Dwyane Wade says health was not a factor in poor Game 4 performance

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SAN ANTONIO — Dwyane Wade disappeared in Miami’s Game 4 loss to the Spurs, and his poor performance that saw him finish just 3-of-13 from the field and lag significantly on the defensive end appeared to be more than just a random off night.

Wade lacked any type of speed or explosiveness, and after a successful season-long maintenance program aimed at keeping his historically ailing knee healthy enough for a run into late June, it appeared to be failing him at the worst possible time.

Everything is just fine from a health standpoint, however, if Wade is to be believed. Speaking to reporters at the Spurs practice facility on Saturday, he said Game 4 was an aberration, and nothing more than a bad game where he simply missed shots.

“I was 3 for 13,” Wade said. “That doesn’t happen to me often. I’m a very high‑percentage shooter. Whenever something is that way, there is always something that’s pointed out. There’s nothing wrong. I got quality shots, I missed them. For whatever reason. They played good defense on some, some I missed. But that’s the nature of the game.”

Wade was pressed further on the issue, and was asked if he felt he was laboring a bit near the end of Game 4 — something that seemed apparent on both ends of the floor.

“No, man,” he said.  “It’s like I said, when you shoot 3 for 13, they can point at anything. I’m fine. Way better than I’ve been in a long time. There is nothing I point out at all. Last year I was on one leg and did all right. I’m totally fine, man. I didn’t play well in Game 4. Has nothing to do with my health at all.”

When Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra was asked about Wade’s health, he was a little less convincing.

“You’d have to ask him, but nobody’s going to make any excuses at this time,” Spoelstra said. “He wouldn’t want me to make one for him. I don’t think anybody that’s playing minutes at this time of year is feeling 100% and feeling spry and like they’re 16 years old.

“But that’s part of competition, how you manage everything, your body, your mind, manage frustration, manage elation, manage everything in between, and through all that trying to figure out how to get the job done. And so that’s been our focus. I know that’s Dwayne’s focus, as well.”

Overall the Heat appeared to be a relaxed and loose bunch, especially considering the fact that they’re facing elimination on Sunday, which would mean that a rare run at a title would be ultimately lost. Wade has faced similarly long odds before, and was part of a Miami team that came back from an 0-2 deficit to win it all back in 2006. He said that reflecting on the way that championship was won was certainly on his mind heading into Sunday’s critical Game 5 contest.

“I’ve thought about it,” Wade said. “We were down 2-0 and down 13 in Game 3 and won four in a row. You think about all of those things. You have to pull from your experiences and know where you came from to know where you’re trying to go.”

“We’re going to try to win a ballgame,” he said. “We’re going to try to keep this series alive.”

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.

LeBron James rejects Giannis Antetokounmpo at the rim

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Through the first couple games of the season, Giannis Antetokounmpo has put up impressive numbers — he dropped 34 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists on the Cavaliers Friday night.

But the Cavaliers still have LeBron James.

He had 24 points and 8 assists, leading Cleveland to the win.

LeBron also reminded the Greek Freak just how good a rim protector he is. Few people can slow Antetokounmpo on the drive, but LeBron is one of them.

Is it too early to root for a Cavs vs. Bucks playoff series?

Hawks’ DeAndre’ Bembry out with fractured wrist

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In their season opener Wednesday, Atlanta second-year man DeAndre’ Bembry came off the bench and played 17:45, scored six points and was +13 on the night. It was a good start to his career.

But now he is going to miss some time with a fractured wrist.

Bembry underwent an MRI, which revealed a fracture in his right wrist, the Hawks announced Friday. He will return to Atlanta with the team (the Hawks lost to the Hornets Friday night) and will meet with team doctors at the Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center on Monday. His status will be updated after that.

“We just may play some other guys more, we may use some of the young guys,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer told the AP before Friday night’s game. “We’ll just figure it out tonight and as we move forward. I don’t think there’s anything guaranteed for anybody, it’s unfortunate for DeAndre’ and for us.”

 

Danny Ainge says Celtics will apply for Disabled Player Exception

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It’s not likely Gordon Hayward returns this season. His agent said as much, although a return in March is not out of the question. (It’s better PR wise for the Celtics to say he is out for the season, then if he returns early great, it’s better than setting a deadline he doesn’t meet.)

With that, the Celtics are going to apply for the Disabled Player Exception, which could help them land a replacement player, Danny Ainge told Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe.

President of basketball operations Danny Ainge told the Globe on Friday the club is applying for the Disabled Player Exception, which would provide the Celtics $8.4 million to pursue a player to fill Hayward’s roster spot.

“We’re in the process of doing that,’’ Ainge said. “We have a while to do that. There’s no urgency, but we will apply for that.”

There are limits to what that money can get the Celtics. The money is the same as the mid-level exception, the Celtics can go over the cap to use it, and the player can be obtained via free agency or trade. However, the player must be in the last year of his contract.

It gives the Celtics options. It also does not mean Hayward cannot return, it only means NBA-approved doctors determined he is not likely to return before a mid-June deadline.