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23 posts from November 2009

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Heat vs. Celtics, HALFTIME 55-48

Welcome dear readers to the Miami Herald's Heat Live-Blog for tonight's matchup against the visiting Boston Celtics. This is Herald writer David Quinones, and I'll be bringing you updates on the action during the course of the night, so shut off that NFL game you're watching and glue yourself to your computer screen instead of your television screen.

The Celtics come in to the game with a firm hold on first place in the Atlantic Division. Boston coach Doc Rivers has a healthy Kevin Garnett and his team playing like they did in 2007 when they won the franchise's 17th championship.

Boston is first in the league in point differential and third in points allowed. If the Heat allow the Celtics to get a run going at any time it could be lights out, because Boston is one of the toughest teams to play catch-up against

Doc Rivers, pregame: "There is no way to stop Dwyane Wade. The bottom line with great players is to just hope they miss shots and if they miss shots then you did a good job."


Heat: Dwyane Wade, Mario Chalmers, Jermaine O'Neal, Michael Beasley, Quentin Richardson.

Celtics: Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Kendrick Perkins, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce.

In the stands: The Heat keeps its record of subpar early-season early-game attendance. Lower bowl is about one-third full.

COMMENTS, COMMENTS, COMMENTS -- Post 'em early and often! Don't let me get bored doing this, cause I start to write weird stuff when that happens.

FIRST QUARTER -- Heat fans: Ever wonder what it would be like to have three superstars in your lineup? Take a look at the Celtics. While Miami has the best player on the court, Boston has the second through fifth best players, and basketball is still something of a team game. After a disappointing loss to Washington here at the AmericanAirlines Arena, they need to win a tough one like this.

Jermaine O'Neal with a few quick ones, to the bench. This is a trap the Heat have to avoid.

JO leaves the game, doesn't seem to be hurting. But everybody hurts. Sometimes.

And just like that, Kendrick Perkins is the greatest center in the history of the game, or at least the Heat is treating him like it, fouling him four times in the first three minutes.       

Wade gets his first bucket on a spin move, Garnett comes back on the other end.

If Garnett is 6-11, I'm 4-9. (Full disclosure: I am not 4-9.)

Wade throws one down through the lane, Miami 16-15.

Ray Allen does what Ray Allens do, and hits a long jumper to give Boston the lead.

Hot shooting to start. Hot pizza courtside. I REALLY want some pizza.

Udonis is in and he still doesn't look right since going scoreless the other night. Misses a 16-footer badly.

Beasley goes all John Starks over Kendrick Perkins. Of course, Beasley is actually left handed.

This pace is frenetic (to use one of my fave words) and neither DWade nor Pierce have really gotten involved. Don't forget that Pierce is a Heat-killer.

DWade with a leaner, plus the foul. Maybe he's ready to impose himself on this game?

Anybody out there? Don't forget, this is called "social" media for a reason. Drop me aline at [email protected] or post your comments below, if you dare...

Pierce fouled on a dunk attempt and talks a little smack to Beas. Haha, okay...

So we can now officially begin our running count of how many times tonight I will get kicked off the internet. Just spent five minutes getting back on. Mind you, I am not on wireless. The AmericanAirlines and Heat have me on an actual ethernet cable and I still constantly lose my connection.

Wade with a step back jumper puts the Heat up 2 points after the first quarter. Stay tuned!

SECOND QUARTER -- "In West Philadelphia, born and raised, getting t-ed up is how Rasheed spends most of his days..."

The thing about Udonis is that he doesn't need to be a big scorer to have an impact on the game. It sure would help, but at least he's rebounding. But it would help,,, Udonis with a steal, Heat up four.

A very mature move by Daequan Cook, baiting his man into the air and making the short baseline jumper while taking the foul. Free throw is missed.

Sheed scores, Marquis Daniels for three, Celtics lead by one.

Time out. Keep your browsers tuned in to MIamiHerald.com/Sports, later tonight we'll have a game story by the legendary Barry Jackson as well as postgame video by yours, truly.

Sheed is doing a little bit of everything, scoring on a power move. JO answers on the other end with a lay in of his own.

Udonis still looks lost on offense. Blocked by Shelden Williams, who left Duke five years ago and has not been seen since. (Just kidding, he's married to Candace Parker, I think.)

"Rio" (ugh) scores, Heat lead.

Heat get a break when the refs call a foul on Mario instead of JO (woulda been the big man's third).

Setting the over/under at five for times I get disconnected from the web. We are at two right now.

Chalmers fouls Rondo. Point guard is the biggest disparity in talent levels between these two teams. Rondo is twice the player with half the jump shot of Chalmers.

Rondo with a nifty reverse, misses, KG cleans it up to get into double digits. Wade answers, gets himself to double-digits.

As much talent as the "Big 3" on Boston have, Rondo is the only one who can just score whenever he wants. He blows by Mario to cap a 9-2 run.

The run continues as Rondo finds Pierce on the break. Celtics up 51-45.

Wade is putting himself in some tough spots and getting forced into bad shots and turnovers. On the other end, Boston is getting whatever it wants. Pierce finds Perkins for the layup.

Heat fall apart to end the half, allow a KG putback and turnover the ball. Go into halftime down 55-48.

THIRD QUARTER RECAP -- While Miami Heat techies worked on my computer, the Heat made a run by isolating DWade and playing tough defense. They finished the quarter down 2.

FOURTH QUARTER -- Holy cow Brian Scalabrine is in the game. Get your sunblock ready.

Beasley gets his third dunk, then gets a foul. In the third he brought the crowd to its feet with a dunk, then proceded to miss two long jumpers and go to the bench.

Arroyo and Cook in the backcourt while Dwyane sits, not a lot of offense on the court.

Beas finally tunes in from long range, nailing a three over Sheed on the baseline. Beas continues to dominate the ball for the Heat, scoring while getting fouled, getting his own miss and getting fouled again. Wow.

With Wade on the bench the Heat (Beasley) have opened a six point lead. Boston does not know what to do with Beas when he sets up on the elbows.

Scalabrine hits a three and Rondo gets a couple of twisting layups and the game is tied.

Chalmers with a drive and Pierce answers with a pair of free throws.

Ray Allen's three opens up a six point lead for the Celtics. Things are quickly falling apart for Miami.

A KG jumper, Miami misses and the game is over. An 82-78 lead evaporates and the Heat fall 92-85.

I'm off to the postgame, don't forget to check back for the Herald's coverage of a tough game, the Heat falling to the Celtics going away.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Postgame Breakdown: Heat 102, Hornets 101

So this is the difference Udonis Haslem makes, huh? Hornets_Heat_UDflush

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.

Hornets_Heat_Bease 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 Hornets_Heat_Rio 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.)

(For live news, notes and updates on the Heat, follow me on Twitter @ twitter.com/wallacesports. To post a question or join our live Heat chat each Thursday from 1-2 p.m., click here.)

Friday, November 20, 2009

Postgame Breakdown: Raptors 120, Heat 113

TORONTO - By now, it's obvious. The Heat won't win too many shootouts this season. It's not built to do Heat_Raptors_Wade that. Dwyane Wade just doesn't have enough consistent help to outscore teams capable of putting up major points.

Another tough lesson was delivered at the Air Canada Centre, where the Heat watched another team soar above the 100-point mark and hand it yet another demoralizing loss. For all of the encouraging things that came about in the furious comeback, the Heat just couldn't manage to overcome its poor start.

Chris Bosh scored 29 points to lead the balanced Raptors to a 120-113 victory over the Heat. Miami has lost three in a row and four of its last five. It is now 0-5 this season when giving up 100 or more points.

The Heat had to work extremely hard to get back into this game after it fell behind by 23 points. But it couldn't get over the hump. Not when the Raptors are torching for 69 points in the first half and shooting nearly 60 percent from the field and from three-point range.

D. WADE'S DOINGS: Wade didn't exactly emerge from his shooting slump. He was 10 of 24 from the field, 1 of 5 from three-point range and 9 of 10 from the foul line for 30 points. His eight assists, many of which came as he beat two defenders to find open teammates, were impressive down the stretch. But the Heat just can't wait around for Wade to do all of the work early. Or Wade can't try to hard to dominate the ball against double- and triple-teams. One way or another, these guys have to meet in the middle. Amazingly, Wade didn't have a turnover. You would think that a three-game losing streak might frustrate the guy a bit. But credit Wade for keeping things in perspective. He knows what - and who - he is working with. He knows there are going to be rough patches during the season. He can't do it all by himself.

Heat_Raptors_Bosh TURNING POINT: This game was truly a tale of two halves. But the biggest twist came at the finish, when the Raptors used a 14-3 run to pull away after Miami pulled to 102-101 with less than four minutes left. Four different Raptors scored during that decisive run, with Andrea Bargnani putting his team ahead to stay. Miami simply expended too much energy to get back and had nothing left to finish.

LOSING EDGE:A Heat defense that once ranked among the league's stingiest teams surrendered 43 points in the second quarter and was outscored by 18 points. Toronto set the tone with its penetration and kick-outs to open shooters. The Raptors shot 79 percent in that quarter, including 67 percent from three-point rang. Seven Toronto players had at least four points in the quarter.

HEAD-SCRATCHER: Joel Anthony played less than half as many minutes as Jermaine O'Neal, yet had nearly twice as many rebounds. This on a night when the Heat needed all hands on deck to compensate for the injuries to Haslem and Richardson, two of the team's top defenders and rebounders. O'Neal did add 17 points and was a factor when the offense flowed through him, which wasn't enough in stretches.

KEY CONTRIBUTION: Mario Chalmers scored a career-high 30 points, including 24 in the second half and 16 in the fourth quarter. It was an encouraging outing, albeit in a loss, from Chalmers. He needed a game Chalmers-mug like this. Wade needed help in the backcourt. He also needed the balance and aggressive play from Michael Beasley, who finished with a solid doube-double. The question, as Spoelstra posed to the media - and presumably his team - after the game, is who is going to continue to step up and play with consistency?

NEXT UP:Hornets at Heat, 6 p.m. Sunday AmericanAirlines Arena.

(For live news, notes and updates on the Heat, follow me on Twitter @ twitter.com/wallacesports. To post a question or join our live Heat chat each Thursday from 1-2 p.m., click here.)

Haslem, Richardson out vs. Raptors

TORONTO – Forwards Udonis Haslem and Quentin Richardson are getting close to returning from injuries that have left the Heat without two of its top defenders.


But they weren’t close enough to be cleared to play in Friday’s game against the Raptors. Haslem missed his second game in a row with a strained left shoulder he aggravated in Tuesday’s loss to Oklahoma City.


Richardson missed his first start of the season Friday with a lower back strain, an injury he sustained in the third quarter of Wednesday’s road loss against Atlanta. James Jones, who finished last season as the starter, replaced Richardson in the lineup at small forward on Friday.


Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said Haslem and Richardson have players have progressed in their recoveries, but could use two more days of rest.


“They both wanted to (play), but there’s still pain, not 100 percent,” Spoelstra said Friday. “They are feeling better the last 24 hours.”


The Heat next plays on Sunday at home against New Orleans.


“I went through shootaround (Friday) and I was planning on playing,” said Haslem, the Heat’s leading rebounder. “They’re going to have to drug me Sunday to keep me off the court. I’m playing Sunday.”


(For live news, notes and updates on the Heat, follow me on Twitter @ twitter.com/wallacesports. To post a question or join our live Heat chat each Thursday from 1-2 p.m., click here.)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Answer Still "No" to A.I.

Iverson2 The Heat had luke-warm interest in guard Allen Iverson before he signed a free-agent 
deal with Memphis entering the start of training camp.


Now that Iverson is set to be available again after the Grizzlies released him this week, don’t expect the Heat to be among his suitors.


Contrary to a published report out of New York, the Heat is not in “hot” pursuit of Iverson and is not competing with the Knicks for the services of the former league MVP.


A report in Thursday’s editions of the New York Daily News cited a person close to Iverson saying the Heat is making a strong run at Iverson. But the Heat dismissed the report as simply a rumor, and a team spokesman said Thursday that there was nothing to the speculation.


Iverson is expected to clear waivers at 6 p.m. Thursday and would be an unrestricted free agent. The Knicks appear poised to bring in Iverson as much for his box-office appeal as for anything he can do on the court to turn around the 2-9 team. Iverson’s inner circle appears to be using past interest from the Heat as leverage to land a more lucrative deal than the $1.4 million minimum contract. 


Iverson played only three games with the Grizzlies before he left the team to deal with a personal matter. But Iverson also complained vehemently about his reserve role.


The Grizzlies and Iverson mutually agreed to terminate the one-year, $3 million contract he signed after very few other teams showed interest in the 34-year-old perennial All Star.

The Heat had shown modest interest in Iverson over the summer, but was unwilling to meet his salary demands or his insistence upon earning a starting role.


Miami instead signed Carlos Arroyo during training camp to bolster its depth at point guard behind starter Mario Chalmers.


But Chalmers has been inconsistent at best in his second season in the league and as the starter. The Heat (7-4) also has struggled offensively while losing three of four games entering Friday’s contest at Toronto.

(For live news, notes and updates on the Heat, follow me on Twitter @ twitter.com/wallacesports. To post a question or join our live Heat chat each Thursday from 1-2 p.m., click here.)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Postgame Breakdown: Hawks 105, Heat 90

ATLANTA - Comedian Chris Tucker sat courtside at Philips Arena for Wednesday's game between the Heat_Hawks_Bease Heat and Hawks. But not even he could find any humor in a once-proud Miami defense that has gradually become a joke in recent games.

The Heat's offensive struggles continued for yet another game. But it was Miami's defense - or inability to defend - that came back to haunt it the most in a 105-90 loss to the Hawks.

The Heat gave up 60 points in the first half and was dominated in the paint throughout the game. Length. Athleticism. Hustle. Composure. Any semblence of offensive rhythm. Those were all things that belonged to the other team again. Meanwhile, the Heat got a season-low 15 points from Dwyane Wade, 21 points and nine rebounds from Michael Beasley and 12 points from Jermaine O'Neal. Wade's franchise streak of consecutive 20-point games ended at 23.

But that hardly was enough to offset the balanced, dunking, streak-shooting Hawks. Joe Johnson scored 30 points to lead six Atlanta players in double figures. The tests continue to be tough for the Heat, which faces another long, athletic, hot-shooting, open-court team in Toronto on Friday.

"We have to develop some real toughness and resolve when we play teams like this on the road," coach Erik Spoelstra said of the Heat, which opened the season with 8 of its first 10 games at home but now faces its first significant stretch of road games. "We've had a real home-heavy schedule, so we're being tested right now."

D. WADE'S DOINGS: Wade knows he's struggling. He didn't need to be reminded of his stats from recent games. On Wednesday, he was 6 of 18 from the field. On Tuesday, he was 6 of 19. The game before that, Wade tossed up an 8 of 17 effort. And the one before that, he was 9 of 17. "I got some real good looks, shots that I normally make in my sleep," Wade said. "I have to play through this and get myself back." The shooting slump hasn't been Wade's only problem. He's also committed 10 turnovers in the past two games. That's another product of facing taller, athletic defenders. Joe Johnson picked up where Thabo Sefolosha and Jamario Moon left off. Wade went through this before. He bounced back. There's a really, really, really good chance he will do so again.

TURNING POINT: The Hawks closed the second quarter out on a 28-8 run. There were Josh Smith dunks. Heat-Wade-Stinks There were Joe Johnson threes. There was even a moment when 6-11 Al Horford led a fastbreak that led to another basket by Johnson. The Hawks have the Heat's number right now. This was the same team that knocked the Heat out of the playoffs in seven games last season. Scratch that. These Hawks are better. Last year's team didn't have Jamal Crawford or Joe Smith, proven vets off the bench.

LOSING EDGE: The Heat was destroyed at times on the glass. Especially the offensive glass. The Hawks held a 15-9 edge in offensive rebounding. They cashed in to outscore the Heat 27-11 in second-chance points. This, again, is where height and length are huge advantages for the Hawks and disadvantages for the Heat.

HEAD SCRATCHER: Heat coach Erik Spoelstra's search for answers, a spark, anything took him to the depths of the roster in the second quarter of Wednesday's game. Yes, the second quarter. One such five-man collection consisted of Carlos Arroyo, Daequan Cook, James Jones, Shavlik Randolph. Yes, Shavlik Randolph. And Joel Anthony. The best five at your local Y might give that squad a decent run. The Heat might have had more offensive punch on that squad of D-League players who were called up to finish Miami's dismal 15-67 season a couple of years ago. I might take my chances with Kasib Powell and Co.

KEY CONTRIBUTION: Beasley bounced back from his zero-rebound performance against OKC last night to finish with 9 boards and a team-high 21 point. He couldn't take much comfort in the effort because it Beas-V-Hawks came in a loss. It's the second time in a week that Beasley had a productive game that didn't result in a win for the Heat. He had 24 points and six rebounds in last Thursday's loss to the Cavaliers. Still, these kind of numbers from Beasley aren't only encouraging, they're a necessity if the Heat is to be a threat.

NEXT UP: Heat at Raptors, Friday 7 p.m. Air Canada Centre

(For live news, notes and updates on the Heat, follow me on Twitter @ twitter.com/wallacesports. To post a question or join our live Heat chat each Thursday from 1-2 p.m., click here.)

Shoulder sidelines Haslem vs. Hawks

ATLANTA - The Heat's injury report received a new addition Wednesday, with reserve forward Haslem Upsetand leading rebounder Udonis Haslem out against the Hawks with a strained left shoulder.

Haslem has been bothered by soreness in the shoulder for at least a week, but he continued to play. He had an MRI test on the shoulder after Saturday's home game against New Jersey, but no significant damage was revealed.

Haslem aggravated the shoulder in the win against the Nets and then left Tuesday's game against the Thunder in the fourth quarter after he collided with Oklahoma City forward Nick Collison. The injury could keep also keep Haslem out of Friday's game against Toronto.

"It's been a couple of weeks, something I've been dealing with. But it got a little worse last night," said Haslem, who wore a thick wrap around his shoulder in the visitors locker room before Wednesday's game. "I would definitely play. But just talking to the trainers, it's probably not the right timing to do something like that. You have to be smart. You don't want it to be an issue longer than it needs to be."

Haslem said he has received extensive treatment on the shoulder the past few days to reduce inflammation. With Haslem out of the lineup, coach Erik Spoelstra said forward Michael Beasley would see his starting role expanded by additional minutes.

Haslem has averaged 11.7 points and a team-high 9.7 rebounds per game.

(For live news, notes and updates on the Heat, follow me on Twitter @ twitter.com/wallacesports. To post a question or join our live Heat chat each Thursday from 1-2 p.m., click here.)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Postgame Breakdown: Thunder 100, Heat 87

There's no way to sugarcoat this. The Heat got punked. This was Manny Pacquiao versus Miguel Cotto.  Thunder_Heat_Bask1  
This was Jay Z versus Soulja Boy. This was WalMart versus K-Mart.

It was no contest.

When you've got a jump-shooting center, a roster full of jump-shooting forwards, a spot-up point guard who doesn't really spot up all that much and one dude consistently capable of going to the basket to generate offense, it's easy to jump to these sort of conclusions after one bad night.

Make that two bad nights. The difference was Dwyane Wade's three-point gift from God was able to help the Heat get past New Jersey with one-tenth of a second left. But there was no Wade-to-the-rescue moments for the Heat's offense in Tuesday's 100-87 thumping at home by Oklahoma City.

The only productive thing the Heat can take out of Tuesday's meltdown to end its five-game homestand was the team's red-eye chartered flight to Atlanta for Wednesday's game against the Hawks. Poor shooting ripped through the Heat as if it were a strain of the swine flu.

D. Wade was off. Mike Beasley was off. Udonis Haslem was off. Anyone not named Daequan Cook in the second half was off. Anything resembling perimeter defense was off. Tuesday's loss prevented the Heat (7-3) from matching its best 10-game start in franchise history.

It was also a wake-up call. Or at least it should be. Wade needs a consistent sidekick he can rely on during games when he's simply human. The Heat needs a high-jumping, shot-blocking, rebounding, long-armed, in-the-paint finishing big man that can dominate on both ends. Or at least have a presence.

Man could this team use an Alonzo Mourning or a James Posey right about now. Even at this stage in their careers. Because Kevin Durant, Russell West and the Thunder were Larry Holmes whipping up on an old, flabby, lifeless Ali at AmericanAirlines Arena Tuesday night.

D. WADE'S DOINGS: Perhaps filming that Gatorade commercial after a grueling practice on Monday took a bit out of Wade. Especially if he had to film several takes during the shoot at AmericanAirlines Arena. The man simply had nothing left on Tuesday. Wade was 6 of 19 from the field and had six turnovers in 40 minutes. He scored 9 of his team-high 22 points from the free-throw line. He added seven assists and six rebounds. But credit Thabo Sefolosha for at least making Wade work hard. There are going to be nights when Wade goes for that fourth-quarter switch and can't flip it on. This was one of them.

TURNING POINT: The Thunder used a 16-1 run midway through the game that allowed it to take a Thunder_Heat_Bask2 commanding double-digit lead in the first half. During that run, Westbrook bulled over Mario Chalmers for an offensive foul and then got into a bit of a dust-up with Jermaine O'Neal. Westbrook didn't back down and had to be pulled away by Wade. That moment showed the Thunder was here for a fight. The Heat didn't have much of a punch. Miami would get as close as three at the half, but another run in the third put it away for OKC.

LOSING EDGE: OKC's starting forward tandem of Durant and Jeff Green outscored the Heat's forward duo of Michael Beasley and Quentin Richardson 45-10. That's a damn shame. Beasley has disappeared since he had what was thought to be a breakthrough 24-point performance three games ago against Cleveland. Since then, Beas has gone 6 of 26 from the field the past two games. Richardson has been hit-or-miss offensively. And that's OK. But he's in the starting lineup to provide perimeter defense. That part of his assignment went undone against the Thunder.

HEAD-SCRATCHER: Grant Long, a member of the Heat's inaugural team during the 1988-89 season, certainly didn't show much love for Miami's current superstar. Long, now a commentator for the Thunder's television broadcast team, said he doesn't consider Wade as one of the top five players in the league. Asked to give his fav five of sorts during the broadcast, he named Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Dwight Howard, Tim Duncan and Paul Pierce as the five best and most complete players in the league. "I can't put him in my top five," Long said. "I want two options in a guy. A guy who can drive (or) shoot when the game is on the line. Right now, I don't go to Dwyane Wade. Right now, he's primarily a driver."

KEY CONTRIBUTION: The silver lining was Daequan Cook's emergence from his shoulder injury-induced Cook-Preseason shooting slump. Cook was 5 of 11 from the field and 4 of 9 from three-point range for 17 points off the bench. He will need to continue that hot streak for the Heat to have any chance of getting past the Hawks and Raptors on the upcoming two-game trip. Jermaine O'Neal had his third double-double, with 19 points and 10 rebounds.

NEXT UP: Heat at Hawks, Wednesday 7 p.m. Phillips Arena

(For live news, notes and updates on the Heat, follow me on Twitter @ twitter.com/wallacesports. To post a question or join our live Heat chat each Thursday from 1-2 p.m., click here.)

Monday, November 16, 2009

Pass on A.I., Tinsley? Right Play

First off, full disclosure: I like Allen Iverson. Always have.     0602210770

I respect the impact he's had on the game from a pure basketball standpoint as well as a cultural/style standpoint. From the moment he crossed up Michael Jordan at the top of the key during his mini-'fro'd rookie season, the kid put the league on notice that he was going to be a force.

My connection to the volatile guard goes back even further than that. Believe or not (and I suspect many of you won't, but that's OK), we once ran in the same metro D.C.-area summer leagues and what is now AAU tournaments. Of course, that, for me, was 40 pounds and 15 years ago. OK, 45 pounds.

Yes, a long, long, long time ago. At least on this end. I only wish for Iverson's sake that his career would end far better than it apparently is going to after Monday's news that he's agreed to terminate his one-year contract with the Memphis Grizzlies. Iverson left the team a week ago after a fall out with coach Lionel Hollins over his role and to attend to a legitimate personal matter.

But it was over before it ever really started on Beale Street for A.I.

Now, I'm not sure if he's the answer for any team in the league. Not even at basement bargain, non-guaranteed contract prices. He's run his reputation into the ground. Only the Grizzlies were willing to gamble on him after the meltdown in Detroit last season.

Iverson was quite a polarizing topic among Heat fans over the summer when he launched his free-agency campaign at a charity function in Virginia, placing Miami atop his list of preferred destinations. I covered the event and spoke to Iverson at length about how things went down and how he planned to restore his image, show up at a camp and outwork everyone and become a force again in the league.

He was convincing. He even cried when he was asked about how his image has taken a beating throughout his career, mainly from misunderstandings and self-inflicted wounds. But the Heat was right for never allowing any interest in Iverson to simmer above luke-warm.

Because the same thing that happened in Memphis would probably have happened here, if not worse. Even with all of the respect/love Iverson said he has for Dwyane Wade and Pat Riley, it wouldn't have trumped the pride he carries in that barely 6-foot frame that is as tough as they've come in NBA history.

But there would have been a Shaq-sized tension in the locker room at the first sign of distress over his role Wade-Shaq behind Mario Chalmers. There would have been migraines throughout the coaching staff had second-year man Erik Spoelstra been in charge of soothing Iverson's ego and demands.

And after things ended sort of icy between D. Wade and Shaq a few years ago, Riley certainly couldn't afford to have another aging NBA legend taint the franchise in a year when the priority is to keep Wade happy and a pen handy for his signature at all times.

Yes, this Heat team still has some holes. And Iverson, now available again, still has some game left. But Miami is still 7-2 and in position to match the best 10-game start in franchise history thanks to the moves Pat Riley didn't make this summer. Sure, break down the record and you'll find two wins against the woeful Wizards, a pair against Big Apple-area busters and another against an Indiana team that put the "H" in horrible on the eve of Halloween.

But, as Wade said recently, "We're winning the games that we're supposed to win. Especially at home. Now, we'll find out a lot more about ourselves once we go out on the road."

More important, Miami is winning relatively headache free.  

Now, there probably isn't one team that supports its coach or cares about chemistry in the locker room that would truly touch Iverson at this point. So I guess that leaves the Warriors, Nets, Knicks and Clippers among potential suitors.

And anything's possible in Golden State. Pat-face-in-hand

As for Memphis, the Grizzlies traded in Iverson's baggage for Jamaal Tinsley's. The Heat is probably going to turn out right for shying away from Tinsley, too, despite the mixed messages his agent sent last summer regarding Miami's interest.

And if things don't work out with Tinsley in Memphis, we hear Latrell Sprewell is next on the Grizzlies list.

When it comes to Iverson and Tinsley, Riley was right for standing, well, pat.

(For live news, notes and updates on the Heat, follow me on Twitter @ twitter.com/wallacesports. To post a question or join our live Heat chat each Thursday from 1-2 p.m., click here.)


Sunday, November 15, 2009

Postgame Breakdown: Heat 81, Nets 80

In Thursday's loss to Cleveland, Dwyane Wade topped the highlights with a thunderous flush over Nets-WadeAnderson Varejao. On Saturday, the signature moment came with a finishing swish.

Wade's three-pointer with one-tenth of a second left over Trenton Hassell allowed the Heat to avert disaster and escape with a 81-80 victory over the winless New Jersey Nets.

One flick of the wrist was the difference between the Heat becoming the first team to fall to Nets (0-10) and Erik Spoelstra becoming the fastest coach in franchise history to win his 50th game. Spoelstra, nine games into his second season, got to the mark two games faster than Stan Van Gundy.

Both had Wade to thank for the victories. Especially on Saturday night.

"Well thank you, Wade, for burying that three," Spoelstra said afterward. "I didn't really help us out. At times, that's what the great ones do. They bail you out of a competitive but frustrating game."

But it wasn't just Wade. Quentin Richardson's three with 25 seconds left set up the final dagger. And Udonis Haslem's career-high tying 28 points and 12 rebounds kept the Heat close enough to close it out.

D. WADE'S DOINGS: Wade was 0 of 4 from three-point range before he stepped back and raised up for the game-winner. Didn't matter. "I don't really worry about that," Wade said. "My focus ain't on nothing I did earlier. It's just about that moment." And Wade delivered. His shot capped perhaps his most complete performance of the season. A first-quarter injury to Mario Chalmers forced Wade into more of a playmaking role. He came through with 22 points (setting a franchise record with his 22nd straight game of 20-plus points). Wade also added 8 rebounds, 6 assists, 6 steals and 2 blocks in 42 minutes.

TURNING POINT: Wade's shot won it with essentially no time left. But the turning point came when Sean Williams, who has had his way with Michael Beasley since the Orlando summer league last year, blocked Beasley's shot with 33 seconds left and the Heat trailing 78-75. Williams appeared to grab the ball, and then he lost it out of bounds. That's when it seemed divine intervention may have been on Miami's side. Eight seconds later, Quentin Richardson nailed his banked-in 3-pointer to tie it. That was prayer No. 1 answered. Then came prayer No. 2: Wade's final dagger.  

Nets-Beasrebound WINNING EDGE: On a big-time fight night, the Heat did some damage with body work. That would be its edge rebounding on the offensive glass. The Heat turned 15 offensive boards into an 18-10 advantage in second-chance points. Beasley had five offensive boards, Haslem had four and Joel Anthony had three.

HEAD-SCRATCHER: Mario Chalmers left the game in the first quarter with a freak injury. The team called it a strained right shoulder. Spoelstra called it a slightly pinched nerve or a stinger. Chalmers wasn't quite sure what happened. All he know is that when he tossed a halfcourt lob to Wade on an alley-oop, there was a sharp pain that shot through his right arm. Chalmers didn't return and is considered day to day. The Heat was already without center Jermaine O'Neal, who sat with a bruised hip sustained in Thursday's loss to the Cavaliers.

KEY CONTRIBUTION: Haslem had perhaps his best game as a Heat player. Sure, it came against a winless Nets team. But if it weren't for UD's career-high 28 points and 12 rebounds, the Heat wouldn't have been able to keep up with the Nets. Miami simply had no answer in the second half for Brook Lopez and Sean Williams. The Heat needed Nets-UDevery point Haslem could provide. Halsem and Beasley had problems matching the athleticism of the Nets frontline players.

NEXT UP: Oklahoma City Thunder at Heat, Tuesday 7:30 AmericanAirlines Arena

(For live news, notes and updates on the Heat, follow me on Twitter @ twitter.com/wallacesports. To post a question or join our live Heat chat each Thursday from 1-2 p.m., click here.)



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