Can we all agree that the Heat has the most insufferable public address announcer in the business?  If “The Simpsons” needed someone to voice the Springfield Arena P.A. Announcer [Did the Isotopes have one?], they’d hire Miami’s for his perfect locution of everything really obnoxious about NBA PAs.  I’m not partial to the Lakers in any meaningful way, but Lawrence Tanter? Classy. That's the guy I want PAing my funeral. 

The game itself is a little schizoid.  Mobley d. Davis, 2-1, in Battle of the Makeup Calls. That’s probably unfair, because the game is a little bit more than that.  Both teams play reasonably well.  Nobody on either team dogs it for a single play, which is saying a lot because both Tim Thomas and Ricky Davis log significant minutes. 

With 0:53 remaining, the Clips lead by two and have a chance to take control of the game with a stop. 

•    [4th, 0:53.9]  Ross checks in for Dickau to play the ball [Jason Williams].  Shawn Marion steps out to the arc where he gives Williams a screen.  Ross picks up Marion immediately off the rub.  Thornton inherits Williams. 

Take Two: The Heat tries it again at the same spot, this time with Williams [now Thornton] and Mark Blount [Thomas].   Again, not much here for Miami, as Thornton stays between Blount and Williams on the roll. Williams wisely decides that his best course is to exploit the mismatch against Thomas.  He takes off from the top of the arc at about :06.  Miami has the floor spread: In the right corner Ross has Marion.  Up top on the near side, Mobley is on Cook.  Thornton is manning Blount in the pivot.   Corey’s man is Ricky Davis in the near side corner, but he’s cheating.  I guess he’s anticipating the rotation, as in: Thornton is going to have to step out and help on the Williams’ drive, which means Blount will be left open underneath, requiring Maggette to slide over.   I’m willing to give Corey the benefit of the doubt because if Blount were left open for a quick little pass from Williams, I’d be killing Corey for missing the rotation.  

But it’s Davis who is open.  As Williams blows past Thomas and elevates for the finish, he finds the soft spot in the rotation.  Airborne, Williams slings a pinpoint, across-the-body pass to the open Davis.  Corey can’t close quickly enough.  

Too bad, because Miami cycles through two S/Rs and the Clips defend both well.  Corey may’ve cheated just a little too much.  Not much.  But enough.  Still, soundly executed by every one of Miami’s guys.

Miami 97, Clippers 96

•    [4th, :33.1]  The Clips don’t waste any time:  This is going to be an isolation for Al Thornton on the left wing against Ricky Davis.  Just as Thornton begins his drive left, Miami sends both Blount and Williams to the near side box.  It works because Thornton can’t muscle the shot over three guys.  The ball is tipped around, but Thornton manages to recover it.  He’s fouled on the right-handed putback and sinks one of two.

Miami 97, Clippers 97

•    [4th, :26.9]  That same Marion-Williams screen and, again, Ross picks up Marion, leaving Al on Williams, who dribbles back up top. Marion then runs a little flex screen to free up Cook, but Ross picks up Cook as he pops.  :06 left on the shot clock.  Miami has a little stack on the left side with Davis and Blount.  Blount frees Davis up with a solid screen that allows Davis to get some separation as he collects the ball from Williams.  This is probably Miami’s #4 option on the play, so credit the Clips for another good defensive possession.   Davis has a good step on Mobley.  As he enters the lane, Thornton comes from behind and gets whistled for the foul.  There was some ball and maybe, just maybe, some Davis.

Davis sinks only one of two.  

Miami 98, Clippers 97

•    [4th, :04.7] Maggette inbounds it on the far side.  It’s pretty clear that the Clips are trying to free up Thornton on the near side in front of the Miami bench, but Cook fights through the screen.  But Davis overplays Mobley into the backcourt, so Maggette hits Cat with a pass at the very top of the arc.  Because Davis gambles, Cat has some daylight. He drives and, as Blount comes over to help, Cat lifts a scoop shot with his left.  The shot is short and Cat tumbles into the cameras…well…if the game were of any consequence, there might have been cameras. 

It’s an iffy foul call, but Cat sinks both FTMs.

Clippers 99, Miami 98

•    [4th, :02.6]  Ross guards Williams, who’s the inbounder, on the near side.  Williams wants Davis and he gets him as the stack breaks.  Davis catches the inbound in stride, giving him a lot of inertia as he swings around Mobley.  He drives to just inside the top of the key and gets good elevation on a 17-footer.   The ball kisses the front of the rim, spirals around to the back, then falls off.

I don’t enjoy watching teams play with three small forwards in the frontcourt [In the 1997-1998 NBA, Josh Powell is probably a small forward].  It’s too much like college ball.  There’s nothing wrong with college ball, per se, but I like compartmentalization.