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23 posts from February 2010

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Wade Set To Return Vs. Magic

ORLANDO - Heat guard Dwyane Wade will return to the lineup Sunday to starting against the Magic after missing the Wade-Face past four games with a strained left calf.

Wade was cleared by doctors and trainers this weekend and went through an extensive workout hours before Sunday's 7 p.m. tipoff at Amway Arena.

The Heat had gone 1-3 since Wade sustained the injury in the first quarter of the Heat's Feb. 17 victory against New Jersey. Wade, the NBA's sixth-leading scorer, is averaging 26.1 points, 6.4 assists and 4.6 rebounds for the Heat, which looks to end a three-game losing streak Sunday against the Magic.

(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, February 27, 2010

Postgame Breakdown: Bucks 94, Heat 71

The looks on their faces said it all Saturday. Bucks-Heat-Saturday

Heat owner Micky Arison left his courtside seat just moments before the final buzzer. He didn't stick around to hear the final chorus of "boos" from what was left of an already sparse crowd at AmericanAirlines Arena.

Heat president Pat Riley was long gone before the Milwaukee Bucks put the final touches on a 94-71 destruction of the Heat. Milwaukee is now 3-0 against the Heat, including 2-0 in Miami.

And Erik Spoelstra had the look of a defeated and deflated coach before the half. He couldn't burn enough timeouts to stop the bleeding as the bludgeoning kept getting worse and worse to the point where 39-year-old Jerry Stackhouse and 52-year-old Kurt Thomas were schooling the Heat in garbage time. This was rock bottom in many ways.

So I won't even waste your time. You saw it. And if not, by now you've heard about it. And even if that's not the case, all you have to do is look at the final score. The Heat simply didn't show up. No way are the Bucks 23 points better than the Heat. With or without Dwyane Wade. Not at home at least.

Or, at least, they shouldn't be.

Miami didn't show up. So why even bother trying to explain. The floor is yours.

Just like the one at AmericanAirlines Arena seems to belong to the Bucks and T-Wolves of all teams.

(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, February 26, 2010

Where's The Fire in This Heat?

Since the start of training camp, coach Erik Spoelstra has focused on what he has and not what he lacks.SPO-pointing

He has an around-the-clock work ethic that doesn't allow him to easily let go of disappointment and frustration. He doesn't have a lot of head coaching experience.

Spoelstra has a roster that includes a powerful presence in Dwyane Wade and the unlimited potential of Michael Beasley. Spoelstra doesn't have an awful lot of complementary pieces or consistent performers to go along with them.

And after that embarrassing home loss to the lowly Timberwolves dropped the Heat to 29-29 overall and 14-13 at home, Spoelstra has the players' attention after two days of tirades. But does he have any fire in the Heat?

Does he see anyone who is beyond frustrated with the up-and-down play and "disgraceful" results at home? Is there any urgency now that a team that hoped to contend for homecourt advantage in the first round of the playoffs is now barely clinging to a postseason pulse at all?

Apparently, there was a long-overdue spark of frustration - edge was actually the operative word - during Thursday's practice at AmericanAirlines Arena. Neither Spoelstra nor any players would mention names or actually use the term "fight" to describe what went down during the workout. But there was tension.

There was angst. Somebody got fed up and probably did something or said something about it. In other words, there seems to have been a disruption of the ho-hum, nice-guy, buddy-buddy element that has permeated this roster this season.

While I didn't get the sense that there was anything similar to Shaq going after Riley, or Dwyane facing off with Gary Payton or Alonzo bearing down on anyone who said "hello" to him on the wrong day, there did seem to be some friction with this current Heat bunch.

"We practiced hard today, and guys were a little testy," Spoelstra said. "We've gotten away from that a little bit. But we need that edge. I don't mind any of that. Guys were angry at each other and competing."

Mavs-Heat-JO  The fact of the matter is all of the practice fights, shoving matches and shouting episodes don't mean a thing if the Heat can't manage to bring that same intensity to the court. Too many times this season at home this Heat team failed to punch back when it was knocked in the head by teams it should have beaten at AmericanAirlines Arena.

Think Memphis. Recall Charlotte. Reach back to Milwaukee. Mix in Minnesota. This same Miami team that is 4-1 against Southeast Division heavyweights Orlando and Atlanta has somehow also been punched out by the Soda Popinskis, Glass Joes, Don Flamencos and Piston Hondas of the league.

Heat center Jermaine O'Neal, who has been associated with a brawl or two in his day, said this Heat team probably needs to show some of the angst at times that his former Pacers teams used to show against opponents and one another during their more competitive seasons.

So whatever sour mood players were in during Thursday's practice was a welcomed sight.

"My Indiana teams, guys would get in a lot of fights," O'Neal said. "That's what you need, a competitive nature, an edge. We're not trying to get anybody in a difficult way. (But) today was an edge. We understand. We have to do a better job of helping each other. It's difficult to be in this situation, knowing what's at stake."

In some ways, it's not difficult to see why this Heat team has yet to really come together. To show consistency. To unify for a collective and sustained fight.

On one hand, you have Heat owner Micky Arison and team president Pat Riley promising in ad spots to blow up this very roster this summer to rebuild it through free agency and trades.

On the other hand, there's the spoken commitment to develop the young core of Michael Beasley, Daequan Cook and Mario Chalmers.

And still on another hand, there are veterans such as O'Neal, Quentin Richardson and Udonis Haslem playing out expiring contracts and possibly auditioning for jobs elsewhere next season.

The biggest hand in play is that of Dwyane Wade, whose free agency trumps all this summer.WADE-Confused

But for the remaining 24 games, this team has to come up with a combination that locks up a playoff berth, a flurry at the finish.

Otherwise, Tuesday's debacle against Minnesota will go down as the ultimate blow that sent this $74 million, over-the-luxury-tax outfit down for the count.

"Everybody needs to feel the sense of urgency right now with this playoff push," Spoelstra said. "If that doesn't shake you up and we don't understand how important each game is, then we're not going to get it done."

(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, February 23, 2010

Postgame Breakdown: T-Wolves 91, Heat 88

Tito. Tonto. Toto. Oh, no.T-Wolves-Heat Main

Unfortunately for the Miami Heat, Charles Barkley is probably somewhere saying, "I told you so."

There's no way to live this one down. Not only was Tuesday's 91-88 loss to the lowly Minnesota Timberwolves arguably the most disappointing setback of the season for the Heat (and there have been a few, especially at home), it was one that came after several Heat players were motivated to prove that they could be more than a collection of afterthoughts in the injury absence of Dwyane Wade.

No matter how you slice it, the Heat without Dwyane Wade should still be good enough to beat the Timberwolves at home. So you can imagine coach Erik Spoelstra's disgust with his team after the Heat trailed 32-15 at the start, and was down 80-66 midway through the fourth before it showed a spark.

Miami (29-29) is playing for a playoff berth. Minnesota is playing for the rights to draft John Wall in the lottery. But the teams seemed to trade spaces and motivations on this night.

"Give Minnesota credit for coming in here and just kicking our tails all over the place," an angry Spoelstra said as he rushed through his postgame comments. "It's really disgraceful to come in with that type of effort with what we have at stake."

M. BEASLEY'S DOINGS: The 0-for-6 start from the field could have rattled Beasley. But it didn't. He kept fighting through the sluggish play early in the game. He didn't make his first field goal until 58 seconds were left in the first half and he finished 5 of 18 from the field for 14 points and nine rebounds. But he was clearly off. He struggled against Minnesota's combination of length and heft down in the post. Despite that, Beasley tried to do other things to get himself going. The four steals and two blocks were proof that Beasley hung in there defensively, even though his shot wasn't falling. His put-back on a Jermaine O'Neal miss with 58 seconds left brought the Heat to within 87-86. But by then, the T-Wolves had too much confidence, too much energy. "We are definitely going to look back and cringe at this one," Beasley said.

TURNING POINT: The Heat trailed 32-15 at one point in the second quarter. And even though Miami would T-Wolves-Heat Second come back and even take the lead at one point later in the game, that horrendous start gave the struggling T-Wolves the confidence to feel that they were the better team, with Wade sitting on the bench in that designer suit as he missed his third game with the calf injury. The Heat was held to only 15 points in the first quarter, its lowest output in an opening period this season.

LOSING EDGE: Timely three-point shooting was huge for the T-Wolves, who were 57.1 percent from the arc. Kevin Love made all three of his treys. Wayne Ellington made both of his. And Ryan Gomes also was perfect on his lone attempt. And each one was a dagger that buried the Heat each time it clawed back.

HEAD-SCRATCHER:Playing the "everyone disrespects us" card clearly didn't work for the Heat this time around. You can't go out and call out Charles Barkley for referring to you as "a bunch of Tito Jacksons" one day and come out the next and get beaten down by the Minnesota Timberwolves. At home. This is the same team that had lost 10 of its last 11 on the road and was 4-24 overall away from home. This was the same team you had to "google" the names on the roster to even remember exactly who they are. I thought Wayne Ellington was still at North Carolina. Who knew Gerald Wilkins was still in the league after all these years? Or was that Damien? And Darko Milicic? Come on, man. Had it not been for Wade's last-second three-pointer to beat the Nets a few months back, the Heat would have lost at home to the worst team in each conference. Does this one fall more on the coach or the players? Because I believe this is a grown man's league, I tend to think the players are ultimately a bit more responsible for their performance - or lack thereof - on the floor.

KEY CONTRIBUTION: Dorell Wright was a sparkplug off the bench who came up huge in the first half afterWRIGHT_DORELL the Heat sputtered early. Wright turned in his first career 20-point game off the bench, and closed with a career-high 26 points on 6 of 7 shooting from three-point range. He single-handedly kept the Heat in this one in the second half. Jermaine O'Neal added 18 points, six rebounds and three of the Heat's 12 blocks in the game. But this was Wright's step-up night. The only downer for Wright was that he was never in position to get a shot to take the game-tying three at the end. If he can bottle this up and play only half as well as he did Tuesday, it would be a huge bonus for the Heat. But it's hard to give out credit when it goes this badly.

NEXT UP: Milwaukee Bucks at Heat, 3:30 p.m. 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.)

Monday, February 22, 2010

Time To Get Tito's Take

Yo, Tito. Tito-Michael

By now, you should be offended. And if you're out there, my man, hit me up. I know that reality TV show you and your brothers tried to get going after Mike's untimely death has sputtered recently.

But Tito, I've got some real life drama for you here in Miami.

First, let's make one thing clear. You're innocent in all of this. All you did was find yourself related to one of the most popular entertainers in the history of musical entertainment.

Your only crime against society was simply being one of Michael Jackson's older brothers.

And now, you're caught up in this mess between the Miami Heat and TNT analyst/former NBA great Charles Barkley. Michael Beasley just won't let it go. He's a young player looking for something to motivate him to play at his best each night to prove to the league he's going to be a legit star.

No problem there.

But something Barkley said months ago, when he referred to Dwyane Wade as Michael Jackson and Wade's supporting cast as a "bunch of Tito Jacksons" still stings several Heat players, including Beasley.

Barkley Mainly Beasley, actually.

And now that Wade is out with an injury and the Heat has played well the past three games without him, the Tito talk is now the talk of the town again. At least at AmericanAirlines Arena. At least on Monday.

Full disclosure here. The Heat is actually split on whether to be offended by Barkley laying your name on them in vain. Or, rather shame.

And Wade is essentially the Mason-Dixon line on this one. At age 28, Wade is actually just old enough - and I mean barely - to possibly remember exactly who you are and what you meant to the Jacksons. That you were the brother who always wore the thickest 'fro and the coolest hats. That you played the guitar and still had the skills to hit every one of those dance steps.

In other words, that you were seriously talented. And also that there's really no shame in your game. Or name, for that matter. But then there are the younger cats on the team. Dudes who couldn't name three Jacksons if you spotted them Michael and Jermaine, and told them they could include the sisters.Tito

So here we are. Back at Barkley's words. Back at Beasley and the young cats taking offense.

"It bothers them," Wade said Monday of his younger teammates. "I don't see why. Tito and the Jacksons made a lot of money. If I'm them, I have fun with it. You don't want a comment like that to make everybody try to be Michael Jackson. You can't have a team full of Michael Jacksons anyway. No one wants that."

Unless, of course, you're Pat Riley and have a bunch of salary-cap space and LeBron-Bosh dreams. But that's three Michaels. So now, we're talking the O'Jays or something. Anyway.

Maybe this would have all been squashed and less offensive had Barkley called the Heat's supporting cast "a bunch of Jermaines."

After all, there's already a Jermaine on the team. And Jermaine O'Neal has been balling lately. And on top of that, as Rafer "Skip" Alston offered Monday, Jermaine Jackson was actually a solo star for a minute.

"He had it rolling," Alston said of Jermaine Jackson. "Y'all remember 'Don't Take It Personal?' "

At age 33, Skip is old enough to remember the year 1989, when that song was a hit on Jermaine's solo album that debuted at No. 1 on the charts. But what in the heck was Skip doing listening to Jermaine Jackson in 1989 at age 13, when everybody else was jamming to Kid-N-Play, P.E. or Run DMC? I'll investigate next blog.

But back to you, Tito. Beasley, who has averaged 21.6 points and 7.3 boards since Wade went down, just wants you to understand his frustration with being typecast.

"It's just disrespect," Beasley said. "Not disrespect to Tito Jackson. But the way Charles used it, it makes us feel disrespected, a little underrated."

Don't get upset, Tito. Beasley's a good kid, an awesome young talent. He even sported a fro you'd be proud of earlier this season. He didn't mean any harm. Although Barkley did - playfully - when he launched that water balloon of a comment at the team. Truth is, both Beasley and Barkley are a bit brainBobcats Heat Beasfro-locked on this one.

At the time, I laughed at Barkley's comment, because I thought it was hilarious. On the other hand, I'm also willing to score one for Beasley, because at least he's looking for positive motivation. Some people need to feel offended and "hated on" to rise to their best. Inspiration and motivation are good things.

But, Tito, You didn't do anything to deserve to be caught in the middle of this.

So on behalf of Beasley and Barkley, I'm ending this beef now. We don't want this to escalate into Tupac-Biggie feud here. Or even L.L. v Kool Moe D.

I know what you're thinking, Tito. That next time Barkley wants to offend someone and distinguish between a family star and a related-yet-extremely-less-popular sibling, there's a more accurate crew to pick on.

Just call them a bunch of James DeBarges.

(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, February 20, 2010

Postgame Breakdown: Mavericks 97, Heat 91

The regular-season dominance for Dallas continued against the Miami Heat.Mavs-Heat-Main

With Saturday's 97-91 victory against the Heat at American Airlines Center, the Mavericks ran their regular-season winning streak to 12 consecutive games against Miami. Having said that, Dallas could win 100 in a row against the Heat and it still wouldn't make up for the 2006 championship the Heat swiped away.

Playing without Dwyane Wade for essentially for a third consecutive game because of a calf injury, the Heat pushed the Mavericks to the brink of defeat. But the Heat simply couldn't close without its closer. The combination of a late-game scoring drought, a turn-back-the-clock effort from Jason Kidd and a few uncharacteristic and unforced late-game turnovers by the Heat did the ultimate damage.

There goes that season-long, five-game winning streak for the Heat (29-28), which controlled the game for three quarters but ran out of steam down the stretch. Credit the Heat for battling throughout the game despite missing its catalyst. There are no moral victories in the NBA, but this shouldn't be considered a setback to the extent that it affects the team's confidence.

Wade simply has to heal in a hurry. He should get more rest next week, with what should be a winnable game Tuesday against Minnesota. Then comes three days off before Saturday's game against Milwaukee, which is 2-0 against Miami this season. That, too, should be a game the Heat wins. But recent history leaves some doubt.

The Heat went 4-1 on its five-game trip with victories in Atlanta, Philadelphia, New Jersey and Memphis.

"They just played better down the stretch," coach Erik Spoelstra said. "It's a lesson for us. Overall, it was a good trip and a lesson for us as we move forward."

M. BEASLEY'S DOINGS: Because D. Wade's not able to do much of anything but show off his fashion attire, this becomes Beasley's team. And this because Beasley's category for now. After scoring a career-high 30 in Friday's victory at Memphis, Beasley ran into a team that made him a marked man Saturday in Dallas. Not only was Shawn Marion knowledgeable of Beasley's game from their days as Heat teammates, he also offered the rare combination of athleticism, smarts and strength to neutralize Beasley in the post. There was that awesome baseline fake, drive and dunk in Marion's grill by Beasley midway through the game. But after that, the Mavericks had Beasley on lockdown. He finished with two more fouls (5) than field goals (3) in missing eight of 11 shots to finish with 12 points, five assists and three turnovers in 32 minutes. Beasley's night essentially ended with a costly three-second violation, when he stood in the lane waiting for a pass that never came. Beasley only had one point in the second half. This was a game Beasley can learn from as he moves forward. 

TURNING POINT: The Mavericks outscored the Heat 27-12 in the third quarter to get on track after a Mavs-Heat-Second sluggish first half. But Dallas didn't truly take control until Kidd took over down the stretch and scored 14 consecutive points. He also keyed a 7-0 run after the game was tied at 79-79 with 4:34 remaining.

WINNING/LOSING EDGE: The Heat got away with committing 20 turnovers in Friday's win in Memphis by forcing 21 Grizzly miscues. But Miami paid a hefty price for the 17 turnovers against Dallas, which had only 7. The Mavericks also outscored the Heat 28-10 from the free-throw line.

HEAD-SCRATCHER: The turnovers, particularly from the veterans late in the game, were mind-boggling for the Heat. Udonis Haslem had two traveling calls go against him, with both coming on plays when he seemed to stumble after catching the ball and trying to make a move. Jermaine O'Neal also lost the ball off his leg in the final minutes when the Heat was in position to stay within a possession or two. Beasley's three-second call was also costly, but the ball should have found him well before he was planted in the lane. Mario Chalmers, despite his improved overall play the past two games, couldn't get the team into anything productive through most of the shot clock. These were uncharacteristic breakdowns for the Heat. And they proved to be too costly against an experienced Dallas team. O'Neal had four turnovers and Beasley and Haslem each had three.

KEY CONTRIBUTION: Another double-double for Jermaine O'Neal, his 13th of the season. This one Mavs-Heat-JO featured 18 points and 13 rebounds. J.O. is averaging 17 points and close to 10 boards over his last nine or so games. It's a must that he continues to produce at this level to give the offense balance. There needs to be a bit more defensive resistance at the rim. But O'Neal has been consistent for nearly a month now. When Wade returns, this could be a legit inside-outside combination, as long as O'Neal continues to get regular looks on the low block. The 22 points from Daequan Cook were also encouraging. He continues to turn the corner from that rough start to the season. 

NEXT UP: Minnesota Timberwolves 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.)

Friday, February 19, 2010

Postgame Breakdown: Heat 100, Grizzlies 87

For a night, the Heat's supporting cast played a collective starring role. Grizz-Heat-Main

With Dwyane Wade out with a calf injury and starting point guard Rafer Alston also sitting with a hand injury, Michael Beasley stepped up. And up. And Up. And up.

Beasley led the way with a career-high 30 points to help get the Heat past the Memphis Grizzlies 100-87 in double overtime Friday at FedEx Forum. A day after Heat owner Micky Arison and team president Pat Riley emerged from the trading deadline with the roster intact, the team showed it was the right move.

For a night, at least.

The ultimate team-wide effort allowed Miami to extend its winning streak to five games, including three straight Ws on the road. That five-game losing streak before the All-Star break has been answered by a five-game victory streak that started with two wins going into the break and three coming out of it.

The Heat can sweep the four-games-in-five-days stretch with a victory Saturday in Dallas.

Not only did Beasley respond with a career night, guard Mario Chalmers also came back from a three-week injury absence to score a season-high 18 points. There were the 10 points and team-high six assists from Carlos Arroyo in his start for Alston. There was the all-around play from Quentin Richardson, who got eight points, nine rebounds, three assists, two steals and a block.

There was the consistent effort in regulation from Jermaine O'Neal, who closed with 18 points and nine rebounds. And after O'Neal fouled out in the first overtime, forward Udonis Haslem took over in the second overtime period, scoring eight of his 10 points as Miami (29-27) pulled away.

Two months ago, the Grizzlies exposed everything that was wrong with the Heat in that 28-point thrashing in Miami. On Friday, the Heat avenged that loss by displaying reasons to believe in this supporting cast.

"We just want to show the world that we can actually play the game of basketball," Beasley said. "With D-Wade being as good as he is, people sometimes don't think we can play. But we can do it."

D. WADE'S DOINGS: The recovery process from that sprained left calf continues for Wade, who missed his first game of the season on Friday and also is expected to sit out Saturday at Dallas. Wade underwent his third consecutive day of extensive treatment. Wade remains sore, but he is regaining his range of motion in his lower left leg. The team reported that Wade can raise up on his toes, something he was unable to do when he sustained the injury in Wednesday's victory at New Jersey. Should he sit out on Saturday and in Tuesday's home game, Wade would have another three days of rest before the Heat plays again Saturday afternoon at home against Milwaukee. This isn't the type of injury you can rush back from, especially a player who relies on his lower body and explosion to make plays on both ends.

TURNING POINT: The Heat had a chance to win it in regulation, but O'Neal missed a jumper at the Grizz-Heat-Second buzzer. Miami also had a chance to put it away in the first overtime, but Beasley fired an air ball under pressure. The Heat made sure it would not come down to a final shot in the extra, extra session. The Heat outscored the Grizzlies 15-2 in the second overtime period.

WINNING EDGE: The Heat held the Grizzlies to 31 points in the first half and 38 percent shooting for the game. This is the fifth consecutive game the Heat has held its opponents below 40 percent shooting from the field. The defense has been outstanding the past two weeks for the Heat. Miami also forced 21 turnovers, although it committed 20.

HEAD-SCRATCHER: With Alston out and Arroyo inserted as the starter, it's going to be interesting to see what coach Erik Spoelstra does at point guard moving forward. It's become clear over the past few games that Arroyo is the more effective threat at the position. Alston has struggled extensively with his shot since he arrived from New Jersey last month, and has been erratic. Mario Chalmers, who returned Friday from a torn thumb ligament, has regressed in some ways from his rookie season. The better Arroyo performs, the more pressure it places on the coaching staff to make a firm decision with the rotation. Spoelstra values the contribution of a productive second unit, and would probably prefer Arroyo's offense with that unit. With Wade and Alston ailing, this is a decision Spoelstra can sidestep for another few games. Chalmers comfort level when cast at shooting guard Friday was a pleasant surprise. But eventually, something's gotta give, right?

KEY CONTRIBUTION: Is Beasley a keeper? You certainly had to have him Friday. And it's hard to argue against that these past couple of games.Beas All-Star Dunk The fact of the matter is Beasley is putting up Amare Stoudemire numbers right now. As his confidence grows, so will his game. Beasley understands how heavy of a burden Wade has had to carry. The key now is that Beasley and Wade learn to play together at a high level on a consistent basis. Coach Erik Spoelstra said he saw a different side of Beasley during the pre-game film session going into Friday's game. "He was as quiet and focused as I've seen him," Spoelstra said. Beasley knew the challenge he faced, and he stepped up to that challenge for a second game with Wade out for the duration. Much like his team, the next step for Beasley is doing it consistently.

NEXT UP: Heat at Dallas Mavericks, 8:30 p.m. Saturday, American Airlines 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, February 18, 2010

Standing Pat (and Micky) at Trade Deadline

First, understand this. Micky Arison

The plan remains in place. The fact that the Miami Heat stood pat amid a flurry of deals elsewhere around the league to beat Thursday's NBA trade deadline means that Pat Riley is back to his original plan.

While the net roster gain shows that the Heat didn't accomplish anything, despite being involved in several proposals, there was apparent progress on the home front. It appears that Miami owner Micky Arison and his team president met in the middle.

Micky's faith in Michael Beasley and insistence that he not be placed on the trading block might have nixed any chance the Heat had to land Amare Stoudemire from Phoenix. But it clearly shows, at the very least, that there remains two trains of thought within the franchise.

There's a side that believes in Beasley's ultimate potential and wants to see the second-year forward blossom here and reward the franchise for all of the misery it had to go through during that 15-67 campaign to draft him with the second overall pick in 2008.

And then there's the side that likes Beasley, but sees his ups and downs on a daily basis behind the scenes and still wonders if he might ever truly get it. It's also the side that would have pushed to deal Beasley in a heartbeat had this been Chris Bosh or even Joe Johnson on the block instead of Amare.

It's not too difficult to correctly guess where the Heat's top two executives fall on these stances. It was Micky who told me last week in Dallas that the Heat had never made Beasley available and wouldn't make him available as long as he's viewed as a core part of the future moving forward.

Having said that, Arison also mentioned that he had been out of the country the previous three weeks. In that time, it's not only possible that Riley slipped Beasley's name into a few offers to test the waters, it's likely he did so. At the end of the day, that's Riley's job. But also at the end of the day, "We took (Beasley) off the board," Riley said Thursday of removing Beasley from trade proposals.

Pat Riley1 And this is not to suggest that Pat Riley and Micky Arison aren't ultimately on the same page when it comes to matters such as these. They are. There respect and love these men have for one another is clearly visible. It simply underscores the fact that Michael Beasley is a polarizing figure. Just go ask any two Heat fans, Heat teammates, Heat opponents. It's not just Heat executives. There are those who are enamored by Beasley's potential and only see what he "could" become in this league, which is a very special talent and perennial All-Star.

And then, there are those who realize that "potential" essentially means all of the things someone hasn't done yet. And Riley knows more than anyone that Beasley reaching his potential might not coincide with the ultimate urgency of Dwyane Wade being in his prime.

The bottom line on the Heat's lack of movement at the trade deadline is this: Miami had a foul to give. It was limited in what it could offer, and frankly tried to sucker a few teams into a deal. It didn't work. Now, the Heat is back to its original plan of making a major play in free agency.

Nothing gained. Nothing lost. No problem with that.

And at the end of the day Thursday, Arison and Riley probably both got what they wanted. Beasley sticks around to continue his rapid development, especially of late. And Riley got the clearance to proceed with the roster without having to dump a Dorell Wright or Daequan Cook just to get under the luxury tax.

Just all part of a day's work at the NBA's trade deadline.

The Heat didn't lose out on anyone this week it can't make a better run at this summer.

(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, February 17, 2010

Postgame Breakdown: Heat 87, Nets 84

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - It had the potential for disaster. Jermaine O'Neal left in the first two minutes ofNets-Heat-HarrisMain the game with a back strain. Dwyane Wade followed five minutes later with a strained calf. And Rafer Alston also left the game for an extended stretch with a bruised hand.

"We had every possible excuse," coach Erik Spoelstra said afterward.

It had all of the makings of a horrible night for the Heat. But Michael Beasley and Quentin Richardson rescued Miami and rallied the team to an 87-84 victory over the lowly Nets on Wednesday at IZOD Center.

Under normal circumstances, this night would have been all about discussing how Beasley stepped into the starring role and came up with major buckets on the way to a team-high 23 points and 11 rebounds in perhaps his best performance of the season. But his best play of the game came on that rejection of Kris Humphries' layup with 30 seconds left in the game.

Beasley was huge. But the story beyond the story is about the status of Wade, who left the arena in a walking boot and saying he "felt something pop" in his lower left leg after grabbing a first-quarter rebound.

Wade feared the worst initially. And the Nets doctors told him he could be out far longer than he really wants to be, although the Heat did not offer a time frame, other than to say he's day-to-day. Wade is almost certainly done for the rest of this four-game trip, which wraps up Friday in Memphis and Saturday in Dallas.

D. WADE'S DOINGS: Wade's night ended very early after he came down awkwardly seven minutes into the game. Wade went up for a rebound, came down without contact, dribbled twice and grimaced in severe pain. He left the game moments later and headed directly to the locker room. Wade had eight points on 2 of 4 shooting from the field. He made 4 of 5 free throws and got three rebounds and an assist in 7 minutes, 26 seconds. Wade's eight-point effort ended an impressive streak of double-figure scoring games. He had set career and franchise records by scoring double figures in 148 consecutive games. The only player who had a longer streak was LeBron James. Wade is expected to miss his first games of the season.

TURNING POINT: The Heat was down 80-74 with three minutes left, but rallied to outscore the Nets 13-2 Nets-Heat-Main over the next two minutes. Beasley started the run with a driving layup and sweet jumper off the glass. Quentin Richardson delivered a dagger of a three-pointer after that, and it was on.

WINNING EDGE: The Nets were held to 37 percent shooting overall, and a 1-of-15 clip from three-point range. They became the fourth straight opponent the Heat has held to under 40 percent shooting from the field. The Heat's last two opponents are a combined 2 of 27 from three-point range.

HEAD-SCRATCHER: What in the world would make Nets officials think it's a good idea to toss burritos into the crowd as if they were T-shirts? That's exactly what happened in the first quarter of Wednesday's game, coincidentally, moments after Wade left the game with a calf injury. The Nets are bad enough this season to watch on an empty stomach, let alone one filled with black beans, guacamole and cheese. Other than that, you had to wonder what was going on when O'Neal left the game two minutes after tip-off with a mysterious back injury. The first think that came to mind was that it might have been an Amare-induced injury. You know, something that tends to happen when trades go down while a game is in progress. It went on around the league Wednesday, with Bulls guard John Salmons left at the team hotel instead of playing at New York, and Knicks guard Nate Robinson suddenly stricken with the flu as New York and Boston worked to finalize a trade. But then, J.O. came back.

KEY CONTRIBUTION: With Wade out and O'Neal limited, this was the ultimate breakout-game opportunityBEASLEY_MICHAEL for Michael Beasley. He stepped up and delivered a brilliant all-around game. Beasley was 10 of 17 from the field and had 23 points, 11 rebounds, two steals and two blocks. He had a monster rejection that prevented a go-ahead layup with 30 seconds left in the game. Beasley was beaming with confidence after the game, going as far as to say that the Heat's win "shut a lot of people up" who have doubted Wade's supporting cast. These were the Nets after all. But there was no need to ruin the kid's post-game buzz. Still, it was a major, breakthrough-type performance for Beasley. Richardson also came up big, with 16 points and a season-high 14 rebounds.

NEXT UP: Heat at Memphis Grizzlies, 8 p.m. Friday - FedEx Forum

(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, February 16, 2010

Postgame Breakdown: Heat 105, Sixers 78

PHILADELPHIA - With the NBA's trade deadline now within hours, this could prove to be one of the last Sixers-Heat-main games the Heat plays with its current roster. If that's the case, Miami might be going out with its biggest bang of the season.

With Tuesday's 105-78 victory over the lifeless Sixers, the Heat is now in position to hit Thursday's 3 p.m. trade deadline on a season-long, four-game winning streak. All that stands between the Heat and its longest sustained success of the season are the lowly New Jersey Nets on Wednesday.

But don't take that game for granted. The Nets beat the Charlotte Bobcats on Tuesday for the second time this season. Yes, the same Charlotte Bobcats who are 2-0 against the Heat this season. And it also took a desperation three-pointer at the buzzer from Dwyane Wade to squeeze out a 81-80 victory over New Jersey in Miami back in November.

"This can't be a trap game for us," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said of facing the Nets on the second night of a back-to-back set, with the Heat just 3-8 under those circumstances. "We can't afford it. We've got too much at stake. That game means a whole lot more to us."

At least it should. With the way the Heat is playing lately, it seems to be highly motivated to avoid a letdown. Trade deadline or no trade deadline.

D. WADE'S DOINGS: There was the air ball he shot in the first half amid a 1-of-5 start from the field. And then there was the rest of the night for Wade, who closed with 24 points, six assists and six rebounds in 28 minutes. Wade followed through on his teammates-sanctioned punishment by running a semi-sprint up and down the court after the game for that shooting blemish. Other than that, it was another light night of work for Wade, with his supporting cast doing its job and the overall defense operating at a high level.

TURNING POINT: The Heat began to pull away in the second quarter. But it became a blowout in the third, when Miami used a 21-1 run to stretch its lead beyond 30 points. It was an all-around effort during those decisive two quarters. Jermaine O'Neal scored 8 of his 20 in the second quarter. Wade and Michael Sixers-Heat-Second Beasley combined for 25 in the third quarter.

WINNING EDGE: When an opponent shoots just 37 percent from the field, it's more than good defense that did the job. The Heat also caught a Sixers' team that couldn't dunk, struggled to make uncontested layups and had no chance of knocking down jumpers of any distance.

HEAD-SCRATCHER: Perhaps Daequan Cook, Mario Chalmers or James Jones might be playing their final games for the Heat. Maybe not. But consider this from the files of "Things that Make You Say, Hmm." Word out of San Antonio is that the Spurs might make guard Roger Mason available in a trade. Mason hasn't demanded to be moved, but he's certainly not thrilled to be an afterthought of sorts in a perimeter rotation where the commitment seems to be to Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, Richard Jefferson, Michael Finley and George Hill. The reason this might be of interest to the Heat is that Pat Riley went hard after Mason during free agency two years ago and loves his combination of shooting, scoring, defense and ball-handling. The Heat ended up with James Jones and Yakhouba Diawara. But if Mason is made available, it would be the kind of subtle move the Heat would make amid a failed bid at any of its more high-profile targets.

KEY CONTRIBUTION: Jermaine O'Neal continued his streak of double-figure scoring games with aSixers-Heat-JO 20-point, 6-rebound effort. O'Neal has been on a roll recently. He was 10 of 15 from the field and was defensively active around the basket. A few other contributions were notable, especially the 10 points and 10 rebounds from Quentin Richardson, who had been invisible the past few weeks. Daequan Cook's 4-of-8 effort from the field was encouraging as he continues to try to emerge from his season-long slump. And Haslem had 13 points and 9 rebounds.

NEXT UP: Heat at New Jersey Nets, 7:30 p.m. Wednesday - IZOD 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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