The Miami Heat may not have gotten off to the start they wanted to falling behind 9-2 in the first minute, 18 seconds, nor did they finish off the way they wanted to with a 29-16 deficit in the fourth quarter.
But in the time between that initial minute and the final quarter, the Heat played basketball the way it was meant to be played in their 103-93 victory over the Washington Wizards.
Miami recorded assists on 85 percent of their 37 field-goals and moved the ball with the stunning expertise we have become accustomed to seeing from the league’s most efficient offense. Four players finished with at least five assists, led by Mario Chalmers and his eight.
The assist-percentage is the highest in the ‘Big Three’ era.
Each member of the ‘Big Three’ scored at least 20 points in the same game for the first time this year. LeBron James led the way with an efficient 25 points on 9-of-14 shooting (3-of-5 from three), Chris Bosh added 24 points on 8-of-12 shooting (2-of-3 from three) to go along with seven rebounds, and Dwyane Wade added 20 points on 15 shots to fill out a statline that also included five assists, five rebounds, two steals and two blocks.
They were the only Heat players to score in double-figures, but this was an extremely balanced game in terms of facilitation. Every member of the Heat to step on the floor, outside of Chris Andersen, recorded at least one assist. Even Rashard Lewis in his five minutes.
As a result of the Heat’s ball movement, each player was able to thrive in finding open shots, enabling the team in shooting 53 percent from the field and 41 percent from three.
Four players converted at least two three-pointers for Miami, who moves to 2-2 on the year and snaps a two-game losing streak. Surprisingly, none of those players were Ray Allen or Shane Battier, who combined to shoot 0-of-6 from three.
Battier hasn’t made a three since the season-opener and has missed his past 13 attempts from beyond the arc. Let him get this slump out of the way early.
Miami recorded a season-high 63 points in the first half and were up by as much as 23 late in the third quarter. The game was broken open following a 13-2 run in the third quarter that featured a three-pointer being made by Bosh, Chalmers and Norris Cole.
Washington cut the lead to 11 with 7:12 left in the fourth, but instilling James and Bosh back out on the floor prevented any more of the Wizards’ frantic comeback. But things remained interesting in the final minute, with the Heat being a missed Bradley Beal free throw away from being down six with 41 seconds left.
Bradley Beal led the way for Washington with 19 points, facilitated by four three-pointers. Marcin Gortat dropped a double-double with 15 points and 11 rebounds, while John Wall came up short with 11 points and nine assists.
But as the Heat have proven in the past, these efforts by opponents to erase significant deficits against Miami are all for naught and futile.
More attention should be placed on Cole at the moment, however. The third-year guard has shown wildly impressive strides this season. He’s done a much better job at controlling the tempo of the offense and not forcing anything on fastbreaks or in the half-court.
Throw in the fact that his three-point shooting has continued to improve–he was 3-of-4 tonight–and you have an extremely early nominee for the league’s Most Improved Player.
Cole also added two assists and two steals in 22 minutes.
- The final of Shane Battier’s four three-pointers missed the rim by about three feet. He’ll shoot through this.
- The Wizards were without Nene Hilario and third overall pick Otto Porter, Jr.
- We anticipated a Michael Beasley appearance, but the Wizards cutting the Heat’s lead in half in the fourth fought that thought away.
- The Big Three combined to shoot 25-of-41 from the field, an impressive 61 percent.
- Marcin Gortat’s 27-footer to end the first half was his first make since January 28th, 2011. It was the third of his career. Only in Miami.
- The two lineups that feature Udonis Haslem, the starting one in the first and third, are painful to watch.
- The same Nets team that beat Miami last Friday lost to the Orlando Magic by 21 tonight. They also lost to Cleveland in the season-opener.
The Heat are back at it Tuesday night with a visit to Toronto to play the Raptors.