LeBron says he ‘went back to his Cleveland days’ during third quarter of Game 5

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LeBron James was spectacular during the third quarter of the Heat’s Game 5 win over the Pacers, and took the game over in large part because he had no choice.

During a tight first half, Indiana’s defense stifled Miami’s role players, while James preferred to be more passive in passing up open looks in a desperate attempt to get others involved.

Once that didn’t work, it was James against the world, and as we’ve seen so many times in the past, he was able to deliver when his team needed him most in a way that few others can.

The third quarter performance was reminiscent of his days with the Cavaliers, when James had far less pure talent on his roster than he does now in Miami. And he wasn’t afraid to say as much afterward.

“Yeah, I kind of just went back to my Cleveland days at that point and just said, hey, let’s try to make more plays and be more of a scoring threat as well, and just try to figure out a way that I can ‑‑ I don’t know, just see if the guys would just follow me, and just lead them the best way I could,” James said.

“I was just in attack mode in the third quarter, look for my shot,” he added. “And luckily I was able to make some.”

There are a lot of ways to spin this, of course — there’s the possibility of people leaping to the conclusion that James is comparing Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade to the likes of Zydrunas Ilgauskus and Larry Hughes, and there are the conspiracy theorists that will look to the mere mention of Cleveland as some sign that James is seriously considering a return to the Cavaliers when he becomes an unrestricted free agent again in the summer of 2014.

But we prefer to focus on reality.

The Heat got nothing out of Wade and Bosh in Game 5, but it wasn’t due to a lack of talent or shriveling under the pressure. Both are battling injuries to some degree — Wade has seemingly lost all of his speed and lift due to an ailing knee, making him not much more than an ineffective decoy out there offensively, and Bosh is battling an ankle injury that seemed to limit him, as well.

The good news for the Heat is that LeBron is capable of turning back the clock and remembering what it takes to singlehandedly win games at the highest level. He may need to do that once more in this series to return to the Finals if he continues to get minimal contributions from his supporting cast — just like he did during those Cleveland days.

Report: Knicks’ Joakim Noah to be suspended 20 games for violating league drug policy

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Joakim Noah hasn’t set foot on an NBA court since Feb. 4, and his season was all but ended when he had knee surgery at the end of February. It was a $72 million gamble that has not worked, and left New York with an anchor o a

Tomorrow it will be official he is done for the season, but not because of the Knicks or his injury.

During his recovery, Noah violated the NBA’s drug policy and will pay for a 20-game suspension, reports Adrian Wojnarowski at The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

Noah tested positive for an over-the-counter supplement that is prohibited under the outgoing Collective Bargaining Agreement, league sources said.

Noah, 32, is expected to serve 10 games of the suspension to finish out the 2016-17 regular season and 10 games to start the 2017-18 season, league sources said.

The National Basketball Players Association’s investigation concluded that Noah hadn’t “knowingly or willingly” violated the policy and cooperated fully with the league’s probe, league sources said.

Over-the-counter supplements could be something put in his regular workout recovery drinks that he was unaware of, although we are unsure of the details.

Traditionally, the player has to be healthy enough to play before the league starts the suspension. Noah has been out for more than a month, but if a league doctor says he is healthy enough to play the then the clock on the suspension can start. But that is interesting.

 

 

Devin Booker drops 70 points for Suns in loss to Celtics (VIDEO)

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Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker is just 20 years old. He’s a League Pass favorite, and indeed he should be a favorite in Phoenix for years to come. On Friday, Booker dropped 70 points — yes, 70 — in a loss to the Boston Celtics.

Booker’s 70 points is the best outing of the season. It also made him the youngest player to ever reach 70 points.

His final stat line, as you might imagine, was ridiculous. Booker shot 21-of-40 from the field, going 4-of-11 on 3-pointers and a whopping 24-of-26 from the free-throw line. The Suns phenom also grabbed eight rebounds to go with six assists.

Despite the loss to Boston, 130-120, it’s still an incredible milestone for Phoenix and for Booker. There’s a bright spot out there for the Suns.

Magic’s Aaron Gordon skies to finish amazing alley-oop (VIDEO)

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Aaron Gordon may not have had the best dunk contest this year — apparently drones and dunks don’t mix well — but the guy can still get up and finish with the best in the league.

As he did on this alley-oop against Detroit.

Elfrid Payton had to throw a lob that would get over Andre Drummond, but how many guys in the league can get that high, reach back and finish that? Damn.

Former Hawk Pero Antic’s celebration accidentally punches teammate in face in Eruoleague (VIDEO)

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Former Atlanta Hawk Pero Antic is now playing for Turkish powerhouse Fenerbahce, in case you were not aware.

Fenerbahce was facing Anadolu Efes in a EuroLeague game, it was tight late and former NBA player Ekpe Udoh was at the free throw line for Fenerbahce. He missed his second shot, but the rebound caromed out-of-bounds off an Anadolu Efes player. Antic was pumped.

Maybe a little too pumped.

Ouch.

That was Nikola Kalinic, by the way, the guy Antic now owes dinner to. Kalinic would like the dinner more than the hug and kiss he got from Antic right after the play.

Also, Anadolu Efes held on to win 80-77.

(Hat tip to Ball Don’t Lie.)