LeBron James’ foul-free streak is over.
The Miami Heat forward was called for a foul against Oklahoma City’s Serge Ibaka with 7:57 left in the first quarter of the teams’ NBA Finals rematch on Tuesday, marking the first time since Dec. 8 that James was whistled for a personal.
James went 254 minutes, 7 seconds of on-court time without being called for any personals, though was assessed one technical during that span for arguing a play where he thought he was fouled. He was called for backing into New Orleans’ Lance Thomas with 2:30 left in the first quarter of that game on Dec. 8.
His first foul on Tuesday came when he tried to block a dunk attempt by Ibaka, who made one of the two resulting free throws.
Rubio eager to play more
The Timberwolves thus far have been disciplined and uniform in their plan to carefully bring precocious point guard Ricky Rubio back from March knee surgery, limiting him exactly to his 18-minute target three times and 16-plus minutes once in his first four games.
Rubio will meet with management and the team’s medical staff today, and all three parties likely will agree to begin increasing his minutes starting with tonight’s game against Houston at Target Center.
“Well, the trainer is the one who follows the rules,” the Spaniard said, “and I’m going to try to increase more minutes every game and try to get to point where we don’t worry about it.”
Fueled by adrenaline and emotion, Rubio startled nearly everyone with his season debut against Dallas on Dec. 15. Then, the reality of his nine-month layoff and the nature of his injury became apparent as Rubio’s legs and body didn’t follow exactly what his mind told him to do.
He was encouraged by Sunday’s 18 minutes in a 94-91 loss at New York in which he got to the basket twice for made layups with moves when he trusted his healing left knee and moved better defensively than he had in games last week against Orlando and Oklahoma City.
Avery Johnson called it an “honor” as his team made the leap into the NBA’s brightest regular-season spotlight Tuesday. For the first time in 10 years, the Nets hosted a high-profile Christmas Day game.
The honor quickly turned to horror.
With a national television audience watching, the Nets stumbled into the holiday spotlight and landed with a resounding thud on their new arena’s floor as the Boston Celtics took control early and cruised to a 93-76 win at Barclays Center.
“It was a big game for us,” said guard Deron Williams. “And we were ready for a big game, it just didn’t happen.”
There are numerous reasons for the loss — the Nets’ ninth in 12 tries this month: The offense continued to be stagnant and the defense couldn’t get a stop when needed most.