Relentless Miami Heat wear down, blow out Trail Blazers

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Portland came out with a real energy Thursday night — they were up for this one. Their All-Star, LaMarcus Aldridge, had a dozen first quarter points and the Blazers seemed to hit everything they put up. The Heat have been a juggernaut and for 12 minutes the Blazers matched it.

But the Heat are relentless. Dwyane Wade and LeBron James dominated this game, nearly outscoring Portland on their own in the first half. Miami’s bench players such as Udonis Haslem, Norris Cole and Mike Miller came in and the Heat keep pressing on defense, trying to run and attack every chance they get seemingly without pause. It wears teams down.

Led by Wade’s 12 second quarter points, the Heat pulled away in the second frame (outscoring Portland 28-18 in the second), eventually led by as much as 25 in the third and won 107-93. That is nine wins in a row for the Heat, all by double digits.

Wade had 22 points in the first half, James 19. That made the score at the break Trail Blazers 42, Wade and LeBron 41. Turns out the Heat have other guys on the team so the actual halftime score was 60-42. That was without Chris Bosh, who missed the game to be with family after the death of his grandmother.

While we’ve talked about LeBron in the post this season, it was Wade in the post in the first half and the Trail Blazers had no real defense for it. They had no real answer for the Heat in general.

Portland tried some zone — something that had some success early in the season — and the Heat destroyed it with penetration. But mostly it was the Heat’s defense — they were getting stops and turning the defense into offense all night.

LeBron finished with 38 points on 22 shots, plus 11 boards. Wade had 33 points on 23 shots, plus 10 assists.

When Miami is playing with this kind of energy, this kind of unity, putting that kind of pressure on opponents with their defense, there is not a team in the NBA that can beat them. They are finding a groove and really the only question is can they keep that groove going all the way to playoffs.

Just a reminder, Anthony Davis is very good at basketball, dropped 43 on Knicks

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Anthony Davis went into this season wanting to be seen as the best player in basketball.

Part of that perception is team success, and while the Pelicans are a good-not-great 8-7 to start the season it’s not because of Anthony isn’t doing all he can. He dropped 43 points and 17 rebounds on the Knicks, helping spark the Pelicans comeback against the Knicks. Check out the video above.

Davis is averaging 26.5 points with a quality 56.4 true shooting percentage, plus 17.1 rebounds a game. His PER of 26.8 is sixth best in the NBA. When Davis gets some help, and the Pelicans play a little defense, this is the kind of team AD might want to stick with.

Allen Iverson: “No way Melo should retire… he got a lot left in the tank, man”

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Carmelo Anthony is in limbo now. He’s not with the Rockets, not suiting up for games or playing, but he’s still on the roster. Houston has yet to waive him because they and his agent have not yet found a landing spot for him — other teams don’t want to get into the Carmelo Anthony business right now. Maybe that changes as injuries come and rosters shift, but right now there are no takers.

It has led Tracy McGrady and others to suggest Anthony retire.

Allen Iverson disagrees, speaking to Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Iverson is right, Anthony needs to be in the right situation. I’m just not sure what that is.

Anthony, like all great athletes, wants to leave the game on his own terms. The challenge is he is no longer a top two or three player on a good team, yet he feels entitled to be put in that role (or, at least, be treated like one of those guys). ‘Melo came off the bench in Houston but didn’t like it. The problem is that’s where his game is at that point — he’s a bench role player who can get some buckets but hurts the team defensively. That limits when he can be put on the court, especially in the playoffs. Can he accept that spot on a team?

Eventually, a team is going to give Anthony a chance, and I hope that works out. I would like ‘Melo to leave the game with us remembering him as the Hall of Fame player and elite scorer that he was, not like this.

 

Jimmy Butler: “So much more fun to play with these guys”

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Jimmy Butler is in Philadelphia now, but he is not done throwing shade at his former teammates in Minnesota.

Butler had 28 points on 12-of-15 shooting, including the game-clinching layup, as the 76ers beat the Jazz 113-107 Friday night. After the game, he got the walk-off interview with Serena Winters and took a dig at his former Minnesota teammates.

“It’s so fun to win. So much more fun to play with these guys… Everybody wants to win, and when somebody messes up, you talk to them and they do their job.”

Part of Butler’s issues with Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins was he felt they didn’t want to win badly enough, that they didn’t measure up to his level of passion. Butler is still in the honeymoon phase with Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and the Sixers, but so far he likes the intensity so far and is happy to make a note of the difference.

By the way, they’re happy in Minnesota without him — the Timberwolves are 3-0 since the trade, Karl-Anthony Towns is back to playing like his All-NBA self, and he says the communication is better now and guys are taking responsibility.

 

Pelicans Elfrid Payton returns, starts, injured again

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NEW ORLEANS (AP) —The New Orleans Pelicans say point guard Elfrid Payton has a fractured finger on his left hand.

Payton injured his finger in the first quarter of his first game back on Friday night after he’d missed New Orleans’ nine previous games with a right ankle sprain.

Soon after, Payton was ruled out for the remainder of the game against the New York Knicks.

Acquired as a free agent this past offseason, Payton has played in six games for New Orleans. He entered Friday night’s games with averages 11.6 points and 6.4 assists through his first five games, but did not have a point or assist in eight minutes against New York before his latest injury.