Tagged in: Miami Heat

New Orleans Pelicans’ Zion Williamson out for Thursday’s game; still on for NBA All-Star Game

New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson missed Thursday night’s contest versus the Miami Heat because of irritation in his right fifth toe, but sources told ESPN that he is still anticipated to play in Sunday’s NBA All-Star Game.

Pelicans coach Stan Van Gundy stated the toe irritation is something Williamson has been trying to play through recently.

“It’s one of those things that’s just continued to get a little bit worse,” Van Gundy said. “Obviously, a lot of minutes last night and the whole thing. So it got worse. But it’s been something that he’s had.”

Williamson will be a part of Team Durant in the All-Star Game. Williamson played 38 minutes in Wednesday night’s loss to the Chicago Bulls. Though he ended with 28 points, he was upset that he shot just 8-of-16 from the free throw line. After the match, he spent roughly 40 minutes getting up extra shots on the Smoothie King Center floor.

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Thursday night marked the second game Williamson misses this season but only the first for an injury-related issue.

He missed a game on Jan. 13 in Los Angeles versus the Clippers because of an inconclusive COVID-19 test.

Williamson was voted in as a Western Conference All-Star by coaches after posting some of the best interior scoring numbers the league has seen since Hall of Fame center Shaquille O’Neal. The 20-year-old forward is the fourth-youngest All-Star in NBA history behind LeBron James, Magic Johnson, and Kobe Bryant.

J.J. Redick was also ruled out for the contest due to right heel soreness. After a slow start to the season, the veteran sharpshooter caught fire in February, connecting on 47.6% of his 3-point attempts over a 12-game span.

The Pelicans entered Thursday night in 11th place in the Western Conference standings, three games behind Memphis for the 10th and final play-in tournament spot.

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Hawks win McMillan’s debut, top Heat 94-80

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Trae Young took over late and made sure Nate McMillan would triumph his debut as interim coach of the Atlanta Hawks.

Young scored 18 points, including 13 straight for his team in the fourth quarter, and the Hawks snapped Miami’s six-game winning streak by defeating the Heat 94-80 on Tuesday night.

John Collins scored 17 for Atlanta, which lost at Miami on Sunday and fired coach Lloyd Pierce on Monday. Kevin Huerter scored 16 for the Hawks and Clint Capela had 10 points and 17 rebounds.

“Losing Coach Pierce, we all had to do better,” McMillan said. “And that was the challenge to this team tonight. He took a hit because we didn’t do what we were supposed to be doing out there. And I thought tonight, they did better.”

Duncan Robinson and Goran Dragic each scored 14 for Miami, which missed an opportunity to get over .500 for the first time this season. Bam Adebayo scored 11 for the Heat, who shot 37% — their fourth-worst showing of the season.

“We had been trending much better offensively,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “It just was a flat offensive game. It was not a fluid game for us on that side of the floor.”Tony Snell added 11 for the Hawks.

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“Ugly game, but in the end you win a lot of games giving up 80 points,” Huerter said. “Great bounceback from the last 24 hours. And now we’ve got to finish the first half of the season strong tomorrow in Orlando.”

Miami was outrebounded 47-26, by far its worst margin of the season, and was held to a season-low in points.

The Heat were again without Jimmy Butler, who missed his second consecutive match with right knee inflammation.

Miami shot 29% in the opening quarter and 36% in the half, including a 2-for-15 start from 3-point range. But by limiting Young for the second consecutive game — he had just two points by halftime and five points after three quarters — the Heat hung around, trailing 44-37 at the break and leading 66-63 going into the fourth.

Then Young got hot in the fourth, when the Heat shot just 5 for 18, and just like that what had been the NBA’s longest active winning streak entering the night was finished.

It was Miami’s lowest point total in its home building since scoring 79 versus Milwaukee on Jan. 19, 2016. The Heat were held to 85 or fewer points for the fifth time this season, by far the most in the NBA — with Butler missing four of those five games.

“Defenses are going to be disruptive and do different things to try to guard us,” Robinson said. “But there are always counters and ways to be effective. We just have to find solutions.”

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Butler leads Heat to 4th straight win, 116-108 over Raptors

Jimmy Butler went to the foul line in the final moments of the fourth quarter Wednesday night, talking and smiling the entire time.

There’s a lot for Butler and the Miami Heat to be happy about right now.

Butler scored 27 points, 14 of them in the final quarter, and the Heat won their fourth straight game by topping the Toronto Raptors 116-108 on Wednesday night.

Butler also had 10 assists and eight rebounds for the Heat, plus a season-high three 3-pointers — two of them in the final minutes. Bam Adebayo had 19 points and 12 rebounds for Miami, Duncan Robinson added 17 points and Goran Dragic scored 15 in his return from an ankle injury.

“We’re just out there having fun,” Adebayo said.

It was the eighth win in the last 11 matches for the Heat, who started the season 7-14.

“Everybody that played really contributed at different points in the game,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “And then Jimmy’s game was the quintessential, all-around winning basketball game.”

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Kyle Lowry, returning from a thumb injury, scored 24 for Toronto. 

Fred VanVleet also had 24 for the Raptors, Norman Powell scored 17 and OG Anunoby had 14 for Toronto.

“I thought we outplayed them,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse stated. “I thought we outplayed them in almost all facets. … The ball just bounced their way a lot.”

Powell made a 3-pointer as the shot clock was expiring to get Toronto within 100-98 before Butler had the game’s next three plays of any significance — a 3-pointer, a steal on the ensuing possession and a layup to push Miami’s lead back to seven.

Another 3-pointer by Butler with 3:23 left restored the seven-point edge, and Miami kept the lead the rest of the way.

“He’s our leader and we need him,” Dragic said.

Lowry scored 12 of Toronto’s first 20 points in the opening 6½ minutes, and he made a 31-footer over Miami’s zone midway through the second quarter to tie it at 48.

The next 2:51 belonged to Miami.

The Heat went on a 17-2 spurt in that time, six players scoring during the run, to open a 15-point lead and took a 66-56 edge into halftime.

Toronto scored the first 10 points of the second half, erasing the deficit, but a 17-6 answer by the Heat helped them take a 92-85 lead into the fourth. And the Raptors never led at any point in the final 31 1/2 minutes.

“It was fun to be back out there with the fellas,” said Lowry, who acknowledged that his thumb was hurting at times after contact Wednesday. “We gave it a tough fight, but we didn’t pull it out at the end.”

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Kyrie Irving relishes ‘winning time’ after coming up big late for Nets in bounce-back win

With a once double-digit lead whittled down to just one point in the final quarter of the Brooklyn Nets’ Saturday night game versus the Miami Heat, Kyrie Irving took over. He splashed in clutch 3-pointers, had driving layups and made key free throws to help lift the Nets to a 128-124 triumph.

Down the stretch, Irving said his mentality was: “It’s winning time.”

“I’ve always said that throughout my career,” Irving said. “When it gets down to that point, obviously you just want to buckle down on the defensive end, get stops, and I felt like we did that.”

The victory snapped a two-game losing streak for the Nets, who dropped a pair of games at the Cleveland Cavaliers earlier this week. Irving’s 18 fourth-quarter points were the most he has scored in a final quarter since joining Brooklyn.

“We had two losses where we had to learn a lot very quickly,” Irving said. “And we just moved on to the next night. And I feel like we gave the effort in spurts, and obviously we want to have more consistency in that — and that’ll take time. I’m happy with the effort tonight.”

Irving finished with 28 points. Kevin Durant had a team-high 31-points for the Nets, while Joe Harris added 23 points, including seven 3s. James Harden added 12 points and 11 assists.

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Bam Adebayo finished with a career-high 41 points, five rebounds and nine assists for the Heat.

“It was about time Bam had 40 in terms of getting a lot of those moves that he’s been working on in the offseason,” Irving said. “Just watching him grow since high school, be able to take over at this point for kind of an undermanned Miami team, it’s good to see.”

The Nets came into Saturday’s game with the goal of improving defensively. While they couldn’t fully contain Adebayo, there were glimmers of improvement.

After being outrebounded 50-29 on Friday in Cleveland, the Nets buckled down in defensive rebounding versus the Heat. Brooklyn had an 81.3% defensive rebound rate on Saturday — its third highest in a game this season — as compared to just 58.1% the night before.

Nets coach Steve Nash continued to experiment with lineups involving the team’s three All-Stars. Harden played 11 minutes with both Durant and Irving on the bench. And while Harden’s 12 points were his fewest since January 2020, his five consecutive games with double-digit assists have already tied for the fourth longest such streak in Nets history.

“It feels good not to have to score so much to give ourselves a chance to win a game,” Harden said. “I can go out there and just be a playmaker and shoot my shot when it’s available and still get guys involved — and still have a chance to win the game.”

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Miami Heat, Bam Adebayo agree to 5-year max extension

The Miami Heat and Bam Adebayo have agreed to a five-year max extension, Adebayo’s agent, Alex Saratsis, told ESPN’s Zach Lowe on Tuesday.

The deal contains escalator clauses that can take its total to $195 million over five years, Saratsis told ESPN. The contract has not been signed and won’t be until Adebayo finalizes a physical, something that is likely to occur in the next few days.

It will be the richest contract in terms of total value in Heat franchise history, surpassing Jimmy Butler’s $141 million deal from last offseason, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.

“This is an accomplishment I always wanted to get,” Adebayo stated. “Just being able to reach this milestone and being able to generationally change my family’s life and also take care of the people around me, it’s a big deal to me.”

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Adebayo will make $5.1 million this season, the final year of his rookie contract.

From there, the extension will kick in with a starting salary of somewhere around $28.1 million for the 2021-22 season. And if he makes an All-NBA team or wins another top leaguewide honor this season, his annual salary would only increase.

“It’s another challenge I’m willing to take on,” Adebayo said. “I’m all about helping this team win. If my individual accolades help, then I’m for sure in.”

The Heat had until Dec. 21 to agree with Adebayo on an extension or else would have had to table the matter until next summer. Miami has stated the team’s intention was to give Adebayo a new deal — the only question was when. By waiting until next summer, the Heat would have had more salary-cap flexibility.

Adebayo is coming off what was by far the best season of his career. He was an All-Star for the first time, won the skills competition at All-Star Weekend, had the game-saving block of a Jayson Tatum dunk attempt in the final seconds of Miami’s Game 1 win over Boston in the Eastern Conference finals and made the NBA All-Defensive Team.

When this deal is done, he’ll become the fourth member of the 2017 NBA draft class to secure a max extension; the others were Sacramento’s De’Aaron Fox, Utah’s Donovan Mitchell and Tatum.

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Los Angeles Lakers claims first NBA title in a decade

The Los Angeles Lakers have claimed their first NBA championship in a decade, defeating the Miami Heat 106-93 in Game 6 of the finals.

The title comes in the same year the team lost its icon, Kobe Bryant, who led the franchise to its last five championships.

For the first time since Bryant’s fifth and final title a decade ago, the Lakers are NBA champions. James had 28 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists, and the Lakers beat the Miami Heat 106-93 on Sunday night to gain the NBA Finals in six games.

Anthony Davis had 19 points and 15 rebounds for the Lakers, who dealt with the enormous anguish that followed the death of the iconic Bryant in January and all the challenges that came with leaving home for three months to play at Walt Disney World in a bubble designed to keep inhabitants safe from the coronavirus.

It would be, James predicted, the toughest title to ever collect. They made the clincher look easy. James acquired his fourth title, doing it with a third different franchise — and versus the Heat franchise that showed him to to become a champion.

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Bam Adebayo had 25 points and 10 rebounds for Miami, which got 12 points from Jimmy Butler — the player who, in his first Heat season, got the team back to title contention. Rajon Rondo scored 19 points for the Lakers.

With that, the league’s bubble chapter, put together after a 4 1/2-month suspension of play that started March 11 because of the coronavirus pandemic, is over.

So, too, is a season that saw the league and China get into political sparring, the death on Jan. 1 of commissioner emeritus David Stern — the man who did so much to make the league what it is — and then the shock on Jan. 26 that came with the news that Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven other died in a helicopter crash.

The Lakers stated they were playing the rest of the season in his memory.

They delivered what Bryant did five times for L.A. — a ring, and the clincher was emphatic.

Game 6 was over by halftime, the Lakers taking a 64-36 lead into the break. The Heat never led and couldn’t shoot from anywhere: 35% from 2-point range in the half, 33% from 3-point range and even an uncharacteristic 42% from the line, not like any of it really mattered.

The Lakers were getting everything they wanted and then some, outscoring Miami 36-16 in the second quarter and doing all that with James making just one shot in the period.

Rajon Rondo, now a two-time champion and the first to win rings as a player in both Boston and Los Angeles — the franchises now tied with 17 titles apiece — was 6 for 6 in the half, the first time he’d done that since November 2007.

The Lakers’ lead was 46-32 with 5:00 left in the half, and they outscored Miami 18-4 from there until intermission.

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Lakers take game 1 of Finals, top Heat

The Lakers defeated the Heat, 116-98, to take an early series lead.

Los Angeles led by as much as 32 points during the match. Miami gave the Lakers a tiny scare in the final quarter, cutting the lead down to 12 points but Los Angele was ultimately able to overcome.

Anthony Davis led the way with 34 points, nine rebounds and five assists. LeBron James nearly got another triple-double. He concluded with 25 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists.

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It was the three-point shooting that was the key.

Los Angeles at one point was 13-for-20 from beyond the arc. They ended 15-for-38 as they started to take their foot off the gas pedal. On the other side, Miami was 11-for-35 from deep.

Miami didn’t get much from its young players like Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson. Herro had 14 points in 30 minutes off the bench. Robinson was 0-for-3 from deep. Those were the only shots he took.

The Heat also got hit with the injury bug. Goran Dragic left the game with what was being called a foot injury. Bam Adebayo left in the third quarter with a shoulder strain and Jimmy Butler twisted his ankle and wasn’t the same. He ended with 23 points – leading the Heat.

The NBA Finals record book is basically a James scrapbook of career accomplishments, and he raised his spot on some of those lists Wednesday.

He became the seventh player to appear in 50 NBA Finals games (he could climb all the way to a tie for third on that list if this series goes seven games) and passed Michael Jordan and George Mikan for fifth in finals free throws made.

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Bucks avoid sweep despite losing Giannis to sprained ankle

The Milwaukee Bucks staved off elimination on Sunday, defeating the Miami Heat 118-115 in overtime despite losing superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo to a right ankle sprain in the second quarter.

After being fouled by Heat forward Andre Iguodala on a drive into the paint at the 10:18 mark of the second quarter of Game 4 of this Eastern Conference semifinal series, Antetokounmpo went down in a heap, yelling out in pain and clutching at his right ankle. He had to be helped off the court but later walked back on to split a pair of free throws.

Antetokounmpo then instantly checked out of the game and walked under his own power to Milwaukee’s locker room. He wouldn’t be seen again, as the Bucks ruled out their superstar forward at halftime, when they were clinging to a 50-48 lead.

“He’ll get treatment through the night, and we’ll just see how he does in the next 24 (to) 48 hours,” stated Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer after the game.

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In an inspired effort led by Khris Middleton, the Bucks managed to hold on after losing the reigning MVP to avoid a 4-0 sweep.

Middleton’s 21 points in the third quarter were the most by a Bucks player in any quarter of a playoff game since Tim Thomas’ 19 in 1996-97.

He ended with 36 points, 8 assists and 8 rebounds in 48 minutes — including a clutch 3-pointer with 6.9 seconds left in overtime against a Miami double-team.

As Bucks players entered the locker room, Antetokounmpo was there to congratulate them on the latest triumph, but it’s still uncertain if he’ll be able to return for Game 5 on Tuesday.

The Bucks are the first team to win in overtime when facing elimination since the Heat in Game 6 of the 2013 NBA Finals versus the San Antonio Spurs.

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Pacers fire Nate McMillan after being swept in first round of playoffs

The Indiana Pacers have fired coach Nate McMillan after his team was swept in the first round of the playoffs by the Miami Heat.

The move comes after the Pacers had reworked the final year of McMillan’s contract for 2020-21 and added a team option for 2021-22 in the form of a soft extension earlier this month.

Houston Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni, who is in the final year of his contract, will be an Indiana target should he become available, sources tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Indiana also plans to search from a pool of candidates they would consider “program builders” over the long term, sources tell Wojnarowski. In four seasons as the Pacers’ coach, McMillan had a 183-136 record, including 3-16 in the postseason. Indiana was swept in the first round in each of the past two seasons.

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The Pacers haven’t reached the second round since appearing in the Eastern Conference finals in 2013 and 2014, and after Monday’s loss to Miami, Indiana has lost a franchise-record nine consecutive playoff games.

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra called McMillan’s firing “ridiculous” on Wednesday.

“It seems totally ridiculous. It seems like you’re talking out of both sides of your mouth. Just two weeks ago at the beginning of our series you’re giving him an extension, but really it’s just a media fake extension to appease whatever they felt like they needed to appease. And then after this series to make that quick of an emotional decision is really disappointing,” he said.

Injuries have played a key role in the team’s failures. The Pacers played last season without two-time All-Star Victor Oladipo, who suffered a knee injury, and without All-Star forward Domantas Sabonis against the Heat because of a foot injury.

“On behalf of the Simon family and the Pacers organization, I’d like to thank Nate for his years with the team,” Pacers president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard said in a statement.

“This was a very hard decision for us to make; but we feel it’s in the best interest of the organization to move in a different direction. Nate and I have been through the good times and the bad times; and it was an honor to work with him for those 11 years (in Indiana and Portland).”

McMillan has a 661-588 career record in 16 seasons as a head coach for Seattle, Portland and Indiana.

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Grizzlies agree to trade Andre Iguodala to Heat

The Memphis Grizzlies have agreed to a deal to send Andre Iguodala to the Miami Heat, a league source told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Iguodala also has agreed to a two-year, $30 million extension with Miami, sources said. The extension includes a team option.

Justise Winslow is part of the package headed to Memphis, sources told Wojnarowski. The forward has played in only 11 games for the Heat this season because of injuries. He’s averaging 11.3 points, 6.6 rebounds and 4 assists.

In addition, Miami, Memphis and the Oklahoma City Thunder are working on an elaborate three-team trade that would land the Heat both Iguodala and Danilo Gallinari, league sources told Wojnarowski.

The Heat and Gallinari’s representatives were working on a contract extension overnight to help finalize the three-team trade, league sources told Wojnarowski.

Gallinari can become a free agent this summer.

Part of the challenge in a new deal is the Heat’s wish to preserve cap space for 2021.

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Iguodala said he’s “really excited” to be joining the Heat and playing with Jimmy Butler, who had similar feelings.

“[He brings] winning. He knows how to do that on both sides of the ball. He’s super smart. There’s nothing he cannot do,” Butler said after a 128-111 loss to the LA Clippers on Wednesday. “We got a lot of pieces, man. He’s definitely going to add to that.”

Iguodala, 36, hasn’t played for the Grizzlies this season. Last summer, the Golden State Warriors sent the veteran swingman — who is making $17.2 million in the final year of his contract — and a lightly protected 2024 first-round pick to the rebuilding Grizzlies because Golden State needed to shed his salary to execute a three-team, sign-and-trade deal for All-Star guard D’Angelo Russell.

Iguodala was a fundamental piece of the Warriors’ three championships and five straight Finals appearances; he is considered one of the league’s elite wing defenders and is an excellent passer and threat off the dribble.

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