Miami Heat News: Andre Dawkins Recalled from D-League After 42-Point Binge

It appears the Miami Heat will be bringing back a familiar face.
Andre Dawkins was recalled from the Sioux Falls Skyforce early Sunday following a 42-point performance on Saturday night versus the Texas Legends. During his scoring binge, Dawkins shot 12-of-15 on 3-pointers while going 14-of-18 overall from the field.
Dawkins’ stay at Sioux Falls lasted a total of eight games, where he averaged 20.9 points and shot .453 from beyond the arc. Before being sent to the D-League, the undrafted rookie had totaled three points and a rebound in three appearances with the Heat this season.

Heat recall guard Andre Dawkins after 42-point D-League scoring binge Saturday night. http://t.co/atVfTktwA9
— Ira Winderman (@IraHeatBeat) December 21, 2014

In three appearances during the preseason, the University of Duke product averaged 10.3 points per game, including a 16-point performance versus the San Antonio Spurs, which lifted the Heat to a 111-108 victory.
Coach Erik Spoelstra stressed that Daw…

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Syracuse vs. Villanova: Score and Twitter Reaction from 2014 Regular Season

Syracuse and Villanova may no longer be in the Big East together, but the rivalry remains plenty strong. 

The adversaries competed in another thrilling, back-and-forth battle Saturday afternoon, with the No. 7 Wildcats putting together a wild second-half comeback and holding off Syracuse in overtime to earn the 82-77 win at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. 

Villanova trailed by as many as 15 and didn’t lead until the extra period, but five points in the final 10 seconds of regulation helped keep their undefeated record in tact. 

JayVaughn Pinkston led the way with 25 points, 10 rebounds, three steals and three blocks, while Darrun Hiliard (23 points) and Josh Hart (21 points) were both crucial parts of the comeback. 

CBS Sports’ Jon Rothstein discussed the win for Jay Wright’s squad:

Five players scored in double-figures for Syracuse, which shot 49.2 percent from the field and seemed to have a huge road in the books. But they committed a whopping 20 turnovers in a loss that will be difficult to swallow for Jim Boeheim’s squad. 

Syracuse, a double-digit underdog entering the game, jumped out to a 15-point lead and led 43-31 at halftime. 

Michael Gbinije was the engine for the Orange on both sides of the ball. He was aggressive offensively, shooting the ball well, beating ‘Nova off the dribble, setting up teammates and making plays all over the court. 

ESPN Radio Syracuse’s Steve Neikam summarized the first-half performance with a lofty comparison:

Gbinjie played arguably his best game in a Syracuse uniform, finishing with 18 points, eight rebounds, five assists, and three steals. 

For the Wildcats, it was a thoroughly sloppy start. Defensively, they gave up easy baskets on the interior and left sharpshooter Trevor Cooney open at the three-point line. On the other end, they did well to break down the Syracuse zone but missed a lot of shots. 

ESPN’s Dana O’Neil put it simply:

But just five days before Christmas, the Bethlehem (PA) native would lead a comeback. Hilliard scored eight straight points then recorded a steal that led to another basket, fueling a 10-0 run early in the second half to cut the deficit to four. 

Moments later, he flew in on a Hart missed three-pointer, rising above the Syracuse defense and throwing down a monster put-back slam. 

VUHoops.com provided a look:

Every time Villanova closed the gap, though, Syracuse seemed to have an answer. And most of the time that answer was Kaleb Joseph. The freshman point guard served as a calming presence for the Orange down the stretch, scoring or assisting on five of six baskets at one point. 

College Basketball Talk’s Rob Dauster praised the youngster’s play:

But Villanova, always one of the toughest teams in the nation, didn’t quit despite a seemingly insourmountable deficit. Down five with 15 seconds to go, Hart knocked down a three, ‘Nova stole the ensuing inbound pass and Pinkston scored a layup. 

CBS Sports’ Sam Vecenie gave a look at the blink-and-you-might-miss-it comeback:

For the first time since 0-0, the game was tied at 69-69 heading into overtime. 

The New York Post‘s Zach Braziller applauded the Wildcats’ resolve:

Villanova scored its first five overtime points at the free-throw line, and Pinkston came up with a huge block on Joseph to seal the win. 

With conference play on the horizon, neither team should have much trouble with a hangover after this classic. Syracuse hosts Colgate, while ‘Nova takes on New Jersey Institute of Technology, hoping to avoid a similar fate as Michigan. 

Beyond that, both teams look built for a run come March, while Villanova provided more proof that it belongs among the country’s elite. 

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Houston Fox Affiliate Uses Pic of Troy Daniels from NBA2k in Segment About Trade

The Houston Rockets announced Friday that they acquired Corey Brewer and Alexey Shved in a three-team deal.

When Houston Fox affiliate KRIV aired commentary about the trade, keen-eyed viewers noticed something was off.

Indeed, it appears that KRIV snagged a screenshot of Troy Daniels, who was traded away by the Rockets, from the NBA2K video game franchise.

Twitter was quite amused with the strange choice of photo.

[Deadspin]

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Thunder vs. Lakers: Score and Twitter Reaction from 2014 Regular Season

The Oklahoma City Thunder held on late for a 104-103 over the Los Angeles Lakers inside the Staples Center on Friday night.

Hounded by the Thunder’s Andre Roberson, Kobe Bryant couldn’t get a clean in the final seconds, and his shot hit the front iron and bounced out.

Baxter Holmes of ESPN provided comments from Jeremy Lin, who spoke about the shot after the game:

Pro Basketball Talk’s Kurt Helin questioned whether Kobe should’ve gotten the final shot considering his off night:

Bryant struggled from start to finish, going 3-of-15 from the field for nine points. He did, however, add eight rebounds and eight assists.

Nick Young also failed to find a groove. While he knocked down four of his eight shots, scoring 10 points against the Thunder won’t cut it most of the time. More importantly, Young wasn’t on the court for most of the fourth quarter after getting ejected for a flagrant-2 foul. 

On the other side, Russell Westbrook missed 13 field-goal attempts but still managed to score 31 points, dish out 10 assists and grab five boards. He had to do most of the heavy lifting with Kevin Durant out. According to ESPN Stats & Info, only LeBron James and Stephen Curry have more 30-point, 10-assist games:

Reggie Jackson did well to help fill the Durant void, scoring 25 points off the bench.

The big question coming into the game was whether the Thunder would be without Durant. The 2014 MVP injured his right ankle Thursday in the first half against the Golden State Warriors and didn’t appear at all in the second half.

Durant injured the same foot he fractured a few months ago, which caused him to miss the first 17 games of this season.

ESPN.com’s Royce Young reported that Durant would miss the Lakers game and get the ankle looked at again on Saturday:

“I was a little nervous,” Durant said following the 114-109 defeat to the Warriors, per Young. “But I knew when I got up and started walking it felt good. So I just wanted to make sure with the X-rays everything was good.”

Between Durant’s absence and being on a the second half of a back-to-back, Oklahoma City labored early in the game. The Lakers jumped out to a 17-7 lead a little over five-and-a-half minutes into the game after a three-pointer by Ronnie Price.

Price provided a major spark in the first quarter and was a big reason the Lakers held a 26-20 lead heading into the second. He nailed four three-pointers and scored 14 points, four below his career high, per Mike Trudell of Lakers.com:

Offensively, Oklahoma City looked sluggish. The Lakers entered the game with the worst defensive rating in the league. Even without Durant, the Thunder only scoring 20 points in the first quarter was surprising.

Helin felt OKC needed to be more aggressive in the paint:

In the second quarter, the Thunder began finding their footing, in large part because Westbrook kept getting to the foul line. By halftime, the All-Star point guard attempted and made 13 free throws, scoring 21 points and dishing out five dimes.

While anybody can tell you Oklahoma City is better with Westbrook on the floor, ESPN Stats & Info provided the extent to which the Thunder were better with him in the first half:

Jackson also chipped in, recovering well from his 2-of-8 shooting night against the Warriors on Thursday. He was 5-of-9 from the floor in the first two quarters for 12 points.

Meanwhile, Price completely cooled off from his hot start, failing to score a single point in the second quarter. Bryant also failed to make much of an impact, going 1-of-6 for five points. The Thunder made sure to smother Kobe at every available opportunity:

Oklahoma City grabbed its first lead, 50-48, after a bucket by Serge Ibaka with 40 seconds left in the half. The Thunder led 52-50 heading into the locker room.

OKC added to the lead in the third quarter, outscoring the Lakers 30-23. Anthony Morrow nailed a three-pointer at the buzzer, capping off a solid 12 minutes for the Thunder and giving them an 82-73 edge heading into the final frame.

As if overcoming a nine-point deficit wasn’t tough enough for Los Angeles, Young was ejected 37 seconds into the quarter after earning a flagrant-2 foul for using his forearm/elbow to Steven Adams’ throat.

The Lakers, however, fought back, taking a 91-88 lead with 7:13 to go following a three from Wayne Ellington.

The two teams exchanged the lead for the majority of the final five minutes. Neither side could enjoy a long spell before going back down again.

An off-the-ball foul by Carlos Boozer on Jackson sent the Thunder guard to the foul line with the Lakers clinging to a 101-100 lead in the final 65 seconds. Jackson knocked down both free throws to again put the Thunder on top. Westbrook followed with a jumper to make it a three-point game, 104-101, with 38 seconds to go.

Everybody knew Bryant would get the ball on Los Angeles’ final possession, and Roberson did extremely well to hang with him and prevent him from getting a wide-open look. 

Oklahoma City gets a much-needed day off on Saturday before heading home. The Thunder play the New Orleans Pelicans on Sunday and then welcome in the Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday.

The Lakers take Saturday off before hitting the road and heading north to play the Sacramento Kings on Sunday.

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Lessons Seton Hall Basketball Can Take from the Wichita State Loss

One thing different about this year’s Pirates is the introduction of youth. After losing four seniors to graduation and another big man to professional basketball overseas after last season, there were a lot of questions as to how head coach Kevin Willard would get his team ready for year two of the new Big East conference.

Also, after an improbable defeat to then No. 8 Villanova in last year’s Big East tournament, the Pirates needed to find an identity with this young group in order to be in a position to make some noise in the conference this season.

Nonconference schedules are supposed to be tune-ups for the real show—in this team’s case, Big East play. The Pirates have excelled in their “noncon” slate, opening the 2014-15 campaign on a 9-1 start (the team’s best since the 2009-10 season).

The first ten games have seen the expected leadership out of guys like senior Brandon Mobley (10.9 points per game) and junior Sterling Gibbs (16.6 points per game), as well as the emergence of highly-touted recruit Isaiah Whitehead. The freshman has even contributed 12.6 points per contest on his end.

Above everything, the Pirates have even gotten national attention, receiving as many as 57 votes for the Associated Press’s Top 25 Coaches Poll. There’s no question the first couple of weeks for the Pirates have seen a surplus of highs as this team gets ready to take on the likes of the conference, but perhaps no game this season has been (or will be) more important to this young team than the 77-68 loss to No. 11 Wichita State on December 9.

The loss grounded the Pirates, who were riding high on the national attention. One could say the loss is just what the Pirates needed before the conference schedule begins. Here is how the Pirates can build off of that loss.

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F Akoy Agau will transfer from No. 4 Louisville (Yahoo Sports)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Louisville coach Rick Pitino has announced that reserve sophomore forward Akoy Agau will transfer after this semester.

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Thunder vs. Warriors: Score and Twitter Reaction from 2014 Regular Season

The Golden State Warriors earned a hard-fought 114-109 home victory over the rapidly rising Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday night.

Stephen Curry led all scorers with 34 points on 14-of-24 shooting. Klay Thompson provided plenty of support with 19 points. As a team, Golden State recorded 32 assists to just nine turnovers, in contrast to Oklahoma City, which had 17 and 15 respectively.

Russell Westbrook did his best to single-handedly push the Thunder over the top in the second half, scoring 33 points and dishing out eight assists on the night.

Westbrook didn’t have the support of Kevin Durant after halftime due to the Thunder star suffering an ankle injury, which limited him to just 19 minutes on the court. Durant shone brightly in his limited appearance, scoring 30 points on 10-of-13 shooting, including 5-of-6 from behind the arc.

Durant hurt his right ankle stepping on Marreese Speights‘ foot with seconds remaining in the first half.

ESPN.com’s Royce Young reported that Durant sprained the ankle, and he didn’t return for the second half:

Replacing a player of Durant’s caliber is impossible, and the Thunder didn’t get enough from the supporting cast to compensate for his exit.

It’s hard to add much weight to a regular-season game in the middle of December, but you couldn’t help but to see this game as a bit of a litmus test for both teams.

The Warriors are arguably the best team in the league at the moment, and beating the Thunder at full strength would keep Golden State atop its perch.

Meanwhile, few expected Oklahoma City to return to form so quickly after getting both Westbrook and Durant back. A win over the Warriors would add further validation to the idea that the Thunder are once again among the West’s elite.

Golden State already owned one win against OKC entering Thursday. Head coach Steve Kerr made sure to qualify that victory, noting that winning tonight would be much more difficult, per Sam Amick of USA Today:

As the Warriors pointed out on Twitter, this battle also pitted two of the NBA‘s top defensive units against one another:

Golden State, however, entered with a big disadvantage, both literally and figuratively. The team announced earlier Thursday that Andrew Bogut will be out indefinitely, per Rusty Simmons of the San Francisco Chronicle:

His absence leaves a big hole inside, one the Thunder were happy to exploit early on. Marcus Thompson of the Bay Area News Group noted how Curry especially was having trouble. Bogut often serves as the safety valve should Curry’s defender blow by and drive into the paint:

Oklahoma City jumped on the Warriors early, running out to a 30-13 lead six minutes and 44 seconds into the first quarter. The Thunder wrapped up the first frame with a 40-32 advantage. Golden State had no answer for Durant and Westbrook, who combined to shoot 10-of-17 for 29 points, per ESPN Stats & Info:

Golden State, Curry in particular, responded in kind in the second quarter, locking down on the defensive end and knocking down key shots on the offensive end. The Warriors clawed back to within a point, 48-47, 7:37 from halftime.

Just as the Warriors were having trouble corralling the Thunder’s biggest stars, Oklahoma City found itself at times helpless as Curry knocked down clutch three-pointers, such as this shot that gave the Warriors a 55-52 lead, via NBA on TNT:

That was the start of an 8-0 run, which helped propel the Warriors to a 65-63 halftime lead.

Golden State struck a good offensive balance in the first half. Curry led the way with 19 points, adding six assists. Thompson and Draymond Green also scored in double figures, while the bench contributed 15 points.

The bulk of Oklahoma City’s scoring was left to Durant and Westbrook, who had 30 and 15, respectively. The 30 points were Durant’s most this season:

Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman wasn’t convinced, though. He questioned whether the Thunder were a little too reliant on the duo, which is the most common refrain about the team’s offense:

Durant’s importance to the team is obvious, and ESPN Stats & Info provided the quantitative first-half data illustrating the extent—at least in terms of Thursday night—of the decline in performance:

Without No. 35 on the court, Oklahoma City simply couldn’t break through, and when it did, it quickly ceded the advantage.

The Thunder continued to hang around, but Golden State kept them at arm’s reach. The Warriors owned a 94-89 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

Serge Ibaka and Andre Roberson stepped up a bit to help shoulder the scoring load, while Westbrook wasn’t shy about looking for his shot. The length and athleticism of the Thunder defense also helped to keep Oklahoma City in the game.

The Thunder took the lead in the fourth quarter, 105-104, with three minutes left following a jump shot from Westbrook. Golden State answered with three straight buckets to get back into the driver’s seat and own a five-point advantage with 1:39 to go.

A Harrison Barnes fadeaway iced the game for Golden State in the dying seconds. Young felt that it just wasn’t OKC‘s night:

Tim Bontemps of the New York Post also felt the play demonstrated Golden State’s team mentality, even in the crucial moments:

Durant’s injury not only made OKC‘s defeat somewhat inevitable, it also robbed NBA fans of what could’ve been a potential game of the year. The first half produced breathless, end-to-end basketball. The second was slightly more plodding, with the specter of Durant’s absence hanging throughout.

Luckily for Oklahoma City fans, his injury doesn’t appear to be too serious, as relayed by Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports:

The Thunder stay on the West Coast for their next game. They move down the California coast to play the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday.

Golden State gets a couple of days off before starting a rough stretch of four games in six days. The Warriors welcome in the Sacramento Kings on Monday night.

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Virginia Basketball: 5 Eye-Popping Stats from Cavaliers in 2014-15

The No. 6 Virginia Cavaliers are off to their best start since 2000-01 after improving to 10-0 on Thursday with a win over Cleveland State. The 70-54 win was UVA’s ninth win by double digits on the season.

As usual, a stingy defense has led to Virginia’s outstanding start. The Cavaliers are at or near the top of several defensive categories.

UVA has been efficient on the offensive end, particularly guard Justin Anderson. Anderson leads the Hoos in scoring, averaging 16 points per game. 

There are several reasons why Virginia is 10-0. Here are five eye-popping statistics that have either led the Cavaliers to their hot start or could cost them at some point during the season. 

All statistical rankings are courtesy of NCAA.com and prior to Virginia’s win over Cleveland State on Thursday.

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Takeaways from Zach LaVine’s Performance for Minnesota Timberwolves so Far

The 2014 NBA season is as young as Zach LaVine‘s career, but already there are some takeaways to garner. Due to the many injuries on the Minnesota Timberwolves roster, LaVine has taken over the reins as the team’s starting point guard.

The 6’5″ rookie from UCLA wasn’t drafted because of his college stat line or his ability to make an immediate impact; his value lies in his potential. He’s fast, he can shoot from beyond the arc and he may be the best dunker in the NBA (as seen in the GIF below).

LaVine’s ceiling is high, but so far this season, he’s looked like any other struggling rookie. 

 

LaVine Has Big-Game Potential but He’s Not Consistent

The 19-year-old rookie has had his fair share of ups and downs. In a 120-119 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on November 28, LaVine had a breakout performance, racking up 28 points and five assists. The very next game, in a 107-93 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers, he shot 0-of-3 and tallied zero points and zero assists.

The potential is there, but the consistency is not. Through 21 games (12 starts), he has a very mediocre stat line: 9.1 points per game, 3.5 assists per game and a horrid 39.1 field-goal percentage. 

In December, LaVine is averaging an impressive 11.4 points per game, but he’s only shooting 37.5 percent from the floor (according to ESPN). He’s improving the quantity but not the quality. 

LaVine has shown glimpses of potential, but those games are usually surrounded by nights of mediocrity. He’s very raw, but with time, we may see more ups than downs from the young point guard.

 

LaVine is a Much Better Facilitator Than Expected

At UCLA, he only averaged 1.8 assists per game. In his defense, LaVine was only a freshman, and he didn’t have a lot of experience as a floor general (with only one start in his collegiate career). 

The biggest pleasant surprise this season for LaVine has been his competence as a passer. In four of his 12 starts, the rookie has racked up eight or more assists. In college, he never recorded more than six assists in a single game.

His best performance of the year came on December 6 in a 123-101 loss to the San Antonio Spurs, when he recorded 22 points and 10 assists—his first career double-double. 

Much like his scoring ability, he can occasionally have big games as a facilitator, but he hasn’t been very consistent. Eventually, Rubio will come back, and the team won’t depend on LaVine as its primary passer.

 

LaVine Has Struggled from Beyond the Arc

When LaVine entered the draft, one of the big selling points was his ability to shoot from long range. In college, he shot 37.5 percent on three-point attempts. 

Unfortunately, his shot hasn’t transitioned well to the big leagues. He is currently shooting only 25 percent from downtown. 

In his defense, not only is he a teenager, but the NBA three-point line is about four feet farther from the basket than it is in college. With more time and experience, LaVine’s long-range efficiency will most likely increase. 

 

In Conclusion

His 8.05 player efficiency rating is well below the league average (15), and he’s shooting under 40 percent from the field (which is the basketball version of the Mendoza), but he has shown signs of being a great future player. 

He’s had two 20-plus-point performances this season, both in which he shot over 50 percent.

He’s also been one of the best rookies in this year’s class. LaVine currently ranks fourth in points per game and second in assists per game among rookies, according to ESPN. He’s also the only point guard in his class who has a double-double. 

He’s clearly very talented, but it will take at least a few more years before LaVine becomes a consistent contributor. 

 

All stats are courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted.

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UNC Basketball: 5 Eye-Popping Stats from Tar Heels in 2014-15

Through 10 games of the 2014-15 season, the numbers reveal a handful of interesting developments for the 7-3 North Carolina Tar Heels.

Some of the gaudiest figures, either positively—such as Kennedy Meeks‘ field-goal percentageor negatively such as the team’s three-point dietare explainable even in their extremeness.

Others though just jump right off the proverbial screen. The following eye-popping stats deliver outcomes no one rightly expected while giving a fair representation of everything that’s going on for UNC this season.

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