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Hot Helped Heat

It’s hard to find many teams that rose faster and fell further in the NBA than the Memphis Grizzlies, who won 50 games as recently as 2004 and 22 apiece the past couple of seasons. That kind of precipitous drop will make your ears pop, and… no, no, wait. There’s definitely one team that has gone from respectability and even dominance to baffling suckitude faster than the Grizz, and that’s your hometown Heat. Its victory totals the past four seasons have gone: 59 (plus the NBA title), 52, 44, 15. That’s not a basketball team; that’s Merrill Lynch stock.

This summer in Beijing, the Heat’s oft-ailing Dwyane Wade was arguably the best player on the Americans’ stacked Olympic roster. Eccentric number-two-overall pick Michael Beasley has the chance to be a revelation at power forward. And Pat Riley made official what everyone could already see when he resigned as coach, replacing himself with a young team mainstay in Assistant Coach Erik Spoelstra. Things will be so different, in fact, that even a danged preseason game against ol’ Memphis could be interesting. See the future, for what it’s worth, Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. at the American Airlines Arena (601 Biscayne Blvd., Miami). Tickets begin at $10 and are available by calling 786-777-4667 or by visiting
Tue., Oct. 21, 7:30 p.m., 2008

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