Before the game even started I was somewhat enthused by the prospect of what was happening. Granted, no Heat fan should be anything but upset when hearing that Quentin Richardson was going to miss last nights game with a lower back injury, but I loved hearing that Coach Spoelstra was going to start James Jones in Q's place. Jones had barely gotten on the floor in the Heat's first 11 games and was due an opportunity to get himself back into the rotation.
Dwyane Wade got off to a good offensive start, driving the ball and getting to the foul line on his first touch, then sinking both free throws. It took Wade 80 seconds in Toronto to match his free throw total from the entire game in Atlanta. It was pretty apparent that the Heat's goal early on was to get back to scoring in the painted area. All of the Heat's offense in the beginning of the game (including their first 10 points) came from down by the basket or on free throws.
Jermaine O'Neal had six early points and many of the offensive plays were running through him. O'Neal and Wade were both getting off to good starts as Dwyane was driving the ball every chance he got. A dunk, an ‘and 1' layup and 5 foul shots all in the early stages of the game for Wade, a complete turnaround from his very uncharacteristic game in Atlanta on Wednesday.
Dumb plays closed the 1st quarter for Miami. First it was D-Wade carrying the ball up the court and chucking up a quick trey with about 30 seconds left. Then after Daequan Cook missed a three, he fouled Hedo Turkoglu just after he crossed the half court line, giving Toronto two free points.
I'm really starting to get tired of the constant three-point attempts by Wade. At timely points of the game I can understand him taking the chance but it seems to be happening way too often and it isn't like Dwyane is hitting them with any kind of consistency that would merit him taking all of these long distance J's.
The Raptors got hot during the 2nd quarter and opened up a six point lead, but Michael Beasley then began driving the ball and creating points for the Heat. He had a monster slam-dunk and on the Heat's next possession was fouled and hit both free throws. At this point of the game I'd like to point out that Miami was getting to the line much more often and converting their opportunities, hitting 14-17 at the midway point of the 2nd quarter. Unfortunately, the Raptors were shooting 63% (17-of-27) and had opened up a 9-point lead.
At this point the Heat were just falling apart. They were unable to get anything consistent going offensively and Toronto was taking every single Heat miss and running with it, essentially getting an easy score every time, whether it be on a fast break drive or by dishing it out for an open jumper.
In what felt like an instant the Raptors lead had ballooned from 8 to 17 as things were starting to spiral out of control for the Heat. By halftime Toronto had dropped 69 points in on the Heat, including a buzzer beating 3 by Turkoglu off of a missed Jermaine O'Neal free throw with 3.2 seconds left. Miami had gone from trailing by 2 after the 1st quarter to trailing by 20 at the half.
When the Heat come out of the dressing room for their halftime shootaround, the players gathered in a circle around Dwyane Wade who spoke for about a minute. Obviously he was trying to rally his troops but couldn't set the early example, missing two makeable shots to open the half for Miami. While the Heat were dinking and dunking, they were still unable to stop Toronto from scoring and you can't be trading buckets when down by 20 in the 2nd half.
Half way through the 3rd quarter the Heat had the Raptors in the penalty and were starting to hit some jumpers, but still tailed by 20. It was amazing that Toronto was playing such good defense regardless of the huge lead they had, yet the Heat continued to allow open looks on the other end and the Raptors weren't missing.
Late in the quarter the Heat got quick scores from Wade, J-O and a three from Beasley to get them back within 13 and still well over three minutes left in the quarter. Obviously at this point the goal was for Miami to shrink their deficit to single digits for the 4th quarter, but the way the Heat were playing on D it was all going to depend on how long Toronto stayed cold.
The Heat turned up the defensive intensity and Toronto did in fact stay cooled off for a while, which let the Heat use a 20-6 run to close the gap to just 6 points heading into the 4th quarter. It's amazing to me how a team can play so good and so bad not just in the same game, but seemingly from one timeout to the next. All good teams have one thing in common: consistency. Something the Heat will need to find if they want to get anywhere this season...but they have some time to get their stuff together. It's only November.
The 4th quarter started well for Miami, with Chris Bosh missing a pair of free throws. The Raptors then chose to double team Wade at the other end, so he used that to find a wide open Carlos Arroyo and the lead was down to 4. Toronto kept missing but the Heat couldn't capitalize; Shavlik Randolph gat several opportunities to score but the man just couldn't get the ball in the hole. The talent level drops off significantly when guys like Udonis Haslem and Quentin Richardson are out of the lineup.
A career highlight dunk for Joel Anthony (and 1) kept the Heat within 4, still with plenty of time left. Miami was staying close with Anthony, Randolph, Arroyo, Cook and Chalmers on the floor, but it was amazingly frustrating watching the Heat get 2, 3 chances on the offensive boards and yet our ‘bigs' couldn't finish from under the rim.
D-Wade came back in with 8:45 left and instantly hit a long jumper, keeping the Heat down just 4. Next to come back in the game was Jermaine O'Neal, replacing Joel Anthony who played perhaps his best game of the season. Toronto finally got their first field goal 5 minutes into the 4th quarter to go up 6, and after a quick turnover by Wade the Heat called timeout. The fact that they were even in the game was something special, but it really wouldn't matter much if they just gave it up now.
Mario Chalmers then hit back-to-back triples to get the Heat within 3 points. Watching that kid shoot with confidence is something special and really makes you think about the potential he has. A Dwyane Wade layup, Jermaine O'Neal block and a long deuce by James Jones brought the Heat to within 1 point and there was still over 3 minutes left.
The Raptors sharpshooting big guys were amazing. Bargnani hit a triple that put Toronto back up by 4, and Hedo Turkoglu had a big triple and a couple big free throws in the quarter as well. Also working against the Heat was that J-O and Beasley were both playing with 5 personal fouls.
Once again Beasley's inability to finish hurt Miami. Wade fed him with an open lane in front, but Beasley fumbled the ball, put up an airball and despite getting his own rebound, there were only a few ticks left on the shot clock and Miami couldn't get up an attempt in time. After the turnover, Jarrett Jack hit a huge three to put Toronto up by 7 with 1:42 left. A quick missed triple by Wade and the game was slipping away (again). Chris Bosh hit a jumper to put the Raptors up by 9, then after another miss from downtown by the Heat, Jarrett Jack hit another wide open corner trey to cap off a 10-0 run that put the game away for Toronto.
- Jermaine O'Neal drew his 6th charge of the season early in the 1st quarter on an Andrea Bargnani drive. His defense has been much improved this season, but that doesn't garner much attention compared to his offense and rebounding.
- Really...? The Heat gave up 43 points on 70% shooting in the 2nd quarter?? Overall this was the most points given up by the Heat this season (120) and the highest shooting % (58%) allowed by an opponent this year.
- The Heat are now 0-5 when allowing 100 points or more.
- Take a look at the Raptors starting frontcourt and tell me how much we missed Udonis and Q on defense. Bosh, Bargnani and Turkoglu combined to score 62 points on 62% shooting, grab 27 combined rebounds to go along with 11 assists and 6 blocks.
- Did anyone else notice that when Chris Bosh scored the Raptors P.A. announcer, instead of saying his name would just say ‘C-B-4'? Maybe I missed where it became cooler to have your nickname called out instead of your name.
- At least the Heat got their foul shooting back on track. They started the game 4-for-4 and never looked back finishing 28-of-34 (82%), thanks to D-Wade (9-of-10) and Mario Chalmers (7-of-9).
- Joel Anthony is a great defender and shot blocker, but can we please stop giving him opportunities with the ball offensively? Unless it's a ‘sure thing' layup/dunk, the ball is not going in. Still, he is an asset to the Heat just by his defense and rebounding. Last night he came down with a career high 7 rebounds in just 15 minutes.
- I feel like Mario Chalmers passes up too many open looks from the outside. Several times a game the ball will rotate to him and instead of taking the open shot, he'll make the next pass, which is often to someone in a much worse position to score then he is. When Rio is shooting with confidence he is a deadly scorer. Last night he looked so sure of himself it was scary to think how unsure he can look sometimes (including earlier in the game). Chalmers scored a career high 30 points (16 in the 4th quarter) on 9-of-15 shooting. He hit 5 treys, another career high, went 7-of-9 from the line, had 3 assists and 3 steals.
- After all my clamoring to see James Jones get more minutes, he really shut me up tonight. Jones started, played 34 minutes and was really a non-factor. He shot 0-for-5 from beyond the arc, finishing with 5 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists, but was nowhere near as good defensively as Quentin Richardson has been. Hopefully we can just chalk it up to lack of ‘important' minutes because another game like this and Jones will find himself buried at the end of the bench again.
- Another double double for Michael Beasley who had probably his best outside shooting game of the season. 21 points on 8-of-18 shooting and 12 rebounds for Beas.
My quick thoughts on a Bosh-Beasley package trade...The Heat have got to be hoping that someday Michael Beasley becomes the kind of player that Chris Bosh is. Bosh can hit an 18-20 foot jumper, has a great post up game and still dominate in the paint, which is exactly what we are hoping for Beasley to become. So why wouldn't we be willing to trade Beasley for Bosh? CB4 is only 25 years old yet still a 7-year NBA veteran with plenty of gas in the tank for a long career ahead. Of course the same could be said for the 21-year old Beasley, but is it worth waiting a few years for him to possibly reach the level that Chris Bosh is playing at? If given the choice I think it's a no-brainer that you go with the proven talent.
The Heat will look to get back to their winning ways when they return home to face the New Orleans Hornets on Sunday night at the AAA. Tipoff is at 6 and the Heat will hopefully have both Udonis and Quentin Richardson back in the lineup...after last night its pretty blatant that the Heat need all of their components for this well-oiled defensive machine to run smoothly.