Saturday, April 21, 2018
Sports

Battier increases his scoring

MIAMI — Heat forward Shane Battier, in the NBA Finals for the first time, scored 17 in each of the first two games against the Thunder.

Add in Game 7 of the East final and he has scored at least 12 in three straight games for the first time since December 2010.

"NBA Finals, no use in saving your shots now," said Battier, in his 11th season out of Duke. "Let it fly."

The first points of the 2012 Finals? A 3-pointer by Battier. The first points of Game 2? Same thing. He has made 13 of 22 3-pointers over his past three games after a 14-for-59 slump late in the season.

The 6-foot-8 Battier appears to be the most problematic matchup for the Thunder. He will bang around inside with bigger players defensively but forces those same players to guard the 3-point line.

He has been good most of the time and a little lucky at others.

One of the biggest shots of Game 2 was Battier's 3-pointer with 5:08 left — banked in from about 26 feet — pushing what had been a rapidly dwindling Heat lead to 90-83.

Miami went on to win 100-96 and even the best-of-seven series at one game entering Sunday's Game 3.

"He's been a huge lift," Heat star LeBron James said. "He's making plays both offensively and defensively. We're going to need it. The series is going to be so tight that we're going to need guys to step up."

Battier signed a $9 million, three-year contract before the season, announcing his decision on Twitter and quoting singer Jimmy Buffett. (The two met in Miami at a concert about a month into this season.)

Battier had other offers but decided all that mattered was being in the best position to chase a title.

The focus on Miami is on James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. But the "role player" tag doesn't bother Battier.

"Every player in this league is a role player," Battier said. "That's a secret. It's just some have the role to score, to be a 30- or 40-point scorer.

"It's just doing your job. Everyone has a job to do. Every job is vital if you want to win."

Ratings: Game 2 drew the highest rating since 2004. The Heat's victory on Thursday earned a 10.4 (about 16.67 million viewers), up 12 percent from last season and 0.3 less than the Pistons-Lakers in 2004. Ratings represent the percentage of U.S. homes with televisions tuned into a program.

Jackson says he's waiting for right job

Phil Jackson told HBO's Real Sports "there might be" a job that would lure him out of retirement.

In an interview that airs Tuesday, Jackson, 66, didn't disclose which job. But the 11-time champion coach said it wasn't with the Knicks or Magic.

He called the Knicks roster "clumsy" because the players "don't fit well together." Amare Stoudemire needs "to play in a certain system and a way," he said. "Carmelo (Anthony) has to be a better passer. The ball can't stop every time it hits his hands."

Jackson said he wasn't interested in Orlando, for which reports had him becoming team president, because it's too far from his Montana home.

Bobcats: Hall of Fame coach Jerry Sloan took himself out of consideration for the team's vacancy. Sloan, 70, who left the Jazz in 2011, was a finalist with Pacers assistant Brian Shaw and Lakers assistant Quin Snyder.

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