Posts Tagged ‘James Jones’

Rosen’s Report: Bulls at Heat



With the ancient Celtics having recently exposed the Magic’s lack of heart — not once but twice! — the Bulls and the Heat are currently the only viable contenders to rule the Eastern Conference.  Sunday’s game in Miami provides a wonderful opportunity for Chicago to chill the Heat’s championship pretensions.

Meanwhile, the home standing Heat have the opportunity to prevent the Bulls from even dreaming that they can compete on equal terms with the holdover conference champs.  Again, in this compacted and bizarre season, every game has an enhanced and disproportional importance.

HOW THE BULLS CAN WIN: Derrick Rose has become the most potent point guard in the NBA.  Although his unselfishness and considerable ball-time result in his being one of the league’s leading assist-makers, Rose is really the Bulls’ go-to scorer.   That’s because his shooting stroke has greatly improved, he’s nearly as strong as a power-forward, and his quickness and speed are otherworldly.  Indeed, where other players are celebrated for the quickness of their first-step, Rose accelerates as he approaches the rim — making his second- and third-steps incredibly unique.  Also, players necessarily lose a half-beat when they resort to some kind of crossover dribble, but Rose’s changes-of-direction likewise amp up his quickness.  And with Dwayne Wade not at 100 percent, none of Miami’s backcourtsmen can contain Rose.

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Rosen’s Report: Lakers at Heat

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Kobe Bryant is aching to show that he, and not LeBron James, is the game’s most dominant player in tonight’s game in Miami (8 ET, TNT). And that he can lead the Lakers to another championship without being somewhat overshadowed by Phil Jackson and the triangle offense.

Meanwhile, LeBron wants to prove that he is indeed capable of excelling in clutch situations in big-time games.  If this does come to pass (and shoot, and defend), then Miami can stake its  claim as overwhelming favorites to win the last game of the season. And with Dwyane Wade unavailable, LBJ will enjoy twice as much ball-time as will Kobe.

HOW THE LAKERS CAN WIN: Matt Barnes provides scrappy, ball-sniping defense against LeBron.  As a change of pace, Metta World Peace can defend LBJ with a belligerent physicality.  Throw in some judicious double-teams, and James just might be a mite discombobulated.

* Pau Gasol’s long-armed defense will trouble Chris Bosh.  When Bosh receives the ball on the right side of  the court, his jumper is significantly more accurate and, from there, he also looks to drive right along the baseline.  This is when and where he should be two-timed.  No such measures need to taken when he sets up on the left side of the court.  Also, Gasol can outreach Bosh’s defense in the low-post.

* Since Joel Anthony is no threat to score, Andrew Bynum can ignore him on the defensive end and devote himself to protecting the rim.  On the downhill end of the court, Bynum is simply too big and strong for even Anthony’s energetic defense to be effective.

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Can New Celtics Still Handle LeBron?

HANG TIME TEXAS – Seasons change and teams change. It’s part of the circle of life in sports.

An interesting angle to watch tonight when Boston plays at Miami is whether the Celtics have changed too much to contend with the new-look LeBron James.

A year ago, whenever James tried to take the ball inside against the Celtics, he was confronted by the hulking and sometimes snarling likes of Shaquille O’Neal, Kendrick Perkins and Glen Davis.

Now the Boston front line consists of the aging Jermaine O’Neal along with Brandon Bass and Chris Wilcox.

Bass came up big on Christmas Day in New York, hitting the boards hard for 20 points and 11 rebounds, which our good friend Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald says delighted the men in green:

“Kid can play,” coach Doc Rivers said. “He’s tough. He can finish. He can offensive rebound. He can do a lot of things. He’s doing it right now, but he’s second guessing half of the things he’s doing because of the execution part of it.

“He’s late on a lot of stuff because he’s just not sure yet. He’s just going to keep getting better and better as the year goes on.”

Kevin Garnett was equally impressed, though when asked about Bass he preferred to refer to the bench as a whole.

“Brandon is going to give us a more mature, consistent scorer off the bench,” Garnett said. “I actually like our bench — not just on paper, but in practice and in games. Not just Brandon, but Chris Wilcox and Keyon (Dooling), too.”

The question can the Celts’ new threesome derail James’ plan to use the post-up drills he did with Hakeem Olajuwon during the summer to do most of his work closer to the basket this season? While the powerful slam dunks and the pretty tip-pass to Dwayne Wade was nice, maybe the most impressive part of James season-opening effort in Dallas was that he did not attempt a single 3-point shot. Neither did Wade.

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What’s Next For The Heat?

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — With The Finals in the books (and in case you missed anything, check out our nifty recap above), it’s never too soon to start analyzing the participants. We’re not ones to wait, so here’s our quick post-Finals take on the state of the Heat and Mavs and what’s next for each of them. Up first are the Eastern Conference champs and Finals runner-up.

MIAMI HEAT

A quick look back: The most anticipated combination since beer and pizza, the debut of the Dwyane Wade-LeBron James-Chris Bosh Era left a bad taste in the mouth when the Heat lost at Boston on opening night and delivered the message that this was going to be a process.

After Udonis Haslem was lost to a torn ligament in his foot on Nov. 20, things hit rock bottom on Nov. 27. A 106-95 loss at Dallas dropped the Heat to 9-8 and was marked by the episode of James bumping into coach Erik Spoelstra. The loss precipitated a postgame, players-only meeting that cleared the air and set things straight.

The meeting led to sizzling stretch of 21-1 from Nov. 29 through Jan. 9 where the only loss was — in perhaps another hint at the future — at home to Dallas.

A four-game losing streak in January and a five-game losing streak in early March set the alarm bells ringing again. But the Heat closed the regular season on a run of 14-3 to complete a 58-24 record that was good enough for the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference and they cruised through the playoffs with a swagger that never stopped until they ran into the Mavs again.

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Game 2 Sights and Sounds

MIAMI – Sights and sounds from AmericanAirlines Arena in the hours leading up to Game 2 of the 2011 NBA Finals between the Miami Heat and the Dallas Mavericks…

  • Dwyane Wade taking the floor at 6:23 p.m. wearing a lot less padding than he does during a game. He begins his pre-game shooting routine with the Mikan Drill, then a few free throws. He proceeds to work on his pull-up and step-back jumpers from all spots on the court, before finishing up with more free throws.
  • James Jones walking onto the court halfway through Wade’s shooting routine, but waiting until Wade is done before beginning his own.
  • Six TV cameras lined up along the baseline under the Heat basket, ready for local broadcasters to do live “stand-ups” from the arena floor.
  • One TV guy wrapping tape around a big Miami Heat foam finger, apparently to mimic Dirk Nowitzki on his broadcast.
  • The Mavs’ second bus arriving in the tunnel, with Nowitzki leading the player parade and listening to his iPod. Tyson Chandler (in a purple jacket – maybe velvet), Jason Kidd, Corey Brewer, J.J. Barea, Holger Geschwindner, and Dominique Jones follow. Security guards stop media trying to walk out of the tunnel from the court, so that the Mavs can pass and the ESPN and NBA Entertainment cameras can film them without interruption.
  • Kidd on the floor shortly thereafter, shooting threes. Instead of taking multiple shots at five different spots on the floor like most players, he takes a single step to his left between each shot, slowing making his way around the arc.
  • Jimmy Goldstein standing courtside, dressed in all black. Black cowboy boots, leather pants, sequined jacket, scarf and cowboy hat.
  • Five Heat dancers demonstrating some dance moves to a camera woman who’s streaming live video to China.
  • Barea shooting threes a few feet away from the dancers, seemingly undistracted.

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John Schuhmann is a staff writer for NBA.com. Send him an e-mail or follow him on twitter.

Grin and bear it: Heat now dominant

You know how it is those first few months after you’ve brought that Grizzly bear cub home from the family vacation to Yellowstone.

Sure, he knocks over some of the furniture, raids the pantry to eat all of the Doritos and smashes the plasma TV. But mostly he’s fun and he’s cuddly and simply entertaining to watch. Then one day he’s suddenly growling at you over the breakfast table.

That seems to be where the Heat are now. After a long regular season of learning how to grow into their bodies, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh are now standing on their hind legs showing the world their fangs. They are no longer just a loose confederation that is getting by on raw talent and just enough points to pile up wins. They have become a dominant team that is imposing its will.

Ethan J. Skolnick of the Palm Beach Post does an excellent job explaining how Miami has been assembling the parts all through the playoffs and put it together at just the right time for The Finals.

Series after series, game after game, we’re starting to hear the same things from beaten opponents — quality opponents, those unaccustomed to failure and frustration.

“Took us out of a lot of the things we normally do,” Mavericks forward Shawn Marion said.

That’s one hallmark of a dominant team.

In these playoffs, the Heat throttled the 76ers’ running game, disrupted the Celtics’ celebrated half-court execution and turned league MVP Derrick Rose into a reckless chucker.

Other than for very short stretches, none of those teams resembled those the league had come to know.

And, while no one in the playoffs has proven capable of getting LeBron James off his game, he has turned that trick against pivotal adversaries. His primary covers in the first three rounds -- Andre Iguodala, Paul Pierce and Luol Deng, shot 42, 45 and 42 percent, respectively. In the closing minutes, James has chased around smaller, quicker players such as Jrue Holiday, Rajon Rondo, Rose and now Jason Terry.

With success.

“Something we hadn’t prepared for,” said Terry, who was 0-for-3 in the fourth quarter Tuesday. “We’ve seen it, we’ve made our adjustment and we’ll be prepared in Game 2.”

Rose prepared. Didn’t matter.

Another characteristic of a dominant team?

It is certainly no coincidence that the rise of the Heat has coincided with the Big Three growing more comfortable inside their own skins around each other on the court. LeBron becoming a better shooter from the perimeter, which allows him to more often play the role of alpha dog, doesn’t exactly hurt the cause either.

When James last appeared in The Finals with the Cavaliers back in 2007, he shot just 41.6 percent from the field and 28 percent on 3-point attempts through Cleveland’s march through the playoffs. This postseason, his overall field goal percentage is up to 46.8 and he’s hit 40.8 percent from behind the arc. Only 2011 3-point champion James Jones (45.9) has a higher success rate on triples for the Heat, yet it is LeBron who has dialed up long distance most often in the playoffs with 25, including a 4-for-5 showing in Game 1 of The Finals.

This is why you don’t bring wild pets home, kids. What it all means is that, not only are the Mavericks potentially in deep trouble for the rest of the series, but likely the entire NBA for the foreseeable future. Now that they’ve learned to get their heads unstuck from the cookie jar, the Heat are just beginning to wreak havoc.

Miller, Jones Both Ready for Game 2

MIAMI – Mike Miller has been dealing with injuries and, as a result, shooting poorly all season long. But in Game 4 of the conference finals against the Chicago Bulls, one of the Miami Heat’s biggest wins of the season, Miller broke out with 12 points on 5-for-8 shooting while registering a ridiculous plus-36 in his 26 minutes.

With Udonis Haslem also healthy and back in the rotation, the Heat were finally at full strength and able to put their five best players on the floor for the first time since training camp.

But Miller’s time away from the trainer’s room didn’t last long. In that same Game 4, he bruised his left shoulder. And in Game 1 of The Finals, he reaggravated the shoulder injury and left AmericanAirlines Arena with his left arm in a sling.

On Tuesday, Miller was seen shooting with just one arm. But he said that he’ll be ready to go in Game 2 on Thursday (9 p.m. ET, ABC).

“I’m good,” Miller said. “It’s sore, obviously. But I’ll be fine. It’s six more games max. Lay it all on the line.”

If Miller is limited in Game 2, it may be time for James Jones to make his return to the rotation. Through Game 1 of the conference finals, Jones had played at least 14 1/2 minutes in 19 straight games. But he suffered a sprained left toe against the Bulls, played just two minutes in Game 2 of that series, and hasn’t played since.

On Wednesday though, Jones too said that he’s fine to play in Game 2 of The Finals, having practiced at full speed for the last few days.

“I’m rockin’ and rollin’,” he said. “I’m ready to go.

“In the Chicago series, I was a little banged up. It was tough to move. But our guys, they did a great job in closing that series and allowing me to get more rest. And it really helped.”

Jones is 17-for-37 from 3-point range in the postseason, and his 25 points in Game 1 against Boston were huge. With the Mavs playing some zone in The Finals, it will be crucial for guys like Miller, Jones, Mike Bibby and Mario Chalmers to hit open shots.

Chalmers knocked down three 3s in Game 1 on Tuesday, but Bibby was 0-for-4 from beyond the arc and is just 12-for-53 from 3-point range in the postseason.

“I know there’s times like that,” Bibby said, “but I try not to get down on myself and just try to get my confidence going to where, if the ball comes to me again, I’ve got to shoot it.”

Heat aren’t hot-tempered


MIAMI — The characterization of the Heat has been a sport unto itself, with media and fans all taking their shots, but there’s one thing the Heat ain’t: hot tempered.

What Dwyane Wade did when he bulldozed through a Paul Pierce pick in Game 1, and then went off briefly at the mouth, was out of character. Really, name another time when you saw Wade temporarily lose it. As for LeBron James, he has never been involved with an altercation in his NBA career, surprising for a player accused of being immature.

Chris Bosh? Tough guy? Uh, no.

Who else? James Jones speaks softly and carries a big three-point shot. Joel Anthony is still stunned he’s a productive NBA player. Mike Bibby, Big Z, Mario Chalmers, etc., they hardly fit the description. Meanwhile, Boston has Pierce and Kevin Garnett, known for pulling a stunt or two. Wasn’t Boston supposed to be the adult in this series?

There is one Miami player who does have a bit of enforcer in him, and it was itching to get out Sunday.

“I saw what was going on, and I stood up,” said Udonis Haslem. “Then I realized I was in a suit. Anyway, I had no business going down there. That would’ve cost me a lot of money.”

Sitting in this series is costing Haslem his sanity. He still hasn’t been cleared to play by coach Erik Spoelstra, even though Haslem said he’s relatively pain-free and is participating in practices. His foot injury, which benched him in late November, isn’t an issue. It’s his conditioning and also whether he might disrupt chemistry, especially with Anthony playing well defensively of late. Those are the risks, and besides, Haslem is sure to be rusty after five months off.

Still, Haslem believes he’s uniquely suited for Boston, especially with the amount of passion flying and elbows being thrown.

“Just the physical aspect alone, I could be a help to this team,” Haslem said. “We’ve got enough guys scoring. We’ve got enough guys doing other things.”

Most likely, Haslem won’t sit the series. At some point, Spoelstra must throw him into the mix, because Miami needs production beyond the Big Three. The Heat will not get 25 points from Jones again in a game, maybe not the rest of the series combined. If only to throw a different look at Boston, Haslem should be utilized if he’s leaving enough of a positive impression in practice.

“When he calls on me,” Haslem said, “I’ll be ready.”

All-Stars show for labor meeting

BEVERLY HILLS — LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade and Chris Paul were among the All-Star contingent arriving at a Beverly Hills hotel for Friday afternoon’s meeting between the league and the players.

The session was billed earlier in the week as an informational gathering open to any of the players or principal owners to attend. The two sides hadn’t met formally since November.

“I’m worried about the league,” Wade said. “It’s not just about myself, it’s the future of the NBA. We want to be able to be sure this game can continue to grow and  prosper. We want this game to go on for many, many years.”

The union was also represented by executive director Billy Hunter, executive committee president Derek Fisher, treasurer James Jones, and vice presidents Roger Mason, Theo Ratliff, Keyon Dooling, Etan Thomas and Paul. All-Stars in attendance included Kevin Durant, Amar’e Stoudemire, Deron Williams, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Al Horford.

“We understand that a deal has to be done,” Wade said. “Both sides have to come to an agreement and neither side is going to agree until we meet halfway. Me being one of the ‘faces of the league,’ it’s just coming in and learning more and trying to understand what both sides are going through. That’s the biggest thing.”

The league negotiating team here is headed up by commissioner David Stern, deputy commissioner Adam Silver and labor relations chairman Peter Holt, owner of the San Antonio Spurs. Among other owners in the room were Michael Jordan (Charlotte Bobcats), Jerry Buss (L.A. Lakers), Mark Cuban (Dallas Mavericks) and Donald Sterling (L.A. Clippers).

The union is expected to hold a press conference after the meeting in downtown Los Angeles. Stern will hold one Saturday.

Celtic Pride on the (3-Point) line

ATLANTA – From what we gather, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen get along fabulously. They’ve won a championship together. Allen attended Pierce’s wedding last summer. They have other common interests, perhaps. There’s a bond.

Oh, but can you imagine the trash-talking that’s going on between them right now?

Pierce will defend his 3-point championship in L.A. on All-Star Saturday and who’s the biggest threat? None other than the guy who’s poised to become the all-time 3-point shooter in NBA history. Yes, that would be Allen, who will take down Reggie Miller first for that career honor, then take aim at Pierce. Surely, this rift will divide the close-knit Celtic locker room and possibly destroy team chemistry for the season. Doc Rivers‘ job just got tougher, trying to referee such a bitter contest between two of his most important players.

OK. Joking.

Besides, Allen doesn’t talk smack; his verbal confrontation with Kobe Bryant years ago was the exception, not the norm. Still, there will be some good-natured give-and-take between now and Feb. 19. The burden is on Allen, obviously; he’s made a career from the 3-point line, while Pierce is a streaky long-distance shooter.

The title will probably be decided by a Celtic, because the rest of the field isn’t as good as it could’ve been. There’s no Kyle Korver, a 41-percent shooter. Or Matt Bonner, the Spurs’ specialist who’s making half his shots this season. Or Steph Curry, who lost to Pierce in the final round last year (perhaps Steph is being punished for that). Or Mike Bibby, a veteran 3-point shooter, or Kevin Love, a rare power forward with range. At least there is an interesting subplot between James Jones and Dorell Wright; the Heat gave up on Wright last summer partly because they were sold on Jones.

I suspect Pierce, in order to gain a psychological edge, might remind Allen of that 0-for-13 stretch in the NBA Finals last summer. Is that out of bounds? We’ll see.