1) Man, that's a disappointing loss. To go out on the west coast, play with energy, lead the whole way, and then lose right at the end, that's disappointing. To hold a playoff team under 40% from the floor for the second straight game - but lose both - that's disappointing. To have your All-Star power forward call out the team's design after the last loss, then back up all his words in this game, only for the other two All-Stars to not make sure he got fed all second half, that's disappointing. Finally, to have Wesley Matthews make back-to-back triples in the waning moments, while Ray Allen and Mario Chalmers missed back-to-back triples to win the game, that's super-disappointing. Always a make-or-miss league. Always. Let's go!
2) The game kind of broke down like this: every time Chris Bosh touched the ball, he scored, or created a wide open shot for someone else to score. He also played with energy on the defensive end. He scored 29 on 13-18, held LaMarcus Aldridge to a 6-19, and blocked 4 shots. He only had 4 rebounds, but rebounding was even tonight - everyone contributed: Mike Mil-lar, Joel Anthony, and Ray Allen combined for 17 boards off the bench. After the Indiana loss, Bosh criticized Spo's "Pace and Space" attack - his bitching essentially boiled down to "I hate being the only big on the floor, and then getting all the criticism when we get out rebounded." Tonight, Miami went to him early, especially down low, and he took everyone Portland threw at him apart. But in the second half, they drifted away from him - so many plays he stood at the elbow while KJ James or Dwyane Wade dribbled the shot clock too low in the possession, and ended up with rushed looks. KJ and Dwyane aren't selfish players, and maybe Chris has to be more demonstrative in demanding the ball. In any case, it was a night where everything should have gone through him. He had it going, and KJ and Dwyane didn't. I feel like Bosh has been under-utilized all year - as he once famously said (on a west coast trip two years ago), he needs to touch it where big men like to touch it. One, as always, ewwwww! Two, he's right!
3) KJ - okay, I think it is fair to say he's a little banged up. He got punked a little by Paul George last game, and he got punked a little by Nicolas Batum tonight. Only 15 points for KJ on 6-16. To be fair, he had 10 rebounds and 9 assists - for him, a bad game is still a pretty good game. But he was indecisive down the stretch, and was not quick defensively. He's banged up the ankles pretty good the last couple of weeks, looks like it's catching up with him a little. His consecutive 20 point game streak is over at 54. That was pretty amazing to watch. At least the pressure is off Heat play-by-play announcer Eric Reid, who willed that streak into continuing more than once. Gang, all we can do now is hope KJ starts a new streak. Kaboom!
4) Udonis Haslem, we've established that he's lost the ability to shoot, and to catch the ball. He generally doesn't even try to catch balls in traffic anymore, he just bats at them with one hand, which is especially awkward when it's a pass, not a rebound! Tonight on two different occasions he had plays where it was virtually impossible for him not to get the offensive rebound, but instead of catching the ball, he batted it up into the bottom side of the rim. He's also been adding a new trick to his repertoire: running into guys driving to the basket. He doesn't - can't - jump to contest the shot on the ball, and he doesn't wrap up the driver's arms to prevent a three point play. He just runs into the guy as he's shooting. Sometimes the ball goes in for a three point play, sometimes the collision is violent enough to force a miss, and it's just two free throws. It can be, ummm, a little frustrating to watch. #Birdman
5) Been thinking about iconic NBA moments lately...He's a big gasbag now, so it's easy to forget that Shaq was once a lovable man-child who got the same criticism that KJ James received before last year: "he's a great player, but he can't win the title..." After his move to L.A. to team with Kobe Bryant, and the hiring of Phil Jackson before, I believe, his third season, it looked like Shaq was going to lose another chance at glory. After leading 3-1 in the Western Conference Finals against Portland, the Lakers lost Game 5 at home, and Game 6 in Portland, and got down 16 in the second half in Game 7 back in L.A. But they ground back and ground back, and finally overtook the Trailblazers late in the game. Up 4 with under a minute to go, and the Blazers needing a stop to stay in the game, the Lakers turned Kobe loose at the top of the key. That's Shaq on the right side of the lane, with future Heat player Brian Grant guarding him (and Rasheed Wallace just a bit too late on the weak side rotation!). Shaq's sprint back down the court, fingers pointing at the fans, and a frenzied ecstasy on his face, that's the stuff of legend, man, that stays with you. You don't have to be a Lakers fan or a Shaq fan, or even a basketball fan, to appreciate that - just a fan of life. It's only like two seconds of running, but I bet when he thinks about it on the right night, Shaq can live in that moment forever...It's funny, I don't remember even one in-game moment featuring Shaq in the 2006 Finals - it's a jumble of Wade, Udonis, Zo, and J-Will for me - but I'll never forget this:
6) It's been a minute since we checked in on Great Friend of the Blog Snets. Wonder what he's been up to? Oh, what a coincidence, he just emailed me:
I asked Siri what she thought of blackberry phones – her response – I think therefore I am – but let’s not put Descartes before the horse – actually pretty funny!
What the?......I shudder at the thought of Snets sitting around the house alone, cackling at phone-jokes, and asking it for weather reports. Holy John Malkovich, Snet's band needs to get out on the road a little more often! Step away from the phone, Snets; STEP AWAY FROM THE PHONE!!!...That was scary...
Well, this is the beginning of a week of hell. Not for the team - it's actually like 6 months of hell for them, 82 meaningless games until the playoffs start. I mean for me and this blog: 5 straight late-start west coast games. It ends next Thursday. Next game is Saturday in - oh no! - SACRAMENTO! Eric Reid and Tony Fiorentino HATE Sacramento! If they were dropped into the very bowels of hell itself, they'd still be 45 miles outside of Sacramento! If you need me before Saturday, I'll be asking my phone why Chris Bosh doesn't get to touch it where big men like to touch it! See you late on Saturday!