Don’t make LeBron mad

LeBron James thought he was fouled on a layup that would have beat the Kings after one overtime. He decided to take the second overtime into his own hands. The Heat scored on every trip down court except one (Mario Chalmers turnover) and score an absurd 17 points in five minutes, after already playing 53.

James was responsible for every point, either scoring himself or assisting on three Heat layups. Absolute domination.

To put it into perspective, if LeBron produced like that for 36 minutes, he would score 80 points and dish about 22 assists.

Of course it’s insanity to suggest he would do that, but these are the moments — first dubbed “skirmishes” by Erik Spoelstra in 2010 — that make it so hard to get riled up about the Heat’s relatively mediocre defense. It’s probably not wise to count on James’s ability to elevate his game to such stratospheric heights on command, but it sure must be nice for the Heat to know it’s there.

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HoopSpeak Network

HoopSpeak Live 102: Bomani Jones

By @AnthonyBain

Today’s guest: Bomani Jones of The Evening Jones and ESPN’s Around The Horn.

If you want to watch the show directly on Spreecast, click here.

HoopSpeak Live airs every Tuesday and Thursday at 3 p.m. ET. You can find the audio-only version on iTunes and Stitcher. If you subscribe and/or write us a review, I promise that you will not be amnestied.

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A HoopIdea to reward the screener

During yesterday’s Sunday afternoon matchup between the Mavericks and Lakers, Jeff Van Gundy and Mike Breen got onto the topic of the improved screening of Dwight Howard.

Van Gundy: A screen is just a different form of an assist. We keep track of passes that lead to an assist, but screens are the same thing. It’s giving yourself up to free a teammate or get a teammate a shot.”

Breen: It’s funny, Reggie Evans of Brooklyn, he recently said that. That he thinks there should be a stat for that [screens] because he thinks it’s just as important as an assist.”

It was an interesting exchange on a topic that the coach in me would love to see get more attention. Whether the casual fan appreciates them or not, screens are often at the center of great offensive basketball. Unfortunately, there are few incentives for the most talented players to become expert screeners.

Let’s add this to the list of TrueHoop HoopIdeas: a stat for screeners.

It may seem crazy to think it, but the addition of one metric could cause a chain reaction that improves the quality of the game at the NBA level for the better. It’s just a simple matter of emphasis.

NBA players are combination of who they are and what type of atmosphere surrounded them during their formative basketball years. Whenever you see a guy shamelessly gunning at the rim, part of the reason he does that is the people around him — parents, coaches, friends and family — during his youth, high school and AAU days judged his talents by the stats they know are universally respected throughout the highest levels of the game: rebounds, assists and most importantly, points.

Screens, on the other hand, are often a blue-collar job done

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Trade Deadline one-liners

The Rockets-Kings-Suns 3-team deal starring Thomas Robinson

Houston: Taking advantage of broke, desperate owners is fun!

Sacramento: Is it possible to trade the Maloofs for two crash test dummies?

Phoenix: They realized they already had a Morris twin, right?

Heat trade Dexter Pittman for the rights to Ricky Sanchez

Miami: Ricky Sanchez is an Argentinian who will never play for the Heat, not a South Beach club promoter. 

Memphis: Dexter Pittman now gives Lionel Hollins a very large (literally) reason not to play Ed Davis.

Hawks acquire Jeremy Tyler

Atlanta: The Hawks pregame layup line just received a massive boost.

Golden State: Given Tyler is one of two players traded for “draft consideration,” I’m guessing they’re hoping the draft is very considerate to them.

The Warriors send Charles Jenkins to the 76ers

Philadelphia: This may not be the incredible feat it sounds like, but Jenkins should prove to be a big improvement in Philly’s backup point guard spot.

Golden State: See Above

Hawks swap Anthony Morrow for Dahntay Jones

Dallas: Mavs get a dude that can shoot the hell out of the ball for a dude that even Rick Carlisle couldn’t figure out how to use regularly.

Hawks: He’ll have a hard time taking minutes from John Jenkins and DeShawn Stevenson, seriously.

Bobcats acquire Josh McRoberts for Hakim Warrick

Charlotte: The team’s power forwards have been so brutal that Josh McRoberts might look like the second coming of Larry Johnson in Charlotte.

Orlando: Meh.

Celtics send Leandro Barbosa and Jason Collins to the Wiz for Jordan Crawford

Boston: Crawford could actually be a great acquisition the C’s, especially if inserted into the starting lineup right off the bat where perhaps KG’s glare can tone down his gunning ways. 

Washington: Collins will prove useful should the Wiz play Dwight Howard and the Lakers in the Finals.

Knicks send Ronnie Brewer to the Thunder

Oklahoma City: A clever

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HoopSpeak Live 101: Pablo Torre

By @AnthonyBain

Today’s trade deadline guest: Pablo Torre of ESPN The Magazine.

If you want to watch the show directly on Spreecast, click here.

HoopSpeak Live airs every Tuesday and Thursday at 3 p.m. ET. You can find the audio-only version on iTunes and Stitcher. If you subscribe and/or write us a review, I promise more trades will leak after the show starts and it will be all crazy.

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The Dot is a Sports Taboo

There is a way to change the game for the better with minimal negative side effects on the court of play. It just requires such a dramatic alteration to our cherished numeric symbols that even I’m not in favor of the proposal.

I am quite serious about phasing free throws out of the NBA, though it’s hard to convince people that such an inclination is anything more than a joke. It’s a dead-ball aspect of the game that bores and suctions valuable time from our eyeballs. It’s a part of the game that bears a greater resemblance to golf–one individual, against a stagnant back drop–than to the basketball action that fans cheer on. Obviously, I don’t have the power to remove free throws by fiat, but I would celebrate the movement gaining traction eventually.

There is an impediment to such a movement, though, and it isn’t just tradition. The obvious argument against removing free throws is that the live ball action would be changed for the worse. If, as I’ve suggested, all free throws were instantly converted to points, flopping could increase substantially as teams chase a 2 point value as opposed to the roughly 1.5 point value that an average foul line trip means.

The challenge in creating a free throwless game is doing so in a manner that doesn’t fundamentally change the game, aside from nixing freebies. There is a way do this, though it will never happen. There is a way to erase free throws without increasing flopping, but it requires a conceptual shift that we’ll never be ready for.

The wacky HoopIdea suggestion would be to award 1.5 points for every foul line trip. In this scenario, the rare “And-1″ would result in 1 point, and the rarer three-shot foul would result in 2

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HoopSpeak Live 100: Zach Lowe and Ben Golliver

By @AnthonyBain

100 episodes! This means a full hour and it means two guests, Zach Lowe of Grantland and Ben Golliver of Sports Illustrated’s The Point Forward.

If you want to watch the show directly on Spreecast, click here.

HoopSpeak Live airs every Tuesday and Thursday at 3 p.m. ET. You can find the audio-only version on iTunes and Stitcher. If you subscribe and/or write us a review, I promise that your favorite team won’t trade away its best player.

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HoopSpeak Live 99: Kevin Pelton

By @AnthonyBain

Today’s guest is Kevin Pelton of ESPN.com. Today’s show will also feature guest co-host Tom Haberstroh of ESPN.com and The Heat Index.

If you want to watch the show directly on Spreecast, click here.

HoopSpeak Live airs every Tuesday and Thursday at 3 p.m. ET. You can find the audio-only version on iTunes and Stitcher. If you subscribe and/or write us a review, I promise that LeBron and KD will combine for at least 100 points tonight.

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Chris Paul knows all, is that a problem?

On TrueHoop, Kevin Arnovitz profiles the strain of defining and embracing a system of play in Los Angeles. Here’s what he said about the Clippers:

Back in November, when Los Angeles was engulfed in System Overload the week Brown was dismissed and D’Antoni hired, Los Angeles Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro was asked which system he deployed.

“Chris Paul,” Del Negro said.

Del Negro wasn’t being flip or coy. The question was straightforward, and he offered the best approximation of his team’s blueprint when it had the ball — the Chris Paul System.

“All those names and all that stuff,” Del Negro said of the Princeton, the spread, seven seconds or less, etc. “You just put the ball in the best player’s hands.”

To Del Negro and Paul, the NBA is a superstar league, and the offense they run is dictated by Paul. In the Clippers’ world, his instincts take precedent over any dogma. That intuition is rooted in strong principles. Paul will probe, but he’s meticulous and patient, and in the half court he’ll rarely act until the defense is leveraged.

“On offense, you just try to make the right play,” Paul said. “Every time I come down the court, I want to make sure that two people have to guard me, no matter what. If I’m in a ball screen, I want to make two people have guard me and then somebody is going to be open.”

The Chris Paul system has its advantages — mainly that Chris Paul gets to do what he wants. But when he was hurt, we saw the difference between a system that is player driven, and a system, like the Spurs, that is driven by philosophy.

When Parker or Ginobili or Duncan — or even all three! — get hurt, the Spurs

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Rudy Gay is a certain kind of hero

Rudy Gay hits one of his two game-winners since coming to Toronto.

The Raptors are 5-2 since Rudy Gay came to town, having beaten the Clippers, Pacers, Nuggets and Knicks. There is real reason for optimism — Toronto usually plays hard, plays together and play an athletic, uptempo style that’s easy on the eyes.

To what degree is Rudy Gay responsible for this success? Well, he’s hit two game-winners, including an ice-cold one-dribble pull-up over Corey Brewer on Tuesday night.

But the Raptors are also shooting very well from 3, something Rudy Gay has not directly contributed to because he’s shooting 38 percent from the field and just 18 percent from 3.

The starters’ defense is strong; you can see how such rangy and quick players could smother the court. It’s especially effective compared to the second unit which lost Ed Davis and added John Lucas III in place of Kyle Lowry.

It’s just hard to say exactly how much help Gay is providing. He’s shooting a ton and not very accurately. But with his great size and skill, he can get off a reasonably decent shot in a one-on-one situation, and that talent has made him into the closer that Toronto believes it needs. But would the Raptors be in those tough end of game situations if Gay made more shots during the other 47 minutes?

Those one-on-one pullups are shot that no player makes consistently, but, just as he did in Memphis, Gay takes them with alarming frequency throughout the game. And judging by how well Gay shoots the rest of the game, we shouldn’t expect him to come through in the clutch even half of the time.

I count myself among the many who hoped Rudy Gay could blossom in Toronto. Freed from playing alongside two other

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