The headband was back. So was the dominance.
A couple months after ditching his trademark headwear in an apparent show of team unity, LeBron James brought it back. If he was sending a message that he means business, it was a success. James totaled 33 points and 8 rebounds in the Cavs’ Game 2 win over the Bulls, tying the series as they head back to Chicago.
The final score was 106-91, and even that is misleadingly close. The Cavs controlled things from the opening tip. Chicago never led once, and Cleveland led by double digits for all but the first six minutes.
After Monday’s disastrous decision to start Mike Miller in place of the injured Kevin Love, Cavs coach David Blatt opted for a bigger lineup with Tristan Thompson in the frontcourt next to James and Timofey Mozgov. The change paid off big-time: Thompson’s 12 rebounds, six of which came on the offensive end, were crucial in preventing the Bulls from making a run and ever seriously getting back in the game.
In Game 1, the Bulls were hitting every open jumper and all Cavs players except Kyrie Irving were missing them. The trend reversed Wednesday: James Jones shot 5-for-9 from three-point range and the Cavs even got quality minutes out of backup point guard Matthew Dellavedova.
James was locked in after much was made on Monday of Jimmy Butler shutting him down in Game 1. This is the LeBron that showed up Wednesday:
The Bulls have to be happy to get a split of the first two games on the road, but with J.R. Smith set to return in Game 3 (on Friday at the United Center), the Cavs will have another shooting weapon that the Bulls’ increasingly tired defense will have to account for.
The Raptors lost to the Warriors on Saturday, and DeMar DeRozan – despite his own brilliant performance – was irked.
The Toronto guard seemed particularly upset about a review of an out-of-bounds call in the final seconds. After initially giving the ball to the Raptors, officials said it touched DeRozan while he was out of bounds and granted Golden State possession:
The NBA’s replay guidelines say (emphasis mine): “Referees can only initiate a review on a called out-of-bounds play (for example, not one where an out-of-bounds might have occurred) and only those involving doubt as to which player caused the ball to go out (not those, for example, where a player stepped on the line).”
I mean, it’s frustrating being out there feeling like you playing 5-on-8. It’s just what it feel like, period. Some of them calls was terrible, period.
I thought you couldn’t even do that. I’m not even a referee, and I know that rule. So, somebody correct me if I’m wrong.
The NBA corrected him in the two-minute report, saying “After communicating with the Replay Center, the ruling on the floor of Raptors possession is overturned and the Warriors are awarded possession because the ball touches DeRozan’s (TOR) leg while his body is out of bounds before Curry (GSW) knocks the ball out. Referees were able to review two aspects of this out-of-bounds play since they were part of the same sequence.”
Then, the league fined him.
Toronto Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan has been fined $15,000 for public criticism of the officiating, it was announced today by Kiki VanDeWeghe, Executive Vice President, Basketball Operations.
The comments were made following the Raptors’ 127-125 loss to the Golden State Warriors on Saturday, Jan. 13
Saying “5-on-8” seems to be a secret code word for getting fined. I’m not sure whether the rest of DeRozan’s comments would have gotten him fined, but that phrase almost certainly did him in.
As Kyle Lowry and Ben Simmons were ejected late in the 76ers’ win over the Raptors yesterday, the players appeared to challenge each other to meet in back.
Lowry eagerly left the court and headed through the tunnel. Simmons appeared much more reluctant at that point.
Despite a report of a confrontation in the hallway, Simmons said nothing escalated, as he went to his locker room.
Michael Grange of Sportsnet
The Cavaliers are clearly frustrated.
Did someone in Cleveland take out that frustration on the Warriors after they beat the Cavs last night?
Chris Haynes of ESPN:
Players were complaining about there being no hot water in the visiting locker room showers. When they walked in, they could be heard screaming in discomfort. Most of the players emerged shivering from taking a quick wash-off.
“Man, they got to do something in ‘The Q.’ Somebody call Bron!” Kevin Durant yelled, referring to LeBron James.
No one seemed angry; the situation was more humorous.
That’s the right approach. Whenever the hot water is out in a visiting locker room, the finger is pointed at the home team for sabotage. Sometimes, heating systems just fail.
Giannis Antetokounmpo is scoring more in the post, the basketball analogue of football’s trenches.
Apparently, he’s taking the comparison to the next level.
In the Bucks’ win over the Wizards yesterday, Antetokounmpo played the part of a long-snapping center to set up Khris Middleton in transition.
NBC Sports Washington: