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Baseline to Baseline recaps: Miami malaise means another loss

Mar 27, 2012, 9:00 AM EST

Miami Heat's Dwayne Wade and LeBron James talk during an NBA basketball game in Indianapolis Reuters

What you missed while being freaked out by 9-pound Gambian rats….

Knicks 89, Bucks 80: It wasn’t pretty. Actually, it was put-a-bag-over-it ugly. But with this win the Knicks are far more likely to make the playoffs, and it was our game of the night.

Pacers 105, Heat 90: I don’t want to go all Jimmy Carter on you guys, but there is a malaise in Miami.

First off, let’s not take anything away from the Pacers here. Miami came in coasting, the Pacers showed up with their lunch pails. Indiana wanted this more. The game was close through the first half but Paul George hit a three at the halftime buzzer to give the Pacers the lead. Then in the third quarter the Pacers outscored the Heat 29-19 and that is where they earned a win. Danny Granger had 25 points, Darren Collison 20 and the Pacers just outworked the Heat play after play.

Miami is 4-4 in its last 8 and that is certainly not talent. Their offense has been off (just 95.7 points per 100 possessions against the Pacers) as they have slowed it down and gotten away from the “pace and space” system used earlier in the season. They are not executing. Every team suffers lulls, but it is magnified with the Heat. It’s still a month until the playoffs, but the Heat have things they need to figure out.

Pistons 79, Wizards 77: The Wizards seemed to have this one, but they shot 31.5 percent in the final quarter, meanwhile the Pistons made huge runs — 12-1 at one point, 10-4 at another. Rodney Stuckey had 12 of his game-high 24 in the fourth quarter, including the game winner. The Wizards should kick themselves for the missed opportunities.

Celtics 102, Bobcats 95: This was closer than one would expect — credit the Bobcats or blame Celtics depending on your viewpoint. The Bobcats put up 35 on whatever it was the Celtics tried to pass off for defense in the second quarter, and it was a two-point game at the half (favoring Boston). From there on the Boston held on to get the win but never pulled away for the blowout everyone expected. Paul Pierce had 36 points, 10 boards to lead Boston.

Still, a win is a win — this victory tied the Celtics with the 76ers for the lead in the Atlantic Division. With a division crown the Celtics run with the Big Three lasts a little longer.

Jazz 105, Nets 84: Utah played four overtimes the night before, got on a plane, flew to New Jersey and played with far more energy than New Jersey. Paul Millsap had 24 and Al Jefferson 19 as the Jazz pounded the Nets inside and cruised to an easy win.

Nuggets 108, Bulls 91: Chicago pushed out to a first quarter lead but Denver hung around because they hit 5-of-7 threes early on. It stayed close, then the Nuggets went on a 12-0 run to start the second half and they never looked back.

Of late Denver has looked like a team that could fall out of the playoffs in the West, but this was a gutty performance. They did a great job of pressuring the ball on the Bulls pick-and-roll and keeping them out of the paint — they forced the Bulls to be a perimeter team. It is where the Bulls really missed Derrick Rose. C.J. Watson had 17 for the Bulls, Ty Lawson had a great game for the Nuggets and finished with 27.

Magic 117, Raptors 101: Orlando raced out to an early 16 point lead, then Toronto closed the first quarter on an 18-4 run to make you think there might be a game here. Then a second quarter run by the Magic — sparked by Ryan Anderson, who and 9 of his 28 in the quarter — gave the Magic a healthy lead they never relinquished. Toronto is an inconsistent defensive team and the Magic are good enough to exploit it, which is what happened here.

Rockets 113, Kings 106 (OT): The Kings raced out to a 26-10 lead behind a monster night from DeMarcus Cousins (38 points, 14 rebounds), but slow and steady won the race in Houston. The Rockets chipped away at the lead all game, with Patrick Patterson having a big night (24 points off the bench and being a +18 for the game). Just signed Earl Boykins had 10 for the Rockets including four in overtime.

Clippers 97, Hornets 85: Consider this a little payback for last week. The Hornets were without the two players that sparked their upset win last week — Chris Kaman and Jason Smith — and the Clippers pulled away in the second quarter and never looked back. Denver made it close with a 13-0 fourth quarter run, but the game was never in doubt. Chris Paul had 25 points, Blake Griffin 20 for the Clippers.

Griffin’s midrange game is spotty still, so he has gone to getting all his buckets at the rim, where he is a beast. Smart move, he’s very difficult to stop down there. (Yes, eventually he does need to develop a midrange game to fully round out his talents, but when you are as had to stop around the rim as he is then you should get to the rim. He is. That’s smart basketball.)

  1. thebigkahuna23 - Mar 27, 2012 at 10:29 AM

    Why no mention of how much closer these past few wizards games have been? Obviously we’re still bottom feeders in the league but since Nene arrived we’ve been playing much better and haven’t lost by more than three points. Is it too much to ask for an extra sentence?

  2. bj1980 - Mar 27, 2012 at 11:17 AM

    (snicker) Cool liquid refreshment works better taken internally, dude.
    -BJ

  3. asublimeday - Mar 27, 2012 at 11:30 AM

    The Heats problem is not a lack of talent? It’s that kind of deep, hard-hitting analysis that brings in the Internet traffic

  4. lakerluver - Mar 27, 2012 at 12:19 PM

    Not 1, not 2, not………aww, just screw it!! If the Heat don’t win a title this season they may not win one at all. The pressure is only gonna get greater and younger teams, like the Bulls and OKC, are only getting better.

    • lmoneyfresh - Mar 27, 2012 at 12:41 PM

      Come on now, we all know the heat are just letting other teams win. According to Kurt at least. There’s always an excuse…

    • edweird0 - Mar 27, 2012 at 5:07 PM

      Dude, how many times are you gunna post this exact same comment in all the heat post? I think we got it the first couple times you made this point.

  5. 700levelvet - Mar 27, 2012 at 1:33 PM

    Pacers 105…Heat 90….
    Well, let’s be fair, they are too busy writing catchy slogans on their sneakers, and posing for face book photos to actually care about doing their job they are paid to do…….Every american male who goes to work each and every day for about 1/100,000,0 of their salaries are laughing at them, as they support their family for a fraction of the salary they earn, and aren’t con artists as this entire team seems to be……..

    • edweird0 - Mar 27, 2012 at 5:08 PM

      Someone needs to go see a shrink…

  6. lakerluver - Mar 28, 2012 at 2:12 AM

    Yea, and I posted it all last season too. And we know how that turned out, don’t we?!

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