A Daily Babble Production
Now a member of the Toronto Raptors after being traded on Friday, Shawn Marion did Celtics fans a big favor on his final night in a Miami Heat uniform.
According to the schedule, the Celtics' game in Dallas on Thursday was set to tip off at 9:30 p.m. Eastern as the second half of a nationally televised doubleheader on TNT. Naturally the Miami-Chicago game ran a bit, and TNT's ticker informed us that the Celtics would tip off at 9:50. But with three and a half seconds to play, we were still in trouble, thanks to the fact that the game was tied and possibly en route to overtime.
Not the case. With the Heat taking the ball out at the left hashmark in the front court, Marion inbounded to Dwyane Wade, cut to the basket, got the ball back and gave Thabo Sefolosha a facial with 1.1 seconds on the clock to give Miami the lead and shortly thereafter the game. One commercial break later, viewers saw Erick Dampier at the line in Dallas, but only 40 seconds had elapsed. Manageable enough.
So thanks, Shawn, for helping the Heat and Bulls avoid overtime and therefore also helping Celtics fans across the globe keep from firing remotes off their TV screens. Happy trails in Toronto.
But while we're on the subject of Marion's last night with the Heat, it couldn't hurt to run back through the baffling chain of events that led to the game-winning posterization. For all the bad things that there are to say about the play of the two teams involved, the ending they provided was anything but boring.
No less than six rather bewildering incidences occurred in the final 40 seconds of this game, and that doesn't include the Heat executing the final inbounds play to perfection. The sixth was so ridiculous that I didn't even pick up on it at the time. Here we go:
- After scoring six straight points over three Miami possessions, Dwyane Wade attacks the rim with the Heat up five, gets his shot blocked and does not receive a foul call. Not odd for most players, but since whistles seem to coincidentally (right) materialize whenever Wade hurls himself at the basket, it was surprising to see him not have his way in a late-game situation...
- ...and that made this all the more surprising: With 13 seconds to play and Miami only up three, Wade pulls up from mid-range, ball-fakes, leans into his defender to initiate contact and throws up a wild shot that misses the mark. Again, no call. A lay-up and the classic "Give me my continuation" move, and neither work for Wade. Bummer.
- Daequan Cook bites on a ball fake and nails Ben Gordon in the act of shooting a three-pointer. Gordon's three freebies tie the game with six seconds to play. Boneheaded defensive play.
- After Gordon's free throws, the Heat call timeout to advance the ball and then run a near-perfect inbounds play. Its penultimate step involves Wade cutting across the lane to receive the rock on the ball-side of the bucket. Theoretically, especially since he has Kirk Hinrich trailing behind him, it ends with Flash laying the ball in the basket. Instead, he gets the look of the guy trying to shoot the ball before he catches it and winds up dropping the pass behind him. Hinrich picks it up and calls timeout for the Bulls. Not only have they come back from seven down with 1:01 to play, but they are going to have a shot to win it in regulation.
- Well, not really. Following a timeout, Thabo Sefolosha throws the ball straight down the sideline, where the only person with a play on it is Wade. He catches the ball with one foot on the ground and inbounds and immediately calls timeout. Both teams have now failed to inbound correctly in the span of 1.2 seconds, and we're headed toward our third possession of the game's last six seconds. Fortunately this one will include the Marion dunk.
- The part I managed not to realize until catching it on Blog a Bull: In his infinite wisdom, when the Bulls had the ball to inbound, coach Vinny Del Negro sent out a lineup that didn't include Derrick Rose. Check out his explanation (Kirk Hinrich was playing well) and the reactions of lots of angry Bulls fans here. Unfathomable.
A seven-point lead blown in less than a minute. One really bad foul. Two awful turnovers. A distinct lack of star treatment. And a game-winning dunk in the final two seconds.
Thanks to the Heat and Bulls for keeping us captivated - if not impressed - while we waited for Thursday's main event. Thanks to Shawn Marion, for making sure it ended early. Just like his tenure in Miami.