Shootaround (Dec. 2): Dwyane Wade: 'Had to change' game more during LeBron James years
Wade says he changed his game to suit LeBron | Rockets get big win vs. Warriors | Kidd a fan of triple-double mania
No. 1: Wade says he had to change his game during LeBron-era with Heat — The Miami Heat have three championships in the rafters at American Airlines Arena, two of which came courtesy of the squad featuring LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. Only Bosh remains in Miami (although he’s out for the season) now and as Wade’s Chicago Bulls prepare to host James’ Cleveland Cavaliers tonight (8 ET, ESPN), Wade reflected on those Heat days and had an interesting nugget to share. Nick Friedell of ESPN.com has more:
As he gets set for another showdown against his close friend and former teammate LeBron James, Dwyane Wade acknowledged Thursday that he had to change his game far more than James did during the pair’s four years together with the Miami Heat.
“I definitely changed mine more,” Wade said with a laugh after Thursday’s practice. “It’s not even a conversation. There’s no conversation to have. I definitely had to change mine more.”
Wade said that while he and James knew before they decided to join forces in Miami that their respective games would change, it was Wade’s game that was altered the most. He didn’t have to have a conversation with James about it because the answer was obvious to both men.
“We all knew the sacrifice that was going to be [made],” Wade said. “Obviously, you sit down and you talk about playing together. You think you know what’s [going to happen], you try to cover things in that moment, but then once you start playing together you realize it’s harder than what you thought. But we all knew we had to sacrifice. Chris Bosh, too. He’s somebody who they don’t talk about, he had to sacrifice a lot too. But at the end of the day, we sacrificed points, article hits, but what we gained was championships, friendships and brotherhoods that last a lifetime. So I’m sure if we could do it all over again we’d do it exactly the same way.”
“I’ve always said it: Kobe [Bryant] and LeBron have always been my favorite guys to play against,” Wade said. “It’s just something about those games for me that’s always been a little special. I won’t be one of those cliché athletes to say it’s just another game. It’s never just another game for me to play against those guys. I just enjoy it more. Simple as that. I enjoy playing against LeBron more than anybody else just because of the things I know he’s going to bring to the game. Great people bring greatness out of you. He’s always done that for me and vice versa. I think I’ve done it for him. So I’ve always enjoyed it.”
Wade, in his 14th season, didn’t rule out the possibility of playing with James again at some point in his career, but he made it very clear how happy he was to be in Chicago.
“I never thought I would play with LeBron,” Wade said. “I didn’t think it was a possibility at all. I enjoyed the All-Star Games, I enjoyed the Olympics, but I never thought that we’d play together. That’s why now I look with younger guys and what they say and stuff like that because you never know what the future’s going to hold for you. Just keep your comments to yourself on the future. So I would keep my comments on myself for whatever. For me, I’m here and I’m happy to be here but I was happy in Miami as well. It just happened. And you never know what happens in this game. So people should never say never on anything.”
Then Wade leaned closer into the microphones and recorders present at the Bulls’ practice facility.
“That’s not saying that I want to play with LeBron [again]. Let me clearly say that. That is not saying that I want to be somewhere that I’m not. That’s not saying that at all, but also I understand how this league works, how this thing goes, and people need to know just don’t say never, that’s all.”
No. 2: Rockets celebrate big win in Oakland — The Houston Rockets have been an up-and-down team all season and have yet to string together more than three straight wins. However, they scored a few solid wins — including a road win in San Antonio — and added to that column last night by vanquishing the Golden State Warriors in double-overtime. James Harden was dominant once again (29 points, 15 rebounds, 13 assists) and afterward, the Rockets were feeling confident as always about their chances this season. Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle has more:
After all the Rockets’ suffering at the hands of the Warriors, the Rockets were willing to play all night if necessary in search of a win.
After eight-consecutive regular-season losses and eight more in the playoffs over the past two seasons, the Rockets would play all the way until tonight’s tip-off in Denver if they had to.
They would withstand all that the NBA’s hottest team could throw at them, from Kevin Durant’s scoring to Draymond Green’s flying right leg. One way or another, they would play until they found a way past their tormentors, finally emerging in the second overtime to take a 132-127 win and end the Warriors’ 12-game winning streak.
For the Rockets, no win could be more meaningful.
“It’s definitely a big win for us, especially because the past few years they kicked our (butts),” forward Trevor Ariza said. “For us to come in and get a win says a lot about our team and how much we’ve been working and what we’re trying to accomplish.”
By the second overtime, the Rockets needed just two baskets, a James Harden 3-pointer and a tough left-handed drive by Eric Gordon, to begin to pull away. But they viewed the win as a triumph of fortitude.
“That’s the only way you get these guys,” Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said. “They’ve obviously been champions. You just have to hang in there. They’re going to make runs and they’re going to come back. They’re going to have little flurries. The only thing you can do is keep knocking on the door and make some good plays down the stretch.”
That was just enough for a win Beverley called “a statement.” But the Rockets have shown ample perseverance throughout the season. With one game remaining on their second five-game road trip of the season, their longest losing streak remains one game.
“I don’t know if it’s a statement win, but it was a good win for us, especially a bounce back win after we got whupped in Utah,” Harden said. “Great, great intensity, great atmosphere, gutsy game, two overtimes. It was great for our team that we came away with the win.
“It was about the will to win. We’re a fairly new team. Now, we know. If we can put everything together – the sooner the better – we can compete with anybody.”
“My last win here was my first year,” Beverley said. “It’s tough. They have some of the best fans here. They rarely lose at home. They are a powerful team. They have a lot of explosiveness offensively and get after it defensively. But we stayed with it. They made some tough shots. We weathered the storm.
“There’s a sense of confidence about this team. It’s not cockiness. We are very confident that we can compete with anybody. We showed that tonight.”
No. 3: Kidd enjoying recent run of triple-doubles — Milwaukee Bucks coach Jason Kidd amassed 107 triple-doubles as a player, which ranks third on the all-time NBA list. As coach, he’s seen his star forward, Giannis Antetokounmpo, rack up six triple-doubles in less than a calendar year. As Russell Westbrook and LeBron James continue their triple-double assault this season (Westbrook has nine already; James has four), Kidd is enjoying the show as much as the fans are. Charles F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has more:
It’s not an easy thing to accomplish, getting double figures in points, rebounds and assists.
The 6-foot-11 Antetokounmpo did it five times last season after coach Jason Kidd moved him to the point guard spot. His sixth triple-double came with a 21-10-10 performance in a Bucks victory over Orlando on Nov. 21.
Kidd knows something about triple-doubles, ranking third all-time with 107, behind only Oscar Robertson, the all-time leader with 181, and Magic Johnson with 138.
“I don’t think the guys get enough credit for the basketball IQ,” Kidd said of the new triple-double threats. “We talk about their talents of being able to jump and score.
“You have to think the game if you’re going to have a triple-double. You can’t just roll out there and roll into 10 rebounds or 10 assists.
“That’s thinking the game at a very high level. Right now you’ve got quite a few guys, Westbrook and LeBron. They’re all on a different page than most of the guys in the league.”
Kidd ranks second in league history in assists, trailing only John Stockton, so he knows what it means to get teammates their opportunities.
“I think it meant you were involved in the game,” Kidd said of hitting a triple-double in the box score. “You were doing whatever it took to help the team win.
“You look at Westbrook what he’s doing and LeBron, helping the bigs rebound. The bigs appreciate that. Then on the offensive end, finding bigs or finding open guys.
“You need someone on the other end to get an assist.”
The only player to average a triple-double for an entire season was Robertson, who did it in 1961-’62 with the Cincinnati Royals. Westbrook is the only other player to do it for at least 19 games.
Oklahoma City coach Billy Donovan said simply of Westbrook’s chances to equal the Big O’s feat: “He could do it.”
Without Kevin Durant on his team, Westbrook is carrying a heavier load but still helping the Thunder win. He had 27 points, 18 rebounds and 14 assists in a glittering performance against the New York Knicks on Monday at Madison Square Garden.
Kidd said a triple-double usually comes naturally and without a player forcing it or looking to achieve those stats.
“I think it’s the integrity of the game,” Kidd said. “When you start chasing or you’re playing for that, the ball will bounce the other way.
“Or you need that one assist and the ball doesn’t go in. As much as we don’t think it, the ball has ears and eyes. So when you’re chasing, it can hurt the team.
“But when you’re doing it the way these guys are doing it, as a coach it makes it hard to come up with a game plan to slow them down. But it’s fun to watch guys playing at this level early in the year.”
SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: LeBron James and Russell Westbrook were named Players of the Month for November … Joel Embiid and Jamal Murray were named Rookies of the Month for November … LeBron James is going to wear a Chicago Cubs uniform soon to settle a bet he made with former teammate and Cubs fan Dwyane Wade … Utah Jazz coach Quin Snyder is searching for consistency from his team’s bench … James Johnson believes he has found an NBA home with the Miami Heat … The Brooklyn Nets are reportedly closing in on giving an offer sheet to Rockets big man Donatas Motiejunas …