NEWS OF THE MORNING
No. 1: LeBron relishes opportunity to dazzle the royals — LeBron James, a self-anointed “King”playing before Britain’s Prince William and his wife, Duchess Kate Middleton tonight in Brooklyn has a certain royal ring to it, no? It does for Cleveland’s King. LeBron is looking forward to showing off for the high-profile visitors, yet another opportunity for the world’s best player to brandish his global brand. Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com has more:
“It’s an honor,” James said before the Cavs practiced in New York City on Sunday. “It’s a huge honor. The stuff that you read about, people like them are only in books growing up. And to hear that they’re coming to town to see me play and they want to see me do what I do best, it’s a huge honor.”
The royal couple will also meet with President Barack Obama on their U.S. tour. Count the president as another dignitary who has come to witness James play in person.
“Well I’ve had people from all across the board as far as stature, but the President of the United States, that was pretty huge,” James said. “To have those two, to say they were traveling here and one of the things that they wanted to do was see me play, it’s a pretty big deal in my household.”
James told reporters he has only seen Will and Kate “on television and the Internet and things, just like the rest of you,” and hopes to get a personal audience with the pair at Barclays Center.
“I would like to,” James said. “They are going to be at the game so hopefully I get the opportunity to interact with them a little bit. We’ll see what happens.”
Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving joked that he owns a DVD of the prince and duchess’ royal wedding from back in April, 2011.
“It will be great to see them in person,” Irving said. “I mean, for me, seeing celebrities in person is awesome. I don’t really know too much about them, but they’re celebrities in our world so I guess it’s great to see them.”
No. 2: Changes don’t fix what’s wrong with the Lakers — Change Lakers fans can believe in still hasn’t come. Byron Scott shook up his lineup, benching Carlos Boozer and Jeremy Lin for Sunday’s game against the New Orleans Pelicans, and got the same result as usual this season. Another loss for Kobe Bryant and the Lakers means that Scott is still searching for the right mix as time is quickly running out on any faint hope for this season in Los Angeles. Mike Bresnahan of The Los Angeles Times sheds some light on the dark times in LA:
Fans booed as the Lakers fell behind by 20 points going into the fourth quarter at Staples Center.
Kobe Bryant took nearly an hour before talking to reporters after the game. Boozer tried to one-up Bryant by not talking to reporters, period. Lin called the demotion “one of the toughest situations I’ve been in.”
Ladies and gentlemen, your 2014-15 Lakers.
“If you look at our record, you have to make changes,” Scott said. “I’m not going to stand back and just watch it continue to be played this way. To me it was a no-brainer.”
Ed Davis had 12 points in place of Boozer and Ronnie Price had three points and three assists in Lin’s spot.
Bryant spoke matter-of-factly, not angrily, when he finally emerged to talk to reporters.
“Not everything is going to be great, champagne, celebrations and winning championships,” he said after scoring 14 points. “You’ve got to go through some hard stuff too. If this was the Titanic, I’d go down with that. … I’m not jumping off.”
This is all too familiar for Lin, demoted last season in Houston after being outplayed by Patrick Beverley. Boozer also had his time shortened in Chicago, benched in the second and fourth quarters toward the end of last season in favor of Taj Gibson.
No. 3: Reality bites the Heat after fourth straight loss — All of those conversations about the Miami Heat and their place in history that were had over the past four seasons seems like a lifetime ago these days. The Heat, losers of four straight games after falling to the Memphis Grizzlies Sunday, are feeling reality’s bite right now. They are no longer the juggernaut they were with Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh headlining the show. It’s a different world for the Heat, as Joseph Goodman of the Miami Herald explains:
Chris Bosh slammed the ball against his head in a display of exasperation.
Dwyane Wade just walked off the court laughing and shaking his head.
Even when the Heat did everything right defensively, the Memphis Grizzlies still scored and scored and scored on Sunday at FedEx Forum in their 103-87 victory, but Courtney Lee’s desperation three-pointer from 30 feet seemed especially cruel.
Both Mario Chalmers and Josh McRoberts had their hands on the ball, but neither player could come away with the steal. Instead, the loose ball found Lee, who heaved a prayer toward the rim. It swished the net, of course, because everything goes down against this Heat defense these days.
The Grizzlies shot better than 60 percent until the final two minutes of the game, settling for 58.9 percent from the field. It was the highest shooting percentage of the season for Memphis (16-4), and the high-water mark came on a night star center Marc Gasol was 1 of 6 from the field for two points.
“They didn’t even hurt us in our normal game,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “That’s what’s disappointing. It was all the miscellaneous actions.”
The Heat (9-11) has lost five of its past six games, including four in a row, and in each of those losses opponents shot at least 54 percent from the field.
“It’s open season,” said Bosh, who had 12 points and two rebounds. “Until we take more pride in that as a unit, it’s just not going to happen. We’ve got to individually guard the ball with passion, and everything else with follow.”
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