I realize the Heat lost this game after holding a nice lead at halftime, but I refuse to get too down on this one. Looking at the big picture, the Heat just played 3 road games in 4 nights without D-Wade and they still played really really well. Considering how good games have been difficult to come by, especially in any kind of consistent manner, we Heat fans should be damn happy with how well they have been playing since ending their losing streak.
The game began with the teams playing very differently. Dallas made their first 5 shots while the Heat missed 8 of their first 10. The Mavs hot start was fueled by Dirk Nowitzki making his first 4 shots and Caron Butler making his first 6. Miami buckled down on D, using that 2-3 zone to perfection and getting some misses and turnovers from Dallas. After falling behind by 8 points early, the Heat had scraped and clawed their way into the lead.
Miami kept their foot on the gas as the 1st quarter came to a close, taking a 6-point lead into the 2nd quarter. Super Cool had 9 in the quarter, Daequan hit a trey and Rio had a nice drive on the Heat's final offensive possession. The 2nd quarter was pretty back and fourth, but that was fine for the Heat who led throughout. They were led by Jermaine O'Neal, who finished the half with 8 points, 9 boards and 2 blocks, and Daequan Cook, who chipped in with 12 points in 16 minutes off the bench.
The Heat dodged a bullet as time expired; with Jason Kidd hitting a half court shot that left his hands just after the clock read all zeros. Miami took an 8-point lead into the half, but still had a lot of work ahead. Dallas started the 2nd half just as hot as they started the 1st, but Miami held strong. That was until halfway through the quarter when the offense got stagnant and sloppy, allowing Dallas to get right back into the game.
Suddenly the Heat were playing like crap, taking terrible shots and unable to stop anything defensively. Dallas was shooting over 70%, had more then doubled up Miami in points for the quarter (27-12) and were on an 18-5 run. It took 12 short minutes for the Heat to go from being up by 8 to down by 6. Their offense in the 3rd was just that; offensive. They looked like a completely different team then the one that looked great for most of the 1st half.
Back-to-back buckets by J-O early in the 4th got Miami back within 3, and a very nice drive and finish by Daequan got them within 1. They were scrapping their way back into the game, but all that was being fueled by hustle on the defensive end. A sight that I loved was James Jones drilling a big triple that put the Heat up by 1 with under 6 minutes left.
As the quarter winded down Jason Kidd caught fire, scoring 9 straight points for the Mavericks. Miami was right there keeping up with Dallas, they just couldn't hit anything. That wasn't the case for the home team, who took a 7-point lead with under 3 minutes left on a Brendan Haywood offensive putback.
Daequan hit a big trey but it was too little too late, with missed shots and stupid turnovers costing the Heat valuable possessions. But you've gotta step back and look at the situation...this was their 4th game in 5 nights, all on the road. The last 3 were played without their best player and team co-captain, yet the Heat still played some great basketball. For a team that has been terribly inconsistent all year, they have given us 6 quality games in a row, and have shown no signs they are going to quit.
- Daequan Cook continues his resurgence, leading the Heat in points for the first time this season. His 22 points were also a season-high, as he hit on 8-of-16 from the field and 3-of-5 from beyond. He has now scored in double figures in 4 of the last 6 games.
- Considering the Heat turned the ball over zero times in the 1st quarter, that makes their total of 16 for the game that much worse.
- Jermaine O'Neal led the Heat with 4 turnovers, but he was probably their best player last night. He finished with 18 points and 13 rebounds, 5 on the offensive glass.
- This was the 21st time this season that Quentin Richardson hit at least 2 triples. He finished with just 8 points and 2 boards, though.
- Rough night for Jason Terry, who shot 0-for-10. I still remember how amazing he looked in the 06 Finals, and he has been having a very good season thus far.
- Mike Beasley had a pretty poor game, missing 8 of his 11 shots. When he tries too hard he gets very sloppy both with and without the ball. He had 11 points in the 1st half and just 1 in the 2nd.
- Mario Chalmers had another solid game, but I still can't stand how slow he is getting plays going. Two times in a row in the 4th quarter he brought the ball up for Miami and nothing happened until there were 11 seconds left on the shot clock. He did have a couple very nice drives and hit on 1 of his 4 shots from 3-point range.
- Udonis Haslem, for the second straight game, didn't do much of anything until the very end. All 8 of his points came in the 4th quarter, with 6 of them coming in the final 17 seconds.
Miami will finally head back home, where they will play 11 of their next 13 games. They will get a couple nights off before getting back to work on Tuesday against Minnesota. After playing 4 games in 5 nights on the road, Miami will play 2 games in the next 7 days, both at home.