After two straight tough losses on back-to-back nights, the Heat were ready to finish off their road trip strong. Their biggest problem of late has been free throws, so much so that the Heat spent their entire hour practice yesterday on foul shots. Um, yeah...it paid off. One of the best all-around games for the Heat, which was much needed to wrap up this west coast road trip with a W.
Dwyane Wade kicked off the game for the Heat in wonderful way, going right to the rim and getting fouled on back-to-back possessions. An equally good sign...he drilled all four free throws. Soon after he made a sick pass to Q who hit the trey, and the early indications were that D-Wade was going for a big night. As a team, the Heat hit their first 6 from the charity stripe.
Miami closed out the 1st quarter on a 9-0 run, turning a four-point deficit into a five-point advantage. It certainly helped that they shot 12-of-14 from the foul line, led by D-Wade's 8-of-10. Wade also had 3 assists and 2 blocks in the opening quarter.
Tyreke Evans ended a 4+ minute scoring drought about two minutes into the 2nd quarter, during which the Heat scored 11 points. Despite having Wade on the bench, Miami kept pushing and got their lead all the way up to 12. Michael Beasley was doing a great job as the Heat's first option, making a couple great passes for assists along with his usual easy scoring.
In the middle of the quarter the Heat hit 7-straight shots, allowing them to keep their double-digit lead. That stretch would lead to another nice run for the Heat, this time a 12-1 stretch that put Miami up 18. Quentin Richardson was a big part of the run with 8 points in less then three minutes.
Things were looking great at the half for Miami. They were shooting 58% while holding the Kings to just 39%. The Heat also hit 17-of-19 from the foul line and had three starters in double figures (Wade, Beasley and Q).
As expected, the Kings came out in the 3rd quarter playing very hard. As soon as Miami missed a couple shots, Sacramento went on an 11-2 run to get all the way back within 6. The guy who stopped the bleeding with a stone cold trey? Not Wade, not Q, not Beasley...but how about Dorell Wright?! Very quietly D-Wright has been consistently giving the Heat 8-10 solid minutes a game.
Miami responded to the Kings run with a 9-2 run of their own, pumping their lead back up to 13. I'm sure the Heat's goal in the 4th quarter was something like ‘keep the lead at double digits'. Again with Wade on the bench Michael Beasley became the go-to guy, scoring the first 5 points of the 4th quarter for the Heat.
Sacramento drawing within 8 of Miami would bring Wade off the bench just 3:09 into the 4th, a little earlier then usually for Dwyane. The Kings kept chipping away at the Heat lead, getting it down to 6 halfway through the quarter. They just couldn't get over the hump though, and Miami took advantage with back-to-back Wade jumpers to get back up by 10.
Q-Rich made it 7 straight for the Heat with his 5th trey of the game, then shortly after drew his 8th charge of the season. Slowly but surely the empty seats were growing in Arco Arena with the Heat holding a 13-point lead with two minutes left. It would end pretty uneventful, unless you count D-Wade sinking a 35-foot shot that didn't count, as the Heat finished their road trip with a convincing win against one of the better home teams in the league.
- Dorell Wright...can we get this kind of effort every night? I think it's very possible. He was stellar defensively and his offense seems underrated. I know for a fact that he is a very good outside shooter and seems to have much more awareness when handling the ball. He finished with 19 points, 2 boards, 5 assists, a steal and a block.
- Udonis Haslem started out hitting his first six shots (going 4-for-4 in the first half with 4 boards), and finished with 15 points, 6 boards, 3 assists, 2 steals...all while moving between the 4 and the 5 throughout all his minutes.
- Dwyane Wade was his ‘usual' self, scoring 34 and adding 5 boards, 10 assists, a steal and four big blocks. It was his 3rd double double of the season, all of which came on this 4-game road trip. It was his 5th straight game with at least 20 points, and his 2nd game this season with at least 3 blocks.
- The Heat scored like crazy on this road trip, cracking 100 points in three of the four games and averaging 106.3 ppg.
- They also matched a season high for scoring with 115 points, which they also scored on opening night against the Knicks.
- The Heat had their best shooting night of the season, hitting 59% of their shots. They have now won 19 straight games when shooting over 50% from the field.
- Free throws? Ya'll wanna talk about...free throws? The Heat hit 84% of their free throws last night in Sac Town (26-of-31). Build on it, boys. We'll win a lot more when we hit 80% of our foul shots.
The Heat now get some time to rest, with no games until Friday when the Mavericks come to town. It will be the first of a 6-game homestand that will spread over three weeks. Enjoy the time off...I'm sure the Heat will!