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Miami Heat, missing Bosh and Wade, escape Pistons with 88-87 victory

Game Notes:

  • ‘Tis was the game of remnants. The Pistons are one of the most depleted rosters in the league, missing Jerebko, White, Hamilton, Stuckey and Wallace to various health and family matters. For Miami, Wade was scratched from the active lineup 45 minutes before the game with a sore wrist leaving James the lonesome ranger of the trio.
  • In the absence of Wade and Bosh, LeBron James carried the offensive load from the start, scoring 13 points in the first quarter on 5-6 shooting as the rest of the team mustered 6 points on 2-16 shooting. James would play 44 minutes and finish with 39 points (15-25), 8 rebounds, 9 assists, 1 steal and 2 blocked shots.
  • Tracy McGrady has come a long way from his All-Star playing days. Yet, unlike most aging and hobbled superstars, he’s relished in his role using his veteran IQ to fill the PG position in the absence of Rodney Stuckey. In the same vein as LeBron and Turkoglu, his size as a forward gives him an advantage on his spatial vision and the ability to pass over his defender. T-Mac was close to a triple double gathering 14 points, 8 rebounds and 10 assists.
  • A scare in the middle of the second quarter saw James rolling his ankle followed by a fall in which his head careened into Joel Anthony’s knee, knocking him to the ground in pain. He would brush it off and return after the timeout. Joel’s knee is fine, for the wondering Warden fans out there.
  • James is a human tank but Miller is just a plain warrior. Mike was active for 41 minutes of basketball war, clanking knees on charge attempts, hustling on both ends of the floor, hopping and hobbling for extended periods of time. His shot would struggle to find the bottom of the net (0-6 3PFG), but he led the team with 10 rebounds and the will to sacrifice body in the name of victory.
  • Somebody must have left a window open and let the breeze in. Miami shot 20% (5-24 3FG) and Detroit a slightly better 33% (8-24 3FG) from beyond the arc in a dissonant harmony of bricks and thuds.
  • There goes the saying that championship teams know how to win ugly. This escape was grotesque. Down by one point and 15 seconds to go, Miami would take a timeout to assemble their plan of attack. The master plan? A James pick-and-pop with Eddie House setting the screen and stepping out for a three. The idea to go up by two is lavish, but giving Eddie House the ball and control of the game is downright deranged. Ben Gordon quickly recovered and House careened towards the lane, luckily drawing a foul from Gordon on his suicide jumper. House would nail both free throws to put the Heat up by one and Austin Daye would miss an alley-oop dunk off a beautifully designed set play on the ensuing posession. There is debate on whether Daye was fouled by James Jones but in such hideous games, such calls weight heavier on doubt for the refs. Heat win by 1.
  • Miami has now "improved" to 2-8 in games decided by 5 point or less. Thanks, Austin.