In a high-scoring game that featured 23 lead changes, the Miami Heat had the ball down by two points with 14 seconds left. LeBron James received the ball at the top of the key with Kenneth Faried guarding him. James went to his left, and Corey Brewer – knowing that James beat Faried off the dribble with 1:42 left to give Miami a one-point lead – came over to help. Brewer’s only problem was that the man he left was Ray Allen.
Allen received the pass from James and rose up for the 3. Brewer knocked into Allen just as he released the shot, but it didn’t matter. The shot went in, and Allen would have a chance to give Miami a three-point lead at the line. One of the best foul shooters of all time, Allen made the free throw. Danilo Gallinari missed a potential game-tying 3 in the closing seconds.
The Heat’s offseason acquisition proved again why he is a legitimate fourth option – Allen actually out-scored James and Wade tonight – and finished with 23 points and made six 3s. The game-tying 3 wasn’t the only big shot Allen hit; he also nailed back-to-back 3s midway through the fourth quarter to make a six-point deficit evaporate in 41 seconds. He struggled defensively against Andre Miller, but that’s nitpicking. Allen won the game for Miami.
Chris Bosh stood as Miami’s best player Saturday night, though. He scored 40 points on a remarkably efficient 15-of-22 shooting from the field and made 9-of-10 shots from the line. He drew fouls on Kosta Koufas and JaVale McGee and made jumpers and drives against Faried. With Miami playing atrocious defense for the first half, Bosh kept Miami in it.
Miami allowed Denver to score 66 points in the first half after allowing Boston and New York to pass the century mark. The Nuggets didn’t eviscerate Miami from the 3-point line but on the glass, with Faried and McGee gobbling up offensive boards for put-backs. Denver actually scored an unheard-of 72 points in the paint. Erik Spoelstra had to turn to Joel Anthony for minutes to offer interior defense after it was clear that Udonis Haslem as the backup center wasn’t helping. Rashard Lewis’ inability to guard anyone could become a detriment to this team, and Ty Lawson took Mario Chalmers off the dribble constantly.
Wade had an uneven night, scoring just 14 points on 5-of-12 shooting from the field, even missing an alley-oop layup attempt. But he did block Andre Miller twice in one possession to force a 24-second violation and made a key layup with a 1:13 left to give Miami a three-point lead. Just prior to Wade’s layup, Allen dove to the floor for a rebound and found Bosh, who threw a 50-foot pass on target to Wade. LeBron James had 20 points, 11 assists, nine rebounds and two blocks. But he only made it to the free-throw line four times and settled for too many jumpers in the first half.
Shane Battier and Mario Chalmers combined for 17 points. The Heat will try to improve to 3-1 Monday night against the Phoenix Suns.