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Wade scores 33 as Heat start road trip with big win in Phoenix

If I told you that Joel Anthony and Dorell Wright would each score more points in the 4th quarter then Dwyane Wade, would you think the Heat had any chance of winning?  Well that is just what they did, playing well enough as a team to hold the Suns to just 3 field goals in the final 5 minutes and survive a late rally to escape Phoenix with a rare win for a visiting team.  It would be hard to expect anything better in the re-debut of Rafer Alston, who despite joining the team just hours before tipoff, was handed the starting job.  Good times are ahead, Heat fans, as Miami has seemingly upgraded from a PC running Windows 98 to a brand-new MacBook Pro. 

The Heat offense looked better early due to the speedy and confident Rafer Alston getting his teammates moving more quickly without the ball. He also assisted on Miami's first bucket, a nice drive by Beasley.  Shortly after, Alston took the ball from Steve Nash and that resulted in a Jermaine O'Neal putback.  Both teams were scoring fast and furiously in the opening minutes.  Mike Beasley was leading the way for the Heat, scoring 8 quick points on 4-of-5 shooting in the first 5+ minutes.             

Phoenix started out hitting 8 of their first 10 shots, and less then halfway through the opening quarter the score was already 18-17 Suns.  At this point all you can do is hope that either the Heat can keep pace or that Phoenix would go through some cold spells.  Miami isn't exactly a scoring juggernaut, but they were going to have to put up a lot of points if they wanted to run with the Suns, especially in Phoenix.

Watching the Suns half-court offense, its crazy how easily you can open things up when you have great outside shooters.  They would pass the ball around the perimeter with four different guys standing behind the 3-point line, any of which capable of drilling a trey.  That also made it easy to drive-n-dish or run the pick-n-roll plays that Steve Nash thrives on.  He assisted on 5 of the Suns first 10 field goals.

The Heat deficit quickly reached 10 as the Suns were scoring easily.  It felt like every time Miami missed a shot the Suns were running down the floor, moving the ball extremely well, finding an open guy who did not miss.  After a 20 second timeout with 94 seconds left in the 1st quarter, the Heat held the Suns scoreless and D-Wade put in 4 points to bring the Heat within 6.  They could've gotten it down more, but Wade threw the ball out of bounds when he thought Udonis Haslem was waiting for the pass.  I feel like I've seen that happen a lot lately with Miami. 

Beasley started the scoring of the 2nd quarter with a nice first step, finishing with his left hand while getting fouled.  A big part of the reason he is so good is that he can finish with either hand, but prefers his left.  After Beas' bucket got the Heat within 3, the Suns ratted off 6-straight points, all with Nash on the bench.  Right after that came a 6-point swing when Dorell Wright missed a completely wide-open triple and then the Suns came back and finished a 3-point play to go up by 12.  

The Heat were in the midst of missing 6-straight shots, shooing 34% and already in the penalty just 4:04 into the 2nd quarter.  Beasley quickly ended the FG drought, and then the Heat got a break when Channing Frye was called for an illegal screen.  Mario Chalmers helped the Heat take advantage by hitting his first triple of the game.  The Heat could've gotten a little closer, but another pass out of bounds would hinder the Heat.  They would come right back though, and a 7-0 run got Miami back within 6.

After a couple Jared Dudley free throws, the Heat went right back to work.  In a 33 second span the Heat scored 7 points, led by Dorell Wright.  He came away with 4 points, 2 steals and a rebound in those few seconds, getting the Heat back to within 1 point of the Suns.  A long Beasley jumper would give the Heat a 1-point lead, and the Heat were suddenly playing quickly and efficiently.  With just under 8 minutes left in the quarter the Suns held a 43-30 lead.  Since that point, the Heat were on a 25-7 run to go up by 5, led mostly by Mike Beasley and D-Wright. 

The Heat would finish the half stretching their run to 29-10, and they went into the dressing room with a 59-53 lead despite the Suns shooting 51% from the field.  Turnovers had a lot to do with that, as the Heat came away with 13 points on 11 1st half turnovers by the Suns.   The Heat had just 4 turnovers, 3 of which belonged to Wade. 

D-Wade opened the 2nd half scoring with a nice drive and dunk, but it was a long way till the end and the Heat were going to need to keep their foot on the pedal for another 24 minutes if they wanted to get out of Phoenix with a win.  Both teams traded baskets for a few minutes, but the Heat began missing easy shots and suddenly the Suns were right there within 1. 

The lead should've gone to the Suns when Amare Stoudemire got the ball down low thanks to a sick pass from Nash, but J-O blocked not 1, but two shots by Amare.  After a pair of free throws by Wade, the Heat lead was back up to 3.  Wade had all 10 of Miami's 3rd quarter points more then half way through, with the rest of the team 0-for-5 from the field.  As usual, the Heat couldn't get everyone on the same page, as when one or two guys do well, the rest of the team takes a back seat. 

The whole Heat team was playing poorly on offense in the 2nd half, other then Wade.  As the clock winded down, D-Wade remained the only player with a FG.  Hell, the only non-Wade point was from a Mike Beasley free throw.  That's pretty sad.  The impotent Heat offense allowed Phoenix to re-gain the lead.  Rafer Alston hit his first triple to give somebody not named Wade a FG, but Steve Nash quickly responded with a trey of his own. 

After the Suns went back up by 3, the Heat would close out the 3rd quarter with an 11-3 run and take a 5-point lead into the final period.  The Heat scored 22 points in the 3rd quarter, 16 of which belonged to Dwyane Wade.  The only Heat assist that quarter would come on the Rafer trey.  Similar to the 2nd quarter, the Heat held Phoenix scoreless over the last 2:11 of the 3rd.

I had to cringe with Wade on the bench to start the 4th after the way nobody other then Dwyane could score in the 3rd. The first two shots by the Heat didn't go down (Dorell and Rio), but it makes perfect sense that the first Heat player to score was Joel Anthony.  He threw down a nasty dunk to get the Heat on the scoreboard, but it was going to be a long few minutes until D-Wade would get back in the game. 

3:20 into the 4th quarter the Heat committed their 4th team foul.  Not the way you want to handle a game in the final period, but that's what happens when a team that has been shooting J's all night starts to drive on you.  That is what Phoenix did, and you could tell the Heat were caught a little off guard.  Still, the same thing happened in the 2nd quarter the Heat responded with that amazing run, so hopefully the same thing would happen here. 

Dwyane Wade FINALLY came back into the game with 6:48 left and the Heat leading by 3.  The overall result of -2 with Wade on the bench isn't something that should be complained about, so I'll stop now.  Rafer Alston came into the game with Wade and got to the foul line on his first possession, hitting both free throws.  After another Suns turnover, Rafer drilled a trey to put the Heat up 8.  Those are the kind of late-game shots that the Heat never get, so hopefully this was a sign of things to come.  Granted, there was still 6 minutes left, so it was yet to be seen who, if anyone, would step up in the final 2 minutes. 

Just like that the Heat's 8-point lead was down to 3.  A couple long jumpers by the Suns sandwiched a Dorell Wright missed J.  After hitting several jumpers in the 2nd quarter, Dorell couldn't make anything from the outside.  His only FG's in the half came on a layup and a dunk.  I'm starting to realize that the Heat are not going to have any consistent success until they get players out there who can hit shots when they count.  It's that simple.  This is why I am not against a cleaning of the house for the Heat after this season.  We need shooters to go with Beasley and Wade (and Bosh...).

On the Heat's next possession Rafer airballed a three, and after Dorell got the offensive board, Wade missed a three.  Then, just to shut me up, Dorell drilled his first triple of the game from the corner.  Me likey.  Usually at this point in the game I'd be saying its time for the Heat to clamp down on D, but against the high-scoring Suns who can put points on the board in the blink of an eye, the Heat needed to get points on every possession.   With under 4 minutes left, the Heat were going to have to beat the Suns at their own game and outscore them. 

A huge missed opportunity for points came when Jermaine O'Neal got the ball down low on a sick pass from Wade, but J-O couldn't finish the very easy layup while getting fouled.  Instead of a possible 3-point play, Jermaine made only 1 foul shot.  Next time with the ball, D-Wade held it until the shot clock was low and just chucked up a three, which he missed.  Meanwhile, the Suns scored 4 straight points to cut the Heat lead to 1 with under 2½ minutes left. 

Wade's first missed free throw came with 2:04 left, and the Heat kept giving away free points.  The Suns tied it up on a 4th chance tip in, but Udonis came right back with a J to give the Heat back the lead.  If any Heat player can be counted on to hit a jumper, its U-D.  Steve Nash quickly responded with a trey to give the Suns the lead, and for some reason the Heat's next shot came from Dorell Wright, who despite having a very good game had missed several J's in the 2nd half.  Suns lead, Suns ball...and less then a minute left.

The Heat lucked out when Nash missed a trey on the Suns next possession.  Then the Heat moved the ball very well and got Jermaine O'Neal an open look from the baseline, which he drilled.  It was his first FG since the 1st quarter.  The Heat got a stop on the other end when Jason Richardson missed a long jumper, and Jermaine came down with the board with under 11 seconds left.  J-O would get fouled and hit both freebies, putting the Heat up by 3 with 10.9 seconds left. 

The Suns got what they wanted coming out of the timeout, an open look for 3 by Steve Nash.  Luckily for the Heat, the shot was a little strong and it clanked off the back iron.  Udonis Haslem would be fouled going for the rebound, and U-D hit both shots from the charity strips to give the Heat a commanding 5-point lead with just 4.5 seconds left.  But after Wednesday's game against Boston, anything was possible and the Heat knew this.

Of course the Heat couldn't make it easy, fouling Steve Nash before the ball was inbounded.  That gave Nash a free throw, which he made, and the Suns still got the ball.  However, there would be no heartbreaking loss as Channing Frye missed a triple and Wade tipped the rebound away from everyone.  Game over.  Heat win.  Giggidy. 

I still think the Heat are lacking any go-to guys when it comes to hitting jumpers.  Before the season I would've said that Daequan Cook and James Jones were going to be those guys.  Daequan was given a 2nd chance to get back into the rotation in the past couple weeks, but he did nothing with the opportunity.  He had 5 games where he got significant game minutes, but shot just 5-of-24 from the field and 3-of-13 from beyond the arc and wasn't a factor in any game.  Now I think that Jones should be given a chance to work his way back into the rotation, even if it's just for a couple games. 

He may be ready for a bigger assignment then sitting on the bench and passing towels and Gatorade to his teammates.  Jones is a pure, natural shooter who can play some good D, and if Cook was given 5 games to try and work his way back into the rotation, why can't JJ be given the same chance?  We need shooters, and Jones has proven in the past that he can be that guy.   He'll first have to get back into the active lineup, as he joined Yakhouba Diawara in the suit-wearing section of the Heat bench tonight.  That was due to the Heat dressing 3 point guards and 3 centers.

As for our newest point guard, Rafer played a very good game considering he had just 1 practice to get acclimated to his new teammates.  What I loved was the quickness he showed.  He was quick with the ball, he got the offense going quickly allowing the Heat to utilize more of the 24-second clock, he made some real nice passes (including a few behind the back ones) which leads me to believe that there will be some very nice assists coming as soon as he gets more familiar with his running mates.  

His stat line was 10 points on 3-of-9 shooting (2-for-6 from beyond) with 3 rebounds, 4 assists and 1 steal in 34:31 of playing time.   As I said in my game preview, I think that Rafer's signing is going to be as impactful for the Heat as was the acquisition of Quentin Richardson.  Another major benefit from this signing is going to be for Mario Chalmers. I think that Rio is going to learn a lot more from playing with Rafer, an 11-year veteran, then he did playing with Arroyo and Chris Quinn


  • This was the Heat's 3rd straight win in Phoenix.
  • After the game was tied at 101 with just under 2 minutes left, the Heat outscored Phoenix 8-4 to close out the game.  Nash had all four points, but he missed two big triples in the final minute.  He is still an amazing player, but not quite as ridiculous as he was a few years ago. 
  • I hope the Heat realize that they are 0.6 seconds away from a 3-game winning streak against Atlanta, Boston and Phoenix.  That is the kind of chalkboard material that would inspire some...
  • Jermaine O'Neal's jumper with 29 seconds left was the first FG of the 4th quarter by a Heat starter.  It came against a zone defense, which the Heat have had serious problems with, but that is how the big guy was able to get open. 
  • After finishing the 1st half with 16 points, 7 boards and 6 assists, D-Wade had me thinking triple double.  He wouldn't quite make it, finishing with 33 points, 9 boards and 8 assists.  He also went 9-of-10 from the foul line.  That makes back-to-back games with double-digit foul shots (16 against Boston).  Before that, he had just one game with at least 10 free throws in his last 11.
  • Quentin Richardson is in a major shooting slump.  In his last 3 games he is shooting just 2-for-16 from the field and 2-for-11 from 3-point range. 
  • The Heat scored 15 points on 11 Phoenix turnovers in the first half and finished with 23 points off 17 turnovers for the game. 
  • While its unfortunate that Carlos Arroyo may not play many minutes for the remainder of the season, you have to give props to the Heat organization for hanging on to him and paying him the money he certainly earned in the first half of the season.  Make no mistake, the Heat are one of (if not the) classiest franchises in the NBA. 
  • Joel Anthony played some very good D against Amare Stoudemire last night.  While his stat line may not show it (2 points, 2 rebounds, 2 blocks, 1 steal, 1 assist), he is one of the ‘faceless' hero's of the Heat's 2nd unit. 
  • Despite missing several jumpers in the 2nd half, Dorell Wright still had a very productive game.   He was the spark that ignited the Heat to come back from an early 13-point deficit, going 4-for-5 for 8 points, 3 boards and 4 steals in the 2nd quarter.  The 4 steals are a team high for one quarter this season, and they tie the high mark for a half.  
  • This was just the Heat's 4th win in 17 games in which they've allowed their opponent to score 100 or more points. 

Wow...that was a really fun game.  Of course, much of that had to do with the Heat coming away with the win, but isn't that usually the case?  The completely inconsistent play continues for Miami, as after winning 3 straight and then losing 3 straight, they have now won 2 of 3 and played very well in those 3 games, all against very good opponents.  Now the Heat will enjoy a nice Saturday in the City of Angels before kicking off back-to-back games against the Clippers and Jazz.   Tipoff from the Staples center is set for 3:30pm on Sunday, then it's a 9pm start time on Monday from Utah.  Have a great weekend!!!