With under two minutes remaining in overtime of Miami’s game against the Magic on Monday, the Heat were trailing, and wanted to preserve every precious second on the clock to ensure enough possessions were available for the team to come back and get this victory.
They got it down the stretch, but time ended up not being a factor. That didn’t stop LeBron James from “walking the dog” perhaps earlier than necessary, a move which prevents the clock from starting while the ball rolls up the floor before a player decides to touch it.
Chris Paul is the most famous for this tactic, though now it’s done by players all over the league. But it seemed unnecessary at this point, especially in the cavalier nature (no pun intended) that James chose to use to execute it.
As the ball rolls slowly into the front court, James is not huddled closely beside it in a protective stance, nor does he seem concerned that anyone from the other team would dare try to take it. He walks calmly upright, before picking it up just as the timeline is crossed.
Josh McRoberts briefly pretends as though he is going to contest, but even that minimal effort from the opponent doesn’t phase James in the lightest.
There seems to be value in this tactic when saving time is a necessity, though it doesn’t appear that was the case in this situation. Either way, and as if the opposing team wasn’t fully aware, James made a statement with this play.
He reaffirmed to the Magic that he is the best player in the game today, and that there’s no one on that roster who would dare challenge his abilities — even as he taunts them with such a brash display of being loose with the basketball.
Five Takeaways from NBA Monday: Watch out for the Utah Jazz
PuppyMonkeyBaby. PuppyMonkeyBaby.PuppyMonkeyBaby. PuppyMonkeyBaby. PuppyMonkeyBaby. PuppyMonkeyBaby. PuppyMonkeyBaby. PuppyMonkeyBaby. PuppyMonkeyBaby. PuppyMonkeyBaby. Just wanted to freak you out. Here is what you need to know from an NBA Tuesday.
1) Gordon Hayward game winner makes it seven in a row for Utah. This team is hitting it’s stride again. The reason Utah was everyone’s favorite pick to leap up into the Western Conference playoffs was they were one of the best teams in the NBA after the All-Star break last season — they went 19-10, played lock-down defense allowing just 89 points a game, and got just enough offense to win.
The Jazz are hitting that stride earlier this season. After a dramatic win over the Mavericks on Tuesday, the Jazz have won seven in a row and moved past Houston into the seven seed in the West. Utah is hitting its stride and is not only going to make the playoffs but also be a tough out in them. They are playing great defense again, allowing 87.3 points per game in that stretch (95.8 points allowed per 100 possessions) and getting offense when they need it. Like in the dramatic end of the win over Dallas on the road Tuesday. First Rodney Hood hit a three to force overtime:
Then Gordon Hayward hit the step-back game winner.
2) Kurt Rambis drops first game as Knicks coach. Meet the new Knicks: They got off to a terrible start, had no offensive flow, were constantly putting up contested shots late in the shot clock, and didn’t slow the other team down in transition. And they lost (111-108 to Washington). If that sounds a lot like the old Derek Fisher Knicks, well, what did you expect? Kurt Rambis — whatever you think of him as a coach — was not going to be able to make many changes on the fly, and while Carmelo Anthony dropped 33, the reasons this team has struggled of late have not gone away. This roster is not as good as Phil Jackson apparently thinks it is, and people running the show at Madison Square Garden may have been blinded by a better than expected start. This is not a good team, if anything the emergence of Kristaps Porzingis has them playing above expectations. There are some pieces to build on for the future, but there is still a lot of building to do. This coaching change doesn’t change much of anything in the short term.
3) Setback Tuesday: Bulls’ Jimmy Butler out 3-4 weeks with knee strain; Grizzlies Marc Gasol out indefinitely with a broken foot; Pelicans Tyreke Evans to miss rest of season after knee surgery. The basketball gods were handing out injuries like Oprah handed out cars.
The Bulls will be without All-Star guard Jimmy Butler for a month due to the knee strain he suffered a couple of games back. The Bulls are already 5-12 in their last 17 and struggling on defense; this is another big step back along those lines. Chicago is just 1.5 games from falling out of the playoffs, and that is suddenly a concern. The Bulls’ Pau Gasol will replace Butler in the All-Star Game (which means the Bulls keep a representative, and Gasol is there for the Kobe sendoff game, which is nice).
Marc Gasol is the hub of what Memphis likes to do on both ends, but he has a broken foot and will be out indefinitely. Gasol’s game has taken a step back this season, but the team is still 3.7 points per 100 possessions better when he is on the court, and the Grizzlies don’t have anyone who can replace what he does at both ends. The Grizzlies have a 4.5 game cushion from falling out of the playoffs, but wins are going to be much tougher to come by now.
This has been a lost season in New Orleans, Tyreke Evans going under the knife because of his knee is just piling on. It does kill the Pelicans’ efforts to trade him at the deadline in nine days.
Just one second left, so it’s going to overtime, right? Wrong. Avery Bradley with the stupid foul and the Bucks get the win.
5) Miami’s Hassan Whiteside was ejected for elbowing Spurs Boban Marjanovic in the face. It was a made free throw in the fourth quarter of a double-digit game — there wasn’t anything to be battling over. But Marjanovic was working to get his big body in a rebounding position, Whiteside was trying to fight him off and got his elbows up. It was the move of an immature player, which Whiteside can still be at times. Elbow a guy in the face and you’re gone.
Stephen Curry starts ridiculous Warriors fast break (VIDEO)
Golden State is such a thing of beauty to watch in transition.
This play starts when Stephen Curry slides down to help on post defense on Clint Capela, steals the ball, saves it to a teammate and then gets it back when they start the break. James Harden tries to slow Curry down, cutting him off in the backcourt, Curry just whips a 20-foot behind-the-back pass to Andre Iguodala, who lobs it to Leandro Barbosa for the finish.
Houston fought back from 16 down early to make it interesting for a while, but Golden State pulled away late for the 123-110 win. Curry finished with 35 on the night.
Report: Pelicans’ Tyreke Evans out for season due to planned knee surgery
The Pelicans’ just can’t get and stay healthy. Tyreke Evans just can’t stay healthy this season.
Evans — who has averaged 15.2 points and a team-high 6.6 assists per game this season — will be done for the season following planned knee surgery, reports Shams Charania of the Vertical at Yahoo Sports.
Pelicans' Tyreke Evans plans to undergo surgery on his right knee and likely out for rest of the season, league sources tell The Vertical.
The Pelicans had been looking at potential trades for Evans, all of that is dead now. (New Orleans would like to move Eric Gordon, but most other teams are more interested in Ryan Anderson.)
The Pelicans have been 3.2 points per 100 possessions better this season with Evans on the court. However, in recent weeks coach Alvin Gentry has given increasing minutes and increasing responsibilities to Jrue Holiday.
It is possible Gentry keeps Bryce Dejean-Jones starting and bringing Holiday off the bench (as he did last game), just to keep the bench rotations where he wants them. Also, expect Norris Cole to get more run.
None of this matters much, this has been a lost season for the 19-32 Pelicans. They are the current 12 seed, 6.5 games out of the last playoff spot, they are not catching anyone. Don’t be shocked if Anthony Davis is shut down early for the season as well.
John Wall, Wizards ruin Rambis’ Knicks debut with 111-108 win
NEW YORK (AP) —John Wall had 28 points and 17 assists, Bradley Beal scored 26, and the Washington Wizards beat New York 111-108 on Tuesday night in the Knicks’ first game under Kurt Rambis.
Wall made four free throws in the final 6.6 seconds and the Wizards held on when Langston Galloway‘s 3-pointer at the buzzer was just short.
Carmelo Anthony had 33 points and 13 rebounds, but the Knicks lost their sixth straight in their first game since firing Derek Fisher on Monday. They have dropped 10 of 11 and started Rambis’ era the same way Fisher’s ended, by quickly falling in a huge early hole.
Rookie Kristaps Porzingis scored 20 points, but just two after his 14-point third quarter.
Beal also took a charge against Arron Afflalo when a video replay overturned what had been ruled a blocking foul on a basket with 44 seconds left, a play that could have cut Washington’s lead to two.
Wall then kept the Wizards ahead with his free throws and they won for the third time in nine games. The All-Star made the go-ahead basket midway through the fourth, and later added a pair of jumpers before a 3-pointer that seemed to put it away at 106-96 with about 1:50 left.
The Knicks fired Fisher on Monday and appointed Rambis the interim coach through the remainder of the season. Drafted by the Knicks in the third round in 1980, Rambis said for the second straight day that it’s important for the Knicks to get into the playoffs, but that will take a huge turnaround after the All-Star break.
They allowed 63 first-half points, trying their most this season, after he said they had to toughen up their defense.
Porzingis hit a couple of 3-pointers early in the third, but his signature play came much closer to the basket, when he spun baseline around Jared Dudley and threw down a powerful dunk with Marcin Gortat nearby. That put a buzz in the building as only the rookie can and it stayed there as the Knicks caught up at 83-all to end the period.
But Porzingis was on the bench to start the fourth and the Wizards had just gone ahead for good before he returned.
Wizards: Washington has won five straight at Madison Square Garden. … Guard Gary Neal missed the game with a sore right leg.
Knicks: Phil Jackson, during an interview with MSG Network, said the chances of a trade before next week’s deadline were “very slim” but that they would be looking. … Reserve forward Lance Thomas returned after missing two games because of a concussion. … F Thanasis Antetokounmpo rejoined Westchester of the NBA Development League after playing two games for the Knicks.