Game Notes: Warriors at Heat
Wade comes up big to hold off wounded Warriors.
by Sam Guelil
The hometown Miami Heat go into this one hanging on to the last playoff spot in the east like a reality TV star is holding on to their final 15 minutes of fame. The Heat are trying to avoid losing five games in a row, which would be a season-high. Dwyane Wade is in his second game back from a strained left calf. On Sunday Wade went for 21 points going just 6-17 from the floor in the 96-80 road loss to the Orlando Magic. “It felt good to be out there,” Wade said, “but I’m not where I want to be. I was a little rusty, but I was just trying to get back in the swing of things. I did some things that were positive and I’ll move forward from there.”
As for the Golden State Warriors are concerned, the playoff conversation would get Jim Mora into another outrage. Playoffs! …Playoffs! If the lottery ping-pong balls held to form then they would have the third pick in the 2010 NBA Draft. Their leading scorer and one of the League’s most dynamic players in Monta Ellis, is out for this one with a sore back. That’s what happens when you try and carry a team that has lost 6 in row on the road and 14 of 15 away from Cali.
The Warriors bring in a squad that is feisty but doesn’t have the talent that they have on the injured list. Besides Ellis and his 25.7 points per game, they’ll be without Andris Biedrins (sports hernia), Cory Maggette (hamstring), Vladimir Radmanovic (Achilles), Raja Bell (wrist), and Speedy Claxton (undisclosed injury). Those are guys who should be back at some point this season. But they’ve lost Kelenna Azubuike (knee), Brandan Wright (shoulder), and most likely Anthony Randolph (ankle) for the rest of the year.
What Golden State does have is ROY candidate Stephen Curry. The first-year man from Davidson is averaging 15.7 points while dishing out 5.3 assists per contest. The 6-3 guard is also getting 1.8 steals every time he laces them up. Curry is an up-and-coming star is this league. Bottom line, Curry is a maker of shots as he is shooting 40 percent from three and 46 percent overall in his rookie campaign.
Well, the teams are on the floor, Wade has done his pull-ups to the rim, and those who are in the building are pumped, so let’s get it…
Wade has that pimp limp going on right now. He’s running OK, but clearly isn’t 100 percent. Michael Beasley is aggressive early and scores the first two buckets for Miami.
Stephen Curry is looking like the next Steve Nash as he is making some tremendous passes. The Warrior’s rookie also hits a nice off-balance shot as well as a little floater in the lane and has his team up 15-10 with 6:21 left, Heat call timeout.
Wade gets on the board in style with an off-balance fall-back shot off the window while drawing some contact. He completes the three-point play and puts his team down 2.
Curry makes another outstanding pass and Beasley has just committed his second foul, forcing him to sit for the rest of the quarter. Curry drills a three-ball and puts his team up five approaching the final minute of the opening quarter.
Wade can’t believe the call he didn’t get on a shot attempt and Heat coach Erik Spoelstra defends his star by getting a technical foul. Curry made the tech and Wade is fired up in the process. The Heat superstar makes another acrobatic shot and finishes off another three-point play. Wade finishes off the quarter by hitting another shot off the glass with .1 seconds left on the ticker. Right after the quarter Wade and Spoelstra have a little congregation with the ref to discuss the technical foul crisis that is going on in South Beach.
Overall: The first quarter had some bad defense and a lot of transition layups. Warriors CJ Watson was the beneficiary of these leek outs and had 9 points. Stephen Curry showed why he is must see TV. This kid can shoot and pass with the best of them. He is an incredible distributor of the rock. He’s made every kind of pass and runs the pick and roll like he’s been in the League for 10 years. He went for 8 points and four assists. As for the Heat, Wade got loose and went for 12 points and 3 assists. Wade was being Wade. He is one of the best, if not the best, tough shot makers in the League as he hit some shots you would attempt in your backyard as a kid growing up. Jermaine O’Neal also had a nice quarter with 8 points and six rebounds.
The second stanza didn’t start off in the best of fashion. Alright, I’ll be honest, because that’s all I know, it was some bad basketball. I looked to see Heat President Pat Riley’s reaction, but the slick-haired legend was ghost. Maybe he left his seat while the Warriors put 34 up in the first quarter. Riles would eventually come back to his seat, but I couldn’t blame him if he didn’t want to watch. I’ve never seen so many missed layups by professionals.
Carlos Arroyo started the quarter and the Heat are currently playing with him and fellow point guard Mario Chalmers at the same time. Let’s keep an eye on this because Rafer Alston started at the lead guard position. Arroyo’s presence is immediately starting to pay dividends for the Heat. He scored a couple of buckets, dished out three assists, grabbed three boards, and most importantly didn’t turn it over in the quarter. The Heat lead 41-40 about half-way thru the second.
For Golden State, Anthony Morrow is starting to get going. He’s hit a couple jumpers but has really been settling for a lot of three’s, which he’s been known to do. Actually, the Warriors as a whole take an abundance of their shots from behind the arc.
Wade is starting to look like he’s getting back into the swing of things. He’s gotten out for a few dunks in the quarter and was the recipient of a nice lob pass from Arroyo. The Heat, and mainly Wade, are going at these Warrior guards aggressively. Four Golden State players have 3 fouls. They only have 8 player suited up for this one so they better be careful.
As the quarter is coming to a close, Morrow hits a runner to put his team up a deuce until Arroyo’s quick take to the goal gives the Heat the lead going into the half.
Overall: The quarter started off bad but at least Wade and Curry were in the building. Wade was very entertaining hitting an array of tough shots and throwing down some electrifying dunks, he finished with 19 in the half. Curry was almost as impressive. The thing that he’s been able to do really well is run the pick-and-roll. He found Turiaf a few times going to the basket and dished out 5 assists in the half. There is no young player in the League who can throw passes with the left, right, off the bounce, or in traffic like this Warrior rookie.
Arroyo is still in and there is no sign of Alston for the Heat, as he’s not checked in since being pulled in the first. Wade is continuing to be aggressive and taking the ball to the rack. After a Watson three, Spoelstra is visibly upset and calls a timeout at the 9:20 mark. Coming out of the break, Beasley misses a jumper but there is the high flying Wade with a put-back jam to put the Heat up 62-61.
Warriors coach Don Nelson, aka Nellie, might have thought he wasn’t getting enough attention, although he was rocking some nice threads, and got technical foul of his own. After two Arroyo jumpers and a Beasley ally oop pass from Wade, Nellie quickly called another timeout and started laying into his team. Curry tried to get a word in before sitting down but the Warrior coach wasn’t trying to hear any of it and pointed for him to sit down. The score was now 72-67 Heat with 4:49 left in the third quarter.
The Heat are starting to add to their lead and are now up 11 until a big three-pointer by Curry gets the margin back to single digits. That 8 point lead is what the Heat would take as they went into the fourth quarter.
Overall: It looks like the Heat are at the point where they can take command of this game. Wade added another 9 for his club putting him 28 points. Both teams are not shooting the ball well from three. CJ Watson had 11 of his own in the third to keep the Warriors hanging around.
Miami committed some early fouls sending Anthony Tolliver to the line, where he would convert on 3-4. Add that with a three pointer from newly acquired Reggie Williams, via the D-League, and we have ourselves a two point game. Miami calls a timeout with the score now 88-86.
They immediately go inside to Jermaine O’Neal who is fouled in the process and converts on a three-point play of his own. Curry is starting to look for his shot a little bit more and answers with one from behind the arc. After a bad pass from O’Neal, the Warriors Chris Hunter converts on the other end to tie the game at 91 with 8:36 left.
A three bomb from Anthony Morrow puts the Warriors up 95-94 with just over 6 minutes left. Led by two Wade baskets and a three from Quentin Richardson, Miami answered with a quick 7-0 run to go up 101-95 and 4:35 to go in the game. Nellie would have called a timeout but he only had a couple left which he had to save for late game situations if necessary.
Curry finds Turiaf going to the basket once again. He is really getting his guys some easy buckets. Golden State is right there and the Heat just can’t shake them. This is nothing new here, but Golden State has an awful defensive possession as they fouled Richardson with 1 second left on the shot clock while throwing up a desperation three. Well that was the ruling on the field…or court. But after further review the refs deemed it to be a 2-point attempt. Q-Rich hit 1-2 and they are up 105-99 with 3:22 left.
Ronny Turiaf hits a jumper and went 1-2 from the strip to cut the lead to 3 until Wade layup gets it back to 5 with 2:30 to go. O’Neal had a chance to up the lead, but couldn’t convert efficiently down the stretch.
Curry wills in a leaning jumper and Warriors are down 108-106 with just over 1minute left. Miami gave Golden state every chance in the world to tie or take the lead at the end of this one. Turiaf pulled down the Udonis Haslem miss with 14.9 left and it looked like Nellie wanted to call timeout but his guys just went down court. No surprise here, but they went for the jugular. But Anthony Morrow’s three was no good and Jermaine O’Neal secured the rebound. Golden State fouled him and sent the Heat center to the line with a chance to put this one out of reach. O’Neal was unable to convert on either attempt giving the Warriors another chance to tie or win the game. Nellie called a timeout with 8.8 seconds left to stop the clock and draw something up still down 108-106.
With ball advanced to the front court after the timeout, Curry was the in bounder. He threw a pass to the top of the three-point line where Turiaf caught it. Curry quickly ran to the ball and received the handoff from him. Wade was unable to fight threw the screen and O’Neal hedged the play as Turiaf rolled to the basket. Curry then threw a nice pass to Turiaf but he couldn’t catch it. Arroyo came up with the ball and was fouled. He made both free throws and it was a wrap after that.
Overall: Basketball is all about execution. The Warriors ran a pick-and-roll at the end…surprise, surprise. NBA teams run that play on almost every offensive possession. Golden State had that play working all night, especially with Curry and Turiaf, but they just couldn’t squeeze another drop out of the orange.
110-106 Miami Heat Win
Miami: Dwyane Wade looked like he was getting back to his old self as the game went along. He finished with 35 points, 12 assists, and 6 rebounds. Wade owns nice houses, fancy cars, and the Golden State Warriors. He has scored 70 points against them in the two meetings this year. Quentin Richardson and Michael Beasley each scored 15 points and Jermaine O’Neal had 14 points while grabbing 12 rebounds. Besides Wade’s big performance, Carlos Arroyo was the key. He limited the minutes Mario Chalmers played and gave Rafer Alston a permanent seat on the bench since the first quarter with his solid play. Arroyo chipped in with 14 points, had 5 assists, 5 boards, and didn’t commit a single turnover in almost 34 minutes of action. He stabilized the position and gave the Heat a much needed boost of energy while also playing some good defense.
Golden State: They had some chances at the end of the game but weren’t able to take advantage. At times they were tough to watch on the offensive end since they shot so many three’s, and a lot of bad ones. It would be one thing if they were making them, but they went 9-31 from deep. They did however fight and scrap with only eight players dressed. Anthony Morrow led the way with 24 points and 7 rebounds, but shot just 2-10 from three-point land. CJ Watson added 20 points and 6 steals. Ronny Turiaf had a nice game with 15 points and 7 rebounds. But the Warriors best player was with out a doubt rookie Stephen Curry. In reading this piece you might think the dude who looks like a kid but has a grown man’s game might be a relative of mine, but I just call them like I see them. He is super impressive for a first-year player and is a definite ROY candidate. Curry plays the game with such poise and a great understanding like an old veteran. He really is the closest thing to a Steve Nash in the League. His ability pass the ball with either hand in any kind of fashion is tremendous. Curry is also a maker of shots. There isn’t anywhere on the court he can’t score from. Bottom line, Stephen Curry makes other players on the court better and that is the true sign of a great player. The future is scary bright for him.
Wade on winning ugly: “Pretty is overrated, we’re going to take wins any way we can, we only have 21 games left. Any win right now is a very big win, especially in this race.”
Don Nelson on the second to last possession: “I thought Morrow was going to make that three to put us up one.”
Stephen Curry on the last pass to Turiaf: “I am a little surprised he didn’t catch it with the amount of times we connected.”