Much like their last game against the Golden State Warriors, the Miami Heat withstood their best shot from their opposition in the first half. But much like a fight scene in the movies where the overmatched little guy gets one shot in before getting pummeled, the Heat blew the gates open in the second half en route to the easy victory. The franchise-leading streak of eight wins by double-digits was punctuated by Dwyane Wade flaring his arms around like a rag doll after a put-back dunk and LeBron James spinning on his back like a break dancer before getting lifted off the floor. Yes, the Heat are now having fun. This is precisely what LeBron envisioned when he said he wanted to enjoy himself when they were mired in mediocrity just weeks ago. By putting forth their maximum effort, the Heat's stars get the luxury of resting when the game is out of reach.
It took the Sacramento Kings half of the third quarter to score their third and fourth point but by then the game had quickly gotten out of hand. They had played the Heat tough in the first half, spurred on by the energetic home crowd, but Wade and LeBron's one-two punch of creative dominance isn't something the Kings would match on a night where Tyreke Evans wasn't himself with only 5 points on 2 field goals made out of 10 attempts. The Heat outscored the Kings 87-59 for the last three quarters of the game. Omri Casspi contributed 20 points with 5 three-pointers and Samuel Dalembert had some nice moments with 11 rebounds and 7 points off the bench but Miami is playing at another level thanks to their unstoppable transition offense, suffocating defense and surprising rebounding numbers.
Chris Bosh wasn't the flashiest player for the Heat but his season-high 17 rebounds were crucial against one of the better rebounding teams in the NBA (6th in the league). The Heat outrebounded the Kings by 21 and all teams on their road trip by a total of 57. LeBron grabbed 10 and Wade had 6 rebounds (3 on the offensive end) and whenever they're securing them they're running out in transition with the opponent trailing behind, almost guaranteeing a basket or a foul.
The Heat's superstar trio have now combined to score 75 points in each of the last three games. Wade is shooting 61% from the field in his last 7 games with his midrange shot now reliable again, effectively making him almost un-guardable. LeBron's mid-to long-range shot is also falling at a regular clip during the winning streak. Opposing teams are learning there is no way to match the production from the Heat's top two players because there's almost never a time when either star isn't out on the floor in tandem or as the primary offensive option while the other rests up. Bosh may not be scoring as much as he did as the #1 guy in Toronto but his steady production is something the Heat couldn't count on with Michael Beasley the last two seasons. Indeed, Bosh has actually played better and stepped up his game since Udonis Haslem went down with his foot injury.
This might be nitpicking but Carlos Arroyo continues to pass the ball to Wade and James at the spot where their bodies were when the ball leaves his hands on a fast break opportunity. They're too quick for that and it causes them to fumble the ball because by the time the ball reaches their hands behind them it disrupts their motion towards the basket. Arroyo needs to anticipate where the receiving player will be instead of where they are and the Heat's fast breaks will be even more successful than they already are. Chalmers and Arroyo continue their solid play as a tag-team unit and they're taking full advantage of their wide-open jumpers.
The Heat won't get to celebrate too much as they seek to avenge their loss in New Orleans on Monday night. Coach Erik Spoelstra was measured in his comments after the game.
I’m not getting wrapped up or overwhelmed with the results. It’s how we are playing and whether we’re playing to our identity or not. This league can change in a hurry. What I mentioned to the team it’s two weeks to the day when we were walking out of Dallas’ locker room and we did not feel that great about ourselves as a team. Now, two weeks later it feels like a different feeling in the locker room. But we can’t just get overwhelmed with the result. It’s the process and continue to make sure we’re playing the right way.Even still, the Heat came together in a very positive manner during the road trip as they continue to climb up in the standings. The scary part is that they still haven't reached their peak as a cohesive team after playing just 25 games together and Mike Miller returning in a few weeks to add to their depth off the bench.