MIAMI — Bam Adebayo walked off the court after the gold-medal game at the Tokyo Olympics back in August, proudly having draped the U.S. flag over his shoulders, and asked a question on his way toward the winning locker room.
“Where’s my banner?”
He’ll never have to ask that again.
The Heat hang banners to commemorate when members of the team win Olympic gold medals, and Adebayo’s was unveiled Friday night in a ceremony at halftime of Miami’s game against the Charlotte Hornets. His is the fifth now swaying from the rafters, joining ones paying tribute to Olympic successes by Alonzo Mourning, Tim Hardaway, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James.
“Mission accomplished,” Adebayo said.
Adebayo said he went to the Olympics with the goal of bringing gold back to Miami, a city that was reeling this summer after a condo collapse in Surfside, Florida, a waterfront town just a few miles north of downtown Miami. The middle-of-the-night crumbling of that building caused 98 deaths.
Adebayo visited the site just before leaving to join USA Basketball for the summer, and said it was on his mind throughout the Olympics.
“It was an incredible accomplishment,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said of Adebayo being part of the gold experience. “Thinking about where he’s come from and his journey to get to that point, to be in a position to help the U.S. Olympic team win a gold, that’s really amazing.”
The Heat unfurled a U.S. flag at midcourt for the brief ceremony. Adebayo — his mother joining him on court for the moment — donned his gold medal for the occasion, then smiled and lifted his arms skyward as gold streamers fell from the ceiling and the banner was finally displayed.
Adebayo averaged 6.3 points and a team-best 5.7 rebounds on 57% shooting at the Tokyo Games. He was one of only three players — Kevin Durant and Damian Lillard were the others — to start all six games at the Olympics for the team coached by Gregg Popovich.
“He was a joy in every way,” Popovich said earlier this month of having Adebayo on the Olympic team.
Adebayo had six points, six rebounds and four assists in the gold-medal game win over France, a victory where the Americans avenged a loss to open the Olympics.
“Bam’s a student of the game, but also of Miami Heat history,” Spoelstra said. “He’s seen the banners go up. That means something to him.”
Philadelphia 76ers’ Joel Embiid, Tobias Harris start vs. Timberwolves on Saturday
Tobias Harris also returned to the starting lineup after missing the last two games with a hip injury.
The shorthanded Sixers went 2-7 without Embiid, who is averaging 21.4 points, 9.6 rebounds and 4 assists this season.
Sacramento Kings outduel Los Angeles Lakers, pull away in 3-OT thriller
In a game that saw 19 ties and 23 lead changes, the Lakers led 126-124 a minute into the third overtime when the Kings went on an 11-2 run to go up by seven with 1:54 remaining. Marvin Bagley III had five points during the spurt, including a three-point play to give Sacramento the lead.
Carmelo Anthony hit a 3-pointer with 9.4 seconds remaining to get the Lakers within a basket, but Hield sank a pair of free throws on the ensuing possession to put it away.
Tyrese Haliburton had 19 points for the Kings, who had seven players in double figures. They are 2-1 under interim coach Alvin Gentry.
The Lakers, who are 10-11 after dropping five of their past seven, had four players with at least 20 points with the first time this season. LeBron James led the way with 30 points, Russell Westbrook added 29, Anthony Davis 23 and Malik Monk 20.
The Lakers scored the first six points of the first overtime and were up 110-103 before the Kings scored seven straight, including Hield’s 3-pointer to tie it with 28 seconds remaining. Davis had a driving layup with 9.0 seconds remaining but Sacramento forced a second OT on Hield’s 18-foot jumper.
The largest lead anyone had in the second overtime was three points. James made a driving layup with 24 seconds remaining to tie it at 124. Sacramento had the final possession, but couldn’t get a shot off.
HOW WE GOT TO OVERTIME
Monk scored 11 points during a 24-8 second-half run that saw the Lakers turn a three-point deficit with 4 minutes to go in the third quarter into an 86-73 advantage with 10:02 remaining.
The Kings would counter through with a 22-5 rally, including eight points from Alex Len, to seize a 98-93 advantage with 2:26 to go. Los Angeles, though, scored seven of the last nine points of regulation to send it to overtime.
After a layup by James gave the Lakers a 100-98 advantage, Fox tied it with a layup with 21 seconds to go. The Lakers had the final shot, but James missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer to send it to overtime.
Kings: It was Fox’s second game this season with at least 30 points. He scored 37 on Nov. 10 at San Antonio. … Terence Davis had 13 points before fouling out in overtime. … Harrison Barnes (right foot sprain) and Richaun Holmes (right eye contusion) were out of the lineup.
Lakers: Anthony (16 points) was 6 of 13 from the field after going 7 of 27 the past two games. … This was Monk’s third game with at least 20 points since joining Los Angeles during the offseason. … Davis reached 800 career steals when he stripped the ball from Fox during the first overtime.
Kings: Travel to Memphis Sunday.
Lakers: Host Detroit Sunday.
‘We’re just trying to build, build’
NEW YORK — The Phoenix Suns haven’t lost a game in a month. And, after beating the New York Knicks here at Madison Square Garden Friday night, they are two wins away from equaling the franchise’s all-time consecutive win streak of 17 games.
To do so, however, the Suns will only have to beat the teams sitting atop both conferences — first facing the East-leading Nets Saturday night in Brooklyn before heading home to play the West-leading Golden State Warriors. It’ll be the first of three games in less than a month against the Warriors, culminating with a Christmas Day showdown between the league’s top two teams thus far.
But while the rest of the NBA may have the consecutive games between two of the league’s three-best teams circled at the moment, one team does not: the Suns themselves.
“This ain’t a playoff game tomorrow,” Chris Paul said with a smile after Phoenix’s 118-97 victory over the Knicks. “It’s good for us to go out there and compete, and we’re probably gonna see different coverages and all that, but we’re just trying to build, build.
“It’s not about winning a game in November.”
The Suns are focused on building toward winning games in May and June. But the whole winning games in November thing? That’s going just fine as Phoenix ripped off its 15th straight victory Friday night in a comprehensive win over the Knicks.
The game was competitive through the first quarter. But, as the game progressed, the Knicks simply melted away, unable to get anything going offensively while simultaneously giving up whatever the Suns wanted at the other end of the court. Phoenix finished the game shooting 55 percent from the field and 13-for-28 from 3-point range.
But it was Devin Booker, who finished with 32 points in 35 minutes, that stole the show for the Suns, pouring in 21 points in the first half and getting wherever he wanted against whomever Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau threw at him.
“A lot of guys say they want to play on this stage, but he really does,” Suns coach Monty Williams said. “But I don’t think there’s many stages Book doesn’t want to play on.”
Booker said the aggression on his part stemmed from knowing that the Suns needed to get off to a good start after a pair of close wins over San Antonio and Cleveland earlier this week. He acknowledged Phoenix’s win streak has made them a team everyone is excited to play, and that the Suns have to match that intensity on a nightly basis.
“We just wanted to get it going,” said Booker, who shot 14-for-27 from the field and 4-for-9 from 3-point range. “It’s no secret we have a streak going, and we’re going to get every team’s best shot. The whole NBA knows about that, so we just tried to set the tone early. Come out, play team basketball … we did our job tonight.”
That’s been the case for quite some time for these Suns, who are now a pair of wins away from equaling that franchise-best 17-game win streak, which came back in the 2006-07 season.
The past calendar year has seen Phoenix return to the heights they haven’t reached since that era, when Steve Nash, Amar’e Stoudemire, Shawn Marion and Mike D’Antoni turned the Suns into perennial contenders in the Western Conference.
These Suns, though, managed to do what that group never quite could last season in reaching the NBA Finals, where they lost in six hard-fought games to the Milwaukee Bucks. And after it looked like Phoenix might fall into some sort of hangover from last season with losses in three of its first four games, all the Suns have managed to do is win every game since, to the point where it enters Saturday’s game in Brooklyn having gone a full calendar month between losses.
It’s a turnaround that began with Phoenix’s acquisition of Paul via trade a year ago this month. And, as he surveyed his team’s latest win, he said it is Phoenix’s defense — which is the NBA’s third-best unit this season, and is second to Golden State since the start of the winning streak — that is the foundation for everything the Suns are hoping to accomplish.
“We talk about it all the time. [The] one thing that travels is defense,” Paul said. “I think that’s where we try to be consistent.”
The Suns will now hope to carry that consistency over to Saturday’s game in Brooklyn. What Phoenix says it won’t do, however, is think about anything beyond that.
“We do one at a time,” Booker said. “We know we have a tough opponent tomorrow that’s been waiting on us, well-rested. So we just have to come in with the same mentality, play the type of basketball that we do, defend at a high level and put ourselves in good shape to get it done.”
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