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23 posts from January 2010

Monday, January 18, 2010

Zo, D.Wade Doing It (Big) Again

Saying his birthday weekend was more about Wade-ZO giving than receiving, Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade and former center Alonzo Mourning generated more than $800,000 in aid for earthquake victims in Haiti.

Wade and Mourning, who co-founded the “Athletes Relief Fund for Haiti” announced Monday that nearly $1 million in pledges had been raised since Friday from their group of NBA and NFL players.


Mourning, who now serves as the Heat’s vice president for player programs, recently returned from Haiti after spending a day in the country assisting with medical help.


Wade and Mourning, who also team for the annual Summer Groove weekend of fundraising and charity for Miami’s disadvantaged youth, were among the first professional athletes to respond to Haiti victims.


Among the athletes who have contributed to the fund are LeBron James, Chris Paul, Gilbert Arenas, Michael Beasley, Terrell Owens, Randy Moss and Michael Vick.


“I expected nothing less from my friends and colleagues in the sports community,” said Wade, who turned 28 on Sunday and donated $175,000 to Haiti relief. “Our commitment to this cause knows no bounds.”


Mourning, who donated $100,000, plans to return to Haiti on Tuesday.  “I have seen their work in action,” Mourning said of the relief efforts. “The response from our colleagues has been overwhelming.”

(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 16, 2010

Postgame Breakdown: Thunder 98, Heat 80

Regardless of the outcome of Saturday night's game against Oklahoma City, the Heat had Heat Thunder main already secured what should be considered a successful road trip with Friday's win at Houston.

The victory over the Rockets assured that Miami would return home in no worse shape than when it left. That rendered the game against the Thunder as proverbial icing on the cake.

It turned out to be a no-icing night for the Heat, which ended the season-long, six-game trip with a 98-80 loss to the Thunder. Considering the Heat's up-and-down nature, it came as little surprise that the Heat never really showed up for its get-away game.

Oklahoma City built a 10-point lead in the first quarter, pushed it to as many as 20 by the third and was never really threatened by the Heat. Miami is 20-19 overall and was 3-3 on the trip.

OKC simply had the combination of Heat killer Kevin Durant and Dwyane Wade stall-er Thabo Sefalosha. Durant had 36 points and 10 rebounds on 14 of 18 shooting, and Sefolosha limited Wade to 24 points and three turnovers on 10 of 21 shooting.

"I try to give him a little space and also try to crowd his dribble," Sefolosha said of preventing a breakout game from Wade for the second time this season. "Just make it tough for him."

D. WADE'S DOINGS: Wade and his team played like they were very much ready to end the season's longest road trip Saturday. There was little sustained energy and even less cohesion on the eve of Wade's 28th birthday. There was one milestone, however. Wade passed Tim Hardaway for the all-time franchise lead in assists when he connected with Michael Beasley on a beautiful lob pass that led to a dunk midway through the third quarter. Other than that, Saturday was all about getting the team's chartered plane on the runway headed to Florida as quickly as possible.

TURNING POINT: The Heat never had a chance, really. Durant didn't give Miami much of one. Heat Thunder 2 OKC led 29-19 at the end of the first quarter and Durant made 11 of his first 12 shots. There was no looking back. Quentin Richardson, Dorell Wright and Wade were all victims of Durant's blossoming greatness Saturday. He's simply a bad matchup for Miami, as well as many other teams.

LOSING EDGE: You can't win if you can't score. Miami had only 80 points, and matched it's second-lowest scoring total of the season. The Heat also barely shot 40 percent from the field. It didn't help that it went 1 of 8 from three-point range and was only 55 percent from the foul line.

HEAD-SCRATCHER: Another blowout loss brings the total to 11 games this season Miami has loss by a double-digit margin. It continues a disturbing trend in which the Heat either wins or doesn't show up at all and gets blown out. And it's become predictable. You pretty much know which version of the Heat team you're going to get by the midway point of the first quarter. This team has to shake this stigma. It basically goes back to the first-round series against Atlanta last season, when the Heat cruised in three victories and was crushed in the other four losses.

KEY CONTRIBUTION: The 28-point plateau has become a brick wall for Beasley, who reachedHeat Thunder Beas his career high in points for the third time this season and couldn't get one more bucket to set a new personal scoring standard. Beasley's routine of quick starts and quiet finishes continued against the Thunder. He held his own early in the shootout with Durant, but ran out of steam - or shot attempts - down the stretch. Beasley still closed with a game-high 28 points to go with six rebounds and two assists in 39 minutes. I might be looking too deep into something here, but it appeared that Mario Chalmers sort of froze Beasley out of one final attempt in the last seconds of the game. Beasley looked as if he called for the ball as the seconds ticked away. Mario instead missed a jumper on the final possession. No biggie in such a blowout, but Beasley clearly wants his 30 at some point.

NEXT UP: Pacers at Heat, 7:30 Tuesday, 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 15, 2010

Postgame Breakdown: Heat 115, Rockets 106

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra challenged his team to build on Wednesday's encouraging victory at GoldenHeat Rockets Main State by responding with another huge performance Friday at Houston.

But not even Spoelstra could have imagined the kind of effort the Heat put in during an impressive 115-106 victory over the Rockets to move to 3-2 on its season-long, six-game Western Conference road trip.

Just two games ago, the Heat was a traveling disaster in the aftermath of consecutive blowout losses against the Clippers and Jazz. Now, all seems right again, with the Heat in position to go 4-2 on the trip with a victory Saturday in the finale at Oklahoma City.

Spoelstra repeatedly asked one simple question after the win against the Warriors. "What now?" he said. "We've been here before. So the question is, what now?"

The answer he received Friday included the first victory by a visiting team at the Toyota Center since late November, snapping the Rockets' eight-game home winning streak. The Heat, 20-18, had all five of its starters score in double figures. Dwyane Wade led the way with 37 points and Jermaine O'Neal added his second consecutive breakout-type effort with 16 points, 13 rebounds and four blocked shots.

Another key performance came from Rafer Alston, who had his best game since joining the Heat five games ago. Perhaps motivated by facing one of his former teams, Alston outscored Aaron Brooks 17-14 and held the feisty guard down a game after Brooks scored a career-high 43 against Minnesota. 

D. WADE'S DOINGS: With his first six points against Houston, Wade reached 1,000 for the season. It marked the sixth consecutive season Wade has hit the milestone, which ties the franchise record set by Glen Rice. Wade would continue to pour in the points and topped the 30-point plateau for the fourth time in six games. Wade also tied Rice for second place on the Heat's all-time list with his 416th game scoring in double figures. Wade was especially efficient and effective in the first half, with 23 points on 10-of-14 shooting with four assists. After going 15 of 15 from the line at Golden State, Wade followed with another perfect night from the line by making all seven of his attempts Friday.

TURNING POINT: The Heat used a 31-11 run in the first half to go ahead 62-48, with Wade completely in Heat Rockets Second attack mode and O'Neal active on both ends. Taking advantage of one of the few times it will have a decisive size advantage, the Heat pounded the Rockets down low and relentlessly drove to the basket during the run. Wade couldn't miss. The second unit got things going, with Dorell Wright making key plays and using his length and energy to make a difference in the lane.

WINNING EDGE: The Heat tied its season high with 115 points for the second straight game. Despite the flow on the offensive end, the defense was just as dominant. Miami forced 17 turnovers and blocked 10 shots. Offense allowed the Heat to build a 19-point lead. Defense allowed the Heat to keep Houston at bay.

HEAD-SCRATCHER: For the second time in three games, Wade did the unthinkable and fouled a player who was in the process of launching a desperation heave to beat the quarter or halftime buzzer. This time, Wade's mental miscue sent Chuck Hayes to the line with 1.1 seconds left in the first half. Hayes made both free throws as the Rockets ended the half on a 5-0 run to pull within nine and remain in striking distance going into the third quarter. Instead of leading by double digits at the half, Miami allowed Houston to close to 62-53. Wade committed a similar mind-boggling foul in Monday's 29-point loss at Utah.

KEY CONTRIBUTION: The Heat continued to balance basketball with benevolence. At a time when Mourning massive relief efforts are taking shape in the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake, the Heat put life behind its aid efforts when former Miami star Alonzo Mourning traveled to the Port au Prince Friday to help deliver supplies. Mourning traveled with the University of Miami's medical team. Mourning, who now serves as the Heat's vice president for player programs, mobilized several South Florida athletes and celebrities to assist financially in the effort, including Heat guard Dwyane Wade. "I just wanted to come over and do my part," Mourning said during a Friday night appearance on CNN's Larry King Live. "I've done everything from manual labor to helping to administer IVs. We've had to cut up cardboard boxes to help (fix) broken bones because there are a lack of supplies. My heart goes out to the families of this beautiful country." As mentioned in the previous blog, the disaster in Haiti has hit close to home with the Heat. Eric Reid, the Heat's long-time TV announcer, has family in the country and Wade's personal assistant, Lisa Joseph, is a native of Haiti.

NEXT UP: Heat at Oklahoma City Thunder, 8 p.m. Saturday, Ford 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.)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Postgame Breakdown: Heat 115, Warriors 102

OAKLAND - The most important thing the Heat got done Wednesday had little to do with basketball.Heat Warriors Main Before dealing with the matter at hand and facing the Golden State Warriors, the team announced plans to aid in the relief efforts in the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake.

The team has opened AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami to accept monetary donations and supplies that will go directly to the country as it tries to overcome the disaster that struck days ago and is believed to have killed hundreds of thousands of people.

The Heat will offer tickets to upcoming games for those who drop off donations. For more information, visit the team's web site at Heat.com.

"It's to try to help get the country of Haiti back on their feet," coach Erik Spoelstra said before Wednesday's game against the Warriors. "The idea is to help any way we can."

Heat co-captain and forward Udonis Haslem has pledged to extend his foundation's reach to help island nations, including Haiti. Haslem spent a week in Jamaica last summer through a charitable program to hand out school supplies and hygiene kits to children on that island.

"Obviously, Miami has a very large Haitian population, so there are a lot of people affected by this," Haslem said. "It's just another situation where this organization has been active in reaching out to help."

Haslem said the events of recent days caused him to reflect on how blessed he's been.

"I thought I grew up having it bad and seeing some of the things I saw," said Haslem, a Miami native. "But at least I had choices growing up. A lot of these kids growing up in those islands and areas don't even have a choice. It made me want to be more proactive and give even more. I give now, but it just made me want to focus not just on Miami, but other areas as well."

The tragedy has hit close to home with the Heat. Guard Dwyane Wade's personal assistant, Lisa Joseph, is Haitian and has spent the past two days reaching out to relatives and friends. Wade said he spoke briefly to Joseph to offer support while the team has been on the road. Heat TV broadcaster Eric Reid also has family in Haiti.

"It's tough, but our prayers go out to her and everyone else," Wade said. "This is affecting a lot of people, and we're just trying to pull together as one family."

Now, on to basketball.

D. WADE'S DOINGS: Wade convinced the training staff that his sprained right wrist was stable enough to give it a go against the Warriors. Wade only took two shots in the first quarter and played the role of set-up man and decoy for the Heat. It didn't help that he banged his sore wrist three times in the first four minutes of the game, including once when he jammed the ball against the rim as he was fouled on a failed dunk attempt. He had as many assists as field goal attempts early on, but picked up two quick fouls trying to Heat Warriors Hustle guard the elusive Monta Ellis. But then Wade got hot and scored 17 in the second quarter and 12 in the third. He finished with 35 points, nine assists, seven rebounds, three steals and seven turnovers. I figured he would try to push through Wednesday's game. But don't be surprised if Wade takes one of the next two off, with a back-to-back against Houston and OKC.

TURNING POINT: The Heat pulled away in the second quarter and led by as many as 19 early in the third. Over those middle two quarters, the Heat outscored the Warriors 68-53. Miami went inside to Jermaine O'Neal and controlled the boards.

WINNING/LOSING EDGE: When you shoot 56 percent from the field and make half of your threes, it's hard to lose a game. The Heat was efficient and effective against the struggling Warriors. It was the right opponent at the right time.

HEAD-SCRATCHER: It continues to be astonishing how little of a return the Heat is getting on its 2008 mid-level investment. Remember how president Pat Riley praised the fact that he was able to spread that offseason's mid-level on three players who were supposed to fortify the bench? Well James Jones and Yakhouba Diawara continue to be chained to the bench in street clothes as the inactives, and Mario Chalmers continues to make very little difference on the court consistently. Rio did, however, get seven assists Wednesday. Still, that's nearly $6 million Miami is getting very little out of right now. At this point, James Jones is starting to become the new Mark Blount. Unfortunately. And he's a hometown guy. Where are the fans with the "Free James Jones" posters when you need them?

KEY CONTRIBUTION: These type of games out in the run-and-gun west are made for Michael Beasley.Heat Warriors Beas With Wade limited in part to the role of distributor, Beasley stepped up early and carried the offense. He made six of his first seven field goals and had 14 points and four rebounds in the first half. Beasley even figured out that it's OK to back a smaller defender down into the post every now and then. The kid has all of the offensive tools to be an elite scorer in this league. He's figured out how to take over at the start of games. Now, he just has to work on finishing as well as he starts. And that, in part, is on Spoelstra. As the coach is fond of saying, "it's gotta be a collective" thing. Beasley's hot start cleared the way for Wade and O'Neal to eventually get going midway through the game.

NEXT UP: Heat at Rockets, 8:30 Friday, Toyota 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 12, 2010

When It's Bad, It's Really Bad

SAN FRANCISCO - Due to the combination of a really bad day of travel, the three-hour time difference outHeat-Wade-Stinks west and the fact that the scenic Pier 39 is calling just outside my hotel window, I won't keep you long.

So let's get straight to the point. Something Dwyane Wade said after last night's 29-point loss at Utah has sort of stuck with me most of the day. The Heat, by the way, had the day off Tuesday (workouts, optional shooting near the team hotel) as Wade rested that sprained right wrist that has him questionable for Wednesday's game against Golden State.

With the Heat (18-18) at .500 for the first time in more than a year after having lost six of its last eight, the guess here is that Wade plays against the Warriors. Unless his right had is amputated, somehow. This is a game the Heat has to win, because it doesn't look too pretty with upcoming games against Houston and Oklahoma City to close out the six-game trip.

Anyway, back to the point. Wade said after the blowout loss that all losses are frustrating, regardless of the final score or the margin of defeat.

"Every loss is frustrating," Wade said after he was held to a season-low 13 points. "Whether you lose by one point, or whether you lose by 20 or 30. It's frustrating."

The problem is that the Heat is getting pretty used to losing by the second and third numbers Wade mentioned in his post-game quote. There just seems to be a numbing feeling around this team right now. Everyone seems to have an issue, a quiet gripe, a reason why things are so out of sync right now.

Haslem Upset There's a "heaviness" around the team, as Heat president Pat Riley used to say when he coached through a stretch of poor play and adversity.

And when things go bad around the Heat, it seems to go really, really bad. There's no such thing as a hard-fought loss. Moral victories. Reasons to feel good after efforts come up just short.

Instead, there are wins and crushing, backbreaking, team-meeting-inducing, demoralizing losses. Just check the ledger. Ten of the Heat's 18 losses this season have been by double-digit deficits.

Check the ballistics:

Nov. 17: OKC 100, MIA 87. Nov. 18: ATL 105, MIA 90. Nov. 27: WAS 94, MIA 84.

Dec. 3: DEN 114, MIA 96. Dec. 11: DAL 106, MIA 93. Dec. 13: MEM 118, MIA 90. Dec 31: SAS 108-78.

Jan. 2: CHA 107, MIA 97. Jan. 10: LAC 94, MIA 84. Jan. 11: UTA 118, MIA 89.

To be fair, nine of the Heat's 18 victories have been by double-digit margins also. What that means is that there is no middle ground for this team. It's the extreme one way or the other.

The Heat hasn't even reached the All-Star break yet, and there's been at least two Come-to-Jesus typeSPO-pointing player/staff meetings to search for answers for how this team can show up late to some games and not show up at all in others.

When the Heat is right, the result has been wins over Phoenix, Orlando, Atlanta, Portland, Toronto.

But when it's bad, it's really bad. And right now, it's bad for the Heat.

18 up. 18 down. And where this team is headed from here is anyone's guess.

(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: Jazz 118, Heat 89

SALT LAKE CITY - If Sunday's loss to the Clippers was ugly, then how exactly should Monday's beatdownHeat Jazz Main by the Jazz be described?

If you've got any suggestions, please feel free to post them below. Because I'm running out of words to sum up these type of performances by the Heat. Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer picked up Monday where Chris Kaman and Marcus Camby left off Sunday in hammering the Heat 118-89 at Energy Solutions Arena.

"They definitely played harder than us," Heat forward Udonis Haslem said afterward. "We've definitely got to try to figure this out as a unit."

How bad did this one get? Wade left in the first quarter after injuring his right wrist. He came back midway through the second, just as the Jazz were on the verge of pulling away.

How bad was this? Jermaine O'Neal couldn't hold the ball, Michael Beasley couldn't catch it and Daequan Cook managed to drop his shooting percentage after coming already hovering below 30 percent on the season.

How bad was this? A Heat assistant, possibly anticipating some harsh words in the postgame locker room, told arena officials to keep the media even farther away from the door leading to the locker room than normal. We were held behind a door beyond the door we normally retreat to after a game to await entry for postgame interviews.

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said he talked about accountability with the team, and vowed to have more frank discussions with the group over the next 48 hours. We'll see how it turns out. Or if he's tuned out.

D. WADE'S DOINGS: Wade didn't do much. Let me rephrase that. He couldn't do much, especially after he aggravated the right wrist of his shooting hand with 1:22 left in the first quarter going after a loose ball. Wade didn't get X-rays in the locker room during or after the game. He came back and scored a Heat Jazz Wade season-low 13 points in 29 minutes. The injury looked a lot worse initially. But he seemed OK after the game, saying he would be re-evaluated once the team gets to the Bay area.

TURNING POINT: Even though Daequan Cook's first three of the game sliced the lead to four midway through the second quarter, the tide turned in this game once Wade left. The Jazz initially went ahead by nine points early in the second period. By the time the half arrived, Utah had been up by as many as 15. Spoelstra said the Heat did a good job initially of "holding the fort," but it didn't last long.

LOSING EDGE: For the second time in as many games, the Heat was pounded in the paint. Utah held a 58-24 advantage in that area on Monday. The Jazz also scored 21 points off 18 Heat turnovers.

HEAD-SCRATCHER: The increasingly disappearing seven-footer we know as Jermaine O'Neal came up short again. After getting two points, two rebounds and two blocks in 20 minutes against the Clippers, O'Neal followed up with six points and seven boards in 24 minutes. Still, the Heat was unable to get anything going through O'Neal, who had three turnovers and attempted only six shots. Either the offense is not going through O'Neal like it's supposed to frequently, or he's not living up to expectations and following the game plan. Something's wrong here. Really wrong.

KEY CONTRIBUTION: Beasley scored a team-high 20 points, but got most of them during the open gymBEASLEY_MICHAEL period of the game. Still, it counts as a 20-point game for Beasley. I recall reading a blog response somewhere when a poster said he/she wanted to see how this team would look if Dwyane went down with a minor injury and Beasley had to take over and run the show. Well, the view wasn't pretty Monday. And that's not to take anything away from Mike. That's just the reality of what a healthy Wade means to this team. Beasley was 7 of 14 from the field and had five rebounds and five turnovers.

(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, January 10, 2010

Postgame Breakdown: Clippers 94, Heat 84

LOS ANGELES - It wasn't pretty. It wasn't as close as the final score would indicate, either. Heat Clippers Main

After what Kobe Bryant did at the buzzer in the Heat's last visit to Los Angeles, Miami probably figured it never had a chance at the Staples Center this season. So it didn't really bother to show up against the Clippers on Sunday.

The Heat slept-walked through a 12:30 matinee and was pounded in a 94-84 loss to the Clippers. Marcus Camby and Chris Kaman combined for 28 points and 31 rebounds, and Baron Davis carved Miami up for 11 points and 14 assists in a rather easy victory.

These aren't your uncle's Los Angeles Clippers. They just happen to be the NBA's hottest team playing at the Staples Center, having stretched their home winning streak to six games. The Heat falls to 18-17 overall and 1-1 on its season-long, six-game road trip.

D.WADE DOINGS: Aside from a few breakaway dunks, Wade didn't really do anything that stood out on the way to finishing with 24 points, three assists, two rebounds and three turnovers in 36 minutes. He didn't even have the energy to get frustrated at the officials. The laid-back atmosphere in Los Angeles can do that to you, especially when a team has a day off before playing the Lakers or Clippers. Wade said this was the version of the Heat that just can't seem to get going early in games. He said "Miami" was that version of the team. He hopes the "Heat" squad shows up Monday in Utah.

TURNING POINT: The Clippers used a 25-7 run that started late in the first quarter and continued through the first four minutes of the second quarter to pull away. Not surprisingly, Kaman and Camby started the spurt. Kaman made a layup to get it going, and Camby Heat Clippers Defend followed a Kaman miss with a putback on the next possession to spark the most pivotal stretch of the game. It was almost as if coach Erik Spoelstra also sent copies of that Energy Bus book to the Clippers for Christmas, too. And the Clippers actually read it.

LOSING EDGE: The Clippers dominated the energy and aggression categories. They outrebounded the Heat 49-36, with Kaman, Camby and Craig Smith snagging a combined 38. They also outscored the Heat 27-15 from the free-throw line.

HEAD-SCRATCHER: There clearly was a disconnect between the Heat's perimeter players and interior players. Jermaine O'Neal claimed that the problems containing Kaman and Camby were, in part, a result of the perimeter players being beaten off the dribble, which forced the interior players to help and leave their men. But there also were plenty of times when Kaman and Camby simply turned and shot over the Heat bigs straight up. And there were other times when Camby and Kaman just outworked Michael Beasley, Udonis Haslem, O'Neal or anyone else in a Heat jersey. It's still hard to figure how the Heat can look so good, fluid, aggressive and energetic one game and so flat and seemingly uninterested the next.

KEY CONTRIBUTION: The Heat showed absolutely no spark until Jamaal Magloire entered the game and threw around his weight, elbows and anything else he could find. It only helped a little, because by then, Heat Clippers Cat the Heat had already fallen in too deep of a hole. Big Cat again made his case for more playing time by finishing with a team-high eight rebounds, six points, two steals and a  block in 21 minutes.

NEXT UP: Heat at Jazz, 9 p.m. Monday - EnergySolutions 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.)

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Postgame Breakdown: Heat 109, Suns 105

PHOENIX -The victories in the valley keep coming for the Heat. Heat Suns Wademain

Two nights after squandering an 11-point lead with seven minutes to go in an overtime loss to Boston, the Heat had a much better grip on late-game prosperity in Phoenix. All it took was getting away.

Dwyane Wade scored 33 points, flirted with a triple double and got plenty of help from his teammates as the Heat held off the Suns 109-105 Friday at U.S. Airways Center. It was the Heat's third consecutive victory on the road against Phoenix, the longest streak of success of any team in the league.

It couldn't have come at a better time for the Heat, which needed a pick-me-up after the gut-wrenching overtime loss to Boston. Newly-acquired point guard Rafer Alston got a victory in his debut with the Heat after suffering all of those losses with the New Jersey Nets.

"I've got a lot more winning to do to catch up with all those losses," Alston joked after the game.

D. WADE'S DOINGS: Wade continued his offensive assault with 33 points, nine rebounds, eight assists and three steals in 39 minutes. Although he continues to flirt a bit much with the three-point shots, he still gets where he wants to go on the court and has picked it up recently at both ends. His work in the third quarter may have been his best 12-minute stretch of the season. He took over and scored 16 in the period on 5 of 9 shooting from the field He was also 6 of 6 from the free-throw line. As I said a few games ago, this is the 2008-09 version of Wade this team has been waiting for all season.

TURNING POINT: Coach Erik Spoelstra has been getting hammered recently for his rotation decisions. Heat Suns DorellD But you have to give him big props for Friday's move. The game changed for the Heat the moment Spoelstra inserted Dorell Wright into the mix at the start of the second quarter. Wright's length at 6-9, versatile skill set and athleticism got the Heat going quickly. He hounded Nash and Jason Richardson and also hit a few shots of his own as the Heat used a 16-2 spurt to overcome a 13-point deficit before the half.

WINNING/LOSING EDGE: Nash had 16 points and 12 assists, but he also added six turnovers. The Heat seemed to capitalize on every one of them. Miami scored 23 points off 17 turnovers by the Suns. That was a huge difference in a game where everything else was pretty much even.

HEAD-SCRATCHER: I get the move. Rafer Alston's addition to the roster definitely makes this team stronger at point guard and better overall. What I don't get is the politics that will play out as coach Erik Spoelstra determines the game-to-game pecking order at the position. No sooner than Alston arrives after signing with the Heat on Thursday, he's immediately inserted into the starting lineup. Arroyo, who had started the past 12 games for the Heat, goes from a primary role to the permanency of the pine. Mario Chalmers' position is unchanged as the primary backup at the position. He's the only one among the group with a contract on the books for next season. Arroyo was the od man out Friday. How this all plays out will be interesting to say the least. Very interesting.

KEY CONTRIBUTION: On the eve of his 21st birthday, Michael Beasley was beastly for stretches of thisHeat Suns Beas game. His best play actually came on a shot he missed midway through the fourth quarter. Instead of sulking and drifting back on defense after the missed jumper, Beasley followed his shot, jumped into the fray, snagged an offensive rebound and fed Dorell Wright for a baseline dunk. Beasley was 8 of 18 from the field for 21 points and added 10 rebounds in 37 minutes. And more than nine of those minutes came in the fourth quarter.

UP NEXT: Heat at L.A. Clippers, 3:30 Sunday - Staples 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.)

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Skip's In. Odd Man Out?

PHOENIX - The Heat made Rafer Alston's reunion tour official Thursday. Alston signed a prorated deal for the veteran'sAlston2 minimum over the rest of the season, and could be in uniform for Friday's game against the Suns to start a six-game west swing.

Alston will meet with the media after Friday's shootaround. There's no doubt he will quickly find his role with the team, most likely in the starting lineup. So that leaves Miami in somewhat of a dilemma. Coach Erik Spoelstra said Thursday that he considers it a luxury to have Carlos Arroyo, Mario Chalmers and Alston all at his disposal.

But Spoelstra also confirmed the harsh reality. "Probably only two are going to play," Spoelstra said after Thursday's practice at U.S. Airways Center.

 It's a no-brainer that Alston is in. "We brought him here for a reason," Spoelstra continued. "He will be fast-tracked right away. I don't know if it will be (Friday). But for sure by Sunday (at the Clippers)."

Mario So that leaves Arroyo and Rio. So who goes out of the rotation?

Sending Rio to the bench would almost be a public sign that Miami has all but tabled the talk of Mario being the point guard of the present and future. That, for now at least, he wasn't what they though he was or would be after a summer of development.

Sending Arroyo to the bench would be a stunning move, considering Miami could have just released him before the Wednesday salary guarantee deadline and sliced another six-figure chunk off the luxury-tax bill.

One thing's for certain. The Heat couldn't have picked a better time to bolster the position, with an upcoming run against Steve Nash's Suns, Baron Davis' hot Clippers, Deron Williams' Jazz, Monta Ellis' Warriors, Aaron Brooks' Rockets and Russell Westbrook's Thunder.

By the end of the week, Chalmers and Arroyo might be thanking the team for adding Alston.

It will be interesting, to say the least, to see how this all plays out. And you already know how Spoelstra isCarlos Arroyo at handling the rotation. That potentially makes this a duration-of-the-season soap opera. And the premier of As the Point Guards Turn airs Friday at 9 p.m. on Sun Sports.

Stay tuned for this made-for-TV drama.

(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: Celtics 112, Heat 106

Wow. Really? That's pretty much all you can say after what transpired at AmericanAirlines Arena on Celtics Heat Winner Wednesday night. The Heat had the game won. Or should have, considering that 11-point lead with seven minutes left.

Then Boston had it won, considering all it had to do was protect the ball in the final minute of regulation with Dwyane Wade on the prowl. And then, each team would have a chance to win it again in the final seconds before both decided that 48 minutes of basketball weren't enough.

So it went into overtime. And the veteran Celtics went to Rajon Rondo. And, as a result, Boston's balance beat out a heroic attempt from the Heat's biggest star and his feisty sidekicks. Rondo scored 12 of his 25 points in the fourth period and overtime to lead five Boston starters in double figures on the way to a 112-106 victory against the Heat.

This one left the Heat short of breath, and shorter on answers.

"Disappointing," is how Udonis Haslem described it.

"A tough one to swallow," was essentially all Quentin Richardson could manage.

"It really gets no tougher than this," Wade summarized.

And that's especially the case after the Heat managed to lose an 11-point lead with seven minutes left.

D. WADE'S DOINGS: Wade came with his game-face and his offensive swagger. He did everything he could to keep the Heat's hot streak against the East's top teams going. But his season-high 44 points weren't enough. He entered the game with a swollen eye and left with a bulging contribution in the box score. This was vintage Wade from his MVP candidacy last season. There were season-high numbers all around for Wade, who was 15 of 34 from the field, 3 of 7 on threes and 11 of 16 from the free-throw line. He also Celtics Heat Wade had seven assists, five rebounds and three steals in 43 minutes. This is why it's hard to question any shot he takes during a game. Too much of Wade is never a bad thing. This was Boston's roster just being a bit too much for the Heat to match up against and overcome. And Miami nearly did it anyway.

TURNING POINT: With the Heat ahead 89-78 with seven minutes left, the Celtics charged back with a 18-4 run to go ahead 96-93 with 1:35 left in regulation. Rasheed Wallace, who had been jawing all game with Wade, Haslem and Michael Beasley, made consecutive threes to erase the Heat's lead and set up the furious finish. Miami had its chances, still. But you just knew at that point that Boston would have too much firepower down the stretch.

LOSING EDGE: The Heat outrebounded Boston, dominated the offense glass and scored 26 points off 25 turnovers by the Celtics. But Boston's 54-36 edge in points in the paint simply haunted the Heat. That was especially the case when Rondo caught that lob at the rim (pictured above in the first photo) on an inbounds play with six-tenths of a second left in regulation to force overtime.

HEAD-SCRATCHER: It's a pick 'em Wednesday. It's just difficult to fathom why Quentin Richardson would even take a chance at protesting a call in the final two minutes of regulation in such a close game. But that's just what he did, and he paid for it. Richardson was hit with a tech with 1:35 left in the fourth, and Allen's free throw put Boston ahead 96-93. That free throw got Allen going, and he would hit a three moments later to push the lead to 99-95. Q just didn't have enough clout to get away with the jawing, because there were numerous times when Wade and Wallace said far worse and got away with it. Then, you have to wonder why Spoelstra didn't run a better defensive set that would have better guarded the rim to defend the inbounds lob that Rondo scored. One of the few plays that could have beaten the Heat with that little left time in that situation certainly did beat the Heat.

KEY CONTRIBUTIONS: With Beasley struggling with his shot, struggling with foul trouble and missing in action yetCeltics Heat UD again down the stretch, it created an opening for Haslem to step up and produce. He was on fire in the fourth, when he scored 10 of his 19 points and was one of the few players who stepped into shots with confidence and authority when Wade was smothered. For whatever reason, Spoelstra didn't go back to Beasley, who was 2 of 8 for five points, five rebounds and five fouls in 25 minutes. But Haslem picked up the slack at the two-headed power forward position. UD was 7 of 13 from the field and had nine boards.

NEXT UP: Heat at Suns, 9 p.m. Friday - US Airways 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.)



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