I got home a little later then I planned after the Panthers game (hockey...for those of you not familiar) went to the overtime version of a shootout, and imagine my surprise to find the Heat up 12-4 when I turned on the T.V. Then I saw D-Wade hit a nice bank shot as I settled in and thought to myself maybe tonight wouldn't be like the last couple games. The Heat lead began to shrink when the Warriors started making triples and then to make matters worse, Wade was called for his 2nd foul and he had to come out of the game in the midst of a 9-1 Golden State run.
The end of the 1st quarter wasn't pretty for the Heat, as they missed 2 shots and turned the ball over twice in the last 2 minutes. That allowed Golden State to outscore the Heat 4-0 and take their 1st lead of the game into the 2nd quarter. An interesting exchange came with under 8 minutes left when Corey Maggette was called for his 3rd foul after being left in the game despite having 2 early fouls. Maggette came out of the game and D-Wade came back into the game after having to sit with 2 fouls.
Wade immediately hit a long jumper, announcing his return. Then on the Heat's next offensive possession, he hit another long J. On the next possession, same thing. After Wade returned with the Heat down by 4, Miami hit 7 straight shots and re-claimed the lead. In a span of about 2½ minutes D-Wade scored 8 points, showing ‘flashes' of guy who led the NBA in scoring last season.
The Heat were up by 7 when Dorell Wright was called for fouling Monta Ellis taking a 3-pointer, and I thought that would be a momentum killer for Miami. Luckily, Ellis hit just 1 of the 3 foul shots and then Dorell hit a tough jumper at the other end to make up for the bad foul. Miami closed out the half very strongly, but it helped that the Warriors hit just 2-of-7 from the charity stripe in the final 2 minutes. D-Wade would score 17 of the 24 points put up by Miami after he returned to the game, and the Heat went into the locker room up by 8.
Jermaine O'Neal got the Heat started in the 2nd half scoring the teams first 4 points, and D-Wade followed with the next 6. Even Quentin Richardson got into the mix, drilling a pair of treys and hitting on a nice running bank shot that kept the Heat up by a comfortable margin. It was just an awesome offensive quarter by the Heat, outscoring Golden State 38-32 and hitting on 14 of their 20 shots en route to a 90-76 lead.
Miami cracked the 100-point mark with over 8 minutes left in the game. Combine that with some pretty decent defense against one of the NBA's top scoring teams and it give you the kind of game we expect from the Heat on a much more consistent basis. But that word has been the main problem, hasn't it?
The Warriors would make a late run, outscoring Miami 17-6 heading into the final 3 minutes. The run would bring Golden State to within 8 points, the closest they had been in a very long time. Jermaine O'Neal stopped the bleeding with a big time clutch jumper, shh-ing the crowd on his way back down the floor. J-O wasn't done there...on the Heat's next offensive possession he made a couple moves on Andris Biedrins, got to the rim and hit the little runner despite being fouled (and for good measure he nailed the free throw).
They survived the late run by Golden State and came away with a much needed, bounce-back kind of win. Hopefully it's the beginning of a run of good games for Miami, but for now let's just enjoy the resilience showed by our boys after the stink they left in a couple west coast arenas. It wasn't just one guy tonight either; Beasley dominated early, Wade took control in the 2nd quarter and Jermaine O'Neal played the closer. Overall it was exactly the kind of win that a struggling team needs moving forward.
IS WADE BACK?
Dwyane Wade was injured? Game-time decision? It took him the 1st quarter to get warmed up, and then he just took off. 17 points in the 2nd quarter led to a 21 point 1st half. He added 14 in the 2nd half and finished with 7 rebounds, 9 assists and 3 steals. However, the biggest number that jumps off the page is 15-of-15 from the foul line. That is the telling stat that says D-Wade is ok, he's healthy and dare I say...he's back?
It wasn't just the 15 free throws, but it was the way he was getting to the line. For the first time that I can remember this season Wade was attacking like the player we've grown to love. When I say ‘attacking' I don't just mean going at the rim. Dwyane was going at players, looking to draw contact whenever possible, and showing no regard for himself. He was falling hard and thumping against the floor like the Wade of old, and just like that good ‘ol slogan used to remind us: Fall 7. Stand Up 8.
Now I don't know if this is going to end up an isolated incident where Wade was just looking for a quick redemption type of game after what was a pretty scary few moments when he went down and into the locker room in Utah. Hopefully something clicked in Dwyane's head tonight and he realized how amazing he can be when he plays like that. It isn't just to his advantage, its better for his team as well. The Heat scored 115 points. Wade led the team in assists with 9. Man oh man I hope this is the start of the resurrection of reckless, lead by example Wade. Who knows, if he keeps this up then soon we'll be hearing those familiar ‘MVP' chants from the AAA faithful.
THOUGHTS ON BEASLEY
As is becoming the norm, Michael Beasley had an amazing half but couldn't do it the entire game. Beasley scored 14 points in the 1st half on 6-of-7 shooting, including a trey, and came down with 4 rebounds. Foul trouble would limit Beas to just 5 points on 2-of-6 shooting in the 2nd half. It won't be long before he can put these great halves together, and when he does...the Heat are going to have drafted and ‘raised' two NBA superstars.
What I'm loving from Beasley is how good his jumpers are looking lately. Remember during his rookie year how his jumper was the best part of his game? It's starting to look just as smooth, but now he doesn't have to be wide open to hit it. He can create for himself and can drive the ball with the best of ‘em, but if he starts hitting jumpers the way he has been in the last 2 games...oh boy.
- Beasley had what I thought was a backwards 3-point play in the 3rd quarter. He was at the free-throw line for a pair of foul shots. He made the first one but missed the second. Beasley went right after the missed freebie, got his own rebound and put it in for a total ass-backward 3-point play.
- How about the big 2nd half by Jermaine O'Neal? He played 15:36 and scored 20 of his 24 points in the half. He missed the first shot after halftime but wouldn't miss again, finishing the half hitting 9-of-9.
- Overall the Heat had one of their best shooting games of the season. They came out hot, shooting 47.3% in the 1st half. I guess that and the 8-point halftime lead wasn't good enough because they came out and hit 70% of their 3rd quarter shots en route to a 64.8% 2nd half. That's 56.0% for the game. Not too shabby...
- The 115 points scored by the Heat matched their season-high. The other game they scored this much was on December 6th when they won in Sacramento by the exact same 115-102 score.
- It was a great game for the Heat small forwards as well. Both Quentin Richardson and Dorell Wright finished with 11 points on 4-of-7 shooting. Q hit 3-of-6 from beyond the arc and Dorell hit 2-of-3. Q had 2 boards and a steal while Dorell finished with 5 boards and 2 assists. Both played their usual, great defense.
- The Heat point guards had a quiet night. Rafer finished 0-for-4 (0-for-3 from beyond) with 4 assists in 27 minutes. Rio had a productive game with 6 points (2-for-3 from beyond) and 7 assists in 21 minutes. Chalmers still doesn't deserve to start but Rafer needs some more time to get the rust off. That being the case...Arroyo, anyone?
I'm sure I could go on for a while finding all the good things the Heat did last night. The bottom line is that the good version of the Miami Heat showed up tonight against a Golden State team that this roster should beat 8 days a week. It's frustrating how crappy these can look when nights like tonight remind us all of how amazing they can play. Let's just keep our fingers crossed that this effort carries over to Friday night's game in Houston.