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30 posts from October 2008

Friday, October 31, 2008

Heat 103, Kings 77 (Beyond the Box score)

The Heat's blowout of the Kings resembled games the Heat played in last year, only this time it wasn't Miami feeling embarrassed and demoralized.

The Heat was thrilled to win its home opener--and earn its first win of the season. It was coach Erik Spoelstra's first NBA win and after the game players surrounded him in a circle in the lockerroom and tried to mess up his perfectly gelled hair.

Just about everything went right for the Heat. They played swarming defense, helping fuel the offense. They created 25 turnovers and had 15 steals and eight blocks. This was a team win, with every Heat starter contributing. Rookie Mario Chalmers didn't score a lot but he was a key reason the Heat made its second-quarter run that allowed the Heat to take a 49-31 halftime lead.

Michael Beasley overcame a slow start (2 of 6) to finish 7 of 15 with 17 points. He was happier about the team's performance though.

"We played like a team," he said. "We were relentless. We had so much intensity, we played with energy and we played together. That is what felt the best."

And now we go beyond the box score.

Player(s) of the Game: Dwyane Wade had a superb game with 20 points, eight assists, four blocks and four steals. While he had some monstrous dunks and helped set the tone defensively, Shawn Marion deserves Player of the Game honors too. He had several dunks and he also filled out the box, with 13 points, 10 rebounds, four steals and three blocked shots. Perhaps most importantly, Marion fit really well and seemed comfortable on both ends and that hasn't been the case recently.

Surprise, surprise: Daequan Cook turned in his second straight 13-point performance and hit 3 of 6 three pointers. He also played sound defense, earning praise from Spoelstra after the game. The only reason it's a surprise is because Cook, a second-year guard, has been inconsistent. With James Jones out, the Heat needs Cook to be a reliable option off the bench. Cook went from barely being in the rotation for much of the preseason to the Heat's sixth man against the Kings.

Tough night: Point guard Chris Quinn seemingly has fallen to fourth on the depth chart, after being considered a front-runner to start. He was on the inactive list Friday, after not playing Wednesday night (DNP-Coach's decision). Spoelstra indicated that Quinn may have come back sooner than he should have from an ankle injury, but it looks like the starting job is Chalmers to lose, with Marcus Banks and Shaun Livingston moving ahead in the rotation. Spoelstra said he wants to keep the rotation tight, so it makes you wonder when Quinn will play again.

Stat of the night: It's hard to pick on a night where just about everything went right. The Heat held the Kings to only 38 points until about three minutes left in the third quarter.

That says it all: "I know what a disaster is by the way, I just saw one," Kings coach Reggie Theus said after the game.

Next game: Saturday at Charlotte (7 p.m.)

Heat vs. Kings starting lineups


Udonis Haslem-C

Michael Beasley-F

Shawn Marion-F

Dwyane Wade-G

Mario Chalmers-G

Inactives: F James Jones, C Jamaal Magloire, G Chris Quinn


Spencer Hawes-C

Mikki Moore-F

John Salmons-F

Kevin Martin-G

Beno Udrih-G

Inactives: F/G Francisco Garcia, F Kenny Thomas, C Brad Miller (suspended)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Knicks 120, Heat 115 (Beyond the Box Score)

NEW YORK - Too little. Too late.

That about sums up what happened here for the Heat in its 120-115 season opening loss to the Knicks at Madison Square Garden. Miami did everything it could in the first half to lose the game. Small ball evolved into selfish ball. It was almost as if there was no regard to plays being called.

The Heat doesn't have enough one-on-one scorers to play that way. But it tried. Lord knows it did. And then, it was a completely different game in the second half. That's when the Heat did everything it could to try to overcome those early miscues and pull out a victory.

But it was too little, too late. The Heat waited until it was down by 20 in the third quarter to play with the same level of intensity and togetherness that coach Erik Spoelstra saw in the team that ended the preseason having won two of its final three games.

If the Heat is going to build its reputation on defense - true team defense - it must find a way to keep teams under 100 points, let alone 120. But the best thing about Wednesday night for Miami is that it can't - or at least it shouldn't - get much worse. There's certainly plenty from which to build.

Now, it's on to Beyond the Box Score.

Player of the Game: Mario Chalmers - Let's get one thing straight right now. Dwyane Wade could earn this distinction after every game based on production. What Wade does is almost expected game in and game out, which isn't entirely fair. But it is what it is. Chalmers was rock solid as a starter in his rookie regular season debut, with 17 points, 8 assists and seven rebounds. That point guard battle we've been writing about all preseason? Yeah. It's probably over.

Surprise, Surprise: Daequan Cook - Scored all 13 of his points in the fourth quarter and turned what was headed toward a blowout into a suspenseful finish. Cook has now put together two promising performances. Wednesday's performance (he was 4 of 7 from the field, 3 of 6 from three-point range) came after he scored 17 points on 4 of 6 shooting from three-point range in the preseason finale against San Antonio.

Tough night: Michael Beasley - It might have been a bit far-fetched to expect two solid performances from rookie starters making their NBA debuts. While Chalmers seemed comfortable in his role, Beasley was uneasy most of the night on both ends of the court. He had a tough time matching up with either David Lee (16 points, 11 rebounds) or Zach Randolph (20 points, 9 rebounds). Offensively, Beasley missed 10 of his 14 field goals and finished with nine points, four rebounds and three turnovers.

Stat of the Night: Miami was just 6 of 23 from three-point range (26.1%).

That says it all: "When things aren't going as smoothly, you start getting into yourself a little bit on both ends of the floor. Defensively, we're not talking. And on the offensive end, the ball is not moving." - Heat guard Dwyane Wade.

Next game: Heat vs. Sacramento Kings, Friday (AmericanAirlines Arena) 7:30 p.m.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

And the Forecasts Says ...

With the Heat set to open regular-season play in New York on Wednesday against the Knicks, there's no better time than now to get those last-minute league predictions in for the season.

Lebron_pose Most Valuable Player: LeBron James - It's his time. He's got a bit more help on the roster this season, which means his stats might dip just a bit. But that didn't seem to hurt Kobe last year. Plus, James is two years overdue. He should have earned MVP two years ago when he carried the Cavs to the Finals.

Rookie of the Year: Greg Oden - Michael Beasley and O.J. Mayo, provided everyone stays healthy, will put up far more impressive numbers. But Oden's team has more overall talent and almost made the playoffs last year without him. If they get into the postseason this time around, guess who will get most of the credit for making the difference?

Coach of the Year (East): Stan Van Gundy - His grinding style might wear on his players quickly, but that seems to be just what the Magic needs to get the most out of Dwight Howard and his supporting cast. The Magic is coming off its best season in a decade and a second-round playoff berth. Van Gundy was upstaged by Doc Rivers and Boston's more miraculous turnaround. The Magic still has the luxury of flying a bit under the radar.

Coach of the Year (West): Nate McMillan - It's the no-brainer choice here if he gets the Trail Blazers one step further than last season and into the playoffs. He did the best job out of any coach in the league last season not named Byron Scott.

Defensive Player of the Year: Tyson Chandler - Shot-blocking, rebounding and athletic finishes at theTyson_chandler_2   rim have become his specialty. The Hornets beefed up their defensive rep already with the addition of perimeter specialist James Posey. Chandler could benefit from the Hornets' even stingier team numbers this season.

Sixth Man of the Year: Lamar Odom - If Full-of-it-Sometimes Phil Jackson follows through on his bluff to bring Odom off the bench, it could be a move that pays off personally for Odom and overall for the team. Odom's versatility almost ensures he will produce the kind of all-around numbers that will keep him in the race. And the Lakers success as a team could put him over the top - if he buys in.

On to the Heat ...

Projected win total (range): 36-42

Division finish: 2nd

Conference finish (range): 7-10

Beasleywade Dwyane Wade: Second-team All-NBA, All-Star starter, 30.2 ppg., 6.4 apg., 4.8 rpg.

Michael Beasley: All-Rookie Team, Leads the Rookie team in scoring against the Sophomore squad at All-Star Weekend, 17.5 ppg., 7.3 rpg. (season)

Monday, October 27, 2008

"Same Day, Same Story"

Dwyane Wade's newest commercial, entitled "Same Day, Same Story" will debut Tuesday and you can watch it below. The Converse commercial, promoting what else--his new shoe--chronicles how Wade has been criticized from Marquette until now and the common thread has been his ability to disprove doubters.

“No matter how many times I proved myself in college and the NBA, I’ve felt like every day is the same because no matter how far I go, the criticism and doubt it still there,” Wade said in a Converse-issued release. “I’ve always felt that my ability is way stronger than anything people can say about me. After winning gold in Beijing, I’m excited to take the court again this season and continue to prove the doubters wrong.”

Wade proved he is back in old form in Beijing and again this preseason. What kind of season will he have? Will be MVP-worthy? Will he guide the Heat to the playoffs? Will he stay healthy? Look into your crystal ball and leave your thoughts below.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Heat Preseason Grades

No, preseason games don't count in the standings and are often dismissed as meaningless.

But that argument doesn't fly with the Heat. After an 0-7 preseason set the tone for a disastrous 15-67 campaign a year ago, the importance of this preseason couldn't have been overstated for Miami.

The addition of several new players - including rookie draft picks Michael Beasley and Mario Chalmers - and the return to health of Dwyane Wade, Udonis Haslem and Shawn Marion made this past month matter perhaps more for this team than any other in the league.

Preseason grades are in for the team overall and individually.

Team grade: (C) - At a time of the season when performance outweighs results, the Heat finished 2-5 but could easily have gone 5-2. It lost two games in overtime and another by two points. Considering the Heat has as many as seven players who are either new to the roster or are in new roles, it was difficult to expect much from Miami at this stage of the season. Injuries also kept the team from progressing at the preseason rate it probably should have. After an 0-4 start, a 2-1 finish at least offered glimpses of potential and improvement heading into Wednesday's opener at New York.

Joel Anthony: (C-) - Team members have raved about the improvements Anthony made over the summer with the Canadian National Team and the big plays he makes in practice. But he has yet to consistently carry it over into the live games. Shot-blocking and finishing pick-and-rolls at the rim are considered Anthony's gifts. He did lead the team with 10 blocks despite playing just 13 minutes a game.

Marcus Banks: (B-) Banks was clearly the most consistent point guard from start to finish in the preseason. When given extended the playing time, he proved he could be a steady shooter (.479 FG%/.409 3pt.%), a solid defender (11 steals) and a player who could get into the lane. But his decision-making (19-15 assist-TO) at times left plenty to be desired.

Michael Beasley: (B+) - Toughness, skill, confidence, swagger. Beasley showed it all in averaging 16.4 points and 6.0 rebounds. The offense is there, although when the ball goes in to Beasley, it rarely got Beasleypractice kicked back out (team-high 93 FGAs vs. 10 assists). The defense remains in question. But when was the last time a rookie came into the league and perfected team defensive concepts? He not only handled the initial pressure of being the No. 2 pick, he basked in it.

Mark Blount: (D) - Had every opportunity to step up and fill the team's biggest void at center, but just didn't get it done. The seven-footer had just one rebound in three consecutive preseason games. He didn't even play in the finale at San Antonio. Blount has a nice mid-range jumper, but the last thing this vertically challenged team needs is for its tallest player to be floating around the perimeter spotting up.

Mario Chalmers: (B) - All you want from a rookie is progress from day to day. After a rocky start, Chalmers finished strong. He had nine assists in a win against Memphis and 10 against San Antonio. His shooting is a bonus. But Chalmers will continue to drive coach Erik Spoelstra insane if he doesn't stop gambling and freelancing on defense. Chauncey Billups, Devin Harris, Mike Conley, Chris Paul and Tony Parker provided a great league orientation for Chalmers.

Daequan Cook: (D+) You have to like his confidence. Because even when his shot wasn't falling - which was most of the month - he kept shooting and believing the next one would go down. The slump did affect other parts of his game. He had more turnovers (8) than assists (7). Cook shook out of an 11 of 38 shooting slump to hit 6 of 12 shots, including 4 of 6 from deep against the Spurs. But was it enough to keep the door to the rotation slightly cracked?

Yakhouba Diawara: (C) - Coaches continue to talk up Diawara's "defensive disposition" and ability to lock in on the opponents best offensive player. But aside from a couple of decent outings during the Europe trip, Diawara has yet to have that clear breakout performance on either end of the court. Diawara seemed like a rotation lock a couple of weeks ago. But with Dorell Wright back from knee surgery, Diawara might be relegated to spot-duty specialist.

Udonis Haslem: (A) - Despite playing out of position at center and on a banged-up foot, Haslem has Udwadestretch_2 risen to the challenge yet again of providing whatever dirty work the team needs. He has produced two double-doubles and has scored 14 or more points three times since he moved full-time to center. He's averaged 11.2 points and 8.8 boards. You have to wonder how long Haslem can hold up while giving up three inches and 40 pounds a night.

James Jones: (I) - Incomplete. The Heat's $4 mill-a-year mid-level investment is out for two more months to recover from wrist surgery.

Shaun Livingston: (B) - Simply give him credit for making it back after 20 months of recovery from that devastating knee injury he sustained with the Clippers in Feb. 2007. Livingston still drags the leg some as expected and lacks the explosion he once had. But he's shown glimpses of play-making ability that will only become more routine the more he plays. He averaged 6.5 points and 2.5 assists in two games.

Jamaal Magloire: (I) - Incomplete. Another of the Heat's hard-luck free agent pickups who was injured before he could be indoctrinated into the lineup. Magloire is out until Nov./Dec. with a broken bone in his hand he sustained in the second preseason game.

Shawn Marion: (C+) - Marion is still finding his way in an offense that will increasingly be catered to the abilities of Dwyane Wade and Michael Beasley. But earning his production through relentless energy and effort is nothing new to Marion, who has made a career out of stuffing the stat sheet. Still either the Heat must find ways to get Marion more involved or Marion must alter his game to take advantage of the different perimeter looks he'll get this season.

David Padgett: (P) - As in present. The undrafted rookie center out of Louisville is still here - for now. That probably won't be the case when attendance is taken Monday evening after the NBA's roster cut-down deadline. Padgett never really got an opportunity to do much in Miami. He's a smart, skilled player. But he's played sparingly in just three games and lacks the defensive presence the Heat needs inside to justify keeping him around at the expense of a veteran.

Chris Quinn: (C+) - Steady. Rock Solid. Runs the offense well. Erik Spoelstra repeatedly uses those terms to describe Chris Quinn's impact on the team. An ankle injury kept him out for two games and he has barely played since. But Spoelstra insists not to read too much into the limited playing time. Spo says Quinn's shooting, knowledge of the offense and mistake-free play have secured his role.

Jason Richards: (I) - Undrafted rookie guard is out of the season after knee surgery, and could be released - with a full season's pay - by Monday's cut-down deadline.

Dwyane Wade: (A) - Carried his explosive play from the Olympics right into the preseason and has averaged 19.2 points, 5.8 assists and 4.3 rebounds in six preseason games. He took the night off on Wadedunk Friday in the preseason finale at San Antonio to rest his surgically repaired knee. But Wade said it was just a precautionary measure to give him some time off. Wade certainly looks up to the challenge of carrying this team through the first part of the season until the rookies and new players get going.

Dorell Wright: (B-) - Like Livingston, Wright made it back to play in the last two preseason games after recovering from knee surgery. Wright is still slowed some by soreness in his Achilles tendon, but he looks ready to close the gap on Diawara in what will be a battle to be Marion's backup. He has to show he's ready to respond to the physical challenge of playing games on consecutive nights.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Heat 96, Spurs 93 (Beyond the Box Score)

SAN ANTONIO - Not a bad way to bounce back from a blowout. And who needs that Dwyane Wade guy after all? Ok, Ok. A little perspective is due following the Heat's 96-93 victory over the Spurs at the AT&T Center.

This team needed this one. Badly. A day after getting blown out by 20 against the Hornets in Mobile, the Heat ended the preseason on a much-needed positive note by beating the Spurs. Yes, it's the preseason. But, as players throughout the Heat's locker room admitted Friday night, any win is a good win for a team coming off a disastrous 15-67 season that started with an 0-7 preseason.

Wade sat out of Friday's game to rest his surgically repaired left knee. Coach Erik Spoelstra had said he would give Wade some time off during the preseason. And he was running out of time to follow through on those plans. Spo said Wade was "fine, but he just felt a little weak in the knee."

After the game, Wade said he simply wanted to rest it and that there were no issues with the knee. He's going to have to carry a heavy load once the season opens Wednesday at New York. So if this was just about squeezing in an extra day of rest, it's a smart move. But with all of the knee issues going around in pro sports right now - think Tom Brady/Peyton Manning in football - you have to be on the cautious side. Beyond Wade, there were several areas to address after Friday's game. So lets get beyond the box score.

Player of the Game: Mario Chalmers - Who else could it be after the way he hit the game-winning three-pointer at the buzzer to beat the Spurs? With the clock winding down from 10 seconds, Chalmers took control after the play broke down from the start. He took a pass from Beasley and - eventually - pulled up from the right wing on a shot that was true from the moment it left his hand. Maybe that's why Chalmers, who was having an up and down preseason, left his hand in the air well after the shot fell. It capped a solid night from the improving rookie point guard, who had 11 points, 10 assists and 4 steals. Chalmers' shot allowed him to steal this distinction from fellow rookie Michael Beasley, who had a solid 19 points and 9 rebounds in 33 minutes.

Surprise, Surprise: Daequan Cook - Staying with the theme of young guys stepping up, the second-year guard had his best game of what had been an awful preseason. Cook started in place of Wade and finished with 17 points on 6 of 12 shooting from the field. More importantly Cook was 4 of 6 from three-point range. Coming into Friday, Cook was 11 of 38 from the field and 3 of 17 from deep. Calling it a breakout performance would be an understatement. Let's see where he goes from here.

Tough night: Marcus Banks - Before the game, coach Erik Spoelstra said he envisioned Banks playing the role of combo guard and spot-up shooter amid the Heat's lack of a three-point threat. Banks responded with four points on 2 of 6 shooting from the field in 12 minutes. One off night after several decent outings doesn't register as big deal. But the race is clearly tightening for playing time in the backcourt, specifically at point guard.

Coach Speak: "He seems to be a guy that rises to the occasion. As we're trying to tighten this up and shore up what our rotation is, he certainly stepped up a bit in our minds. I guess we'll have to tell him every place we go is San Antonio." - Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said about Mario Chalmers, who hit the game-winning shot Friday. Chalmers also hit a clutch three in the NCAA title game in San Antonio to lead Kansas to a victory over Memphis.

Next up: Heat at New York Knicks (season opener), 7:30

Hornets 100, Heat 80 (Beyond the Box Score)

Nights like tonight show - even in semi-meaningless preseason games - just how far the Heat has to go to compete with the league's established playoff contenders. The result was a 100-80 loss to the New Orleans Hornets Thursday at the Mitchell Center on the University of South Alabama campus.

Full disclosure: This wasn't the outright clunker the score would indicate. Miami rested several of its key players, including Dwyane Wade, who played just 26 minutes and closed with 11 points. None of the Heat's starters, which included rookie Mario Chalmers at the point, played more than 29 minutes.

Still, this one got away from the Heat during the meaningful minutes of the game, when the rotation players for both teams were still on the court. We go beyond the box score to evaluate the game.

Player of the Game: Dorell Wright - In his first game back from knee surgery, Wright finished 4 of 7 from the field for 9 points, five rebounds and an assist in 19 minutes. Again, think baby steps. In a game where no one else really stood out amid a sleep-walk performance, Wright's energy and timing were encouraging as he worked out the kinks in his game. If he gradually progresses at this pace, it might not be long before he has a chance to unseat Yakhouba Diawara as Shawn Marion's backup.

Surprise, Surprise: Shaun Livingston - Keeping with the "Comeback Kids" theme, Livingston took his biggest step yet in his return from that devastating knee injury he suffered with the Clippers 20 months ago. Livingston had modest numbers: Five points, three assists and four fouls in 18 minutes. But more important for him was the fact that he survived his first test in game action. "I got in there and I said, basically, I know how to play. It's been a long time. I just wanted to play and play confident. Play like I knew I belonged. And not that I don't belong in this league anymore because of what happened."

Tough night: Daequan Cook - Hate to keep harping on the kid, but it looks like Cook might have already played his way out of the rotation. At least for now. Even during a game in which coach Erik Spoelstra made liberal substitutions and played nine players in the first 15 minutes, Cook didn't get any burn until late in the fourth quarter. Cook missed the only two shots he took in six minutes of playing time. In five preseason games, Cook is now 11 of 38 from the field, including 3 of 17 from 3-point range.

Coach Speak: "Rio (Mario Chalmers) did some good things. And he did some other things where he just wasn't disciplined. Particularly defensively. He really needs to become more rock solid and follow the system and not make it up. When he makes it up, no one else knows what's going on" - Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, on Chalmers first start at point guard. Chalmers had 10 points, five rebounds and two turnovers without an assist in 26 minutes.

Next up: Heat at San Antonio Spurs, 8:30 p.m.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

NBA GM survey: What they're saying about the Heat and more...

The Heat-related items that came out of the NBA GM 2008-09 survey released Wednesday:

  • Portland Trail Blazers and Miami Heat – most improved team (each 26 percent)
  • The second overall draft pick in the 2008 NBA Draft, Michael Beasley of the Miami Heat grabbed 48 percent of the GM vote to win the 2008-09 NBA Rookie of the Year Award.  2007 top overall draft pick Greg Oden of the Portland Trail Blazers, who sat out the 2007-08 season with an injury, received 30 percent and the Memphis Grizzlies’ O.J. Mayo rounded out the top three with 11 percent of the vote.   

The rest of the results:

  • 46 percent of GMs believe the Lakers will win their 15th NBA title in 2009.  The defending NBA champion Boston Celtics received 19 percent of the vote, followed by the New Orleans Hornets with 12 percent.  For the first time in five years, the majority of GMs did not select the San Antonio Spurs (eight percent) to win the title.
  • Cleveland Cavaliers’ LeBron James (56 percent) was selected by GMs for the third consecutive year to win the regular season MVP.  Reigning MVP, Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers received 37 percent of the vote and the New Orleans Hornets’ Chris Paul garnered seven percent.
  • For the first time, Dwight Howard, center for the Orlando Magic (56 percent), and New Orleans Hornets’ point guard Chris Paul (89 percent) were voted as the top players at their positions, overtaking the Houston Rockets’ Yao Ming and Phoenix Suns’ Steve Nash.  The Cavaliers’ James (93 percent) was viewed as the best small forward, the LakersBryant (93 percent) was selected as the best shooting guard and the Spurs’ Tim Duncan (52%) finished as the best power forward.  Bryant and Duncan are the only players to have been selected as the best at their position in all seven years of the NBA.com GM Survey.
  • After acquiring two-time All-Star Elton Brand, 52 percent of GMs believe the Philadelphia 76ers made the best overall moves this past offseason and 67 percent believe Brand’s move to Philadelphia will be the most impactful player acquisition.
  • For the seventh consecutive season, Bryant (89 percent) was selected by GMs as the player they most want taking the shot with the game on the line.  Dirk Nowitzki of the Dallas Mavericks (67 percent) was voted the top international player and James (67 percent) was voted as the top player GMs would sign to start an NBA franchise.
  • Spurs’ Gregg Popovich - best head coach in the NBA (54 percent)
  • Utah Jazz – best home-court advantage (44 percent)
  • Celtics’ Kevin Garnett - best defensive player (44 percent)
  • Lakers’ Andrew Bynum - most likely to have breakout season (19 percent)
  • New Orleans Hornets – most fun team to watch (27 percent)
  • Knicks’ Mike D’Antoni – head coach that runs the best offense (54 percent)
  • Hornets’ Chris Paul - fastest player with the ball (37 percent)
  • Blazers’ Rudy Fernandez – which international rookie is most ready to contribute this season (52 percent)    

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Heat 102, Grizzlies 85 (Beyond the Box Score)

The Heat's small lineup was effective agains the hapless Memphis Grizzlies. The Griz were without leading scorer Rudy Gay (staph infection). Memphis' O.J. Mayo was the star of all the rookies and had a spectacular performance, scoring 28 points in 38 minutes and adding five assists and five rebounds. Big picture the Heat needed to win this game to re-affirm that all the hard work being done in practice is translating to success in games. The Heat got its first preseason win since 2006. The experimenting may continue as Spoelstra finds which combos are most effective but this was a step.

Player of the game: Udonis Haslem--There were many bright spots for the Heat but Haslem had a second straight double-double. He finished with 14 points and 13 rebounds and showed no lingering effects of the foot injury that sidelined him earlier in training camp. Haslem was effective at center and in 38 minutes gave the Heat the kind of performance it will need from him this season. No one is expecting him to play 38 minutes a game at center, and he didn't Tuesdya. He showed that he could be effective against Memphis' frontcourt of seven-footers. Dwyane Wade had another solid night, scoring a team-high 25 points, and had six assists and five rebounds. Also Mario Chalmers had his best performance so far at point guard, but as Spoelstra noted afterward it may be one step forward, another backward for Chalmers as he develops this season.

Surprise, surprise: Michael Beasley--The rookie got his first start. He started at power forward. Haslem was at center, Shawn Marion was at small forward, with Wade and Chris Quinn at the guard spots. Spoelstra said not to read into starting Beasley. Spoelstra has been pleased with Beasley's play but this seemed to be as much about seeing Beasley with the small lineup to start a game as Beasley earning the time. Beasley picked up two quick fouls within the first four minutes, limiting his playing time in the first half. Beasley had no rebounds, and said it was a career-first but said it was mostly because he was guarding players on the perimeter. Beasley is a natural offensively and had nine of his 19 points in the fourth quarter.

Tough night: Reserve Yakhouba Diawara played 16 minutes and went 0 for 4, including 0 for 2 from beyond the arc and had three rebounds and one steal. The Heat will need more from him. But in all fairness he's a solid defender so he did contribute. Diawara does not look the answer from beyond the arc with James Jones (wrist) sidelined.

Next up: The Heat faces New Orleans on Thursday in Mobile, Ala. at 7:30 p.m.



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