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34 posts from January 2009

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Mavericks 111, Heat 96 (Beyond the Box Score)

Dwyane Wade was honored at halftime alongside Tim Hardaway and Alonzo Mourning for their Olympic gold medals. Wade could have used their help on the court against the Mavericks.

Then again, the way Dallas shot the ball Saturday, it probably wouldn't have mattered who the Heat had on the court for defense.

The Mavericks continued their post 2006 dominance of the Heat, with a rather easy 111-96 victory at AmericanAirlines Arena. Dallas shot 60.3 percent, a season high for a Heat opponent, it the victory to run their regular-season winning streak over the Heat to nine games. Five of those victories have come since the Heat's 4-2 series win in the 2006 NBA Finals.

This is back-to-back games when the Heat's perimeter defense was a major problem. I didn't help that Shawn Marion, the Heat's best wing defender, missed his fifth consecutive game with a groin injury.

Player of the Game: Dwyane Wade - Had 30 points on 13 of 23 shooting. But Wade clearly had trouble having any sort of impact on the game. His six turnovers also were an issue on a night when the Heat had 15 turnovers that led to 17 points by the Mavericks. After pulling the Heat to within six in the second half, Wade wasn't much of a factor. He had help, but this was a night, as he said, when not even the Heat's best game may have done much to disrupt Dallas.

Surprise, Surprise: Michael Beasley - Not much of a surprise, here. But Beasley notched another double-double, this time finishing with 18 points and 10 rebounds off the bench. He had some rough moments early against James Singleton of all people. But Beasley settled down and showed again that he can be a reliable player on the boards and on the scoreboard.

Tough Night: Daequan Cook - An awful 1 of 9 night from the field only grew worse when he collided with a Dallas player on a loose ball pursuit and came away with a deeply bruised left thigh. Cook was helped off the court and left the arena on crutches, with tests scheduled for Sunday. If this thing is serious, it would be a huge blow to the Heat. Cook is the team's best long-range shooter right now. And his defense has improved.

Lit 'em Up: Dirk Nowitzki - Dirk and the Mavericks apparently can't get over the 2006 Finals loss to the Heat. So they just keeping taking it out on the Heat in the regular season, as if that's going to erase the pain. Still, they're trying. Dirk went off for 30 against the Heat on 12 of 14 shooting. And I can't recall the two misses. All Haslem could do after the game was give credit where credit was due.

Stat of the Night: 60.3% - That's what the Mavericks shot against the Heat, which was a season-high for an opponent this season.

That says it all: "They wouldn't miss. This was one of those games that our best game would have had trouble winning tonight." - Heat guard Dwyane Wade on Dallas' hot shooting.

Next Up: Monday - L.A. Clippers at Heat, AmericanAirlines Arena, 7:30 p.m.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Miami Heat 114, Indiana Pacers 103 (Beyond the Box Score)

INDIANAPOLIS — One of the Heat’s least inspiring efforts of the season led to a familiar result at Conseco Fieldhouse. The Heat lost its 13 straight road game against the Pacers. This game was arguably uglier than the final score 114-103. This one featured flaring tempers, and not much positive for the Heat.

Player of the Game: Dwyane Wade had 24 points on 10 of 17 shooting, and helped keep the game close early. He had 16 points at halftime and by then it was out of hand.

Surprise, surprise: James Jones had a season-high 13 points in his most action of the season. In his eight game since returning from his wrist injury, Jones showed promise. He was 4 of 8 from the field and 2 of 5 from beyond the arc. Nine of his points came in the fourth quarter. A performance like that could be a difference-maker in a close game.

Tough night: Udonis Haslem was ejected with 3:03, after being called for two technical fouls. It hurt the Heat, and was uncharacteristic for Haslem, a captain. It left the Heat without both of its starting forwards because Shawn Marion missed his fourth straight game with a groin injury. Haslem said he told referee Sean Corbin calling Haslem for a foul on Jarrett Jack was b.s. (but he actually cursed), leading to the first technical. As Haslem went to the bench he used the same word again. Haslem’s stance afterward? Players complain and use profanity a lot and don’t get ejected.

Lit 'em up: Fear the mullet and the ‘stache. Mike Dunleavy, who had a mullet and an old-school mustache, had a game-high 30 points. He was 10 of 18 from the field, including 4 of 8 from three-point range. He also added six rebounds, five assists and two steals.

Stat of the Night: The Pacers converted 15 of 31 three-pointers. You aren’t going to win too many games when you allow a team to torch you like that.

That says it all: “It was simply a case of us not being ready or right in the mind.” –Spoelstra said

Next up: Heat vs. Dallas Mavericks, Saturday, 7:30 p.m., AmericanAirlines Arena

Shawn Marion out Friday and status uncertain Saturday

INDIANAPOLIS--Forward Shawn Marion missed his fourth straight game Friday because of a strained left groin. Marion went through the team's walkthrough Friday morning but he's questionable for Saturday's game. It seems more likely that he will return next week. Marion said he is improving but said he still was limping a bit during Friday's workout and that the best approach is to be cautious because rushing back could result in re-aggravating his groin.

Even though the Heat has fared well without Marion, they could certainly use him Saturday. Dallas will be well-rested, last playing Wednesday, while the Heat will be on the second night of a back-to-back. Plus, Marion likely Marion likely would have been assigned to help defend Dirk Nowitzki.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Reminder: Heat chat today at 1 p.m.

Just a reminder that you can have your Heat questions answered during the weekly online chat today, Thursday, from 1-2 p.m. Even if you can't make it during that time slot, you still can post your questions and check back later to see the answers.


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Heat 93, Wizards 71 (Beyond the Box Score)

This one had the potential for a letdown.

Instead, the Heat's  defense never let up on the way to a easy - although offensively-challenged - 93-71 victory against the lowly Washington Wizards Wednesday at AmericanAirlines Arena.

Instead of doing all of the scoring, Heat guard Dwyane Wade did a little of everything. In fact, the Heat had it going so well that it cost Wade a rare triple-double. He came up one rebound and one point shy of the elusive accolade.

Still, the Heat got plenty accomplished during an impressive 3-1 run on its four-game homestand. It started with a bad loss to Boston, but closed with wins over division rivals Orlando, Atlanta and Washington. The Heat (25-19) now sits tied in the loss column for the fourth spot in the East.

Player of the Game: Dwyane Wade - He joked that he needed to chew out coach Erik Spoelstra for yanking him for the entire fourth quarter. That decision left Wade with 14 points, nine rebounds and nine assists - just shy of the triple-double. In actuality, he needed the extra rest. Wade came into the game suffering from what might be the flu. He did enough. The defense did the rest.

Surprise, Surprise: Joel Anthony - Had three blocks (and probably could have had at least three more on questionable fouls that wiped them away) to go with nine rebounds off the bench. Spoelstra compared Anthony to Alonzo Mourning after seeing the defensive intensity with which Anthony played. "That's a great comparison anytime you're mentioned in the same sentence with Zo," Anthony said.

Tough Night: Yakhouba Diawara - Had a couple of nice defensive stands against Caron Butler early in the game. But it was an otherwise uneventful night for Diawara, who was 1 of 6 from the field and finished with three points and three rebounds. Khouba, who got his third consecutive start in place of the injures Shawn Marion, didn't hurt the Heat with his lack of offense. Turns out, Miami didn't need much offense from the starting five.

Shut 'em down: Caron Butler - He finished with 18 points, six assists and five rebounds. But majority of that work came in the first half. Butler was limited to seven points and forced into three turnovers in the second half as the Heat pulled away. When this one got out of hand, Butler lost interest.

Stat of the Night: 71 - The Heat held the Wizards to their lowest point total of the season. It was also the first time since March 2005 that Miami held consecutive opponents to less than 80 points.

That Says it All: "I used to text and call Dwyane last year when they were going through a tough season. Now, I'm getting the texts and phone calls telling me to keep my head up." - Wizards forward and former Heat player Caron Butler, whose team owns the NBA's worst record at 9-36.

Next Up: Friday - Heat at Indiana Pacers, 7 p.m. Conseco Fieldhouse

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Three The Hard Way

Ok, so we can all agree the Heat needs an upgrade at center.


And we all know the NBA's Feb. 19 trading deadline in approaching quickly.


So, it's pretty much a consensus that the ideal candidate would be able to protect the rim, provide a defensive swagger, knock down a shot or two in key moments and be durable.

I dip. You dip. We dip.

Mark_blount What the Heat would be looking for is, say, someone who could average about 14 or so points, 10 or so rebounds and 3-4 blocks a game, right? That would be enough support on most nights to get Dwyane Wade and the rest of this roster into and possibly through a round or two in the playoffs, perhaps.

Jermaine O'Neal, one potential Heat trade target, is putting up less than those numbers in Toronto.

Brad Miller, another potential post savior, falls slightly shy of that targeted production in Sacramento.

Eddy Curry, once pushed on the Heat in trade talks like it were a flea market negotiation, has scored exactly two more points and grabbed two more boards in the NBA than I have this season.

Jamaal_magloire The point is there is very little market value among the available big men under consideration right now in the league. My next point is that the Heat had to look only as far as its own roster to get those 14 points, 10 rebounds and a handful of blocked shots the other night in an easy win against the Hawks.

Jamaal Magloire, Mark Blount and Joel Anthony - AKA, The Forgotten Man, The Castoff and Kid Who? - combined to answer the Heat's needs against a key division rival. That was also the case the previous game in a win against Orlando.

No, the Heat doesn't have a reliable center it can count on game in and game out to produce. But what do you do in tough times? You cobble together what you've got and make it do what it do.

Individually, there might not be much there with any of these guys.

Joel_anthony Magloire's best years are clearly behind him. Blount's kryptonite seems to be the painted area around the basket in every gym in the nation. And Anthony's hands are great for volleyball, bad for basketball.

But if given adequate opportunities, each has his own unique talent he brings to the table. Add them together and you might get something slightly better than an Erick Dampier or just south of a Marcus Camby.

The Heat has to work three times as hard - or play three times the personnel - to get what it wants or needs out of the center position. And that's fine. For now.

Sure, it's no long-term solution. Coach Erik Spoelstra isn't certain how long he'll go with this three-the-hard-way approach to center. But for the past two games, it's worked.

All you have to do is look at the numbers.

Ideally, this would be a one-man job for the Heat.

For now, it's anything but.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Miami Heat 97, Atlanta Hawks 79 (Beyond the Box Score)

In a game Erik Spoelstra went 11-deep, the Heat again showed its versatility and depth. Most importantly, the Heat managed to hold off the Hawks in the fourth quarter. Spoelstra felt the Heat was sloppy, after holding Atlanta to a franchise-low 27 points in the first half. But in the end he knew one thing trumped all: “It was an important win,” Spoelstra said. “It was a good win. We will take that and hopefully try to build on that.” The Heat climbed to five games above .500 for the first time this season and now is tied for fifth-place with the Detroit Pistons. The Heat also pulled to within 1.5 games of fourth-place Atlanta.

Player of game: Dwyane Wade led the way with 35 points in 34 minutes. His most important contribution was helping provide the killer instinct the Heat lacked. The Heat did fine when Wade was on the bench with two fouls and the Hawks struggling offensively but the Heat probably could have been up by 35-40 points instead of 18. Wade helped the Heat distance itself from Atlanta in the second quarter and again in the fourth quarter after the Hawks pulled to within seven points. Wade had 12 points in the fourth quarter.

Surprise, surprise: Center Mark Blount had another solid performance off the bench. He had eight points, four rebounds and two blocked shots in 19 minutes. After seeing his first action Saturday in more than a month, he again proved that he can be valuable off the bench.

Tough night: Small forward Yakhouba Diawara was 2 of 7 from the field, including 1 of 5 from beyond the arc. Even though the Heat continues to win without Shawn Marion (groin), Diawara should not be confused for Marion.

Shut ‘em down: The Heat held Hawks point guard Mike Bibby to 1 of 6 shooting. He finished with 2 points, 0 assists and five turnovers in 32 minutes. Mario Chalmers continued his strong run in a three-game stretch that has seen him face Boston’s Rajon Rondo, Orlando’s Jameer Nelson and then Bibby.

Stat of the night: 13 ½ minutes. The Hawks were scoreless for a stretch of 13:25 in the first half and this seemed to be the difference in the game. Even though the Hawks made a run, like most teams would, after such an awful first half, the Heat’s early defense set the tone. During the Hawks’ drought, the Heat had five blocks and forced 10 turnovers.

That says it all: “This game is played in four quarters and we didn’t come to play the first two quarters.” -Hawks coach Mike Woodson

Next up: Heat vs. Washington Wizards, Wednesday 7:30 p.m., AmericanAirlines Arena 

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The bounce-back bunch

One telling and encouraging thing about the Heat is that it almost bounces back. As the Orlando win showed, Miami usually responds after tough losses. A game after losing by 15 points to the Boston Celtics, Miami beat Orlando 103-97 Saturday at AmericanAirlines Arena.

It's just another example of this team's resilience. Remember how the Heat won in Phoenix a game after losing by 38 points in Portland? Remember the Heat's overtime win at Golden State a game after the controversial and devastating loss to the hapless Clippers?

For all the talk that the Heat needs a center and has a flawed roster, the makeup of this team is solid. Sure, they still lose games to some of the lesser teams in the league but this team seems to consistently rise to the occasion and be unfazed in clutch situations. After the Magic erased the Heat's 15-point fourth quarter lead Saturday, Miami showed poise down the stretch. The Heat will need to make some upgrades to be a title contender, but right now this group is showing that the team's make-up and personality should not be undervalued.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Miami Heat 103, Orlando Magic 97 (Beyond the Box Score)

The Heat beat another marquee team Saturday, and the Magic lost consecutive games for the first time since going 0-2 to start the season. Miami now has wins against the Cavaliers, Lakers and Spurs and by defeating the Magic snapped Orlando’s 10-game win streak against the Heat.

Coming off Wednesday’s 15-point loss to Boston, this was a huge bounce back win for Miami. As Dwyane Wade said after the game, Miami proved yet again it can play with the league’s elite. This win was significant because even though Wade had a game-high 27 points, this was a team win. Daequan Cook hit three free throws with 1.1 second left to give the Heat a six-point lead and the final score. Mario Chalmers had a breakout game, after his recent slump. Entering Saturday he had been scoreless in three of the Heat’s past six games. Mark Blount provided a spark off the bench, so did Chris Quinn. Also, the Heat managed to contain the Magic, despite not having its best defender Shawn Marion, who was sidelined by a strained left groin.

In Orlando’s win earlier this month against the Heat, they managed to hold Wade scoreless. That didn’t happen Saturday and it helped because as the Magic honed in on Wade, it opened up the game as several players were clutch.

Despite having the best road record in the league, Orlando was frustrated. The Magic had four technical fouls.

Player of the game: Rookie point guard Mario Chalmers had 20 points, six assists and three steals. He helped jumpstart the Heat with 13 first-quarter points (setting his career high for points in a quarter) and was 6 of 6. He had a hand in 20 of the Heat's 32 first-quarter points. He finished the game 8 of 12 from the field. His defense was huge in the final minute. After Mark Blount helped strip the ball from Dwight Howard with 41.9 seconds left, Chalmers recovered it and he stripped the ball from Jameer Nelson with 5.9 seconds left and the Heat only leading by three points. Udonis Haslem also deserves an honorable mention because his two late baskets, a jumper and layup (with 2:32 and 2:08) left in the game were huge. This came after Jameer Nelson had tied the game.

Surprise, surprise: Mark Blount saw his first action since Dec. 14 against Memphis. It became such a long streak that you had to wonder when he would get another opportunity. He played 19 minutes and was responsible for defending Howard late in the fourth quarter. He was 3 of 8 from the field with seven points, but his stat line does not accurately reflect his contributions. Several Heat players said they probably wouldn’t have won the game without Blount.

Tough night: Not to harp on Joel Anthony but he is playing such a limited role that you almost wonder how much longer he’ll be the starter, or whether he’ll just continue starting games and not playing much thereafter. He played 6:34 in the first quarter and did not re-enter the game. It marked the least he has played since Nov. 5. You couldn’t even blame his lack of playing time on foul trouble, as he picked up only one. Jamaal Magloire and Blount handled much of the load, combining to play about 41 minutes. Magloire played with the starters to open the third quarter and Blount got plenty of playing time down the stretch.

Lit ‘em up: Dwight Howard was 9 of 11 from the field and had 22 points. He filled out the box score with 10 rebounds and three blocked shots. And the Heat also got him fired up, as he was called for two technical fouls, leading to his ejection with 1.1 seconds left in the game.

Stat of the night: There were several notable stats. The Heat set its franchise record with only four turnovers and Wade committed none. It was Wade’s second turnover-game this season, the other coming in the Heat’s win at Utah Dec. 3. The Heat razzed Wade, who is second in the league in turnovers, about not turning the ball over. Coach Erik Spoesltra joked it was Wade’s first turnover-free game since grade school. A laughing Wade said, “Probably the first time ever to tell you the truth.” Another key stat. The Heat is 16-1 in games when it attempts more free throws than its opponent. Miami had the edge 32-28 Saturday.

That Says It All: “The number one reason we lost is because they played well.”-Stan Van Gundy

Next up: Heat vs. Atlanta Hawks, Monday, 7:30 p.m., AmericanAirlines Arena

Friday, January 23, 2009

The Matrix and Hokey-Pokey Pat

It's difficult to tell which of the two is hurting Shawn Marion more these days.

His pride.

Or his strained left groin.

It's hard to tell which of the two is keeping him out of the lineup more, with the trade winds howling as the Feb. 19 trading deadline looms.

Will Marion be held out of Saturday's game against Orlando because the Heat doesn't want to risk more damage to Marion's body - and risk losing him for a larger chunk of games?

Or is this about holding him back to ensure he doesn't go out and rip the groin apart and damage - beyond repair - his trade value in advance of the deadline?

Heat president Pat Riley came out Thursday and said all of the right things.

He likes what the team is doing.

He appreciates the progress, coming off a 15-win season.

He feels bad that Marion has to be caught up in all of this speculation.

He's doing his due diligence with regards to upgrading the team through possible trades.

His phone rings constantly. And sometimes, medical reports get exchanged.

Nothing is imminent.

It's Hokey-Pokey Pat. Tell us just enough to fill a story, without really divulging much at all. That's because what he says is not as important as the fact that he said something to begin with.

But Marion may have trumped Riley on Friday with his own version of cryptic messages.

Asked if he appreciated the long talk Riley said he had with Marion and his agent through this difficult time, Marion offered his own version of talk that didn't really say much.

"What's done is done," Marion said. "It is what it is."

Huh? What's been done?

And if it is what it is, then what's it?

"I have much respect for Pat, and that's it."

These two are growing more difficult to read by the day.

But one thing's clear. Marion is caught between a team president and an agent who would rather not deal with one another. And because Marion is still here and not in Toronto or Dallas or Sacramento or New York, he's facing questions he'd rather not answer.

No one is really a victim, yet no one's hands are completely clean in this. Trust on all sides is breaking down. Or was it ever really there?

Believe me, this situation is growing more uncomfortable for all involved by the day.

And there's 26 more to go until the deadline passes.



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