Erik Spoelstra locked up the honor of coaching the Eastern Conference in the NBA All-Star game, thanks to the Heat’s 100-85 victory over the Raptors on Sunday.
The Heat clinched the conference’s best record through Feb. 3 with the win, which was the deadline the league had in place for making the coaching selection. Miami finished with a 30-14 record that put them in first place in the East, a half-game ahead of the New York Knicks.
The bright side for Knicks coach Mike Woodson is that now he can keep those vacation plans.
As for the game Miami won to clinch the honor for Spoelstra, the first half was a struggle, and it looked as though it might have been another one of those road games that the Heat have had trouble competing in all season long. Despite owning the top record in the conference, the Heat came into this one with just a .500 road record of 11-11 on the season.
The defensive intensity that has eluded the Heat for much of the season was on display in the second half, as Miami outscored Toronto 56-35 after the break, while holding the Raptors to 29.7 percent shooting.
Chris Bosh torched his former team for 22 of his 28 points after the intermission, and LeBron James and Dwyane Wade finished with 30 and 23, respectively.
Rudy Gay had another strong performance in his second game with his new team, this time getting the start and finishing with a team-high 29 points. Miami’s defense got to him too in the second half, however, where he was able to make just three of his 11 shots over the game’s final two periods.
It’s that time of the year when there is no basketball, so we fill the time with idle Kyrie Irving speculation and video highlights of last season.
Along those lines, above you can out the top 60 clutch shots from last season, as determined by the folks at NBA.com.
The great thing about the clutch shot list is the ball is in the hands of stars at the ends of games, so there is plenty of Russell Westbrook, John Wall, LeBron James, Devin Booker, Kevin Durant and more. Personally, I would have switch No. 1 and No. 2 on the list, but it’s all fun to relive.
Kyrie Irving has requested a trade. LeBron James could leave next summer. The Cavaliers keep churning through general managers, the newest – Koby Altman – the reason for today’s press conference.
But Cavs owner Dan Gilbert looked past his own team’s turmoil and potential turmoil to take a shot at the Pacers, who traded Paul George to the Thunder for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis.
“I will say Indiana could have done better than they did,” Gilbert said after Altman refused to directly address a question about George trade talks and shifted the discussion elsewhere.
This didn’t strike me as Gilbert trying to distract from Cleveland’s troubles. He just seemed to want to take a shot at a foe, something he’s no stranger to doing. The Cavaliers are particularly salty about their trade offer for George, which included Kevin Love, not being accepted.
For what it’s worth, Gilbert is right. The Pacers should have done better. Oladipo is now on a lucrative contract extension, and Sabonis spent his rookie season showcasing the reasons people doubted him the draft. That’s a piddling return for a star, even one on an expiring contract with dreams of joining the Lakers.
The Kings lost Scott Perry to the Knicks, so Sacramento is seeking someone else to aid Vlade Divac in the front office.
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
Former Orlando Magic general manager Otis Smith has met with Sacramento Kings officials about the franchise’s vacant vice president of basketball operations job, league sources told ESPN.
Smith has plenty of experience, which Divac lacks. But it’s not all good experience.
Running the Magic, Smith made numerous errors – including drafting Fran Vazquez (who has never played in the NBA) No. 11, overpaying Rashard Lewis and then trading Lewis for Gilbert Arenas’ even worse contract. If Smith’s Orlando tenure is predictive, he’ll indulge the Kings’ worst tendencies to mortgage the future for the present.
That said, Smith might have learned from his time with the Magic (though working under Stan Van Gundy with the Pistons the few couple years isn’t exactly the best place to hone long-term-planning skills). What amounts to an assistant general-manager role might be a better fit for him, too.
Usually, this opening wouldn’t garner so much attention. But Perry was lavished with praise for Sacramento’s offseason, raising the profile of this job – which already carried relative prominence. The No. 2 in the Kings’ front office is now perceived, somewhat fairly, as more important than the typical assistant general manager.
Jut before the trade deadline, the Lakers took a flier on Tyler Ennis, who had struggled in two-plus seasons with the Suns, Bucks and Rockets.
The former No. 18 pick finally looked like an NBA player in Los Angeles, so he’s returning.
The Los Angeles Lakers have signed guard Tyler Ennis, it was announced today by General Manager Rob Pelinka.
Ramona Shelburne of ESPN:
This is fantastic value for the Lakers. Ennis is probably worth a minimum salary, and if he is, they have him for two years at that price. If not, they can drop him for no cost next summer, when their cap room will be at a premium. This is the type of bet smart teams make, which bodes well for the Magic Johnson regime.
Ennis’ productivity in Los Angeles might not be sustainable. He shot well above his career marks on 3-pointers and free throws in a small sample. But he looked more comfortable on the court, showing some of the savvy he was expected to bring from Syracuse. He’s also just 22, and point guards tend to develop later than other positions.
The Lakers still have their room exception, which they could use on another point guard. So, it’s uncertain whether Ennis will back up Lonzo Ball or fall to third string. I’m not sure any remaining free-agent point guards – Ty Lawson, Deron Williams, Brandon Jennings, Ramon Sessions – will command more than the minimum or playing time over Ennis, though.