It's a shame that the guy has so many near-haters out there. As I've said all along, you can love Michael Beasley without having to bash on Udonis Haslem. Can't we all just get along?
Haslem's jumper with 15 seconds left lifted the Heat to a 102-101 victory over the feisty New Orleans Hornets on Sunday at AmericanAirlines Arena. The Heat snapped a three game skid, with Haslem missing a two of those games with a shoulder strain.
No, it wasn't all about UD. He simply delivered the final dagger on a night when the Heat's balance boosted the team to a much-needed victory. There was another solid effort from Michael Beasley (17 points, nine rebounds), aggressive play from Mario Chalmers (12 points, nine assists, one turnover), an impressive start from Jermaine O'Neal (15 points), who also provided the defense that forced David West to miss in the final seconds.
In other words, an all around effort from the Heat, which squandered an 11-point lead late in the third quarter and trailed 95-91 with six minutes left. Miami needed this one. Really needed this one.
D. WADE'S DOING: He was efficient. Wade's 12 of 21 effort from the field was his most accurate night in weeks. He was aggressive. The 31 points are right where he's supposed to be. It's possible for Wade to score 30 a night and still get plenty of help from his supporting cast. Wade had his stroke from three-point range working. He was 3 of 4 from beyond th arc. He was also effective when the time came to get off the ball. He had three assists, but there were plenty of times when he beat the traps by delivering the pass that set up the assist for open shots. The four fouls were a bit troubling, because Wade hardly gets those. And the four turnovers were a product of facing double and triple team defenses all night.
TURNING POINT: That came with 45.7 seconds left, when Haslem hit the first of his two jumpers to seal the win. That first jumper tied it at 100. He then hit another to provide the final margin. The Heat's defense was also solid. It helps when New Orleans misses shots that it once made to get back into the game. But to hold the Hornets to only one field goal in the final six minutes was huge for the Heat.
EDGE: Miami shot 52.1 percent from the field and 53.8 percent from three-point range. It's hard to lose games when the percentages are that high. Still, the Heat gave away 21 points on 15 turnovers. Those miscues allowed the Hornets to get back into the game.
HEAD-SCRATCHER: Why oh why didn't the Heat find a way to hold onto those draft rights to Hornets rookie guard Marcus Thornton. Instead, the Heat grabbed Thornton with the 43rd overall pick in last June's draft and traded his rights to New Orleans for future second-round picks in 2010 and 2012. Thornton went shot for shot with Wade for much of the game and finished with a team-high 24 points off the bench. It was also a career high for Thornton. The Heat was hurt, too, by another player it let get away. James Posey, a key reserve on Miami's 2006 title team, scored 8 of his 14 in the second half and was 4 of 8 from three-point range.
KEY CONTRIBUTION: Because the Heat has come to expect these kind of games from Haslem, and because Beasley is certain to be a double-double producer if he gets the minutes, I have to come back to Mario Chalmers here for a second consecutive game. Chalmers actually looked like an attacking point guard. "This is what D. Wade told me I should be doing every night," Chalmers said after handing out nine assists against only one turnover to go with 12 points. And that was Chalmers, by the way, who turned the corner on a pick-and-roll and finished with a flush in the first half. Now if he can just keep this up, those faint whispers for Allen Iverson might soon fade into complete silence. Perhaps.
NEXT UP: Heat at Magic, Wednesday 7 p.m. Amway Arena
(NOTE - The Heat blog will be on holiday break from this Monday through Sunday. When your 10-year wedding anniversary, a major holiday and the wife's birthday all fall in the same week, it's a blessing to get away for a few days. Feel free to post all you want. That would be cool. But check back for a fresh blog on this end next weekend.)