Through three games of the NBA Finals, LeBron James is averaging 16.3 points a game on 38.9 percent shooting — the best player on the planet has looked average (well, for him).
And passive. In Game 3 Tuesday night with the Spurs packing the paint and having defenders playing a step off him in isolation, LeBron settled for the jumpshots the Spurs wanted him to take. Credit Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green for being at the point of a good Spurs defense, but LeBron didn’t challenge that defense. The result was an ugly 7-of-21 shooting night with zero free throw attempts. And an embarrassing Heat loss that in part flowed out of that.
“Well, honestly I just have to play better,” an up front James said after the game. “I can’t have a performance like tonight and expect to win. I’ve got to shoot the ball better, make better decisions and I will get into the film and see ways that I can do that. I’m not putting blame on anybody, I’m owning everything that I did tonight.”
With Chris Bosh unable to hit midrange jumpers he nailed all season, and with Dwyane Wade slowed and the Heat playing off him (they are almost ignoring him on the perimeter to pack the paint), the Heat need LeBron to be the best player in the game today. They can’t win otherwise. While his instinct is to pass out of the double and take the open shot when he gets it, now it is time for him to put his head down and get to the rim.
When LeBron attacked Tuesday night he was fine — he hit 5-of-7 shots within 5 feet of the rim. But the Spurs made it hard to get those shots while daring him to shoot from the midrange and beyond. LeBron took the bait and hit 1-of-9 from the midrange and 1-of-5 from three. During the season he was a solid outside shooter (43 percent from the midrange and 40.6 percent from three) but that shot has deserted him in the finals. He’s not making up for that by attacking the rim.
“I have to do better,” LeBron reiterated. “If I’m better we’re better and I have to be better. I’m putting everything on my chest and on my shoulders and I have to be better. My teammates are doing a great job and I’m not doing my part.”
The Spurs are not going to change what they are doing or who they are doing it with. It’s up to LeBron to solve this himself. Do that and the Heat can even this series Thursday night, but one more game like this and Miami is going to be in a hole it will not be able to dig out of.
Matt Barnes and DeMarcus Cousins sued over New York nightclub fight
Matt Barnes and DeMarcus Cousins have just been SUED over the nightclub brawl at Avenue in NYC this week … with the alleged victims claiming they were brutalized by the NBA stars.
According to the lawsuit filed in NYC, Jasmine Besiso and Myrone Powell claim they were innocently hanging out when Barnes approached Jasmine and began to choke her.
In the suit, Powell says he saw the attack and tried to intervene but that’s when Cousins stepped in and punched him in the face.
At that point, Barnes allegedly released Jasmine’s neck and elbowed her in the face — knocking her unconscious. Myrone claims he was taken to the ground and Barnes and Cousins proceeded to kick and punch him in the head and body.
A rep for the alleged victims calls the incident a “vicious and unprovoked attack” And says Cousins’ initial blow was a “blindside punch.”
The rep also says the two were transported by ambulance to a nearby hospital where they were treated for “serious injuries.”
It’s important to remember there’s no burden of proof for filing a lawsuit. This is not an indication of Barnes’ and Cousins’ liability or guilt. As of last update, police are still investigating, and Barnes’ attorney has said his client was cooperating.
NBA: James Harden got away with foul on Celtics’ final possession
But all that might have been moot if officials didn’t err in their other missed call in the report.
James Harden got away with committing a loose-ball foul on Al Horford in the battle for the rebound that preceded Boston’s final inbound, according to the league:
Harden (HOU) makes contact with Horford’s (BOS) arm and affects his ability to retrieve the rebound.
A correct call would’ve put Houston in the penalty and sent Horford – who’s shooting 88% on free throws this season and 74% for his career – to the line for two attempts. Instead, we got the hijinks of Boston’s final play.
Ignore these two-minute reports if you’d like. You’d have company.
But if you are interested in how games would’ve been decided with correct officiating down the stretch, start with the first missed call in a sequence. If Harden were called for this foul… Thomas never would’ve gotten away with an offensive foul, Horford would’ve never gotten away with travelling, Smart never would’ve flopped and Horford never would’ve missed the layup. The Celtics’ possession would’ve been two Horford free throws, not everything that followed.
We’ll never know how many he would’ve made, nor what the Rockets would’ve done with 7.1 seconds remaining.
But we do know the missed calls that benefited Boston occurred only because of a missed call that harmed Boston first.
If you’re curious on the details of the other missed calls, Thomas’ uncalled foul came with 5.3 seconds left:
Thomas (BOS) pulls Harrell’s (HOU) arm after the two players engage and the contact affects his ability to defend the play.
Horford’s uncalled travel came with 4.4 seconds left:
Horford (BOS) moves his pivot foot.
Report: Video of night club incident shows Matt Barnes as assailant
Footage of the incident obtained by investigators appears to show Barnes was the assailant, according to a person with knowledge of the investigation who is not authorized to speak publicly because the investigation is ongoing.
This interpretation of the video might not be the only possible interpretation. This footage also might omit key details.
But in a situation with conflicting accounts by the involved parties, it’s something.
John Wall is frustrated with Wizards’ effort. Hard to blame him.
There is no bigger disappointment in the NBA right now than the Washington Wizards at 7-13. They lost again Tuesday, this time to Orlando despite John Wall putting up a career-best 52 points.
There are a lot of places to point fingers with Washington. Their bench is one of the worst in the league. Their defense has been uninspired, especially if Marcin Gortat is not on the court. But after the latest Wizards’ loss a frustrated Wall went with something far more basic — effort. Via J. Michael at CSNMidAtlantic.com.
“Our job is to wake up and just play hard. Before you made it to the NBA or got a college scholarship, you played hard every day to get to where you wanted to,” said Wall, who had surgeries to both knees May 5. “To still be talking about playing hard, that’s something that you should be able to do after just waking up. Everybody has a job and they have to go work hard. Our job is to come here and play hard and compete. That’s the easiest thing that you should do without any contracts or any money, just come in and play basketball … if I had the answer we wouldn’t be in this situation.”
Wall is having a strong season — 24.1 points and 9.3 assists per game, shooting 39.4 percent from three. Bradley Beal has played in 17 Wizards games and doing what you’d expect — shooting 41.5 percent from three, spacing the floor and giving them 21.4 points a game. Otto Porter has come into his own at the three spot and is averaging 14.4 points, and 7.9 rebounds a game, he has been sneaky good this season. Gortat has been what you’d expect.
After that it’s a disaster. Markieff Morris has been a disappointment after a strong end of last season. Tomas Satoransky shows flashes of promise, but he’s a rookie (one being asked to play a new position for him). The Wizards bench, in general, is one of the worst in the NBA — just ask Gortat. We can debate if Wall and Beal can really meld together, but it’s kind of a moot question right now with all that is wrong around them.
Throw in a lack of effort, and this is a roster that needs a shakeup. Maybe an organization that needs one. And considering they just gave Scott Brooks a five-year deal to coach, it’s GM Ernie Grunfeld who should feel his seat getting warm.