Watch Hassan Whiteside score 26 points, grab 22 rebounds in Heat’s win over Pacers (video)

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MIAMI (AP) — Winning consecutive games at home for the first time all season isn’t exactly something to celebrate, particularly when the season is nearly two months old.

For the Miami Heat, it’s a start.

Hassan Whiteside had 26 points and 22 rebounds, and the Heat clamped down defensively to beat the Indiana Pacers 95-89 on Wednesday night. Miami held the Pacers to 37 percent shooting and outrebounded them 58-38.

“Guess that’s what you can expect with a Heat-Pacers game, regardless of who the faces are,” Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said. “It was good for us to grind out another one.”

No, this wasn’t one of those playoff battles with the Pacers that featured LeBron James and Dwyane Wade almost always finding a way for the Heat in recent years. This time, it was the likes of Tyler Johnson and James Johnson coming up big, combining for 29 points off the bench – and Whiteside simply controlling the paint during his 34 minutes.

“I try to lead by example,” Whiteside said.

Paul George scored 22 for the Pacers, who were hoping for a season-best third straight win and instead managed just 10 points in the fourth quarter. CJ Miles added 15 for Indiana.

“This is a game that we should have won,” George said. “It’s frustrating. … We played OK. We just didn’t finish well.”

Neither team led by more than seven, and the Heat got to that margin after James Johnson found Goran Dragic for a layup and a 92-85 lead with 3:35 left.

They needed to hang on desperately from there.

Miami didn’t score again until there were 12.9 seconds left, when Josh Richardson sealed the win with a dunk that put the Heat up five after Indiana didn’t foul. The Pacers missed three 3-point tries that would have tied the game in the final 2 minutes, one by George and the last two by Myles Turner.

The Pacers shot 5 for 18 in the fourth. They went scoreless over a 7-minute stretch in the second half, and Miami took the lead for good during that drought.

“They basically muscled us and broke our offensive execution,” Pacers coach Nate McMillan said.

TIP-INS

Pacers: Monta Ellis (right groin strain) was sidelined again, and Rodney Stuckey played through a bruised left knee. … This was the start of Indiana’s sixth of 17 back-to-backs this season. … George has played 19 games at Miami, including playoffs. Indiana’s record in those games is 2-17.

Heat: It was the fourth time Whiteside reached 20 points and 20 rebounds in the same game, the second this season. … Justise Winslow returned from a 16-game absence due to a sore left wrist and scored two points in 21 minutes. … Dragic missed his first seven shots before connecting on a pull-up for his first basket early in the third quarter. He shot 4 for 15. … Dion Waiters (groin) missed his 10th consecutive game.

`CANES VISIT

Miami’s women’s basketball team – No. 13 in this week’s AP Top 25 – was at the game, along with coach Katie Meier. For some, it was their first time at a Heat game. “They were so excited,” said Meier, whose team next plays Friday at Florida International.

FREE THROWS

Indiana came into the night as the league’s fourth-best team at the foul line, Miami as the very worst. The Pacers went 14 for 17, the Heat 14 for 25.

UP NEXT

Pacers: Visit New Orleans on Thursday, the second game in a three-game, four-day trip.

Heat: Host the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday, the third game on this six-game homestand.

Lamar Odom opens up about cocaine addiction

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Lamar Odom has discussed his cocaine addiction before – how it derailed his NBA career, marriage to Kim Kardashian, his life. Never detailed like this, though.

Odom in The Players’ Tribune:

With cocaine especially, there’s a high, and then an emotional low. So it’s like a roller coaster. You go high, and then you go low. High, low, high, low. After you do it, you feel shame. You think about all the reasons why you shouldn’t have done it. Then the cycle starts again.

That’s the thing people don’t understand. Anybody who’s lived a complicated, drug-infused life like I’ve lived knows the cycle — with women, cheating on my wife, shit like that. Nights when I should have been asleep. Nights when I stayed up sniffing coke. Lot of those nights. When your heart is beating fast. When you should know better. When you’re just riding that roller coaster, man.

You think I wasn’t feeling shame? You think I was blind to what I was doing?

Nah, I wasn’t blind to it. Shame … pain. It’s part of the whole cycle. My brain was broken. As the years went on, and I got into my 30s, my career was winding down, and things just got out of control.

When I was like 32, 33 … I just wanted to get high all the time. That’s it, just get high. And things got dark as hell.

One of the darkest places I’ve ever been was when I was in a motel room, getting high with this chick, and my wife (at the time) walked in. That probably was like rock bottom.

I recommend reading all of Odom’s powerful essay, in which he explains the personal struggles that contributed to his drug use.

Report: Kyrie Irving not speaking with Cavaliers

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Former Cavaliers general manager David Griffin smoothed over Kyrie Irving‘s discontentment for years.

As new general manager Koby Altman tries to project stability, it seems there’s plenty of disarray behind the scenes in the wake of Irving’s trade request.

Jason Lloyd of The Athletic, via Chris Fillar of 92.3 The Fan:

Whatever are or aren’t the problems between Irving and LeBron James, this makes it far less likely they’ll reconcile. It already seemed LeBron wouldn’t be proactive in mending the relationship, and this saga has only generated more distrust.

Irving appears increasingly likely to get his wish, with Cleveland moving toward trading him. He’s just upping the odds by furthering the divide.

DeMar DeRozan: Talk of Raptors’ changes overblown

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Raptors president Masai Ujiri called for a “culture reset,” alluding to an offense less reliant on Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan isolations.

DeMarre Carroll, traded from Toronto to the Nets, doubts the Raptors will change much.

Know who agrees with him? DeRozan.

DeRozan, via Mike Ganter of the Toronto Sun:

“I think the media kind of blow it out of proportion like it’s going to be something dramatic, like a complete dramatic 180-degree change,” DeRozan said, who was back in Toronto helping out with the Raptors’ Basketball Academy at Humber College on Monday. “It’s not that at all. It’s just moreso locking in and understanding what it takes to win from every single position. Everyone just know from our failures, guys stepping up and being better leaders, not just me and Kyle but everybody. I think once we lock in and everyone holds themselves accountable, everything else will come around perfect. That’s all it is.”

DeRozan didn’t disagree when it was suggested more ball movement might be demanded this season, but he did say the anticipated level of change by many outside the team is completely out of whack with the reality. The offence is still going to run through himself and Kyle Lowry.

This is shaping up to be a problem. Ujiri made this grand proclamation then brought back the same core – Lowry, DeRozan and coach Dwane Casey. This was the danger, that they were too comfortable with the status quo.

We’ll see how it actually plays out. DeRozan has a strong track record of improvement, and the Raptors might be forcing him to see the game differently by playing him at point guard.

But there at least appears to be a disconnect somewhere between the front office and players.

Rumor: Cavaliers trying to dump salary in Kyrie Irving trade

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The Cavaliers are reportedly prioritizing youth in a Kyrie Irving trade.

Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders:

Another stated goal is to dump off some salary and reduce the luxury tax bill.

The Cavs – who reportedly lost more than $40 million last season – are on track to become the first team in NBA history to pay the luxury-tax repeater rate. They’ve led the league in payroll, racking up big luxury-tax bills, the last two seasons. They even pulled the rare feat of carving out max cap space (used on LeBron James) then getting about the luxury-tax line in the same season three years ago, finishing second to the Nets in spending that season.

Cleveland now faces a luxury-tax bill north of $78 million – which would eclipse its 2015-16 mark ($54 million) as the second highest tax payment ever, trailing just 2013-14 Brooklyn (nearly $91 million).

Most teams would never spend as much as the Cavaliers have the previous three seasons. Most teams would never approach Cleveland’s costs this year, which include $142 million in player salaries.

But most teams don’t have LeBron.

Remember, the Heat cutting corners on spending contributed to LeBron leaving Miami. And Cavs owner Dan Gilbert reportedly promised to spend unconditionally when LeBron returned to Cleveland in 2014.

Is cutting costs the message the Cavaliers want to send as LeBron enters a contract year?

If so, they have a few candidates for shedding:

  • Tristan Thompson – three years, $52,408,695 remaining
  • J.R. Smith – three years, $44,160,000 remaining (just $3.87 million of $15.68 million guaranteed final year)
  • Iman Shumpert – two years, $21,348,313 remaining
  • Channing Frye – one year, $7,420,912 remaining

All those players, roughly in order of salary, contribute to winning.

The Cavs should have little trouble unloading those contracts in an Irving trade. He’s so valuable, teams will incur a lopsided financial deal to get him. They’ll just send Cleveland less talent to compensate.

It’s the classic dilemma – money vs. on-court success. Teams evaluate this tradeoff every day.

For the Cavaliers, there’s just the additional pressure of LeBron’s looming free agency.