The Miami Heat feels there is a certain amount of jealousy among other teams in the NBA following a summer in which they retained free-agent guard Dwyane Wade and also signed LeBron James and Chris Bosh on the opener market. While Heat players believe opponents are taking cheap shots in some early-season games, they vow not to back down.
"Teams are being a little bit chippy with us," James said. "Maybe we need to do the same."
The Heat has been victimized by three flagrant fouls this season. James was knocked into the stands by a shoulder block from the Nets' Terrence Williams, James Jones was taken down by the Jazz's Ronnie Price while going in for a layup and James was knocked to the floor by the Celtics' Shaquille O'Neal.
"That's how we're being played, and we understand that, and we welcome it," Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said. "And we are a physical team, as well."
The Heat has yet to commit a flagrant foul this season. However, forward Udonis Haslem says Miami will take care of things when necessary.
"There's going to be plenty of times where we're not going to always be getting the flagrant fouls," he said. "We're going to be giving 'em, too. Don't think that people are just going to keep flagrant fouling us. I just haven't had a chance to catch nobody yet. We're not just going to keep taking the flagrant fouls around here, I'll tell you that right now."
Williams threw his body block at James because he felt the Heat was showing up the Nets during a 101-89 victory on November 6. New Jersey coach Avery Johnson said Miami was in "Globetrotter mode."
Thus, the Nets were also talking about taking business if need be. They have a team that is admittedly short on toughness and grit. The defense is also lacking as Johnson has a goal of holding opponents to 44 percent field-goal shooting but that figure is 45.7, which ranks 16th in the league. Nets opponents have a 49.9 effective field-goal percentage, which is 15th.
"We need guys to take more charges," Johnson said. "We need volunteers, but also it's just got to happen. We need more guys raising their hands and being more committed to what we want defensively."
The Nets admit they need a mean streak. Johnson wants to see a more aggressive team that sets hard screens and blocks shots, in addition to taking charges.
"Guys have taken offense to what other teams and other players think about us around the league," Williams said. "Hopefully it will change. We play for the guys who have 'Nets' across their chests."
Added point guard Devin Harris: "Sometimes, we let them get into the lane a little bit too easy without repercussions. I'm not saying we need to hurt some of the guys but we do need to protect our basket a little more."
Johnson knew coming into his first year on the job that he would need patience in taking over a team that was an NBA-worst 12-70 last season. He would like to see New Jersey get mentally tough as well as physically tough.
"When you're breaking down in the third quarters of games, part of it is physical conditioning, part of it is mental conditioning and mental toughness, part of it is maturity, part of it is us still trying to find our chemistry," Johnson said. "And a big part is you have to give the other team credit for turning it up."
Sale of Warriors Approved
Everything is going well for the Golden State Warriors so far this season. They are off to a surprising 6-4 start and the sale of the franchise is now complete after GSW Sports LLC was unanimously approved by the NBA Board of Governors.
GSW Sports LLC is led by Joe Lacob and Peter Guber. It has a group of six board members and multiple investors.
"The unmatched passion of this Bay Area fan base played a huge role in my pursuit of this dream come true, and I'm looking forward to a tremendous ride on our journey to the return to greatness," Lacob said.
Added Gruber: "This is a tremendous opportunity for new ownership, the Warriors franchise and its great fans. I'm convinced that we have formed a passionate and well-diversified group. With the financial and intellectual commitment of the board members and investors, and Warriors fans as the truly key partners in this endeavor, we will not fail."
The Warriors haven't had much success recently, though. They have been to the playoffs just once in the last 16 years, that appearance coming in 2006-07, and last made it to the NBA Finals in 1974-75, beating the Bullets.
Sloan Agrees to Extension
Utah Jazz coach Jerry Sloan will be coming back for his 24th season in 2011-12. While the Jazz has yet to make an announcement, Sloan has indicated he has agreed to an extension and general manager Kevin O'Connor also suggests an official agreement is coming soon.
"We're going to go into some uncertain times after the season," O'Connor said, referring to the collective bargaining agreement between the owners and players set to expire at the end of this season. "So we want to have some certainty as far as the coach goes."
Sloan is in his 23rd season and has compiled a 1,102-662 record. The Jazz leads the Northwest Division with a 7-3 record and has won five consecutive games, overcoming double digits in each of the last four over the span of the last five days.
Though Sloan is 68, O'Connor compares him to 83-year-old Penn State football coach Joe Paterno.
"I think he's kind of young," O'Connor said.
Saunders Demands More from Wizards in Practice
The Washington Wizards had a long day Monday. They began practice in the afternoon, but coach Flip Saunders was so upset by his team's lack of intensity that he blew his whistles moments into the session and ordered everyone off the floor of the Verizon Center.
Saunders then got the Wizards back together that evening to resume practice. After the first try at practice, Saunders asked his team, then 1-5, if it truly wanted to get better.
"It's not something that's done as a penalty," Saunders said of delaying practice. "It's something that's done because we are a young team and you want to get better. You want to get better. If your team is not getting better there's no sense in wasting your time or my time."
Saunders said his players were shocked at first but responded much better once they returned.
"I'm sure this isn't the first time John Wall was thrown out of practice," Saunders said. "I'm sure it happened at Kentucky. The main thing is as a coach you don't want to pick up any bad habits. We're picking up too many. The idea was to come back with a fresh attitude and do it all over again."
The results have mixed in games since Saunders' move. Washington has split a pair of games to go to 2-6.
John Perrotto is an author of Basketball Prospectus.
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