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Heat unable to match Cavalier's energy in 90-102 loss

The National Basketball Association: Where "Unless" happens. The King came home again and received less than King-like treatment before the game even began. Once inside Quicken Loans Arena he skipped pre-game introductions, the crowd booing when his name was announced with no recipient of the contempt present. Afterwards he would explain it as being busy using the restroom, but one can obviously see it as a slight to the hostile crowd and/or the appeal of 20,000 people with plenty of vocal ammunition which would not subside for the rest of the dramatic night. All the statistics in the world predicted James and the superiorly talented Heat would once again be fueled by the rancor in the crowd and come away with an easy victory, but "unless" happened. Ryan Hollins summoned his best Chandler/McGee performance bothering every shot that dared entered the paint and making 3-of-4 of his field goals, mostly consisting of fierce dunks. JJ Hickson led all Cavalier scorers with 21 points (9-10FT) in a showcase of his deft skills. Anthony Parker went perfect (4-4 3PFG) from beyond-the-arc in an array of impossibly dramatic shots. Alonzo Gee went perfect (3-3 FG) in limited minutes, Harangody looked like a solid rotation player and not a salary disposal, Sessions got into the paint at will, Gibson made timely shots and distributed the ball (5 ASTs) and Eyenga was an energy factory. Best of all, Baron Davis nailed a Baron Davis-esque 3-point shot at the halftime buzzer and threw a few daggers to put the game away. Fueled by the adrenaline and the crowd’s intensity, the Cavaliers outplayed Miami in every sense. They shot a season high 56% from the field, a staggering 53% from beyond-the-arc and outrebounded (44-30) the Heat to come away with the emotional victory. Deservedly so. In the loss, James collected his 4th triple-double (leads the league) with 27 points, 10 assists and 12 rebounds. He was constantly pounded when entering the paint, yet he remained collected, getting back up when taken down. It would wear on him, taking the role of a distributor and seeming unsure of his shot by game’s end. Wade tried hard to hit back, slicing through the defense and using his speed and agility to avoid the hard contact coming on every drive. His best produced 24 points, 2 blocks and 3 steals with his stifling defense. It wouldn’t be enough. Mike Bibby shot all 11 of his shots from three, making 7 although it would seem like he was making all of them. Without his 23 points, yellow tape would have been necessary to seal off the crime scene. The difference maker? The crumbling of Chris Bosh. Seemingly rattled by the Cavalier’s energy and hustle, Chris would fall apart, dropping passes, hesitant at the rim, getting blocked and collecting a mere 4 rebounds (1 DREB). The rebounding is most telling, as it’s a compound of 20% luck, 40% skill and 40% effort. Or lack thereof. It could have just been an off-night for Bosh, but the indecisiveness with the ball is telling of a shakedown to his valiant core. Will he be able to sustain his composure under the pressure of the playoffs or will he wilt against the weight of Kevin Garnett or Joakim Noah? An overreaction is unnecessary after such a dramatic loss, but there are certain factors of concern. The Heat had shown resistance and a will to retaliate in the last few games except when last night when it was most wearying. Faced with a hostile crowd resembling what the Heat will face on the road in the playoffs, the team succumbed to the energy, unable to match. Not much will be different in Celtics’ Garden and more the reason why the race to home court advantage is crucial. Philadelphia’s Wells Fargo Center will certainly "fan up" in the post season and give the league’s darlings and earful every night. Losses on the road to average to mediocre teams happen, but 7 games away from the post-season, it’s bad timing. On to visit the Washington Wizards, where hopefully "unless" does not happen.