Not even the droning of TNT’s finest could upset a member of Heat nation with the way Miami was attempting to return to their defensive roots.
Without Dwyane Wade for a fourth consecutive game, it was LeBron James and Chris Bosh shouldering a majority of the responsibilities and then excelling at them. The pair combined for 58 points on 37 shots, 3-for-7 shooting from beyond the arc and 19 rebounds in the Heat’s 109-102 win over the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Heat held as much as an 18-point lead behind strong defense in the first half. Those values would diminish once the second half rolled around, where the Lakers scored a large majority of the 48 points in the paint, but 20 minutes of defense was enough to stave off the Lakers repeated attempts at comeback.
When it came down to it, Miami’s offense was just plain better than their opponents. As the Lakers began to score in the paint and hit their difficult shots more frequently, the Heat kept up a constant attack of moving the ball and getting high-percentage shots.
As a result, the Heat finished the night shooting 58 percent from the field and scored 52 points in the paint. They had 25 assists, four players having at least four, on their 45 conversions and saw Chris Bosh have one of his best scoring nights of the season.
Bosh was at his best in the mid-range and was scoring over any type of defense the Lakers threw at him, while LeBron James was able to get to the rim at will and get to the line for 13 free throw attempts.
Speaking of free throws, work needs to be done. It has to when a team shoots 48 percent on 23 attempts.
Turning point: First two minutes of the second half
With no intention of allowing the Lakers to hang around, the Heat came out and scored five points on their first two possessions to push a middling 11-point lead to 16 with 10:48 remaining.
This was Miami’s biggest lead and it would be more than enough to offset their own ineptitude from the foul line and the Lakers sudden ability to make low-percentage shots once the fourth quarter rolled around.
Los Angeles slimmed the lead down to as close as four with 4:09 and 2:50 left, but both shots were met by three-pointers, one by LeBron James, the other by Ray Allen.
The run: A 6-2 run from the 2:50 mark to the 54 second mark of the fourth quarter
The Lakers were starting to get hot from the field. Jodie Meeks, scorer of 22 points, had just hit a walk-in three-pointer, while Jordan Hill made a turnaround hook and Nick Young made a 26-foot three-pointer on the possessions.
Answers had to be made. With the Heat up four with only 2:50 remaining, LeBron went into iso-mode and drilled a contested three-pointer over Jodie Meeks to stretch the lead back to seven.
Sure enough, Kendall Marshall came back down on the other end and hit an and-one layup, but missed the free throw. LeBron would miss on the other end and the Lakers would go for 0-for-3 on their possessions.
Chris Bosh, though, was finally given the ball for a final time and scored on a 17-footer to give the Heat a commanding nine-point lead with 54 seconds left. His ability to hit the three was enough to convince Jordan Hill to bite on his pump fake, allowing him to step him for the mid-range shot he had been making all game.
Stat of the game: 31 points
Chris Bosh’s 31 points were the second-most he’s scored this season, and the most since his 37-point effort against Portland back in late December. Four of his six highest-scoring games this year have come within the past eight days, mainly stemming from the absence of Dwyane Wade.
It’s also the fourth time in the past five games that Bosh has shot at least 61 percent from the field. Tonight he shot 15-of-22 and didn’t need a single free throw to inflate his point total.
He didn’t need them, nor did he work for them. His shot was falling, he recognized it and he kept at it when given the opportunity.
LeBron James: 27 points, 9-15 overall, 2-4 from three, 13 rebounds, 6 assists, 1 steal; B+
He gets the deduction only because he had five turnovers and shot 7-for-13 from three, but otherwise he was excellent on both ends of the floor. He made a conscious effort to get to the rim, thus the free throw attempts, hit a huge three-pointer late, led a big-time rebounding effort (Miami outrebounded the Lakers by 13), and, naturally, had the highlight of the night:
Not as good as his alley-oops in the Heat’s previous contest with the Lakers, but solid nevertheless.
Chris Bosh: 31 points, 15-22 overall, 1-3 from three, 6 rebounds, 1 block; A
Needles to say, hearing Charles Barkley say how Pau Gasol was getting whatever he wanted while Chris Bosh went for 31 points was mind-numbing analysis. Bosh was as confident in his jumper tonight as he was on that fateful night against the Blazers. He also staved off the Lakers runs throughout the fourth, hitting five shots, all mid-range jumpers.
Greg Oden: 5 points, 2-5 overall, 5 rebounds, 1 block
Aggressive on the boards on both ends and playing defense? This is what Greg Oden was brought in for. He’s still having his ‘Please remember that I haven’t played basketball in four years’ moments, but he’s also having extremely encouraging signs, especially with his activity. In ten minutes, Oden was able to finish a dunk in traffic, hit a hook shot with the left hand, and grab four of Miami’s 12 offensive boards.