Three straight wins. Three straight blowouts. Three straight games where LeBron James, Chris Bosh, and Dwyane Wade weren’t needed to close out a victory.
Oh, LeBron James, finishing with 21 points, 7 assists and 6 rebounds in 29 minutes, and Chris Bosh, ending with 18 points on 7-of-10 shooting, had their moments, but, once again, it was the Heat’s supporting cast that heralded another easy win over a division opponent.
The Heat’s 120-92 victory over Orlando, their largest margin of victory of the season, came thanks in part to the Magic’s idea of double-teaming LeBron and allowing to make plays for his teammates. No player proved to be a bigger beneficiary of the Magic’s defense than James Jones, who started in place of Dwyane Wade, and shot 5-of-7 from three to finish with 17 points.
Jones had four of those three-pointers come in a third quarter that converted a five-point lead coming out of halftime into a 19-point advantage going into the final frame. Three of Jones’ three-pointers in the quarter came off a LeBron assist.
The Magic were warned by LeBron not to double-team him. When they continued doing so, LeBron just kept finding elite shooters in open spots. James and the Heat’s numerous sharpshooters were in sync all night, as the team shot a staggering 15-of-24 from beyond the arc for the night.
“I told them stop doubling me. I actually told them on the floor, ‘Stop doubling me. I’m going to find the open shooter.’ And J.J. happened to be the recipient of those plays.”
Needless to say, I’m really enjoying the cocky version of LeBron we remembered from his days in Cleveland. Only this time, he’s justified since he has that pair of hardware he never had before.
You win back-to-back championships, Finals MVP’s and league MVP’s and you’ve earned the right to talk a little.
Norris Cole came off the bench to hit all three of his three-point attempts to round out yet another impressive statline that had him ending with 9 points, 5 assists and 4 rebounds in 20 minutes.
Ray Allen and Shane Battier also had a pair of threes.
Miami started off the game at an uncommon pace, opening up a 16-0 lead and keeping the Magic without a field-goal for the first five minutes of the game. Orlando was able to cut the lead down to five going into the second frame, however, as Arron Afflalo converted all four of his three-point attempts.
Afflalo and Jameer Nelson appeared to be the only players to show up for Orlando, who were already without Glen Davis and Tobias Harris. Afflalo and Nelson combined to shoot 11-of-18 from beyond the arc, but the rest of the team shot a combined 4-of-11.
Afflalo led all scorers with 30 points.
Orlando was supported by their 15-of-29 shooting from deep, but they only managed 20 points in the paint and were only able to play Nikola Vucevic, the center who dropped a 20-20 game twice on Miami last year, for 23 minutes due to foul trouble.
Miami actually managed to outrebound the Magic by a substantial 40-25 margin, as well as 12-7 on the offensive boards. Chris Andersen alone came up with four offensive boards to go along with his ten points and two blocks.
Michael Beasley, believe it or not, led all players with seven rebounds. He finished strong following a slow start to the night to finish with 14 points, six of those coming from the line where he shot an immaculate percentage.
The game was put away by the likes of Beasley and the Heat’s deep rotation. After LeBron posted seven points and three assists in the third, he, as well as Chris Bosh, were able to sit out the entire fourth.
As they did in their previous wins against Charlotte and Atlanta, James and Bosh were held to playing less than 32 minutes. Chris Bosh has actually played 30 minutes or more only once in the past five contests. He’s also shot at least 70 percent in the past three contests.
James, meanwhile, shot below 50 percent for a second consecutive game, prompting trade rumors involving Carmelo Anthony and Josh Smith, as well as a return to Cleveland, who fell to 4-8 last night following a loss to Washington.
Even though LeBron only shot 5-of-11, he still captivated audiences across the nation with this effortless reverse slam:
Following an Allen three-pointer with 8:36 left, the Heat would never fall below 20 points again. The Heat would build as large as a 36-point lead after a Roger Mason three that put the score at 114-78 with 3:31 remaining.
The Heat are now riding a five-game winning streak that may not end for awhile. Miami welcomes this same Magic team to the Triple A on Saturday, welcomes the Phoenix Suns on Monday and then travels to Cleveland on Wednesday.
Need a date to mark on your calender? Here’s two: At Chicago on December 5th, at Indiana on December 10th.
You didn’t think the season was going to be that easy did you?