One of the league's true long-range gluttons feasted in the first quarter. House's stroke was unconscious and his shot selection was unconscionable -- but who cares? He scored 19 points in the period on 8-for-9 shooting from the field. Although he has been used sparingly, we just have a hunch that House will drain a big bucket or two in a crucial spot this spring.
Erik Spoelstra gave Magloire a boatload of minutes in the center's hometown. The "Big Cat" was a beast on the glass, served as an oversized traffic cone on screens and muscled his way for a strong putback off a Dexter Pittman miss. The Heat might need Magloire's fouls in the playoffs, but this figures to be his last extended action of the season, barring injury.
The rookie earned the first basket of his career in the second quarter on a nifty roll to the hoop on a screen-and-roll with Mario Chalmers. Pittman did everything on the play you want to see -- a strong dive, soft hands on the catch and a nice touch on his lefty hook inside. With a little more conditioning, Pittman should contribute next season.
The expectations were astronomical, and falling short of 60 wins has to come as a surprise. Yet when you account for major injuries to the team's fourth- and fifth-best players and the inevitable feeling-out process, the season can't be deemed a disappointment. The most encouraging signs have come recently, as Spoelstra has refined the offense with creative new wrinkles.
The Raps have a couple of tent poles in slasher DeMar DeRozan and skilled big man Ed Davis, a couple of curious reclamation projects in Julian Wright and James Johnson, and stretch big Andrea Bargnani. However you appraise this collection of talent, they desperately need some defensive direction -- a system that demands accountability -- if they're going to improve in 2011-12.