Cumberland Times-News

Local Sports

February 18, 2013

NBA to resume, with Lakers in funk and Heat on top

(Continued)

“We just want to play our game,” he said. “We want to continue to get better each and every game. Not waste an opportunity when we get on the floor. Play as a team and if we do that, we’ll be fine.

The Heat overwhelmed the Thunder in Oklahoma City on Thursday in an NBA Finals rematch, improving to just 13-11 on the road. All-Star forward Chris Bosh said Miami is only a 7 on a scale of 1 to 10, believing the Heat still have to put together a string of road victories to prove they are really in championship form.

“Just the fact that we had room to improve, we can play better on the road and we’re still first in the East, that means a lot to us and that means we can get a lot better,” Bosh said.

New York is the closest challenger in the standings, while Indiana and Chicago have already beaten Miami this season and could become stronger with Danny Granger soon returning to the Pacers and perhaps Derrick Rose coming back to the Bulls at some point.

San Antonio, with the league’s best record, Oklahoma City and the Clippers are the teams in best position to face the Heat if they reach their third straight finals.

The Lakers were considered a candidate, but that was long ago.

The summer acquisitions of Howard and Nash were supposed to get the Lakers right back to the top. But Nash was hurt early and Howard has never fully recovered from back surgery, adding a torn labrum in his right shoulder to his problems.

He has not fit well in Mike D’Antoni’s offense and has acknowledged not always having fun this season. What’s more, he has given the Lakers no guarantee he will return when he becomes a free agent in July. But would they really deal a player who was the NBA’s dominant big man before his injuries?

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