1. It’s been a long time since Reggie Miller lit up the Miami Heat in a fourth quarter. But there was the former Pacer, now a TNT basketball analyst, bombing away at the struggling shell of a super team during the late stages of Thursday’s loss to the New York Knicks.
“This is getting ridiculous,” Miller said at one point in the 93-88 loss. “You’re talking about winning a championship with these superstar-caliber players, and all we’re seeing is a lot of one-on-one basketball. … This is why everyone is questioning what is Miami going to do when the game is close? Where is the ball going to end up?”
Dwyane Wade made 14 of 22 shots from the field on a 34-point night as he returned from migraine problems with new amber-shaded goggles. But LeBron James (7 of 24) struggled badly for the most part and appeared out of sync with his teammates.
The Heat, by the way, is now 1-8 in games decided by five points or less.
That’s enough to give Erik Spoelstra a migraine of his own.
2. Fellow TNT analyst Steve Kerr was even harsher, repeatedly calling out the wild-shooting Heat as it lost for the fifth time in its last six outings (and the one win came at home over woeful Toronto).
“If they’re ever going to get to that level where they can win a title, they’re going to have to learn to trust each other,” Kerr said. “Get to the second and third option offensively, get some movement and get open looks. Everything is too difficult right now.”
I’ll be out at Heat-Pistons tonight at the Triple-A and will have more blog impressions for you here. It will be interesting to see how the Heat responds coming off a disappointing performance at Madison Square Garden. Playing a lower-rung team on the second night of a back-to-back won’t make things any easier from an effort or sharpness standpoint.
Rip Hamilton is questionable for the Pistons with the flu, while leading scorer Rodney Stuckey is battling a bruised shoulder. If they caught even a few minutes of Thursday’s Heat loss and saw all those open looks Danilo Gallinari got down the stretch, they’ll play for sure.
3. Here’s a fascinating breakdown from HogsHaven.com on the so-called 26-27-60 Rule for drafting quarterbacks. History shows if a quarterback scores a 26 or better on the Wonderlic, starts 27 or more games in college and has a career completion percentage of 60 or better, his chances of NFL success are far better than those who fall short of these standards. We won’t have Wonderlic results for some time, but taking the other two categories, this year’s QB class has already started to sort itself out. Still alive are Blaine Gabbert (Missouri), Andy Dalton (Texas Christian), Greg McElroy (Alabama) and Christian Ponder (Florida State). Among those who won’t qualify, even if they score a perfect 50 on the Wonderlic: Cam Newton, Jake Locker, Ryan Mallett, Colin Kaepernick and Ricky Stanzi (by 0.2 in completion percentage). For what it’s worth …
4. If Titans coach Jeff Fisher had gotten himself fired just three weeks earlier, Steve Ross’ jet might have made a detour to Nashville on its way back from California. Instead, the man who had been the NFL’s longest-tenured coach will get paid $8 million to sit out this season, recharge his battery and position himself for the next big opening in the post-CBA world. That means Fisher and Bill Cowher will be going head-to-head again a year from now, just like they used to in the AFC Central and just as they did when Cowher (then an Eagles linebacker) broke Fisher’s leg on a punt return for the Bears in 1983. (Nice work, Bud Adams, you 88-year-old loon.)
5. Initial reports had the Titans still planning to deal or (more likely) release Vince Young this offseason. But that seems like faulty logic considering Young’s major problems in Tennessee mostly had to do with Fisher and the Titans don’t have a solid backup plan. (Unless they want to start former FAU star Rusty Smith.) Plus, Adams has a geriatric man crush on his fellow Houstonian, who still has the support of star running back Chris Johnson, so I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to see VY stay put.