The Miami Heat not only played the most entertaining game of this rather un-entertaining season last night in their 115-98 victory over the Phoenix Suns. It played it standing tall with fists clenched and ready for any fight anyone wants. That's what make this team great. Win or loss, you can't question their heart for battle.
Yes Russell Crowe we were!!!
This team has done more losing than winning, but it's admirable how they refused to be pushed around like losers. The Miami Heat have lost key pieces that limit the possibility of escaping the first round but they continue to show the heart of champion. Filled with a roster full of athletes who have been written off by many, last night showed players that told you loud and clear that they wouldn't be pushed around by anyone.
After playing an entire game through Hassan Whiteside, Alex Len finally had enough and decided to take it out on Whiteside. Whiteside responded forcefully to say the least...
Whiteside on Len: "You're not going to come into Miami and just bully us."— Jason Lieser (@PBPjasonlieser) March 3, 2015
Even though that was the biggest highlight of this game, it certainly wasn't the only physical one. Before that play it was Goran Dragic, (who was declared ready minutes before tip-off only) was taken down by Markieff Morris on a fast break, which set the tone of physicality on this night.
If only that was it. After the Whiteside ejection, Henry Walker was T'd up as well for a flagrant foul of his own. The biggest surprise of this adrenaline filled night was that Udonis Haslem..the Heat enforcer, and Birdman (the crazy guy with the tattoos all over his body) weren't involved in ANY of this. The action or reaction!
Time to look at some players:
Tyler Johnson - 26 points
Career high for Johnson who came in early and immediately contributed with 3 three-pointers and even a dunk early. With 13 points off the bench, he went down with an ankle injury. Johnson then did what the Miami Heat have done all season long...push on. He scored the final point of the 3rd at the buzzer as the Heat led 84-75 into the 4th quarter. Johnson shot a whopping 77% last night.
Wade on Tyler: "We need to play him."— Tim Reynolds (@ByTimReynolds) March 3, 2015
Goran Dragic 21 points, 4 rebounds
With only 10 minutes played, Dragic already had five fouls with his 11 points and four rebounds. The foul trouble didn't prove too much for him as he came back and his scoring burned the Suns in the 4th quarter, especially with the dagger three of late. Dragic admitted afterwards that if this was any other game, he would of sat out.
Goran: "You always want to play well against ur ex-teammates. It was a tough game but at the same time it's a man-sport. We played awesome."— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) March 3, 2015
Hassan Whiteside - 17 points, 10 rebounds
Easily the most favorite player so far for the Miami Heat now and hopefully years to come. Sure he has some learning to do to become Alonzo Mourning but he sure has that raw intensity to never back down from anyone. After admitting that he plays to dunk on people, he dunked on Len so much, he lost it. From early on, Coach Spo decided to run the offense through Whiteside, and the production allowed him to be active throughout the floor on both ends. Even though the night ended early for Hassan, you have to be encouraged by what he brings. The most unfortunate story line is that if Whiteside is indeed suspended for the next game, nobody will be witnessing "Hassanity vs Linsanity"
WHITESIDE: "I’m starting to realize a lot more teams are being physical with me, and I’m down for it. That’s what I lift weights for."— Joseph Goodman (@JoeGoodmanJr) March 3, 2015
Dwyane Wade: 16 points 9 assists 4 rebounds 4 steals
While Wade continues to struggle, it is encouraging to see him facilitate all over the floor and be active in the box score. There was a dunk by Wade and even a circus shot last night, so it felt like 2008....almost.
There was one point where a new look offense was on the floor named "Dragic's D-League" starring Dragic, Michael Beasley, Johnson, Whiteside and Henry Walker. Can you believe the impact that Miami's D-League is having on this playoff team? At 26-33, this game may mean nothing at all come May. But when looking back at this season, you'll mark THIS game as the game the Heat showed fight. Because no matter the result, the fight remains.
Up next: Heat vs Lakers on Wednesday.