Sunday, November 26, 2006

Heat 102, Bobcats 93

The good news is we’ve now got something in common with the Dallas Mavericks; the bad news is it’s not a high-powered offense, a win-at-any-cost owner, a superstar forward, or League championship aspirations. It’s being victimized by phantom foul calls on Dwyane Wade. D-Wade lit us up for 35 points, approximately 34 of which came from the free throw line. Some of the “fouls” called on him were downright farcical, coming either well before or well after he’d taken his shot. I propose Wade change his Converse marketing slogan to “Fall down 7 times, shoot 14 three throws.” The officiating was so cumbersome and intrusive that it even compelled commentator Adrian Branch to say that Wade has “the gift of getting calls,” which is about as cynical as AB can get.

That’s it! I finally have a “bad guy” team to root against. When it comes to other teams, I’m usually unmoved emotionally (other than maybe feelings of disgust for the Knicks), but from now on the Heat cannot lose by enough to suit me. I want them to garner a losing record and fail to qualify for the playoffs. And it really has nothing to do with any boorish personalities on their team or something like that—it’s just too laborious to watch their games if fouls are called on every possession. I want the League’s prevailing style to continue trending toward open freeform, but the Heat are causing it to devolve; this game was like a Knicks-Bulls game from 1994.

As for the game itself, Heat coach Pat Riley was in clear dartboard/throw-it-out-there-and-see-what-sticks mode, starting some guy named Dorell Wright over Antoine Walker and giving Jason Kapono enough playing time to accumulate 4 fouls (note: this was also a homecoming for Kapono, who played for us two years ago, although its level of significance would be several rungs below Joey Harrington’s return to Detroit on Thanksgiving). Otherwise, the usual Heat suspects, Gary Payton, Jason Williams, Alonzo Mourning, and Udonis Haslem did their thing, which is to say they took their proper places at the lane for Wade’s endless free throws. Sorry, I guess I shouldn’t shortchange them like that, I’m just frustrated. Mourning actually did the best job on Emeka Okafor all year, limiting him to just 9 points and 11 rebounds. And 5 fouls.

We were never really able to establish any sort of rhythm. Matt Carroll came in off the bench in the first quarter and immediately scored 8 in a row but soon had to sit after picking up his third foul (I never thought I’d see the day when Carroll getting into early foul trouble would have me so worried and upset). Gerald also had 5 fouls as well. We got two T’s alone in the second quarter, one to Brevin Knight and another to Coach Bickerstaff. In fact, watching Bernie’s priceless facial expressions (think Cliff Huxtable every time Denise or Theo did something stupid, or when Claire would catch him in the act of eating junk food) constituted the only pleasurable experience of this whole miserable affair. And where was Sean May? Is he in Coach B’s doghouse? I mean, this was the second game of a back-to-back (and May hardly played in the first one either), and if nothing else we needed all the foul accumulators we could get, but Sean only played 7:29.

One encouraging development was Adam Morrison, who led us with 27 points, but even more importantly had 5 assists. These weren’t generic assists either; he was penetrating and then getting that last extra pass in. Unfortunately, his teammates didn’t appear to be ready for them half the time. But as AB continues to patiently point out, the team is still “gelling,” and if Morrison develops consistency with those last-second feeds into Okafor and Wallace down low, we could really diversify our attack. After all, I know for a fact that right now we’re struggling to score in the paint. Why do I know this? Because every game, Lowe’s Home Improvement gives us its “Points in the Paint” stat, and I can’t remember the last time the Bobcats were actually leading in it. In fact, usually we’re trailing by a comically wide margin—last night it was 32-16 in favor of Miami. Really News14, could we try some other sponsored statistic, please? Preferably one in which we have a good chance of being the better team? How about, for example, H&R Block’s “Block”ing Leaders of the Game?

Oh well. Best thing to do is put this one behind us…

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