The Miami Heat showed that there is more to them than just the LeBron James-Dwyane Wade-Chris Bosh triumvirate. A lot more, actually.
The Heat withstood the absence of James and Wade and outlasted the Atlanta Hawks 116-109 in triple overtime, getting key contributions from a number of unlikely sources.
Oft-maligned point guard Mario Chalmers had a career night, scoring 13 of his 29 points in the overtime periods while adding 7 rebounds and 8 assists. Chalmers also played a team-high 49 minutes and led the Heat with a +/- of +24. Rookie guard Terrel Harris, who emerged in training camp to take Eddie House's roster spot, provided the spark off the bench. Harris hauled in a team-high 14 rebounds, chipping in 9 points and 4 assists as well.
The star of the night was Bosh, whose 3-pointer with .6 seconds remaining in regulation tied the game at 93 and forced overtime. Chalmers and Bosh scored the Heat's last 13 points during regulation, and 19 of Miami's 23 points in overtime.
Bosh shot 14-for-27, tallying 33 points, 14 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 blocks. It was the type of dominant performance that Bosh routinely produced during his tenure with Toronto, but had become rare since joining James and Wade in Miami. Tonight, as in Toronto, the team belonged to Bosh, and he led them admirably.
The Heat took advantage of a lethargic Hawks squad en route to a 67-54 third quarter lead. Atlanta finished the period on a 16-1 run, however, sparked by little-known Ivan Johnson's 13 second-half points. After Bosh's 3 sent the game to its first overtime, Josh Smith's baseline jumper with 19 seconds left tied the game at 99 and forced a second extra period. Two Chalmers free throws tied the game at 109 in double overtime, and Shane Battier's block of Joe Johnson's attempted layup with 3 seconds remaining forced the third overtime. The Heat pitched a 7-0 shutout in the final five-minute period, including 5 of Chalmers' 29 points. Ivan Johnson and Al Horford fouled out in the third overtime as well.
The Hawks were unable to capitalize on a 46 to 23 free throw disparity, making only 31 (67%) of their attempts. Miami outrebounded Atlanta 56 to 51.
The Heat will get a chance to get rested and healthy, as they will have two days off after Saturday's game at New Jersey. It is unknown whether James and Wade will play against the Nets.
James rolled his left ankle Wednesday night against the Pacers and went through a pregame workout Thursday, but was unable to play. Wade missed his second consecutive game due to the left foot injury he sustained last week at Charlotte. Eddy Curry, Mike Miller and Mickell Gladness did not dress, either.
The Heat's 7-1 start is just the second in franchise history, the first coming from the 2009-10 team. A win Saturday night would give Miami its first ever 8-1 start.