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Still, I don't think that either one of these teams is in the Top 3 in the East. You've got Chicago, New Jersey and Boston likely ahead of them. Right now you'd say it's a changing of the guard over who's the best in the East. Shaquille O'Neal (nine points, seven boards in 29 minutes) is struggling. That Abe Lincoln beard is going to turn white if this keeps up. Shaq still gets the double team, but he's not 25 anymore, when he could score through even triple teams. Offensively he struggles when they just pack it in on him. Against the Pistons, the Heat lacked offensive punch. They need Wade. What would it take for the Heat to play .500 ball until Wade recovers sufficiently from his knee and shoulder woes, his return perhaps weeks away? Hit some outside shots. Ricky Davis, Jason Williams and Dorell Wright have to hit them to open it up for O'Neal inside. Come April, where do you see the Heat? I think Miami will be back in the playoffs. Davis will help -- he gave them something (23 points) and he's only been there a week. Once we see how he can play with Wade, that will be an important factor. Give Pat Riley a chance to coach this team when Wade's back. For now, Miami's goal is to get the new guys intergrated, get Shaq involved, and try and survive until Wade returns. Any more moves the Heat can make now? No. They have to let Wade come back and see what they have. Everybody becomes a different player with him in the lineup. How do the Pistons look? Nothing exceptional from Detroit in this one except Tayshaun Prince (career-high 34 points, 12 rebounds). Detroit will be much better as the season goes on. They're sort of in the mode where they're good enough to make the playoffs, but not win the regular season in the East. They are looking to get their young players some experience. Arron Afflalo can play better, and Rodney Stuckey can help them a lot when he comes back. I don't think Thursday's a good judge of what either team is going to be a few months from now. Former NBA All-Star and Nuggets GM Kiki Vandeweghe is a regular contributor to ESPN Dimes Past: October 31 | November 1
Notes compiled by Peter Newmann
By Chris Broussard |
ESPN The Magazine
The Lakers should not trade Kobe Bryant this season. Period.
Tracy McGrady, Rockets
Drops 47 points on the Jazz team that sent his Rockets packing. Rockets win, 106-95. Now the challenge is to stay healthy enough to deliver those hammer blows in the playoffs. Thursday's Worst
Shaquille O'Neal, Heat
No points in the first half of the 91-80 loss to Detroit? Not the big guy's fault. He saw more doubles than a Marlins outfielder. Launches only six shots, scores nine points. More of this, and Officer Shaq will be ready for a "bad cop" role. Quote of the Night
"We feel like it's Game 8 for us. We wanted to get this win and start our new season."
-- Rockets center Yao Ming, referring to the seven-game series the Jazz rallied to win last season. • See how Thursday's best fared
-- Andrew Ayres
AP Photo/Douglas C. Pizac
Tracy McGrady's 47 points helped the Rockets beat the Jazz, 106-95.