Associated Press

Miami’s James Johnson put Kyrie Irving in his poster (VIDEO)

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Let’s give Kyrie Irving some credit here: He tried to slide over and make the play. Plenty of other players — elite NBA players — would have made the business decision not to get in the way of this one.

Irving did. It just didn’t end well when Miami’s James Johnson attacked the rim.

That’s not to say some Celtics didn’t block a Johnson shot on the night.

And that was not the best Boston blocked shot of the night.

Miami was in control of this one in the fourth quarter.

Kawhi Leonard scores 30, Danny Green hits game-winning three, Raptors beat Heat

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MIAMI (AP) — Kawhi Leonard scored 30 points, Danny Green‘s 3-pointer with 22.7 seconds left put Toronto ahead for good and the Raptors improved the NBA’s best record to 26-10 by topping the Miami Heat 106-104 on Wednesday night.

Green had 18 points and once again hit a key shot late for the Raptors.

Fred VanVleet added 16 for the Raptors, who survived a wild fourth quarter that saw 12 lead changes and four ties. Miami had three shots on the game’s final possession, with Dwyane Wade and Justise Winslow missing 3s and Wade having a chance at a tip-in that wouldn’t fall.

Winslow scored 21 points for Miami, which saw its five-game winning streak snapped. Josh Richardson scored 17 and Hassan Whiteside scored 16 for Miami, which was 6 for 12 from the foul line – while Toronto was 19 for 23.

James Johnson and Tyler Johnson each scored 12 for the Heat, while Wade had 10. Pascal Siakam added 10 for the Raptors.

Winslow’s layup with 35.2 seconds left put Miami up by one, and on the next Toronto possession Green found himself wide-open in the right corner – nearly the identical spot from where Ray Allen hit a 3-pointer to deny Green and Leonard the 2013 NBA title when they were with San Antonio.

Green connected, the Raptors got the game’s last stop and escaped to move to 7-0 against the Southeast Division this season.

Miami led 58-44 at the half and extended the lead to 17 early in the third quarter, before Toronto went to a zone – the defense that the Heat have been using so well of late – and the game changed. VanVleet made three 3s and had 11 points while Leonard added 10 in what became a 31-12 run over the last 8:10 of the quarter by the Raptors, and they took an 81-79 lead into the fourth.

Winslow made a wild layup for a 99-93 lead that came after an 8-0 Miami run – and the Raptors needed about a minute to respond with a lead-taking 8-0 run of their own. VanVleet connected on a 3, Siakam added a three-point play and Leonard drew a blocking call against Winslow that the Heat didn’t like with 1:19 left that he turned into a pair of free throws and a 101-99 Toronto edge.

Dwyane Wade, Udonis Haslem get big cheers at Heat end-of-camp scrimmage

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BOCA RATON, Fla. (AP) — Dwyane Wade‘s first touch of the game was a lob to set up a dunk. His first shot was a corner 3-pointer. And his first trip into the lane resulted in getting his shot swatted away.

All three of those plays left him smiling.

Wade’s 16th and final season – his “last dance,” as he calls it – got off to an unofficial start Saturday, when the Miami Heat broke training camp at Florida Atlantic University with their annual scrimmage. His stats, as if they even mattered: eight points on 2 for 7 shooting, with three assists and a steal in 23 minutes.

“It was cool,” Wade said. “We’ve been working hard in practice, obviously. But to be out here today in front of some fans, getting to play in a different energy, you could see it in everybody. Guys were moving quicker. Guys were into it.”

Wade got the big cheer at the start, and his fellow 16-year veteran got the biggest cheer at the end: The final play of the scrimmage was Udonis Haslem hitting a game-winning jumper, one that gave his team a 15-13 win in the final 10-minute period.

“It’s always fun, man,” Haslem said after the final shot, a play drawn up by Justise Winslow in a time-out with about 3 seconds remaining. “It’s always enjoyable to win a game. I still take it seriously. I still play the game at a certain level and compete, so when you have an opportunity you want to make good.”

The “Red, White and Pink Game” is an annual Heat tribute to breast cancer survivors, two of whom were honored at Saturday’s game. Jeanine Werner is a fifth-grade teacher and a two-year survivor, and Michelle Rohloff is a former teacher and a three-year survivor – both having beaten triple negative breast cancer.

“It’s very close to us,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “We want all the survivors to know we’re right there with them on this fight and we’re going to continue to do more each year.”

There was a serious cause, even if the game wasn’t exactly played with playoff intensity.

There were plenty of moments of real up-and-down play and blowing off steam, with a four-minute span of Winslow’s third quarter perhaps the best illustration of both. He and Bam Adebayo took part in a midcourt dance-off during a time-out, and not long afterward Winslow got called for a technical after throwing the ball at a basket stanchion.

Scores were reset after every quarter, and players bounced between teams. Derrick Jones Jr. led all scorers with 21 points, Adebayo finished with 17 and Duncan Robinson scored 16.

“It’s great to be back,” Wade said.

The game ended five days of work by the Heat at FAU. Wayne Ellington didn’t play because of ankle soreness, Josh Richardson departed mid-game with what was described as a left thigh contusion. Dion Waiters (ankle) and James Johnson (sports hernia) remain sidelined to continue rehabbing injuries from last season.

Miami opens its preseason Sunday at San Antonio.

Miami reportedly not interested in Ryan Anderson trade with Houston

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The rumor had been out there for a few days, the Houston Rockets would be interested in trading Ryan Anderson — a contract and player they have tried to move for more than a year now — to the Miami Heat for Tyler Johnson or James Johnson. Rockets’ fans liked that idea, for good reason.

The Heat… not so much. From Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald.

Regarding rumors about a Heat trade involving Houston forward Ryan Anderson, that’s not something that interests Miami at this time, according to a league source.

Both USA Today and ESPN have floated the idea of Houston trading Anderson and a draft pick to Miami for Tyler Johnson or James Johnson. But while that would appear to interest the Rockets, it’s not something the Heat has found appealing.

Acquiring Anderson would increase Miami’s luxury tax bill, because Tyler Johnson is making $19.2 million each of the next two years compared with $20.4 million and $21.3 million for Anderson. James Johnson is due to make $14.4 million, $15.1 million and $15.8 million the next three seasons, but the Heat values his skill set.

This is often how rumors get more momentum among fans than they have traction with teams. The USA Today’s Sam Amick is incredibly well connected and doesn’t publish things frivolously, and this was clearly something that the Rockets kicked around. As they should. However, to make a trade work both sides need to feel they are winning it, and it’s hard to make a good case the Heat thought they were going to be in a better position after this trade. So it dies. As do 98 percent of trade talks between teams.

It takes two sides in getting something they want (or, in some cases, can live with) to make a trade actually work. Which is why they are hard to pull off.

 

 

Where will Carmelo Anthony play next? Bet on banana boat buddies.

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When you wonder where Carmelo Anthony is going to play next, you need to think back to his buddies on the banana boat.

As had been expected, Anthony and the Oklahoma City Thunder are working toward a parting of the ways — via trade, buyout, stretch or some combination of all of it. This was the right move for both sides: the Thunder will save $80 million to $100 million in luxury tax (depending on how a deal is put together); ‘Melo doesn’t want to play a shrinking role in Oklahoma City, and that’s all that would be available to him.

Once this all gets worked out, where will Anthony sign next? On a veteran minimum deal (most likely, maybe a small exception) he can fit financially on any elite team in the league. Let’s break down the contenders, and it all starts with the teams who have his banana boat buddies.

• The Houston Rockets (and banana boater Chris Paul). We know the Rockets like Anthony, they worked very hard to get him last summer before a trade with the Knicks just fell apart (because someone in New York sobered up and thought “we don’t want Ryan Anderson and that contract”).

We also know there’s a natural fit in the roster because Trevor Ariza bolted to take Phoenix’s cash. Anthony can space the floor as a shooter, he hit 35.7 percent from three last season and was solid on spot-up jumpers. The Rockets are an isolation heavy team, and isolations/post-ups accounted for 32.5 percent of Anthony’s possessions last season. And he can still get buckets at a fair rate that way.

The problems are Anthony is not a three anymore — he played either no minutes or just 250 there last season for OKC (depending on how your ranked him with certain lineups), he was always a four — and he is a defensive liability, he can be targeted on the switches that are the heart of the Rockets’ defensive strategy (Anthony did better on switches statistically than you would think during the regular season, he wasn’t bad, but in the playoffs the Jazz targeted him and played Anthony off the court.

• The Los Angeles Lakers (and banana boater LeBron James). The Lakers are trying to amass some veterans and playmakers/scorers to go around their young core and LeBron so they can win games this season, yet remain flexible going forward. Anthony could fit in with that, plus the Lakers’ roster is nearly devoid of shooting and Anthony can still do that.

The challenge with the Lakers is fit. The Lakers don’t want to take the ball out of the hands of LeBron or Brandon Ingram or Kyle Kuzma, and those are the guys who will split time at the forward slots for L.A. next season. Put simply, the Lakers would be slowing the development of their best young talent if they bring in and lean on Carmelo, and that is just not smart. Still, never say never to this as a one-year experiment.

• Miami Heat (and banana boater Dwyane Wade). This actually makes some sense on the court, Anthony could step in and fill the shooting big role that Kelly Olynyk filled for the Heat last season. During the regular season the Heat can hide Anthony defensively thanks to the versatility of James Johnson, Josh Richardson, and Justise Winslow.

Miami’s medical staff and conditioning focus have extended the career of many a player, that could be good for the 34-year-old Anthony. But Erik Spoelstra and staff will want to keep Anthony in a specific role and will be blunt with him about it. Is that what Anthony wants to sign up for?

• The Golden State Warriors. If Anthony really wants to ring chase, he can lob them a call. However, talk about a team that wants to play fast, move the ball, defend hard, and put Anthony into a very small role, this would be the pinnacle of that. Golden State can play Kevin Durant, Draymond Green, and Jordan Bell key minutes at the four, Anthony would be a luxury. After what Anthony said following the playoffs last season when the Thunder shrunk his role during the playoffs (he didn’t like it one bit) it’s hard to imagine he signs up for this.

• Other teams may jump into the mix. The question Anthony needs to ask himself is what he wants most? Touches and a big role? A title? Those two things are not coming in one package, so where is that line? Only Anthony can answer that question.