1) Over the course of 82 games in an NBA season, sometimes a team comes out with verve, and elan, and panache, and a certain joie de vivre - I took French in college, by the way, more on that later - and sometimes, ehhh, less so. Miami got absolutely pounded today in Los Angeles by the Clippers - the 10 point spread is no indication of how badly they got beaten. Even silver-tongued Heat color commentator Tony Fiorentino was slightly off his game, mixing his metaphors in the third quarter when, after another Heat turnover, he lamented that "the Heat keep stabbing themselves in the foot." Ouch. "You never want to do that," agreed Eric Reid. Tony was also sporting a diagonally striped black tie on a vertically striped black shirt, "inspired by Heat assistant David Fizdale." Ouch. "Don't adjust your vertical hold folks," advised Reid. Heat are now 1-1 on the six game road trip, 18-17 overall.
2) Clipper point guard Baron Davis was great (14 assists). Big man Marcus Camby was great (17 rebounds in 31 minutes). Greatest of all was center Chris Kaman, who destroyed Miami inside with verve, elan, panache, and a certain joie de vivre. Also, great footwork, and a sweet jump hook. 22 points and 14 boards for the big guy - having a huge, all-star type year. In shape, as he is this year, he's as good an offensive center as there is in the NBA. I hate getting pounded, but it was a pleasure watching the two veteran Clipper big men work tonight - combined they had 31 rebounds, while Miami, as a team, had just 36.
3) Okay, this is not a complaint about the referees...Okay, it is, but I am not saying it had any effect on the game, it was just another odd, odd moment in the career of veteran, veteran ref Dick Bavetta. In the second quarter, Clipper forward Al Thornton steamed towards the hoop at approximately 90 miles an hour. President Quentin Richardson stepped up above the no-charge line and positioned himself in front of Thornton who, at the last moment, tried to slide by QRich who, ever so gently, eased a lean into Thornton's path. Large collision. Probably a charge, but Q did lean a little. Ref Joe Forte called a charge on Thornton. No, no, no, waved the elderly Bavetta - he wanted to call a block on The President. The refs conferred for several moments and then emerged to call a foul on both players . Seems impossible, right - doesn't it have to be either a block or a charge? No, I guess it does not, in Bavetta World. Doesn't it seem logical, though, since the referees were unable to do their jobs on this call - couldn't come to a consensus - to just "no call" the play, don't penalize either player, and give the ball back to the Clippers, since they had it before the refs couldn't decide what happened? Why penalize both Richardson and Thornton by giving them each a foul - what penalty did Bavetta and Forte get for not being able to make a call? Odd. Odd, odd decision. By the way, the exact same call happened earlier this season in a Heat game - the league office claims they review every play of every game in order to improve, but that is starting to seem less and less likely since Forte and Bavetta reached the same bizarrely odd conclusion. Furthermore, as the icing on the cake, on the ensuing jump ball, Bavetta blew his whistle after Camby quick-jumped the tap, which by rule is Heat ball, but Bavetta didn't award the ball to Miami, he called a re-jump while all the Heat players looked at him like their senile old grandfather - which he sort of is - only to watch Camby quick-jump the second tap which, mercifully, Bavetta just let go. Again - it's hard to believe that there is no other referee in the country - not one - who can beat out Dick Bavetta for his job. For the 35th consecutive year!
4) Halftime show, starring Jason Jackson, featured another edition of "Hot Seconds with Jax," the game show in which members of the Heat attempt to answer three questions from Jax, worth 2, 3 and 5 points in succession. A five pointer? Yeah, he made it up, but it can be the difference maker...Tonight's contestant - "Thunder" Yak Diawara. Yakhouba is from France, and the questions are often tailored to the player's interests (Mike Beasley's segment famously featured a Sponge Bob question which SuperCool answered correctly before Jax could even finish it). So Yak's first question, the 2 pointer, the easy question, was: "What is the name of Tony Parker's wife's character on 'Desperate Housewives.'" The premise being, Tony Parker is also from France, you know, so, "I thought maybe you watch the show to support Tony," said Jax. "Not really," said Yak. Oh. Oops. No idea. Yak called his timeout, but Jax really should have advised him to use his one substitute question - come on, Jax, help a French brother out with the rules!
5) Okay, Mike Beasley turned 21 yesterday, he was in Los Angeles, seemed worrisome. I was just hoping he show up for the game, let alone play well. But Mike came out strong, 15 first half points. He has this odd thing where he starts strong, driving to rim, early, but settles for jumpers in the second half - don't know if it is conditioning, or focus, or Miami runs their offense differently after halftime. In any case, Mike's on court maturity has been nice to follow - he's having a really good year, after a tough start the first two weeks. He's averaging 16 and 7 in 32 minutes a game, and looks fairly solid defensively. Keep growing, Jimmy Buckets, keep growing. Also, his 21st birthday reminded me of my own 21st glorious birthday many, many years ago. Went to Arbuckle's in Boston early in the afternoon with roommate and Dos reader Cincy D, drank between 2 and 7 Long Island Ice Teas, staggered back to my apartment, and wrote a French paper for my girlfriend who, incredibly, was an even worse student than I was. What was the paper on? Considering the condition I was in, I couldn't possibly remember. I'm not even sure I wrote it in French...
6) Finally, great game in Boynton Beach, Florida today, where P.Minutos' 5 year old team held on for an 8-6 win in a thrilla! The other team called a timeout down 2 with 20 seconds to go, and set up a brilliant play in which they took their point guard - and their only player who might conceivably score a basket - off the ball and put him on a wing, had another kid dribble it up, throw it over to the point guard who had a wide open 8 footer...which he airballed, out of bounds, ballgame, P.Minutos wins. Great design on the play, though - as NBA commentator Jeff Van Gundy says, you can design the best play in the world, but ultimately it comes down to making shots. P.Minutos' 5 year old league - just like the NBA - make or miss league!
Quick turnaround tomorrow in very, very cold - and very, very white - Utah!