Thursday, November 23, 2017

Heat-Spurs Game 4 rests on me, James says


SAN ANTONIO, Texas — A day after the Heat fell into a two-games-to-one hole in the NBA Finals, LeBron James wasn't backing down.

When the Heat was embarrassed by 36 points in Game 3 Tuesday against the Spurs, James took all the blame and lauded his teammates. Shortly after the 113-77 loss, James insisted that he would change the way the Heat competes tonight. On Wednesday, James' tune was the same.

"As dark as it was (Tuesday) night, it can't get no darker than that, especially for me," James said before practice. "So I guarantee I'll be better for (Game 4) for sure. I have to do whatever it takes. I mean, 7-for-21 isn't going to cut it. … I played like (expletive).

"I'm putting all the pressure on my chest, on my shoulders to come through for our team," he added. "That's the way it is."

That's not necessarily the game plan Heat coach Erik Spoelstra prefers, but by now, it is assumed that when the stakes are highest, it's all going to be on James, whether that's reality or not.

"We're not worried about LeBron," Heat guard Dwyane Wade said. "He's going to find his way. He's going to get in a groove."

Strangely, at least one Spur sounded as if he's not concerned about James either.

Danny Green, James' former Cleveland teammate, said that while the Spurs were executing their plan against him, James was hurting his cause as well.

"I don't know what's going on, but he's not playing his best basketball right now," Green said. "It's not just us. We're doing a decent job of making it tough for him, but I don't know what's going on. He's not playing LeBron basketball. … It could be a number of things. It could be stuff going on behind the scenes."

When told of Green's comments, James smiled and said: "I'll be better. I'll be much better."

The 36-point loss matched the largest of James' career. He shot 7-for-21 and had no free-throw attempts, a byproduct of both the Spurs taking driving lanes away and James shooting the jumpers the Spurs dared him to take.

Parker day to day: Spurs guard Tony Parker said his right hamstring injury is a Grade 1 (mild) strain, so he is listed as day to day for Game 4. "The good news is it's not a tear or a defect," said Parker, who skipped the portion of practice open to the media. "Now I just have to see how I feel (tonight)." Parker was injured early in the second half of Game 3, playing 27 minutes.

nets hire kidd: Recently retired Jason Kidd was named Nets coach, returning to the franchise he led to the Finals in 2002 and 2003 when it was in New Jersey. Kidd, 40, has no coaching experience. Pacers assistant Brian Shaw had a lengthy interview that reportedly went well, but the Nets will turn to the point guard who changed the franchise's losing culture when he arrived in 2001. "Championship teams are built on being prepared, playing unselfishly and being held accountable,'' said Kidd, who is expected to assemble a staff with veteran assistants. Hall of Fame guard and ABC/ESPN analyst Magic Johnson said Kidd will get respect and will know how to deal with egos; his challenge will be the daily game plan and not expecting every player to have his skills.


Spurs 2, Heat 1

TV: Ch. 28

Game 1: Spurs 92, Heat 88

Game 2: Heat 103, Spurs 84

Game 3: Spurs 113, Heat 77

Tonight: at San Antonio, 9

Sunday: at San Antonio, 8

Tuesday: at Miami, 9*

June 20: at Miami, 9*

* If necessary

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