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King James tops Flash as Cavs escape Miami with 1-point win

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This game lived up to any Wade vs. LeBron hype, but mostly the 2nd and 4th quarters.  The way that the two were going at it in the 2nd quarter is something that I won't soon be forgetting, but the same goes for the way that Wade couldn't come through in the clutch.  Still, not a total downer as the Heat continue to play competitive basketball and came up just short against a team that was 2 wins away from the NBA Finals last year. 

The centers were battling each other pretty hard in the early minutes, with Shaq and J-O each taking advantage of the other.  Shaq had 8 early points but had to sit down with 2 fouls half way through the quarter.  Jermaine came out of gate on fire, scoring 14 points on 5-of-6 shooting, and D-Wade was right behind him with 13.  Miami got out of the 1st quarter shooting 57% and with a 10-point lead. 

It took almost 4 minutes in the 2nd quarter to get a field goal from either team.  Then LeBron started taking over.  He scored 9 of 11 points for Cleveland who outscored Miami 13-1 over a 6+ minute span.  The Heat didn't even get a field goal in the 2nd quarter until there was 3:37 left, but that's when Wade started to respond to King James. 

Wade scored 17 of the Heat's 20 points in the 2nd quarter, most of which coming in the last 4 minutes.  James put up 20 in the quarter, and after each player nailed a triple in the final 10 seconds they smiled at each other while walking off the floor.  All indications pointed to a legendary back and fourth between the two superstars. 

Miami opened the 3rd quarter on an 11-4 run that was fueled mostly by Michael Beasley, who was pretty much non-existent in the opening half.  Super Cool had 8 of those 11 points including a dunk on an offensive putback where he literally came out of nowhere, flying through the air for a dunk that brought me right out of my work chair.  The Cavs of course made their run, but the Heat held them to just 17 points in the quarter and took a 2-point lead into the 4th

The teams were going toe-to-toe in the 4th but without Wade or LeBron.  Half way through the quarter the game was tied at 79 and neither of the stars had scored yet.  D-Wade used the power of assist to get Udonis Haslem (who was 0-for-6) three straight buckets and give Miami a 6-point lead.  Cleveland had the lead at the ‘dos minutos' point, but a pair of very tough buckets by J-O and Udonis kept the Heat afloat. 

D-Wade had a chance to put Miami up 3 with a pair of free throws with 39.6 seconds left, but he missed both.  They were his first foul shots of the 2nd half.  That's when the craziness began.  Wade started it off with a great defensive sequence on LeBron, forcing a miss and getting the ball back with the lead and just 27 seconds left.  The Cavs elected not to foul, but James stole the ball from D-Wade.  As LeBron tried to put Cleveland in front, he took a hard foul from Wade that had both players on the floor. 

The Cavs called timeout and allowed James to gather himself.  He did, then drilled both foul shots to put Cleveland up by 1 with 4.1 seconds left.  The ball would be in Wade's hands off the inbound and he actually got a pretty good look with James defending him, but the shot was a little too strong.  It's hard to fault Miami for playing a very good game against one of the top teams in their conference, but this one is tough to swallow. 

It comes down to this.  Wade missed his free throws at the end and LeBron did not.  I realize that any missed bucket presumably changes the outcome, but in this case both superstars held the game in their hands and only one of them stepped up.  Dwyane had a very tough 2nd half as he was doubled pretty much every time he touched the ball, but that doesn't change the fact that he had the opportunity to come through and did not. 

GAME NOTES

  • Rafer Alston's trey at the beginning of the 2nd half ended an 0-for-15 stretch by Heat players not named Wade. 
  • Dwyane Wade: 30 points in the 1st half.  2 points in the 2nd half.  Got to the foul line for 16 free throws...only made 9. It was a Beasley-like game for Wade, who was pretty invisible for half of it.  Still...32 points, 10 boards, 5 assists, 3 steals and a block for D-Weezy.
  • Michael Beasley wasn't around much in the 1st half but was pretty productive in the 3rd quarter.  The ability is there, but he seems to have as much control over it as the Heat have had over how they play (that make sense?).  For the 2nd straight game I saw an ugly airball from Super Cool, not something I wanna see on any kind of regular basis.
  • Udonis Haslem started 0-for-6 before hitting his final 4 shots.  He has shot under 50% in 10 of 11 and has a field goal% of 39.7% in those games.  Nowhere near the Udonis we are all used to. 
  • The Heat are now 2-3 in games decided by 1-point. 
  • Shaq may be much slower but the man can still score.  Get him the ball down low and more times then not it's going in. 
  • Jermaine O'Neal's 14 points in the 1st quarter was a season-high.  His previous high was 13 in the 3rd quarter when the Heat won in Indiana back in October. 
  • I'm ready for Carlos Arroyo to take the reins as the Heat's backup point guard.  I don't see Mario Chalmers adding anything to this team's offense, which was evident in the 2nd and 3rd quarter against Cleveland.  They team got literally nothing going with Rio running things. 

Alright enough bitching and moaning from me for one night.  Both teams had their struggles but in the end the Heat couldn't get the big buckets that the Cavs got.  Next up...a very winnable 3-game road trip that goes through Toronto, Detroit and Milwaukee.  Until then, you stay classy Heat fans.