The Miami Heat returned home for the first time since opening night and had 19,600 fans waiting for them inside the AAA. They better get used to that because this is a town that loves a winner and you better believe this Heat team is going to do a lot of winning. Lately they seem to be following the same blueprint; stumble out of the gate, get the lead up to double-digits in the 1st half and then after halftime just run away with the game.
As expected, Miami got off to a little bit of a sloppy start, turning the ball over on their first two possessions. Not to worry though because the Heat got going quickly, and by the halfway point of the opening quarter they already had 18 points on the board. Miami's D wasn't as sharp has it had been in recent games and the T-Wolves were keeping pace with Miami, trailing only by a couple points through most of the quarter.
Michael Beasley did a good job of making his presence felt early on, out-scoring his counterpart LeBron James 9-0 in the games first 7+ minutes, including a pretty sick 1-handed dunk. Beasley and Kevin Love combined for 15-points in the quarter, keeping the game close. Miami shot 55% from the field and scored 33 points to take a 6-point lead after 1.
The Heat began to stretch their lead early in the 2nd, going on a 10-0 run to go up by 12. With 8:10 left in the 2nd quarter, Michael Beasley drove the lane and went up for the dunk but came down hard on his left hip and had to be helped to the locker room. Since he was unable to shoot his free throw that meant he was done for the night, which was a shame because he was having a very good game.
The Wolves responded to Beasley's injury with a 10-2 run to cut Miami's lead to 4. It wouldn't last though, and the Heat marched right back into a double-digit lead. Dwyane Wade led the way scoring 22 points, his best half of the young season. LeBron James scored his first field goal of the game with less then a minute left in the half, though he was leading the team in assists with 9.
Miami closed the half on an 8-0 run and took a 16-point lead into the locker room. They shot 53.5% from the field and went 6-of-11 from downtown. The Heat also topped their season-high 33 points in the 1st quarter with 36 in the 2nd, combining on a 69 point 1st half (obviously a season-high).
It's been the norm for Miami to come out hot in the 2nd half and this game was no different. Spectacular ball movement led to 5 assists on their first 5 buckets and the Heat went on a 14-0 run, stretching the lead to 25. The offense was so fluid and effortless looking that it drew attention away from the defensive smackdown they were laying on Minnesota.
LeBron capped off a 14-point 3rd quarter by hitting a shot at the buzzer, putting the Heat up by 25. Despite being down by so many points, credit to the Timberwolves for coming out playing so hard in the 4th quarter...but really it was just major league aggressive play on both ends, attacking the ball on defense and crashing the boards on offense.
I suppose when you're losing that badly strategy just kinda goes out the window. I have a feeling that this is a subject Heat fans will get to use to studying throughout the season. What I liked in this one was that even when the big 3 were on the bench in the 4th quarter, Miami was still getting (and hitting) open looks thanks to great ball movement.
Erik Spoelstra cleared his bench in the final six minutes, adding Juwan Howard and Jerry Stackhouse to the all-reserve lineup. What I loved is that it made no difference who was on the court or what the score was, every player on the Heat busted their ass on both ends.
After getting a decent look at Jerry Stackhouse it seems he is still in training camp mode. He's definitely shaking off some rust and trying to get comfortable. A couple times he passed up wide open 3-point attempts and was more content with trying to dribble and drive. I wouldn't worry; it's just going to take a little while for him to regain his form.
Joel Anthony had possibly his best game of the season, though as usual it doesn't show in the box score. He was extremely active on both ends, playing great D and going after rebounds. He finished a perfect 1-of-1 from the field and 2-of-2 from the line, good for 4 points, 5 rebounds and a blocked shot.
It was an all-around good night for Heat point guards. Mario Chalmers played 18 minutes and looked pretty good on his ankle. He took four shots, all from beyond the arc, hitting two. More impressive were his 8 assists and solid defense. Carlos Arroyo also played solid D and added 8 points, 6 boards and 3 assists. That's a combined 16 points, 8 rebounds and 11 assists from the point guards
Several times you could catch the Heat players doing their ‘shhh' move, holding both hands up in the air in the closed mouth formation. Its awesome how easily the team is coming together, and it seems that all the negativity that is cast on the Heat is what is helping to bring these players together.
- After starting the game 0-for-4 from the field, LeBron James finished with 20 points on 7-of-12 shooting and 12 assists.
- He missed his first two but James Jones stayed hot, finishing with 17-points on 6-of-10 shooting, including another 5 triples. He has now hit 18-of-34 on the season from beyond the arc, good for 53%,
- Eddie House was also on target last night going a perfect 4-for-4 from beyond. He is now 10-of-16 on the season from 3-point range.
- As a team the Heat 58% from the field and a ridiculous 57% from 3-point range.
- For the 4th game in a row Miami opened up at least a 20-point lead on their opponent.
- Udonis Haslem took just six shots, but made five. He finished with 11 points, 10 rebounds and his 2nd double double of the season.
- I don't know why but I just love watching Zydrunas Ilgauskas take those long jumpers...though I don't think he feet come off the ground. He gets them off quick and is very accurate.
Next up for the Heat will be a nice road test against unbeaten New Orleans on Friday night. It's only been 5 games so there is no reason to get ahead of ourselves, but it seems Miami is right on track. The effort and hustle on defense is inspiring, and the offense is only going to get better as the games go by. Yeah, it's only been 5 games...that's pretty scary.