Welcome to your Friday morning fix of “What Happened Last Night?” Plenty to discuss, so… discussion, commence.
More like the Miami Tepidity (nailed it).
Sure, they’re the defending champs and their 23-11 record remains the best in the East, but the Heat have looked pretty ordinary lately. A 92-90 loss to the Blazers in Portland last night, a game in which the Heat blew a 12-point lead with eight minutes to go, marked the Heat’s second straight defeat – and fifth in their last eight games. (And two of those three wins were in overtime against teams with losing records.) It also dropped Miami to under .500 this season on the road (7-8). The team struggled at times last season, too, it should be noted, and still won the title. Maybe this is no more than the type of rough patch most teams go through, even good ones.
But the Heat have rarely been in top form this season. There’s the “under. 500 on the road” thing, there was the “ranked in the bottom third of the league in defense efficiency for a while despite tough, swarming defense being one of the team’s hallmarks” thing (in fairness, they’ve improved in the league rankings since then), there were the myriad close wins against teams they should have beaten more easily, and now, this latest rough patch. Perhaps the Heat can just turn it on when they really need to, like they did in the Christmas win over the Thunder. Based on what they’ve shown the first half of this season, they’d better hope so.
None of this, though, is meant to downplay what the Blazers did last night – it was an awfully impressive display of resolve and clutch shooting from Portland, and by Wesley Matthews, who made the team’s final two shots – both threes – in particular. And as much as the Heat have struggled on the road, the Blazers are a really good team at the Rose Garden – they now spot a 13-4 record there. They’re 20-15 overall, seventh in the West, and they’ve now won four in a row. Not bad for a team that went 28-38 last season and has relied heavily on a rookie (Damian Lillard) all year. Even if things had to go exactly right for last night’s win to happen, the how ultimately matters less than that it happened. This was a huge win for Portland.
And we should also probably mention LeBron’s struggles last night. His season-opening streak of 33 straight 20-plus-point games finally ended, as he put up just 15 on 16 shots. He was bound to go cold enough for the streak to end at some point, and last night happened to be a night when his teammates couldn’t quite pick up the slack – Dwyane Wade struggled too, shooting just 6-for-18. In fact, the guy keeping Miami in the game? That was Chris Bosh, who scored 29 on 13-for-18 shooting, and while he had just four rebounds, he also blocked four shots. A great night for the oft-forgotten man – and since the Heat lost, this effort, too, will likely be forgotten.
Around the Association…
Only a couple other games last night – in one, the Pacers beat the Knicks 81-76. That represented a season-low point total for New York, which is the kind of thing that happens when you shoot 34.8 percent from the field. The Pacers only shot 39.2 percent themselves, but last night, it was enough to win – and don’t discount the role their defense played in the Knicks’ cold shooting. Indiana’s one of the best defensive teams in basketball, and as of late, they’re one of the best teams, period, with 12 wins in their last 15 games. And in the other game, the Mavs beat the Kings in overtime, 117-112. Even with Dirk back, O.J. Mayo led the way for Dallas, with 24 points, 10 rebounds and five assists.
Actual college basketball upset alert!
Oregon was 12-2 going into last night’s showdown in Eugene against No. 4 Arizona, but hadn’t done enough to earn a ranking itself. That’s about to change. The Ducks handed the Wildcats their first loss of the season last night, 70-66, with everyone chipping in (no Duck scored more than 14, no starter scored fewer than nine) and deadeye shooting from long range (7-for-11 as a team).
Arizona’s had some shaky wins – their last three were all by single digits, and the largest margin of victory came in an overtime game they should have lost – but it’s still big for Oregon to finally knock them off. In his third season with the Ducks, Dana Altman appears to be building a pretty nice program. Good week for Oregon sports as a whole, eh?
The Browns have a coach.
And that coach is… Rob Chudzinski, erstwhile offensive coordinator of the Panthers. This decision came as an out-of-nowhere surprise to pretty much everyone, and not without some disappointment. Chudzinski’s a coordinator who’s never been a head coach, and that makes it easy to draw parallels to Pat Shurmur, the guy the Browns just fired. After supposedly being close to a deal with Chip Kelly, the big name of the moment, getting a guy known as Chud instead won’t inspire much enthusiasm.
None of that means he’ll fail, of course. The Browns do have some young talent to work with, they’ll get more of it in the draft this year, and the reported hiring of Norv Turner to his staff is a good start. But for those who expected the under-new-management Browns to make a splash – this was a light ripple, and the ripple was caused partly by laughter at the nickname “Chud.” We shall see how it goes from here.
You should celebrate with a Facebook status about how much you love Fridays. This is a virtual guarantee to get several likes from friends, therefore making you feel popular and giving you even more reason to celebrate.
Photos via Getty, AP