Heat hold team meeting to address rebounding issues

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The Bulls took it to the Heat in Miami on Friday, winning 96-89 and outrebounding the defending champs by 20 in the process.

If this was an aberration, it wouldn’t be likely to bother a team that knows it has the talent to play deep into the postseason, while struggling from time to time with its regular season duties. But Miami has been getting killed on the boards all season long, so it was time to put a spotlight on this issue once again.

The Heat did not practice on Saturday, but held a team meeting to address the rebounding woes, according to a report from the Associated Press. They reviewed video of every single rebound from Friday’s debacle, a game in which the Bulls collected 48 rebounds to just 28 for Miami.

The quotes from LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh after the loss to Chicago essentially told us that something like this was coming.

From Michael Wallace of ESPN.com:

“It’s killing us,” Bosh said. “I’m out of recommendations. I’m trying to figure it out myself. It’s not the first time we’ve been outrebounded by 20. Who says that and is in first place in the East? We just have to keep fighting.”

“We’re not going to get bigger overnight,” Wade said. “We have to find a way to fix it or we are going to keep losing those games. ‘Go get the ball’ is all we can do.”

“If I knew, it wouldn’t be happening,” Wade continued on the poor rebounding efforts. “I don’t have the answer, and we don’t have the answer as a team.”

“It’s a recurrence — we got smashed on the boards,” James said. “You’re not going to win many basketball games like that. It’s not like we’re losing multiple games with one- or two-rebound [deficits]. It’s been by 15. Tonight was 20.”

The AP report correctly notes that the Heat rank last in the league in total rebounds, but a look at some of the more detailed statistics available shows that the team isn’t truly at the bottom of the league when it comes to cleaning the glass.

In terms of rebounding rate — the percentage of missed shots a team rebounds — the Heat rank 23rd. Still in the league’s bottom third, but not quite dead last, obviously. And on average, Miami gets outrebounded by 2.8 per game on the season — again, not good, but that differential places them at 23rd once more.

As a comparison, the Heat ranked sixth in each of those categories last season.

Rebounding is about a lot of things — tracking the ball, putting yourself in proper position, and exerting the effort necessary on every possession as a team to secure the basketball. It’ll come as the season progresses, and as the games get more important. For now, it’s simply the latest area of concern for the team that finds itself at the top of the Eastern Conference standings, rebounding issues and all.

Kevin Durant: Liking anti-Russell Westbrook Instagram comment was ‘total accident’

AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki
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Kevin Durant liked an Instagram comment critical of Russell Westbrook.

Here we go again?

Royce Young of ESPN:

I’m not inside Durant’s mind. He could be lying to cover another burner Instagram snafu.

But I tend to believe him. It’s easy enough to accidentally click like, and the greater context is on his side.

Durant has always tried to downplay a feud with Westbrook. Even at the personal rivalry’s peak, Durant just seemed as if he wanted Westbrook to like him. So, it’s nearly impossible to believe Durant – even for a button-pushing moment – wanted to publicly slight Westbrook.

But maybe Durant wanted quiresultan or some other alter-ego to do so? Maybe, as beaten down as he looked by the controversy over those deleted tweets last summer, Durant didn’t learn his lesson and still uses burner accounts. I certainly wouldn’t rule that out.

Again, though, this would be a weird message. Last summer’s deleted tweets praised Westbrook while slamming the rest of the Thunder. Durant was going to have a burner account take the opposite stance now? That doesn’t really add up.

NBA apparently reviewing whether Russell Westbrook should be suspended for Thunder-Jazz Game 5

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The NBA has a hard rule during altercations: Any players who leave the bench area receives a one-game suspension. Intent doesn’t matter. It’s not negotiable. The league simply doesn’t want more players entering a fracas.

Russell Westbrook found a gray area last night.

The Thunder star was waiting to check into Oklahoma City’s Game 4 loss to the Jazz when Raymond Felton fouled Rudy Gobert, um, unpleasantly. Gobert and Felton got into it, though not immediately. Once they did, Westbrook walked onto the court, and he and Gobert swiped at each other.

Gobert and Felton eventually received technical fouls. But could harsher punishment be in store, especially for Westbrook?

Andy Larsen of KSL.com:

A pool reporter request to the game officials to ask them about the play was initiated, but the NBA indicated that the officials wouldn’t comment on the matter because it would be reviewed by the league’s disciplinary committee.

The key question should be: Did a referee already beckon Westbrook into the game? If one did, Westbrook shouldn’t be suspended. If none did, Westbrook should be suspended.

The league will talk to the refs and get a better understanding of what happened. Their account matters most.

But one indicator working against Westbrook: Steven Adamswhose toughness is beyond reproach – was also waiting to check in and stayed on the sideline. If Adams had already entered the game, wouldn’t he have gotten involved? Maybe not, but his hanging back is circumstantial evidence pointing toward a Westbrook suspension.

Again, though, the referees’ accounts matter far more.

Russell Westbrook on matchup with Ricky Rubio: ‘Let’s get past that. We’re done with that’

Gene Sweeney Jr./Getty Images
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After Ricky Rubio‘s 26-point triple-double in Game 3, Russell Westbrook said, “I’ma shut that s— off next game though. Guarantee that.”

Westbrook definitely tried. The Thunder star defended Rubio far more aggressively in Game 4 last night. But Westbrook also fouled Rubio four times in the first half and played too out of control, committing five turnovers. Rubio (13 points, eight rebounds, six assists) wasn’t nearly as individually excellent, but his passing keyed the Jazz’s offense.

Most importantly, Utah outscored Oklahoma City by 12 in the 30 minutes the point guards shared the court and won 113-96 to take a 3-1 series lead.

How did the matchup with Rubio go, Russ?

Westbrook:

It’s not about me and him. Let’s get past that. We’re done with that.

How convenient.

Westbrook is the one who brought attention to the individual matchup. He took stopping Rubio upon himself. Now, when it didn’t go well, Westbrook suddenly doesn’t want to talk about it?

Maybe Westbrook realized he got carried away, to the detriment of his team. It’s not too late to fix that, and this could be his attempt to do so before Game 5 Wednesday.

But he also must own the egg on his face for putting the spotlight on Westbrook-Rubio and then dodging the attention once the matchup went south.

Rockets 50, Timberwolves 20: Most dominant playoff quarter in shot-clock era (video)

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James Harden missed a floater and clapped in frustration. The Rockets’ third quarter in Game 4 against the Timberwolves didn’t get off to a great start. Harden’s shooting had underwhelmed since Game 2.

Then, Harden and Houston broke out of the funk – in a big way.

The Rockets outscored Minnesota 50-20 in the third quarter of their 119-100 victory last night, giving Houston a 3-1 lead in the first-round series. The 30-point margin in the third quarter was tied for the most lopsided playoff quarter in the shot-clock era:

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Harden singlehandedly outscored the Timberwolves himself, 23-20. Paul added 15.

The Rockets shot 5-of-10 on 2-pointers, 9-of-13 on 3-pointers and 13-of-13 on free throws. Houston committed no turnovers and offensively rebounded a third of its misses.

It was incredible output, even for the NBA’s best offense.

The Rockets’ 50 points were second-most in a playoff quarter – and the most in a victory – in the shot-clock era. The leaderboard:

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