First off, don't be deceived by the title...the Heat lost Wade for the game, but early indications are that it's nothing serious. I've been saying all year that I didn't understand why New Jersey was so terrible, and I guess it's just a case of ‘no supporting cast'. They have a pair of true studs in Brook Lopez and Devin Harris, as well as a solid contributor in Courtney Lee. Beyond that, however, they must just have a lot of inconsistency because Harris and Lopez are really good.
A tough start for the Heat as just 1:55 in, an odd collision between Rafer Alston and Jermaine O'Neal had both players being attended to by the Heat trainers. J-O would head to the locker room while Skip stayed in the game. Shortly after, D-Wade was fouled hard and he didn't hide the discomfort he must've been feeling in his right wrist, but he pressed on as well. A VERY rough first few minutes of the game for Miami, to say the least.
D-Wade got off to a much better start then he did in Philly, and had the fans in New Jersey ‘ooh-ing and aah-ing' quite noticeably...even on TV. As if things weren't bad enough, D-Wade came up hobbling after grabbing a long rebound and went straight to the bench and then the locker room. This was all in the midst of a 9-0 run for Miami, as the Nets missed on 11 straight shots.
Wade was done for the night with a strained left calf. Shit. Time for that ‘reserve unit' to really step up, and dare I say...Michael Beasley? The only difference for the reserves is that they would be without J-O. I'm watching this game at 1am, which isn't abnormal for me, but the night seemed much longer then usual. After Wade went down with the Heat up 5, the Nets went on a 16-5 run.
Miami responded with a 15-4 run, including 9 straight, and they were back up by 5. Jermaine retuned to the lineup and the Heat had some stability back in their rotation. Despite the craziness, Miami was able to settle down and play their game, and they took a 6-point lead into the half. New Jersey was doing most of their damage in the paint, where they hit 15 of their 18 first half field goals. On the other side of that, the Nets shot just 1-for-10 from beyond the arc in the half.
It took Jermaine 75 seconds in the 2nd half to commit his 3rd and 4th fouls, and the Heat were going to have to play another extended period of time without their starting center. I've got to give Miami credit; as I watched the 3rd quarter wind down they were working their collective asses off on both ends of the floor. Also, Super Cool was stepping up offensively to the point where he was drawing double teams from the Nets.
New Jersey outscored the Heat by just 2 points in the 3rd quarter despite Miami shooting around 33% from the field. The 4-point lead didn't last long, as the Nets used a 12-1 run to take an early 4th quarter lead. With 9 minutes left Erik Spoelstra got Beasley and Cook off the bench a little early, but still very necessary with the Heat's offense downright stagnant. Unfortunately the two would sit at the scorers table for over 2 minutes, but Dorell Wright's first trey of the game would draw the game even at 73.
7 minutes into the fourth quarter and the Heat had scored just 4 points and were down by 3. Then a double team of Beasley led to a turnover and a Keyon Dooling ‘and 1' layup, and the deficit was 6...the Nets largest lead of the game. Beasley was seriously struggling with the double team, and nobody else was stepping up offensively for the Heat, which was apparent by their 1-of-11 shooting.
A huge triple by Q with under two minutes left tied the game at 82, and what a shot it was. Miami got a stop and Jermaine O'Neal got to the foul line where he hit 1 of the 2 shots...not bad considering he'd hit on just 1 of the last 4 he'd taken in the quarter. The Heat would force a miss by New Jersey, their 6th straight, and then after an offensive foul by Carlos Arroyo, Michael Beasley came up with a BIG TIME blocked shot to keep the Heat up by 1.
Quentin Richardson was fouled while grabbing the rebound of Beasley's block, and he drilled both free throws to put the Heat up by 3 with 23.0 seconds left. Miami got lucky as Devin Harris missed a wide-open shot from like 10 feet away, and it was Jermaine O'Neal at the line with the game in his hands and 16.5 left on the clock. Jermaine would snipe both shots, giving the Heat 8 points in a row, and a pair of Keyon Dooling missed triples later the Heat would get their 4th straight win.
On this night the opponent didn't matter. Injuries littered the Heat but they never stopped pushing. I am so impressed with the way they came together down the stretch and forced tough shot after tough shot by the Nets, who missed 10 straight over the last 4½ minutes. Yes, it was ugly...but not every win will be pretty. Miami scored 12 points in the final three minutes after scoring just 5 in the other nine minutes of the 4th quarter.
Something very interesting was Carlos Arroyo taking over at the point for Rafer Alston in the 2nd half. Skip was having his usual poor shooting game (0-for-5) and Arroyo has been a good boost when playing off the bench. Arroyo played 6 more minutes then Rafer, and Carlos had 7 points to Skip's 0. Both players had 5 assists. One thing that surprised me was the defensive job that Arroyo did on Devin Harris, which was much better then I would've expected and was likely the main reason Alston didn't get back in the game.
- Quentin Richardson, again, had a monstrous game. He got his 2nd straight double double (the 40th of his career) after having just 1 all season. 16 points and 14 rebounds, including 5 on the offensive end. He also hit 2 of his 3 triples.
- Arroyo now has 12 assists in his last 2 games. He started it off with 7 in the 4th quarter in Philly on Tuesday and came up with 5 more last night. The Heat have to just roll with the hot hand at the point, and soon they'll have Mario Chalmers to throw back into the mix. Yay.
- For the 3rd time in 4 games, Daequan Cook scored double figure points. He shot just 3-of-11 last night, but hit all three free throws when he was fouled taking a 3 and played well enough on D to merit Coach Spo giving him more minutes then anyone else against the Nets. He also had 5 boards, 3 assists and a steal.
- Dorell Wright hit all 4 of his foul shots, and is now 30-of-32 on the season from the charity stripe.
- Super Cool Beas had his best game in a while, stepping up big time when his team needed him most. He scored 23 points on 10-of-17 shooting and came down with 11 boards for his 10th double double of the season. He also had 2 steals and 2 blocks, including that really really big one I mentioned earlier.
- D-Wade had a pretty big streak snapped. His 148-game streak of scoring 10 points or more came to an end with his 8 points in 7+ minutes. Early indications have him in the ‘day-to-day' realm, so lets hope nothing changes there.
- For the Heat, it was their 4th straight game holding their opponent under 40% shooting. They are now 15-0 when doing so on the season.
I apologize for the length of this post, but apparently I had a lot to write about in the wee hours of the morning while watching this nail biter. I'll do my best to keep things updated throughout the trade deadline tomorrow, and my fingers will be crossed throughout.