LeBron James, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist

LeBron James leads Heat’s charge past Bobcats


LeBron James made two free throws with seconds remaining in the second quarter, and for all intents and purposes, it seemed time for halftime. The Heat, after going back and forth with the Bobcats, had developed a small lead, and LeBron’s charity shots would have ended the half on a high note.

But LeBron wasn’t done.

He stole a pass, drew a foul on a 3-pointer and then made all three free throws.

LeBron scored five points in the final 3.3 seconds of the first half, sending Miami to a 98-85 win over Charlotte in Game 3 Saturday. The Heat are now within one game of their first series sweep of a team with a winning record in the Big Three era.

Consider LeBron turned up.

He finished with 30 points, 10 rebounds and six assists. Even between his second set of half-ending free throws, he was shouting instructions for his teammates for the final 0.2 seconds.

For the most part, his teammates did only an OK job of keeping up with his demands.

The Heat ended the first half on a 16-4 run, the final nine points coming from LeBron, and they made the first two shots of the second half to push their lead to 16 points. Miami led comfortably from there.

But only Dwyane Wade (17 points on 16 shots with six assists) scored double figures – not that anyone else needed to step up in this one.

In the Bobcats’ first home playoff game in four years and just the third in franchise history, Charlotte started with plenty of energy. Al Jefferson (20 points on 13 shots) and Chris Douglas-Roberts (17 points on eight shots) had their moments, but beyond a couple early bursts, the Bobcats couldn’t sustain any momentum. They didn’t make a shot in the in the first half of the third quarter as Miami pulled away.

This was probably Charlotte’s last stand. No NBA team has ever overcome a 3-0 deficit.

The Heat’s run is just beginning, and LeBron seems intent on inspiring the Heat to ready for it.

Chris Paul, after breaking finger, intends to play in Clippers preseason game tomorrow

Chris Paul
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Chris Paul broke his finger Saturday.

The initial diagnosis said the injury wasn’t serious.

Here’s confirmation.

Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times:

Paul obviously wouldn’t push it during the preseason. If the Clippers are allowing him to play, this can’t be bad.

Really, the most challenging aspect to this is grasping the concept that a broke finger can be a minor injury.

Report: David Lee, Tyler Zeller in line to start for Celtics; Jared Sullinger, Jonas Jerebko out of rotation

MADRID, SPAIN - OCTOBER 08: David Lee of Boston Celtics attacks during the friendlies of the NBA Global Games 2015 basketball match between Real Madrid and Boston Celtics at Barclaycard Center on October 8, 2015 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)
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Brad Stevens has a big challenge this year – sorting the Celtics’ deep roster of similarly able players.

It seems that process is shaking out at power forward and center.

A. Sherrod Blakely of CSN Northeast:

it appears Boston’s first four bigs will be starters David Lee and Tyler Zeller, with Amir Johnson and Kelly Olynyk off the bench.

That leaves Jonas Jerebko and Jared Sullinger, potentially on the outside looking in as far as the regular rotation is concerned.

Lee is the best passer of the bunch, which could partially explain why he’s starting. Boston’s most likely starting point guard, Marcus Smart, is still growing into the role of the lead ball-handler at the NBA level. Lee and presumptive starting shooting guard Avery Bradley can take some pressure off him.

Olynyk can space the floor for Isaiah Thomas-Johnson pick-and-rolls with the reserves and run pick-and-pops with Thomas himself.

I’m a little surprised Zeller is starting over Johnson, though. The Celtics just signed Johnson to a $12 million salary, and I thought they’d rely on his defense to set a tone early. Like Johnson, Zeller is a quality pick-and-roll finisher who can thrive with Thomas.

This is particularly bad news for Sullinger, who – barring a surprising contract extension – is entering a contract year. It seems those reports of offseason conditioning haven’t yet paid off. Jerebko’s deal also isn’t guaranteed beyond this season, but at least he has already gotten his mid-sized payday. Sullinger is still on his rookie-scale contract.