Wade sits out, doesn’t matter as Heat extend streak to 26, rout Bobcats

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The team with the best record in the NBA was taking on the team with the worst record in the NBA, how did you think this was going to end?

Even with Dwyane Wade out resting a sore knee, the Heat stuck to their script — fell behind by double digits early (19-8), cranked up the defensive pressure, watched LeBron James take over and pull away in the second half for the easy win, this time 109-77 over Charlotte.

That would be 26 straight wins for the Heat, the second longest streak in NBA history Next up is a scrappy but undermanned Orlando team on Monday. Later in the week come some interesting tests — at Chicago on Wednesday and at San Antonio Sunday.

As for this Sunday, it was more of the same for Miami. Starting with LeBron being LeBron — 32 points on 11-of-14 shooting with 10 assists. He did what he wanted, when he wanted, and Charlotte had no answer.

Wade’s injury was the biggest news of the day, but it’s more the kind of nagging thing the Heat want to get rest for now, before the playoffs start. Erik Spoelstra chose the game against the league’s worst team and before a tough four-game road trip to get that rest. Smart call.

Ask a few people around the league what will eventually do in the Heat’s streak it is that choice — Spoelstra resting guys and thinking playoffs not the streak. But that doesn’t really matter against Charlotte. Even when Mike Miller starts in Wade’s place and needs seven shots to get six points.

With LeBron and Chris Bosh — 15 points, six rebounds in a solid if not explosive effort — plus some big minutes from Chris Andersen off the bench, the Heat owned the frontcourt and that was the key here. Miami’s starting frontcourt outscored Charlotte’s 48-20.

Kemba Walker kept attacking for Charlotte on his way to 20 points, Gerald Henderson added 18. The problem was those two needed 39 shots to get those 38 points. As a team the Bobcats shot 33.7 percent overall and just 20 percent (5-of-25) from three.

It was the kind of game for the Heat where even Norris Cole looked pretty good — he was slashing into the defense and had 15 points and 6 assists, as he seemed to make the right decision every play.

Miami keeps rolling. Charlotte’s fans might have been better served watching the NCAA tournament, scouting high draft picks (in a down draft, this isn’t the best year to suck).

Magic Johnson winks at bringing Paul George to Lakers

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Paul George-to-the-Lakers rumors have swirled for a while.

New Lakers president Magic Johnson will only fuel them.

Asked how he’d interact with the Pacers star to avoid tampering if they ran into each other, Johnson said on Jimmy Kimmel Live:

We’re going to say hi, because we know each other. You just can’t say, “Hey, I want you to come to the Lakers,” even though I’m going to be wink-winking like [blinks repeatedly]. You know what that means, right?

In explaining how he’d avoid tampering, Johnson probably tampered. Accidental tampering appears to be his specialty.

The Collective Bargaining Agreement says team employees can’t permissibly “induce, persuade, or attempt to entice, induce or persuade, any Player who is under contract to, or whose exclusive negotiating rights are held by, any other Member of the Association to enter into negotiations for or relating to his services or negotiate or contract for such services.” But the league arbitrarily enforces tampering, so who knows whether he’ll be punished?

Johnson almost certainly could have gotten away with the hypothetical conversation he laid out. But going on television and describing it — even as fantasy, even not directly to George — could constitute tampering in itself,

If Johnson helps attract George to Los Angeles, it’d well be worth it. At least he’s trying something.

Report: Austin Rivers returning for Clippers-Jazz Game 5

Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images
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There have been bigger injuries in the Clippers-Jazz first-round series: Blake Griffin‘s toe, Rudy Gobert‘s knee and Gordon Hayward‘s stomach.

But Clippers guard Austin Rivers has yet to play due to a strained hamstring.

It sounds as if that will change tomorrow.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

This is neither as big a deal as the Clippers will make it out to be nor as meaningless as Rivers’ many detractors will claim.

The 6-foot-4 Rivers will provide an important defensive upgrade on the perimeter. The Clippers haven’t successfully hidden Jamal Crawford and Raymond Felton, allowing Utah too many quality looks. Here how the Jazz have shot when defended by each, per NBA.com:

  • Crawford: 18-of-36 (50%), including 7-of-17 on 3-pointers (41%)
  • Felton: 13-of-24 (54%), including 5-of-8 on 3-pointers (63%)

Rivers needn’t be great to help behind Chris Paul and J.J. Redick.

Rockets bench hams it up over Andre Roberson missed free throw (video)

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Russell Westbrook might not want to talk about his supporting cast distinctively, but it’s a real issue for the Thunder, who trail the Rockets 3-1 in their first-round series.

Even Andre Roberson, who has impressively defended James Harden, brings a glaring weakness: free throws. Roberson is 2-for-17 from the line in the playoffs, including 2-for-12 in Game 4 yesterday. Houston even repeatedly intentionally fouled him late.

It was agonizing for all but the most partisan Rockets supporters – though even Houston’s bench, while at least implicitly mocking Roberson, appeared put off that he missed yet again.

Isaiah Thomas: ‘Mentally and emotionally, I’m not here’

AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast
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Isaiah Thomas previously explained his emotions in a statement, but the Celtics guard spoke publicly yesterday for the first time since the death of his sister in a car crash just before the playoffs.

Thomas, via A. Sherrod Blakely of CSN Northeast:

“Mentally and emotionally I’m not here,” Thomas said after Game 4, the first time he has spoken publicly since his sister’s death. “So I just feed off of what the guys give me. They give me a lot of confidence. I can’t do it without those guys. They believe in me. Being here is what makes me sane and makes me feel somewhat normal through these tough times.”

Thomas has played well for Boston, which won twice in Chicago to even its series with the Bulls, 2-2. It’s remarkable considering the heavy emotional burden and extra travel, going to Seattle for his sister’s funeral then joining the Celtics in Chicago.

His teammates have clearly rallied around him, and that surely helps. But I can’t even imagine how he’s simultaneously handling such a tragic family situation and the biggest games of his career.