Waiters benefiting from lessons learned in past career stops
MIAMI (AP) Dion Waiters is quick to point out that he has learned plenty in a short time from Miami coach Erik Spoelstra and the assistants on the Heat staff.
But he's had other teachers as well - and their lessons are paying off now.
Waiters has been sensational for Miami during its 10-game winning streak, one that has vaulted the Heat right back into the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff race. And part of his surge, he said, is because of the lessons he learned when he was a teammate in Cleveland and Oklahoma City of stars like LeBron James, Russell Westbrook and most especially Kevin Durant.
''I had the opportunity to be around some of the greats,'' Waiters said. ''You know, Bron, Russ, KD - every day with KD, before and after practice, working out together, we did everything together. I was a sponge, basically, soaking all that up. And seeing how hard he works every day, even in the position he was in, every day was the same thing, just being consistent.''
So now Waiters has a routine of his own, sticking to it diligently the same way that Durant has.
It's working. Waiters is averaging 21.5 points and 4.8 assists on 51 percent shooting - 53 percent from 3-point range - during the streak. And Miami started the year 11-30, but is 10-0 since in a staggering turnaround.
''It's just about being consistent, man,'' Waiters said. ''Just having fun, most importantly. It's a hell of a ride. Even what we went through in the beginning of the year, we learned. Everybody probably doubted us, counted us out. When you win, it puts a perspective on everything else. Everybody's quote-unquote now seeing how good we can be. But we're not getting caught up in the hype.''
The Heat start a four-game road trip in Minnesota on Monday.
TRIPLE-DOUBLE RECORD TROUBLE
The record for triple-doubles is in serious trouble.
Kyle Lowry's triple-double on Sunday was the 63rd in the NBA this season. The league record for a season is 78, set back in the 1988-89 season. It nearly was broken last season, when players combined for 75.
Russell Westbrook leads the way with 25 triple-doubles so far.
THE WEEK AHEAD
A look at some of the games to watch this week:
- Cleveland at Washington, Monday: The defending NBA champions go into the nation's capital, where the red-hot Wizards have won 17 straight games.
- Portland at Dallas, Tuesday: Yogi Ferrell dropped 32 points on the Blazers on Friday. Damian Lillard won't wait long for his chance at comeuppance.
- Miami at Milwaukee, Wednesday: Khris Middleton is finally expected to make his season debut for the Bucks when they play host to the surging Heat.
- Utah at New Orleans, Wednesday: It's the last home game for the Pelicans before the All-Star Game on Feb. 19. (Billy Joel plays there Friday, though.)
- Golden State at Oklahoma City, Saturday: Kevin Durant is 2-0 against his old team, averaging 39.5 points. And now, his first trip back to Oklahoma City.
STAT LINE OF THE WEEK
Stephen Curry, Golden State: The two-time reigning MVP is back in the race. Curry completed 14 of 20 shots, 11 of 15 from 3-point range, and scored 39 points in a 126-111 win over Charlotte on Feb. 1. He added eight assists, five rebounds and three steals.
Paul Pierce, L.A. Clippers: Three points in five minutes on Sunday at Boston. How perfect was this? Pierce, who hadn't played since Dec. 31, not only gets a starting-lineup nod from coach Doc Rivers for his final regular-season game in Boston - but gets raucous ovations, a hero's welcome and it all happened on the 18th anniversary of his NBA debut with the Celtics. His 3-pointer in the final seconds was storybook.