Heat's James watches center Bosh dunk against the Spurs as Diaw (33) and  Duncan (21) look on during Game 4 of their NBA Finals basketball series in San Antonio

Chris Bosh comes out of hiding with monster Game 4


Just five active players have more than two seasons averaging 22 points and eight rebounds per game. Of those five, four have received at least one MVP vote in the last three years, and the one who hasn’t is the youngest.

Dirk Nowitzki, Kevin Garnett, Tim Duncan and Amar’e Stoudemire have been recognized among the game’s top players, but Chris Bosh, still vibrant enough to remain a difference maker, has faded from the spotlight.

Playing third fiddle to LeBron James and Dwyane Wade has masked Bosh’s true ability. Even as Erik Spoelstra frequently calls him the Heat’s most-important player, it comes across as a way to placate a star who needs reassurance in the face of a lesser role.

Much more than LeBron and Wade, Bosh has subdued his game to server a great team good. His perimeter shooting greatly aids Miami’s floor-spacing, and he does many of the little things expected of a big man who plays with two ball-dominating superstar bigs.

But Bosh is rarely seen as a star anymore.

That will change after his 20-point and 13-rebound performance in Game 4 of the NBA Finals helped the Heat beat the Spurs, 109-93.

It’s Bosh’s first 20-point game in more than a month and his first game with as many rebounds in just as long. Also consider his two steals and two blocks, and these are numbers he’d posted just five times in career, only once with Miami and never before in the playoffs.

Bosh’s stat line should draw attention to him, which in turn, should draw attention his defense, which was very good tonight. With Mike Miller starting for Udonis Haslem, the Heat absolutely needed it.

Entering the game,Tim Duncan shot 6-for-23 (26.1 percent) with Haslem on the court and 10-for-20 (50 percent) with Haslem on the bench. Unsurprisingly, the Spurs’ offensive rating while Duncan plays changed similarly, dropping from 117.8 with Haslem on the bench to 102.3 with Haslem on the court.

In other words, reducing Haslem’s role and tasking Bosh with guarding Duncan more was a big risk. Bosh held his own. Duncan scored a quiet 20 points, but he had just five rebounds and also turned the ball over three times.

It’s the type of two-way performance Bosh hasn’t had in quite some time, and it should serve as a reminder to those who’d forgotten: Chris Bosh is still very good.

Thabo Sefolosha throws down reverse dunk in transition (video)

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Was Hawks forward Thabo Sefolosha making the smart play to beat the defender or just showing off?

Either way, I’m glad he did it.

Lauren Holtkamp ends Clippers-Trail Blazers with strange foul call (video)

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 03:  Referee  Lauren Holtkamp looks on during a game between the Minnesota Timberwolves and Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center on February 3, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
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Lauren Holtkamp once again created controversy with Chris Paul on the floor.

But, this time, Paul wasn’t the aggrieved party.

With the Clippers up 113-106 on the Trail Blazers, J.J. Redick held the ball to run out the final few seconds. But before the game ended, Holtkamp called a foul on Shabazz Napier.

Ben Golliver of Sports Illustrated:

Napier did touch Redick’s side with his left hand just before the whistle. So, this isn’t completely inexplicable. But juxtapose this call with all the times a player is hacking away to intentionally foul and a whistle takes a while.

In case you’re wondering, the teams had already cleared the over, and the Clippers were already up on the 2.5-point spread.

John Wall has words for Kent Bazemore after flagrant foul (VIDEO)


There is history here: In Atlanta on May 3, 2015, John Wall took a hard fall after a foul by then Hawks point guard Jeff Teague, breaking Wall’s hand and effectively ending his playoffs (he did return three games later but the Wizards were all but done by then).

Thursday night after a Dennis Schroder turnover, the Hawks Kent Bazemore chased Wall down on a breakaway layup, but rather than make a play on the ball tried to stop and in the process undercut Wall, sending the guard hard to the floor. Wall bounced back up jawing at Bazemore, and quickly officials and teammates stepped between them.

Bazemore rightfully was given a flagrant I foul for that play — once in the air Wall was helpless, and Bazemore took his legs out from under him. Bazemore said it wasn’t intentional and that the two North Carolinians hugged and made up later.

The Hawks were down six at the time of this play but pulled away in the fourth for the win.

Three things we learned Thursday: Dwight Howard can go home again

Atlanta Hawks center Dwight Howard (8) makes his way through the crowd as he leaves the court following a win over the Washington Wizards in an NBA basketball game Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
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The NBA is back, as is PBT with our morning recap of what you need to know from the night before around the NBA — three things we learned. This is what you missed while checking out the Pokemon statue in New Orleans.

1) Dwight Howard can go home again (at least for one game).
What has everyone been asking of Dwight Howard for years and years? Simply play hard defense, crash the boards, and let the offense come to you. Maybe Howard needed to go home for those lessons to sink in. Playing his first game for his hometown Hawks, Howard was a beast on the boards, particularly in the first half. He had seven boards in the first six minutes, and by half he had corralled 15 boards and scored nine points. He finished the night with 19 rebounds and 11 points, which included some highlight dunks.

Howard also played good defense, and the Hawks got the win at home over the Wizards. We’ll see if this Howard keeps showing up night after night, but it was a promising start.

While Howard was good, make no mistake Paul Millsap is still the Hawks best player. He finished the game with 28 points, seven rebounds, six assists and was a plus 22. He took over in the second half and was part of the reason the Hawks pulled away with a 23-5 run in the fourth.

2) What spacing problems? Bulls shoot 44 percent from three in win over Celtics. Boston’s defensive game plan was the one every team is going to employ against Chicago: With Rajon Rondo, Dwyane Wade, and Jimmy Butler on the floor, just go under all the picks and dare for the Bulls to win with jumpers. Because we all know the Bulls can’t shoot. Except Thursday night the Rondo/Wade/Butler trio hit 9-of-14 from thee, and as a team the Bulls shot 44 percent from deep. That included Wade knocking down the dagger three in a win over the Celtics.

Make no mistake, the Bulls still had shooting woes — they shot 37.3 percent inside the arc — they just got bailed out by the threes and 18 offensive rebounds. Chicago is not going to shoot from deep like this every game. Expect them to regress to the mean over the next few games. But it’s a hopeful sign for Bulls fans, this team was knocking down shots when it needed to for a night. Or, maybe it’s just the Bulls save their best games for TNT.

3) Blake Griffin is healthy and people seem to forget just how good he is. There was Reggie Miller on the TNT broadcast saying “Blake Griffin is back” as the Clippers’ forward scored 27 and pulled down 13 boards in a win in Portland. Some were expressing the same sentiment on Twitter. Their wrong. Griffin isn’t back, he’s healthy. And when he’s healthy he is an awesome force of nature who can score inside and out, crashes the boards, and is a deft passer. He’s as good as any power forward in the game when right. Remember, back in 2014 when Chris Paul had to miss extended time Griffin came in third in the MVP voting? That wasn’t a fluke.

Griffin and CP3 are healthy, and so long as they stay that way this Clippers team is one of the top four in the NBA and a real threat to at least make the conference finals. They just need to keep themselves together for 81 more games.