Game Notes: Miami vs Washington
-I had a great pregame conversation with Heat center Jermaine O’Neal, where he talked about everything from how he got started playing basketball, to how it feels to now be one of the leaders on this team. Please check back to Hoops Addict for that interview.
-I walked into the Verizon Center at 5:25pm, and Antawn Jamison was on the court. At that point, he was shooting three-point shots while the ball boys fed him him ball after ball. Then he moved down to the post,, and started shooting mini jump-hooks with both hands over assistant coach Sam Cassell. He then did some minor dribbling exercises, before picking up the pace a bit by shooting shots from everywhere on the court. At no point did this look like a man who is suffering any ill effects from a subluxation of the shoulder. There is still no official word on when he is to return, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see him back on the court next week.
-I briefly talked to Michael Beasley before the game, as he ran off the court and towards the locker room. Initially it was my intent to get an interview, but he told he had to get back to the locker room. But before he ran off, he made absolutely sure that I heard one thing he had to say. “Its going to be a good night baby,” Beasley said before running off. I asked him what that meant, and he said, “Just remember I told you before the game, that it’s going to be a good night for me.” Beasley’s prediction was slightly off, as he only scored 10 points in 24 minutes.
-During last night’s game against the Phoenix Suns, the Heat had great difficulty against the zone defense. Through the first three quarters, the Heat scored 81 points, and during that last quarter they only were able to muster 15 points. When someone brought this to the attention of Wizards’ Coach Flip Saunders prior to the game, Saunders simply laughed and succinctly said, “Yeah we really don’t play any zone.”
-According to Michael Lee of the Washington Post, the NBA is looking into whether to upgrade Shaquille O’Neal’s foul on Wizards guard, DeShawn Stevenson last night, to a flagrant one.
-During Tuesday night’s game against the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Wizards got off to a blistering start, and they led 31-17. Tonight was the complete opposite. The Wizards committed 8 turnovers in the first quarter, shot 29% from the field, and they found themselves down by the very score they led the Cavs by before, 31-17. Meanwhile the Heat played the blistering role after one quarter by shooting 68% from the field and 67% from beyond the arc. Like Cleveland did against them the night before, the Wizards fought back and took the lead at different points in both the third and fourth quarters against the Heat. But unlike Cleveland, the Wizards were not able to overcome the large deficit.
-Earlier in the day, my editor sent me an email inquiring as to why JaVale McGee did not play more minutes. Here is the answer: With about seven minutes left in the second quarter, Randy Foye and Mike Miller hit back to back three-pointers to cut the Heat lead to 8 points. The next offensive possession, McGee seemingly broke the offensive play that had been called, drove the lane from the three-point line, and missed a finger roll. Coach Saunders immediately called Brendan Haywood to sub for McGee, but the Heat called timeout before Haywood could get in the game. Before McGee ran off the court, Haywood ran up to him, offered some words of encouragement, and then patted him on the back, before they both rejoined their teammates. McGee did not play another minute after that. I asked Haywood after the game what he said to McGee, and he said, “I was just telling him, you’re coming out of the game because [you were] driving the ball from the top of the key. I was like listen, do what you do, play within yourself, but don’t give the coach a reason to take you out of the game. You made a mistake, live with it and work through it for the next game.”
-I’d be remiss if I did not mention the greatness of one Dwyane Wade. In the second quarter, the Wizards were in the midst of making a run, and they had Miami’s lead to one Caron Butler’s runner. On the next trip down the court, Wade took the ball and calmly hit a three pointer. Just a minute later, he hit yet another three, and not only did that thwart the Wizards run, but Coach Saunders was forced to call a timeout. Late in the second half, right after DeShawn Stevenson missed two free throws that would have given the Wizards the lead, Wade took the ball coast to coast and hit a jumper that gave the Heat the lead instead. The Heat never lost the lead after that. Whether it was hitting the open jumper or finding the open man, Wade was in total control all night. His final numbers? 40 points, five assists and four rebounds.
-About midway through the third quarter, Arenas seemed to get tired of trying to set his teammates up, especially when no one else besides Haywood was able to get score consistently. He took nine shots and scored 11 points. Even though the Wizards were able to tie the game in the quarter after being down by nine, Arenas missed Caron Butler and Mike Miller on the perimeter several times. In fact the entire game, Arenas was as aggressive offensively as I’ve seen him since before the knee surgery. He shot 9-for-27 and scored 32 points, with just three assists. I can’t imagine that was the type of point guard play Coach Saunders envisioned out of Arenas. In fairness to Arenas, every one of his teammates seemed to be suffering the effects from Cleveland game the previous night, and he was the only source of energy. Still, it seems like a balance between point and scoring guard could have been found. One has to wonder if he was trying to match Wade point for point as well.
-Mike Miller injured his shoulder early in the third quarter, and had to go back in the locker room. While he was in there, the trainers taped his shoulder, gave him a shot, and he checked back in the game later that quarter. With 9:11 left in the fourth quarter, Miller drove hard to the basket, scored on a crucial drive to cut the lead to three, but fell down hard on that same injured shoulder. Despite the fact that he was noticeably dragging that left shoulder, he hit it a free throw for a three point play, then made a pinpoint pass to a cutting Andray Blatche, which led to a dunk, and a Miami timeout. Miller then promptly ran back to the locker room for a second time to a rousing applause from the crowd and did not return. Coach Saunders said after the game that Miller will be out 7-10 days with a sprained shoulder. “It felt like it kind of came out of place, and it went numb, so that scared me a little more than anything, and it was painful, but I’ll be alright, ” Miller said after the game. Miller went on to add that had this been later in the season, he would have tried to come back in the game yet again. That type of toughness speaks volumes about Miller.
- Caron Butler was very hard on himself after the game. He put up decent number of 13 points and 10 rebounds, but he had five turnovers and his presence was virtually non-existent in the clutch. “It was rather frustrating..me personally making mental mistakes..I got caught watching the show, instead of being part of it a little bit more, and you know deferring too much, so I look forward to playing the next game.” To his credit, Butler made no mention of his bruised knee cap or Arenas not looking for him as often.
-During the last 44 seconds of the game, the Wizards had two missed free throws (DeShawn Stevenson) and three turnovers. When asked about that after his team’s finish after the game, Saunders chose to focus on how the game started instead. “What always happens in these situations is that when I go out and talk, they[the media] are going to ask about the last minute, because that’s the thing that they remember, but I remember the first minute and falling behing by 19, and not coming out with the energy…the basketball Gods will get you, and you can’t really cheat the game in those situations.”
Final score: Miami 93 Washington 89