LeBron James leads Heat’s charge past Bobcats

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LeBron James made two free throws with seconds remaining in the second quarter, and for all intents and purposes, it seemed time for halftime. The Heat, after going back and forth with the Bobcats, had developed a small lead, and LeBron’s charity shots would have ended the half on a high note.

But LeBron wasn’t done.

He stole a pass, drew a foul on a 3-pointer and then made all three free throws.

LeBron scored five points in the final 3.3 seconds of the first half, sending Miami to a 98-85 win over Charlotte in Game 3 Saturday. The Heat are now within one game of their first series sweep of a team with a winning record in the Big Three era.

Consider LeBron turned up.

He finished with 30 points, 10 rebounds and six assists. Even between his second set of half-ending free throws, he was shouting instructions for his teammates for the final 0.2 seconds.

For the most part, his teammates did only an OK job of keeping up with his demands.

The Heat ended the first half on a 16-4 run, the final nine points coming from LeBron, and they made the first two shots of the second half to push their lead to 16 points. Miami led comfortably from there.

But only Dwyane Wade (17 points on 16 shots with six assists) scored double figures – not that anyone else needed to step up in this one.

In the Bobcats’ first home playoff game in four years and just the third in franchise history, Charlotte started with plenty of energy. Al Jefferson (20 points on 13 shots) and Chris Douglas-Roberts (17 points on eight shots) had their moments, but beyond a couple early bursts, the Bobcats couldn’t sustain any momentum. They didn’t make a shot in the in the first half of the third quarter as Miami pulled away.

This was probably Charlotte’s last stand. No NBA team has ever overcome a 3-0 deficit.

The Heat’s run is just beginning, and LeBron seems intent on inspiring the Heat to ready for it.

Geeking out on NBA prospects: R.J. Barrett almost dunks from free throw line, Zion Williamson does

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Duke is stacked this coming season. STACKED. They should have three lottery picks in next year’s draft. (Does that mean they are the team to beat in the NCAA? That’s not the way basketball works. But that’s another discussion.)

Duke is in Toronto for a series of preseason exhibition games, and at the end of the workout likely No. 1 pick next June, R.J. Barrett tried to show off by almost dunking from the free throw line.

Then freak of nature Zion Williamson showed him how it’s done.

That’s worth more looks.

Damn Zion is a freak of nature. Can we just put him in the next dunk contest now?

Nancy Lieberman says more women need to follow coaching footsteps in NBA

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Whenever we discuss women assistant coaches in the NBA, the topic is usually Becky Hammon getting job interviews or being moved to the front row of seats in San Antonio. Occasionally it’s a discussion of Nancy Lieberman’s job in Sacramento — or the fact she is now a head coach in Ice Cube’s Big3 — or Jenny Boucek in Dallas.

However, when Lieberman discussed women coaches on the CBS Sports Network, she was asking a bigger question:

Who steps up next?

She has discussed the NBA version of the “Rooney Rule” before. Currently, it’s not anywhere near becoming a reality, whatever you think of the idea.

However, there needs to be real opportunities for women to get a foot in the NBA door, and more of them. Including at the entry level. There are qualified women out there, but it can be tough to crack the “old boy’s network” of the NBA coaching carousel — head coach and assistant. It exists in part because head coaches (and GMs) usually hire people they trust and worked with before, and right now those are men. Give women a chance at those entry-level positions and the dynamic starts to change.

Lieberman has been a groundbreaker her entire career. She and others are doing in the NBA again, but she’s right, the big win is changing the dynamic for the next generation. And the one after that.

In no-brainer move, Nets reportedly guarantee Spencer Dinwiddie’s $1.65 million contract

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Spencer Dinwiddie has worked hard at his game — I remember seeing him struggle some at his first Summer League and someone I trust telling me “watch this guy, he’s got the drive, he will make it” — and he is now a solid rotation NBA point guard that Brooklyn coach Kenny Atkinson can trust. He averaged 12.6 points per game last season with an above-average PER of 15.9.

He’s also on a steal of a current contract, so it makes sense the Nets are picking that up (it technically didn’t have to be guaranteed until Halloween). Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN had the report.

https://mobile.twitter.com/wojespn/status/1029496077320257536

Next summer, Dinwiddie is a free agent. While he’s not going to break the bank, he’s a young, solid backup point guard that a lot of teams could use and he’s going to get a nice pay raise.

Carmelo Anthony on his role with Rockets: “Let’s just let it play out”

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From the moment it became clear Carmelo Anthony was going to join the Rockets — which was a long time before he actually signed the contract on Monday — the questions started:

Would he accept a reduced role with the Rockets? Maybe come off the bench? Be Olympic ‘Melo and blend in with the team?

Coach Mike D’Antoni said he spoke with Anthony and said the player is open to coming off the bench, but he’s not sure what ‘Melo’s role will be. When ambushed by TMZ trying to walk to his car, Anthony said basically the same thing.

“Let’s just let it play out, though. I don’t even know what’s going on. I just signed, let it start first.”

Anthony coming off the bench, being the fulcrum of the offense when James Harden and Chris Paul are on the bench makes some sense (CP3 and Harden are better and more efficient shot creators than Anthony at this point). It’s a chance for Anthony to get his touches and help the other two rest. However, the idea of Anthony starting the first and third quarters and getting heavy touches then but sitting more later is not out of the question.

At the end of close games, D’Antoni is more likely to lean on James Ennis — a long, switchable defender who can shoot threes in the Trevor Ariza mold — than Anthony. It will be just a better fit. Will Anthony roll with that? Will it cause problems in the locker room?

Let’s just let it play out.