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


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SHOW­DOWN LOOMS: Hav­ing had his share of mo­ments against the Heat while coach of the Char­lotte Hor­nets, it comes as no sur­prise to Steve

that his Or­lando Magic are faced with a play­off-race show­down Tues­day at Amer­i­canAir­lines Arena. “If you looked at the six teams [at the All-Star break], to me if there was one thing you knew, you knew that Mi­ami would be play­ing bet­ter at the end than they were then,” Clif­ford told the Or­lando Sen­tinel of the evolv­ing sce­nario at the bot­tom of the East play­off race. “That’s the one cer­tainty, just be­cause of the way they are. And we can still be the other team that does that.” Of the race, Magic guard

said, “We shouldn’t think about what the Heat are do­ing. It’s about us and play­ing good bas­ket­ball and win­ning games.” Added Or­lando for­ward Aaron Gor­don, “It’s not so much about the other teams. It’s about what we do. We know we’re gonna have a chance to play our way into the play­offs, so we just take it one day at a time.”

The Heat’s week then will close out with a Sat­ur­day game against the Knicks and former Heat as­sis­tant David Fiz­dale, who has been balanc­ing get­ting his young team to the fin­ish line and also pre­par­ing for free-agent re­cruit­ing. “Right now,” he told re­porters. “I’m so far away from that, guys. I’m like in a dark room right now with these guys. Free agency for me is like mil­lions of miles away.” Only it isn’t, and it likely will be when Fiz­dale’s per­son­al­ity ul­ti­mately comes into play for the Knicks.

NUMEROLOGY: Just as the Heat will do sooner rather than later for Udo­nis Haslem, the Ok­la­homa City Thun­der on Wed­nes­day re­tired Nick Col­li­son‘s jer­sey, No. 4. In many ways, Col­li­son was the Thun­der’s Haslem, re­tir­ing last sea­son af­ter a 15-year ca­reer that in­cluded only 15 ap­pear­ances his fi­nal sea­son for 75 to­tal min­utes. Said Thun­der cen­ter Steven Adams to the Ok­la­homan, “He’s more of a cul­ture-builder. That guy, you know? He’s one of these dudes that’s con­stantly pro­fes­sional and very . . . he’s not emo­tion­less, but he’s pretty steady. Said Thun­der guard Ray­mond Fel­ton, with Haslem-like rev­er­ence, “He was a big brother. He was a guy that had been in this or­ga­ni­za­tion his en­tire ca­reer.” In Ok­la­homa City a game be­fore the Col­li­son cer­e­mony, Haslem said of cul­ture play­ers such as him­self and Col­li­son, “They know you’re gonna sac­ri­fice be­yond mea­sure to do what it takes to help the team. Nick has earned those guys’ re­spect from that as­pect.”

FAREWELL TOURS: Speak­ing of farewells, the San An­to­nio Spurs are in the midst of a stretch that in­cluded Dwyane Wade‘s fi­nal ap­pear­ance at the AT&T Cen­ter, to be fol­lowed by Thurs­day’s re­tire­ment of Manu Gi­no­bili‘s jer­sey, with up­com­ing games re­main­ing against Vince Carter and Dirk Now­itzki, who both might re­tire af­ter the sea­son. “When­ever you lose those guys, peo­ple who have been house­hold names for so long, you feel it,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich told the Ex­press News. “The good thing is we have a lot of young play­ers who keep ma­tric­u­lat­ing and turn­ing out to be good play­ers. So we will be in good shape, but we will miss those guys when they fi­nally stop.”

BE­ING PRE­SENT: Even with his seven-game ma­ter­nity break, the only road venues Wade did not play amid this re­tire­ment sea­son have been In­di­ana and Mem­phis. At a ques­tion-and-an­swer ses­sion in New York, Kobe Bryant spoke of the mean­ing of such a com­mit­ment. “There are kids in the crowd and fam­i­lies in the crowd . . . this will be the only time they get a chance to see you,” he said, in ad­dress­ing the ap­proach of play­ers tak­ing games off for rest. “They save up their hard-earned money to watch you per­form. So, you can walk and per­form, get there and per­form.” NBA coaches to win at least 300 games with more than one team, with Los An­ge­les Clip­pers coach Doc Rivers this past week join­ing the group that in­cludes Heat Pres­i­dent Pat Ri­ley. Rivers has done it with the Celtics and Clip­pers; Ri­ley did it with the Lak­ers and Heat. Phil Jack­son, Ge­orge Karl, Dick Motta, Don Nel­son and Lenny Wilkens also have done it.


Even amid the NCAA Tour­na­ment, Zion Wil­liamson also looms over the NBA, with a trickle-down im­pact to the Heat. Clif­ford Evan Fournier THEN NEW YORK:

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