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Miami Heat 77 – Charlotte Bobcats 71: The Morning After

Maybe it’s a good thing that most people stayed away from the American Airlines Arena to watch the Miami Heat (36-34) squeak by the Charlotte Bobcats (35-34) by only 6 points in a crucial division matchup. With the season series long lost to the upstart Bobcats the Heat somehow found a way to win after three previous losses to a young team that not too long ago used to be the punching bag of the Southeast Division. Frankly, it’s a miracle that the Heat today has a better record than the Bobcats who are arguably one of the best defensive teams in the NBA and their athleticism and depth are off the charts compared to Miami. Even though they shot a disastrous 29% last night from the field they kept themselves in the game with that active defense. If Charlotte had been able to sink just two or three more jump shots at the final moments of the game they surely would have stolen the win away. The box score is not for the faint of heart but it’s amazing to see that Charlotte only made 21 field goals out of 72 attempts along with 2 for 13 three-point shooting yet only lost by a few points. The 34 free throw attempts (+14 more) awarded to the Bobcats didn’t hurt. Normally you could attribute this to the Heat settling for too many jump shots but it did feel like that the referees were allowing quite a bit of contact when the Heat attempted to attack the basket. Of course the Heat could have negated this by making that extra pass, after penetrating, to a shooter or another cutter to the basket. Unfortunately the options were limited in this regard because Jermaine O’Neal was out with an ankle sprain and the last thing we need to see is Joel Anthony trying to handle a quick pass near the basket. Quentin Richardson continues to fill the void created by Daequan Cook and James Jones with his unreal three-point shooting, particularly during the first quarter of recent games. Only 2 of his 14 shot attempts weren’t from three-point land. Speaking of Cook, he might soon be frozen in carbonite a month after his supposed resurrection following a 17 point game in a win against the Hawks on February 10th and a 22 point performance in a losing effort against Dallas ten days after that. After scoring 8 points apiece the next two games Cook has now played a total of 13 scoreless minutes in 11 games (8 of which were the dreaded DNP – Coach’s Decision). Has the Heat’s latest rotation played with such consistency that the coaching staff can’t give a once-promising 22-year-old player some minutes? The Heat were thoroughly outplayed in the point guard battle with Carlos Arroyo and Mario Chalmers no match for Raymond Felton and DJ Agustin but the Bobcats weren’t counting on Stephen Jackson and Gerald Wallace to have off nights. Just when you start counting on Arroyo to give the Heat a series of solid games he goes out and gives you 18 scoreless minutes with 1 assist. The Bobcats didn’t get much help either from former Chicago Bulls bigs Tyson Chandler and Tyrus Thomas. Although Chandler pulled down 11 rebounds they collectively went for a combined 1 for 7 shooting with 7 points despite Jermaine O’Neal’s absence. Joel Anthony started in place and was a nuisance by the basket. Wade’s five blocks were monumental and kept the Heat afloat despite their own huge problems with offense.