott Brooks said Wall would play in the mid-20-minute range, perhaps a bit more.

The Wizards (14-13), currently in first place in the Southeast Division, went 4-5 in Wall’s absence.

“He such a force offensively,” Brooks said of Wall. “He’s a two-way player and he’s one of the few guys in the league that can find open 3-point shooters going 100 miles an hour in transition.”

Wall, 27, is averaging 20.3 points and 9.2 assists per game.

Pacers president Kevin Pritchard likes tweets critical of Paul George trade

AP Photo/Darron Cummings
Leave a comment

Pacers general manager Kevin Pritchard was widely panned – including by me – for trading Paul George for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis.

Oops.

Oladipo and Sabonis are killing it while George has underwhelmed.

Upon George’s return to Indiana, Pritchard took the opportunity to gloat. The Pacers general manager recently liked these tweets (hat tip: Matt Ellentuck of SB Nation):

This is petty – and I love it. Pritchard earned the victory lap.

Report: Rival executives still expect Paul George to leave Thunder for Lakers

AP Photo/David Zalubowski
8 Comments

Paul George has been pretty open about his plans.

He told plenty of people – including the Pacers – he planned to leave for the Lakers in the summer of 2018. Even after the Thunder traded for him, George spoke of the lure of playing for his hometown team.

Of course, George also left the door open to re-signing with Oklahoma City. He proclaimed he’d be dumb to leave if the Thunder reached the conference finals or upset the Warriors.

So far, Oklahoma City (12-14) doesn’t even look like a playoff lock, let alone a team capable of knocking off Golden State or reaching the conference finals. So, cue the inevitable speculation.

Sam Amick of USA Today:

Rival execs still expect Paul to head for the Lakers in free agency

Do these executives have inside information into George’s thinking, or are they just speculating based on already-available information? Some executives are incentivized to drum up the Lakers threat, because they want to trade for George themselves now. If these executives insist George will leave for Los Angeles regardless, they might pry him from Oklahoma City for less.

There’s also a theory George is hyping his desire to sign with the Lakers so a team would have to trade less for him. That got him to the Thunder for what looked like a meager return (but hasn’t been). It might get him to a more favorable situation before the trade deadline without hampering his next team long-term. Of course, this theory isn’t mutually exclusive with George actually signing in Los Angeles. It could just get him better options to choose from this summer.

Surely, the Thunder are trying to parse all this noise. If their season doesn’t turn around, they should explore flipping George rather than risk losing him for nothing next summer. But they should also be wary that he’ll bolt for Los Angeles at first opportunity just because rival executives predict it.