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.”
Spurs to give Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili Friday night off in Denver
That is the first night of a back-to-back, with former Spurs’ assistant coach Mike Budenholzer and his Atlanta Hawks coming to San Antonio on Saturday. Popovich is saving his two veterans for that game.
Duncan and Ginobili have looked like they found the fountain of youth this season. Duncan is taking on less of the offense but has been very efficient in those moments. Ginobili has the impact he did a few years back in his bench role.
What Gregg Popovich cares about is them playing like that come the postseason. So they will rest on Friday.
Rejecting the tender is a favor to the drafting team, which gets to keep the player’s exclusive rights for a year. If Thornton tries to join the NBA now, he’s stuck negotiating with only the Celtics.
By accepting the tender, the player typically gets one of two outcomes. He either plays on that contract and draws an NBA salary or he gets waived. But even getting waived is better than rejecting the tender, because at least the player becomes a free agent and can negotiate with any team.
Players who reject the tender go to another league and play for less money. In Thornton’s case, that mean Australia.
How’s that going?
(Almost) never reject the required tender as a second-round pick.
Byron Scott says they just have to get Kobe Bryant better looks
Kobe Bryant is averaging 15.2 points a game at age 37. It’s just taking him 16.4 shots per game to get there. After his 1-of-14 shooting performance against the Warriors the other night — with too much isolation and too many plays run just for him — there has been a lot of talk about his shot. With reason, this is his shot chart so far this season.
So what do the Lakers’ do? Get Kobe to shoot less and get the ball in the hands of the young stars they supposed to be developing more? Nah.
“I know his mentality is that he can still play in this league,” Scott said. “And we feel the same way….
“Obviously he’s struggling right now with his shot, and I think everybody can see that,” Scott said. “So it’s trying to get him in better position to be able to have an opportunity to knock those shots down on a consistent basis. That’s No. 1.
“I don’t know if it’s his legs. I don’t think so. Again, our conversations are pretty blunt. … He tells me when he is tired and he tells me when he’s not tired. And the last few days, he said he feels great. So, I don’t think it’s a matter of him being tired or his legs being tired. I think it’s a matter of his timing being a little off.”
Yes, how could it be his legs? It’s not like he’s a 37-year-old with more than 55,000 NBA minutes played, and coming off an Achilles rupture and major knee surgery.
Honestly, I hope the Lakers and Kobe find a balance soon, because they have become just hard to watch. And I don’t want Kobe to go out this way.