Before we get into the seemingly endless, meandering event that is a Miami Heat playoff victory, let’s get one thing out of the way first.
should probably be considered more than a common foul. LeBron James, who came through in the clutch despite nearly getting decapitated, absorbed one of the most painful fouls in his career, getting a full dosage of Josh McRoberts’ forearm in his throat on a late drive.
Flagrants are usually called as such when there’s no clear play on the ball. I’m looking at both of Josh’s hands. Both of them are making a play on LeBron’s collar bone and neck. None are near the ball.
And in a three-point game with 50 seconds left? Yeah, two shots plus the ball would have been helpful. Instead, Miami got a point out of it, and Kemba Walker hit his fourth improbable three-pointer of the night to cut the Heat lead to one with 11 seconds left.
LeBron then hit a pair of free throws to push the lead back to three, but Charlotte had final possession, and were already shooting 45% from three.
This is the second straight night the Bobcats, who averaged 35.1% three-point shooting in the regular season, was able to shoot well above their usual averages. They shot 43% tonight, after shooting 39% the previous game.
Kemba Walker, 16 points on 18 shots, was 4-for-9 from three, but 1-for-9 everywhere else. Josh McRoberts was 2-for-3 from beyond the arc, but only 1-for-4 from anywhere that wasn’t beyond the perimeter. Anthony Tolliver and Luke Ridnour’s only shots were made threes.
So, yeah, Charlotte put up a fight, even with Al Jefferson being noticeably limited by his hurt foot. Nevertheless, he still tormented the Heat, finishing with 18 points, albeit on 23 shots, and a game-high 13 rebounds.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, the guy who jumps when he takes foul shots, finished with a team-high 22 points on 9-for-13 shooting.
Charlotte, who had a better three-point percentage than overall shooting percentage, fought back from several significant deficits. Miami held a 15-point advantage early in the second quarter, as well as 14-point advantage almost midway through the fourth.
The Heat were up 91-77 with 6:54 left, but, for the second time this game, let up on the gas, and allowed Charlotte to climb right back into it. They ran off ten consecutive points in just under two minutes, while Miami made poor, misguided, and listless decisions.
The Heat only made two baskets over the final six minutes, 37 seconds. Both of those were by Chris Bosh, who coolly drilled a 20-footer, before driving on Jefferson to hit a layup on the very next possession.
After a Dwyane Wade turnover, Jefferson would make a short shot in the lane that would cut Miami’s lead to three with 1:42 left. Both squads exchanged missed three-pointers, before LeBron drove in and endured a shot that would have gotten Josh McRoberts thrown out of any other stadium.
Walker would miss a layup on the other end, which was then followed up by another mindless turnover, via LeBron throwing a pass late in the shot-clock to nobody in particular.
From there, Walker would make his three-pointer, and LeBron would respond with a pair of free throws to push the Heat lead back to three. On the ensuing inbound, with 10 seconds remaining, Miami forced the ball into D-League call-up, Chris Douglas-Roberts, who was trapped in the corner.
Naturally, after a night of questionable decisions and shaky play, Wade would come away with the steal. He’d draw a clear-path foul with two seconds left, preserving the win.
All-around, it was another on and off night for Miami. They had their spurts of the overwhelming, swarming defense that we’ve become familiar with in their championship runs, but they also keep employing this regular season mindset where they take their opponent lightly.
They also lacked the punch provided by James Jones, who made only one of his two attempts from three, and any other bench player. Chris Andersen was his usual active self, finishing with seven points and four boards, but was alone in terms of production from the bench.
Norris Cole making anything is inspiring by this point, but you still want more than five points on 2-for-5 shooting in 23 minutes. Ray Allen also struggled for a second straight outing, shooting 1-for-4, scoring two points, while also recording three assists, four rebounds, three turnovers and three fouls in 18 minutes.
Mario Chalmers drilled two threes and scored 11 points, but nine came in the first quarter alone.
LeBron James: 32 points (11-for-17 overall, 1-5 from three, 9-12 FT’s), 8 assists, 6 rebounds, 4 steals; A
He sustained one of the most devastating blows in his career, but still managed to go 3-for-4 on free throws in the final 43 seconds to preserve victory. LeBron was doing his usual work on Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Gerald Henderson, and whoever else the Bobcats threw at him, and was able to get to the rim, taking advantage of Al Jefferson’s injury, whenever he wanted to.
I’m not sure how willing he is to go to the rim in the future, though, when forearms to the throat are the equivalent to any common foul.
Dwyane Wade: 15 points (4-10 overall, 7-9 FT’s), 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals; C+
No, Dwyane did not have the pep in his step that he had in Game 1. His defense was spotty throughout the first half, and his mid-range jumper was way off compared to his previous outing. However, he made up for all of it with the biggest defensive stand of the game, ripping Chris Douglas-Roberts on Charlotte’s final possession facing a three-point deficit.
Chris Bosh: 20 points (8-11 overall, 4-5 on threes), 5 rebounds, 2 blocks, 1 steal: B+
It’s disconcerting that Chris Bosh ended up with no free throws and only five rebounds in a game where Charlotte’s starting center was hobbling most of the night. But when he’s making the three as fluidly, and within the rhythm of the offense, as he was tonight, you’ll let it slide. Also had a pair of baskets on consecutive possessions that kept Charlotte at bay, after they had cut Miami’s lead to four with 4:41 left in the fourth.