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Game #62: Los Angeles Lakers (46-15) vs. Miami Heat (30-31)

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Use this post as your Open Game Thread:

Coming into Thursday night's game against the defending champion Lakers, the best thing that the Heat have going for them is that they won their last game.  It's been over a month since the last time the Heat went ‘win-loss' in two consecutive games.  Yes, I realize that I'm reaching with that ‘stat'...but at this point I'm going to cling to whatever positives that I can.

Over the past two seasons, the Heat have actually matched up pretty well with the Lakers.  They spit the two-game series last year, with each team winning on their home court (the Heat won by 2, the Lakers won by 3).  As I'm sure all of your remember, the Heat came a prayer of a shot away from beating L.A. earlier this season.  Even Kobe Bryant acknowledged what a lucky shot it was, saying, "It was the luckiest shot I've ever taken, by far".

Something from the Heat's win that I think pretty much everybody missed was the benching of Michael Beasley.  Shortly after he hit his first three-pointer in a long long time, Erik Spoelstra pulled the plug on Super Cool.  The benching came with 2:12 left in the 3rd quarter, in which Beasley scored 5 points, missed 4 of his 6 shots (including a technical free throw) and turned the ball over twice. 

Why was it missed?  Possibly because Beasley being on the bench late in games is something that Heat fans are used to seeing this season.  Hopefully the benching has a similar effect on Beasley as it did to Quentin Richardson.  Q rode the pine for the 2nd half against the Bucks and responded with his most productive game in weeks.  As for Beasley, a quote from Dwyane Wade reinforces something we already knew.  When it comes to Michael Beasley, its 80% mental and 40% physical...

Said Wade:

"First of all, with a guy like that, you know that he's young.  You just want to make sure that his mind is not cluttered.  When you're a guy like Michael, and you can score the way he can, and he's had games like he's had, that means his mind is cluttered.  He's thinking about other things.  Think about basketball."

Wade also spoke a little about the Heat's point guard situation.  Remember, Rafer Alston was also benched against Golden State.  He was pulled just 7 minutes into the game, with the majority of his minutes going to Carlos ArroyoMario Chalmers also got a fair amount of minutes, and both played pretty decent offensively.  As to who will be playing tonight against the Lakers, Dwyane knows just as we do that it could be any of them.

Said Wade:

"It's the call of the game, feel of the coach.  Carlos has been playing good the last few games, moving the ball, getting guys involved.  That's what we want.  Coach has been switching all year.  Right now Mario is back playing well, too.  It's whatever the game calls for."

When the coach was asked about who is going to start, he wouldn't say.  Rafer has started every game he's played for the Heat this season, other then the three he missed last month due to injury.  Arroyo has already replaced one starter this year, so it's not far-fetched that Erik Spoelstra would make that move. 

Said Spo:

"Each guy has been productive in their own way and each brings something a little bit different to help the team."

"Two of the easiest buckets Dwyane had were on the back cut, something we've been trying to work on, and also a lob," Spoelstra said of plays Wade made off Arroyo passes. "Those things have to be a read. It has to be a connection, eye contact, between two guys."

GAME NOTES

  • The win over the Warriors began a stretch in which the Heat will play 9 of 10 at home.  Another opportunity for one of those streak things...
  • Dwyane Wade is going to have his work cut out for him tonight because a guy named Artest will likely be defending him. 
  • Jermaine O'Neal sat out practice on Wednesday due to his sore hip, but he is still expected to start.  Otherwise the Heat's injury list is (finally) clean.
  • Kobe Bryant hasn't quite broken out since returning from his 5-game absence.  He's shooting just 43% in his last three games and is also dealing with an injured right index finger. 

Tipoff from the AAA will be a little late tonight.  TNT has the broadcast, so the tip won't be until 8.  Works out well for Lakers fans though...gives them time to get home from work and catch the 2nd half.