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Back in Miami: Now a coach, Mike Miller reflects on Heat era

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MIAMI (AP) — The memories will be impossible for Mike Miller to ignore on Saturday.

He’ll be back inside AmericanAirlines Arena, where he helped the Miami Heat win the 2012 and 2013 NBA championships. He’ll see the banners and recall his best moments – the one-shoed 3-pointer against San Antonio as part of Miami’s Game 6 comeback in the 2013 NBA Finals, the seven 3s against Oklahoma City in the 2012 title clincher, the way he got mobbed when he returned as a visitor to get his second ring.

Then he’ll get to work.

Miller is an assistant coach on Penny Hardaway’s staff at Memphis now, and the Tigers (3-3) will take on No. 20 Texas Tech (6-0) as part of the four-game lineup at the HoopHall Miami Invitational. And Miller plans to show off many of the championship reminders scattered around his former home arena to Memphis’ players, hoping they might serve as inspiration.

“What we’re trying to do with this team is we’re trying to get these kids to understand sacrifice and all the things we had to go through,” Miller said. “The crazy thing is a lot of the stuff that I learned about building culture and sacrifice came through the Miami organization, came through my days in Miami. With kids, you have to show them, you can’t just tell them.”

Miller spent three seasons in Miami, helping the Heat reach the NBA Finals in each of those years as he played alongside LeBron James, Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade and his University of Florida teammate Udonis Haslem. He lasted in the NBA for 17 seasons and is still the only player to win both Rookie of the Year and Sixth Man of the Year.

Now he’s teaching the game on a staff with Hardaway – whose last NBA game was in 2007, when he played for Miami. Hardaway appeared in 16 games with the Heat, so Saturday will be a homecoming of sorts for him as well.

“My parents always taught me growing up, once you get there you help the next kid up,” Miller said. “All these kids are trying to do what we’ve done. The mistakes I’ve made, the good decisions I’ve made, the sacrifices I’ve made, all these things that these kids are trying to do or about to do, I’ve done and I’m trying to keep them on the right path.”

Miller was a fan favorite in Miami, particularly for how he played through an absurd amount of injuries.

His back was almost always balky, to the point where he fully expected that the title-clincher against Oklahoma City in 2012 – the one where he made his first seven 3-point tries – would be his last game before retirement. He snapped one of his thumbs in practice when it got tangled in James’ jersey. He had a bad wrist, bad knees, pulled muscles on more than one occasion while actually making a 3-pointer.

“I’ll probably pull a hamstring standing up Saturday,” Miller said.

Truth is, he’s healthy and he’s happy, and the Heat aren’t surprised to see him going down the coaching path. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra shared some old playbooks with him this summer. He thinks Miller could coach in the NBA if he desired.

“He has a great mind for the game and he’s always been extremely passionate about the inner workings and details beneath the game,” Spoelstra said. “I always thought he was a student of the game and definitely saw him as somebody who would be involved in the front office or coaching when his career was done.”

The HoopHall event has three other games: St. John’s (6-0) vs. Georgia Tech (4-2); N.C. State (6-1) vs. Vanderbilt (5-1); and Yale (2-2) vs. Miami (5-2).

Devin Booker tries to meet Gorgui Dieng in locker room after both get ejected (VIDEO)

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NBA players like to talk a big game about getting into fights with one another. It rarely actually happens, and when things get a little too heated sometimes we get a little extracurricular activity that helps us weave the tapestry that is the story of the NBA.

As the Minnesota Timberwolves took on the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday night, Gorgui Dieng and Devin Booker decided to have a little chat with one another. The two got into a jawing match after a play in the third quarter when Dieng elbowed Booker in the face.

Booker took exception to that and decided to start flapping his gums at Dieng. Both were ejected after official review, and as they exited to opposite sides of the floor, Booker appeared to make eye contact with Dieng and accept an offer to meet him in the concourse under the stands that lead to the locker rooms.

The Suns guard then had to be restrained from running at full speed to meet Dieng.

Via Twitter:

Devin Booker vs. Gorgui Dieng is the bitter rivalry you didn’t know you needed.

Report: Anthony Davis fears fractured finger, could be out up to a month

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New Orleans Pelicans star Anthony Davis hurt his hand against the Portland Trail Blazers earlier last week. Initial reports had Davis missing 1-2 weeks with a sprained finger.

Now it appears things could be much worse.

Reports surfaced on Tuesday night that Davis could be facing a potential fracture in his left index finger. If that’s the case, Davis could miss anywhere from 2-4 weeks with a more serious injury.

Via Twitter:

The Pelicans cannot afford to have Davis out for that amount of time. The team has not met expectations this season, and are struggling to stay in playoff contention as we near the All-Star break.

If Davis is going to miss significant time, now is probably the best place in the NBA calendar. The real problem is that the Pelicans won’t be able to stay afloat without him. Even with Davis on the floor, New Orleans has struggled to win recent games against top Western Conference opponents like the Blazers and Golden State Warriors.

It’s probably too much to extrapolate this into what this could mean for Davis staying with the Pelicans, but it’s natural to wonder whether a missed postseason could push Davis to ask for a trade out of Louisiana.

If he’s not on the floor, the Pelicans probably aren’t winning games without Davis. That could spell disaster for their playoff hopes, and in turn, alter the future of the franchise.

Kevin Durant challenged Draymond Green to better control his emotions

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Golden State Warriors star Draymond Green has often let his emotions get the better of him. Green famously missed Game 5 of the NBA finals in 2016 after he repeatedly kicked LeBron James in the crotch.

Meanwhile, things have been heated in the Golden State locker room like never before. It’s bubbled over to the public sphere, with Kevin Durant and Green seemingly at odds at different times during this year.

Things seem to have studied in the meantime, particularly after Stephen Curry returned to the lineup At the beginning of December. But Durant and Green are still trying to find a way to work together to win another championship in the Bay Area.

According to a story from The Athletic, that meant a challenge from Durant to Green to maintain his emotions and to keep himself in check.

Via The Athletic:

Durant told Green he wasn’t accepting the emotional excuse. Green’s fire is what makes him great even if it also makes him volatile. But Durant wasn’t buying that it’s uncontrollable. He’s seen Green control it. He’s seen him keep his composure in the crucible of championship stakes. He’s seen him locked in and focused, forcing his emotions to submit to his will.

So Durant challenged him to be better. Green accepted.

Green has had a down year and it’s not clear Why that is. Is he simply aging? Or is this more due to the internal strife in the Warriors locker room?

No matter what, Golden State will need a semblance of the old Draymond Green to win NBA title this year. This agreeent between the two stars should be helpful both in healing their wounds and moving toward their shared goal.

These guys might not ever fully reconcile, but another championship ring could act as a salve.

Paul George joined Knicks fans in cheering for Raymond Felton (VIDEO)

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There’s not much to cheer about at Madison Square Garden these days. Kristaps Porzingis is still not playing for the New York Knicks, and it’s not clear whether the team will land a big free agent like Kevin Durant this summer or strike out and continue their run of dismal play.

As such, it makes sense that New York fans are trying to keep themselves entertained, and that includes during Knicks games.

When the Oklahoma City Thunder came to town on Monday night, fans in Manhattan found themselves cheering for a former Knicks player on the Thunder bench. With the game out of reach, it only seemed appropriate.

In the fourth quarter, MSG started a chant for Raymond Felton, who played for the Knicks for three seasons over two stays. As cheers rained down from the stands, even Paul George got involved in the action.

Via Twitter:

George scored 31 points as the Thunder rolled New York, 127-109.