Heartbreak in Miami


Sometimes I really hate being right, and this was most definitely one of those times. As soon as I heard that Kirk Hinrich — our best (and only) anti-Dwyane Wade defender — was hurting, a feeling of dread washed over me. I said as much before the game. I happen to think the word “great” gets thrown around way too much, but Wade truly is a great player. And the great ones, when they sense weakness in an opponent, they attack. As far as I’ve been able to tell, Wade is a pretty nice guy, but there’s a little Cobra Kai in him. Look in his eyes and you see a killer. Watch him play, and you can almost hear John Kreese saying, “We do not train to be merciful here. Mercy is for the weak. Here, on the court, in competition, a man confronts you, he is the enemy. An enemy deserves no mercy.”

Sure enough, Wade showed little mercy in Miami’s 130-127 double overtime victory. (Although he didn’t sweep the leg, so that’s something.) He didn’t care about Kirk’s bruised quad, or the fact that the Bulls were without Luol Deng (stress fracture) and Tim Thomas (hyperextended knee), forcing Vinny Del Negro to use a seven-man rotation that resulted in three of his starters logging 50+ minutes and two others going 45+. Wade attacked. The numbers were gaudy and borderline ridiculous: 48 points, 15-for-21 from the field, 5-for-6 from downtown, 13-for-18 from the line, 6 rebounds, 12 assists, 4 steals and 3 blocked shots in 50 minutes of playing time. Dude was so hot he even knocked down a buzzer-beater from almost halfcourt at the end of the first half. It was like watching a video game. Heck, I not sure I could replicate that performance on NBA Live, even if I set the game to “Infant,” which is a difficulty setting I just made up for the purposes of dramatic exaggeration.

But it takes more than wicked-crazy numbers to claim victory. Just as Wade. Remember, it was only a few weeks ago that he scored a career-high 50 points in a 23-point loss to the Orlando Magic. Against the Bulls, he did more than score and dish and steal and block. He nailed an ultra-clutch three to tie the game with 11.5 seconds in regulation, thus forcing the first overtime session. Then, at the end of the second overtime, with the game tied at 127, the Bulls had possession of the ball with an opportunity to run down the clock and take the final shot. Only Wade stole the ball and drilled a running lightning bolt from beyond the arc as the buzzer sounded. Check it out:

Amazing, huh? I can think of only a handful of ways Wade’s game could have been more epic: If it had come against the Cavaliers, Celtics or Lakers; if it had happened in the playoffs (preferably a seventh game); if he had simultaneously saved all the children and a puppy from a burning orphanage; or if it had caused the fall of the Dark Lord Sauron’s tower of Barad-dûr. Sadly — for Chicago fans, anyway — Wade’s heroic, virtuoso performance ruined an what would have been an incredible and hope-lifting victory. Ben Gordon nearly matched Wade shot-for-shot, scoring 43 points (14-for-23) and hitting 8 (out of 11) three-pointers. John Salmons added another 29 points (not to mention 8 boards). Derrick Rose scored 23 (although it took him 25 shots to do it) and snared 8 rebounds, which is pretty impressive for a point guard not named “Jason Kidd.” Joakim Noah pulled down a game-high 15 rebounds. Brad Miller (9 points, 10 boards) and Kirk Hinrich (8 points, 3 assists) chipped in off the bench.

It was a brave and gutty effort, but Chicago simply couldn’t trump the superstar factor. I suppose you could call this a feel-good loss. The Bulls can take comfort in that fact that not many living men could have done what Wade did last night. LeBron, probably. Kobe, maybe (although I can’t remember many occasions in which he scored 40+ and dished 10+ assists…if any). But that’s about it. Honestly, I’m not sure what else the Bulls could have done. Can you game plan against fate? It’s kind of like that asteroid that buzzed the Earth last week. By the time we noticed it, all we could do was watch and hope it didn’t kill us all. Humans survived, obviously. And so did the Bulls. Someday, probably sooner than later, I’m sure they’ll be able to appreciate taking part in a true regular season classic. Right now, though, it’s gotta hurt…particularly since they fell back into a “virtual tie” with Milwaukee for the final playoff spot in the East.

Heroes and goats: Wade and Gordon were the Players of the Game for their repective teams, but they each had a goat moment. The Bulls were up 103-101 at the end of regulation when Miami was forced to foul Gordon with 20.7 seconds left. BG bonked the first and then hit the second, giving Chicago a 104-101 lead that was in no way safe. As amazing as Wade is, even he can’t hit a four-pointer, since such a shot doesn’t exist. But a clutch three? No problem.

Wade, on the other hand, missed two foul shots with 17.1 seconds left in the first overtime. That enabled John Salmons to tie things up with 3.7 seconds left. Wade still had a chance to win it before the end of that first OT, but he blew a a reverse lay-up with 1.1 seconds left. Said Wade: “Probably the easiest game-winner I ever had in my life and I missed it. I couldn’t believe it. I had to find a way to get it back.”

Odd man out: Brad Miller got 46 minutes of daylight. Tyrus “I thought he was the future” Thomas, on the other hand, played only 22 minutes, contributing 4 points (2-for-5), 5 rebounds, 4 turnovers and 4 fouls. Miller’s arrival is causing Tyrus to fade, like vapor, and I don’t think that’s a good thing. There were some times in the game where we could have used his shot-blocking presence around the rim. When Chris Quinn is getting to the hoop at will, well, you know there’s a problem. Of course, Tyrus didn’t help his cause by picking up a technical with 2:28 left in the third quarter. The reason? He threw his gum at a nearby official after picking up his fourth foul. Not a good idea.

Extras: Recap, Box Score, Play-By-Play, Shot Chart, Photos.

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10 Responses to Heartbreak in Miami

  1. foilfence@gmail.com'
    foilfence March 10, 2009 at 1:55 pm #

    No grilling of VDN? XD

    P.S. Great work with this blog, bawful.

  2. jdyme1@gmail.com'
    Stormin Norman March 10, 2009 at 4:03 pm #

    The disappearance of Tyrus Thomas is disturbing, but was that jump shot really helping anyone? I mean I know we want Tyrus to develop, but a big man shooting under 45% from the field can only be hurting our offensive efficiency. (but god I love his blocks and ferocious slams). Check this out:


    Tough to be too mad about this loss htough, they played Miami tough down to the wire.

  3. mark.t.paulson@gmail.com'
    Mark March 10, 2009 at 4:05 pm #

    VDN left Ben Gordon on DWade way too long. He should have had Salmons on him a lot more..although Salmons was having a hard time keeping up with him in the overtimes, but you could tell that he had almost no legs left. I think you have to put BG on Jamario Moon and make him beat you, not Wade. It’s not ideal, but it was a layup-fest when BG was guarding Dwayne.

    Great game though. I’d like to see VDN have a longer leash with Tyrus as I think Tyrus tries too hard to make something happen because he knows he’s not going to get the minutes he was getting in January-February. Having said that, he does annoy me a little bit when you see what kind of an impact he can make if he sticks to what he did in his short stint in OT where he blocked a shot and got a tip-dunk.

  4. john@illiniboard.com'
    Peter Clayton A. Smith March 10, 2009 at 4:50 pm #

    Admittedly, last night all I was able to watch was the final minutes of regulation and the overtime periods, but there were some things in the game that frustrated me, but some that I liked.

    For one, the play that was designed at the end of regulation was just bad. I know Stacy King tried to show that the Heat just played good defense on that play, but the amount of originality in designing the play was about what I would see in a junior high game. It seems like typical end of game play design from Vinny, and the entire world knew Derrick would get the ball and then try to get it to Ben Gordon, most likely after a high-pick. But Gordon didn’t move from the wing, and was easily guarded by a chair, let alone an NBA basketball player. Sure, Rose could have hit the layup and it would have been great, but he missed it and Noah missed the tip, and it highlighted just how bad the design actually was.

    Then the other major thing I remember is that I think the Heat had the Bulls scouted very very well. In the two steals Wade had against Salmons, it was during Salmons favorite move from the top of the floor, drive right, stop, and put the ball behind your back to go left. Wade rushed him both times right as he put the ball behind the back and got two easy steals, one leading directly to the end of the game.

    Also, I know we want to see Thomas get more playing time, but man the guy has some mental brain lapses when he plays. When he took that 17-footer before his tip dunk, I almost ripped out my hair. Why would someone coming in the game cold who is not known for their jump shot besides in their own mind, take a seventeen-footer with the game on the line? It is plays like that why he ends up sitting next to Vinny, Bernie, and Del instead of on the court more. Would Brad Miller have taken that shot? Doubtful, and that is why he is seeing more time over Thomas.

  5. kroc05@hotmail.com'
    Kyle March 10, 2009 at 5:46 pm #

    I thought matt would tackle this but how does wade play 50 minutes and not get called for one foul. I know, I know Wade’s a great player blah blah blah, but he gets more help from the refs than any player i have ever watched. He reached on players ALL DAY LONG, and charges and travels and all of it, and NEVER gets called. Meanwhile if any other team, from the Mavs in 06, to the Bulls last night, so much as breath on him, he gets a whistle. King was saying it last night, he gets the quickest whistle in the nba by far. The refereeing last night was atrocious, and i just can’t take it anymore. 50 minutes, no fouls, pulease

  6. sixthman3@hotmail.com'
    Kevin March 10, 2009 at 7:04 pm #

    I walked out of the house after that last shot with that sick feeling that was only dulled by the shock of what had just happened…..

    That one hurt a bit..

  7. davidpaulroosa@yahoo.com'
    AK Dave March 10, 2009 at 9:25 pm #

    What a stomach-punch game.

    I really think Hinrich would have been useful to have in this game. He seems to really frustrate Dwayne Wade, Ray Allen, and similar players.

    Also, Hinrich grabbed Wade’s wrist while chasing him around a screen and yanked his arm out-of-socket back in ’07. So, you know, he’s like the Bull’s version of Donald Brashear, only without the boxing ability or puck-handling skills.

    OK, that was a stretch…

  8. griffithnomore@yahoo.com'
    Trans March 11, 2009 at 8:15 am #

    Interestingly enough, Kobe did throw up a 53, 10, and 10 in a double OT game against the Rockets in ’06. Actually, he only had 8 assists, but I’m awarding him two extra because Smush Parker and Kwame Brown were starting.

  9. nicholson.db@gmail.com'
    Dan Nicholson March 11, 2009 at 11:57 pm #

    And this all could have been a completely different story if BG could have just hit two free throws at the end of regulation.


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