I don't know what you may have been expecting before Thursday nights showdown with our in-state rivals, but I'm quite certain that what happened on the court of the AAA caught everybody by surprise. Even if you thought Miami was going to come away with the victory, it would be hard to expect that Orlando would get beat that badly. It was all about the Heat, who played pretty amazing from start to finish. Something happens to this team when Q-Rich is in the lineup...
From the opening tip you could tell that the Heat came to play. Quentin Richardson announced his return to the starting lineup by drilling back-to-back threes in the opening minutes. Miami was attacking the boards and creating 2nd chance opportunities, holding the Magic to just 5 rebounds in the 1st quarter. The Heat closed out their amazing 1st with a 10-0 run, and Miami found themselves up by 15.
One of the funniest things I'd seen in a while was when they showed a shot of Stan Van Gundy after the Heat pushed their lead to 18. Those priceless moments are what I miss most about our former coach. Other then Dwight Howard the Magic we're really struggling to keep up with the Heat on both ends, but its just amazing to me how different of a team the Heat are when Quentin Richardson is in the lineup.
Orlando tried making a push at the end of the 2nd quarter, but every time they hit a shot Miami answered right back. In the final minute, Jason Williams hit back-to-back buckets for the Magic, the last one coming with just 6 seconds left. Carlos Arroyo would respond to J-Dub's run by hitting a three with under a second left, keeping the Heat up 15 into the half.
Whatever scream-fest the Magic had to endure in the locker room wasn't enough to get them playing better then the Heat. D-Wade led the way, but it was a very balanced scoring attack by Miami that was keeping them a step ahead of the Magic. It also helped that the Heat were playing very smart basketball, turning the ball over only twice after 2 ½ quarters.
The final minute of the 3rd was a Dwyane Wade party. He started by pulling up and hitting a trey to give the Heat a 27-point lead. Nope...not a type-o. Twenty seven. Anyway...shortly after that, Wade came from out of nowhere to block a J.J. Redick layup from behind. A couple of Mario Chalmers free throws later, the Heat took a 29-point advantage into the final quarter. Miami had 21 assists on their 36 baskets while the Magic had only 7 on 23, more proof that the Heat were doing what they wanted offensively.
When the 4th quarter began, the only starter in the game for either team was Michael Beasley. With both teams utilizing their bench players, the advantage should have lied with the Heat because they still had guys like Chalmers, Haslem and Wright, who are all major contributors. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case. After Udonis scored in the first minute, the Heat went cold. Over 4 minutes later, Michael Beasley got the Heat back on the board and luckily for the Heat, Orlando was only able to score 6 points during the dry spell.
A late 10-0 run by the Magic would provide a nice ‘eye rolling' moment for Heat fans, but the overall results were just awesome. A reminder of how good our young squad can play when all the right buttons are being pushed. We all came into tonight expecting (or hoping for) a dogfight, with the Magic likely looking for revenge for the Heat's victory on their home floor a few weeks ago. Instead, the Heat blew out the Magic like a bunch of pin-striped birthday candles.
- How sweet was Dorell Wright's buzzer beater at the end of the 1st quarter? The home crowd went absolutely crazy...it was a much needed ‘Heat fan' moment.
- A great shooting 1st half for the Heat: 55% from the field and 50% from beyond the arc.
- I find myself more and more impressed with the improvements in Joel Anthony's offensive game. His hands are softer, his footwork is much better and he is actually putting touch on the ball. It may be safe to say that he is no longer an offensive liability when on the court.
- Carlos Arroyo did all the right things for the Heat, running the offense efficiently and racking up the assists. He had 7 dimes last night to go along with 5 points and 4 boards.
- Meanwhile, Mario Chalmers was solid coming off the bench. For the time being, the Heat seem better off having the veteran starting and let the sophomore continue to provide quality backup minutes.
- Luckily for the Heat it didn't come down to free throws. They hit just 13-of-19.
- The Heat's 33 1st quarter points matched a season-high, and their 15-point lead was the largest advantage after the opening quarter this season.
The Heat now have a couple days off to enjoy their sudden string of good, solid basketball. Portland comes to town for another late afternoon Sunday home game, with tipoff coming at 6pm.