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23 posts from January 2010

Sunday, January 31, 2010

View From 8th Avenue

If you're the Miami Heat, it hurts to be here. Literally. Bobcats Heat Wade-Jax

A week that began with Miami clinging the No. 5 spot in the Eastern Conference standings ended with two losses in three games and a fall to what would be the eighth and final playoff spot.

While there is not necessarily panic in the Heat's locker room after this stumble, there is disappointment. There is the feeling of having blown plenty of opportunities to show otherwise. There is also perspective. Heat players and coaches admitted they certainly watch the standings, which came as somewhat of a surprise, because I expected them to take the too-cool-to-stew approach and say the standings don't really matter right now. That there's plenty of basketball left to play.

So that had to make Sunday's view from eighth place a bit humbling Sunday.

"Hell yeah, absolutely," center Jermaine O'Neal said of checking the standings. "You never know what it's going to come down to. There are tie-breakers and everything, and that means a lot. Especially in a conference where a lot of teams are 2, 3 or 4 games (within) each other. We've had opportunities to separate ourselves. There have been a couple of tough breaks and we haven't gotten it done."

The truth is there are too many games left to be anywhere near the panic stage. But another truth is that Chicago, Charlotte and Toronto overcame rough patches and inconsistent play to get on rolls lately.

Bosh screaming Things appear to be coming together for those teams. Going into Sunday, each had winning streaks of at least three games.

Toronto is so hot right now that GM Bryan Colangelo has come out to say that talk of trading Bosh before the February deadline - or maybe ever - is simply crazy. Remember how Vinny del Negro was practically a dead man walking in the Windy City? Not anymore. The Bulls' five-game road winning streak is the best the franchise has seen since Jordan, Pippen, Jackson. And fans might not be showing up in Charlotte, but the Bobcats certainly are every night, road or away.

The Heat, meanwhile, continue to be a collection of moving parts that don't always fit. And now, those pieces have been breaking down recently with injuries. But still, barring a major injury to Dwyane Wade or Michael Beasley, the Heat will make the playoffs.

Bank on it. But just making it was never the goal for Miami. Not even in this diminished season of expectations amid the wait for the 2010 summer - or sooner - makeover. That's what makes the view from eighth street a bit disturbing, regardless of how quickly things can turn around for this bunch.

"Our breakthrough will come," coach Erik Spoelstra insists. "We just have to continue to have faith in that."Wade-frustrated

OK. But there's faith. And then there's eighth.

It basically comes down to this: Teams that made moves or improved from within last summer are now moving past Miami in the standings. The Heat stood still then, and is essentially now running in place.

Right down 8th.

(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.)

Postgame Breakdown: Bucks 95, Heat 84

MILWAUKEE - Forget what their record was entering Saturday's game. The Milwaukee Bucks had the Bucks Heat Main combination that has proved to be kryptonite for the Miami Heat.

Speed. Athleticism. Sweet-shooting big men. The Bucks also had one other thing in their favor in that the schedule delivered the Heat to the Bradley Center on the second night of a back-to-back set. Miami is now 2-7 in that situation this season after falling 95-84 in Milwaukee.

Dwyane Wade's return to the arena where he played his college ball turned out to be a disaster. His shot was off from the start, his back was tightening up at every break and Charlie Bell was able to pull a Kirk Hinrich and get under his skin on the way to a forgetful, foul-filled night.

With Michael Beasley (knee) and Mario Chalmers (thumb) out with injuries, with Wade off and with the Heat getting it going a bit too late, Milwaukee was able to cruise to their sixth straight home victory.

D. WADE'S DOINGS: Wade missed six of his first nine shots and then came down awkwardly in the lane with five minutes left in the first quarter and grabbed his sore back. That was all you needed to know about how, when and why his night went so wrong against the Bucks. He was clearly frustrated, and it showed in two offensive fouls when he simply bullied his way through a defender. He nearly knocked Charlie Bell out on one play midway through the game, and shot a glare down at Bell like Ali did over Liston. Between Wade's back, his fouls and his off shooting touch, this was is one he won't soon forget. Wade picked up his eight technical foul of the season when he yelled at a referee to "call the damn foul" on a play when he was hacked by Bell and lost the ball. Wade didn't go far enough to get fined. But he was clearly fuming. He finished 6 of 20 from the field, including 0 of 6 from three-point range, and had 21 points, seven assists, five fouls and four turnovers in 31 minutes. Expect him to try to hang 50 on the Bucks Monday in Miami. 

TURNING POINT: Despite the decent run the Heat made from 19 down to cut it to five in the final minute, Bucks Heat Second this game was decided in the second quarter. That's when the Bucks outscored the Heat 33-17 and ran Miami silly. No one could keep up with Brandon Jennings. And when the Heat tried, it left open lanes to the basket for the Bucks cutting big men. That falls, in part, on Rafer Alston not being able to keep Jennings in front of him. It also falls on Jermaine O'Neal, Udonis Haslem, Joel Anthony and the back line for leaving their men open while the left to help stop penetration. Miami was a step or two late to everything.

LOSING EDGE: Energy is a never-ceasing buzz word for the Heat. But the energy showed up too little, too late Saturday night. Hakim Warrick was the Energy Bus for the Bucks. Go back several blogs, back to last summer, and I think I mentioned that he's the type of pogo stick, rebounding, dunking, jumping forward the Heat could use along a front line that simply lacks athleticism. Warrick torched the Heat for 22 points, six rebounds, including four on the offensive glass. The Heat lost this game, in part, because it lacks this type of player to neutralize an opponents activity around the rim.

HEAD-SCRATCHER: one question. How can Geriatric Stackhouse go from being out of the league and hosting a sports radio show a month ago, to being nearly unstoppable against the Heat? Come on, man. That's a damn shame. Stackhouse was the difference maker in the second quarter, as hard as that is to believe. He was 4 of 6 from the field and got all eight of his points in the second quarter. That's the quarter Miami was outscored 33-17. Go figure.

KEY CONTRIBUTION: Quentin Richardson's hot start was nice to see, considering how down he's been inBucks Heat Q recent games. Q-Rich got 16 points, six rebounds and two steals. He was 6 of 10 from the field, including 3 of 6 from three-point range. He should have been the only one on the team Saturday who had the green light to simply launch one from deep. Instead, it was an unfortunate free-for-all, or should it be three-for-all? Miami was 6 of 22 from beyond the arc, with coach Erik Spoeltra calling out his team after the game for settling for too many bad, long shots when there was other things to create. Still Quentin will have to keep this up if the Heat is to have any consistency from long range this season.

NEXT UP: Milwaukee Bucks at Heat, 7:30 Monday - 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.)

Friday, January 29, 2010

Postgame Breakdown: Heat 92, Pistons 65

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. - With essentially no margin for error in the Eastern Conference standings, Friday's Heat Pistons Main2 game was one the Heat simply had to stuff in the "win" column on the road.

Miami came into the night in sixth place in the standings, a full game behind Toronto and a half-game ahead of both Charlotte and Chicago. Injuries and adversity were at the Heat's doorstep. Miami answered with a vengeance.

The Heat blew out the team that used to be know as the Pistons 92-65 Friday night at The Palace. It was the Heat's most dominant defensive performance of the season. Miami only needed 22 points and 24 minutes from Dwyane Wade. That's because the Heat overcame the injury absence of second-leading scorer Michael Beasley with its performance on the other end of the court.

Miami dominated the boards, held the Pistons below 50 points until midway through the fourth quarter and emerged with the largest road win in Erik Spoelstra's two seasons as coach. The Pistons were also held to their second-fewest points of the season.

This was a combination of the Heat being defensively on point against an opponent that simply is a shell of its former self at this stage. The names are there. Hamilton, Prince, Wallace. But the games are not.

On the other hand, there was a Daequan Cook sighting for the Heat. Cook, mired in a season-long shooting slump, knocked down both of his threes. In fact, Cook, James Jones and Dorell Wright were perfect 5 of 5 from beyond the arc. The Heat got a season-high 47 points off the bench.

Yes, it was one of those nights for the Heat. A much needed night for this squad.

D. WADE'S DOINGS: The back spasms crept up again, and forced Wade to the bench midway through the second quarter. It disrupted a pretty solid start for Wade, who made four of his first six shots for 11 quick points, three assists and three rebounds in 12 first-half minutes. Wade came back to score another Heat Pistons second 11 points, but he wasn't required to do much. By the end of the third quarter, the Heat had pushed its lead well toward 30 and it was rest time, considering Miami has another game Saturday. Wade said his back was a problem before the game. He saw that Cook was playing well at one point in the second quarter and told Spoelstra to leave Daequan in the game. 

TURNING POINT: With Beasley out, the Heat's second unit was on the spot and challenged to step up. The unit delivered in a big way. It was the second unit that played a key role in the 12-0 run that allowed the Heat to take a double-digit lead in the second quarter. Cook, Wright and Chalmers all contributed in one way or another. The Heat led by as much as 16 in the second quarter with Wade on the bench.  

WINNING EDGE: Rebounding was the deciding factor for the Heat, which won the battle on the boards 52-25. That included a 17-7 edge on the offensive glass. Spoelstra played O'Neal and Jamaal Magloire together for an extended stretch, which gave the Heat a major size advantage in the post. Spoelstra tinkered and came up with the right mixes against Detroit.

HEAD-SCRATCHER: We all know Beasley's playful nature is infectious around the team. We didn't know his aches and pains were, too. It was stunning how quickly injuries buckled the Heat. First, Jermaine O'Neal goes down 50 seconds into the game with a hyper-extended left knee. He came back to start the second quarter. The the injury report only grew worse. Mario Chalmers sprained his left thumb on a play midway through the second quarter, was treated on the bench and then was to have an X-ray done at the half. Moments after Chalmers left the game, Wade limped over to the coaches huddle during a timeout and informed Spoelstra that his back was tightening up. Wade then motioned for a trainer to meet him at the end of the Heat's bench, where he was treated for the spasm. Somehow, the Heat was ahead by 16 at one point late in the first half. Miami's training staff did as running back and forth as the players on the court. Chalmers was the most serious case. He was set to have his thumb in a splint.

KEY CONTRIBUTION: There were plenty, but none bigger than Haslem's effort off the bench. He was Heat Pistons Main pressed into duty earlier than usual after O'Neal went down 50 seconds into the game with a hyper-extended left knee. Haslem closed with 16 points and eight rebounds. He was 7 of 12 from the field. O'Neal got up off the deck to finish with 10 points and 11 rebounds for his ninth double-double of the season, which is one more than he had all of last season.

NEXT UP: Heat at Milwaukee Bucks, 8:30 Saturday - Bradley Center

(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.)

Beasley out Friday with Knee Injury

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. - Heat forward Michael Beasley will miss Friday's game against the Detroit PistonsBeasley-Headdown to rest his hyperextended right knee.

Beasley did not participate in Friday morning's shootaround at The Palace, but did get up a few shots on his own after the brief workout. But both Beasley and coach Erik Spoelstra said it was too soon for Beasley to test the injured knee in game action.

"He feels better and there's no swelling, so that's the difference," Spoelstra said. "We'll have to give him a little bit of a workout before a game."

With the Heat playing again Saturday at Milwaukee, it's not likely that Beasley would get an extended workout under game-like conditions, meaning he is likely to sit out of Saturday's game as well. Spoelstra would not completely rule Beasley out action against the Bucks. The Heat returns home Sunday, but generally takes the day off after a back-to-back set. Miami hosts Milwaukee on Monday, and likely wouldn't have another routine practice until Tuesday.

Beasley injured the knee in the first quarter of Wednesday's loss at Toronto, when he stepped on the foot of Raptors forward Hedo Turkoglu while attempting to catch a lob pass.

Beasley has missed only one other game since he entered the league as the No. 2 overall pick in the 2008 draft. He is averaging 16 points and 6.7 rebounds in his first season as the full-time starter at power forward. Spoelstra was not yet certain who would start in Beasley's place Friday, although veteran Udonis Haslem had been entrenched at the position before Beasley was promoted this season.

Beasley wanted to give himself more time to recover and didn't want to risk further damage.

"It definitely feels better than it did initially," Beasley said. "It's still a little weak. If this was Game 7 (of the playoffs), I'd give it a go. But we've got a long season. I just don't want to rush back and be in the same situation like (Kevin Garnett) was, or even Jermaine (O'Neal). I just don't want to hurt it and be out longer than what I need to be."

(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, January 27, 2010

Postgame Breakdown: Raptors 111, Heat 103

TORONTO - It's back to sixth in the Eastern Conference Standings for the Miami Heat. Heat Raptors Main

Chris Bosh and Andrea Bargnani combined for 51 points on 24-of-41 shooting from the field to drop the Heat 111-103 on Wednesday at Air Canada Center. With the victory, Toronto (24-22) moved a half game ahead of the Heat (23-22). More important, the Raptors are 2-1 against Miami this season and have taken control of the tie-breaker.

This is what happens when Michael Beasley isn't on the court. The Heat got 35 points from Dwyane Wade, 22 from Jermaine O'Neal and 16 from Udonis Haslem. But each one of them had to burn extra energy and play extra minutes just to keep up. The rotation was out of whack. And the team ran out of gas at the end.

The Heat had only four field goals over the final eight minutes of the game. It didn't have enough left to respond to Toronto's final push at the end. Beasley hyper-extended his right knee minutes into the game and had six points and six rebounds in eight minutes. He did not play the second half.

"We stall," center Jermaine O'Neal said of the Heat's struggles down the stretch. "We go on some serious droughts. Some teams are built to go through challenges like that. We haven't been able to do that. We get gassed a little bit. We need more than two, three or four guys. We need everybody."

D. WADE'S DOINGS: Wade took the loss to Cleveland pretty hard and vowed that he would come out and try to remove the bitter taste from his mouth in his return to the court. He came out on a mission against the Raptors. Wade had 21 points in the first half and 31 through three quarters before he shifted gears, assumed the point guard duties and set the Heat up for another close finish. After missing 7 of 16 free throws, including two in the final minute, against Cleveland, Wade came out and hit his first eight from the line. He also made 11 of his first 19 shots entering the fourth quarter.But Wade missed four of his final six shots from the field and was 1 of 6 from three-point range. He played the entire second half. He said he felt good after the game and that the added minutes didn't bother him. But he was encased in ice packs.

TURNING POINT: After the Heat cut it to 106-103 with 1:07 left, the Raptors supporting cast put the game Bosh screaming away. Jose Calderon hit a free throw and Antoine Wright nailed a huge three-pointer from the corner to push the lead to 110-103. The Heat had a combination of turnovers and missed along the way.

WINNING/LOSING EDGE: Toronto shot 61 percent in the second half. Meanwhile, the Heat was 35.6 percent.

HEAD-SCRATCHER: You have to wonder how serious Michael Beasley's knee injury might be, considering the way things shook out Wednesday. Beasley got his right leg tangled with Raptors swingman Sonny Weems with seven minutes left in the first quarter as Beasley was about to jump to catch a lob pass at the rim from Rafer Alston. Instead, Beasley crashed to the ground, yelled and immediately grabbed his right knee as he rolled on the court in pain. It was initially diagnosed as a hyper-extended knee and Beasley was treated in the locker room. He returned midway through the second quarter, played another four minutes and then went back to the bench. He came back out with the team after halftime, but sat on the bench as Udonis Haslem opened the third quarter at power forward. Beasley did not play the rest of the game. You'd have to hope, for the Heat's sake, that Beasley didn't do any further damage when he was allowed back into the game in the second quarter. The Heat is off Thursday and plays at Detroit on Friday.

KEY CONTRIBUTION: With Beasley out, Haslem opened the second half at power forward. He closed with another double-double. Haslem entered Wednesday's game tied with Rony Seikaly for first place in franchise history with 14 double-doubles off the bench. Haslem moved into the lead with 16 points and 11 rebounds off the bench.

NEXT UP: Heat at Detroit Pistons, 8 p.m. Friday - The Palace

(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, January 25, 2010

Postgame Breakdown: Cavaliers 92, Heat 91

You knew it would come down to those two. LeBron James. Dwyane Wade. Cavaliers Heat Main

And in a strange way, the 21st showdown between the big-time rivals and close friends was not decided as much by which of them would do something to win the game as it was who would find a way to lose it.

Turns out, it was Wade who had the Brett Favre moment Monday night.

"Came down to one play," James said. "I'm glad it was us."

Two missed free throws and a key turnover in the final seconds came back to haunt Wade as the Heat fell 92-91 to James and the Cavaliers at AmericanAirlines Arena. Chalk this one up as another big game at home that got away from the Heat after it seemed in control.

Miami was ahead 87-81 with four minutes left and watched the Cavs steal the victory. It went down like this against Boston. It went down like this against Portland. It's gone down like this seemingly one too many times.

"We had two or three chances to win the game," forward Michael Beasley said. "After a loss like this, it hurts. Like I said, up in the fourth quarter with a couple of chances to win the game. It's tough."

Wade and James both finished with 32.

D. WADE'S DOINGS: Wade had 30 points in the first half, a career high for a first half. It was a point shy of Sherman Douglas' franchise record of 31 points in the first half. LeBron had 24. But the second half was a totally different story for Wade, who was 1 of 8 in the last two quarters. He missed two key free throws in the final seconds, then turned it over to James, and then missed what would have been the game-winner on a pull-up over James as time expired. Credit coach Mike Brown for making the adjustment and doubling Wade every time he touched the ball down the stretch. There was no double-team in the final minute, though. It was just straight-up defense from James on the final two possessions. Wade finished with 32 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and three steals. He was 10 of 21 from the field, but missed 7 free throws.

TURNING POINT: The final turn took the toll. After Wade missed two free throws, with the Heat in position Cavaliers Heat second to extend its lead by three, James took over and made the biggest two plays of the game. He forced Wade into a turnover on a play where Wade might have tried to be a bit too fancy on the failed behind-the-back pass. James then hit two free throws for the final margin. It came down to Wade missing his two free throws in the final seconds and James nailing his attempts from the charity stripe. Simple as that.

LOSING EDGE: In a game decided by the slimmest of margins, the Cavaliers got a bit more lift from their reserves. Cleveland got 24 points, 19 rebounds and five assists from its bench, with Anderson Varejao's energy leading the way. The Heat got 13 points and 14 rebounds off the bench, with Udonis Haslem going for 10 points and nine boards.

HEAD-SCRATCHER: There was an ovation from the crowd when Mike Brown and Erik Spoelstra came to their senses and stopped torturing the fans with the lineups that started the second quarter. The Heat had Mario Chalmers, Dorell Wright, Michael Beasley, Udonis Haslem and Joel Anthony out there. Cleveland had Boobie Gibson, Anthony Parker, Jawad Williams, Anderson Varejao and Shaquille O'Neal. As expected, the statistics plummeted.  Ever wondered what these teams would look like without Dwyane Wade and LeBron James, respectively? We saw it in the opening six minutes of the second quarter. It wasn't a pretty picture. Until order was restored. D. Wade and Bron-Bron re-entered together midway through the second and went off, which each scoring at least 12 consecutive points for during one of the most prolific six-minute stretches of the NBA season. Why not just let them play one-on-one, fullcourt the entire game?

KEY CONTRIBUTION: Jermaine O'Neal had another solid game and was key for the Heat at the start andO'NEAL_JERMAINE early in the fourth quarter. J.O. seemed motivated by his matchup with the previous O'Neal that donned a Heat uniform. Jermaine was 7 of 14 from the field for 18 points. He also added eight rebounds and two blocks. There was a key missed free throw in the final minutes that could have capped a three-point play. But this was the kind of production the Heat needs from J.O. every night.Beasley also had a key stretch in the third quarter when he kept the team rolling once Wade started to struggle.

NEXT UP: Heat at Toronto Raptors, 7 p.m. Wednesday, 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.)

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Postgame Breakdown: Heat 115, Kings 84

There are times when the Heat would probably like to curse the NBA for the schedule it was dealt. Kings Heat Main

And then there are times like Saturday, when the team could probably kiss the computer that spit out a visit from the Sacramento Kings at the end of a six-game trip.

The Heat ran into a team that had plenty of its own issues when it comes to mounting enough effort and energy on the second night of back-to-back sets. The result was a 115-84 blowout victory for the Heat, which improved to 2-6 in the second games of a back-to-back set.

Dwyane Wade had 27 points, Michael Beasley added 21 and a season-high 13 rebounds and the Heat had five players finish in double figures to blow past the Kings. Miami has won eight in a row at home against Sacramento, which closed out a 0-6 road trip and has lost seven in a row overall.

This was the perfect punching bag for the Heat, which needed to take out its frustrations on someone after that 39-point loss in Charlotte on Wednesday. Miami wrapped up a stretch of four games in five nights with a 3-1 record.

"At the end of the day," coach Erik Spoelstra said, "it was a positive week."

D. WADE'S DOINGS: We'll learn more if he can continue this on Monday against Cleveland, but Wade is officially in mid-season form. Saturday's effort was about as good and efficient as it gets from Wade, who finished with 27 points, eight assists, four rebounds, three blocks and no turnovers in 30 minutes. He didn't play the fourth quarter. He didn't have to. The Heat had put this one out of reach early in the third quarter. Over his last six games, Wade is shooting 57.3 percent from the field. He's distanced himself from that early-season shooting slump.

TURNING POINT: The Heat put this one away in the second quarter, after the Kings closed to within Kings Heat Second 33-31. Miami responded with a pair of free throws from Mario Chalmers, a three-point play from Beasley and two buckets from Dorell Wright to push the lead back to double figures. The second unit responded to the Kings threat by igniting what would be a 27-8 run late in the second quarter. And it was over.

WINNING EDGE:Two numbers stand out. Miami shot 56.4 percent from the field, marking just the 10th time in franchise history that it has shot better than 55 percent from the field in consecutive games. The Heat also scored 23 points off 14 turnovers by the Kings.

HEAD-SCRATCHER: With newspaper deadlines being what they are right now, I was well into crafting the game story when I noticed the loud cheers late in the blowout every time the Kings scored. Then, it came as little surprise that South Florida was showing big-time love for Kings forward Omri Casspi, the first Israeli-born player to enter the NBA. Casspi cleaned up in garbage time, scoring all 13 points in the second half, including seven on 3 of 3 shooting in the fourth quarter. The kid has plenty of game. Once he gains some NBA experience, he could be really special. His combination of length, athleticism and scoring has made him one to watch. He definitely had his own cheering section of flag-waving fans in Miami.

KEY CONTRIBUTION: Beasley's 21 and 13 made it a solid night for the second-year power forward. TheseKings Heat Beas are the kind of numbers he put up in his lone remarkable season at Kansas State. It's been back-to-back encouraging performances for Beasley, who displayed his improved defense in Friday's win at Washington by slowing Antawn Jamison. On Saturday, he did it at both ends again. He was 8 of 15 from the field, with four assists, two steals and block in 35 minutes.

NEXT UP: Cleveland Cavaliers at Heat, 7:30 Monday - 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.)

Friday, January 22, 2010

Postgame Breakdown: Heat 112, Wizards 88

WASHINGTON -You had to see this one coming, right? So considering the recent trend, what does that Heat-Wiz Main say about Saturday's game against the Sacramento Kings?

"I'm anxious to see how we respond," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "Let's get on with this."

Friday's 24-point victory against Washington came two days after the Heat's 39-point loss at Charlotte, which came a day after Miami's 30-point win against Indiana. So, carry the one, and you've got a 93-point swing for the feast-or-famine Heat.

Should you expect a beatdown at home from the Kings. Or can the Heat really kick this horrendous habit of inconsistent play? Friday's easy victory against the Wizards probably raised more questions than it answered for this group. But this trend stops the moment the players get tired of extending it.

Might that be Saturday?

"It shouldn't take for us to get beat by 30 or 40 to come out and give effort and energy," forward Udonis Haslem said. "It's time for us to go on a run of our own. The teams behind us have gone on a run. It's time for us to try to go on a run of our own."

D. WADE'S DOINGS: It was a complete game for Wade, who came out looking to set up his teammates and then took over midway through the second quarter. Wade closed with 32 points and 10 assists to collect his 84th career double-double, which tied him with Shaquille O'Neal for seventh place on the Heat's all-time list. Wade got much love from the D.C. crowd. At times, it almost sounded like the game was played at AmericanAirlines Arena. He was dunking, dishing and simply dismissing any defenders who tried to guard him Friday. He had a nice rhythm with backcourt mate Rafer Alston and was in a groove with the Heat's big men, who were there to catch and finish his lob passes around the rim. "I just continued to attack, and I was feeling pretty good," said Wade, who was 12 of 19 from the field and 4 of 7 on threes.

TURNING POINT: After the Wizards cut it to 61-51 midway through the third quarter, the Heat responded Heat-Wiz Defense with a 21-6 run to extend the lead 25 points. Miami's six-minute spurt was started by Joel Anthony's dunk on a lob from Wade, who then nailed two jumpers. Alston, Beasley, Anthony and Wade kept it going. The run included three 3s and two dunks. Washington withered.

WINNING EDGE: The 45 field goals on 29 assists showed a commitment to ball-movement and finding the open man. Wade and Alston had a combined 19 assists and set the tone. The guards were actively trying to keep the big men involved. That kept Jermaine O'Neal happy. It led to Miami holding a 42-28 edge in points in the paint.

HEAD-SCRATCHER: Again, how can this roster be so great one game and so awful the next? These are the same players, right? More important, will these be the same players who show up at home Saturday to face the Kings? I'll also clarify a comment made in the previous blog breakdown after the loss in Charlotte when it comes to who is responsible for how this team has performed. I suggested that this can't all fall on Spoelstra's shoulders and that Wade and the players should step up and be accountable for the nightly effort. I also mentioned that Wade and Spoelstra have the responsibility of answering for the shortcomings and frustrating efforts every night, while Pat Riley only has to come out every once in a while to face the music for the roster he assembled. Riley has been outspoken and accountable for the team this season. He has not been in hiding. Some took it that way. In fact, he's probably been more visible and outspoken that expected in some cases. That said, my point is accountability is an all-inclusive obligation.

KEY CONTRIBUTION: This had to be the most impressive 15-point, 8-rebound performance of Beasley'sHeat-Wiz Beas season. Know why? Because his best work was actually on the defensive end, where he limited Antawn Jamison to just eight points on 4 of 14 shooting. Beasley took the defensive challenge from the outset. Basically, he had no choice. Jamison had scored 25 or more points in eight of his previous 10 games. Beasley was intent on making a statement from the start. "I'm just tired of everybody just going at me to start the game," Beasley said. "That's it. Every game since last year, the first three, four, five plays are right at me. It's time I take a stand. I'm getting sick of it." 'Nough said young fella.

NEXT UP: Sacramento Kings at Heat, 7:30 Saturday, 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.)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Postgame Breakdown: Bobcats 104, Heat 65

CHARLOTTE - And then there was this. Heat Bobcats Main

Among the many blunders, bloopers and flat-out bad mistakes that played out in Wednesday's blowout loss to the Bobcats was the gaffe I committed in the locker room after the game. I approached Udonis Haslem and asked how could this team look so good against Indiana, turn around 48 hours later and look so bad against Charlotte.

I stood corrected. Quickly.

"It wasn't even 48 hours," Haslem shot back. "It was 24. Come on, man. You losing your mind with your hair, man? Come on, man."

That was about the best effort at a comeback the Heat made all night. Because the blowout got out of hand so quickly, it seemed like it took ages for Wednesday's 104-65 rout to end. And that performance by the Heat on Wednesday seemed weeks removed from the dominance it showed in Tuesday's 113-83 victory at home against Indiana.

At the end of the day, it was my bad. I had given the Heat too much credit and time between its latest unexplainable, inconsistent performance. The 39-point loss tied for the eighth-worst in franchise history and the 28.9 percent shooting by the Heat was the fifth-worst in team history.

This one also went down in the Bobcats record books. Charlotte set franchise marks for field goal percentage defense, points allowed and margin of victory in embarrassing the Heat. Of all the words to describe the effort Wednesday, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra might have summed it up best.


"It wasn't professional at all," Spoelstra said afterward.

D. WADE'S DOINGS: When Wade is going at a rate when he racks up more fouls than made field goals, you know it has the makings of a horrendous night. And that was the case against Charlotte, when Wade picked up his fourth foul late in the first half. At the time, he made only three shots. This was a night when Wade's anger was directed at the officials. He was taken out of the game mentally by a few missed shots and unfavorable calls early. By the time his night ended, Wade was 6 of 16 from the field and 4 of 8 from the free-throw line for 16 points. He had four fouls and four turnovers in 32 minutes. The night was so bad that Wade had to take comfort in the fact that he's been through worse, making mention of the Heat's dismal 15-67 season as his version of basketball's rock bottom. That's at least one point he scored Wednesday.

TURNING POINT: The game was close at 8-6 in the early minutes. Then, the floodgates opened and Heat Bobcats Second Charlotte went on a 28-9 run to pull ahead by 21 points with a minute left in the first quarter. The Bobcats never looked back. Instead, they nearly doubled that lead to 41 points in the second half and flat-out blew the Heat out of Time Warner Cable Arena. It was truly sad to watch at some stages.

WINNING/LOSING EDGE: Forget the Bobcats main workhorses for a second. This wasn't even about Stephen Jackson and Gerald Wallace. This was about Raymond Felton and Nazr "Freakin" Mohammed combining to outproduce Rafer Alston and Jermaine O'Neal by a combined 30-7 in points, 13-3 in rebounds and 6-4 in assists. At worst, you expect the Heat to collectively hold its own in the point guard/center battle. Instead, the Bobcats set the tone with their supporting cast.

HEAD-SCRATCHER:This is now 12 double-digit losses for the Heat, including four since Dec. 13 by margins of 28, 29, 30 and 39 points. Spoelstra emerged from the locker room talking as if changes might be on the horizon. We've heard it before and there has been little shakeup in the rotation. The Heat is what it is, an inconsistent team. I know Spo takes his fair share of criticism here. But this isn't high school. These dudes are professionals. A bit of this has to fall on them. I don't know what changes, barring trades, would actually change the identity of this team. It has to come from within. I've also said before that Spoelstra and co-captains Wade and Haslem have the tough jobs of answering for these performances every day. Or every other game. Team president Pat Riley only has to come out every once in a while to address the roster. It's a tough spot all the way around. But accountability has to go beyond one or two faces in this franchise.

KEY CONTRIBUTION: Dorell Wright's line was nice. 16 points, a handful of rebounds, a few defensive plays. Nothing against Dorell. But when it comes in one of the worst losses in franchise history, it doesn't even matter, does it?There was nothing key to any of the contributions.

NEXT UP: Heat at Washington Wizards, 7 p.m. Friday - Verizon Center

(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, January 19, 2010

Postgame Breakdown: Heat 113, Pacers 83

Unfortunately, there's only one more game left on the schedule against the woeful Pacers.Pacers Heat Main

Too bad. Because the Heat could use a lot more nights like the one it enjoyed during Tuesday's 113-83 thrashing of the Pacers at AmericanAirlines Arena.

That's 3-0 against Indiana this season. That's nearly 15 percent of your victories this season against the Pacers. And those three wins have come by a combined margin of 77 points. These certainly aren't Jermaine O'Neal's or Reggie Miller's Indiana Pacers.

And it was right on time for the Heat, which moved to 21-19 and took the first step toward re-establishing some breathing room in what has become a crowded middle-of-the-pack field in the Eastern Conference standings. It was essentially a double victory for the Heat, considering the Raptors lost to the Cavaliers on Tuesday night.

Now, it's on to Charlotte to face the hottest team in the league. Yes, the Bobcats, believe it or not. And, by the way, that's three wins in the past four games for the Heat.

D. WADE'S DOINGS: An 18-point first quarter set the tone for a 32-point night for Wade, who strangely went without a rebound for the second time this season, but did block three shots. Wade was hot from the start and continued a recent surge in scoring that began with that 44-point outburst in the Jan. 6 loss to Boston. Wade was 12 of 20 from the field and made 4 of 6 from three-point range. He's hitting his mid-season stride now. Or, maybe it was just the combination of a hot night against an ice-cold foe. In either case, the Heat will take all it can get from Mr. Wade. 

TURNING POINT: There was the national anthem. And then there was a double-digit lead for the Heat. At Pacers Heat Second least that seemed to be the case. This one reached blowout status in a hurry. The Heat led 36-19 at the end of the first quarter, with Wade accounting for 50 percent of the first-quarter production. Again, the Pacers were out of it before they were ever in it. The Heat put this one out of reach in a hurry.

WINNING EDGE: Forget Wade's contribution and Michael Beasley's effort for a second. All you have to do to get a true understanding of how hot the Heat was on this night was to glance at the collective shooting  percentage of those at the bottom of the depth chart. Carlos Arroyo, Jamaal Magloire, Daequan Cook and Mario Chalmers were a combined 9 of 11 from the field. It was truly a can't-miss occasion for the home team. Wade was hot. And that set the temperature for everyone else to be at least humid.

HEAD-SCRATCHER: For a moment, it appeared that Pacers coach Jim O'Brien was attempting to make a fashion statement. Then, the details emerged that he banged his foot against something in his room and was too sore to get shoes on his feet. So instead, he rocked a designer suit with a pair of adidas sandals on the bench during the game. My only problem was he insisted on wearing the green dress socks with the sandals. Not good. He probably should have gone with a pair of fluffy house shoes, the kind Dorell Wright rocks in the locker room before changing into his game gear. No wonder the Pacers were never able to get their footing - or any traction - during the game.

KEY CONTRIBUTION: When Michael Beasley gets 20 and 10 and you hardly notice, it says a lot about Pacers Heat Beas how smooth Beasley's game is becoming. He's getting almost 20 every night. And he's always right around 6, 7, 8 rebounds a game, too. If I've blogged it once, I've blogged it a thousand times. Wade's words say it all when it comes to Mike. He'll soon be good enough to get 20 and 10 on a bad night. He finished with 21 points and 10 rebounds against the Pacers. The three offensive rebounds might have been his most impressive work on the night. The 2 of 3 shooting on threes wasn't too shabby, either.

UP NEXT: Heat at Bobcats, 7 p.m. Wednesday, Bobcats Arena (Charlotte)

(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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