Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
The Miami Heat again needed a late comeback in the fourth quarter to beat the Cleveland Cavaliers at the AmericanAirlines Arena.
The Miami Heat won their eleventh straight game but this time the outcome wasn't decided until late in the game, necessitating a double-digit scoring run in crunch time to put away the pesky Cleveland Cavaliers.
The game as a whole featured scoring runs by both teams throughout. After a slow start, the Heat were able to hit their next five shots to pull even at 14-14, with Udonis Haslem sizzling at the start with 5 points and 4 rebounds by the midpoint of the opening quarter. The Heat ended up shooting 61% from the field and scoring 33 points, including a 14-2 run to close out the first quarter. The Cavs were able to cut that lead down to 7 in the second quarter, only to allow the Heat to go on a 12-1 run to boost the lead back up to 18 by halftime.
After the Heat had their biggest lead of the game at 22 points just minutes into the second half, the Cavaliers stunned the home crowd with their huge third quarter comeback. By the end of the quarter, C.J. Miles was scorching the Heat with three straight triples in one minute of game time, the last one also featured a Mario Chalmers foul for a four-point play, as well as a free throw courtesy of a technical foul called on coach Erik Spoelstra.
The Cavs scored 36 points in the third quarter to turn the tables on what appeared to be another blowout Heat victory, as many have ended up becoming during the champs' red hot winning streak. Though their star Kyrie Irving had a decent game leading their attack, he was aided by the impressive Dion Waiters (26 points on 11-17 shooting) and Miles scoring 19 points off the bench (5-9 from beyond the arc), especially once their offense really started to flow during the course of a 22-4 run that included scoring the last 11 points of the third quarter to take the lead.
Though LeBron James continued to power the team with his exceptionally efficient game, Dwyane Wade led the charge down the stretch with a series of aggressive moves and scored 11 points in the final five minutes of the game to erase an eight-point deficit and extend the team's winning streak to 11 games.
Chris Bosh had another poor game, largely ineffective on offense though he did contribute four blocks and some solid defense. Chalmers continued to display much-needed consistency on both ends of the floor. Three-point specialists Ray Allen (3-3, 4-6 overall) and Shane Battier (4-7 all from beyond the arc) continued to play their roles to perfection. In one play late in the fourth quarter, no Cavs player bothered to cover Battier as he ran to his corner spot and was fed the ball by Wade and he made them pay with a three-pointer to make it 103-100 and claim a lead they wouldn't relinquish. Wade later iced the game going down the lane and finishing with an uncontested two-hand dunk after the Heat were able to grab a game-clinching offensive rebound following a LeBron missed shot attempt by the rim.