MIAMI – Heat guard Mario Chalmers can only think of one time he was more hyped to play than he was in Wednesday’s Game 2 against the Chicago Bulls in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
It was Feb. 23, 2012, the day he played a role in putting an end to Jeremy Lin and the craze that was “Linsanity.”
“It was close to that,” Chalmers said. “Not that much, but it was really close. You could say that.”
Just like Chalmers felt slighted about Lin receiving weeks of national attention, the feeling was the same after a day of chatter about the Bulls’ Nate Robinson, who had scored 27 points in their Game 1 upset.
Chalmers and teammate Norris Cole took the brunt of the blame.
They made sure not to let it happen again.
Robinson scored just 11 points on 3-of-10 shooting in the Heat’s 115-78 victory to even the series at 1. After the game there was no chatter of them being unable to defend at point guard.
Just talk of a strong defensive effort.
“It was personal for me just for the fact that I let my man score that many points,” Chalmers said. “Personally, I wanted to take the challenge and do my best on him. My mind-set was just to cut off the head of the team.”
THE KOBE BRYANT memorabilia story has taken another turn: The Los Angeles Lakers’ star claims he never gave his mother permission to sell some of his basketball mementos.
Bryant’s lawyers have asked New Jersey-based Goldin Auctions to terminate plans to sell items from Bryant’s high school days and early Lakers career.
They had been put up for sale by his mother, Pamela, who received a $450,000 advance from the auction house to help purchase a Nevada home.
Her son informed her five years ago he no longer wanted the memorabilia, Pamela Bryant said.
Kobe Bryant denied granting that permission in his response to a federal lawsuit filed by Goldin Auctions demanding to know why the auction should be stopped.
BULLS: All-Star forward Luol Deng was at the Bulls’ practice facility, one day after a 115-78 loss to Miami tied their playoff series at 1-1. Deng said he is feeling better, but is still very weak and doesn’t know when he will be able to play again.
Deng was hospitalized with the flu, and then had complications with a spinal tap that led to a second procedure.
He said he lost 15 pounds in a matter of days.
It looks as if Deng and injured point guard Kirk Hinrich will be out again when the series resumes Friday night.
THUNDER: All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook expects to be on crutches for about 4 to 5 weeks as he returns from knee surgery that has knocked him out of Oklahoma City’s playoff run.
Westbrook held his first interview session since having surgery to repair cartilage in his right knee.
He was hurt in Game 2 of Oklahoma City’s first-round playoff series with Houston.
The Thunder have gone 3-3 without him and head to Memphis on Saturday for Game 3 of the Western Conference semifinals. That series is tied 1-1.
FOUR SERIES, and all knotted at one game apiece, the first time that’s ever happened in the second round of the NBA playoffs under the current league format, according to STATS LLC.
For favorites like Miami, New York, San Antonio and Oklahoma City, home-court advantage has disappeared, and now underdogs can control their own fates simply by taking care of business on their home floors.
Easier said than done, naturally.
The Heat, Knicks, Spurs and Thunder are four of the league’s top five winningest road teams this season — which probably isn’t great news for Chicago, Indiana, Golden State and Memphis, the lower-seeded clubs who will all be hosting pivotal Game 3s when NBA playoff action resumes on Friday and Saturday.
PACERS: Indiana is trying to revive its season-long secret to success. Play hard, play tough and play rough.
The philosophy has been a lesson in frustration for opponents. Indiana’s rough-and-tumble play got Atlanta out of sync and out of sorts, leading to a six-game, first-round exit.
It got to the Knicks in Game 1 of this second-round series, too.
New York managed to rebound in Game 2, reverting to its more traditional style and turning up the pressure on the Pacers.
NUGGETS: General Manager Masai Ujiri was named the NBA’s executive of the year, a day after George Karl was named the league’s top coach.
Ujiri, the first African-born GM in major American sports, built the Nuggets team that won an NBA franchise-record 57 games and went an NBA-best 38-3 at home before bowing out in the first round of the playoffs.