The game got off to a very slow start with both teams not shooting the ball well. Quentin Richardson got scoring started about 90 seconds into the game, and at that point I was wondering how healthy Jermaine O'Neal really was because he hadn't come close to touching the ball yet. Sure enough, he got his first touch on the Heat's next possessions and scored shortly after.
O'Neal would quickly become the Heat's most active player, rebounding on both ends, including a tip-in of a missed free throw, and taking advantage of Nenad Krstic guarding him, getting the looks he likes (like the running jump-hook he hit about half way through the quarter). Both O'Neal and Chalmers looked perfectly fine in the first quarter.
The Heat stumbled a bit as the 1st quarter winded down, missing six straight shots while the Thunder scored 10 straight. Joel Anthony hit a free throw, ending the run, but then Dwyane Wade was whistled for a foul on Kevin Durant shooting a 3-pointer at the buzzer. Wade was also T-ed up for arguing the call, so the quarter ended with the Thunder outscoring the Heat 14-1.
The missed shot string reached 10 for the Heat, and down by 14 to the Thunder at home had Coach Spo steaming. When OkC pushed their run to 20-1, the Heat finally started responding. Carlos Arroyo hit a jumper and Beasley converted an and-1, but the Heat were still down by 9.
Mario Chalmers first bucket of the game didn't come until over 7 minutes into the 2nd quarter, but it proved to be big as it seemed to get the crowd buzzing again. He drove and layed it in after being fouled, and despite missing the free throw, the Heat were amped up. Chalmers came right back with a steal at the other end, and Udonis Haslem immediately hit Wade at the other end of the court for a touchdown/dunk, and the Heat were back within 6. The Heat dug in defensively and starting hitting some free throws, and despite trailing by 14 at one point in the quarter, the Thunder lead was only 3 at halftime.
Oklahoma City made the first run of the 2nd half, scoring six straight to extend their lead to 9, and turning that little run into a 14-2 stretch that pushed the lead back to 15. The guys making the difference were the Thunder defenders, starting with Thabo Sefolosha and Nenad Krstic doing a great job on Dwyane Wade and Jermaine O'Neal.
After OkC hit a pair of free throws to open the 4th, the Heat were staring at a 17-point deficit. For the first time in a while, Daequan Cook made an impact, hitting a three and getting fouled while shooting another. He sunk all three foul shots and then after an Arroyo jumper the Heat were back within 12. Thirty seconds and two quick jumpers and a technical free throw later, the lead was right back up to 17 and Dwyane Wade was summoned from the bench.
The words too little too late kept creeping into my head as I watched the Heat finally start moving without the ball on offense, but with everybody pressing and the Thunder not backing down their great defense, the Heat were going to need something miraculous to salvage their second straight bad game. Daequan Cook became a scoring machine and got the Heat back to within 10. Then, D-Wade hit a big three just when you thought the Heat let it slip away, and with just over 3 minutes left the lead was down to 9.
After forcing a Kevin Durant miss with 2 minutes left and down by 8, the Heat couldn't get the offensive rebound and the Thunder ended up with Nick Collison wide open under the rim, who hit a layup while being fouled by Udonis Haslem. Too little. Too late. No D. No win.
Now let go back to the 2nd quarter for a second. What the hell was Russell Westbrook thinking? He's called for an offensive foul when he dropped Mario Chalmers, but keeps moving towards the rim. Jermaine O'Neal grabs Westbrook to keep him off of Chalmers, who is lying defenseless on the court. Westbrook then takes a couple swings at O'Neal after J-O gave the youngster a little push away from Rio. After things calmed down, the officials huddled up and pulled out the replay screen, deciding to call double technical fouls on Jermaine and Westbrook.
- For the second straight game, the Heat managed only 17 points in the 1st quarter. Short memory I guess...the Heat came out just as fired up in the second half as they did the first, scoring 17 points in the 3rd quarter (compared to the 18 they scored in the 3rd quarter on Saturday)
- Daequan Cook hit his first 3-pointer in a while in the 3rd quarter. Cook went 4-for-9 from 3-land and looked confident taking his shot. He was 3-of-13 coming into the game, but after missing 5 games due to injury, may be just starting to get comfortable.
- The Heat will not win any games in which Dwyane Wade is held to just 7 points in the 2nd half. Lots of credit goes to Thabo Sefolosha who played superb defense against Wade all night, holding the scoring champ to just 6-of-19 shooting. Wade also turned the ball over 6 times.
- Miami falls to 0-3 when allowing their opponent to score 100 points.
- Three-point shooting has become a big problem for the Heat. In the last two games Miami has made just 9-of-36 from beyond the arc (25%). That is hopefully changing with Daequan Cook back to his usual role.
- Jermaine O'Neal had maybe the best game of any Heat player. He recorded his first double double (19-10) since the second game of the season, looked very active on both ends of the floor and his defense is slowly but surely coming back around.
- Udonis Haslem shot 2-for-7 and the two came from a layup and a dunk. He couldn't hit anything from the outside, which is a huge part of his offense. Those long J's are usually what the Heat rely on during the transitional points of the game. He still came down with 9 rebounds, but overall it was a pretty poor game for Udonis.
- Nothing really to put about Michael Beasley. At least against the Nets he had 8 rebounds to go with his 7 points. Last night he scored 8 but had zero rebounds...he had recorded at least 3 rebounds in each game so far and is averaging 5.4 a game. It seems that his confidence is slowly dwindling, as now his jumpers aren't falling to go with his inability to finish.
No time to feel sorry for themselves as the Heat are right back at it tomorrow night. I'm sure that many of the players have this game circled on their schedules, their first chance to get back at the Atlanta Hawks since losing Game 7 at Philips Arena last May. Our recent rivalry discussions in this FanPost have gotten me thinking about the Hawks, so I've been watching the highlights from their recent games. Yeah...I still hate that team, especially Josh Smith. He is a big freaking whiny baby who has a 2-dimentional game. Driving the ball (usually when he shouldn't) and taking horrible jumpers. I hope Spoelstra puts Jamaal Magloire in the game just so he can slap Smith in the face. Tipoff is at 7:05.