What was with Miami’s final play? A Wade isolation three? Ugh.

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Dwyane Wade is shooting 29.2 percent from three in the playoffs. Which is better than he shot during the regular season. It is not what he does well.

So the fact Miami’s final play of overtime devolved into a Wade pull-up three to win it was poor. Bad design, not great execution, just not putting their best player in a position to play to his strengths. Of course, Wade missed the three, Boston won 93-91 and this series is knotted up 2-2 heading back to South Beach.

Look at that last play in detail.

Before it, Miami had made a good play. They knew Boston had a foul to give so Wade attacked hard a couple times to force the Celtics to use it. He drew a reach in foul and the result was Miami had 14 seconds to make something work — if you go early and not late you have time for an offensive rebound or to reset if needed (the risk is you score and your opponent gets the last shot, but I’d rather defend a last shot than try to make one).

Wade pops out off a down screen and gets the ball out high, and the first option was for Mario Chalmers, winding from the weak side off a couple picks, to try and pop free out by the arc on the right side, but Keyon Dooling read it well and cut the pass off. Friend of this blog Sebastian Pruiti points out at Grantland that Wade blew this by not coming back over hard to create the proper angle.

Then Wade waits for Shane Battier to set a pick, which switches Marquis Daniels on to him as a defender. Miami isolates Wade with shooters around the arc. Wade drives hard to his left, stops up and leans back right, watches Daniel go by on the fly-by block attempt, then takes the three that misses.

So many questions. First, should Wade shooting a three rather than attacking be in the script? It’s a clean look, but not what he does well. The Heat offense improved this season in part because Wade and LeBron James stopped shooing so many threes. (LeBron was fouled out at this point and couldn’t take, or pass off, the last shot).

Why doesn’t Wade just lean in on the Daniels fly-by and draw the foul? Well, trusting the officials in this game might have been a mistake. Why the three to win when he had to twist his body a little to get it off, leading to that awkward leg-kick shot?

It’s all moot. He got a look that the Heat will say they can live with. He missed it. Frankly, that was better than the disaster of a LeBron iso that they ran at the end of regulation, one that resulted into an ill-fated jump off to Haslem. But that doesn’t make it good.

But maybe Doc Rivers was right anyway, “Red wasn’t going to let that go in.”

Watch James Harden score 55, including 10 threes, to beat Cleveland

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CLEVELAND (AP) — James Harden scored 55 points – 20 in the fourth quarter – and Russell Westbrook added 23 points as the Houston Rockets withstood an unexpected scare from Cleveland and held on for a 116-110 win Wednesday night over the free-falling Cavaliers, who have lost eight straight and 14 of 15.

Harden matched Kyrie Irving‘s arena record for points in a game, and his fourth with 50 or more this season bailed out the Rockets, who allowed the Cavs to score 24 straight points in the second half.

Cleveland was still up 108-107 when Harden, who came in leading the NBA in scoring at 38 points per game, dropped a floater in the lane. After a turnover by Cavs guard Jordan Clarkson, P.J. Tucker hit a 3-pointer from the corner and Clint Capela had a dunk following another Cleveland miscue.

The inexperienced Cavs crumbled in the final minute, making three turnovers.

Capela added 13 rebounds for Houston, which figured to have an easy time with the Cavs, who are struggling under first-year coach John Beilein.

Cleveland, though, came to play and was led by rookie Kevin Porter Jr.‘s season-high 24 points. Collin Sexton added 18 and Kevin Love had 17 points and 11 boards.

Harden connected on a pair of 3-pointers during a 16-2 run in the third quarter when the Rockets, who were sleepwalking through long stretches of the first half, appeared to take control.

But Houston relaxed, and Cleveland went on a jaw-dropping 24-0 run – all without Love, who was on the bench with a head laceration – over a 4:43 stretch bridging the third and fourth quarters to a take a 99-88 lead on Porter’s bucket.

 

Grizzlies’ Ja Morant absolutely destroyed Aron Baynes with dunk (VIDEO)

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We may have a new Dunk of the Year.

Memphis rookie Ja Morant is an athletic freak, one confident enough in his skills to go right at a big switched onto him. Say Phoenix’s Aron Baynes. On a critical fourth-quarter possession.

RIP Aron Baynes.

Memphis won the game 115-108.

Victor Oladipo not near return to Pacers rotation

Associated Press
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“But he’s still a ways away.”

Those are not the words Pacers fans want to hear about Victor Oladipo. Their team is playing well — 15-9 with a top-10 defense — but they are not a real postseason threat without their best player, who is recovering from a ruptured right quadriceps tendon. Before the season, Pacers president Kevin Pritchard said he was “hopeful” Oladipo would be back in December or January.

It looks like it’s going to be the back end of that timeline. At best. From J. Michael of the Indy Star, speaking to coach Nate McMillan.

Oladipo will have to be eased back in when he does return, he’s not going too hit the ground running at 40 minutes a night.

The Pacers look like a lock playoff team in the East even without Oladipo, they can afford to bring him along slowly. The hope would be to have the All-Star up to speed and integrated into the offense when the playoffs do start. If that happens, the Pacers become that team that the elite squads want to avoid early.

Lakers outscore Magic 26-9 in the first quarter. It got uglier after that.

Associated Press
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As has gotten a lot of publicity this season, the Lakers have one of the best defenses in the NBA, sixth in the league in defensive rating coming into Wednesday night. Their combination of length and activity has thrown teams off their games.

Less well publicized, the Orlando Magic have been bad on offense this season, fifth-worst in the NBA.

What happens when the immovable object met a very soft force on Wednesday night, well…

Orlando shot 4-of-21 in the first quarter, missing all six of their threes, plus turned the ball over four times just to make things a little worse. It’s not that the Lakers were exactly tearing it up, as a team they shot just 35.7 percent in the first quarter (Orlando is a good defensive squad), but Anthony Davis saved their bacon with seven points plus three assists (all for threes, so 16 points generated by him in the first).

The Lakers stretched that out to a 24-point lead in the second quarter before a combination of Orlando stepping up their play and the Lakers taking their foot off the gas a little led to an 18-3 Orlando run that cut the lead to 13 at the half. LeBron James had 16 points to lead the Lakers.

By the middle of the third, Orlando had made a game of it.