Things took a little longer to get heated between the Bulls and the Heat in Game 3 than they did in Game 2, but the first ejection of the night came much faster.
Early in the second quarter with the Bulls holding a three-point lead, Nazr Mohammed committed a hard foul on LeBron James just as he crossed half court. It’s unclear why Mohammed chose this course of action; the only thing we can think of was that maybe he was trying to stop a transition opportunity from the Heat by intentionally fouling (a common tactic in European basketball), though Miami didn’t appear to be in a strong position to force the action at the time.
After Mohammed’s hard foul, James made sure to toss Mohammed to the floor after the two became briefly tangled up. The official was right on top of the play, and correctly whistled James for a technical foul, even before Mohammed reacted by shoving James to the floor with two hands.
Boneheaded plays by Mohammed all around, as the foul itself wasn’t really a great decision — and the shove, even less so.
Mohammed was ejected for his actions, leaving the already shorthanded Bulls even more depleted from the standpoint of available players.
This was the second extracurricular incident in a game that was less than 15 minutes old. Joakim Noah shoved Chris Andersen in the first quarter, after Andersen fell on top of Nate Robinson following the blocking one of his shots.
The Houston Rockets aren’t in any rush to hire a new head coach, preferring to interview a wide range of candidates to find the right one. Jeff Van Gundy has been widely believed to be at the top of their list, now that Tom Thibodeau and Scott Brooks are off the market, but ESPN.com’s Marc Stein is reporting another name that has entered the mix: Mike D’Antoni, who last held a head coaching job from 2012 to 2014 with the Lakers and currently serves as the Sixers’ lead assistant.
ESPN sources say Sixers associate head coach Mike D'Antoni is interviewing for the Houston Rockets' coaching job this week
The Pacers, meanwhile, haven’t made a final decision on Frank Vogel’s future with the team, but all signs seem to point to him getting let go in the next few days. And if that happens, Stein reports that Vogel will also be on Houston’s list of candidates.
Sources say Houston will also talk to Frank Vogel as well as part of a Kings-style broad search if the Pacers let Vogel go as many expect.
Given the Rockets’ massive drop-off on the defensive end this season, Vogel would seem to be a better fit than D’Antoni. But it sounds like the Rockets aren’t close to finding a replacement for J.B. Bickerstaff, although it would make sense to have a new coach in place by next month’s draft.
Cavs set single-game three-point record in blowout win over Hawks
On Monday, the Hawks played the Cavaliers close and even led in the fourth quarter, leading plenty of optimism that Game 2 would be equally competitive, that the Hawks had something to build on.
The Cavs dominated from the start on Wednesday, with a 123-98 final score that was far closer than the game actually was — the Cavs led 74-36 at the half and led by as much as 38 at one point in the second half.
The Cavs also hit 25 three-pointers, which is the all-time record for a single game — regular season or playoffs. J.R. Smith hit seven of them, along with four each from LeBron James and Kyrie Irving and three for Kevin Love.
18 of Cleveland’s threes came in the first half, also a playoff record, and this was all Atlanta could do:
LeBron James has always been an incredible passer. In the midst of the Cavs’ Game 2 beatdown of the Hawks, he zipped this one-handed beauty into the paint to Kyrie Irving, who kicked it out to Kevin Love for a corner three:
The three was just one of the 18 Cleveland hit in the first half, which set an NBA playoff record.