LeBron James leads Heat to Game 2 win playing his way

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LeBron James, peppered with questions after Game 1 about not being aggressive enough, vowed: “Offensively I attract so much attention that if a guy is open on my team, I will pass the ball.” He added, “I believe our guys will be there to knock those shots down.” As he most famously put it, “I’ve done more and lost.”

Not only did LeBron not indulge the idea that he must carry the Heat if they were to win, he didn’t give an inch. He wants to play his way, and public pressure won’t change that.

Late in the third quarter Game 2 of the NBA Finals, LeBron’s critics smelled blood, though. The Spurs led by two points, and LeBron had scored just six points. For the Heat to win, they said, he’d have to take over, and they were losing because he refused.

But LeBron didn’t give an inch and kept playing his game.

It resulted in a 33-5 run – in which five Miami players scored with the only exceptions among those on the court being Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh – and the Heat winning, 103-84. Miami was at its best when pushing and sharing the ball, LeBron’s involvement integral but dominating.

During the decisive run, LeBron had a team-high three assists took five shots (making all five), but the only other Heat player to play the entire stretch, Mario Chalmers, took just as many shots. In fact, Chalmers led the Heat with 19 points.

LeBron knew he’d need his teammates, but did he know he’d need them this much?

In a win, LeBron’s 17 points on 7-of-17 shooting, eight rebounds, seven assists, three steals and three blocks will be a celebrated. In a loss, those same contributions would be panned. He had a triple-double in Game 1, and that wasn’t enough for goodness sakes.

That’s part of the reason pinning wins and losses on a single player is so foolhardy. It’s a team game, and if LeBron wins his second championship, it will be because his team won.

Of course, some players are more important to a team than others, and LeBron ranks near the top of that list. When he’d previously scored 17 or fewer points in a playoff games, his teams went 2-8.

But LeBron knows these Heat are deep enough and good enough to beat the Spurs without him hogging the ball, and he doesn’t have to carry the team alone.

Not that he would anyway.

Nets’ Jeremy Lin: ‘We’re making the playoffs. I don’t care what anybody else says’

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The Nets went 20-62 then traded their best player (Brook Lopez) for a worse player (D'Angelo Russell). Brooklyn’s biggest free-agent signing this summer (Otto Porter) plays for the Wizards. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Caris LeVert are nice developmental pieces but hardly seem on the verge of breakthroughs.

Still, Nets guard Jeremy Lin expects big things next season.

He set expectations in an Instagram Live video (hat tip: AJ Neuharth-Keusch of USA Today):

We’re making the playoffs. I don’t care what anybody else says.

The Nets are on the right track given their asset constraints. Though worse than Lopez now, Russell – eight years younger and on a low-paying rookie-scale deal – is more valuable. Brooklyn made the favorable swap by absorbing Timofey Mozgov‘s awful contract, a wise use of assets considering the difficulty of attracting free agents. An aggressive offer sheet for Porter was a reasonable swing in that situation, as well.

But that’s all helpful in the long run. In the short term, the Nets are almost certainly stuck as lousy. Maybe they can sneak into the playoffs in a weak Eastern Conference, but even that is a huge longshot.

Not that Lin cares what I say.

Check out Top 10 blocks from Summer League (VIDEO)

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When you think of Summer League basketball, sharp defensive rotations is not the first thing that comes to mind. Defense, in general, tends to be an after thought.

But there were some great blocks.

Here are the top 10 blocks from the Las Vegas Summer League. Enjoy the flashes of defense from Vegas.

 

Memphis Grizzlies sign former Oregon forward Dillon Brooks

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) The Memphis Grizzlies have signed former Oregon forward Dillon Brooks, a second-round pick in last month’s NBA draft.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

Brooks was selected by the Houston Rockets with the 45th overall pick. The Grizzlies acquired him in exchange for a future second-round pick.

Brooks, 21, averaged 16.1 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.7 assists as a junior at Oregon last season. He was named the Pac-12 player of the year and helped Oregon earn its first Final Four berth since 1939.

 

Report: Even after Kyrie Irving requests trade, Carmelo Anthony still focused on Rockets, not Cavaliers

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Carmelo Anthony was reportedly willing to waive his no-trade clause for the Rockets or Cavaliers. Cleveland never seemed overly interested, but Houston was. Anthony became set on the Rockets, even reportedly expecting a trade to Houston.

Then, Kyrie Irving requested a trade from the Cavs.

That has thrown everything for a loop. Maybe Cleveland is more keen on trading for Anthony now? The Knicks are reportedly interested in trading Anthony and draft picks for Irving.

But any deal still depends on Anthony’s approval, and it’s now unclear he’d still grant that for the Cavaliers.

Frank Isola of the New York Daily News:

However, a source close to Anthony said late Friday that the All Star forward is focused on getting a deal done with Houston.

Consider this another indication LeBron James will leave Cleveland next summer. Of course, Anthony might have other reasons for preferring Houston. But when reading tea leaves on LeBron’s future, this is a clue.

I doubt LeBron has completely decided his plan, and he hasn’t even necessarily shared his thinking with Anthony, a close friend. Remember, LeBron edited his coming-home essay while on a flight with an unknowing Dwyane Wade, another close friend. But it was one thing for LeBron to strand Wade in Miami, a desirable city where Wade was happy even before LeBron arrived. It’d be something else entirely for LeBron to ditch Anthony in Cleveland. If LeBron is considering leaving, maybe he’d tell Anthony to stay clear.

Anthony could also be operating without hearing directly from LeBron. But if LeBron’s friend believes LeBron might leave, that’d still say something (though obviously not as much).

Back to the possibility that Anthony prefers the Rockets for other reasons. What happens if New York and Cleveland agree to a trade? Does Anthony still hold out for his top choice? Or does he relent and accept what was once his second choice? For now, it seems as if he’s still angling for Houston and will cross other bridges if he reaches them.