Bobcats shut down Wade, Heat
If a chance to move into fifth place in the Eastern Conference
wasn't motivation enough for the Charlotte Bobcats, Michael Beasley
had them hitting the court angry.
These days, that's bad news for the Miami Heat and the rest of the NBA.
Stephen Jackson scored 24 points, Gerald Wallace added 20 points and 10 rebounds, and the Bobcats completed a 6-0 homestand with their most lopsided victory in team history, 104-65 over the listless Heat on Wednesday night.
Shutting down a frustrated and foul-plagued Dwyane Wade, the Bobcats (21-19) improved to an NBA-best 9-1 since the start of the new year with ease. They shot a franchise-record 82 percent in the first quarter, led by 27 at halftime and by as many as 41 in the fourth quarter while allowing the fewest points in team history.
So much for Beasley's remarks from a day earlier, when he told reporters the Bobcats "stole" a game in Miami earlier this month and that "if we stay together and stay focused, it should be an easy win."
While Beasley added, "No disrespect to Charlotte. They're playing great basketball right now" at the end of the exchange, that part was missing when the quote was plastered in the Bobcats' locker room before the game. Charlotte then cruised to its ninth straight home win by allowing 29 percent shooting, fifth worst in Miami history.
"I kind of laughed at it, smiled at it," said Raymond Felton, who scored 14 points. "But at the same time (the quote) was in the back of my head the whole game."
Added Wallace: "I guess he hasn't been watching ESPN or NBA TV."
Indeed, no team is hotter right now. And Beasley found out the hard way.
By the time he ended his 0-for-7 drought against the NBA's top defensive team, it was 59-34. Beasley finished with six points on 3-of-11 shooting. He wasn't much worse than Wade, who scored 16 points, but shot 3 for 12 and committed four fouls in the first half while getting outplayed by Jackson.
"We didn't play up to our potential," said Beasley who had scored 20 or more points in five of his previous seven games. "We lost. They got the win. There ain't really too much to say."
The Heat (21-20), who had won three of four, gave up fifth place in the East without a fight as they reached the season's midway point. The 39-point victory topped Charlotte's 35-point rout of Toronto in November for the largest margin of victory for a 6-year-old franchise that has never seen this kind of success.
"I looked at the schedule when Stephen said I'll take 5-1," coach Larry Brown said of Jackson's stated goal for the homestand. "I would have kissed him on the lips for 5-1."
The Bobcats hit 14 of 17 shots in building a 38-17 lead after the first quarter. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra called three timeouts in the period, including when Miami couldn't get the ball inbounds off a made free throw.
Point guard Mario Chalmers caught the wrath of Spoelstra for that play. He was in after Rafer Alston picked up two fouls before the game was 3 minutes old. Neither player could guard Felton off the dribble, while Jackson was schooling Wade.
Jackson got Wade to go for a pump fake and foul him on a 3-point attempt. Wade picked up his fourth foul on Jackson's breakaway late in the first half, helping Charlotte take 61-34 lead -- after Wallace rejected Wade in the lane.
"They're one of the best NBA teams at home," Wade said. "They really get after teams here. We came out early and we were flat and didn't make shots. That's a no-no against a team like this."
Wade, who also missed his first four free throws, and Beasley combined to shoot 4 for 20 from the field in the first half. Quentin Richardson was 1 of 6.
"This is not acceptable," Spoelstra said after the Heat's fifth straight loss to complete a set of back-to-back games.
Nazr Mohammed dominated Jermaine O'Neal inside, finishing with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Wallace hit all eight free throws while playing on a sore ankle that kept him out of practice Tuesday.
It all adds up to an 18-4 home record for Charlotte. No easy wins here.
"To hear Beasley say that," Felton said, "I was really pumped up for this game."