1) The longest road trip of the season concluded with a solid win over a pretty bad, but lovable, Phoenix team. The road trip ends up 4-2 - you'll always take that for a West Coast trip. Heat play-by-play announcer Eric Reid pointed out that sometimes it's not the physical fatigue that gets to players on a long road trip, but the mental fatigue. That's a great point. Actually, you know who has talked about that for years? Memphis Grizzlies play-play guy Pete Pranica! He's put a lot of time and effort into studying the effects of travel-induced mental fatigue on player performance, he's got statistics and data and solid evidence of cause and effect, not just some vague-ish anecdotal notion that players get tired when they travel. That guy is a real pro, so dedicated to his craft...Let's change things up a little tonight and quickly talk about the Heat in #2, but talk about Phoenix in #3-5, since they are a pretty interesting group. In #6 we'll finally get to that long overdue review of the Spin Doctor's single "Jimmy Olson's Blues." It came in 1991 so, really, it's about time. Let it fly!
2) KJ James almost didn't play because he was sick. He looked a little under the weather last game against Denver, frankly, and tonight he looked even worse. He was a little slow, a little out of it, and he had to go to the locker room halfway through the first quarter with what may or may not have been diarrhea. M.Minutos pointed out that he wasn't hurrying to the locker room, but in a situation like that, if you hurry, then everyone knows why you are leaving. You have to play it cool. In any case, he played at a little slower pace than usual, but still made all the big plays down the stretch - finding Chalmers and Bosh with great passes for buckets, and then sealing the win with a spinning layup over Suns center Marcin Gortat to finish with 21 points. He's scored at least 20 in every game this season. That dude is a competitor and watching him night in and night out, you can see how much he loves playing basketball, it's like he's always at it, always respecting the game, always trying to play that one perfect game no matter what the circumstances. It's on a night like tonight that you realize how much this dude loves to ball - it's a meaningless game at the end of a long trip, he's sick, Dwyane is taking the night off, and he has every right not to go hard. But he always does. And I always expect him to play, I always expect him to play well, and he cares as much as anyone in this league (and with his talent, he doesn't have to). As much as I love Dwyane in a way I will never love KJ, I couldn't possibly respect KJ as a player, as a competitor, and, frankly, as a worker, any more. That dude puts in work, he's a machine. Bosh was great - 24 and 9 on 9-11. Should have touched the ball more in the second half. Battier made three first half triples and 4-8 overall, and Mike Mil-lar started for the still-resting Dwyane Wade and had 9 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists in only 24 minutes. What a luxury that kid is. Overall, a solid team win, a solid road trip, and we all let it fly, each and every one of us...Now let's talk about the Phoenix Suns, cuz they have some of our favorites!
3) First of all, Luis Scola. He's a pretty nice offensive player, he's tricky and all, but, goodness gracious is he an atrocious athlete. He set some kind of record for futility in athletic achievement in the first half when Almario Vernard Chalmers scooped up a loose ball on the defensive left wing and rocketed- okay, sprinted- okay, went at Mario Chalmers speed up the left wing. Scola was the only guy back, and had about a 20 foot lead on Chalmers, plus the angle since he was in the middle of the court, yet somehow Chalmers beat him to the rim by 15 feet for an uncontested layup. A few moments later, someone on Miami missed a short jumper and Scola leaped- okay, hopped- okay, kind of raised his arms up in the air for the rebound, and broken-backed Mike Mil-lar came flying in over the top of him and in one motion caught the ball and dropped it into the hoop. They basically didn't play Scola in the second half, since his main move is to okey doke dudes in the air and try to flip the ball into the basket under their armpits (which, admittedly, he is very good at), but the guy guarding him all night was Battier, who can't jump anyways, thus eliminating Scola's entire basketball arsenal. I remember some people saying two years ago that maybe the Heat would have been better off with Scola over Bosh in the free agent market. Ummm, oops.
4) Ohhhh, Mike Beasley. He really did play a pretty good first half. He scored 12 points, and had a bunch of rebounds. True, KJ didn't guard him at all, and had to leave at one point because he had diarrhea, but Mike was pretty good. He went to the rim and scored a couple of buckets, made a couple of jumpers, and I thought he really tried to get his teammates involved, although he did overpass it a little, at one point causing two three second violations in a row on his bigs because he didn't shoot open shots that they expected him to. But in the second half, it all went awry. KJ started playing a little harder, and Mike started doing that thing where he drives to the rim, but then tries to avoid contact and flip in shots from impossible angles. With 5 minutes to go, he had back-to-back brutal turnovers twenty-five feet from the hoop, one when Udonis Haslem just reached out and suddenly ripped the ball out of his hands, and the other when no one was within 10 feet of him and he inexplicably took two steps forwards without dribbling. Then, after Phoenix closed the gap to 2 with a couple of minutes to go, he had another bad turnover when he drove from the wing, elevated to pass, but Bosh saw it and stepped into the lane, and Beasley just hurled the ball into a crowd. Then he had another chance in transition to tie the game, pulled up for a wide open 12 footer, and saw it spin around and around and down and back out. Those are the things that happen to Mike Beasley. They just do. On the surface, the numbers weren't bad - 14 points and 8 rebounds - but he took 17 shots, and had 4 turnovers and 1 assist. Man, all I can do is continue to say it: he has certain talents. But overall, he's not that talented, he's just not. It isn't a lack of effort or a lack of focus - people love to pin those things on him. He's not big enough or explosive enough. Also, he has the bad juju. I love that boy, but, man, I don't know...
5) Okay, that was a little bit of a downer because Mike must feel embarrassed about his career - people expected him to be great, and he isn't. We all feel bad about that. So let's move on to a guy who is talented, and who does have the juju, and who is great: Jermaine O'Neal! JERMAINOOO!!! Predictably, Jermaino has missed most of this season, as the Heat players used to say, "on vacation." As in "Jermaino is on vacation right now." Eric Reid pointed out that Jermaino recently returned to the team, and that he was back doing what he loves. He is? Ohhh, I thought he loved being on vacation, my bad, I didn't realize he loved basketball! Eric also pointed out that Jermaino is 34 - it's always staggering to hear Jermaino's age, since he's been in the league since 1986. Only 34? Are you sure? Not 54? Another interesting Jermaino fact - before he played for the Heat, apparently he spent some time with the Pacers! I had no idea! I thought he was ours! In any case, he played great tonight, as always, he had 10 points and 6 rebounds in 24 minutes, and at a certain point Suns coach Alvin Gentry just decided that both his starting power guys, Scola and Gortat, weren't as good as Jermaino, and went with him most of the second half, which was the smart thing to do. Don't know why he isn't starting, frankly. This almost always happens when I'm watching Jermaino play: during one possession the Suns had the ball, and the next thing I knew, the Heat were inbounding it side out of bounds, and I said to M.Minutos, "what happened, how did we get the ball," and she's like, "what are you talking about, that pass went right through Dragic's hands out of bounds, what were you looking at," and I had to admit I was watching Jermaino battle for position with Chris Bosh down on the block (and what a battle it was!), and she was like, "oh, no - not again." Not as a big a fan of Jermaino as I am, honestly, and by "not as big a fan," I mean, "she thinks he's creepy, and hated having him on the Heat." Oh well, even M.Minutos isn't perfect - only Jermaino is! See you next season, boy!
6) Listen, on "Jimmy Olson's Blues," with essentially the Spin Doctors dude posing as Jimmy Olson, it may well be true that Lois Lane "don't need no Superman." I mean, you could argue it either way, that she does or doesn't, but I think we all agree that if she doesn't, it shouldn't necessarily be a "one-or-the-other" thing between Superman and the Spin Doctors dude. I mean, that's a long way down from Superman to that dude - I saw him live opening for the Rolling Stones one time and he was wearing skin tight peach pants (which, admittedly, I would wear - fair enough), and doing a lot of twirling half-cartwheels on stage while singing his crappy songs. I mean, there have to be a couple other options for her before she needs to settle for this guy, right? I mean, we are talking about Superman...
Annnd, it's time for a little rest up in here! After a grueling road trip, the Heat only play 2 games in the next 11 days! Suh-weeeet! Also, inexplicably, only 2 road games in the next 38 days! Is that even possible? Vacation for everybody! The next game is Wednesday against, I think, Milwaukee. If you need me before then, I'll be doing my laundry - trying to get this kryptonite residue out of my pants is brutal. What do you think I should use for that? Shout? Try to Shout it out? You're right, that's probably the best bet. See you Wednesday, princes!