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Dwyane Wade blows up during Game 3 loss

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Dwyane Wade blows up during Game 3 loss

From Comcast SportsNet
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Dwyane Wade lashed out in frustration during the worst playoff game of his career. His target wasn't wearing an Indiana uniform. Wade confronted his coach as the Miami Heat melted. The star had an animated exchange with Erik Spoelstra on the sideline in the third quarter, a disturbing low point on a night when nothing went Miami's way, and the Heat were throttled 94-75 by the Pacers in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. Indiana center Roy Hibbert had 19 points and 18 rebounds, George Hill scored 20 and Danny Granger 17 as Indiana, pushed by a crowd that stood and chanted "Beat The Heat" at every opportunity, took a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series. Game 4 is Sunday at raucous Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Before then, the Heat need to locate their missing shooting touch and figure out how to attack Indiana's superior defense. More than anything, Wade needs to shake off a startling 5-point, 2-of-13 shooting performance he made worse by challenging Spoelstra. During a timeout, Spoelstra was talking to Wade, who didn't like what he heard and angrily snapped at his coach. Several Miami players stepped in before the confrontation escalated. Afterward, Wade didn't want to discuss the dispute. "I don't even remember what you all are talking about," he said. Spoelstra dismissed his clash with Wade as a heat-of-battle moment. "That happens," Spoelstra said. "Anybody that has been part of a team or has been a coach or been a player, you have no idea how often things like that happen. That was during a very emotional part of the game. We were getting our butt kicked. Those exchanges happen all the time during the course of an NBA season. "There's going to be a lot of times where guys say something, you don't like it. You get over it and you move on. We're all connected. Dwyane and I have been together for a long time, a long time. We've been through basically everything. A lot of different roles, a lot of different teams. That really is nothing. That is the least of our concern. That type of fire, shoot, that's good. That's the least of our concerns. Our concern is getting ready for Sunday." James scored 22 -- 16 in the first half before wearing down -- and Mario Chalmers made up for Wade's abysmal night by adding 25 for Miami, which again played without All-Star forward Chris Bosh, who is out with a strained abdominal muscle and is not expected to return for this series. "It's obvious he wasn't himself," James said of Wade. "Does he want to play better? Of course. He's one of the best players in the world." Wade downplayed the potential of a serious injury, though he did snag his right hand on the net trying to make a block in the first half. Indiana outscored Miami 51-32 in the second half, when the Pacers could do no wrong. They made big shots, challenged everything the Heat tossed in the air and didn't back down from a Miami team that appeared poised to make an easy run to the NBA finals after top-seeded Chicago lost Derrick Rose and was eliminated in the first round. The Pacers have other plans. In the second half, Indiana forward David West flung James to the floor in the lane, and Granger later got in the superstar's face after a foul on a breakaway. After winning Game 2 in South Florida by three points, the Pacers wanted to show that victory was no fluke and that they're for real. Believe it. They're two wins from tilting the balance of power in the East. "We're certainly happy with the win," said Pacers coach Frank Vogel. "But we've got a lot of work to do." Vogel's pregame message to his team: "Keep your edge, and enhance your edge." Enhance, they did. Hibbert controlled the glass, roaming the lane on both ends and finishing with five blocks. "My primary focus is defense, defense, defense," he said. "I embrace that role and let the offense come to me. Them being one and done, that's what we talked about in the huddle," he said. "One shot and they're done." Two more losses and the Heat are done. With his team down 20 in the closing minutes, Spoelstra waved the white flag and pulled out first Wade, then James, who quickly removed his headband as he got to the bench and then pulled out the mouthpiece inscripted with XVI -- the Roman numeral for 16 -- the number of wins it takes to get a championship. When the final horn sounded, the three-time MVP quickly exited the floor. "When you lose a game like that, all you try to do is move on to the next one," James said. "They're playing some good basketball. We're playing pretty good defense on them. We're not scoring the ball." Indiana busted open a grind-it-out game with a 17-3 run in the third quarter, doing it with an inside-outside attack that had the Heat wondering what was coming next. With their boisterous crowd decked out in mustard-yellow "Gold Swagger" T-shirts, the Pacers pushed their lead to 69-55 after three and then held off one brief run by the Heat in the fourth quarter. Behind Miami's bench, owner Micky Arison and team president Pat Riley looked on in disbelief. Despite playing almost 21 minutes and exerting himself on defense, James had enough energy to throw down a vicious left-handed dunk in the final minute of the first half, pulling the Heat even at 43-all. He looked back at the Miami bench as if to say, "How about a little help out here?" He was doing it all. Wade, on the other hand, was lost. He missed all five field-goal attempts, made two turnovers and ran around like a playoff rookie and not a superstar appearing in his 95th career postseason game. Wade finally made his first field goal with 10:22 left in the third to put Miami up 47-45, but the Pacers went on a 10-1 run with Granger dropping a 3-pointer in front of the Heat bench to make it 55-48 and then playfully skipping down the sideline as Miami called a timeout. The Pacers were in control. They were clearly the better team. "We have all vested together in this and are all in it together to the end," West said. "We will not back down or take anything from any team." Notes: The Heat are 5 for 42 on 3-pointers in the series. ... Miami's 75 points matched a low in these playoffs. ... Indiana outrebounded Miami 52-36. ... The Heat managed just 12 points in the third quarter. ... Former Pacers center Rik Smits attended the game and got a huge cheer when he was shown on the scoreboard.

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First quarter grades: 20 games into the season, how do the Caps look?

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USA TODAY Sports

First quarter grades: 20 games into the season, how do the Caps look?

The Capitals have hit the quarter mark of their season with 20 games under their belts. The last two games put a sour taste on the first quarter, but overall how have they looked?

Let's harken back to our school days when the first quarter of the year brought about the first report card and hand out some grades.

(Note: I don't grade coaching. How a team performs in every area is a reflection of the coaching so all of these grades can be considered "coaching" grades)

Offense: C

By the numbers: Washington ranks 21st in the NHL with 2.80 goals per game (one spot ahead of the Pittsburgh Penguins interestingly enough)

Consistency is the biggest problem for the Caps offensively. First, they were too top heavy with Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Nicklas Backstrom and T.J. Oshie carrying the load by themselves with no secondary scoring. Since then, the top players have struggled to produce, especially Backstrom. Backstrom is being utilized more as a shutdown forward, but the Capitals need him to produce as well in order to be successful, especially when he is playing on a line with Oshie. The Caps need consistent scoring from their top players and consistent secondary production. The good news is that Ovechkin looks as good as ever with 13 goals already. After scoring 33 last season, many wondered if his days of being a top scoring threat were over. That does not appear to be the case. 

I would be remiss if I did not include one note on Kuznetsov: Please, please shoot the puck.

RELATED: 4 REASONS WHY THE CAPS LOST TO COLORADO

Defense: C

By the numbers: Washington ranks 24th in the NHL with 3.25 goals against per game

I can already hear your bewildered screams and angry questions. "How does a team that ranks 24th in the NHL get a C grade?" Let's take a step back and look at the players who have been playing. This is not the same defense from last season. Matt Niskanen, the team's best all-around defenseman, missed 13 games. The 37-year-old Brooks Orpik, who was a third-pair defenseman last season, is third on the team in average time on ice with 22:17 per game. Rookies Christian Djoos and Madison Bowey have played 16 and 14 games respectively. With all of that in mind, it's no surprise that the defense has struggled. All things considered, the defense has not been good, but it has not been terrible either. You cannot allow 3.25 goals per game all season and hope to be a contender which is why they get a C, but with continued improvement from the rookies and Niskanen's return, the blue line should certainly improve throughout the season.

Goaltending: A-

By the numbers:
Braden Holtby:  .918 save percentage, 2.68 GAA ,10-4-0
Philipp Grubauer .876 save percentage, 3.86 GAA, 0-5-1

Holtby has been phenomenal and there is no question that he has stolen a good number of those 10 wins with this performance. He gets high marks for that. Grubauer's numbers are not good, but for anyone who has been watching this team, it is hard to fault him for any of those losses. He is not getting much support from his teammates when he steps into the crease. Starting goalies, however, need to be able to steal some wins. Grubauer wants to be a starter, so the fact that he has been unable to steal a win knocks the grade down to an A-, but overall, you cannot convince me goaltending has been an issue for the Caps this season.

Special Teams: C-

By the numbers:
Power play: Washington ranks 15th in the NHL at 19.4-percent
Penalty kill: Washington ranks 27th in the NHL at 77.8-percent

Let's start with the penalty kill. The bottom line is that it has not been good enough this season. The silver lining is that while the numbers are bad, they play much better in critical moments when the game is on the line. We saw that in the third period of the team's wins over the Islanders and the Coyotes. Overall, the PK has not been good enough, but when it really matters they step up which means there is some hope for improvement. The power play numbers are average, but here are the players who have scored on the power play this season: Oshie, Ovechkin, Carlson, Backstrom, Kuznetsov. See a pattern? They are all top-unit players. Barry Trotz has not been using his top unit for 1:30-1:45 as we've seen in previous years. He is giving much more time to his second unit. If you do that, they have to produce and they just have not been up to the task this season.

First Quarter Team MVP

1. Braden Holtby

As mentioned above, Holtby has 10 wins and he was the team's best player in most of those games. The fact that Washington does not have a single win without him shows just how important he is. He gives the team a measure of confidence that they do not have with Grubauer. Not only has he played great, but the entire team also seems to play better around him.

2. John Carlson

This team asked a lot of Carlson this season when Niskanen went on LTIR and Carlson delivered. He is second in the entire NHL in time on ice with 27:07 per game, just two seconds from the leader Rasmus Ristolainen. His play has not suffered as a result of the increased minutes. In fact, he has gotten better and better and the season progressed.

3. Alex Ovechkin

Whether Ovechkin is declining is a question we seem to ask every year. We should know better by now. The man is inhuman. His 13 goals may not lead the league, but it still puts him among the elite scorers of the NHL. Yes, I am not blind to the fact that he scored seven of those goals in two games and has only six in the last 18, but, call me crazy, I still consider seven goals in two games to be a pretty darn good sign of his scoring abilities.

MORE CAPITALS: LISTEN TO THE CAPITALS EXTRA PODCAST ON THE LOSS TO COLORADO

Overall grade: B-

Let's remember who is under the microscope here. This is not a grade for Washington's 2016-17 roster. If it was, it would be closer to a D or F. That roster was too talented to struggle the way this team has, but that was last year. If I were to tell you before the season that this team with its current roster would be 10-9-1 and in playoff position through 20 games with Niskanen missing 13 games, Andre Burakovsky missing 11, Brett Connolly missing seven and Tom Wilson suspended for four, are you telling me you would not have taken that? I would have. The last two losses are a concern for sure and you could argue that the team is trending downward, but overall they have done well to get to where they are now. They must improve in a number of areas over the course of the next 20 games, but 10-9-1 with the injuries they have faced is not too bad at all.

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NBA 2K18 has Kelly Oubre, Jr.'s famous dab celebration and it's amazing

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NBA 2K18

NBA 2K18 has Kelly Oubre, Jr.'s famous dab celebration and it's amazing

What separates 2K Sports from its competitors is their attention to detail. Year after year, they get right things that other video game companies don't even consider.

The level of detail in 2K sports games allows for some Easter eggs, if you will, for gamers to find and one Wizards fan found an amazing one involving Kelly Oubre, Jr.

[PODCAST: HOW GOOD CAN THE WIZARDS' DEFENSE BE?]

Before every game Oubre dabs his way to the court extremely aggressively, to the point where he jumps in the air:

Now Oubre does it in video game form:

That's just great and of course Wizards fans are loving it on social media. Bravo, 2K Sports.

[RELATED: WHO IS FOR REAL IN THE EAST AND WHO'S FAKE?]