The Houston Rockets shot 49% from the floor but were pretty much out of this one by the second quarter. Dwayne Wade had 37 for the Heat while the Rockets were led by Luis Scola and Chase Budinger who each chipped in 17 points.
It looked like the Rockets would cruise to an easy win early on as Luis Scola was on fire to open up, utilizing a variety of right-handed post moves. Things went south though and the Miami Heat never looked back.
- The difficulty of this job – covering a team with few expectations – is that I think there is a certain myopia out there that expects me to share in their frustration after losses and convey it in my analysis. My dilemma here is that I just don’t really care. I view this season as house money – if the team plays well, like they were before the new year – I’ll get in on the fun and think of the playoff possibilities. But if they’re struggling, as they have been, I just can’t bring myself to lose sleep over it. This is a basketball team in transition with at least a 75% chance of having a completely different dynamic next season (whether simply by Yao’s return or also via trade.) So why should I be overly concerned about what’s taking place on the floor, other than from a player development perspective? It has little relevance in the long term. If something is going well, well then that bodes well for its continuity into the future. But if something is going bad, I’m not going to pull my hair out when I know someone might be riding in on a white horse by November.
- It was nice to see our old friend, Rafer Alston, who had himself a nice game with 17 points. I’m in the minority, but I still have a warm spot in my heart for Rafer. Sure, his shooting probably cost us many games. But for almost four years, he was the undisputed leader of this team. He was their heart and soul. For better or worse, if there was ever a scuffle on the court, one could always count on Rafer coming to the aid of a teammate, even despite being the team’s smallest player (at the time.) Rafer was probably the league’s ultimate paradox: A ‘playground’ point guard who couldn’t drive but took care of the ball about as well as anyone. It’s really a shame that he never learned to shoot. More than that, his greatest problem was an inability to absorb contact on the drive, preventing him from actually taking advantage of his quickness and all-world ballhandling ability. It’s a shame because he had the other things that usually prevent good players from being good point guards. He was an adequate defender and rarely made bad decisions. For the time he spent in his youth nurturing the handle that made him famous, it’s really a wonder that he never took the effort to make his shot even acceptable.
- Now that I think of it, perhaps my current fondness for Rafer just stems from a retrospective sympathy for those Rockets teams on which he played. Through our collective short-term memory, those were the forgotten teams, seldom mentioned fondly by the fanbase. The truth of the matter is that they played just as hard as do these current Rockets and suffered quite a bit of adversity themselves. But of course, it wouldn’t accord with personal vendetta to make note of those Rockets when attempting to contrast against these McGrady-less ones. Funny that so few even remember the historic “Streak” when a band of 7 valiantly extended themselves in a manner in which perhaps no group had done before them. I don’t think people quite grasp what that team did – the level of concentration that feat required, winning 1/4th of a season’s games in succession. The attention to detail that accomplishment took, the knowledge that lapse on even any sole play and all of what they had built would collapse, erasing their date with the recordbooks. But I understand, and I remember. I can appreciate the effort of this current Rockets team without needing to take a sh*t on past ones. I don’t suffer from that moral dilemma and I really pity those who do.
- Who is Joel Anthony? He did what no man this season has done before him and that was making Carl Landry look pedestrian. Anthony blocked Landry twice in this one. I actually know who Joel Anthony is but I thought that would be a good lead-in…
- Dwayne Wade’s crossover is probably the most effective move in the league right now. The funny thing is that he’s not really even crossing over. A ‘crossover’, in the etymological sense, is a move where the arm is fully extended to simulate a deceptive change of direction. Wade actually just picks it up with his wrist and then comes back hard to his left before walking in for the finger-roll. The entire sequence is almost in slow motion.
- I’m trying to get a sense of who Michael Beasley is. Because he’s very small. Is he listed at 6’9? I think they said that last night. Anyways, there’s no way he’s 6’9. I’m trying to get a sense of what the former #2 pick could become, so if any Heat fans are reading this, please do chime in. I don’t think he’s big enough to ever really dominate inside, but he doesn’t strike me as having the necessary quickness to flourish at the ’3.’ He does have a very nice stroke and an adequate handle, but nothing is really jumping out at me. Are the ‘superstar’ hopes now completely gone or is that still there? I haven’t kept up. He’s obviously already a good player (16ppg) but is that ‘yeah-he’s-just-in-his-second-year-and-already-averaging-16-so-the-natural-jump-is-to-expect-25-next-year’ there? I want to say he reminds me of Jamal Mashburn in some ways as a ‘powerful tweener’, but Mash was much, much more dangerous off the dribble. Hell, Mash was probably the forgotten star of the 90′s. Ok, too much digression.
- Final thought is that I hate watching Chase Budinger play. I say this because I get this sick feeling that he’s a rental car or something. This guy fits so perfectly into this offense that its disgusting to watch. He has a quick trigger, can come off screens, moves without the ball, can handle well enough to pull-up, can slash, and is already an adequate defender. Every time I watch Chase play, I tell myself he’s probably going to be averaging 18ppg for this team for the next decade, entrenched at the small forward spot. Yet I hate watching him play because the sick feeling returns – he’s our best trade chip. The guy could start for some teams right now (hell, he could and probably should be starting for ours!) and is earning less than Joey Dorsey. I just can’t see us landing something significant (I mean, really, really significant) without the other team demanding that Chase be thrown into the deal. That’s why I try not to let myself get too attached. Atleast until February 18.