Well guys, I think the best way to take care of the recap for this game is to simply make three main points. I’ll start by making it very clear that the Heat are good at basketball. Ridiculously so, really. Especially those Lebron James and Dwayne Wade guys. Anyways, here are my three thoughts:
1) The Wolves came out of the gate a little more aggressive than Miami was expecting, taking a quick 6-0 lead before James and Wade decided to try, scoring 15 of the Heat’s first 17 points. Bosh got into the act at the end of the quarter, and the Heat led 22-16.
At the midway point of the second frame, the Heat had 16 baskets. Thirteen (13 of 16!) of them were dunks or layups. With Greg Stiemsma and Chris Johnson picking up two fouls apiece before the end of the first quarter, the Wolves went to their very small three-guard lineup, only aiding the Heat in their quest for shots at the rim. The Heat took an easy 50-43 lead into the break. Despite committing 9 turnovers to the Wolves’ 7, the Heat shot 59% from the floor while the home team managed just 43%.
After a sloppy, back and-forth third quarter, the Heat led 69-63 headed into the fourth period. With about eight minutes remaining in the tilt, the Wolves pulled within 76-70 on a driving layup by Alexey Shved. On the other end of the court, Ray Allen used an off arm to nudge Barea as J.J. accentuated the contact, as only J.J. can. There was no call, and as Allen drove to the basket, Barea thrusted his body forward, knocking Allen to the floor. Allen took (a little too much) exception, and a small scrum ensued. During the commercial break, crew chief Ed Malloy made the baffling (and frankly, egregious) decision to call a flagrant-2 foul and eject Barea.
Adelman lost his mind and became about as angry as I have seen him in his tenure as Timberwolves’ coach and picked up a technical. From there, the Wolves unraveled, and the Heat eventually pulled away and won easily by the score of 97-81.
2) The Wolves played hard. Rubio was sloppy with the ball throughout the game, finishing with 6 turnovers to go along with his 14 points (6-11 shooting, 2-4 3pt, 0-3 FTs), 8 assists 6 steals, and 5 rebounds. His ball-hawking was, as usual, nothing short of impressive. Watching him twice deny Norris Cole’s terrible entry passes to Dwayne Wade before stealing the ball and heading down the court with a beautiful assist to Shved on the fastbreak was fantastic.
Speaking of Shved, he finally showed some signs of life after being horrendous for almost two months now. He scored 13 points on 5 of 8 from the field, and had a three-point basket wiped away by our old friend Ed Malloy shortly after the Barea ejection debacle. It was nice to see Alexey playing hard again, and for the most part, succeeding.
Derrick Williams played a game-high 45 minutes. While he was aggressive, he shot just 10 of 22 from the field, and clanked a few open mid-range jumpers. He added 10 rebounds and played hard on defense, but his recent success with mid-range shooting makes me worry that he will become all too comfortable with the inefficient long two-point shot.
More than a quarter of Williams’ shots on the season have come from mid-range, and he is hitting on just 37.9% from there (via NBA.com’s new stats tool). Lately, Williams has been better, and has understood when to take jumpers in the flow of the offense. Against the Heat, Williams forced a couple of mid-range shots in addition to blowing a few open looks.
3) Ed Malloy. Oof. From the flagrant-two call resulting in Barea ejection to the Shved kick-out-the-leg-on-the-three-pointer call, he had himself a rough evening. The three-point call was borderline, but Shved did not flop on the play and did not look to be simply trying to draw a foul. He has a natural leg-kick in his shooting motion, like a number of players happen to have (see: LeBron James).
The Wolves would have lost this game regardless of the officiating meltdown, there is no doubt in my mind about that. But man, it got brutal. Post-game, Adelman made a valid point regarding Jarrett Jack’s forearm shiver to Stiemsma a few games ago warranting only a flagrant-one, while Barea’s hip-check was worthy of an ejection. Not to mention Serge Ibaka’s full-fledged, wind-up, below-the-belt punch on Blake Griffin on Sunday afternoon. That was all kinds of worse than Barea’s foul against Ray Allen.
Let’s push through the next couple of weeks until Kevin Love and Chase Budinger return. Let’s hope for a Nikola Pekovic and Andrei Kirilenko return some time before that. And let’s hope that the return of four of the top six players on the team will be enough to give us an entertaining and encouraging final few weeks of the season. Coach Adelman needs it. Ricky needs it. Over-extended role players such as Dante Cunningham and Luke Ridnour need it.
And the fans need it. An encouraging final month is our final hope for the 2012-13 NBA season. It’s all we are asking for at this point. Please, don’t take that away from us, too.