After the Pacers took Game 2 from the Heat by defending well enough to get LeBron James to turn the ball over on consecutive possessions with the game on the line, Gorge Hill was asked if there was any player in the world more dangerous with the ball in that situation.
“Yeah, it’s only like one person that’s more scarier than that and that’s God,” Hill said. “I’m sure if we’re looking at him in the face, we would be very nervous. I’m sure he can make all the plays that we want people to make.”
James did turn in a somewhat otherworldly performance, shooting 70 percent from the field on the way to scoring 36 points, while pulling down eight rebounds and finishing with three assists and three steals. But he wasn’t buying into the hype, especially after costing his team a chance to win the game with miscues on those final couple of possessions.
“I’m nowhere near close,” James said. “I made two mistakes tonight. That hurt our team. And that hurt more than anything. Let my teammates down. They expect me to make plays down the stretch, and I had the ball with the opportunity to make a couple of plays and I came up short. That burns.
“But the best thing about it is this isn’t college. It’s not one loss and you’re done. I have another opportunity to get better in Game 3, and if I’m put in that position again, to be able to learn from it.”
The Pacers will fully expect James to be better than ever in Game 3, and to come out to try and do everything he can to make up for how this one ended. Despite his comments, Hill may not be in full idol-worship mode when playing against James. But he and his team are certainly very cautious in their approach in dealing with the one of the game’s best.
“LeBron is a great player,” Hill said. “He’s the MVP for a reason. “He’s one of the best that ever played this game. He’s a big focal point. We know that he’s up there probing the floor and looking at everything. We can’t just focus on him. We have to focus on the people around him, because he’s a great play‑maker. He has our full attention.”
The Pistons had just 19 assists – to 22 turnovers – in their 93-83 loss to the Nets last night.
Stan Van Gundy was none too pleased.
On offensive problems:
I told them in there – that was the first thing – we’re not playing together at all. I thought it was a very selfish performance, and guys wouldn’t just pass the ball to open men. They wanted to see if they could take one more dribble to get their own shot, so the passing angles were gone. I just thought we forced play after play after play. We’re not willing to move the ball
On Reggie Jackson, who scored seven points on 3-of-10 shooting with six assists and six turnovers, and was coming off Achilles soreness:
He was not good at all. He was forcing everything.
On injuries to point guards – Jackson, Brandon Jennings and Steve Blake – hindering the team’s flow in practice and that carrying over to the game:
We could probably make a lot of excuses for our guys, but we were selfish.
Van Gundy is clearly trying to send a message, and the preseason is the best time to do it.
But it’s somewhat troubling he had to do it after this game.
Eight of the 10 Pistons who played against Brooklyn project to make the regular-season rotation. Joel Anthony played over Aron Baynes, and once healthy, Blake could challenge Spencer Dinwiddie to become back up point guard – at least until Jennings is ready. Otherwise, Detroit – with Jackson, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Marcus Morris, Ersan Ilyasova, Andre Drummond, Jodie Meeks, Stanley Johnson and Anthony Tolliver – looked similar to its opening-night lineup.
Van Gundy is blunt, but he doesn’t tell the media things he hasn’t already directly told his players. They appreciate that.
He’d appreciate them getting this message.
Dwight Howard said he played with a torn MCL and meniscus in the Western Conference finals – pretty shocking news that few knew what to make of.
So, um, did he have offseason surgery?
Calvin Watkins of ESPN:
Howard obviously feels great about his health now, so maybe this was the right course.
We’ll never how Howard would have performed if fully healthy, but he averaged 14.4 points and 14.4 rebounds in 35.1 minutes per game against the Warriors during the conference finals. How bad could the injuries have been?