LeBron James is widely expected to be named NBA Most Valuable Player sometime in the next couple of weeks. But he had to settle for finishing second to Memphis center Marc Gasol for the NBA Defensive Player of the Year award, which was announced Wednesday.
Gasol, who anchored the league’s stingiest defense, received 30 first-place votes and 212 points overall in a voting of media members. James had 18 and 149.
But James wasn’t listed in the top three of 74 of the 121 ballots cast.
James finished fourth for Defensive Player of the Year last season and ninth in his first season with the Heat. He finished second one other time — in 2008-09, behind Dwight Howard.
“I would like to see him achieve Defensive Player of the Year. He’s deserving,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “What you love about LeBron — the best player in the game — is how he values that side of the floor as a star player. A true two-way player.”
• Former NBA guard Baron Davis said on NBATV’s postgame show Tuesday: “I think LeBron is going to be the greatest [of all time]. He’s definitely going to surpass Michael Jordan.”
The Heat did not practice Wednesday, and Spoelstra said the team’s day included “rest, treatment and flying.”
Dwyane Wade, who missed six of the final 11 regular-season games with a bone bruise in his right knee, said after Tuesday’s game: “I have a lot more improving to do with my health. Hopefully, I continue to feel better. I’m not where I want to be.”
Shane Battier, who needed four stitches on his chin after a collision with Milwaukee center Larry Sanders, said he will be fine.
This and that
• During the regular season, the Heat finished 30th in rebounding and the Bucks fifth. But the Heat has outrebounded them by 20 through two games.
• In Game 2, the Bucks shot 37.6 percent and were outscored by 14 during Chris Andersen’s 12 minutes. Milwaukee shot 53.6 percent and outscored the Heat by two the rest of the time.
• Spoelstra stuck with Norris Cole for the entire fourth quarter of Game 2 after Cole scored five points during Miami’s 12-0 spurt to start the quarter.
“I had every intention of putting Mario Chalmers back in the there,” Spoelstra said. “The minutes and spark Norris gave us with the second unit obviously impacted the game.”
Chalmers has admitted that he sometimes says something to Spoelstra this season when he wants to get back in the game.
“He’ll give me the look, makes sure he’s the first one I see,” Spoelstra said, leaning his head out to replicate what Chalmers does when Spoelstra peers down his bench.
“But it’s all in good nature. He’s rooting for Norris. They cheer for each other as much as anybody. I’ve enjoyed seeing that point guard relationship group.”
• Contrary to radio speculation, the Heat said the fact it’s not staying at Milwaukee’s Pfister Hotel — where it often stays — has nothing to do with folklore that the place is haunted by ghosts but instead because the Milwaukee Dancesport Competition is being held there this weekend.
• The 15.6 TV rating for Game 2 — equaling 15.6 percent of all Dade/Broward homes with TV sets — was the highest ever for a Heat game on Sun Sports.