LeBron, Wade unfazed by Heat’s latest loss to Pacers

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After the Heat lost to the Pacers in Indiana on Friday for the second time this season, there was no worry, panic, or even concern form Miami’s two biggest stars.

LeBron James didn’t seem all that interested in the fact that his team has struggled against the top teams in the East this season, and wasn’t down about the way the Pacers used a physical defense and a size advantage to pund the Heat into submission, while shooting a season-high 55.7 percent from the field in the process.

“We don’t put too much into losing a game or winning a game,” James said afterward. “We don’t need victories versus top-four teams to prove what we’re capable of doing. We don’t need ’em. We’d love to have ’em — but we don’t need ’em.”

Dwyane Wade was equally dismissive of the loss.

“I’m glad we could bring the best out of ’em,” Wade said with a chuckle, following a chippy contest where Chris Bosh, Shane Battier, Udonis Haslem, and Erik Spoelstra all picked up technical fouls at various points throughout, in a game that the Pacers led at one stage by as many as 19 points.

Miami has been challenged by teams like the Bulls, Knicks, and Pacers this season, who all have size and the ability to execute flawlessly at times offensively. The Heat continue to be outrebounded on a nightly basis, including by nine in this one, and remain just .500 away from home with a 12-12 road record to this point in the season.

It’s probably difficult for Spoelstra to instill any type of worry into his team before the All-Star break, considering the fact that despite the team’s flaws, which are real, the Heat are at the top of the Eastern Conference standings.

Miami is playing like a team that won the championship the season before; the Heat coast at times, and do just enough to win against the teams that aren’t in the league’s upper echelon. At some point the lack of defensive intensity will come back to haunt them, and the team will realize that flipping that switch, especially against opponents who have gained confidence through lopsided regular season wins, isn’t as easy as it seems.

That time isn’t now, however, as evidenced by the reactions of Wade and James after this one.

LeBron James rejects Giannis Antetokounmpo at the rim

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Through the first couple games of the season, Giannis Antetokounmpo has put up impressive numbers — he dropped 34 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists on the Cavaliers Friday night.

But the Cavaliers still have LeBron James.

He had 24 points and 8 assists, leading Cleveland to the win.

LeBron also reminded the Greek Freak just how good a rim protector he is. Few people can slow Antetokounmpo on the drive, but LeBron is one of them.

Is it too early to root for a Cavs vs. Bucks playoff series?

Hawks’ DeAndre’ Bembry out with fractured wrist

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In their season opener Wednesday, Atlanta second-year man DeAndre’ Bembry came off the bench and played 17:45, scored six points and was +13 on the night. It was a good start to his career.

But now he is going to miss some time with a fractured wrist.

Bembry underwent an MRI, which revealed a fracture in his right wrist, the Hawks announced Friday. He will return to Atlanta with the team (the Hawks lost to the Hornets Friday night) and will meet with team doctors at the Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center on Monday. His status will be updated after that.

“We just may play some other guys more, we may use some of the young guys,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer told the AP before Friday night’s game. “We’ll just figure it out tonight and as we move forward. I don’t think there’s anything guaranteed for anybody, it’s unfortunate for DeAndre’ and for us.”

 

Danny Ainge says Celtics will apply for Disabled Player Exception

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It’s not likely Gordon Hayward returns this season. His agent said as much, although a return in March is not out of the question. (It’s better PR wise for the Celtics to say he is out for the season, then if he returns early great, it’s better than setting a deadline he doesn’t meet.)

With that, the Celtics are going to apply for the Disabled Player Exception, which could help them land a replacement player, Danny Ainge told Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe.

President of basketball operations Danny Ainge told the Globe on Friday the club is applying for the Disabled Player Exception, which would provide the Celtics $8.4 million to pursue a player to fill Hayward’s roster spot.

“We’re in the process of doing that,’’ Ainge said. “We have a while to do that. There’s no urgency, but we will apply for that.”

There are limits to what that money can get the Celtics. The money is the same as the mid-level exception, the Celtics can go over the cap to use it, and the player can be obtained via free agency or trade. However, the player must be in the last year of his contract.

It gives the Celtics options. It also does not mean Hayward cannot return, it only means NBA-approved doctors determined he is not likely to return before a mid-June deadline.

Kings hire former WNBA Seattle coach Jenny Boucek as assistant

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The NBA now has a third female assistant coach.

The first was Becky Hammon, who has been part of Gregg Popovich’s Spurs staff for several years (and has coached their Summer League team). The second was Nancy Leiberman, who has been on the staff in Sacramento for a couple of seasons now.

Now the Kings have hired former Seattle Storm coach Jenny Boucek as an assistant coach on Dave Joerger’s staff. She will work as an assistant player development coach.

A former WNBA player in the league’s inaugural season, the past three years she has coached the WNBA’s Seattle Storm (she was fired midway through the last season), and prior to that had been the head coach of the Sacramento Monarchs from 2007-09.