Dwyane Wade blows up during Game 3 loss

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Dwyane Wade blows up during Game 3 loss

From Comcast SportsNet
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Dwyane Wade lashed out in frustration during the worst playoff game of his career. His target wasn't wearing an Indiana uniform. Wade confronted his coach as the Miami Heat melted. The star had an animated exchange with Erik Spoelstra on the sideline in the third quarter, a disturbing low point on a night when nothing went Miami's way, and the Heat were throttled 94-75 by the Pacers in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. Indiana center Roy Hibbert had 19 points and 18 rebounds, George Hill scored 20 and Danny Granger 17 as Indiana, pushed by a crowd that stood and chanted "Beat The Heat" at every opportunity, took a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series. Game 4 is Sunday at raucous Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Before then, the Heat need to locate their missing shooting touch and figure out how to attack Indiana's superior defense. More than anything, Wade needs to shake off a startling 5-point, 2-of-13 shooting performance he made worse by challenging Spoelstra. During a timeout, Spoelstra was talking to Wade, who didn't like what he heard and angrily snapped at his coach. Several Miami players stepped in before the confrontation escalated. Afterward, Wade didn't want to discuss the dispute. "I don't even remember what you all are talking about," he said. Spoelstra dismissed his clash with Wade as a heat-of-battle moment. "That happens," Spoelstra said. "Anybody that has been part of a team or has been a coach or been a player, you have no idea how often things like that happen. That was during a very emotional part of the game. We were getting our butt kicked. Those exchanges happen all the time during the course of an NBA season. "There's going to be a lot of times where guys say something, you don't like it. You get over it and you move on. We're all connected. Dwyane and I have been together for a long time, a long time. We've been through basically everything. A lot of different roles, a lot of different teams. That really is nothing. That is the least of our concern. That type of fire, shoot, that's good. That's the least of our concerns. Our concern is getting ready for Sunday." James scored 22 -- 16 in the first half before wearing down -- and Mario Chalmers made up for Wade's abysmal night by adding 25 for Miami, which again played without All-Star forward Chris Bosh, who is out with a strained abdominal muscle and is not expected to return for this series. "It's obvious he wasn't himself," James said of Wade. "Does he want to play better? Of course. He's one of the best players in the world." Wade downplayed the potential of a serious injury, though he did snag his right hand on the net trying to make a block in the first half. Indiana outscored Miami 51-32 in the second half, when the Pacers could do no wrong. They made big shots, challenged everything the Heat tossed in the air and didn't back down from a Miami team that appeared poised to make an easy run to the NBA finals after top-seeded Chicago lost Derrick Rose and was eliminated in the first round. The Pacers have other plans. In the second half, Indiana forward David West flung James to the floor in the lane, and Granger later got in the superstar's face after a foul on a breakaway. After winning Game 2 in South Florida by three points, the Pacers wanted to show that victory was no fluke and that they're for real. Believe it. They're two wins from tilting the balance of power in the East. "We're certainly happy with the win," said Pacers coach Frank Vogel. "But we've got a lot of work to do." Vogel's pregame message to his team: "Keep your edge, and enhance your edge." Enhance, they did. Hibbert controlled the glass, roaming the lane on both ends and finishing with five blocks. "My primary focus is defense, defense, defense," he said. "I embrace that role and let the offense come to me. Them being one and done, that's what we talked about in the huddle," he said. "One shot and they're done." Two more losses and the Heat are done. With his team down 20 in the closing minutes, Spoelstra waved the white flag and pulled out first Wade, then James, who quickly removed his headband as he got to the bench and then pulled out the mouthpiece inscripted with XVI -- the Roman numeral for 16 -- the number of wins it takes to get a championship. When the final horn sounded, the three-time MVP quickly exited the floor. "When you lose a game like that, all you try to do is move on to the next one," James said. "They're playing some good basketball. We're playing pretty good defense on them. We're not scoring the ball." Indiana busted open a grind-it-out game with a 17-3 run in the third quarter, doing it with an inside-outside attack that had the Heat wondering what was coming next. With their boisterous crowd decked out in mustard-yellow "Gold Swagger" T-shirts, the Pacers pushed their lead to 69-55 after three and then held off one brief run by the Heat in the fourth quarter. Behind Miami's bench, owner Micky Arison and team president Pat Riley looked on in disbelief. Despite playing almost 21 minutes and exerting himself on defense, James had enough energy to throw down a vicious left-handed dunk in the final minute of the first half, pulling the Heat even at 43-all. He looked back at the Miami bench as if to say, "How about a little help out here?" He was doing it all. Wade, on the other hand, was lost. He missed all five field-goal attempts, made two turnovers and ran around like a playoff rookie and not a superstar appearing in his 95th career postseason game. Wade finally made his first field goal with 10:22 left in the third to put Miami up 47-45, but the Pacers went on a 10-1 run with Granger dropping a 3-pointer in front of the Heat bench to make it 55-48 and then playfully skipping down the sideline as Miami called a timeout. The Pacers were in control. They were clearly the better team. "We have all vested together in this and are all in it together to the end," West said. "We will not back down or take anything from any team." Notes: The Heat are 5 for 42 on 3-pointers in the series. ... Miami's 75 points matched a low in these playoffs. ... Indiana outrebounded Miami 52-36. ... The Heat managed just 12 points in the third quarter. ... Former Pacers center Rik Smits attended the game and got a huge cheer when he was shown on the scoreboard.

Wonky streaks, good fortune over Cavs on the line for Bulls

Wonky streaks, good fortune over Cavs on the line for Bulls

No matter the metric or the occasion, the only thing definitive about the Bulls over the last two seasons has been their mystifying dominance over the Cleveland Cavaliers in head-to-head matchups.

That, and their fascinating streak of consecutive wins while playing at home on TNT, a streak that could end at 19 games Thursday night when the two teams with varying objectives clash at the United Center.

The Cavaliers are searching to find themselves, along with a light switch that will perhaps alert them to a lost defense over the past several weeks that has been worst in the league since the All-Star break.

The Bulls are searching for consistency, but since it’s probably a little too late in the season for that, they’ll settle for a playoff spot with eight games left.

They’ll take two straight wins for the first time in a month, if they can get it.

They’ll extend a goofy streak, if that’s what things will come down to.

“The big thing is obviously you have to execute very well against this Cleveland team,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. “You have to go out there with great urgency, great energy. I anticipate them coming in and playing with a ton of energy tomorrow. We’re going to have to match that. We’re going to have to come out and play physical basketball.”

Having a big break between games this late in the season is a rarity, as the Bulls have been off since Sunday evening, but it’s just another weird detail in this weird Bulls experience.

An experience that the mild-mannered Hoiberg has to experience from his couch some nights, such as watching the Miami Heat furiously steal a game in Detroit at the buzzer with a Hasaan Whiteside tip-in to extend a lead over his team to a game, followed by another win Wednesday to put more distance between the two teams.

“I did, actually,” said Hoiberg with a smirk when asked if he’s scoreboard watching and paying attention to the teams ahead of the Bulls in the playoff race.

After being prompted to give his raw emotions when Whiteside’s tip-in occurred, he slipped right back to Robo-Hoiberg—although one can imagine how animated he must’ve been while looking to catch a break from a previous contender for the eighth spot in the Pistons.

“It is what it is,” Hoiberg said. “You have to go out and worry about yourselves at this time of year. It was a great finish for Miami, obviously, the way that game ended. But there’s nothing you can do about that. You’ve got to worry about yourselves and hopefully go out and execute.”

Going 6-1 against the Cavaliers in his two seasons as Bulls coach is probably the biggest feather in his cap, including three wins in all three meetings this go round.

The rhyme or reason doesn’t seem explainable, but Nikola Mirotic seemed to give a few keys to the Bulls’ success over LeBron James’ Cavaliers: Sharing the ball, controlling the glass and getting back on defense.

“Against big teams, we play much better,” Mirotic said. “I don’t know why is the reason for that. We need to find a way to play against everybody like that. It’s on us. We just have to prove it.”

Usually, those tenets seem to work against most teams, not just the supremely talented champions who’ve just lost a grip on first place in the conference.

But their inconsistencies have left the Bulls here with a handful of games left before the April 12th finale.

A win over Cleveland could mean everything, or nothing at all, or something in between.

“Sure, we understand,” Mirotic said. “We’ve been in a very similar situation last year. We didn’t make the playoffs so this year we want to try to make that push. I think we have a good schedule for the last. Very important game tomorrow, huge one. I think we have played very well against Cleveland until now. We have a chance. We need to get out there and play with energy.” 

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