NEWS OF THE MORNING
No. 1: Report: NBPA wants to talk with Heat officials about Bosh — When the first round of the playoffs began, there was some talk about whether or not the Miami Heat would get All-Star big man Chris Bosh back in the lineup. Bosh hasn’t played since Feb. 9 after a blood clot seemed to end his season, but recent social media postings by both he and his wife, Adrienne, led fans and others to speculate that Bosh is ready to play. The Heat contend that Bosh is not ready to play while Bosh’s camp seems to think otherwise. That has led to Bosh asking the National Basketball Players Association to intervene in the situation:
The NBA players association has requested a meeting with the Miami Heat to try and resolve the situation with All-Star forward Chris Bosh, a source told ESPN’s Brian Windhorst.
The NBPA issued a statement Tuesday that said, “Our top priority is Chris’ health and well-being. We have spoken with Chris and his agent, and have reached out to the Miami Heat. We are hopeful that all parties involved can meet as soon as possible to resolve the situation.”
Bosh, who joined the Heat for their playoff game Tuesday night against the Toronto Raptors, asked for union help within the week, according to Windhorst.
Last week, Bosh and his wife appeared to break weeks of silence about his status with the Heat with social media posts that reaffirmed his desire to return to the court. But the Heat restated their position that there are no plans for Bosh to play.
Bosh’s wife, Adrienne, who is active on social media and in the Miami community, started a #BringBoshBack hashtag on Twitter and retweeted several tweets from media members about how the Heat missed Bosh during their first-round series with the Charlotte Hornets. Later, Bosh sent out a video on Snapchat of himself shooting in an empty AmericanAirlines Arena with the message, “Still got it.”
The coordinated effort followed two losses to the Hornets to even that series 2-2. Bosh was in Charlotte with the team but has avoided interviews for months.
Following the posts, the Heat repeated their position since February as team spokesman Tim Donovan told ESPN, “There is no update. He is still out indefinitely.”
The team has never officially given a reason for Bosh’s absence and coach Erik Spoelstra and president Pat Riley have not echoed Bosh’s position that he will play again this season.
No. 2: Masterful use of bench powers Warriors to 2-0 lead — Few teams in the NBA could throw the variety of lineups at opponents that the Golden State Warriors used throughout the 2015-16 season. During the season, 11 players played 10 minutes or more per game. In the playoffs, that rotation has shortened to 10 players, which may be surprising considering hobbled superstar Stephen Curry has played in two of Golden State’s seven playoff games. The Warriors went to their depth in Game 2 last night and it paid off in spades as they rallied to top the Blazers, writes Ann Killion of the San Francisco Chronicle:
Who was that leading the Warriors’ charge back in a thrilling come-from-behind win in Game 2?
Festus Ezeli. Of course.
The 110-99 win belonged to Ezeli, with a dose of Ian Clark and Leandro Barbosa. As well as the usual suspects: Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala. Harrison Barnes and Shaun Livingston.
In other words, a little bit of everyone from almost every single seat on the bench.
Part of this is by necessity. Part of it is by design.
The Stephen Curry-less Warriors fell behind Portland by 17 points. The Trail Blazers looked like mini- champions, draining threes, making crisp passes, playing smart team basketball. And for the first time since Curry went down with a knee injury, the Warriors looked discombobulated.
It wasn’t their night — until it was.
No. 3: Lowry hits gym after Game 1 loss — Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry was an All-Star once again this season. In the 2016 playoffs, he’s hardly played like one. After averaging 21.2 points, 4.7 rebounds, 6.4 assists and shooting 42.7 percent overall and 38.8 percent on 3-pointers in 2015-16, he’s hit a wall in the playoffs. In the postseason, he’s averaging 13.0 points, 4.1 rebounds, 7.4 assists while his shooting has plummeted to 30.6 percent overall and 16.0 percent on 3-pointers (he’s a dismal 8-for-50 on 3-pointers the playoffs). After last night’s Game 1 loss, Lowry went straight to the gym to work on his shot for hours in hopes of reversing his awful play, writes Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun:
Lowry, who shot 31% in seven games against the Indiana Pacers, shot just 3-for-13 in Game 1 of the East semi-finals against Miami, including 1-for-7 on three-pointers. His saving grace was a stunning 40-footer at the fourth quarter buzzer that sent the game to overtime. A memorable shot, for sure, but the only bright moment in the latest of a long line of dreadful shooting nights that left him once again searching for answers.
That quest took Lowry first to the team’s old practice court upstairs at the Air Canada Centre for about 30 minutes of extra work – the media was told he’d be a while and waited him out for his post-game availability.
Later, about 90 minutes following the conclusion of Miami’s victory, Lowry was back on the court, clad in shorts and a black sweatshirt, hoodie over his head.
After sinking most of his shots, Lowry eventually sat on the baseline by the stanchion to ponder for a while, then alternated a few shots with Raptors security chief John Altilia, before finally exiting the court in good spirits at 12:45 ET.
“It sucks that I’m playing this bad when all eyes are on me because I know I’m way better than this,” Lowry had said after the game.
“So I’ve got to pick this s— up.
“I passed up a lot of shots tonight. I passed up a lot, a ton of shots actually. I think that’s what (his shooting skid) did to me a little bit.”
No. 4: Rockets’ legend: ‘Harden looks out for Harden’ — In 13 NBA seasons, Robert Reid played with future Hall of Famers such as Moses Malone, Hakeem Olajuwon, Calvin Murphy and Charles Barkley. He knows a thing or two about what a go-to, team-first player looks like and as a former Houston Rockets star, has kept an eye on his old team. In an interview with KHOU 11 Sports, Reid had some biting criticism of the Rockets’ current star, James Harden, and his ability to lead the team:
“Harden is a tremendous player, but he’s not bringing it for the team,” Reid told KHOU 11 Sports on Monday. “I’m sorry, I’m just going to say it. Harden looks after Harden.”
Reid was asked about the direction the team should go and who they can put around Harden.
“The new coach that they bring in here is the one that’s going to have to say ‘I’m the one who gets fired if we don’t win, not you’,” Reid said. “Do you feel lucky? Because your happy-jack behind will be at the end of the bench until you come to this game that we want to play.”
Reid’s criticism of Harden relates to what he thought was a total disregard for an offensive game plan throughout the season.
“Monday through Wednesday, the team goes through their offensive plays. First option, second option … when we had the Twin Towers, here’s what we’re going to do,” Reid said. “But come game night (they) have one guy holding the ball and the others are like ‘Where are we going to have dinner at tonight?’ ”
The Rockets had problems all season finding consistency in almost every phase of the game. The players had multiple “team meetings” throughout the year to try to “get on the same page” but were never able to replicate the success they had in 2014-2015.
Interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff bore the brunt of having to turn the Rockets around after Kevin McHale was fired 11 games into the season. General manager Daryl Morey said last week that Bickerstaff will be considered for the head coaching vacancy.
Reid, for one, thinks the longtime assistant coach did the best he could with the cards he was dealt.
“I think the Rockets are going to find the right coach. Bickerstaff did a tremendous job, but he got caught in the middle,” Reid said. “If they let him talk and say who he’s looking for, then I think he’d do a good job. Then again, you could look at another coach that will just revamp.”
No. 5: Lin wants to stick with Hornets, too — In this very space yesterday, we brought you news that free-agent swingman Nicolas Batum is sounding pretty open to re-signing with the Charlotte Hornets come this summer. He’s not the only one interested in sticking around the Queen City, it appears. Teammate Jeremy Lin, who was an aggressive driver and foul-drawer in the playoffs, wants to stick with the Hornets if given his druthers, writes Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer:
Charlotte Hornets guard Jeremy Lin, who can opt out of next season on his contract, says he’d very much like to re-sign with the franchise this summer.
“I would love to,” Lin said Monday. “I don’t like moving every year, I don’t like packing and unpacking boxes. So we’ll see. But I’m definitely interested in coming back.”
Lin played for the New York Knicks, Houston Rockets and Los Angeles Lakers before signing with the Hornets in July. He played both point guard and shooting guard for the Hornets and found this season the most enjoyable of his career.
“This is the most fun I’ve had in my six years” in the NBA, Lin said. “Being around a great group of guys and a coaching staff that really cares. I’ve learned so much about the game of basketball, particularly at the defensive end.”
Lin indicated he plans to opt out of his contract, which would pay him about $2.2 million next season. Ideally he’d sign a longer-term deal with the Hornets, and Lin said money won’t be the overarching factor in where he signs.
“My biggest thing is I want to have fun and be happy,” he said. “I’ve been paid on the lower end and had a blast, and I’ve been paid on the higher end and not enjoyed it at all.
“Honestly, money has never been the most important thing. Money is important because it shows how a team values you. But beyond that I don’t care all that much about money. Me coming here (for slightly more than $2 million a season) showed that.”
Lin said he also appreciates coach Steve Clifford’s candor and honesty.
“He’s not one to sugar-coat or lie to you, which is why a lot of guys love playing for him,” Lin said.
“What he told me from the beginning is pretty much how it went. I felt like for me, some of the adjustment was playing in such different roles. But that wasn’t because of false expectations, it was just about guys getting hurt.”
SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: Portland Trail Blazers guard C.J. McCollum says the Golden State Warriors are setting illegal screens to get Klay Thompson open … That time Kobe Bryant crashed Disneyland … Kyle Lowry was out trying to fix his jumper after a Game 1 loss to the Miami Heat … Whoever the next coach of the New York Knicks is, Carmelo Anthony wants him to be someone who will hold players ‘accountable’ … Toronto Raptors rookie guard Delon Wright is putting his long-held Miami Heat love aside for a bit …