Chris Bosh comes out of hiding with monster Game 4

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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.

Joel Embiid frustrated, wants more post touches, to play back-to-backs

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Joel Embiid remains a frustrated man.

He wants to be unleashed on the NBA, and he feels he’s being held back.

Part of that is not playing in back-to-backs — Embiid started Friday night against Boston but will sit out by plan Saturday night against the Raptors in Toronto. Embiid knows the plan to help protect a body that has played only 31 games in three seasons before this one and was not cleared for most of training camp, but that doesn’t mean he likes it, as he told Jessica Camerato of NBC Sports Philadelphia.

“I just want to feel like an NBA player,” Embiid said.  “I feel like I’m not an NBA player because I can’t play back-to-back.”

I get his frustration, but can you blame the Sixers for treating the guy like he’s made of glass at this point? Hopefully, later in the season, he can be cleared to play on both ends.

His second frustration came from the loss to the Cavaliers on Friday — he wants more post touches. In the video above he is clear, “I didn’t get the ball enough in the post.”

He’s right here. Embiid had three post-ups all game, one in each of the game’s first three quarters (stat via Synergy Sports). Embiid is efficient in the post — he has shot 9-of-12 on those plays overall this season and the Sixers score 1.33 points per possession when he does. Especially against a team going small — the Cavaliers start Kevin Love at center — Embiid should be fed down low.

Instead, look at his shot chart from Friday night.

Part of this is on him with all the threes, but they have to utilize him better. It’s part of the Sixers growing pains that will come this season.

Nets’ national anthem singer kneels to finish performance

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NEW YORK (AP)—  The national anthem singer at the Brooklyn Nets’ home opener took a knee at the end of her performance.

Justine Skye was nearing the completion of the song Friday night when she went to one knee for the finish. There were some cheers, but appeared to be more boos from the crowd at Barclays Center to see the Nets play the Orlando Magic.

NBA players have continued to stand during the playing of the anthems, as required by league rule.

Mavericks’ rookie guard Dennis Smith Jr. misses game with knee swelling

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DALLAS (AP) — Dallas Mavericks rookie point guard Dennis Smith Jr. missed Friday’s game against the Sacramento Kings with swelling in his left knee.

Smith, the ninth pick in the NBA draft out of North Carolina State, had 16 points and 10 assists in the Mavericks’ season-opening loss to the Atlanta Hawks.

Smith participated in the Mavericks’ shootaround on Friday morning and was a late scratch. It is not known if Smith will play Saturday for Dallas.

The Mavericks were also missing guard Devin Harris, who was granted leave of absence after his brother died on Thursday.

Watch Lonzo Ball’s 29 point, 11 rebound, 9 assist game Friday night

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This was more of what fans expected from Lonzo Ball.

After a rough first game against the Clippers — with Patrick Beverley in his face all night — Ball found plenty of room to operate against the soft defense of the Phoenix Suns. With room to operate Ball had 29 points, 11 rebounds, and nine assists — just one assist short of a triple-double. He helped the Lakers pull away to a lead in the third then hold on for a 132-130 win over the Suns.

Ball wasn’t terribly efficient, 12-of-27 shooting, but he was 4-of-9 from three, he played with great pace, he was decisive, and was finding guys with his passes. It was a step forward, even if it was against a sad defense (Eric Bledsoe can be a good defender, but he has seemed disinterested in recent years).

Ball and the Lakers are going to be up and down this season, the goal is for there to be more ups near the end of the season.