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Heat Stifle Suns Offense: 109-105

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Dwyane Wade was amazing as always but it was his defensive leadership that lead his team to the win. (Photo by Max Simbron)
Dwyane Wade was amazing as always but it was his defensive leadership that lead his team to the win. (Photo by Max Simbron)

You would think the Suns would be victorious in a game where they held their opponent to 41.9% shooting and get 18 rebounds and 3 blocks from Amare en route to a 51-46 advantage on the glass. Defense and rebounding. Isn't that how games are won?

Not in Phoenix. In Phoenix you have to score to win. It was written into the State Constitution by Barry Goldwater in 1974. That's a fact. Look it up.

The Suns offense was a tale of two disastrous halves segments.

To start the game the Suns were shooting well but turning the ball over. They went 13 of 22 in the first quarter and posted 33 points. Amare was getting open dunks on the pick and roll. Leandro had 5 points in 3 minutes. Frye and Richardson had 7 each. Everyone was getting and making shots.

But then the Miami defense stepped up and locked down for the rest of the game. In second quarter alone the Suns had 9 turnovers leading to 13 Miami points. But you can't blame the Suns bench for this one. When Nash came back in at the 6:34 mark the Suns were up 44-37. From that point on Miami went on a 22-11 run which really was the difference in this game.

In the second half the Suns cleaned up the turnovers (only 6) but weren't able to get good looks and as a result went 16-44 (36%) in the final 24 minutes. Ed Note: This sentence doesn't fit here in the flow of the story but it doesn't fit anywhere else and I am not going to re-write this entire section to make it flow. Sorry.

"There was a stretch there at the end of the first half where the starters came back in the game and we were funky and out of rhythm and hung our heads a little bit. We couldn't snap out of it," said Nash about his team's questionable poor play for that 6 minute stretch of the game.

That came after the bench gave the Suns a 13 point lead while Wade rested to start the 2nd period of play.

There is no answer for why the Suns are giving up these big leads. It's not like they get up by 15 early and Gentry puts in Jarron Collins, Earl Clark and Taylor Griffin and sits back checking stock reports on his Black Berry. It's just a funk the team is in right now and at some point they will get out of it (and find some other thing to have problems with).

Amare, who had one of his better games of the season (did I mention 18 rebounds and 3 blocked shots to go along with 8 of 17 shooting?), dropped this knowledge bomb, "You can't get on your high horse, you've got to stay humble and continue to play hard."

The only specific thing that Coach Gentry would point out was the Suns lack of awareness defensively against Beasley, "You've got to be focused on personnel. I was a little disappointed because we let Beasley drive left. He had 18 points before we decided to play him the right way, he had 3 the rest of the way."

Gentry was talking about Channing Frye who had the assignment on Beasley as noted in my game notes below.

Still, you have to give credit to the Heat and Coach Gentry did, "That team is going to guard the whole game. That's been their forte from the day Pat Reilly stepping into that building for that franchise and it has continued to be that way with Eric (Spoelstra)."

The key to the Heat defense was Mr. Dwyane Wade. He was everywhere picking off passes and disrupting the offense. Coach Spoelstra said this about his MVP caliber super-duper-star, "He's a playmaker. A playmaker on both ends of the floor. He was our free safety defensively on the back line. They spread you out so much. They put a perimeter down in the corner so you have to have a guy athletic enough to make those kind of plays."

The most impressive play of the game came when the Heat trapped Nash in the high screen and roll and he found Channing for what appeared to be yet another wide open three at the top of the arc. Wade fly in from below the free throw line and blocked Frye's attempt. Frye is 6'11" and had his shot blocked by a rotating guard. That's probably the best individual defensive play I've seen all season.

Wade's offense wasn't bad either but it wasn't great. He was 11 for 25 with 33 points including 9/10 from the line. He didn't destroy the Suns in the paint and he wasn't super efficient but after scoring 16 in the 3rd quarter the Suns were forced to focus on him and were determined to "make someone else win the game".

In the fourth quarter the Suns defense was pretty good. Wade only had 1 point and 1 assist but his teammates moved the ball and made shots. 8 of 18 of them against a Suns zone that was probably over used.

"We prepared for it. It kind of caught us by surprise last game but this game we kind of knew they were going to throw it at us and we executed our game plan," Michael Beasley said about the Suns zone defense.

Beasley was good. Considering the Suns only covered with Channing Frye who not only blew the scouting report but simply is not quick enough to stay with him. Just like when teams cover Amare with a big, Beasley was able to get wide open jump shots if Frye laid off or drive smoothly to the rim when he didn't. Lou did a better job on Beasley which goes to show that while he is skilled and he was intense in his play, he's a guy best suited as a 3rd or 4th option on a good team.

Rafer Alston in his debut with the Heat played great. He wasn't the out of control showing boating guy we remember from Houston and Orlando. He let the game come to him, pushed the ball when appropriate and played very solid individual defense on Nash. In fact, he did as well on Nash as anyone this year.

Rafer Alston: Smart play. Good defense. Winner. Go figure.

Despite all that mess the Suns managed to take a 1 point lead with 1:21 to go. Gentry went to the zone again and did a good job denying Wade anything (which is saying something). Wade gave up the ball and Alston wasn't able to penetrate either and instead of jacking up a contested fade-away he swung it to a wide open Jermaine O'Neal who drained (get it, his nickname used to be The Drain) a baseline 15 footer.

On the other end the Suns pushed the ball and got Richardson a wide open corner three which he missed. JO grabbed the rebound and was fouled. He made both and the game was effectively over.

D Wade's defense. Rafer Alston's smart play. Jermaine O'Neal comes through in the clutch.

What more can you say?

Game Links:

 

Game Notes Take in Real Time (Because you just can't get enough of the pain)

1st Qtr:

 

  • Frye starts on Beasley. Amare on JO
  • Amare starts with solid help defense to stuff Wade on the baseline and then runs down the court and gets and 1 (except he missed the FT so it was an and none)
  • D Wade...wow
  • Steve Nash....wow
  • Beasley going after Frye. That's a mismatch the Heat can exploit. Scores two in a row
  • Hill feeling it tonight. Good to see
  • Both teams shooting well to start. Suns 8/10. Heat 8/13. D-fence!
  • JO still has some game left. Nice post move - turnaround fade
  • LB first guard off the bench - runs classic back door cut w/ Nash. Money...oh and then he hits a three
  • When LB is shooting well the Suns are almost impossible to beat (sound familiar?)
  • Suns up 33-23. Brett from AOL just asked me "Do they blow the lead in the 1st half or 2nd half"
  • Amare with the block. He's playing solid D
  • Lou in for Frye. This isn't a Robin Game. Lou's a better matchup
  • 33-27 end of the qtr. I guess the answer to Brett's question was, 1st

2nd Qtr

  • Dragic with horrible turnover on the break. Indecisive on where he wanted to pass and ended up walking
  • Dragic comes back and scores on the next two possessions. Love to see that
  • Amare with 3 blocks already and 6 rebounds. NO FOULS. Playing a great game
  • Heat offense doesn't seem to have an plan. They just kind of randomly do stuff. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn't
  • Beasley is very smooth with the ball...like a da butta
  • LB really is a black hole. I think the 2nd unit moves the ball much better with him on the bench. Dudley said something the other day about that. Something about everyone touching the ball and moving it. I think he was talking about LB being a black hole
  • Heat on a run after Suns (Nash) turn the ball over a couple of time. Dorrell Wright getting his hands on balls (yes, I said it)
  • and we have our answer..Heat take lead 46-45 in 2nd quarter. Phoenix - Where leads come to die
  • Beasley looking good. Of course that's against Channing who simply can't check him but still nice inside and outside game
  • Suns now down 50-55. Gentry calls another timeout...its a game of runs and the Suns defense has run away
  • JRich bails out a horrible offensive possession with a long contested 3. Saved at the Bell?
  • Suns shooting 54% to Heat 42% and are down 2. Three guesses as to why....
  • a) Rebounding b) Turnovers c) Free throws
  • That's correct. B - turnovers. 9 of them and only 4 for Miami
  • Make that 11. 6 for Nash
  • Suns down 59-53. Horrible end to the half on both ends and in the middle too

3rd Qtr

  • Nash and Wade both on track for triple doubles. Nash: 4 pts (you know that won't last), 7 assists, 6 turnovers. Wade: 16 pts, 6 assists, 7 rebounds
  • Amare's first foul of the game comes on the offensive end. I like that
  • Nash looking all out of sorts
  • There's been at least one Chinese media person at every Suns game this year
  • You might not consider Amare a Center but he's playing C on both ends of this game
  • Wade just blocked Frye's three point attempt. You don't see that every day
  • Heat really are playing better D. They are rotating well on pick and rolls and Suns shooters are not passing the ball well finding open players. Suns haven't figured it out yet but I think they will
  • Good defensive teams are adjusting to the Suns pick and rolls. You can't do anything in this league too many times without teams figuring it out. Got to mix up the offensive a little bit
  • Suns in the zone a lot in this quarter. Heat shooting 42% so there's that
  • Rafer looks pretty good in his first game. Not trying to do too much. If only he always played this way
  • Suns had a lead in this quarter but you know how that movies ends. Heat up 81-76. Still the only lead that counts is at the end of 48 minutes

4th Qtr

  • Robin starts the 4th with Amare. That's different
  • LB passed the ball twice on that possession. Well done
  • Heat lead 20-6 in points off turnovers and 10-3 on second chance points
  • Dragic and LB being aggressive drawing fouls. Heat already have 3. Suns none. That will help later in the quarter. Remember these words
  • Make that 4 team fouls for Heat. 0 for Suns
  • Dragic needs to NOT MISS FREE THROWS. 2/4 is ok for Lou. Not for Gogi
  • Beasley was quite animated after being called for a charge. Didn't look very laid back to me, brah
  • Grant doing a much better job on Beasley than Frye. The Grant / LB fast break is very fast
  • Suns within 3 when Nash come back in at 6:36 mark. Nicely done by Suns bench. +2 w/ Nash resting. I will take that. Plus they got Miami in foul trouble. Did I mention that?
  • Nash time
  • Horrible call. Amare took that charge the old fashion way. How do they blow that?
  • Heat up 96-88 with 5:45 to go
  • Frye and Jason hit back to back three's to close it to 3 points. Suns D playing well as well which is all well and well
  • If you are ever with me at a game and you go nuts over free t-shirts, I am leaving you
  • Suns crowd on their feet with 4:45 to go cheering for Defense. Wow
  • Hill pump faked an open corner three. Drove baseline and rose up for a one-hand slam. Fouled by JO but still. Drink Sprite. Often
  • Too much zone. Heat are finally finding ways to move the ball and get it to JO on the baseline by the rim
  • Rafer Alston playing solid D on Nash. Go figure
  • Suns stepping it up on both ends. 1 point game. Wade hasn't scored yet this period
  • JRich gets and misses a wide open three in transition. Amare on the other side grabs the big OReb and gets fouled and hits both his FTA's. Amare's got 16 rebounds playing against JO most of the night
  • Suns do a solid job denying Wade but Hill gets called for a foul on the rebound. Tough call. Probably the right call but still...tough. Wade misses first FTA. Makes second. Ball Kinda Fibs
  • Amare PUMPED on that tip in!!! YES!! Tie game
  • Wow. Great finish. Suns playing hard to close this out. Up 1 with ball. 56 seconds. Crowd is awesome
  • Suns play solid D and force JO to take the big shot. He hits it. Heat deny and force JRich to take the big shot. He misses. JO hits both FTA's. Suns down 3 with 10 seconds. Nash for three to tie? I think you give this shot to Frye
  • Great play to get Nash an open three but not this time
  • Great D by the Heat to win this game