NBA Finals, Thunder, Hornets, Pistons, D-League, NBA Draft

LeBron delivers an impressive answer (from Ethan Sherwood Strauss, ESPN):

” On Sunday night, Kawhi Leonard did an incredible job guarding LeBron James. He blew up screens, forced him toward help and ultimately, compelled James to take difficult, contested shots. It worked … except that it didn’t.

As epitomized by LeBron’s pull-up 3-pointer with 6:08 left in the third quarter of the Miami Heat‘s 98-96 NBA Finals Game 2 win over the San Antonio Spurs, there wasn’t much Leonard could do. He shielded LeBron away from a Mario Chalmers screen, then angled him toward the sideline as the shot clock dwindled, but James still got off a shot. The ball swished as the buzzer sounded, and a snarling LeBron stomped past some courtside fans who looked none too happy.

Just as there’s often a futility in guarding the game’s best player, there’s a futility in hating him too. Can there be much joy in despising someone whose victories are so rote? Hating a winner seems like a losing battle. LeBron had 35 points on 64 percent shooting, something only Shaquille O’Neal has pulled off in an NBA Finals. And yet what’s crazy about the stat line is how routine it is. It’s a good game for LeBron, but well within the realm of normal.”

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Bosh goes clutch to answer his critics (from Steve Aschburner,

” “I think validating yourself is a constant process,” Bosh said, before adding, “I really let that go a long time ago. I don’t care about those things. I focus on the game and what we’re supposed to do with it. We have a chance to compete for another championship. That’s all that matters to me now.

“I don’t really care about the criticism,” he said. “If it doesn’t help me, then I don’t listen to it. … Everybody gets criticized, and I understand that. I’m not immune to it. To know that that’s happened before, I’m not the first, I won’t be the last. This team won’t be the first or the last. Each guy gets picked on.

“But I think it makes you stronger as a person and I believe in my craft. I work hard at my game and that’s all that matter.””

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– Heat’s Bosh reminds why ‘Big 3’ is more than just a nickname (from Chris Mannix, Sports Illustrated):

” He’s is an easy target. He shoots jumpers. He yells a lot. He’s a good defender but not of the ilk of Joakim Noah or a Roy Hibbert. But… one thing about Bosh is irrefutable: The Heat badly need him.

” ‘ He’s one of the most stable, mentally tough guys I’ve ever been around’,  Spoelstra said. ‘That’s why it raises the hair on the back of my neck when people question him. He absolutely has championship DNA. It’s that mental toughness that comes through because he understands he’s going to be criticized from the outside, because of how we ask him to play, which is paramount, that’s critical for our success.’ ”

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– LeBron James responds (from Paul Flannery, SBNation):

” If you were going to craft a perfect response for LeBron James based on the last 48 hours, it would look a lot like Game 2 of the NBA Finals. He was a dominant scorer with 35

points on 22 shots, doing work inside and out. He was the Heat’s leading rebounder with 10 and he played a huge role defensively in stifling the Spurs in general and Tony Parker specifically in the fourth quarter.

Lots of great players have done similar things when questioned and ridiculed. What made this not just a statement game, but a LeBron statement game was the pass to Chris Bosh in the final minutes that gave the Heat the lead and allowed them to even the series at a game apiece.”

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– Spurs “beautiful game” offense turned ugly in fourth quarter (from Kurt Helin, NBC Sports):

” There were points during Game 2 of the NBA Finals where you just had to be in awe of the

Spurs ball movement. On one possession they got the ball to Tim Duncan on the right block then he swung it to three point line on the left side, then the ball was whipped the right top, then back to the right block — all in about three seconds.

When the Spurs play like that, it’s the beautiful game.

Then in the fourth quarter they stopped.

“The ball stuck to us,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said after the game. “I think we were trying to do it  we didn’t do it as a group. We tried to do it individually and we’re not good enough to do that.”

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– NBA Draft Enigma All-Stars (form Mark Titus,

” These are the pro prospects whom most casual basketball fans probably haven’t seen play much. Some of you might not even know who the hell these guys are. Basically, these are the players who will make fans of the teams that draft them say, “I think I’ve heard of him but I have no idea whether this pick is any good.”

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– Jeremy Lamb realizes that defense is key to his NBA future (from Anthony Slater,

” With a smooth shooting stroke and a frail frame, Jeremy Lamb has never been one to confuse his strengths and weaknesses on a basketball court.

He’s a gifted scorer with a natural feel for the offensive end. But defense? That’s a different story.

“At first,” Lamb admitted of his initial NBA days, “I didn’t care about defense at all.”

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– Tom Gores must stay out of way, trust Stan Van Gundy to jump-start Detroit Pistons ( from Drew Sharp, Detroit Free Press):

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– Jazz’s Perrin expects more D-League alums in future draft classes  (from Aaron Falk,

” Both (PJ) Hairston and (Thanasis) Antetokounmpo should be drafted later this month, and Jazz Vice President of Player Personnel expects to see more D-League alums in future drafts.

“It’s going to be more and more,” he said.

With new NBA commissioner Adam Silver in favor of raising the league’s age limit, it could accelerate that process.”

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– Charlotte Hornets have to up offensive weapons to widen margin for error next season (from Rick Bonnell,

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