For the first time since November 17, 18 and 20 the Heat have lost 3 straight games. As if that alone isn't bad enough, coming in the last two games the Heat suffered their largest loss of the year, then today were beaten at home by a team that coming in was 1-14 away from home. It's becoming difficult for players to have good games on consecutive occasions. Considering how this team has almost completely avoided injury trouble (I'm talking significant missed games here), it's hard to fathom how they continue to struggle with consistency.
Dwyane Wade apparently wanted to send a message that this game would not be like the last one. He did this by taking the ball on the Heat's first offensive possession, driving hard and throwing down a monster 1-handed slam. It wasn't just Wade who started hot, as Miami started 6-for-6 thanks to buckets from Beasley, Jermaine O'Neal (2) and a trey from Quentin Richardson.
Talk about a great sequence...with about 5:30 left in the quarter, Quentin Richardson started it off with a nasty slam after driving the baseline, then Jermaine O'Neal came away with his 2nd block of the quarter and on the ensuing possession for the Heat, Mike Beasley grabbed a Q-Rich missed trey after it hit the rim and in one motion slammed it down. I can't remember a nastier dunk by Beas' in his young career.
The Heat went cold after going up 29-10, allowing Charlotte to go on a 25-7 run and get themselves right back into the game. The Heat were in the midst of a 5-for-18 shooting slump, the majority of which came with D-Wade on the bench. He finally returned to the game almost half way through the quarter, but the Heat still missed several shots after his return.
In a 3-minute span, Stephen Jackson outscored the Heat 8-0 and brought the Bobcats back to within 2. The Heat went over 4 minutes without a field goal, shooting just 2-of-12 in the 2nd quarter. The Charlotte run stretched to 32-9 and the Heat lead was gone. After leaving the 1st quarter with a 13-point lead, Miami went into the half down by 3.
The Heat came out hitting 4-of-5 in the 2nd half to go back up by 4, but Charlotte scored 6 straight to re-take the lead. It seemed that both teams hit their low points in the opening half and the 2nd half was going to be a tight, exciting one. The Heat starting frontcourt took a hit in the 3rd when both Jermaine O'Neal and Michael Beasley were called for their 4th fouls. The Heat were playing noticeably better with J-O in the lineup.
Joel Anthony came in an his bad hands were immediately thrust into the spotlight; after a great job breaking away from a double team by D-Wade, he threw up a perfect ally-oop pass to a wide open Anthony who had the ball bounce straight up off his hands. He redeemed himself shortly after, grabbing the offensive board off a Carlos Arroyo missed J and quickly putting it back in. The 2nd chance bucket brought the Heat within 2 points, the deficit they would face heading into the final period.
While he was piling up the assists, D-Wade didn't take his first free throw until 2:04 into the 4th quarter. Coming into the game he was ranked 3rd in the league in free throw attempts/game, but the past few weeks it's been more difficult for Wade to get to the charity stripe. It wasn't an issue because the Heat won many of those games, but now its thrust more into the limelight.
Every time the Heat strung together a couple buckets, the Bobcats seemed to hit a 3-pointer to keep their slim lead. Miami's D was really struggling, often leaving open players on the perimeter, and the Bobcats we not missing. The Heat, however, were missing, and were down 96-89 with 3:19 left. Some of their worst D came in the final minutes, especially when they switched to a zone. Credit also must go to the Bobcats, who hit all the big shots down the stretch when the Heat did not.
Quentin Richardson was feeling it for most of the game, starting off 6-of-9 from 3-point range and 7-of-10 overall. His only non-trey attempt for the majority of the game was the sick dunk he had in the opening quarter. He wasn't feeling it for the entire game unfortunately, and some of the shots he missed down the stretch would've been huge for Miami.
- Speaking of Q...how amazing of a trade has that turned out to be. He could sit out the rest of the season and still have been more productive then Mark Blount would've been. Well done, Pat.
- What happened to Dorell Wright? He and Q were playing great D on Gerald Wallace in the 1st half, but Quentin hitting all those treys may have contributed to Wright's lack of 2nd half minutes.
- The Heat sunk a season-high 11 triples and shot 46% from beyond the arc....and they lost. In the final 3:35 of the game the Heat took five 3-point attempts and made just one.
- Jermaine O'Neal had 4 blocks in the 1st quarter, a season high. He also finished the game with 4 blocks.
- The Heat finished with more rebounds, assists, blocks and turnovers then the Bobcats. Charlotte finished with more free throws (made and attempted) and more points.
- Dwyane Wade continued the turnover spectacular he's been rolling with over the past few games with 6 against Charlotte. He did get better as the game went on, with 4 giveaways in the 1st quarter and one in each of the next two.
- D-Wade did finish with a double double. 29 points and 11 assists. He was also feeling it from beyond, finishing 4-of-8 from behind the far line. That makes 13 attempts from 3-point range in the last two games. Before that, you have to combine Wade's last 10-games to get 13 attempts from beyond the arc.
- The Heat's starting backcourt (Wade and Arroyo) finished with 20 assists. Mario Chalmers had 3. The rest of the team...0.
- The Heat are now 0-6 when allowing teams to shoot 50% against them. Charlotte shot 52.2%.
- Daequan Cook started the 2nd quarter and hit his second trey. Right after he couldn't hold back a quick smile. He didn't get many more minutes, not being re-inserted into the lineup until the very end of the game when the Heat needed every scoring threat on the court.
As if this game wasn't bad enough, now the Heat have home games against Atlanta and Boston coming up. Wouldn't shock me at all if they came back and won both, but lets not get ahead of ourselves. It starts Monday night against our new least favorite team, the Hawks. Tipoff from the AAA is at 7:30.