Guard/forward Jimmy Butler suggested he’s been more aggressive in looking to score over the past week or so, adding it’s probably something the struggling Heat needed.
“I just feel like we lost a couple games maybe because I haven’t been as aggressive as I’m supposed to be,” Butler told reporters. “We talked about how that had to change.”
It hasn’t gone unnoticed.
“I think it’s been great for each and every one of us throughout the lineup. He’s the guy that when you establish him early, he’s always going to make the right play and he’s going to be incredibly efficient, and he’s done it his whole career,” power forward Kevin Love said. “So when he does that, when he really gets himself going, gets in attack mode, whether he’s shooting the ball or getting to the free-throw line or setting up other players, that’s when we’re at our best.”
- The Heat advanced to the Finals as a No. 8 seed last season. They enter Saturday in seventh in the Eastern Conference. “We straight,” Butler said. “We always was even whenever we were losing games. We just got to get back to playing the right way, which we have, believing in one another, smiling and enjoying the process. Because I feel like we’ve hit that adversity, we got through it and now it’s time to roll.”
Guard Trae Young was snubbed for the All-Star Game, but he sure looked like a star in compiling 32 points and 15 assists in the Hawks’ home win over the Suns.
“Obviously Trae wants to be in the All-Star game. Anyone who plays in this league wants to,” coach Quin Snyder said. “One of the things about the way he is playing, he’s not playing for accolades. He’s playing to win, and you saw that tonight. … Trae did some special things tonight and I don’t know if he did that because he had any extra motivation. You’ll have to ask him. I just felt like he was playing well.”
- For the record, Young said he would indeed go as an injury replacement should the opportunity present itself and the league asks.
Not much was made of it nationally, but for the Magic, Friday’s road win over the West-leading Timberwolves was quite the accomplishment.
“The past few years we were down a lot and learning how to play from behind and continuing to come back,” guard Jalen Suggs said. “Now we’re figuring out how to close ’em out. Some nights are better than others, but we’re continually learning and you just see the progress that we’re making. We’re having fun doing it.”
- The Magic haven’t made the playoffs in four years — and haven’t won a playoff series in 14 years. But they could be on their way this season. They enter Saturday tied for eighth in the East.