With the loss to Charlotte firmly in their rearview mirror, the Heat now has a new positive thing to build on....a home winning streak. Erik Spoelstra has been talking a lot lately about the importance of defending your home court and it seems the Heat are embracing that concept. The timing could also not be better because this game was the first of a 6-game homestand.
I loved the way Michael Beasley started the game; showed no hesitation in taking and hitting a 20-foot jumper on the Heat's first possession, then on their next trip down the floor Beasley drove the lane and got himself to the foul line. The Heat got out to en early 9-point lead thanks to the Clippers hitting just one of their first eight shots.
Miami shot 55% and led the Chippers 34-24 after the first quarter, and the lead likely would've been more had Rasual Butler not been on fire. He scored 11 of L.A.'s last 13 points, including 3 triples. For the second straight game it was James Jones starting the 2nd quarter for the Heat; I'd really like to know what has happened to Daequan Cook. It could be that he just fell out of favor with the Heat coaching staff after failing to make good on numerous chances, but I'd still like to hear it from them.
Miami's offense stayed strong through the 2nd quarter, with the Heat scoring 57 points. It was their highest scoring half of basketball in 21 games. Miami's lead may have been more then 9 had it not been for Steve Blake. He did in the 2nd for the Clips what Rasual Butler did in the first, as Blake hit 3 triples that helped keep Miami from pulling away. Chris Kaman had a very rough opening half, logging no points and committing 3 fouls in 9 minutes.
After missing his only shot in the first half, Carlos Arroyo hit back to back long jumpers in the opening minutes of the 3rd quarter giving the Heat their biggest lead of the game at 13. Later in the quarter Rasual Butler got hot again, drilling a pair of back-to-back treys (one from like 26 feet away) in the blink of an eye to get the Clippers to within just 5 points of the Heat, the closest they had been since the 1st half.
The Heat responded by closing the quarter on a 13-2 run, turning that little 5-point lead into a massive 18-point lead. Credit to the Clippers for battling right back, opening the 4th quarter on a 7-2 run. It wouldn't last for L.A., and the ‘dagger' came shortly after that when James Jones drilled his 2nd triple of the night, putting the Heat back up by 18.
From that point on the Heat's game got pretty ugly with missed shots, silly fouls and the occasional turnover mixed in guys like Wade, Q and Beasley on the bench. Beasley sat out the entire 4th quarter with a thigh contusion after taking a knee to his thigh late in the 3rd. Beasley finished with 15 points after starting 3-for-3 from the field but only had 3 rebounds.
D-Wade scored 27 points for the 2nd straight game, but unlike last game where Wade struggled mightily in the 4th quarter, this time he sat out due to the Heat's big lead. I was a little surprised that Wade didn't come off the bench when the Clippers came within 6 points late in the game, but luckily that decision didn't come back to bite Coach Spo in the butt.
Wade had just four free throw attempts against Charlotte and it took him all of ten minutes to match that last night against the Clippers. He finished 15-of-17 from the charity stripe, with the 15 made free throws matching his season-high. It was also the 23rd time this season that Wade had at least 10 free throws.
- Another milestone reached for Udonis Haslem, who in the first half reached 5,000th career points. It was also his second straight game with double digit rebounds; he is averaging 9.8 rebounds/game over his last 5.
- Jamaal Magloire was the primary backup center for the Heat last night and he did the most with his minutes. He went 2-for-2 from the field and grabbed 9 rebounds in just 18 minutes. He also matched his season-high with 3 blocked shots and did a great job defending Chris Kaman.
- Kaman had a very rough night, going through a scoreless 1st half in which he played just 9 minutes due to foul trouble. He finished with 16 points, 12 of which came during ‘garbage time' in the 4th quarter.
- Jermaine O'Neal had a big 2nd half, scoring 15 of his 19 points. He also came just one rebound away from a double double.
- Mario Chalmers started his night by making his first two 3-pointers, finishing the night with 4. It was the 5th time this season that Rio had at least four 3-pointers. He also had 6 assists and played 30 minutes, 10 more then Carlos Arroyo.
- A guy who has been really struggling of late is Dorell Wright. Since scoring 26 points in a loss to Minnesota on February 23rd, Dorell has played in 6 games averaging just 4.1 points and 2.1 rebounds. He's shot just 32% from the field and 20% from beyond the arc in those 6 games.
- James Jones had his highest scoring game since late November, scoring 9-points and shooting 3-for-3 from 3-point range. In the last two games it's been Jones playing double-digit minutes while Daequan Cook hasn't left the bench.
So the Heat finally has something good going for them on their home floor. The next game on their homestand will be on Friday night against Chicago, who trails the Heat by one game for 8th place in the Eastern Conference. Miami will get to play Chicago under the same circumstances they faced the Clippers last night, as the Bulls will play in Orlando Thursday night before heading down to Miami.