Dwyane Wade and LeBron James dominated the NBA landscape for 16 years. They played each other 30 times in that span (never in the playoffs), only to fittingly enter Monday’s final meeting tied 15-15. Those clashes sandwiched a four-year run as teammates that included four straight Finals and two championship trophies.
The outcome of this bittersweet grudge match wasn’t nearly as important as the memories that preceded it. That much was evident before the game, as both James and Wade reflected on their NBA careers via social media.
Those feelings were reinforced when Wade entered the game at the 7:19 mark of the first quarter, as he and James immediately embraced.
Though new observers to the Wade-LeBron saga, the Lakers organization and crowd paid immediate homage to the pair of competitors and friends. Fans gave Wade a standing ovation when he checked in. The Lakers later supplied a video tribute.
As for the man of the hour himself, Wade showed a little bit of everything against his old friend’s new team.
The midair improvisation.
The only thing left was the game-winner, which Wade wasn’t able to hit over — you guessed it — LeBron. The ensuing scramble left Wade tying to foul James, but with time expired the two wound up embracing on the court one last time.
For the first time since Nov. 5, Golden State’s full complement of returning All-Stars took the floor at the same time.
That’s a good thing for the Warriors, who are 10-1 in games with Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson all logging time together. When all four share the floor, Golden State shoots 55.5 percent overall, 40.1 percent from 3 and boasts a net rating of 8.8 (which would rank second-best in the league).
The fearsome foursome were at their collective best in the Warriors’ 116-108 win over Minnesota. Curry rained seven 3s from beyond the arc. Durant (22 points) picked his spots. Thompson poured in four more 3s and 26 points. Green (seven points, 10 rebounds, seven assists) did a little bit of everything.
And don’t worry. DeMarcus Cousins will be joining them soon.
We didn’t think Boban Marjanovic could be blocked near the rim. Deandre Ayton proved us wrong.
Ditto for Anthony Davis fadeaways, which Boston rookie Robert Williams vehemently sent back.
Indiana has been without Victor Oladipo’s services since Nov. 19. The Pacers are somehow 6-4 in that stretch after Friday’s win over Washington.
How are they winning without their lone All-Star? Indiana has maintained the third-best defensive mark in the league despite Oladipo’s absence, an effort led by their interior defense. The Pacers allow opponents a frigid 33.5 percent shooting clip in the paint (non-restricted area) and are top five within the all-important semicircle (59.8 percent).
Myles Turner is the foundation of that effort, rejecting 3.3 shots per game since Oladipo’s injury-forced exit. On the season, opponents are shooting 9.9 percent worse against Turner within six feet of the basket.
The former lottery pick swatted five attempts in the first half on Friday, leading Darren Collison to proclaim afterwards: “I think he’s the best defensive big man in the league right now.”
— FOX Sports Indiana (@FSIndiana) December 11, 2018
Hot and cold
Paul George oozed efficiency in the Thunder’s 122-113 win over Utah, scoring 31 points on just 10 shots, including 5 for 6 from beyond the arc.
Russell Westbrook suffered the opposite phenomenon, hitting just four of his 18 shot attempts.
Not that the Thunder are concerned. Westbrook (12 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists) still got a triple-double and, more importantly, OKC (17-8) sits atop the West.
Laugh like Luka
Serve someone in your life the way Luka Doncic serves up assists. Then react like he would — with sheer, unfiltered joy.