Michael Beasley tied his career-high with 28 points and notched his fifth double-double of the season by adding 11 rebounds to lead the Heat to a much-needed, slump-busting, drought-emerging victory at home Tuesday over the lifeless Toronto Raptors.
"We've got to play with passion," Beasley said. "I was just telling myself that I have to be aggressive. And with that, I've got to be efficient. I decided to step up."
With the 115-95 victory, the Heat (12-11) ended a four-game home losing streak at AmericanAirlines Arena and also avoided falling below .500 for the first time this season. Tuesday's win came after the Heat suffered a 28-point loss at home to Memphis, which followed a blowout loss at home Sunday against Dallas.
But the Raptors proved to be the perfect sparring partner for the Heat. Toronto ranks at the bottom of the league in defense, and it didn't offer much of it as the Heat tied its season high for points in a game. This was therapeutic for the Heat. A night like this was needed. An effort like this was necessary.
D. WADE'S DOINGS: Wade was much more interested in action than talk the past few days. He got a great look from the bench of a great bounce-back performance from his supporting cast. Wade was able to watch the fourth quarter while resting on the bench during the blowout victory over the Raptors. He didn't need to do much on a night when the rest of the rotation offered so much. Beasley led the way in scoring, Dorell Wright provided energy off the bench, Arroyo was a steady, calming influence on offense and Jermaine O'Neal was disruptive during a key stretch in the lane. All the Heat needed on this night was 19 points and seven assists in just more than 29 minutes from Wade.
TURNING POINT: The Heat blew this one open with a 23-11 spurt in the third quarter to open a 17-point lead. The lead stretched to 21 points early in the fourth. Bosh was bottled up late, and there was no relief for the Raptors. The decisive spurt came by way of balance, defense, transition offense and sharing the wealth. Mario Chalmers, Wade, Carlos Arroyo, Joel Anthony, Dorell Wright and Jermaine O'Neal all scored during the key run in the third quarter. It was an example of all-out team ball that hasn't been on display often enough for this team.
WINNING EDGE: The Heat had 17 assists in the first half and finished with 27 for the game. The ball movement was the best part of the Heat's performance, even when every player on the court was looking to get the ball to Beasley so he could get his first career 30-point game. Beasley missed a jumper with two minutes left and couldn't get a shot off on the following possession. He could have gone for one more basket in the final seconds, but opted to hold the ball at midcourt to run out the clock. Either way, he tied a decent bow to the end of this one.
HEAD-SCRATCHER: It was the third different starting lineup in as many games for the Heat. Whereas the previous two lineup adjustments were a product of Quentin Richardson's hamstring injury and Jermaine O'Neal's absence, Tuesday's change-up was the result of Erik Spoelstra seeking a shakeup of sorts to send a message to Mario Chalmers about professionalism. Carlos Arroyo started in place of Chalmers, whose play has been sporadic, really sporadic, this season. While at least a temporary change was probably due, it still came as somewhat of a surprise - even with Spoelstra hinting that there could be movement in the lineup after the 28-point loss to Memphis. After Tuesday's game, Spoelstra said Chalmers was benched because he was late to Tuesday's morning shootaround. Mario, who handed out Christmas gifts to 100 local kids before the game, had started every game since he was taken in the second round of the 2008 draft. Tuesday's move to the bench ended his streak of consecutive starts at 111, including the playoffs. Having said that, it's hard to argue that Chalmers has truly earned his keep with the Heat. One of the reasons the Heat didn't bring in point guard help early in the summer was because Pat Riley said he didn't want to start anyone ahead of Chalmers. Perhaps this shakeup was a needed wake-up call for Rio, who had a team-high eight assists to go with 12 points from Arroyo at the point.
KEY CONTRIBUTION: After having his streak of double-figure scoring games snapped at 11 with a six-point performance in Sunday's embarrassing loss to Memphis, Michael Beasley bounced back and nearly produced a double-double in the first half alone (18 points, 8 rebounds) Tuesday against the Raptors. It was only a few weeks ago when Wade said it would only be a matter of time before Beasley would "be a 20-10 guy on a bad night" in terms of his production. The impressive thing about his play Tuesday was that Beas got the job done on both ends. He was aggressive on defense. And when Beasley is scoring, offense seems to come easy for the Heat. When Miami scores at least 100 points, you can bank on Beasley providing at 25 percent of the scoring. Tuesday was no different. The key now is carrying that level of performance and execution from one game to the next, to the next.
NEXT UP: Magic at Heat, 8 p.m. Thursday, AmericanAirlines Arena