TrueHoop: Udonis Haslem

TrueHoop TV: Udonis Haslem's heated moment

May, 31, 2013
5/31/13
1:36
PM ET
Abbott By Henry Abbott
ESPN.com
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Haslem opens up lane, Heat take advantage

May, 27, 2013
5/27/13
12:00
AM ET
Simon By Mark Simon
ESPN.com
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Udonis Haslem's shooting was huge in the Heat's win.

The Miami Heat’s answer to the Indiana Pacers’ performance in the first two games was fairly simple: Just don’t miss any shots in the first half, and don’t let the Pacers make many in the second half.

The Heat took back home-court advantage with a decisive win over the Pacers. Those waiting for the Heat to drop consecutive games will continue to wait. They haven't done so in more than five months.

Let's recap the statistical highlights.

Stat of the Game
The Heat are the first team in NBA history to win five straight playoff road games by double digits.
Only four other teams have done it four straight games.

The most recent of those was another LeBron James team: the 2009 Cleveland Cavaliers.

The last before them were the Tim Duncan-led San Antonio Spurs in 1999.

Unsung star: Udonis Haslem
Udonis Haslem found his sweet spot on the left baseline, as his shooting chart for the game shows. Haslem finished 8-for-9 (the best single-game shooting effort in Heat history), 5-for-6 on shots from 15 feet and beyond. He entered 6-for-19 on those shots this postseason.

Haslem and Chris Bosh were a combined 8-for-11 from that range, including 7-for-9 with Roy Hibbert as the primary defender.

Hibbert noted after the game that he was forced to contest jump shots, leaving the paint free. The Heat shot 70 percent, their best effort of the series, from inside the paint.

Setting the Tone: Heck of a half
The Heat set a playoff franchise record with 70 first-half points.

That was the most points the Pacers have allowed in any half this season. This was the first time a team scored 70 points in the opening half of a playoff game since 2007, when the Golden State Warriors did so against the Utah Jazz.

The Elias Sports Bureau notes that it was the first time the Pacers allowed 70 points in any playoff half since yielding 71 to the Boston Celtics in the second half of a playoff game in 1992.

Beyond the box score: James posts-up George
LeBron James went to a different approach in matching up against Paul George in Game 3.

James was 2-for-5 for five points when posting George up in the first two games of the series, but was 5-for-7 for 12 points in the Game 3 win.

James finished 7-for-13 against George for the game. George, who went 10-for-13 in the first two games when guarded by James, was mostly guarded by Dwyane Wade on Sunday, but James held him to 1-for-4 shooting from the field.

Difference-maker: Pacers struggles at the rim
The Pacers went 12-for-17 on shots from inside 5 feet in the first half, allowing them to keep the game close.

But when the Heat pulled away, the Pacers could not score them inside to match. They missed 11 of their 13 second-half shots from inside 5 feet.

Unsung reserve: Andersen’s streak still going
Chris Andersen was 4-for-4 from the field, making him 13-for-13 in the series with only one turnover (and 15 straight makes overall). The rest of the Heat's bench is a combined 10-for-49 from the field against the Pacers.

Looking ahead
In best-of-seven playoff series that are tied 1-1, the Game 3 winner goes on to win the series 77.0 percent of the time (151-45).

Killer lineup: The Heat's big starting five

January, 16, 2013
1/16/13
12:32
PM ET
Arnovitz By Kevin Arnovitz
ESPN.com
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Miami Heat
Mario Chalmers | Dwyane Wade | LeBron James | Udonis Haslem | Chris Bosh
Minutes Played: 251
Offensive Rating: 111.6 points per 100 possessions
Defensive Rating: 99.1 points per 100 possessions

How it works offensively
Last postseason, the Heat defied convention when Erik Spoelstra placed Shane Battier alongside LeBron James in the frontcourt. The seas parted, tectonic plates shifted beneath AmericanAirlines Arena and James was no longer a small forward -- just a champion.

The Heat stuck with that blueprint to start this season before Battier sprained his MCL in late November. In an effort to preserve the spacing, Spoelstra experimented with Rashard Lewis as a starter, but when that didn't yield results, the Heat's yeoman, Udonis Haslem, was inserted into the lineup. Even as Battier recovered, Spoelstra stuck with his frontcourt of James, Chris Bosh and Haslem, which is where we are now. And with that, the Revolution of 2012 came to a close.

That seems to be the case on the surface, except when you look at the the Bosh-Haslem unit in the half court, it looks a whole lot like the Heat’s small-ball lineup, only it’s Bosh who’s setting up in the far corner where Battier generally does. Bosh still does his fair share of diving to the hole off high ball screens, but if he’s not a part of the primary action, you’ll usually find him out on the perimeter as the play materializes -- not hanging out near the paint.

Naturally, the Heat make good use of that space and it all starts with James. There’s good reason why he’s averaging a point per possession as an isolation player this season for the first time in his career. With the boundaries of the floor stretched, James has more room to work than ever before. As a result, he’s drastically reduced the number of those pull-up jumpers from midrange. It’s not that he has suddenly become a paragon of discipline. With the floor spread, defenders are simply too far away to help load up on him when he’s attacking the basket.

The spacing also pays dividends to Dwyane Wade, who can do more off the ball in a less-cluttered environment, especially if James is facilitating. We saw this Monday night in Utah, when the Heat ran a flex cut for Wade with Mario Chalmers as the screener. As Wade streaked to the basket, easily shaking Randy Foye, James delivered the ball on the doorstep to Wade for an easy bucket.

Well, what about Haslem? He’s not draining those baseline jumpers with any sort of proficiency. Shouldn’t that be adversely affecting this unit’s offensive output? We can say this about Haslem -- he’s a guy who understands his limitations and how to make himself useful. Whenever the Heat have anything resembling a break, Haslem will run the floor one lane over from whoever is bringing the ball up. And almost every time down court, Haslem will set an early drag screen before his man has even the slightest chance of being in a position to defend it. James, Wade and occasionally Chalmers routinely have a gold-paved path to the rim on the secondary break, and Haslem is the guy laying the bricks.

That early offense has become essential for this unit, especially for Wade, who knows precisely how to exploit a backpedaling, unbalanced transition defense. And the Heat still have plenty of tricks in the bag when the pace slows. They’ll frequently post up James just off the left block. On these sets, Bosh is very good at watching James work inside, then fading to a spot at about 17 feet with an agreeable angle for one of those zip passes. You can also spot the Heat running staggered pin-down screens off which James busts up from the baseline, collects the pass, then returns right where he came from -- only this time with the ball.

Even though they’re committing to their pace-and-space strategy, the Heat haven’t torn out every page of the playbook that utilizes Bosh at the elbow. They’ll have Wade rub his man off Bosh at the high post on the weakside. If Wade gets separation, Bosh’s man will often pick up Wade diving toward the basket. Now a free man, Bosh will step to the foul line extended area, catch the pass and shoot -- one fluid sequence of motions.

Will Spoelstra stay with this unit indefinitely, or will Battier find his way back into the starting lineup when the Heat reach May? Either way, the Heat have made the spacing work.

How it works defensively
Like the whiz kid who screws around during dead week knowing he has the raw intellect to crush his finals without a lot of preparation, the Heat seem fully convinced they’ll succeed defensively when they need to, even if they take certain liberties along the way.

Most nights, on most of their half-court possessions, the Heat apply the same principles that helped them establish an elite defense from the moment they planted their stake in Miami. Gone is the switch-fest that was all the rage of the 2012 postseason. Bosh and Haslem show high and hard on most ball screens, or make a concerted effort with Chalmers to corral point guards who are moving quickly to their strong side.

Spoelstra long ago accepted that with James and Wade on the floor, he wouldn’t be able to install a system with the structural integrity like the one his defensive mentor, Stan Van Gundy, implemented in Miami, then Orlando. With three inveterate gamblers in James, Wade and Chalmers, along with two mobile bigs in Bosh and Haslem who aren’t prototypical rim protectors, this unit allows the risk-takers to indulge their habits, while using the collective speed of the unit to compensate for any bets gone bad.

When things are going well for this lineup defensively, it’s because they’re focused intently on taking away the opponent’s best stuff in the half court. The Heat pay a lot of attention to entry angles early in possessions. This isn’t just about unleashing chaos by jumping a passing lane. The Heat are intent on denying the primary action, whether that’s an entry pass to Roy Hibbert (witness Bosh fronting the Pacers’ center aggressively early in a recent loss -- but solid defensive effort -- at Indiana), or loading up on LaMarcus Aldridge as he bounces up off a pin-down to Dirk-Land for a quick feed.

Here’s where the starters are at the best and worst as a defensive unit. Like many skilled gamblers, James and Wade love nothing more than to leverage their bets when they have an advantage at the table. Once that first option is extinguished, James and Wade begin their paramilitary operation, attacking a young, vulnerable guard (say, Damian Lillard or Isaiah Thomas on the current West Coast swing) who is trying to manufacture something after the initial plan has gone awry.

This strategy cedes plenty of acreage on the weakside, and Haslem is generally the guy who has to patrol the baseline and, as is often the case, close out on shooters in the corner. This unit is surrendering a ton of 3-point attempts (21.8 per 48 minutes). Opponents are hitting those shots at only a 31.6 percent clip, but when you roll the tape, two things are evident:

1. James is capable of closing out on a shooter from an adjacent county.
2. The Heat are getting very, very lucky.

The Heat will tell you that they’re focused on taking away the middle, that they have to communicate better when the ball is reversed, that penetration inevitably causes breakdowns. All true, but even when the roving works, there’s collateral damage on the boards. This lineup collects only two out of every three defensive rebounds -- you won’t find a worse starting unit in the NBA. There’s no single explanation, but when the Heat’s opponents crash the offensive glass, it’s often because defenders are nowhere near their primary assignments.

Should the Heat worry? Is the Heat’s defense in danger of suffering a systematic breakdown if these problems aren’t corrected, or are the speedy wings exploring the limits of their intuition and athleticism?

Truth be told, this unit is doing fine defensively (the reserves are another story entirely). The starters’ 99.1 defensive rating (and the 98.7 rating of the starting unit that includes Battier), would still place them sixth overall in the league in defensive efficiency. It’s a reasonably safe assumption that, come playoff time, Heat defenders will stop rerouting themselves on recoveries and embrace the scheme’s tried-and-true methods.

Why Ray Allen will succeed in Miami

July, 7, 2012
7/07/12
5:20
PM ET
By Ryan Feldman, ESPN Stats & Info
ESPN.com
ESPN.com IllustrationRay Allen has agreed to join LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami.
With Ray Allen agreeing to sign with the Miami Heat, the NBA champions have added one of the greatest shooters in league history.

How will Allen fit in with the Heat?

Using Synergy Sports Technology to analyze Allen’s potential role with the Heat, it seems that he will fit in just fine.

OPEN JUMPERS FOR THE HEAT

The acquisitions of LeBron James and Chris Bosh created more open jumpers for the Heat. The year before the "Big 3" formed, only 41 percent of the Heat's catch-and-shoot jumpers were unguarded, the fifth-lowest percentage in the league. But that percentage has increased over the last two seasons.

During the 2010-11 season, 57 percent of the Heat’s catch-and-shoot jumpers were unguarded, the second-highest percentage in the NBA. And last season, 63 percent were unguarded, which ranked third.

Four of the Heat's current players that were in Miami prior to the "Big 3" era -- Mario Chalmers, Dwyane Wade, James Jones and Udonis Haslem -- have received a significant increase in unguarded catch-and-shoot jumpers over the last two seasons as compared to the season before the "Big 3" formed.

Only 30 percent of Wade's shots were unguarded in 2009-10, but that percentage doubled to 60 percent last season. Nearly four of every five Chalmers catch-and-shoot jumpers last season were unguarded.

LeBRON & BOSH MAKE TEAMMATES BETTER

Chalmers, Wade, Jones and Haslem saw an immediate improvement on catch-and-shoot jumpers after LeBron and Bosh arrived. The most dramatic improvement was Wade, who went from a 28 percent shooter on catch-and-shoot jumpers in 2009-10 to 37 percent in 2010-11.

RAY ALLEN CATCH-AND-SHOOT JUMPERS

Allen has improved his field-goal percentage on catch-and-shoot jumpers over the last two seasons as compared to the previous three seasons. He shot less than 43 percent and ranked outside of the top 50 (among the 200+ players with at least 100 attempts) in each season from 2007-08 to 2009-10, but he shot 45 percent and ranked in the top 25 in each of the last two seasons.

Allen has also improved his field-goal percentage on unguarded catch-and-shoot jumpers in each of the last two seasons. In 2009-10, he shot 42 percent on those shots. That percentage jumped to 51 percent in 2010-11 and 52 percent last season, which ranked sixth of the 68 players with at least 100 attempts.

Over the last few years, Allen has been left open more often on catch-and-shoot jumpers. In 2005-06, only 31 percent of those shots were unguarded. That percentage increased in each of the next three seasons. In 2010-11, he was left open on 49 percent of his catch-and-shoot jumpers, and last season 53 percent of those attempts were unguarded.

CONCLUSION

The Heat have had more open jumpers since LeBron and Bosh came to Miami. And the Heat’s most prominent shooters that were in Miami prior to the “Big 3” era became better shooters after LeBron and Bosh arrived. Allen was just as good of a shooter (if not better) last season than he was a few years ago. Part of this is because Allen has been left open more over the last two seasons.

If the pattern continues, expect Allen to receive even more open jumpers in Miami.

Heat return to comfort zone vs Celtics

June, 5, 2012
6/05/12
1:17
PM ET
By ESPN Stats & Information
ESPN.com
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Credit: Steve Mitchell/US PresswireThe Game 5 winner has gone on to win the series 83.5 percent of the time when tied 2-2.
The Boston Celtics and Miami Heat (ESPN, 8:30 ET) will square off in Game 5 tonight with the winner taking a 3-2 lead in the series. The Celtics have put themselves in a good position to take control, because in the Big 3 era (since 2007-08 season), Boston is 8-0 in Game 5s when the series is tied 2-2.

The Heat, however, have been very comfortable at home against the Celtics recently. Miami is 6-1 at home against the Celtics in the postseason all-time, and according to Elias, Miami’s current six-game home postseason win streak against Boston is its longest against a single opponent in franchise history.

The Game 5 winner has gone on to win the series 83.5 percent of the time when tied 2-2.

Miami has certainly been more comfortable at home this postseason, averaging 100.4 points compared to 91.0 on the road. That's crucial, considering the Heat are 7-0 this postseason when scoring at least 100 points, and were 25-4 in such games during the regular season.

The focus for Miami will again likely be in the closing seconds. Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem each missed game-tying and go-ahead attempts with under 24 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter and OT in Game 4, and the Heat are now 0-for-10 on such shots in the last two postseasons. Overall, Wade is now 2-8 on game-tying or go-ahead shots in the final 24 seconds of the fourth quarter or OT in his postseason career, below the league average of 26.9 percent. By comparison, LeBron James is 5-14 (35.7 percent) in those situations.

What's more, Wade has been a slow starter this series. He is averaging just 5.5 points on 25.8 percent shooting in the first half of games against the Celtics, his lowest points average for a first half for any round in his postseason career.

The Heat are also hoping to activate Chris Bosh for Game 5. His status could be pivotal, as Miami is 5-1 this postseason in games Bosh has played, with a +13.2 points differential in that span.

On the other side, the Celtics have relied heavily on Rajon Rondo in this series. Boston has been much better with Rondo on the court, averaging more than 19 points per 48 minutes compared to when he’s been off the floor. According to Elias, Rondo has 13 double-digit assist games this postseason and 38 for his career, and when he takes the court tonight, he'll be looking for his 39th 10-assist game, which would break the all-time Celtics record originally held by Bob Cousy.

Rondo's postseason performance has also placed him in great company this year. He's averaging 17.4 points, 6.8 rebounds and 11.9 assists in 16 games this postseason, and according to Elias only one player in NBA history has averaged at least 17 points, six rebounds and 11 assists in 10+ games played in a single postseason (Magic Johnson did it six times).

Statistical support for this story from NBA.com.

Role players turning up the Heat

May, 31, 2012
5/31/12
2:49
PM ET
Mason By Beckley Mason
ESPN.com
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Mario Chalmers
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
Mario Chalmers stayed a step ahead of the Celtics defense in Game 2.

Dwyane Wade was stumped.

Boston had switched up its pick-and-roll coverage. Now, instead of switching or hedging on Wade, they were sending both defenders to trap him, to force him to pass to, gulp, Joel Anthony around the free throw line. The adjustment distorted Boston’s usually tight defensive “shape,” but it also radically warped Wade’s options. By staying with weakside shooters and basically leaving a limited big man wide open in the middle of the court (a role previously held by the dynamic but injured Chris Bosh), the Celtics were forcing the Heat to play through their worst player.

The maxim is that Miami will go only as far as Wade and James can take them -- that’s exactly what the Celtics were banking on. But while they loaded up on Wade, Mario Chalmers punished the distorted defense with tough drives and confident 3-pointers -- going off for 14 first half points.

One play was particularly instructive: Wade and Haslem had the right side of the court to themselves midway through the second quarter. Mickael Pietrus and Kevin Garnett played their repeated attempts to spring Wade with a pick-and-roll perfectly, forcing him to the right baseline then springing a soft trap to force a long crosscourt pass. Wade played into Boston's hands and hurled an off balance 40-foot crosscourt jump pass.

Chalmers gathered the errant pass and immediately attacked the three other Boston defenders on his half of the court, splitting two rotating Celtics then going right at Garnett for a lay up -- which he missed. But his drive had ruined Boston’s rebounding positioning, and Chalmers got his bucket on the second try.

This wasn’t the kind of play a specialist makes. It was a bold move from a role player, and it was emblematic of how the Heat’s role players have stepped up in Chris Bosh’s absence. And it makes me think of all those times when Wade or LeBron were being criticized for putting too much faith in guys like Udonis Haslem, Shane Battier and Mario Chalmers -- the same three guys who now, when the stakes are highest, are playing their best basketball of the season.

The Heat established a relationship of interdependence throughout the regular season and at times it seemed to work to their detriment. But look at Haslem aggressively popping into open space on the baseline, or Battier grinning like some evil robot as he awaits a pressure-packed corner 3-pointer with under three minutes left in the game. All told, the three combined for 44 points.

The Celtics executed their defensive game plan almost perfectly. They wanted to force those Heat role players to beat them, and they did.

History says Heat will advance

May, 24, 2012
5/24/12
3:54
PM ET
By ESPN Stats & Information
ESPN.com
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Michael Hickey/US Presswire LeBron James has at least 30 points, 10 rebounds, and 8 assists in back-to-back postseason games.
Game 6 between the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers (ESPN, 8 ET) will feature several key storylines to watch, including how the Heat replace a suspended Udonis Haslem. Miami will be without one of its best mid-range shooters, as Haslem has made seven mid-range jump shots (outside paint, inside 3-point territory) this series, trailing only LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.

Haslem has also been a spark off the Heat's bench in the last three games, scoring double figures in each of the last two. In three games Haslem has come off the bench this postseason, Miami averages 25.7 bench points. In seven games Haslem started, the Heat have gotten only 16.1 points from their bench.

With Dexter Pittman also suspended, the best option for the Heat is likely Ronny Turiaf, as his +13 this series is the highest among the Heat's available big men for Game 6. In this series, Turiaf has played only 65 minutes in five games. However, when he's been on the court, the Heat have outscored the Pacers by 13 points. Miami has also limited Indiana to just 33 percent shooting when he's playing. Also available in the frontcourt are Joel Anthony (+7) and Juwan Howard (+5).

Overall, the Heat appear to be in good position to advance. In NBA history, teams that have held a 3-2 lead in a best-of-seven series have gone on to win the series 85.9 percent of the time, including 4-0 in the First Round this postseason. In addition, the Pacers have never come back to win a best-of-seven series after trailing 3-2 (according to Elias they are 0-8 all-time).

James has been a prime reason why the Heat can close out the series tonight. He has recorded at least 30 points, 10 rebounds, and eight assists in back-to-back postseason games, and if he matches those numbers in Game 6, he will become the first player in NBA history to do so in three consecutive postseason games.

History says James will have another strong performance tonight. According to Elias, James has scored at least 20 points in each of the last 11 potential playoff series-clinching games on the road, the second-longest current streak of any player in the league, behind only Kobe Bryant (19).

Meanwhile, Danny Granger (sprained ankle) has said that he will start Game 6. His play will be crucial, as he has been much better at home this series than on the road (averaging over nine points more at home).

What's more, the combination of himself, Paul George, Roy Hibbert, George Hill and David West have outscored opponents by 75 points when on the court together, the highest of any five-man lineup on any team this postseason.

A key for Indiana will be on the boards. The Pacers have outrebounded the Heat 102-76 in their wins in Games 2 and 3, but have lost the battle on the boards in their losses in Games 4 and 5 (outrebounded 96-73). When Hibbert is on the court, the Pacers are +15 rebounding, but with him off are -19.

Hornets figure out how to beat Lin, Knicks

February, 18, 2012
2/18/12
12:23
AM ET
By ESPN Stats & Information
ESPN.com
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The Knicks shot just 4-for-24 (shot locations above) from 3-point range in Friday's loss
The New Orleans Hornets figured out how to thwart the best efforts of New York Knicks guard Jeremy Lin.

Lin matched the NBA’s season high for turnovers with nine, eight coming in the first half of Friday night’s loss.

Lin did finish with 26 points, but they didn’t come as easily as on some other nights.

Lin entered shooting 61 percent from inside five feet this season, netting about 10 points-per-game on those shots. He was just 2-for-8 on those opportunities in this contest.

The two field goals were his fewest from in-close in this eight-game run, in which the Knicks are now 7-1.

Lin has fared as well in the pick-and-roll in his last four games as he did in the first four games of this spurt. He shot 62 percent with 13 turnovers on pick-and-roll plays in the first four wins of the seven-game win streak, but is just 8-for-30 with 19 turnovers since then.

Lin now has 45 turnovers in his seven starts, the most by any player (via the Elias Sports Bureau) in the first seven starts of his career since the 1976-77 season (the first season after the NBA/ABA merger).

Heat turn tables on road

The Miami Heat finished off their six-game road trip by blowing out the Cleveland Cavaliers. Miami went 5-1 on its road trip, and its half-court offense was significantly better on this road trip than its last one.

The chart on the right shows the difference between the two. In the first go around, a five-game trip, the Heat were outscored by 45 points in half court.

They outscored opponents by 80 points in half court in these six games.

Look who’s a winner
The Hornets weren’t the only team with limited success this season to win on Friday.

The Charlotte Bobcats won on owner Michael Jordan’s 49th birthday, snapping a 16-game losing streak.

The Bobcats got their first win since January 14. To put that into perspective: On that date, Jeremy Lin had 30,000 Twitter followers. He now has more than 400,000.

Statistical Feat of the Night
Dwight Howard had his seventh 20-point, 20-rebound game this season in the Orlando Magic’s win against the Milwaukee Bucks. No other player in the NBA has more than two such games.

Howard has the fourth-most 20/20 games of any player since the NBA and ABA merged. Via the Elias Sports Bureau, his 39 are two shy of Charles Barkley for third-most and three shy of Hakeem Olajuwon for second-most.

Moses Malone has the most since then, with 109.

Plus-Minus Note of the Night

The only player to have a bad night for the Heat was Udonis Haslem. In his 21 minutes against the Cavaliers, the Heat were outscored by 15 points. In the game’s other 27 minutes, the Heat outscored the Cavaliers by 39.

The -15 was a season-worst for Haslem, who entered +42 in his previous four games.

Pierce heads impressive night of stat feats

February, 8, 2012
2/08/12
2:23
AM ET
By Mark Simon, ESPN Stats & Information
ESPN.com
It wasn’t the best of days as far as shooting the basketball, but it was a milestone effort for Boston Celtics forward Paul Pierce.

On a night in which he went 6-for-18 from the field and 2-for-10 from 3-point range, Pierce passed Larry Bird into second place on the Celtics' all-time scoring list in a win over the Charlotte Bobcats. Pierce now has 21,797 career points, trailing only John Havlicek on the team's all-time scoring list.

The best thing Pierce could say about his individual performance was that when he was on the floor, the Celtics outscored the Bobcats by 26 points in his 37 minutes.

That was due partly to his nine assists and eight rebounds, a plateau combination he hit for the second time this season.

Pierce is in a little bit of a shooting funk, but he's made up for it with his ballhandling and his ability to get to the free throw line. He has 34 assists and nine turnovers in his last five games.

Take the Timberwolves Seriously
The Minnesota Timberwolves are emerging as one of the surprise stories in the NBA this season. Recently, the player to emerge with Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio has been center Nikola Pekovic.
Nikola Pekovic
Pekovic
The Timberwolves improved to 13-12 with a win over the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday. It's the first time they've surpassed the .500 mark at least 25 games into a season since 2006-07. No players on that team are on this one.

Rubio, who tied a career high with 14 assists in this win, has gotten most of the headlines, with the Timberwolves now 10-5 when he starts.

But Pekovic, who scored 23 points and had 10 rebounds in 37 minutes in Tuesday’s victory, is averaging 18.5 points and 10.5 rebounds in his last four games, three of which are Timberwolves wins.

Pekovic was able to use his post-up game to his advantage on Tuesday, scoring six of his nine hoops on post-up plays. He entered the day averaging only one post-up basket per 26 minutes this season.

Rubio now has 13 games with at least 10 assists this season. That ties Steve Nash for the most 10-assist games in the NBA this season.

The Timberwolves won despite matching their season low for points in a game, with 86. They were averaging 105.6 points in their previous five games.

Wading Through
Dwyane Wade was 7-for-10 from inside five feet in the Miami Heat’s win Tuesday night, scoring 14 of his game-high 26 points on those shots.

Wade had struggled in his six games since returning from an ankle injury, making 55 percent of his shots inside five feet, averaging four baskets per game. Prior to the injury, he was a 67 percent shooter from in-close.

Statistical Feats of the Night
Three players put up impressive statistical tallies in defeat.

Monta Ellis scored a career-high 48 points for the Golden State Warriors in a loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder. Had he scored two more points, he would have had the 131st game of at least 50 points in franchise history. Of those, 105 were by Wilt Chamberlain.

Ellis’ teammate, David Lee, recorded his second career triple-double (the first came against the Warriors). Lee was the fifth player to record a triple-double this season. The others are Kemba Walker, Rajon Rondo, Kyle Lowry, and Andre Iguodala

Also, Derrick Brown of the Charlotte Bobcats went 10-for-10 from the field in the loss to the Celtics.
Derrick Brown
Brown
That's the most field goals made without a miss in a single game by a Bobcats player in franchise history.

Jake Voskuhl held the previous Bobcats record for most field goals made without a miss in a single game. He was 6-for-6 against the Washington Wizards on April 3, 2007.

The last player in the NBA to go at least 10-for-10 from the field was Pau Gasol on November 21, 2010, when he went 10-for-10 in a win against the Warriors.

Plus-Minus Note of the Night
Udonis Haslem tied a career-high by finishing with a plus-27 in the Miami Heat’s win over the Cleveland Cavaliers.

All four Heat reserves finished with a positive plus-minus in a game in which Miami didn’t pull away until the fourth quarter, when it outscored the Cavaliers by 10. Haslem played 11 minutes in the final period. Mike Miller (plus-25) played all 12.

Heat dunk-and-run to win

January, 28, 2012
1/28/12
12:46
AM ET
The New York Knicks tried to win with 3-point shooting. The Miami Heat took a simpler route-- dunking.

LeBron James and Dwyane Wade combined for all 10 of the Heat's dunks in Friday’s win. Each had five for the game. The 10 dunks were the most that the two have combined for since becoming teammates and James’ total was his most as a member of the Heat.

Miami's 10 dunks are the second most the team has had in the last two seasons. Eight of the 10 came in the first half, including all five by James.

The eight matched the season-high, previously set by the Los Angeles Clippers against the Toronto Raptors earlier this season.

Wade returned after missing six games (with an ankle injury) and so did the Heat’s transition game.

Five of the Heat’s dunks came in transition. The Heat scored 22 points on 20 transition plays, with five of those plays coming via Wade steals or blocks. The Heat were averaging only 12 transition points with Wade out of the lineup.

The Knicks meanwhile became just the fourth team in the last 15 seasons to attempt more 3-pointers (43) than 2-pointers (41) in a game. The Knicks were 14-for-25 when taking an unguarded, catch-and-shoot 3-pointer, but just 1-for-7 on contested ones of that type.

The Camby Man Can
Portland Trail Blazers center Marcus Camby had a funky box score line in a rout of the Phoenix Suns-- 20 rebounds and no points in just 24 minutes
Marcus Camby
Camby


Via Elias, the last player with 20 or more rebounds in 24 minutes or less was Clyde Lee of the Atlanta Hawks against the 76ers on October 22, 1974 (21 rebounds in 22 minutes).

Camby is the first NBA player to grab at least 20 rebounds and finish a game scoreless since he had 20 rebounds and no points for the Denver Nuggets against the Los Angeles Lakers on December 5, 2007.

Rubio Watch
Ricky Rubio matched a career high with 18 points and added 10 assists in the Minnesota Timberwolves' win over the San Antonio Spurs.

It's Rubio’s eighth game this season with at least 10 points and 10 assists, one behind league leader Deron Williams, who has nine for the New Jersey Nets.

Rubio has dished out 10 or more assists in each of his last four games.

Magic disappear from list
The Orlando Magic lost to the New Orleans Hornets on Friday, giving the team its first two-game losing streak this season.

Via the Elias Sports Bureau, the only teams without back-to-back losses this season are now the Philadelphia 76ers, Chicago Bulls and Indiana Pacers.

The Magic, who lost to the Boston Celtics on Thursday, have been outscored 147-92 over the last six quarters, scoring fewer than 20 points in each.

Plus Minus Note of the Night
Backup center Udonis Haslem had a rather nondescript four points, six rebounds and five fouls in his 26 minutes against the Knicks. Yet, when he was on the floor, the Heat outscored the Knicks by 23 points. In his 22 minutes off the floor, the Heat were outscored by 13.

Haslem was a plus-23 on a night where Wade was minus-1 and James was plus-4. The Heat’s starting center, Joel Anthony, was minus-10.

LeBron disappearing in crunch time

June, 10, 2011
6/10/11
10:00
AM ET
By ESPN Stats & Info
ESPN.com
Archive
With 17 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists last night, LeBron James posted his seventh playoff triple-double, his second in a losing effort.

It was the first Finals triple-double for James, who is the fifth losing player with a triple-double in the Finals, joining a Hall-of-Fame list with Jason Kidd, Charles Barkley, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird.

Despite playing 46 minutes and putting up a triple-double, James struggled in Game 5, particularly with Dwyane Wade on the court. In the 31 minutes he played with Wade, James scored nine points on 4-of-13 shooting. In 14 minutes without Wade, James hit 4-of-6 shots and had eight points.

Adding Chris Bosh to the mix made things worse for the Miami Heat. He played 26 minutes with both James and Wade on the court, and Miami had a points differential of -14 in that time. Without Wade, the Heat were outscored by a single point with James and Bosh on the floor. During the three minutes when James was the sole member of the trio in the game, Miami outscored Dallas by five points.

Regardless of who is on the floor in the Finals, James has struggled in the fourth quarter, scoring a total of 11 points. His average of 2.2 fourth-quarter points per game in the Finals is far below his average of 7.6 points in the first three rounds.

Despite playing all 24 minutes in the fourth quarter of Games 4 and 5, James had only two total points, making him Miami’s fifth-leading scorer in that span, trailing Udonis Haslem and Mike Miller, along with Wade and Bosh. James does have half of the team’s five assists in the last two fourth quarters.

Perhaps most startling of all is LeBron James’ crunch-time absence in a series that has seen all five games decided late. When the score has been within five points in the last five minutes, James has yet to score in the series, missing all seven shots. Those numbers contrast sharply with Dirk Nowitzki's 26 crunch-time points on 8-13 shooting, not to mention the 34-point difference in plus-minus.

Thursday Bullets

August, 13, 2009
8/13/09
2:12
PM ET

Posted by Kevin Arnovitz

Atlanta did what it wanted defensively against Miami...and lost. The Magic didn't get what they wanted offensively against Philadelphia...and won. Meanwhile, Chris Paul doesn't look like Chris Paul. The TrueHoop Network sorts out the contradictions:

Miami HeatBret LaGree of Hoopinion: "A sound defensive strategy doesn't guarantee the result you desire. As in Game 1, the Hawks, in Game 2, made the Heat a jump shooting team, kept Dwyane Wade ... off the free throw line, and controlled the defensive glass ... I think the Hawks tip their cap to the Heat and dare them to do it again. Miami isn't more likely to shoot 66% from the floor again than they were likely again to shoot under 40% from the floor after Game 1. Some nights you just get beat and if you get beat with Dwyane Wade on the bench with five fouls and Udonis Haslem knocking down back-to-back 18' jump shots inside the final five minutes of a five-point game before Wade puts the game out of reach with a banked-in three-pointer (his 10th three-point attempt of the game) as the shot clock expires, I think a degree of equanimity and long-term thinking is useful. Not that Jermaine O'Neal's general improvement, Haslem's work on the defensive glass, and Michael Beasley ... realizing that Josh Smith cannot guard him if he alternates spot-up jump shots with dribble penetration shouldn't give the Hawks a clue that winning the series will be more difficult than it appeared following Game 1."

Chris PaulRob Mahoney of Hardwood Paroxysm: "I have never seen a team completely frustrate Chris Paul so consistently over the course of two games. I was willing to give CP a pass for Game 1; the playoffs are a completely different ball game, and it can take time to adjust. But in Game 2, I saw a virtual repeat of one of the most frustrating defenses in these playoffs ... What I've been impressed with most is the discipline. [The Nuggets], for two games against the Hornets, has played tremendous team defense. We knew that Carmelo [Anthony] was a much improved defender, and we've seen Chauncey [Billups]'s body of work when it comes to locking down point guards. What we didn't know was that this roster, from Melo to Anthony Carter, was ready to suckerpunch New Orleans with all the Popovichian fury that it could muster. It's a well-oiled machine that was oiled an extra time just for good measure, but the results are as organically beautiful as I ever could have imagined. Each Nugget has done their homework and is executing to perfection." 

Courtney LeeZach McCann of Orlando Magic Daily: "We're definitely seeing the evolution of Courtney Lee. He's out there for defense, where he's making some electrifying plays and really getting the Magic going in the fastbreak game. On offense, he's stealing the show from Hedo Turkoglu and Rashard Lewis. Lee is asserting himself more than ever, and the crowd's energy begins to rise whenever Lee gets the ball in a scoring situation. It's Turkoglu and Lewis' job to score –- but they're not getting the job done, and Lee is picking up the slack. The rookie scored 22 points and carried the Magic through a second and third-quarter stretch when they weren't getting much production from anyone else."

THE FINAL WORD
The Painted Area: Shooting in the NBA -- better than ever.
Ball in Europe: The financial crisis hits pro ball in Europe.
Celtics Hub: The Great Glen Davis Debate.
48 Minutes of Hell: Reminding us that Tony Parker is only 26.

(Photos by Scott Cunningham, Garrett Ellwood, Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images)

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