Last week, Luis Scola made 20 field goals in one game for the Rockets. Tonight the Charlotte Bobcats team made just 21 field goals. Yes, it was that kind of game. It was beautifully ugly, but the Miami Heat got a crucial 77-71 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats and have moved into sixth place in the Eastern Conference standings.
The game opened up pretty nicely for Miami. They raced to an 18-8 lead in the first quarter thanks to four 3-pointers by Quentin Richardson. Then, predictably the Heat failed to close the quarter nicely, or even decently. They were held without a field goal for the final 5:43 and Charlotte took a 21-20 lead. Michael Beasley stopped the run at the beginning of the second quarter but the Bobcats just slowly built a lead.
The only thing that kept Miami in it was a couple more 3-pointer from Q-Rich. They were quite timely. The Heat's perimeter defense was lacking and Charlotte was getting to the line quite frequently. On the offensive end, they looked lost without Dwyane Wade. Miami was able to clamp down on defense though and even took a 47-45 lead into the half. It was one of those "How are we leading this game?" feelings.
In the third quarter, the home of the Heat became ice cold. Charlotte could not buy a bucket and the Heat weren't exactly lighting it up either. Even with Wade back on the court, the offense lacked initiative and looked out of sorts. A lot of possessions were ending with 3-point attempts, and not the good ones. Seemingly any time they entered the lane, Tyson Chandler was blocking or altering shots. The quarter somehow ended up in Miami's favor 14-11, which game the Heat a 61-56 lead entering the 4th.
Again, without Wade on the floor, not much was getting done offensively for the Heat. Within a couple minutes, the game was tied after more free throws from the Bobcats. After a timeout though, the Heat responded with their best few minutes of the game resulting in 10-0 run, which in this low-scoring affair, felt like game over. Of course with the Heat, that's not the case. Six made free throws for the Bobcats in a couple minute span closed the gap back to four with four minutes to go.
Thankfully, it was the Heat who scored the final punches in this bout. Udonis Haslem drew a key charge and then grabbed an offensive rebound which allowed Mario Chalmers to draw a foul. He sunk two free throws to gave the Heat a 75-71 lead with just under a minute left. A Stephen Jackson 3-point attempt was no good and Dwyane Wade skied high into the air to steal a rebound away from Tyson Chandler to basically seal the game. It was one of the best rebounds I've ever seen actually.
- Interesting game for Wade. He was double teamed a lot on the offensive end and just never got into any sort of rhythm. He chipped in some assists early and finished with nine of them. His main contribution was on the defensive end. Five blocks. Two of the highlight reel quality. First he stuffed Tyson Chandler, a 7-footer, from behind at the end of the first half. In the third quarter he repelled a Tyrus Thomas dunk attempt on a fast break. Huge impact.
- Defense? How about holding your opponent to 29% from the field, limiting them to just 8 assists while forcing 15 turnovers? The defense was terrific, truly worth praise.
- I know we all make fun of Joel Anthony for is hands of stone and utter lack of an offensive game, but his defense is outstanding. Tonight, logging 32 minutes in J.O.'s absence, he was very active, blocking shots, altering shots, and being a key cog Miami's outstanding defensive performance.
- The Heat jacked up threes like they were going out of style (7-28 on the night). Like I mentioned earlier, they usually weren't the good kind. Early in the shot clock, not wide open, and just settling for mediocre looks. Any other night, we probably pay for this.
- I don't think the defensive effort can be overstated. Yes, the Bobcats were cold and ineffective on the end of a back-to-back, but the Heat's fundamentals and effort was there for all 48 minutes. The rotations were made. The closing out on shooters was good. And even though Charlotte lived on the free throw line, it was often the result of the Heat not giving up an easy bucket. Also the transition defense was stellar. Just nine fast break points for Charlotte
- With J.O. out and Jamal Magloire not making an appearance, the Heat played an entire game with a lineup of 6'10" and under. They won the rebounding battle 50-43.
Thanks to Dave for letting me write the recap. I'm glad it was a win! Enjoy the rest of the weekend.