In the lane

South Florida Sun-Sentinel (Sunday) - - Sports -

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.


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