Less then 24 hours ago Dwyane Wade was laying on the court in obvious pain after coming down hard on his back thanks to a tough foul by Dwight Howard. I can still hear the ‘thud' that he made when hitting the hardwood. Considering that I was concerned if he would be able to return at all, let alone at full strength, I was definitely skeptical as to what kind of effort he would be able to put fourth the day after suffering the bruise.
For a guy that wasn't even sure he' be able to play until an hour or so before tipoff, D-Wade came up with one of his better and well-rounded games of the season. It did take Dwyane a little while to get loosened up, which was evident by his rough 1st quarter. He had the same amount of made shots (1) as he did rebounds and turnovers.
That changed quickly though, and while Wade didn't have the usual kind of high scoring ‘stand out' game he is accustomed to, he still managed to put together one of the better all-around games we'll see from him all season. For the first time in over 5 years D-Wade picked up a triple double, finishing with 22 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists in just over 40 minutes.
As for the game itself, Miami and Charlotte played each other pretty close for the majority of the night. Getting the Heat off to good start was Zydrunas Ilgauskas, going 5-for-5 in just under 9 first quarter minutes a night after playing just 4 total minutes in Orlando. The center position has rarely been a source of scoring for Miami but that could change if Ilgauskas can pick things up.
Big Z has finally starting hitting some of his outside jumpers again, and that could give the Heat offense a huge boost. He was very consistent with his J's the first couple weeks of the season but has been terribly off since then. If those long-range shots start going down the way they did back in early November it will give Miami's offense yet another viable option.
The Heat and Bobcats went back and fourth a bit during the 1st half but things wouldn't say that way for too long. A Gerald Wallace triple about 4 minutes into the 2nd quarter put the Bobcats up by 2, but that would be the last time Charlotte would enjoy holding the lead. They spent the rest of the game nipping at Miami's heels, keeping things interesting but unable to get over the hump.
When the 4th quarter began, Eddie House caught fire and tried to singlehandedly take out the Bobcats. He hit three consecutive triples and scored the Heat's first 11 points of the quarter. Charlotte tried to make a final run but the 8-2 stretch they put together wasn't enough to carry any momentum thanks to the quick scoring boost from House.
Miami's defense clamped down when it mattered most, holding the Bobcats to a single field goal over a 7½-minute stretch of the 4th quarter. During that time the Heat outscored Charlotte 15-5 and extended their lead to 16 points as time winded down. When all was said and done, this was one of the better all-around team efforts of the season for Miami.
Of course D-Wade's triple double will get most of the attention, and rightly so as those games are extremely difficult to come by. However, there aren't many games when the Heat's leading scorer will have just 22 points, the Big 3 will score just 55 and yet the team will still put up 109 points on the board.
- Both teams shot the ball very well last night. Miami shot 55% from the field and 47% from downtown while the Bobcats shot 47% from the field and 45% from beyond the arc.
- Mike Miller has shown us he can play several roles, and last night he stayed on the outside. While picking up just 2 rebounds and no assists, Miller made every shot he took. 4-for-4 from the field, 3-for-3 from downtown and 2-for-2 at the foul line.
- Miami had six different players score in double figures and got 34 from their bench.
- Similar to D-Wade, LeBron had a quietly productive night. He finished with 19 points on just 7-of-13 shooting, picking up 8 rebounds and 9 assists.
- Big Z went 6-of-7 from the field, finishing with 13 points. The 6 field goals were the most he'd hit in one game since December 28th against the Knicks.
- After starting the game 0-for-5, Chris Bosh made 7 of his final 12 shots.
- Mario Chalmers and Eddie House combined to do a great job defensively on Bobcats point guard D.J. Augustin. He played 42 minutes but was limited to just 1-of-6 from the field, scoring 4 points while turning the ball over 5 times.
The Heat will look to close out this week with another win when the Clippers come to town for a Super Bowl Sunday matinee. There are only four games on Sunday. Three start at noon and the other at 2:30, so kudos to the NBA schedule makers for not being dumb and putting a basketball game up against the Super Bowl.