USA TODAY Sports
LeBron is the officially the youngest ever to notch 20,000 career points and the Miami Heat get a much-needed blowout victory on the road to the Golden State Warriors.
The story of the night was LeBron James becoming the youngest player in NBA history to reach 20,000 points, doing so on this hanging jumper late in the second quarter. It took James 725 games to reach the milestone and he is the 12th player in league history to score 20,000 points, grab 5,000 rebounds and dish out 5,000 assists. Two of James' 25 points came on this picture-perfect lob from Dwyane Wade, who is probably the league's most accurate lob thrower (for whatever that's worth).
James said of his memorable night, "It's an amazing feeling. I'm at a loss for words. I'm blessed to be put in this position and to play the game that I love. Hopefully, the game continues to give to me."
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said of James, "He's a once-in-a-generation player."
For at least one night, there weren't many things for Miami Heat fans to complain about.
Miami's signature swarming defense made a cameo Wednesday, forcing 21 turnovers (including 13 in the first half as the Heat built a 14-point halftime lead) and holding the Stephen Curry-less Warriors to 36 percent shooting. Golden State entered the night shooting 38.7 percent from three-point range, fifth best in the NBA, but Miami held the Warriors to 3-for-12 (25 percent) shooting from beyond the arc.
"Right from the opening gate, we came out with the intensity that we needed to get stops," said James. "It was big-time that we were able to come out defensively against a team that's really good at home."
Udonis Haslem didn't look like the declining player he's been since a foot injury wiped out most of his 2010-11 season. Haslem channeled his 2005 self with this one-handed putback dunk over David Lee in the first quarter. The 10-year vet finished with 10 rebounds and six points in 24 turnover-free minutes (his 18.3 percent turnover rate is easily a career high). Miami needs more of these performances from Haslem, who has been underwhelming since a torn ligament in his left foot derailed most of his 2010-11 season.
Wade had a hop in his step, evidenced by this cutting dunk and his five steals, four of which came in the first half.
Mario Chalmers continued his hot shooting, connecting on four of his seven threes and adding three steals. Chalmers can be (read: is) maddeningly inconsistent, but when he's on he's an invaluable to the Heat.
Wade grabbed eight boards and James chipped in seven, which is the best way for Miami to solve its much-publicized rebounding woes. For all the Kenyon Martin (no thanks) and Chris Andersen rumors, Miami simply needs to get more from the guys already on the team.
The Heat led 52-38 at halftime, but it was largely due to the dominance of James and Wade, who combined to shoot 14-for-24 for 34 points in the opening 24 minutes. The rest of the Heat during the first half: 6-for-24. The bench had another forgettable night as well, shooting just 6-for-29. Ray Allen had five rebounds and Joel Anthony blocked two shots in his 13 minutes, so it wasn't all bad. Still, bench production is something to keep an eye on going forward.
Leading 80-50 through three quarters, Miami was able to rest its triumvirate of stars for the entire fourth quarter. That added rest could pay off tomorrow night when the Heat take on the Lakers at Staples Center.