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31 posts from March 2009

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Ranking the Heat Rookies

In the midst doing a guest spot on 790 The Ticket's morning show earlier today, I was hit with a rather intriguing question regarding the Heat's performance this season.

The query was simple. Finding an answer, for me, was not.

The question: Which Heat rookie has had the best season, and which has had the worst. It was difficult enough to break down when I assumed the only logical answers were Michael Beasley or Mario Chalmers. But then came the twist.

First-year coach Erik Spoelstra was also thrown into the mix. Mario

In my haste to avoid dead air, the cardinal sin of radio, my answer was that Mario had the best season and that Beasley slightly edged out Spoelstra as the one having the worst.

You could shuffle the order in any fashion and make a logical argument in this case. So I decided to bring the debate to you and get your feedback.

First, I'll defend my choices, in order.

1. Mario Chalmers - Despite some inconsistent moments recently, the second-round pick has delivered first-round value for the Heat. Chalmers is the only rookie point guard - and maybe only rookie overall - to start every game for his team this season. That alone qualifies him for first in the three-man race. 

Add in the fact that he ranks among the league's leaders in steals (1.9) and averages 10 points, 4.8 assists and 2.8 rebounds to boot, and the choice was easy. If there's a criticism of Chalmers, it's that he needs to bring a high level of focus and intensity to every game and not just the ones when he's facing someone drafted ahead of him last summer. He welcomes the challenge of facing big-name guards, but too frequently gets picked apart against the more marginal opponents.

SpoPractice 2. Erik Spoelstra - I place Spoelstra here, knowing full well that there will be disagreement out there with this choice. But facts are facts. Yes, a healthy Dwyane Wade deserves all the credit for the Heat posting the biggest single-season turnaround in franchise history after last year's 15-67 debacle. But Spoelstra is ultimately responsible for what happens on the bench in games - unless Pat Riley is texting Spo with some undetected device from his court-side seats. Spoelstra has brought some innovation and energy to the head coach's seat. One of the first things he did to get his players to buy in was to pass out those fancy iPod Touch gadgets in training camp, already loaded with the team's playbook and film.

He also opened the door of communication with all of the players and has had several heart-to-hearts with them along the way. And the preference to play Tupac's jams during light practice sessions go a long way with this group. On the flip side, Spoelstra's management of timeouts and his playing rotation has left plenty to be desired. Several of his players have privately questioned their roles and expressed displeasure with the ever-changing pecking order off the bench. But nothing unhealthy appears to be brewing like a potential mutiny or anything. There's also a need to get others involved and expand beyond the five or so sets that seemed designed to get Wade the ball.

3. Michael Beasley - It's easy to pick on the second overall pick and suggest that he has struggled to live up to expectations. Beasley is here, perhaps, for reasons that are often beyond his own fault. Derrick Rose, the No. 1 pick, was handed a starting job and the keys to the franchise, D-Wade-style, right off the bat. O.J. Mayo, the third overall pick, was given the green light - or perhaps sped through plenty of yellow BeasleyPractice lights - for a disastrous Grizzlies team. And Russell Wesbrook, Kevin Love and Brook Lopez, among others, have shown drastic improvement over the course of the season.

Beasley, in many ways, remains an enigma - an explosive talent capable of kissing the rim with his athleticism and scoring 28 one game and kissing plenty of pine and offer up three points and three rebounds in 13 minutes on other nights. Beasley has been the biggest victim, by far, of Spoelstra's fluidly unpredictable playing rotation. His defense has been an issue all season. Case in point came last night. Spoelstra inserted Beasley and specifically told him "no air space" in reference to not allowing Rashard Lewis any breathing room out to the three-point line. So what happens? Beasley bites for a ball fake and rushes into the lane to help on Dwight Howard. The skip pass goes over to Lewis on the perimeter, and he calmly knocks down the go-ahead three in Orlando's 101-95 win. It's times like those when Spoelstra sort of justifies his handling of Beasley's minutes. He's got to earn them.

All in all, this has been a season of significant development for each of the Heat's rookies. 

But now is no longer the time for growing pains. It's all about winning games.

You rank the rookies.

(For live news, notes and updates on the Heat, follow me on Twitter @ twitter.com/wallacesports) 


Magic 101, Heat 95 (Beyond the Box Score)

In his search for something to salvage after Monday's 101-95 loss to the Magic at AmericanAirlines Arena, Heat guard Mario Chalmers gathered his thoughts and offered the following.

"We showed that we can play with anybody in this league," Chalmers said. "We're not scared to match up with anyone (in the playoffs). If you get us down, you better keep us down, because we're going to keep coming."

Although the victory margin continues to grow between the in-state rivals, with the Magic having won 12 of the last 13, the competitive gap appears to be closing slightly. The Heat fought the Magic for 45 minutes of a 48-minute game.

Then, the Heat went cold. In the process, it did not only lose the game, it also lost some personnel. Heat reserve guard Luther Head broke a bone in his right hand in the fourth quarter and is expected to miss 4-to-6 weeks, meaning his season is likely done.

Obviously, Head is hoping otherwise. "This team is good enough to go on a run and play well in the playoffs," Head said after the game. "Hopefully, we do and maybe I can get back out there."

Player of the Game: Dwyane Wade - He seems to play at his best against Orlando. But Magic coach Stan Van Gundy will gladly watch Wade score 40 a game in a losing effort. Wade did it again. After scoring 50 in a loss last month, Wade came back with 42 points, four rebounds, four assists and four steals in another losing effort. He may have added a banged up hand and a twisted ankle to his growing list of ailments. Wade didn't want to talk much about those injuries after the game. 

Surprise, Surprise: Mario Chalmers - Had a respectable outing, with 13 points, seven assists, five steals and three rebounds to neutralize Rafer Alston in the point guard matchup. Chalmers also made all three of his three-point attempts, including a huge one in the fourth that put the Heat 90-89. But Miami then went cold the rest of the way. This is the kind of steady performance needed at the point in the playoffs.

Tough Night: Luther Head - You have to feel for the guy. He just arrived on March 4 as a free agent after he was bought out by the Houston Rockets. He earned playing time as the first guard off the bench because of his defensive quickness. Head never really found his shooting touch. But he was a change-of-pace option the Heat counted on to spell Wade and Chalmers in the backcourt. Now, his season is done. He broke his hand reaching in against Dwight Howard and struck Howard's hip. Head averaged 4.3 points, 2.4 rebounds and 2.3 assists in 10 games with the Heat. He will be a free agent this summer.

Lit 'em Up: Rashard Lewis - Had 14 of his 21 points in the second half and was 5 of 6 from three-point range. Lewis hit the three-point dagger that put Orlando ahead to stay and spoiled the outcome for the Heat on the night the franchise retired Alonzo Mourning's jersey.

Stat of the Night: 52.6% - The Magic extended the Heat's woes at defending the three. Orlando was 10 of 19 from beyond the arc, 7 of 12 in the second half.

That Says it All: "I just kept telling my team that this is our game and they can't stop us." - Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard, who had 22 points and 18 rebounds. He also became the youngest player in NBA history (age 23) to record 5,000 rebounds. 

Next Up: Wednesday - Heat at Dallas Mavericks, 8:30 AmericanAirlines Center 

(For live news, notes and updates on the Heat, follow me on Twitter @ twitter.com/wallacesports) 

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Heat 102, Bucks 85 (Beyond the Box Score)

Fortunately for the Heat, home offered the beatable Milwaukee Bucks Saturday.

Unfortunately for the Heat, it can't play every game the rest of the way at AmericanAirlines Arena.

Miami extended its longest home winning streak of the season to six games with Saturday's 102-85 victory against the fading Bucks. The win also snapped a two-game losing streak for the Heat, which has suffered two demoralizing losses at Indiana and Chicago last week.

Clearly, the Heat is a different team at home. But that doesn't bode well for the Heat in the playoffs, unless it's able to climb up to the fourth seed and earn home-court advantage for the first round. Otherwise, the Heat is going to have to get it together on the road - and in a hurry.

After Monday's game against Orlando, Miami will close the season with five of its final eight on the road.

Player of the Game: Udonis Haslem - Yes, Dwyane Wade did his thing, with 27 points, seven assists and three steals. But Haslem was there with a big bucket or key rebound every time the Heat needed one. And that was especially the case after Miami nearly squandered all of a 25-point lead midway through the fourth. Haslem notched his 100th career double-double, with 16 points and 12 rebounds. He's toughing this season out through back spasms that crop up ever so often. He's setting the example both physically and vocally for this team right now.

Surprise, Surprise: James Jones - He's been long overdue for this type of performance off the bench. Jones delivered the clutch shooting he was signed to a $4 million-plus free agent contract to add to the lineup. He was 3 of 5 from deep, fueling a 9 of 19 performance from the Heat from three-point range. Jones finished with 11 points, three rebounds, a steal and a block in 22 minutes.

Tough Night: Yakhouba Diawara - On a night that saw 10 of the 11 Heat player who played contribute at least one field goal, Diawara (aka Frenchie) was the lone man who didn't sniff any playing time among those on the active list. Chris Quinn got in late for a couple of scoreless minutes. But Frenchie took home the lone, dreaded DNP - Coach's Decision. 

Shut 'em Down: Charlie Villanueva - This certainly wasn't a performance he'll be "tweeting"about anytime soon. Villanueva, who made headlines recently for being reprimanded for "tweeting" during halftime of a game, was just 4 of 15 from the field for nine points. He averaged 16 points on the season.

Stat of the Night: 36.9- The Heat held the Bucks to 36.9 percent shooting from the field. It was the 13th time this season Miami has held an opponent to below 40 percent shooting.

That Says it All: "Everyone else did their jobs." - Heat guard Dwyane Wade on the team balance.

Up Next: Monday - Orlando Magic at Heat, 7:30 AmericanAirlines Arena (featuring a halftime ceremony to retire Alonzo Mourning's jersey) 

Friday, March 27, 2009

Charles Barkley: "These are the dog days" for Dwyane Wade

TNT analyst Charles Barkely was right-on with his analysis of what Dwyane Wade is going through recently. As Thursday showed, he can't single-handedly carry the Heat to victory. Sure he's done it this season but lately it's not happening as much and the lack of help around him is showing that the Heat could be in trouble going into the playoffs. Wade scored 31 points and had four rebounds and five assists, three steals and a block. That should be enough from Wade for the Heat to win. It wasn't against the Bulls.

"When you are a one-man wrecking crew like Dwyane Wade, you have peaks and valleys," Barkley said during TNT's broadcast Thursday night. "You do get tired. I've been a great player myself playing on a bad team. These are the dog days. What happens is people start crowding Dwyane Wade and beating up. You get mentally tired and you get physically tired."

Wade's fatigue should not be overlooked. The Heat fell to sixth-place in the Eastern conference playoff race Thursday and have 10 games left. Ideally, Wade would get to sit out one or two of the remaining games to rest up for the playoffs. It might not happen because of the playoff picture. Another player who is exhausted is Udonis Haslem. His back still is bothering him and you can just tell that he and Wade are exhausted. Neither will complain publicly because that's not their personalities, but both seem more beat up and tired than they're letting on.

Miami Heat 87, Chicago Bulls 106 (Beyond the Box Score)

CHICAGO-- It's officially time to worry. The Heat struggled again on the road and as result technically dropped to sixth-place in the Eastern Conference. The Heat (.527) has a lower winning percentage than the 76ers (.529). If the playoffs started now the Heat would play the defending champion Boston Celtics. The good news could be that the Heat has 10 games to try to solidify its playoff spot. The bad news, half of the Heat's remaining games are on the road.

Player of the Game: Dwyane Wade had a game-high 31 points and went 12 of 21 a night after shooting 5 of 24 in the Heat's loss in Indianapolis. It was encouraging to see Wade rebound but discouraging that the Heat lost and wasted a solid performance from him. Wade got his 100th block, becoming the first player in the NBA 6-4 or shorter with that many rejections in a season. He also is the league's only player with at least 100 blocks and 100 steals this season.

Tough night: Jamario Moon struggled defensively against former University of Miami standout John Salmons. Offensively, Moon was 2 for 5 with four points and one of his dunks from a Wade dish reminded you again that he's got sick athleticism. His perimeter defense was shaky, and the Heat needs more from its starting small forward. A game like this showed what the Heat misses without Shawn Marion.

Surprise, surprise: Udonis Haslem followed up Wednesday's performance against the Pacers with 13 points and was key in the first half when the Heat kept it close. It was uncharacteristic, however, that Haslem had five turnovers.

Lit 'em Up: Salmons had 27 points, including 13 during the Bulls huge third quarter. He went 12 of 22 from the field, including 2 of 4 from beyond the arc. He also had five assists, two steals and a blocked shot. In both his games against the Heat since being traded from Sacramento, he has lit up the Heat. He's officially becoming a Heat-killer.

Stat of the Night:15-0. The Bulls won the game in the third quarter using a 15-0 run. The Bulls had an eight-point lead that the Heat cut to one point, and then Chicago buried Miami and finished the quarter ahead by 16 points.

That Says It All:

“We have to figure it out or we’re going to be on vacation early regardless of what seed we got right now. There’s still enough basketball left where if we don’t take care of business we’ll be going home.” -Haslem

Next up: Saturday-Heat vs. Milwaukee Bucks, 7:30 p.m., AmericanAirlines Arena

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Miami Heat 88, Indiana Pacers 90 (Beyond the Box score)

INDIANAPOLIS -- Different circumstances, same result. The Heat fell 90-88 to the Pacers Wednesday, and had a chance to at least send it to overtime, but Miami just can't get past the Pacers in Indy. The Heat has lost 14 straight regular season games here, and 17 overall (including the playoffs).

Forget about the skid here. This was a huge loss because the Heat is losing its grip on the fifth-seed in the Eastern Conference. The 76ers won and now sit only 1/2 game behind Miami. Atlanta lost, so the Heat could have gained ground on the Hawks.

Now Thursday's game in Chicago really becomes a must-win. With 11 games left, the Heat will need to find a way to win on the road. The Heat has six of its final 11 games on the road and the Heat has lost 7 of its past nine on the road.

Player of the Game: Udonis Haslem had one of his best games of the season, scoring 18 points and grabbing 14 rebounds. He had 10 points in the third quarter and it seemed like he couldn't miss. He was disappointed that his jumper from 18 feet didn't go in with 7.9 seconds left, which potentially would have tied the game. On a night where there was little help, he did a great job.

Tough night: Dwyane Wade had 21 points but made just 5 of 24 from the field. He was just off. He missed 9 of 11 in the second half. Knowing that his jumper wasn't falling Wade tried drawing as much contact as possible and attempted 12 free throws. In the end his body took a pounding, not a good thing for an already ailing Wade. He had a great look at the buzzer, but his three-pointer rimmed out. It was just not his night.

Surprise, surprise: Jermaine O'Neal had 13 points but finished with only two rebounds, including none in the second half.

Lit 'em Up: Take your pick between Danny Granger who had 28 points on 10 of 20 shooting, and had 10 points in the fourth quarter or T.J. Ford who had 20 points on 8 of 14 shooting and 10 fourth-quarter points. The duo combined for 7 of 11 shooting in the fourth quarter.

Stat of the Night: The Pacers outrebounded the Heat 50-44, and considering Indiana was without forward Troy Murphy (knee), the league's third-leading rebounder, the Heat should have fared better on the boards.

That Says It All: "This is a snapshot of who we've been on the road. We hang around and then can't close it out."-Erik Spoelstra said.

Next up: Thursday, Heat at Bulls, 8 p.m. (TNT), United Center

Monday, March 23, 2009

Heat 94, Grizzlies 82 (Beyond The Box Score)

The Heat got exactly what it needed Monday.

Actually, two things. First, Miami put together consecutive victories on back-to-back nights. Monday's 94-82 home win against the Grizzlies comes on the heels of Sunday's 101-96 victory at Detroit, which snapped a three-game losing streak.

But just as important as Monday's win was Monday's rest. With the Heat ahead by 20-plus points in the fourth quarter, there was really no reason for Dwyane Wade to return. The game was easily in hand. With Wade already playing on a gimpy right hip/leg, there was really no reason to risk it.

Also, Jermaine O'Neal missed Monday's game to rest a nagging right hip injury. That ailment seems to be contagious around the Heat these days. All told, Miami did what it needed to do against an inferior Memphis team. The Heat jumped on the Grizzlies and never really let up to extend its recent stretch of strong play at home. Problem is, the Heat has to hit the road again after the one-game pit stop.

Player of the Game: Dwyane Wade - That Wade was still in the game with just more than two minutes left was almost inexcusable, regardless of whose call it was. No need to risk him aggravating that sprained right hip, that surgically repaired left knee, that twisted ankle or any of the other ailments that have slowed Wade in recent games. But that was all you could criticize on a night Wade had 27 points, 8 assists and 2 steals in 32 minutes. He also set the franchise's single-season scoring mark. Michael Beasley pushed Wade for this honor by bouncing back from a tough game Sunday with 17 points and 9 rebounds on Monday.

Surprise, Surprise: Jamaal "Big Kat" Magloire - Magloire filled in admirably for injured starter Jermaine O'Neal, who sat out Monday to rest a bruised right hip. Magloire, who had taken over as the starting center prior to the Feb. 13 trade that brought O'Neal from Toronto, responded with his first double-double of the season, with 10 points and 12 rebounds. He brought an aggressive rebounding presence in the paint - which apparently rubbed off nicely on Beasley as well. Magloire had lost plenty of minutes to O'Neal initially, which was a shame. But Kat stayed with it, and showed he deserves a rotation role on this team.

Tough Night: Luther Head - Has emerged as the guard of choice off the bench, with Daequan Cook struggling and Chris Quinn slipping to third string. Head's quickness is impressive. But his shot was off Monday. He was 1 of 5 from the field, with two turnovers, two assists, two fouls and two boards. But he was able to maintain his defensive swagger. Head fought through a tough offensive game by contributing four steals.

Shut 'em Down: Rudy Gay- The Grizzlies franchise player was held to only eight points on 2 of 9 shooting. He also had four turnovers and was nearly ejected late in the game for arguing with a referee. He was clearly knocked off his game, thanks to tough defense from Jamario Moon.

Stat of the Night: 15-9- Heat held a six-rebound advantage on the offensive glass. Magloire had six offensive rebounds, with Beasley and Udonis Haslem each contributing three. That created plenty of second-chance opportunities. That type of effort was missing most of the 1-3 road trip.

That Says it All: "We were looking at this as a potential trap game, so we said this was going to be the most important game of the season. We wanted to get this win at home." - Heat forward Udonis Haslem on the Heat notching its fifth straight home victory.

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

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Heat 101, Pistons 96 (Beyond the Box Score)

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. - Dwyane Wade is going to get his share of calls. He's going to get his share of non-calls, too.

That all comes with being an MVP candidate and one of the best players in the league over the past six seasons. With Wade leading the way early with his offense and late with his defense, the Heat put a happy ending to what had the makings of a horrendous four-game road trip.

Sunday's 101-96 victory over the shorthanded Pistons allowed the Heat to go 1-3 on the trip and notch its first regular-season victory in Detroit since Dec. 30, 2004. Miami (37-32) also needed the win to maintain its grip on the fifth overall seed in the East. Detroit, seventh in the East, had closed to within two games of the Heat heading into Sunday's game.

Now, the Heat returns home for a pit stop. It plays Memphis on Monday before going back on the road to play a back-to-back next week at Chicago and Indiana.

Player of the Game: Dwyane Wade - It didn't look good for Wade in the opening minutes, when he tweaked his right hip strain on his first drive to the basket. Wade winced in pain over the next several minutes. Eventually, he had the Pistons feeling his pain. Wade closed with 39 points, six assists, four blocks and two steals in 39 minutes. He said this was the best he's felt in more than a week. "The main thing is I'm starting to get my timing back." His defensive plays down the stretch were right on time.

Surprise, Surprise: Jamario Moon - He came out of nowhere and had 17 points, including eight in the fourth quarter. Moon was 3 of 5 on three-pointers. It was Moon's first game in double figures since March 11. The Heat is going to need his energy and defense. But in games like this, his unexpected shooting was huge. Moon has shown he can make those shots from deep. But he had been in such a slump that you'd almost forget that he's a 40-percent shooter three-point range.

Tough Night: Michael Beasley - He clearly wasn't in this one. As a result Beasley posted one of the worst games of his rookie season. He was 1 of 4 from the field and had only three points and four rebounds in 19 minutes. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra had made a point to mention Beasley's struggles to come up with loose balls and key rebounds in recent games. After seeing Beasley miss on three such opportunities Sunday, Spoelstra went back to veteran Udonis Haslem. It paid off, with Haslem making big plays and huge free throws down the stretch.

Shut 'em Down: Rodney Stuckey - If you believe Wade, Stuckey was defended perfectly on his final drive. If you listen to Stuckey, Wade got away with a 10-finger vice grip on the pivotal play of the game. The officials went Wade's way. Stuckey had 24 points, but was shut down by Wade, whose block with 0.6 seconds left sealed the win for Miami. Stuckey was 3 of 9 from the field in the second half.

Stat of the Game: 52.8/71.4/83.3 - Take your pick. The Heat was 52.8 percent from the field in the second half. It was 71.4 from three-point range in the second half. It was 83.3 from the free-throw line.

That Says it All: "I knew his tendencies. I know that he is a good going to right and is strong. He puts his shoulder into you. I just stayed solid and didn't get into his shot fakes and was able to get the block." - Heat guard Dwyane Wade said on his defense on Rodney Stuckey.

Next Up: Monday - Memphis Grizzlies at Heat, 7:30 p.m. AmericanAirlines Arena

Friday, March 20, 2009

Nets 96, Heat 88 (Beyond the Box Score)

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - The Heat needs to get home in a hurry.

Dwyane Wade's return to the lineup wasn't enough to get the Heat back to its winning ways of not-so-long ago. Instead, the Heat went cold down the stretch of yet another game on this trip and fell 96-88 to the Nets at the IZOD Center.

The Heat is now 0-3 on this four-game trip, and has dropped six of its last seven on the road. Miami also dipped to 1-16 this season when it scores fewer than 90 points.

The best thing about this trip is that the end is in sight. Miami closes the swing Sunday afternoon against the Pistons. The issues with this team clearly go beyond Wade's injury concerns. The rotation seems to be a problem, with the pieces not fitting as well.

A healthy Wade easily hides some of these shortcomings. But Wade is far from spry. The hip flexor remains a concern, even though he played through it after missing Wednesday's OT loss at Boston.

Player of the Game: Dwyane Wade - Even at less than 70 percent, Wade is still better the majority of the players in the league at 150 percent. His 27 points, eight rebounds and six assists proved to be a wasted effort. He was sluggish at the start and at the finish. Still, he tried. At times, that leaves others standing around watching and out of sync. That was the case in the final moments Friday, when he may have been a bit of a liability defensively - dare we say it.

Surprise, Surprise: Michael Beasley - The surprise wasn't the fact that Beasley poured in 17 points off the bench on 8-of-11 shooting from the field. The shocker was that the Heat's most efficient offense player wasn't even on the court at the finish - in crunch time - when buckets needed to be made. He also sat on the bench most of the third quarter. Count this among the issues that have to be resolved.

Tough Night: Jamario Moon - The honeymoon - those first few games after the trade - was fabulous for the Heat. In his first eight games, Moon essentially erased eight months of Shawn Marion memories. But Friday's effort was a microcosm of what things have been like for him in recently. Moon was 0-3 from the field and had one rebound in 11 minutes. He also struggled defensively against Vince Carter.

Lit 'em Up: Jarvis Hayes - Provided the daggers that buried the Heat late in the game. Hayes was the perfect complement to Vince Carter's all-around play. Hayes was 8 of 12 from the field, including 2 of 3 from three-point range. He scored nine of his 18 points in the fourth quarter.

Stat of the Night: 4 of 21 - The Heat couldn't match the Nets touch from distance. Miami missed 17 of its 21 attempts from three-point range, including an 0-of-7 offering in the fourth quarter.

That Says it All:"We have to take care of these issues because we have teams breathing down our necks." - Heat forward Udonis Haslem said of Miami losing ground in the Eastern Conference standings.

Next Up: Sunday - Heat at Detroit Pistons, 1 p.m. The Palace at Auburn Hills

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Beasley Kisses, (A-Rod Style)

Figured that headline might draw you into the blog.

Not that we're sensationalizing anything. Heat rookie forward Michael Beasley did pucker up quite a few BeasleyPractice times after the team's practice Thursday at the New Jersey Nets training facility.

While A-Rod is making headlines for a magazine photo that caught him standing in front of a floor-to-ceiling mirror appearing to kiss the image of himself, Beasley found another target: The rim.

Yes, the rim.

Showing off the athleticism many skeptics questioned he had, Beasley went berserk Thursday, throwing down monster dunks after practice for no reason in particular. At one point, Beasley jumped, switched the ball from his left to his right hand between his legs, and flushed it as his teammates looked on.

Then, he got the idea that he needed to really show his hops. So he started going around to all of the courts, attempting several times to jump into the air and kiss the rim - proving that he could get his head at rim level. Freakish athletic stuff, right?

A few months ago, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra prompted Beasley to use that jumping ability to pull down a few more rebounds in games. Let's just say Beasley was in a jumpy mood Thursday.

Hopefully, for the Heat's sake, he saves some of that energy and effort for Friday's game against the Nets. Beasley is averaging 13.4 points and 5.1 rebounds this season.


On another note, Heat center Jermaine O'Neal was accused for the second time this season of assault with a not-so-deadly knee brace. 

J Boston forward Glen "Big Baby" Davis said a cut on his leg was caused by O'Neal's bulky knee brace during Wednesday's game between the Heat and Celtics. Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni lodged a similar complaint against O'Neal last month, which prompted O'Neal to leave the game and get a cover to place over the brace before he could re-enter.

O'Neal said he has worn the brace, which has fiberglass edges near the top, for two seasons without any complaints. He didn't take Davis' complaint too seriously when asked about the issue Thursday.

"Through the cloth?" O'Neal shot back. "Big Baby's being a big baby. I don't know what he's talking about. I didn't know it was possible to cut him through the cloth. People are just trying to use excuses. I guess that's the reason he had so many fouls."  



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