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.

Marc Gasol: If Grizzlies don’t share my goal of continued growth, we might have to revisit things

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The Grizzlies’ Grit & Grind era has ended.

Zach Randolph signed with the Kings, and Tony Allen appears likely to leave Memphis, too. The Grizzlies are prioritizing younger/cheaper players like Ben McLemore and Tyreke Evans.

Marc Gasol via Ala Carta, as translated by HoopsHype:

I’m very ambitious and I’ve wanted Memphis to be a great franchise. We’ve grown a lot the last 6-7 years, but we have to keep growing. If this is not lined up, maybe we may have to revisit things.

Gasol has been loyal to Memphis, and his first wish is probably winning there. But Giannis Antetokounmpo put it well: Teams must also do right by their players. Gasol is 32 and doesn’t have much time in his prime left. I see why rebuilding wouldn’t interest him.

But what will he do about it if the Grizzlies don’t prioritize the present? They made their push last summer with a max contract for Chandler Parsons, but because Parsons can’t stay healthy, that deal only inhibits team growth.

Gasol is locked up for two more years before a player option. He doesn’t have much leverage. This is part of the reason LeBron James keeps signing short-term contracts. Gasol doesn’t have the same ability to steer his team in his desired direction

On the potentially bright side, rebuilding teams often don’t have much use for 32-year-olds guaranteed more than $72 million over the following three years. If the fit devolves, Memphis becomes more likely to trade him.

Celtics to retire Paul Pierce’s number after Cavaliers game in February

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The Celtics already said they’d retire Paul Pierce’s No. 34.

Now, we know when.

Celtics release:

The Boston Celtics announced today that they will retire Paul Pierce’s No. 34 after a mid-season game against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday, Feb. 11

After? That’s apparently in response to a new rule that penalizes teams not ready to play after a 15-minute halftime. These ceremonies can drag on, and nobody wants to cut Pierce short. I wonder whether this will start a trend of number retirements coming after games.

DeMarcus Cousins on Confederate statues: ‘Take all them motherf—ers down’

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DeMarcus Cousins grew up in Alabama, played collegiately at Kentucky and now plays in New Orleans.

So, yeah, the Pelicans star has an opinion on Confederate statues.

Cousins, via TMZ:

“Take all them motherf*ckers down,” Cousins said … “Take ’em all down.”

These statues glorify people because they fought a war against the United States in the name of preserving the racist institution of slavery.

Not whom I want to honor, either.

Kevin Durant: Kyrie Irving-LeBron James situation ‘just a regular NBA problem’

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Kevin Durant knows something about star teammates not always getting along.

So, the Warriors forward is not freaking out about the disconnect between Kyrie Irving and LeBron James and Irving’s subsequent trade request.

Durant, via Chris Haynes of ESPN:

“It’s just a regular NBA problem, right? A lot of teams have gone through this before,” Durant told ESPN. “They’ll figure it out. That’s a great organization, a championship organization. They’ll figure it out.”

“It’s not the end of the world,” Durant said. “Both of those guys won a championship together. They love each other. If Kyrie wants to do something else, that’s on him. I’m sure whatever happens, it’ll work out for the best for both of them. But it’s just a normal NBA problem. It’s just two big stars that it’s happening to.”

Durant is definitely right in the larger sense. Teammates spat and requests trades more often than we realize. Remember, both Irving and the Cavaliers probably prefer this never became public.

But I’m not sure Cleveland will figure this out with the ease Durant suggests. David Griffin, who had proven so adept at putting out these fires, is gone. LeBron’s free agency looms. This could be extremely destructive to the Cavs.

The fact that this “regular NBA problem” became public only intensifies it – and raises it something greater.