Monday, March 4, 2013

The Big Game March 4--Miami Heat 97 Minnesota Timberwolves 81

It was 6:05 when my buddy Mase called to say that he couldn't use his Timberwolves tickets tonight. Let's see. I've got 55 minutes to finish dinner, change clothes, brush my teeth, find somebody to ride shotgun, and get my ass from Stillwater down to the Target Center for a 7 p.m. gametime. I must have hesitated because he added, I'm really pissed that I'm going to miss LeBron the one time he comes here all year long. I knew that. I'm good, I said.

Well, I never did find that shotgun, and I missed the first 1:30, enough time for the Wolves to take a 4-0 lead. Quickly it was 6-0 as Ricky Rubio hit a pretty reverse layup. Looks like a rout, I thought. NOT. This won't last is more like it, and it didn't. 6-0 was their largest lead of the night. 8-7 was the last lead of the night. Suddenly it was 15-8, then 20-12, then 29-18.

And don't let anybody tell you any different. Miami is LeBron and Wade, Wade and LeBron. For most of the night, Luke Ridnour guarded Wade while Mickael Gelabale guarded LeBron, each giving up 35-45 pounds. At one point in the 2nd half, I noted that LeBron and Wade had out-scored Ridnour and Gelabale 40-10. The final tally was 52-15.

Nevertheless the officials, especially #14 Ed Malloy, thought the Heat needed their help, and it was delivered. The Wolves fought back time after time, and trailed 71-68 after a 3 by Alexey Shved and 76-70 after a Shved layup at 8:19. Down at the other end Ray Allen clearly pushed off J.J. Barea with his off hand, then took off for the rim. Barea recovered and raced to intervene, which he did, giving Allen a bump, one that failed to knock Allen off his feet. Initially the officials called a flagrant-1 foul, which was totally inappropriate. But after Allen went after Barea, 5 inches shorter and 30 pounds lighter, the officials asked Mr. Allen what would be his pleasure, apparently, and his pleasure would be a flagrant-2 and an ejection, and that is what Barea now got. Before they could get the clock started again, Adelman got a T.

It is dangerous, of course, to be right when the officials are wrong. So the next 2 times down the court the Wolves were whistled for offensive fouls. Shved hit a 3 and was clearly whacked across the arms. No call. In fact, when the Wolves shot a 3, Miami as often as not put the shooter on the ground. All night long, not a single call on a 3.

Bottom line: Miami plays physical, they play hard, they get away with shit, and they cannot be beaten when they are doing those 3 things. They go to the rim and when they do, their teammates find them for dunks and layups in large numbers: 24 of 38 FG tonight were dunks and layups. Their passing is impeccable. They out-scored Minnesota 21-9 after Barea's so-called "hit," with 15 of those 21 points coming on dunks and layups.

Miami shot 24-of-28 (86 percent) on layups and dunks, 14-of-46 (30 percent) on all other shots. LeBron 7-of-8 on dunks and layups, 2-of-8 otherwise. They're just another team when they're not dunking.

Player of the Day: #14 in the gray, official Ed Malloy, did what the Heat had been unable to do, he made sure the Wolves rally came to a halt

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