December 18, 2009
What some see as devastating, others see as fuel. For the Miami Heat, it seems clear that the embarrassing loss over the Memphis Grizzlies fueled their renewed focus to playing winning basketball. In the two games following the Memphis loss, the Heat have defeated their opponents by an average of 19 points.
On Thursday night came Miami's most impressive victory of the season yet, dethroning the defending Eastern Conference Champion Orlando Magic handily 104-86. This puts Miami at 2-for-2 this season against the Magic, one victory coming off a last-second Michael Beasley putback and the other off last night's dominant blowout.
While speculation has been put on Dwyane Wade's regressed performance, there is no doubt that his teammates have stepped up and contributed at a greater level. Beasley recorded his 8th 20+ point game on Thursday night and continues to develop into a solid forward in the Association. Miami's bench tallied 33 combined points, with 11 of those coming from Dorrell Wright. Wade could say his efficiency has room for improvement, but the primary reason behind his declining numbers is the elevated support from the rest of the cast.
While Miami easily secured their 13th win of the season, Dwight Howard still put up stellar numbers with 17 points and 14 rebounds. It was the rest of the Magic team that was held in check by Miami. The second-leading scorer for Orlando was J.J. Redick with 13 points, followed by Mickael Pietrus' 12 points.
Above that, Miami outplayed Orlando beyond the arc and in the paint. Orlando's perimeter game was suppressed as they shot 9 of 28 for a 32.1 three-point field goal percentage. In comparison, Miami made 7 of 14 for 50% from three-point land. And surprisingly enough, the Heat outscored the Magic in the paint to the tune of 36 to 28.
With two games left in their six-game home stand, the Heat will face the Portland Trailblazers and Utah Jazz before heading out to New York for a Christmas day special against the Knicks. Miami could be in the midst of a special run to build up their record and compete for a higher seed in the East. And it is all thanks to the Memphis Grizzlies for igniting an impassioned flame in this team.
Perhaps the Grizzlies front office will be receiving a Christmas card from Wade and Company next week. 'Tis the season to be thankful.