Saturday, January 8, 2011
Notes from the Heat-Bucks rematch
By Tom Haberstroh
Looking for fouls, looking for trouble Dwyane Wade and LeBron James represent two of the best players in the league in drawing contact en route to the rim. But what happens when they don’t draw enough to get the whistle? Friday night is what happens. Combined, Wade and James missed 10 of their 13 layups against Andrew Bogut and the Bucks. James missed all four of his attempts and Milwaukee fans never even got a chance to see him dunk the ball. And as a team, the Heat shot a putrid 33.3 percent inside 10 feet, marking the Heat’s worst close-range shooting display of the season.
Wade certainly let his frustrations be heard. After missing a contested fast break lay-up in the fourth quarter, Wade threw a fit, jumping around waving his hands in the air beneath the basket at the referee. Bucks guard Chris Douglas-Roberts clearly altered the shot, but it wasn’t obvious on replay whether it was illegal or not. Wade’s tantrum earned a quick technical foul that gave the Bucks a critical extra point down the stretch.that brought the Heat lead to just four points with just under nine minutes left in the game.
Complaining after a missed shot exacerbates an already bad situation. On numerous occasions, Wade lagged behind the play to protest the official’s silence as the Bucks pushed the ball ahead. That puts the defense at a disadvantage on the other end and it’s one of the reasons the normally plodding Bucks team tallied more fast break points than the Heat on Friday night. The Blazers, the Heat’s opponent on Sunday night, rank as one of the most foul-prone defenses in the NBA so Wade may have more success with calls than he did Friday night. But he has to be careful with his temper.
Bucks blocking ‘Bron It’s nearly impossible to block LeBron James without fouling, but the Bucks managed to do it not once but four times on Friday night, all coming after halftime. How impressive is that? The four stuffs matched James’ total over his previous 20 games.
The first block came in transition as Arroyo heaved it to James for an alley-oop from halfcourt, but the pass came up short. But instead of controlling the ball and regrouping under the basket, James carelessly tried to lay it up in one motion. Douglas-Roberts flew in from the weak-side and sent the ball into the seats. That was one of two blocks that came in transition where LeBron usually flourishes at the rim.
Andrew Bogut only received box score recognition for blocking James’ shot once but he certainly deserved more. On two other occasions, James met Bogut at the rim and the Aussie’s outstretched arm caused LeBron to delay his shot. That alteration lent Bogut’s teammates the time to swoop in and send James’ shot elsewhere. The 7-footer leads the NBA in blocks per game, but that only begins to quantify his impact in the paint.
James will face another elite basket protector on Sunday night in former Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Camby. Last season, James lit up the Blazers in his two games against them, shooting 27-for-43 and scoring a combined 74 points without getting blocked once. But Camby wasn’t in uniform for them yet. We’ll see if James shows any hesitation in attacking the rim given his recent thwarted efforts.
Arroyo Bests Wade? Playing on his former home court, Wade struggled through one of his worst shooting performances of the season, missing 15 of his 19 shots from the floor. Carlos Arroyo, on the other hand, nailed several key buckets on the night and gave the Heat a much-needed scoring punch alongside the Big 3.
Interestingly enough, Arroyo -- he of 5.5 shots per game -- outscored Wade, scoring 15 points to Wade’s 14.
That got me wondering: was that the first time Arroyo has outscored Wade as a teammate?
Actually, no. Remember Wade’s forgettable 3-point night against Indiana earlier this year? Arroyo scored 12 points in that ugly game, establishing precedence for this oddity. Wade had had the upper-hand in the other 107 games. Savor it, Carlos.