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NBA Finals Notebook

A ‘sick’ joke on the media?

Wade, James deny mocking Nowitzki

LeBron James (left) and Dwyane Wade were all business at practice — yesterday. LeBron James (left) and Dwyane Wade were all business at practice — yesterday. (Mark Humphrey/Associated Press)
By Gary Washburn
Globe Staff / June 12, 2011

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MIAMI — Yet another day in the NBA Finals, and yet another explanation for LeBron James and his actions. This time, it was defending the video of him and teammate Dwyane Wade mock coughing to imitate Dallas’s Dirk Nowitzki, who played through Game 4 with a 101-degree fever.

A camera crew taped the duo walking away from the team’s shootaround Thursday in Dallas coughing and laughing, as if to tease Nowitzki, who was 6 for 19 from the field Tuesday but scored the decisive basket in a 86-83 victory that tied the series at two.

After the game, Nowitzki was asked several questions about his illness, which the Mavericks acknowledged they concealed before the game. One reporter even compared the performance to Michael Jordan’s 38-point Game 5 of the 1997 Finals against Utah when he was flu-ridden.

The video, which was released Friday morning — following the Mavericks’ 112-103 victory in Game 5 — appears to indicate that James and Wade were a little skeptical of Nowitzki’s illness.

“I just thought it was a little childish, a little ignorant,’’ Nowitzki said yesterday after practice at AmericanAirlines Arena. “I’ve been in this league for 13 years. I’ve never faked an injury or an illness before.

“But it happened. It’s over to me. It’s not going to add anything extra to me. This is the NBA Finals. If you need an extra motivation, you have a problem.

“We’re one win away from my dream, what I’ve worked on for half of my life. This is really all I’m worried about. This is all I’m focusing on. And not really off-the-court stuff that happened.’’

James and Wade took different approaches when asked about the video.

“I’m not feeding into that,’’ said James. “If you guys want to feed into everything that not only myself or D-Wade or the Miami Heat do, I think that’s a non-issue. There’s bigger issues in this series than that.’’

James has received his share of criticism for his lack of fourth-quarter production and has been on the proverbial hot seat since Miami’s Game 2 loss. He produced a triple-double in Game 5, but scored just 2 points in the fourth quarter.

So the video was actually the second topic on his docket during his interview.

Wade, meanwhile, had plenty to say, telling reporters that the entire thing was scripted because they wanted to bait the media.

“First of all, it wasn’t fake coughing,’’ said Wade, who is Miami’s leading scorer in the series. “I actually did cough. And with the cameras being right there, we made a joke out of it because we knew you guys were going to blow it up.

“We never said Dirk’s name. I think he’s not the only one in the world who can get sick or have a cough. We just had fun with the cameras being right in our face about the blow-up of the incident, and it held to be true. You blew it up.’’

Shooting from the hip As for the on-court story, Wade labored through Game 5 with a left hip contusion and did not practice yesterday. But he said he will be ready for tonight’s Game 6. Despite the injury, Wade scored 23 points in Game 5, including 10 in the fourth quarter . . . Miami coach Erik Spoelstra was forced to go with former Celtic Eddie House in Game 5 when Wade was having his hip treated. House missed his two shots (both 3-pointers), committed a turnover and a foul, but also grabbed a rebound and a steal in 3:28. “I feel fully confident about Eddie,’’ Spoelstra said. “I like the way he stepped in there and made some things happen defensively, but also took his open shots without any hesitation. It’s a tough position to be in, to not have played, but he’s another guy that is absolutely fearless.’’

Nothing brewing Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said Corey Brewer, a former lottery pick, is ready to play but is not in his rotation. Brewer was a midseason signing after being released by the Knicks. He was expected to become a rotation player off the bench.

Gary Washburn can be reached at gwashburn@globe.com.

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