Associated Press

Knicks end streak of 8 straight losses to Heat, 98-90

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MIAMI (AP) — The New York Knicks have already surpassed their win total for all of last season, and the latest victory was especially sweet.

Carmelo Anthony scored 25 points and the Knicks shot 56 percent to snap a streak of eight consecutive losses to the Miami Heat, beating their rivals 98-90 Wednesday night.

Robin Lopez added a season-high 19 points for the Knicks, who won their third game in a row, and their second on the road in as many nights.

The Knicks (18-19) are way ahead of their pace a year ago, when they had the worst record in the Eastern Conference (17-65).

“We’re still trying to find our identity,” Anthony said. “These past three games we’ve shown something. And it wasn’t just me.”

Coach Derek Fisher liked what he saw.

“We were intense, but there was a relaxed look, as if we were in control of what we wanted to do,” Fisher said. “It takes a while to develop that, and it’s hard to keep that.”

Playing a team ranked second in the NBA in scoring defense, the Knicks found plenty of open shots – and made them. New York’s shooting percentage was the best by any team this season against the Heat, who came into the game allowing opponents to hit only 43 percent.

“They didn’t have an explosive offensive night,” Miami’s Dwyane Wade said. “It was just very efficient.”

By contrast, the Heat shot 45 percent and went 2 for 17 from 3-point range. They were in danger of being blanked from beyond the arc for the first time in nearly four years until Chris Bosh hit a 3 with 3:22 left.

Bosh scored 28 points for the Southeast Division leaders, who fell to 11-12 against the Eastern Conference. Wade scored 18.

Hassan Whiteside, back in the starting lineup after missing one game with a sore right knee, had eight points and eight rebounds but was a minus-18.

“My knee was bothering me, but I still went out there and rebounded,” he said.

Anthony shot 9 for 12 and was a plus-19. In his first two games against Miami this season, Anthony shot 10 for 29 and totaled 32 points.

Derrick Williams led New York’s productive bench with 13 points and eight rebounds in 18 minutes.

“When we play the way we should be playing, we can beat any team that’s out there,” Anthony said. “We’re showing these past couple of games. We just have to keep that.”

The Heat won their first two games against the Knicks this season by 17 and 19 points, but New York led for the entire second half, and the margin reached 15 points midway through the fourth quarter.

“You’ve played a team twice already, the third time they figure it out a little bit,” Wade said.

STREAK ENDS:

For the fourth time in as many tries this season, the Heat lost when attempting to extend a three-game winning streak. All of the streak-ending defeats have been by at least eight points.

“We’ll just have to try to do it again,” Wade said.

 

TIP-INS:

Heat: F Josh McRoberts missed his 15th consecutive game he has missed with a bruised right knee. … The Heat play 11 of their next 12 – and 14 of their next 16 -on the road. Starting Thursday night, they’re expected to spend 20 nights in hotels in a 22-night span, and 24 nights in a 29-night span.

“This is going to be our biggest challenge of the season,” Wade said.

Knicks: New York had lost 13 of its past 16 games in Miami.

Report: Cavaliers players played songs like ‘Thuggish Ruggish Bone’ around John Beilein

Cavaliers coach John Beilein
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While coaching the Cavaliers, John Beilein called his players “thugs.” He said it was a simple case of mispronouncing the word “slugs” while speaking too quickly.

Of the six Cleveland players who publicly addressed the issue the following day, only Tristan Thompson didn’t offer clear support of his coach. The Cavs kept Beilein.

But with Beilein resigning, a fuller picture is emerging.

Shams Charania, Jason Lloyd and Joe Vardon of The Athletic:

a number of the players never really embraced his explanation. In fact, some of them thought it was an insult to their intelligence, one player told The Athletic.

“There was no coming back from that,” he said.

Instead, multiple players began playing songs that included the word “thug” whenever Beilein was within earshot, sources said: Bone Thugz-n-Harmony’s “Thuggish Ruggish Bone” and Tupac’s “Thugz Mansion” among them. As the team boarded the bus a few days after the incident, one player was intentionally playing Trick Daddy’s “I’m a Thug” with Beilein a few feet away. Other players blasted songs with the word “thug” loudly during workouts in the facility. Players did this to make light of a very tough situation, according to one team source.

“The worst part to me was not owning that he said it,” one player told The Athletic.

If they didn’t sing the lyrics as:

  • “It’s the Sluggish Ruggish Bone”
  • “So right before I sleep, dear God, what I’m askin’ / Remember this face, save me a place, in slug’s mansion”
  • “Baby, ‘cause I’m a slug”

…they did it wrong.

For what it’s worth, Beilein did own that he said “thugs.” He just claimed he meant to say “slugs.”

Want to question which word he intended to use? Suspicious about what in his mind led “thugs” to come out even if he meant to say “slugs”? That’s totally fair.

But either “slugs” or “thugs” was entirely plausible in that context. Nobody outside Beilein can know what he was thinking.

Cavaliers players just didn’t want to give benefit of the doubt to a coach they already loathed. I wouldn’t be surprised if some within the organization showed faux outrage about thugs-slugs just because they wanted Beilein gone.

The NBA has levels of pettiness Beilein never experienced in college. It can be jarring, and Beilein seemingly never got comfortable at this level. Put another way:

Slug passion got you tremblin’ like Death on the Row

Rumor: The Cavaliers might try to flip Andre Drummond in trade at draft, or in July

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When J.B. Bickerstaff takes over as the new coach in Cleveland today, he will inherit a big, slow frontcourt of Kevin Love and Andre Drummond that will make a combined $60 million next season.

Will he still have that frontcourt when training camp opens next fall?

We know the Cavaliers tried to trade Love at the deadline but the remaining three years, $91 million on his contract after this season made that difficult. Instead, Cleveland surprised the league when it added Drummond at the trade deadline.

Now comes a rumor from Greg Swartz at Bleacher Report where an anonymous former GM says he thinks once Drummond picks up the $28.8 million option on his contract — something expected around the league — the Cavs will try to trade him, too.

“I don’t think [Drummond and the Cavs] will last long,” one former NBA general manager said. “I could see them trading him to a team this summer if he agrees to pick up his option. They could also do a sign-and-trade if he agrees to a new long-term deal. I don’t think he’ll be in Cleveland for long.”

For the record, the Cavaliers deny that is the case. GM Koby Altman said as much.

“Absolutely, we consider him a potential long-term play,” Altman said. “Obviously, he has a player option that if he picks up, we think we’re in good shape in terms of our cap space. There’s no better money spent than on Andre Drummond if he picks up his option.”

There could be interest in Drummond as an expiring contract next season because teams are trying to clear up cap space for a deep summer of 2021 free agent class (particularly if Giannis Antetokounmpo does not sign the $254 million supermax contract the Bucks will offer this summer). There may be teams interested in the 26-year-old Drummond longer term — he is averaging 17.7 points and 15.8 rebounds a game as a traditional big — just not at anywhere near his current salary.

Expect a lot of Cavaliers trade rumors around the draft and into July as they try to add talent. Don’t be surprised if Drummond is in some of those rumors; the Cavaliers should explore everything.

Also, don’t be surprised if Love and Drummond are the starting 4/5 for the Cavaliers when the season tips off next October.

 

Counter-report: John Beilein will receive some of remaining salary from Cavaliers

Cavaliers coach John Beilein
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Initial reporting suggested John Beilein will walk away from the rest of his contract with the Cavaliers.

But apparently he’ll get a payout.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Beilein and the Cavaliers negotiated a financial settlement that will pay him a portion of the remaining money on his 2019-20 contract, league sources said. He left the University of Michigan and signed a five-year contract with Cleveland that included a team option for the final season, a deal that paid him more than $4 million a season, league sources said.

That doesn’t sound like a substantial settlement (relatively).

But Beilein had some leverage. Because he did so poorly, it seemed the Cavs might just fire him at the end of the season. While it appears to be his choice to walk away now, everyone seemed ready to move on soon enough.

There could have been more of a fired-or-quit standoff. But Beilein was so done, he left a lot of money on the table. That’s still the story, even if he’ll walk away with some.

Kevin Durant not close to return, but his jumper still looks wet

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Kevin Durant will not play an NBA game this season.

His jumper, however, looks to be in midseason form. Following All-Star Weekend, a video surfaced on Instagram of Durant working out at UCLA, and his shot remains a thing of beauty. His pull-up works, too.

There’s some debate around the league about just how good 31-year-old Durant will be when he returns.

When he left he was the best player on the planet, an unstoppable scorer who could defend LeBron James in the clutch of a game, KD was a two-time defending Finals MVP at the peak of his game. Suffering a torn Achilles means he’s not going to have the same level of explosiveness, but when you’re pushing 7-foot tall (in shoes), have a high release over your head, can hit from anywhere, and have a deadly fade away, does it matter if you lose half-a-step?

With Kyrie Irving possibly done for the season in Brooklyn, these videos provide a little hope to Nets fans. Get this roster healthy next season and they can hang with anyone in the East.