1) This was one of the most consistent efforts of the year for the Heat, on the road, against a solid team that had won 8 straight at home. Miami got down 10 early, but played a great second quarter to go up 9 at the half, extended early in the third, and cruised in the fourth. Now 3-2 on this West Coast trip, with the final game tomorrow night in Oklahoma City - win or lose, the trip has been okay, the Heat have stayed in contact of .500 (20-18), and right in the thick of the playoff mix.
2) Famously, Rocket defensive stopper and all-around role player, Shane Battier, was labeled the best player in the NBA by a complex grading system the Rockets utilize to evaluate players, a claim highlighted in a New York Times Magazine article during last season. The system seemingly has merit - the Rockets are as good at any franchise at finding undervalued players: Chuck Hayes, Aaron Brooks, Carl Landry, and Chase Budinger are all great examples of this. But to claim Battier is the best player in the league only indicates that the system can still stand maybe just a tiny little bit of tweaking: in 8 seasons in the league, he's been out of the first round of the playoffs 1 - that's one - time! He wasn't undervalued, by the way - picked #6 his year in the draft. Which seems a little high. Also, currently being shopped in numerous trade scenarios, and, allegedly, a huge George Bush guy (both of them). Incidentally, the designer of the Rockets grading system? Shane Battier!...In fairness to Battier, who honestly seems like a decent and thoughtful human being, trying to make a career in the NBA as a defensive stopper, especially when you lack elite athletic skills, is incredibly difficult. He does what he can, to the best of his ability. Tonight? Dwyane Wade made him look absurd, dropping an effortless 37 on him on 15-24, with 8 assists for good measure. At one point, the Rockets switched Trevor Ariza on to Wade, and put Battier on Mike Beasley, who promptly went on a binge of his own. Tough, tough night for Battier...
3) Speaking of Wade, he looks noticeably leaner and more explosive as of late. It appears he has played his way in to shape. He also had uber-trainer Tim Grover, with whom he works in the off-season, in town for a while. On this 5 game road trip Wade is averaging 28 a game on 54% shooting, along with 7 assists per game, and has made 33-36 free throws. Starting to look like Dwyane Wade. I think we'll try to re-sign him this off-season after all.
4) Skip Alston spent 4 seasons in Houston before being shipped to Orlando midway through last year. Returned and drilled his former protege Aaron Brooks: 17 points on 7-10 shooting for Skip, and held the Rockets leading scorer to just 14 on 5-13, and forced him into 4 turnovers to boot.
5) Halftime segment showed quite a trio out on a fishing trip from sometime early this season, or preseason: Udonis Haslem, James Jones, and play-by-player Eric Reid. Udonis talked more during a four minute segment on a fishing boat than he had publicly during his first seven seasons on the team. Seemed to be having a great time, caught a big fish, and said this a lot while battling it: "Whoooo - yes sir!" James Jones mostly napped. M.Minutos and I were wondering how Udonis and Jones were hoodwinked in to going on the trip when, late in the segment, it was revealed that the fishing boat's captain was a Heat season ticket holder. We imagined the phone call to the guy encouraging him to renew his tickets, his reluctance, then the sales guy's obligatory, "is there anything we could do?..." How do those negotiations go from there? He asks for Wade, Supercool, and two cheerleaders, and the Heat counter with Chris Quinn, Jason Jackson, and a Sunsport camera guy, before all sides come to an agreement on the trio that went?
6) The Captain has had it with my constant carping about the po-lice being over-aggressive (my term, not his) about enforcing parking violations:
Maybe you should take mass transit where ever you go so that you don't have to worry about the po-lice depriving you of parking spots. Try the bus.
I would be happy to comment further, but on the advice of my lawyers, I am not able to do so currently. Court date pending for March...
Game tomorrow in Oklahoma City, wherever that is. I am quite sure I have been corrected on this before, but I though Oklahoma was a state. Though, honestly, tough for me to care either way...