For at least a few more nights, Miami basketball fans can rest easy. There was no trap sprung on the Heat Monday night in New Jersey. If the Nets want to take a step towards not losing the most games in an NBA season, they will have to do it another night. Dwyane Wade and Jermaine O'Neal seemed to take charge of this one, and even Michael Beasley had a say as Miami did exactly what they were supposed to do; get a win against a weaker opponent, regardless of the venue.
The game started as the Dwyane and Jermaine show, with both players either scoring or assisting on the Heat's first five buckets, and being involved with all but two field goals in the entire first quarter. Unfortunately, there wasn't enough involvement from the rest of the team and New Jersey took a 7-point lead into the 2nd.
A 13-3 run to start the 2nd quarter put the Heat ahead of the Nets, and despite not having Udonis Haslem out there the 2nd unit was still able to be very productive with D-Wade resting on the bench. Those minutes are going to be a big key to the Heat's success when the playoffs roll around in a few weeks. Unfortunately, Miami went cold on the heels of that run, going 4½ minutes without a field goal and allowing the Nets to re-take the lead.
Dwyane Wade would heat back up, scoring 7 points in the final 2:30 of the half. If not for a Terrence Williams halfcourt bank-shot at the buzzer, Miami would've had a 2-point lead at halftime. After the Nets scored the first 4 points of the 3rd quarter to go up by 5, Miami would go on another run, a 16-4 stretch that took less then 5 minutes, put them up for good.
The Nets tried making a game of it in the 4th quarter but that's when Michael Beasley decided to step up and make a difference. He scored 8 of his 16 points in the 4th quarter, and showed signs of aggression after Erik Spoelstra once again got furious with the kid when he missed another long jumper. It's obviously not going to come easy with Super Cool, but at least we're starting to see some progress and that there are ways to get the production that we all want to see from the young star.
- D-Wade and Jermaine O'Neal combined to shoot 20-of-29 from the field, scoring 52 of the Heat's 99 points.
- Wade finished with 27 points, 7 rebounds, 12 assists, 2 steals and a block. J-O scored 25 points to go with 9 rebounds, 3 assists and a steal. That is what I call stepping up.
- The Heat have blocked at least one shot in 198 consecutive games, the 2nd longest streak in their franchise's history. The record is 238 games, set in a span from March of 1997 to November of 2000.
- For the 3rd time in 5 games, Carlos Arroyo made at least 5 field goals. He shot 6-of-11 from the field, scoring 12 points and adding 4 assists in a team-high 42 minutes. In those 5 games, Arroyo has hit on 20-of-33 from the field (60.6%), with 23 assists and just 2 turnovers.
- Michael Beasley did a good job filling in the scoring category for Udonis Haslem, who was out with a sprained right ankle. Beas hit 8-of-16 from the field, his best shooting game in almost two weeks.
- Mario Chalmers had another rough shooting night, hitting just 1-of-5 and none of his three 3-point attempts. In his last 5 games, Rio has hit just 6-of-31 from the field (19.3%) and 4-of-21 from beyond the arc (19.0%).
Overall, it was a solid outing for the Heat. It may not have been pretty, but it was the best game out of the three they have played against the Nets so far this season. The end result is what matters, and that is a big fat ‘W'. It matters more when taking into account that the teams on either side of Miami in the standings, Milwaukee and Toronto, both won as well on Monday night.
The Bucks beat Atlanta, maintaining their 3-game advantage over Miami for 5th place, and Toronto took care of Minnesota and moved into a tie with Charlotte for 7th place in the East, just 1-game back of the Heat. For what its worth, the Bulls won for the 2nd straight game last night. They are in 9th place, trailing Toronto and Charlotte by 2½ games. Miami will now have a couple days off before heading up to Chicago to play the Bulls on Thursday night.