Miami Heat finally come through


Miami Heat finally come through

Coming into the NBA Finals, if there was an area where theOklahoma City Thunder seemed to have a distinct and clear advantage over Miami itwould be in the supporting cast category.Most believed that once you got past the Finals big-timestars Miamis LeBron James and Dwyane Wade and the Thunders Kevin Durant andRussell Westbrook that the Heat were in trouble.I know I did. But not so fast.While there is no doubt James was the best player of theseries, and that Wade proved to be the perfect complement, Miami doesnt winthe thing unless it gets above-and-beyond performances from the rest of thecrew.And it sure didnt hurt that on the other side, theThunders role players werent very good at all.Thats not to take anything away from James, who won hisfirst NBA title in his third try. James is going to get plenty of credit forhis play this season, this postseason and this series. And rightfully so. Hesthe best player on Planet Earth and now hes a champion. Only a fool would tryto dissect his game toward the negative at this point.But on all championship teams, the superstars must get somehelp. Bill Russell needed it, Michael Jordan needed it, and so did Larry Bird,Magic Johnson and any other Hall-of-Famer or all-time great out there withjewelry.James and Wade were so effective that the Heat only neededsporadic contributions from other players during the course of the series. ButMiami got better than that.Shane Battier hit 3-pointers all series long, Mario Chalmersmade big plays throughout the series and Mike Miller had a monster Game 5, theclincher.All the while, Chris Bosh was steady, though notspectacular, and Norris Cole and Udonis Haslem were positives when calledupon.On the other hand, it would be tough for any OKC player notnamed Durant or Westbrook to feel good about his Finals performance. JamesHarden, the teams sixth man and an integral part of the Thunders offense justcouldnt find any consistency in his game.He didnt create like he did in past series, didnt makeenough 3-pointers and had little to no impact when matched up againstJames.Kendrick Perkins, the alleged defensive anchor of team, wasineffectual. He didnt defend the rim well, didnt use his fouls wisely and hisoffense was cringe-worthy.Serge Ibaka had been what analysts like to refer as anX-factor throughout much of the playoffs, but he didnt do much of note,either. That jumper hed been knocking down for most of the postseason wentmissing. And his shot-blocking with the exception of Game 2 -- left,too.The versatile Thabo Sefalosha was instrumental in defendingpoint guard Tony Parker in the Western Conference finals, but he couldnt doanything to slow down James.Meanwhile, Battier made 15-of-26 3-pointers in the series,Chalmers threw in 25 points all of which seemed meaningful in a criticalGame 4 win for Miami, and Miller pretty much went nuts in Thursdays clincher,draining 7 of 8 from beyond the arc and finishing with 23 points in just 23minutes.James deserved his MVP award, but you can only rack up thekind of assist numbers he did how about 25 total in the final two games when your teammates are making shots.On the way to the Finals, the Thunder got terrific play fromtheir role players never more so than in the Western Conference finals whenthey rallied from an 0-2 deficit to win four straight vs. San Antonio.Most assumed the Thunder already had come of age, but aspressure-filled as their run through the West was, the NBA Finals are different they just are.Chalmers, Miller, Bosh and Haslem were all around lastseason, when the Dallas Mavericks turned back the Heat. On Thursday, it becamecrystal clear that experience counted for something.Hey, the Heat obviously doesnt win the title without LeBronJames. But then again, LeBron James doesnt win his first title without hisrole-playing teammates getting the better of their OKC counterparts.

Iguodala making loud free agency case to Warriors in Durant's absence

Iguodala making loud free agency case to Warriors in Durant's absence

OAKLAND -- It was with impeccable timing, for the Warriors and for Andre Iguodala, that he has spent recent weeks summoning all the best parts of his game.

He has been a disruptive force on defense, as usual, but at a time when the Warriors needed something extra at both ends of the court, he is providing an abundance of offensive electricity.

Iguodala came through once more on Sunday as the Warriors suffocated Memphis in the fourth quarter to take a 106-94 win at Oracle Arena. Though the team’s Sixth Man again scored at an efficient clip -- 20 points on eight shot attempts -- his ability to energize teammates from Stephen Curry to Draymond Green to Klay Thompson and beyond is no less significant.

“We feed off his energy when we see him get a rebound or get a steal, push up the court, make a crazy inside-out dribble and finish at the rim, knock down threes or play-make for other guys,” Curry said. “It’s fun to watch.”

Iguodala’s rise has coincided with the loss of Kevin Durant, the team’s leading scorer and someone who plays the same position. With Durant out, Iguodala has taken on additional playing time, which can be risky for someone in his 13th season.

“He’s been fantastic,” coach Steve Kerr said. “He looks incredibly athletic, bouncy and fresh. He’s a pro. The guy just knows how to take care of his body. He’s done a great job of stepping up in KD’s absence and recognizing what we need from him.”

The Warriors have played 13 games since Durant went down with a knee injury, and Iguodala has played in 11 of them, shooting 44 percent from deep and 61.8 percent overall. The man who shot 62.3 percent from the line in his first three seasons as a Warrior is at 70.1 percent this season. Leadership also is part of the package.

“I try to read (what’s needed) when I get into the game,” Iguodala said. “Try to bring that energy. And, more than anything, lead by example. Not say too much. Just show it.”

When Iguodala is sprinting up and down the court, rising and dunking on one end, stripping balls away on the other, the Warriors are appreciably better team. If the Curry-Durant-Green-Thompson foursome is the engine, Iguodala is the turbo boost.

“We’re a completely different team when he’s as aggressive as he’s been of late,” Green said. “When he’s moving the way he’s been moving -- he’s beating everybody down the floor -- it makes us a completely different team. “

Igoudala’s minutes have spiked, from 23 per game in November, to 26 in December, to 27 in January and February, to almost 29 in March.

“I don’t want to run his minutes up too much,” Kerr said. “But if he has to play a couple extra minutes while KD is out, then that’s fine.”

It’s fine with Iguodala and it’s paying off for the Warriors.

Iguodala hopes it pays off, literally, when he becomes a free agent in July.

Though free agents entering their 14th season don’t often command big money, he is making a very impressive audition for the Warriors or any team that might be interested in his services.

Iguodala has made it clear he’d prefer to stay in the Bay Area, and at this rate the Warriors may have to find the necessary coins to bring him back.

Instant Replay: Warriors finish strong, grind past Grizzlies

Instant Replay: Warriors finish strong, grind past Grizzlies


OAKLAND -- There was plenty of tension and more than a few pulse-stopping moments, but the Warriors found a way to win their seventh consecutive game.

The Warriors’ 106-94 victory Sunday over the admirably recalcitrant Memphis Grizzlies was a work in persistence and overcome moments in which the worst of their work was on full display before a sellout crowd at Oracle Arena.

Klay Thompson scored 31 points to lead the offense. Stephen Curry had 21 points and a game-high 11 assists, Andre Iguodala had 20 and Matt Barnes finished with 10 as the Warriors evened the season series with the Grizzlies at 2-2.

The Warriors (59-14) fought off numerous Memphis rallies but turned up the defense in the fourth quarter, holding the Grizzlies to 13 points on 5-of-25 (20 percent) shooting over the final 12 minutes.

The Warriors offset 18 turnovers, giving the Grizzlies 16 point, by shooting 54.2 percent from the field.

Mike Conley scored 29 points to lead Memphis, which fell to 40-33.


As good as the Splash Brothers were, and they were superb, it was Iguodala’s play at both ends that made a major difference.

Iguodala’s line: 20 points (7-of-8 shooting from the field, 2-of-3 from beyond the arc, 4-of-5 from the line), a team-high-tying seven rebounds, four assists, two steals and a blocked shot. He played 32 minutes and was plus-9 for the game.


After the Grizzlies pulled into an 81-81 tie with 25.2 left in the third quarter, the Warriors responded with a 15-5 run to go up 96-86 on a 3-pointer by Curry with 4:57 remaining.

Memphis got no closer than nine in the final minutes.


Warriors: F Kevin Durant (L knee sprain and bone bruise) is listed as out. C Damian Jones is on assignment with Santa Cruz of the NBA Development League.

Grizzlies: C Marc Gasol (L foot strain) was listed as questionable and declared out prior to tipoff. F Chandler Parsons (L knee rehab) was listed as out. C Deyonta Davis and F Jarell Martin are on assignment with Iowa of the D-League.


The Warriors travel Monday to Houston, where on Tuesday night they face the Rockets at Toyota Center. Tipoff is scheduled for 5:05 p.m.