New York at Miami

Masked man LeBron drops 31 powering Heat to easy win over Knicks

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About that mask — a black carbon fiber one to protect his broken nose — impacting LeBron James’ shot… not so much.

Call him Bane. Or Batman. Or the Phantom of the Opera. Or Hannibal Lector. To me LeBron looked like LeBron — he dropped 31 points (his fifth straight game over 30) on 13-of-19 shooting powering Miami to an easy 108-82 win over the reeling New York Knicks Thursday night in Miami, and also on national television.

LeBron didn’t look so much like a guy worried about his nose as much as he looked rested, like a guy who just had a week off. He was in attack mode from the second he stepped on the court and went 10-of-11 at the rim on the night — something aided by just lazy, sad transition defense by the Knicks. If you miss shots and don’t get back in transition against the Heat… well, it looks a lot like this game. The Heat had a transition lay-up line at points.

LeBron also got help. Dwyane Wade had 23 points on 10-of-13 shooting and reminded everyone that when Wade and LeBron are both clicking there may not be another team in the NBA that stands a chance. Ray Allen Norris Cole and Mario Chalmers each had 11.

Carmelo Anthony would have loved some help.

Once again he played well — 24 first-half points on his way to 29 on the game on 20 shots. He carried the Knicks offense for stretches, including a 21-10 Knicks run to close out the half that cut lead to five at the break. You can’t really ask more of the man.

But he was alone on an island. Whether Raymond Felton was distracted or just terrible is up for debate, but he was 1-of-7 shooting. Tim Hardaway Jr. was 2-of-15. Pablo Prigioni was scoreless. Amar’e Stoudemire was -30. The Knicks as a team were 4-of-23 from three. Thing is for much of the game the Knicks really did give a good effort, they were just outclassed.

The Heat are starting to round into the championship form we expect, the Knicks are coming apart at the seams. All that’s really left is for Knicks fans to start riding the “what will Carmelo Anthony do this summer?” roller coaster, which will have a lot of ups and downs, twists and turns before we get to July.

If he keeps playing like this, LeBron can wear that mask as long as he would like.

Craig Sager to get third bone marrow transplant thanks to anonymous donor

CLEVELAND, OH - JUNE 16:  Legendary TNT sideline reporter Craig Sager talks with Game 6 of the 2016 NBA Finals between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors at Quicken Loans Arena on June 16, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. Sager is on a one game assignment for ESPN. 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 Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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Craig Sager couldn’t be in Rio covering the Olympics for NBC, his cancer wouldn’t allow it. That didn’t stop Team USA from reaching out to him before they left. Or from Nike designing a sweet pair of shoes for him.

Now there is good news on his battle against leukemia — he will have a third bone marrow transplant, according to his son Craig Sager II.

This is fantastic news for a man and family who have been through a lot. Hopefully, this treatment is a step forward for Sager, a man beloved by everyone around the NBA.

Report: With Joffrey Lauvergne trade, Mitch McGary likely done with Thunder

DALLAS, TX - MARCH 16:  Mitch McGary #33 of the Oklahoma City Thunder at American Airlines Center on March 16, 2015 in Dallas, Texas.  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 Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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The Oklahoma City frontcourt is crowded. Enes Kanter and Steven Adams will start, and they will have Nick Collison, Ersan Ilyasova, Domantas Sabonis, and now Joffrey Lauvergne behind them.

Which likely means Mitch McGary‘s done as a member of the Thunder, according to Royce Young of ESPN.

McGary has battled injuries his two seasons in the league and got on the court for only 72 minutes total last season for the Thunder (he played in more games and put up solid numbers in the D-LEague). He was not part of the future there regardless. He’s an undersized five trying to play the four and what he brought as a rookie — energy — was not enough as a sophomore.

McGary will make $1.5 million this season. He may be tough to move because he’s suspended for the first five games he’s eligible to play next season for failing the league’s drug policy (five games is the standard suspension for testing positive for marijuana three times). Maybe a team looking to develop players will give him a shot, but there is little trade value for him.

Dwight Howard is shooting 19-footers to improve his free throw stroke

Dwight Howard
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If you can knock down a 19-foot shot, then a 15-footer should be easier. Right?

Apparently that — and just basic muscle memory — is the latest attempt to improve Dwight Howard‘s free throw shooting. And, he seems to be knocking down those shots.

It’s not hard to see the logic in this approach.

The challenge is form and reps are not the problems for Howard — or DeAndre Jordan or Andre Drummond or others — when it comes to hitting free throws. Anyone who says “why don’t they just practice the shot” doesn’t pay attention, these guys put in a lot of work on the shot. Pregame and in practice (I’m Los Angeles based), Jordan probably hits 65 percent from the line. At least.

The problem is mental. That can be a tougher hurdle to clear. Maybe taking 19 footers and knocking them down will have Howard feeling more confident at the stripe this season.

But we’re going to need to see it to believe it. Just like we’re going to have to see a rejuvenated Howard in Atlanta before we believe this season will be different from the last few.

Report: Veteran big man Jason Thompson agrees to deal in China

BEIJING, CHINA - OCTOBER 15:  Jason Thompson # 34 of Sacramento Kings in action during the 2014 NBA Global Games match between the Brooklyn Nets and Sacramento Kings at MasterCard Center on October 15, 2014 in Beijing, China. 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 Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)
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Until this season, Jason Thompson had never been to the playoffs. He spent seven seasons in Sacramento before getting traded to the Warriors last offseason, and then signing with the Raptors midseason when Golden State waived him to make room on the roster for Anderson Varejao. His NBA days appear over, at least for now. International basketball reporter David Pick reports that Thompson has agreed to a deal to play in China.

Since the CBA’s season ends in March, Thompson could theoretically join an NBA team for the stretch run next year. But he didn’t appear to have much interest on the free-agent market this summer.