Morning Shootaround

Shootaround (Nov. 11): Dwyane Wade moves on from Miami reunion game

NBA.com Staff

Wade glad to be done with Miami return | Hornacek: Rambis wasn’t foised upon me | Iverson tries to lift Sixers’ spirits | Nowitzki takes part in on-court workouts

No. 1: Wade glad ‘weirdest basketball game’ is over — Dwyane Wade’s return to Miami last night as a member of the Chicago Bulls was one of those must-see games early on this season. While Wade and the Bulls prevailed 98-95, a sense of nostalgia and well-wishing for the former Heat standout hung in the air all night long. When it was over, writes Tom D’Angelo of the Palm Beach Post, Wade was glad the moment (and all it’s strangeness at times) was over:

Less than a minute into Dwyane Wade’s Miami homecoming, the Bulls guard (still sounds weird) got the ball near the free throw line. The buzz in the crowd started to grow and Wade decided to play along.

Wade took a hard dribble before stepping back for an 18 footer.

Clank.

The crowd would have to wait for its first non-Heat Wade highlight.

About four minutes later, Wade floated into the lane and lofted an eight-footer. After 20,364 points, Wade finally recorded two against the Miami Heat, the only team he had not scored against.

By the end of the night, the man who spent 13 seasons in Miami finished with 13 points against his old team in the Bulls’ 98-95 win.

“Weirdest basketball I’ve ever played in my life,” Wade said. “I couldn’t wait until it was over.”

For the second time in a week, he struggled on the second night of a back-to-back, shooting 5-of-17 and missing all four of his three-point attempts.

“I thought I’d shoot better,” Wade said, “since I’ve known these rims for a while.”

Wade, though, got the last laugh, making two free throws with 13.2 seconds remaining to seal the Bulls win. Wade finally felt like the enemy on the play that got him to the line when he lost the in-bound pass out of bounds but oversold a slight nudge by Justise Winslow to draw the foul with the Bulls (5-4) leading by two points.

“I got the vet call on that one,” Wade said. “I appreciate it for him giving me one.”

The play resulted in Wade hearing boos for the first time as he stepped to the line. His two free throws gave the Bulls a four-point lead.

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra was asked if Wade oversold the foul.

“If it was last year, he got pushed out of bounds,” Spoelstra said. “This year, he was selling it.”

Here is Wade’s night by the numbers:

* One point for each year he spent with the Heat (13).

* One free throw for every championship (3).

* One missed shot for every All-Star appearance (12).

* One assist for every ovation (4).

And one three pointer for every conversation he’s had with Heat president Pat Riley since leaving Miami (0).

“There has been a reach out on my part,” Riley said tonight. “Very poignant. I hope he gets it.”

Wade acknowledged that he received the emails.

“I did look at my emails today and I got emails from him,” Wade said. “I haven’t had time to read them yet. I’ll take time on the phone somewhere to read them.”

He said the most emotional he got was following the game when he “hugged certain people.”

Among them were several ex-teammates and members of owner Micky Arison’s family.

But despite the successful homecoming, Wade did not get the one thing he said he was looking forward to the most.

Before the game, Wade said he hoped his closest friend on the team, Udonis Haslem, would get into the game.

“I wish I got that opportunity, that’s what I was probably looking forward to the most,” Wade said. “But I definitely wanted to see him on the other side. I definitely was going to get the ball call a pick-and-roll with his guy and try to get a switch.”

But Haslem never got off the bench and Spoelstra was genuinely upset at himself for not allowing the close friends to have their moment.

“I’m going to really kick myself for that,” Spoelstra said. “I really am. There’s really no excuse on my part.”

**********************************************************************************************************************************************************No. 2: Hornacek: Rambis’ new role wasn’t mandated from above — The New York Knicks recently tabbed Kurt Rambis as the team’s new lead defensive assistant coach. How that all works out on the court has yet to be seen, but any talk that Rambis’ new role was pushed upon coach Jeff Hornacek by team president Phil Jackson is off base. At least that is what Hornacek told reporters yesterday, writes Marc Berman of the New York Post:

Coach Jeff Hornacek acted offended by suggestions Knicks president Phil Jackson forced him to make Kurt Rambis his defensive assistant this week. But he managed to throw in some Hillary Clinton humor.

“Call Wikileaks to look at my emails,’’ Hornacek said jokingly. “Zero. He didn’t have anything to do with it.’’

The Post reported Hornacek felt he needed a defensive voice like he had in Phoenix with Mike Longabardi, who is now with the Cavaliers. Nevertheless, it’s unclear if Jackson recommended Rambis for the assignment. Either way, Hornacek seems very pleased as the Knicks’ defense improved Wednesday — at least in the second half.

Rambis has eliminated the Knicks’ switching on pick-and-rolls.

“We got the one voice who’s talking about it, though the coaches are still doing their defensive game plan when they look at the team,” said Hornacek. “With Kurt being the one guy, if a guy has a question, you can ask him. It’s simplified. We simplified some other things. One game, it was OK.’’

Players talked of Hornacek being more heated than usual at halftime Wednesday after his team allowed the Nets 55 points on 55 percent shooting. The Nets shot 28 percent in the second half.

“I tried to get after them,’’ Hornacek said. “Occasionally you have to get after them. We were upset. We worked on things and weren’t doing them. The guys came out and responded in the second half.’’

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No. 3: Iverson returns to give Sixers a pep talk — Aside from Julius Erving, Wilt Chamberlain and Moses Malone, few players are more legendary in Philadelphia 76ers history than new Hall of Famer Allen Iverson. The former MVP stopped by practice yesterday to try and lift the spirits of the 0-7 Sixers as they play six of their next nine games at home. Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer has more:

Iverson was in the area for a meeting with the team’s business side. Coach Brett Brown was asked if he wanted the Sixers great and Hall of Famer to say a few words to the players. Afterward, Iverson said he thought the young team would eventually be a solid unit. The players themselves are feeling the pain of being winless.

“Right now, everybody is pretty frustrated,” center Jahlil Okafor said Wednesday after a 122-115 overtime loss to the Indiana Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. “We thought we just let that one go, but we know we are right there.

“Honestly, it’s kind of deflating getting so close to a win. . . . Now, we have to be mentally tough.”

Mental toughness is something they can learn from Iverson, who played every game as if it was his last. He told the team that Philadelphia demands effort and that the work the team is putting in will eventually be rewarded.

“What we have to understand is I hope the message registers,” Iverson said. “That’s all I can do is hope my voice means something to guys that are younger than me, and us guys that paved the way . . . If only one guy got it, then I’m happy.”

The Sixers’ next opportunity to win a game comes Friday night against the Pacers (4-4) at the Wells Fargo Center. A lot of factors have led to the team’s winless start.

Ben Simmons (broken right foot), Nerlens Noel (right knee), and Jerryd Bayless (left wrist ligament damage) have been sidelined since the preseason. Joel Embiid has been limited to carefully manage his workload and the stress on his right foot during games and practices. He sat out Wednesday. He also sat out the Nov. 2 loss to the Hornets in Charlotte.

Embiid is scheduled to play Friday. However, he’s scheduled to sit out Saturday against the Hawks in Atlanta. The team plans to rest him on the second night of back-to-back games.

“I want the fans here to be patient with those guys,” Iverson said. “We’ve got the talent. It’s here. Just be patient with them. And I just want those guys to believe in each other and trust in each other. That’s it: The future is bright for us.”

But for the time being, the Sixers are determined to simply get a win.

They keep finding ways to lose what for the most part have been winnable games. On Wednesday, they blew two late fourth-quarter leads. They were up, 106-100, lead with 1 minute, 35 seconds left and lost it. They had a two-point advantage with 5.9 seconds remaining and surrendered it before losing in overtime.

“It’s weird, you know,” power forward Dario Saric said. “We come in to practice and we try to be better and then present what we worked on in the game. I don’t know what to say. We fall a point short.”

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No. 4: Nowitzki begins on-court injury rehab work — Dallas Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki hasn’t played since a Nov. 4 home loss to the Portland Trail Blazers. An Achilles injury has kept him out of the lineup indefinitely but as Marc Stein of ESPN.com reports, Nowitzki is starting to get some on-court work in and has hopes of playing again soon (provided his injury cooperates):

Dallas Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki, recovering from a strained right Achilles tendon, told ESPN.com on Thursday that he has begun to resume on-court work as he moves toward a return to the lineup.

But Nowitzki stressed that he’ll need to get through a full-speed practice or two this weekend with no setbacks before he’s cleared to play.

“It’s definitely better, but I really haven’t done much yet,” Nowitzki told ESPN.com. “Today was good, but we didn’t go anything close to full speed. Just started moving on the court a bit.

“We don’t want to rush anything and go back to where we were last week. So if I feel anything this weekend, they’re going to ease off again. Obviously I want to play in the Garden on Monday (against the Knicks) and I want to play in Boston (on Wednesday) — two of my favorite road spots. But I just don’t know at this point if it’s going to happen.”

Nowitzki suffered the Achilles strain in the Mavericks’ season opener at Indiana on Oct. 26.

While the Mavericks were in California this week, splitting road games against the Los Angeles Lakers and Golden State Warriors, Nowitzki stayed behind in Dallas to receive treatment from his personal German physiotherapist Jens Joppich.

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