SAN ANTONIO — If there was a single play that showed just how much Dwyane Wade looked like the version we called Flash back in 2006 when he led the Heat to a championship and was named Finals MVP for his efforts, it was this spectacular steal and dunk in transition early in the fourth quarter of Miami’s Game 4 win over the Spurs.
Wade has been limited physically due to a knee issue that has bothered him for much of the season, and he’s still feeling the effects. LeBron James confirmed as much during his postgame comments.
“Of course he’s hurting,” James said. “He’s been playing with a bum knee all year.”
There was nothing bum about Wade in this one, especially on this play which helped reclaim momentum for his team as the Spurs were making their final push.
San Antonio had pulled to within five with just under nine minutes to play, before Wade took control on consecutive possessions. After driving from the top of the three-point arc into the lane and converting a spinning, left-handed floater from eight feet out, he did what Miami as a team has done so often over the course of the season — he used his defense to spark a lightning-quick score in transition.
Wade stepped into the passing lane and picked off a pass from Danny Green, and headed the other way. Gary Neal was back, but Wade brought the ball over his head, before elevating past him for the explosive slam dunk. The Miami lead was nine, and aside from the next possession where the Spurs got back to within seven, San Antonio was unable to get any closer the rest of the way.
The version of Wade we saw in Game 4 was incredible, and this play more than any other showed just how active and aggressive he was able to be during a completely disruptive performance.
“I knew I was on when I took it over the guy’s head and dunked it on the break,” Wade said. “That was a little vintage right there.”
Just a reminder that Joakim Noah would like some more run
Joakim Noah is playing 20.6 minutes a night coming off the bench for Fred Hoiberg and the Chicago Bulls this season.
And he doesn’t like it. He wants more run. He was getting 10 minutes more a night last season under Tom Thibodeau, and Noah wants some of those minutes back. Nick Friedel of ESPN sent out a tweet that was a reminder of just that.
Noah spoke to media again today. One thing remains clear: He wants to play more. Very frustrated that Hoiberg won't give him more run.
1) Reducing minutes for guys who battle injuries every season by the time the playoffs roll around was one huge reason Fred Hoiberg was brought in to coach the Bulls and Tom Thibodeau was shown the door. This isn’t just Hoiberg, the minutes reduction comes from management. While it is possible Noah’s spot in the rotation shifts (he could start at some point) and he might get a little more run, the Thibodeau era is gone.
2) There are legit reasons for Noah to want to play. First, he is a competitor who doesn’t like sitting. Second, the Bulls’ defense is elite when he plays (allowing 95.5 points per 100 possessions) and the Bulls outscore opponents by 1.3 per 100 when he plays. Finally, Noah is in the final year of his contract and scoring just 3.1 points per game is not going to help him earn more cash in the next deal.
3) Barring injury to another big, don’t expect a change.
Jimmer Fredette scores 37 in D-League debut while Floyd Mayweather watches
After being cut by the Spurs during training camp, Jimmer Fredette decided to stay stateside and play in the D-League, looking for a way back into and another chance in the NBA (the banged up Pelicans picked him up for four games but released him again). Fredette put up impressive numbers in his debut with the Westchester Knicks (the New York Knicks affiliate), scoring 37 points on 12-of-17 shooting, hitting a couple of threes and getting to the line a dozen times.
All while boxer Floyd Mayweather looked on from courtside (Mayweather was there to see buddy Jordan Crawford).
If Fredette keeps putting up numbers, maybe he gets a call up. But nothing is seriously going to change for Fredette unless his defense improves markedly — that has always been the big problem, and not always one exploited the same way in the D-League. He is on the low end of the athleticism scale for the NBA (not college) and that has led teams to just target him when he comes in games. There is no mercy in the NBA, and Fredette has been the gazelle outside the herd that becomes the clear target.
But he’s had a good D-League game, it’s a start on a road back.
Pelicans’ Tyreke Evans says he returns to lineup Tuesday
There is not one simple reason the Pelicans stumbled out of the gate this season and might as well be booking late April tee times now (they will not recover and make the playoffs). It’s a combination of issues. But at the top of any list needs to be injuries, and specifically the injury to Tyreke Evans, who had his knee scoped back in training camp.
Evans will suit up for the Pelicans Tuesday. This had been rumored for a while, but Evans himself confirmed it on Instagram.
The Pelicans desperately need his shot creation. Anthony Davis is an unquestionable beast, but he’s not a guy you can just throw the rock to and watch him create for himself and others out on the wing. Jrue Holiday can’t really do that either. The Pelicans have looked better with Ish Smith at the point of late because he can create a little thanks to his quickness.
Evans is better at this than anyone else they have. Getting him back in the mix helps.
Norris Cole, who played fantastically for the Pelicans last season, also is expected to return to the rotation tonight.
With those two back and the team starting to find a groove, they can become respectable to dangerous. But I just can’t see them climbing out of the hole they are in and find a way into the playoffs.
Luke Walton is NBA Coach of the Month despite zero official wins
If you were going to name the Western Conference Coach of the Month for November, there was only one choice to make — the coach of the undefeated Golden State Warriors.
So congratulations Steve Kerr, since he gets the credit for those 19 and counting wins… er, wait.
The NBA announced it has given November Coach of the Month award to Luke Walton, the interim Warriors’ coach who has guided the team while Kerr is recovering from back surgery. The league also announced Cavaliers’ coach David Blatt as the Eastern Conference Coach of the Month.
As the NBA explained earlier in the day, they see the Warriors as still Kerr’s team — he was the architect who put in the systems and built the foundation, while Walton is just living in the house for a while. Walton is a housesitter. So the fact the team was undefeated under Walton is moot, he gets no credit for the wins, they all go on Kerr’s resume. But Walton can win the Coach of the Month award for guiding the Warriors with their league-best point differential of 15.4 points per game.
This was expected, but now it is official.
He could win it again for December, unless Steve Kerr decides to come back