2014 NBA playoffs: Miami Heat vs. Charlotte Bobcat | Game 2

Will Josh McRoberts get fined for foul on LeBron James?

rbonnell@charlotteobserver.comApril 23, 2014 

— Is Charlotte Bobcats power forward Josh McRoberts going to hear from the NBA about his foul at the rim on Miami Heat superstar LeBron James?

McRoberts made a hard foul on James with 50 seconds left in Wednesday’s game, a 101-97 Heat victory. Replay indicated his elbow collided with James’ throat. James hit the floor hard and took several seconds to “catch his breath” – his words – before taking two free throws.

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra made it clear he thought that should have been a flagrant foul. Asked if he got an explanation from referees why it wasn’t, Spoelstra said, “Nothing that seemed rational.”

McRoberts said the foul “looked worse than it was.”

“We just kind of got caught up in the air there,” he said. “I have to see it, but for me (in) real time, he was coming pretty fast down the lane. He’s a real strong guy and I was trying to stop him from first getting the shot up.”

James said little when asked about the play, other than he didn’t need to see a replay.

The NBA office has the authority after the fact to upgrade McRoberts’ foul or otherwise assess a punishment if it’s ruled more excessive than a common foul.

Tightened rotation: Bobcats coach Steve Clifford hinted before the game of changes to the rotation that could involve rookie forward-center Cody Zeller.

That came to fruition when Zeller took all the minutes normally portioned to backup center Bismack Biyombo.

This was Biyombo’s first “did not play – coach’s decision” since mid-January. No Bobcats reserve played more than 16 minutes.

“As soon as we subbed, our defense went down and our turnovers went up,” Clifford said of his decision to play every starter at least 31 minutes.

Texts from the boss: Clifford communicates a lot with team owner Michael Jordan via text message. Clifford said he benefits from the feedback.

“He’ll text me sometimes just with things that he sees. He knows our team,” Clifford said before the game.

“I appreciate how he treats me – he gives me suggestions, but he always says, ‘You’re the coach; do what you think.’ 

That’s very similar to how Jordan interacted with Clifford’s predecessor, Mike Dunlap. Jordan and the front office would offer feedback, but Dunlap was never dictated to, in terms of his player rotation.

OBSERVATIONS

• So I guess Heat big man Chris “Birdman” Andersen was the most famous athlete to pass through Blinn College until a certain quarterback named Cam Newton showed up there during 2009.

• So much of Heat home games seems to be about everything except the actual game. I know, it’s Miami, full of glitz, but that’s a pretty fantastic product and sometimes it feels like the noise, the flamethrowers and the music take precedence.

• Interesting comeback by Clifford when a Miami writer asked whether Jordan would attend Game 2: Clifford said when you’re worried about LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, there’s not time to worry about much else.

• You were there the day James was called for an offensive foul.

• Miami was the only team with home-court advantage in the first round to hold serve – go up 2-0 before leaving for the other team’s two guaranteed games.

BY THE NUMBERS

2-of-9 Al Jefferson’s start from the field. He’s toughing out his plantar fascia injury, but it’s difficult for him to get to his favored spots on the floor.

5-for-20 Combined shooting by Bobcats guards Kemba Walker, Gerald Henderson and Gary Neal during the first half.

7 Consecutive victories by the Miami Heat at Time Warner Cable Arena. Will that streak end Saturday, Monday or not this season?

8 Where James ranks in career postseason scoring. His 27 points in Game 1 against the Bobcats pushed him ahead of Larry Bird. With about 500 more playoff points, he would pass Jerry West.

8-0 The record of teams James has played for in first-round playoff series.

25 Number of home victories by the Bobcats this season, second-most to their 31 in 2009-10.

Bonnell: 704-358-5129; Twitter: @rick_bonnell

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