1) Finally, after nine straight blowouts, a close game, and an eventful one. Tough, tough loss for the Heat, who controlled play most of the night, and saw Dwyane Wade kind of hand it away down the stretch. It is always a doozy when LeBron and Dwyane hook up, and tonight was no different - lots of crazy shenanigans all night long. Miami's record is now 23-21, with three huge games on the road this week: at Toronto, at Detroit, at Milwaukee. That's a classic Eastern Conference basketball week - have to go out and get it.
2) Okay, Dwyane Wade - what a bizarre night. He was incendiary in the first half, scoring 30 points, and traded long jumper after long jumper with his buddy LeBron in one surreal second quarter stretch. "Don't mess with me!" Wade screamed to the crowd after one three pointer - and the foul on old friend Jamario Moon. LeBron, as he tends to do, though, kept Cleveland around with 20 of his own in the second quarter. Four point halftime lead for the Heat, and then...I don't know what happened. Dwyane went cold - Cleveland blitzed him hard with double teams, but he has seen that before. He was active defensively and on the boards, getting a huge late stop guarding LeBron, and the ensuing rebound. But he couldn't make a shot - just one second half hoop. Also: missed two free throws with 40 seconds to go up one; after getting the defensive rebound on the aforementioned stop, came down the court, and with Cleveland opting to play defense despite being down one, with only a three second differential on the shot and game clock, started the Heat's final play too soon, threw a casual behind-the-back pass that LeBron intercepted, chased LeBron to the other end, whacked him in the head, and after LeBron's two free throws put the Cavs up one, settled for a fallaway 20 footer for the win, after not even coming close to making a jumper all half. Bad choices. We rarely criticize Coach Spo, but even as Wade was dribbling the clock down with 20 seconds to go, we were screaming for a timeout. Just make sure you get the clock all the way down - and let Wade pull one from over the top. At worst the Cavs get the ball down one with no more than 2 seconds to go. Late game breakdown. It's just one loss - but it was a tough one...
3) Well, old Shaq, we have to give it to the big guy, he had an eventful night. He finished plays around the rim, an impressive 9-13 - that was really good. He had 4 turnovers in only 27 minutes - that wasn't so good. Elbowed both Jermaine O'Neal and Joel Anthony in the head en route to scoring hoops - that was pretty good. He turned Jermaino into Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to start the game (14 first quarter points for J.O.) by providing all the defensive resistance of a mailbox - the big kind, like the ones at the post office - that was bad. Got a defensive three second call - felt like I had seen that before. Made several good passes leading to Cavs hoops - I have seen that often before, too. Had four fouls, most of them just reaching out and grabbing a guy dribbling past him with no apparent defensive plan - predictable. Also, during one stroll to the bench during a timeout, a closeup from the side revealed his man boobs just beginning to spill out of the side of his uniform - that was horrible! Overall, a good night for the big guy: scored 19, had 5 balls carom to him in his area for rebounds, and gave up maybe 30 on the other end by his general lack of defensive intensity. I still kind of love the big guy - but when they are playing the Heat, I feel waaaaay more comfortable with him on the court than Varejo...
4) Only fair to highlight the "other" O'Neal. This was Jermaino's first quarter: 14 points. One nifty behind the back pass to Rafer Alston for a triple. One time getting hit in the mouth by Shaq as he turned to score. One cut on his hand deterring a driver - had to go get patched up. Drew one questionable charging foul on LeBron James. One illegal defense call of his own - in his defense, it was the bogus kind, where his guy wasn't even down the court yet - damn you, Zach Zarba! One follow up tip dunk attempt in traffic (unsuccessful) over three defenders four seconds after the whistle had blown. Kept it generally under control, but he was one more Shaq hit in the mouth from going all "Tilt Jermaino" on us. All this, and he came out with over two minutes to go in the quarter! Jermaino was doin' it all!
5) M.Minutos is disturbed by a recent NBA trend she has been tracking. Noticed that Jerkwad Williams - wait, what? Oh, Jawad Williams, I must have misheard that - does not have a "J." in front of the "Williams" on his uniform. Disturbing to her because the Cavs have another Williams, Maurice Williams. This on the heels of her discovery that the Allen boys in Boston, Walter Ray and Tony, also do not have their first initials on their jerseys. Can't say for sure why this bothers her so much, all I can tell you is what she said: "Are we not doing that anymore? What is going on?"
6) The Captain wrote in with a comment about the post from the Sacramento game - by the way, it bears mentioning as always, he sits twelve feet away from me all day long, so I am available for conversating (very available)...Anyways, he cited this passage in the post:
"I don't want to jinx it or anything, but I have seen all 43 games so far this year, and except for a couple of late game booty calls at the end of blowouts..."
The Captain: Is it still called a booty call when it is performed sans participating partner? I'm curious?
Dos replies: What do you mean? Is there another way to do it?
See you Wednesday, against those NBA Without Borders Guys!