Rashard Lewis suddenly out of the Heat’s rotation

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Rashard Lewis began the season playing fairly well in Miami, perhaps even better than most expected. He was getting close to 20 minutes per game off the bench in the Heat’s first six games of the season, and filling in productively offensively in his time on the court.

But since Miami has been at full strength over the last few games, with Dwyane Wade and Mike Miller both returning from injury, Lewis has seen his minutes decline. And in the Heat’s previous two games, Lewis was unable to get off the bench at all — against Milwaukee he was said to be out due to illness, but against the Cavaliers, he ended up with the dreaded DNP-CD.

It’s unclear at this point whether this is just early-season lineup tinkering from Erik Spoelstra, or if the demotion might have longer-lasting effects. Either way, Lewis says he knew what he was signing up for when he came to Miami last summer.

From Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel:

Lewis, who said he was healthy Saturday, said he signed on in the offseason as a free agent aware of such possibilities.

“There’s a lot of talent on the bench, a lot of guys that can play any given night,” Lewis said. “So you’ve just always got to be ready when your name is called. And when your name’s not called, you’ve still got to be ready.”

Lewis said Spoelstra approached him about the shift.

“He said he’s going to change the lineup, the second unit for a little bit, trying to see what else he can do, work with some things, just be patient with him, just see what happens,” Lewis said.

It makes sense for Spoelstra to mix up his combinations to see exactly what he has during the course of the regular season, especially for a team that will need all of its depth on the way to a planned run back to the Finals.

Lewis has shown that he can contribute in Miami. He’ll just need to be patient before getting his next opportunity, which could come sooner rather than later if Shane Battier’s knee sprain turns out to be anything lingering.

Warriors pose for photos with Jahlil Okafor’s dad’s ‘FREE JAH’ shirt

AP Photo/Chris Szagola
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Jahlil Okafor‘s father has not been shy about speaking out on his son’s behalf. NBA players are advocating for the 76ers to grant Okafor, who’s out of the rotation and on an expiring contract, his desired trade or buyout.

When both join forces…

Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and Stephen Curry appear to really enjoy Chukwudi Okafor’s shirt. That doesn’t mean they’re necessarily calling on Philadelphia to do anything. But they hadn’t to know how it’d be perceived.

It’s easy to predict free agents will avoid the 76ers as a result of the Okafor situation, but few anticipate getting stuck similarly. Players overwhelmingly value money, winning, role and location. If Golden State’s stars are applying any external pressure, it shouldn’t really move Philadelphia more than anything that has already been said and done.

A couple of Lonzo Ball’s triple-double assists look dubious (video)

Harry How/Getty Images
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Lonzo Ball draws outsized attention because his father, LaVar Ball, lures onlookers and because the rookie plays for the high-profile Los Angeles Lakers.

So, when Lonzo gets a triple-double – like his 11-points, 16-rebound, 11-assists game against the Nuggets yesterday – it draws scrutiny.

Mo Dakhil of The Jump Ball:

The NBA defines an assist as a “pass that directly leads to a basket. … An assist can be awarded for a basket scored after the ball has been dribbled if the player’s pass led to the field goal being made.”

I wouldn’t describe either of those passing as leading directly to a basket. Ball’s teammates each hold the ball for a moment after receiving the pass then take two dribbles against set defenses.

But assists are subjective, and the Lakers aren’t alone in offering a home-court scorekeeping advantage.

Kyle Neubeck of Philly Voice

So, criticize/laugh at the Lakers. But your favorite team probably manipulates assists in its favor, too.

Robin Lopez and T.J. Warren exchange contact, heated words (video)

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Robin Lopez whacked T.J. Warren in the head while chasing an offensive rebound. Warren didn’t like that, so he ran to the opposite end of the court and shoved Lopez to the floor. A heated confrontation ensued, though it didn’t escalate beyond yelling.

Warren received a flagrant foul, and Lopez was hit with a technical in the Suns’ 113-105 win over the Bulls.

Lakers blow 5-on-1 fastbreak (video)

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Corey Brewer is better at finishing fastbreaks than leading them.

Nice defense by Emmanuel Mudiay, too.

But at least the Lakers won.