LeBron fouls out, doesn’t agree with calls

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LeBron James just doesn’t foul out.

It has happened twice since he joined the Heat, five times in his entire NBA career (the last one against the Celtics last playoffs). In the middle of this season he went through a six-game stretch where he wasn’t called for one foul.

But with :56 seconds left in Game 4 Tuesday night, LeBron was called for a moving screen on Lance Stephenson. That was No. 6. Much to the delight of the vocal Indiana crowd LeBron went to the bench. It’s not likely his presence would have changed the outcome of this game, but without him and a clearly slowed Dwyane Wade running the show it was pretty much a lock the Pacers would win.

On a night where the one universal cry was that the officials were missing things both ways, you can add LeBron to the group. He didn’t think four of the fouls he got called for deserved a whistle, particularly the last one.

“I was going to set a screen and I felt like I was stationary — and D Wade rejected the pick and roll,” LeBron said in his televised postgame press conference. “Lance actually ran into me….

“I believe I was straight up and down on Paul George’s drive, on the and-1. They reversed a call with (Roy) Hibbert, called a foul on me on that one. And at the end of the third they called a push off on David West

“It was a couple of calls that I didn’t feel like were fouls, personal fouls on me. That’s how the game goes sometimes.”

I will grant LeBron that the last call was a bad one. As he said, Wade went away from the pick, when that happens you can’t really set a moving screen because there is no screen being used. That was a no-call at any point in the game.

But all night long the game was called tightly and not everyone adjusted. I’d like to see the referees let the guys play a little at this point, but it was what hit was. Also, the referees missed calls both ways — there was a terrible 24-second clock violation on the Pacers at one point.

Miami didn’t lose this game because of the refs — they multiple chances to put this game away, but all night they struggled to stop the Pacers offense, and in the key final minutes they had no answer for Roy Hibbert. The Heat lost this game because of a slow start, and because the Pacers are good, and because the vaunted Heat defense couldn’t get the job done. It wasn’t the refs.

But I wouldn’t bet on LeBron fouling out next game.

Watch Kobe Bryant’s ‘Dear Basketball’ short film (video)

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Kobe Bryant announced his retirement in a letter called “Dear Basketball,” which was made into a short film.

Now, on the day the Lakers retire his Nos. 8 and 24, you can watch it. It’s quite beautiful:

Double number retirement fitting for Kobe Bryant

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Kobe Bryant’s career truly occurred in two acts.

He was Shaquille O’Neal’s super sidekick for three championships. Then, Kobe led the Lakers to another two titles himself after Shaq departed.

He was an athletic, high-flying slam-dunk-contest champion. Then, he became known for his cerebral play and footwork.

He faced trial for rape in Colorado (the case was ultimately dismissed, and he settled civilly), blame for Shaq getting traded and criticism for being too selfish when the Lakers struggled in the aftermath of Shaq’s departure. Then, Kobe – still beloved by his fans – again became a socially acceptable marketing force.

His 2007 trade request serves as the more accurate intermission point, but his 2006 jersey change from No. 8 to No. 24 works well enough. He had a Hall of Fame career in No. 8 then a borderline Hall of Fame career in No. 24. Think Tracy Mcgrady’s career followed by Bernard King’s – but it was just Kobe followed by Kobe and with far more postseason success.

Here are the win-share leaders with a single franchise during Kobe’s career:

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So much about Kobe is excessive – his accolades, his shot selection, his reputation as clutch. He had an all-time great career, but the myth outpaces reality.

Yet, Kobe becoming the first player with two numbers retired by the same team – which the Lakers will do at halftime tonight – feels incredibly appropriate. In his 20-year career with the Lakers, Kobe had time to succeed then succeed again in an extravagant way only he could manage.

He was dedicated and disciplined, flashy and fastidious, No. 8 and No. 24

Warriors will watch Kobe Bryant’s numbers get retired, Lakers might not

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The Lakers will retire Kobe Bryant’s No. 8 and No. 24 at halftime of their game against Warriors tonight.

The road team won’t miss it. The home team might.

Golden State coach Steve Kerr, via Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area:

“I want our guys to see it,” Kerr said Saturday. “It’ll be a pretty cool moment.

“Just to experience of one of the greatest players in the history of the game getting his jersey retired and we happen to be there? I’m not going to keep them in the locker room watching tape from the first half. The players would look at me like I was nuts.”

Lakers coach Luke Walton, via Harrison Faigen of Lakers Nation:

“I hadn’t thought much about [watching the ceremony],” Walton said Sunday. “We’re still deciding how we’ll approach halftime.

“Our first priority is still the job that we have. I’m sure there’s going to be some halftime adjustments we need to make against the Warriors. We’re toying with a couple different ideas to let guys at least see part of it.”

Kerr seems like a pretty cool guy, someone who understands what truly matters. This will be a historic moment, and that can take priority over watching video for one night in a long season.

But he also has the luxury of coaching an all-time great team. Even with Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, Zaza Pachulia and Shaun Livingston injured, the Warriors are favored.

Walton has a young team that needs every break it can get. But he too should embrace the significance of the ceremony. His franchise is.

After reportedly initially being scheduled for pregame, the ceremony will occur at halftime. The NBA implemented a hard 15-minute limit on halftimes this season. Any team not ready will be assessed a delay-of-game penalty. So, lengthy speeches tonight could hinder the current team on the court. And that’s well worth the cost of doing business.

In the same regard, current Lakers watching Kobe’s ceremony would gain pride in being a Laker. There’s real value in that, probably more than in going over adjustments for a December game during a season very likely to end outside the playoffs regardless.

George Hill nails half-court buzzer-beater with less than a second to shoot (video)

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I bet this made George Hill happier.

The Kings still losing to the Raptors, 108-93, probably didn’t, though.