In the lane
Heat two-way forward Yante Maten has thrived at the start of the season in the G League with the Sioux Falls Skyforce. SPO VS. POP: Hours before Gregg Popovich popped into Erik Spoelstra’s postgame media session Wednesday, the Heat’s coach was asked if he could relate to San Antonio Spurs players over the years, such as Tim Duncan, allowing Popovich to coach them hard. “I think mine’s the opposite,” Spoelstra said of his star talent, such as Dwyane Wade. “I allowed them to coach me hard and told me what to do. So completely the opposite. But Dwyane has really been an incredible experience for me, to be along this journey with him, going back to when I was an assistant coach, when he was a rookie, all the way to now and everything we’ve experienced. It’s something that I treasure. He’s made my job a lot easier. Early on, he did that because of his Hall of Fame talent. The last few years, it’s still that talent. But where he’s helped more than anything is his leadership, his experience, his voice, his guidance with teams. You can’t measure that.”
SPEAKING OF: Popovich was so disappointed with his team’s effort in their Wednesday loss at AmericanAirlines Arena that he brought his team in for a Thursday practice in San Antonio after the overnight flight back from Miami. “I’ve seen my fair share of moments, so this one is kind of up there in the mix just because the stuff we were getting beat at is stuff that we control, not Xs and Os, not necessarily game-skill stuff,” veteran guard Patty Mills told San Antonio’s Express News. “Sometimes it’s better to come and squash the stuff that we weren’t great at . . . rather than having a day to dwell on it at home.”
LEBRON REUNION: The Los Angeles Lakers’ addition of Tyson Chandler reunites him with 2011 NBA Finals foil LeBron James, with Chandler’s Dallas Mavericks winning that series against James’ Heat. James would rebound to win three championships of his own. “He went on to win several more, so I can’t say nothing,” Chandler said upon his arrival. “He trumps my one with a whole bunch of ‘em and MVPs. So I’m gonna leave that talk alone. I’m happy I got the one I got.”
STRONG STANCE: While coach of the Memphis Grizzlies, former Heat assistant David Fizdale was vocal in his call for the removal of Confederate monuments. As coach of the New York Knicks he did not pull punches when discussing the election climate. “Obviously there’s a lot of turmoil in our country over this stuff,” Fizdale said during the Knicks’ visit to Atlanta. “At some point I just hope we can get to a place where we can do this with the right temperament and set the right tone for our children. Because right now, what’s been happening over the last two years is an embarrassment.”
EARLY GOING: Detroit Pistons coach Dwane Casey said in advance of this past week’s game against the Heat that he still sees the post-LeBron Eastern Conference evolving. “The Eastern Conference hasn’t gone anywhere,” he said. “It’s going to be nip and tuck one through eight the entire season. So we got to make sure we’re getting better, making improvements, making strides and continue to stick together. It’s on us. Everybody has us picked eighth or seventh. It’s on us to continue to improve to put ourselves in position to be in that playoff hunt.”
Years since a player last blocked at least nine shots against the Spurs, as Hassan Whiteside did on Wednesday night. Shaquille O’Neal last did it in Dec. 3, 2003 while with the Los Angeles Lakers.