The HEAT came in looking to set a franchise record and that's exactly what they did tonight. With their 97-81 win in Minnesota, Miami won their 15th consecutive game, marking a streak that started over a month ago.
From the very beginning, the HEAT set the tone playing strong defensive basketball. They got their hands on passes, dribble drives and shots at the rim. It was clear, the HEAT came to play and were not going to take the Wolves lightly. Miami held Minnesota to 16 points in the first quarter and only 43 in the first half, the type of defense and basketball they know is necessary to play.
Minnesota was energized by both Ricky Rubio and Derrick Williams. Williams, the 2nd year forward out of Arizona, looked good with his mid-range jumper flowing on the HEAT. Without that, the Wolves would have come up empty on many trips. Williams had 23 points and 10 rebounds. Rubio was able to slice and dice the HEAT's defense several times, getting past his defender and making his way to the paint to set up his team. Rubio finished with 14 points, 8 assists and 6 steals.
The HEAT opened up a double digit lead in the first half and led by 7 at the break. In the second half, the HEAT really put on the gas for a bit, but the Wolves were able to cut the deficit to 3 early in the fourth quarter. Then the HEAT did it. You know...flipped the switch.
Miami went on a run sparked by a Flagrant 2 Foul by JJ Barea on Ray Allen that got him ejected. Barea and Allen scuffled a bit on the play and then Barea apparently shoved Allen on his drive to the basket. Allen didn't take it very nicely, barked at Barea and they were separated. Ray said after the game, "I though it was a bush-league move." Allen sank the two free throws and a third off a technical from Coach Adelman. Miami then went on a big push that just killed the Wolves.
Lead by Dwyane Wade and LeBron James, the HEAT were too much to handle. James racked up 20 points and 10 rebounds, but had 7 turnovers in the game. It wasn't his best showing, but it was enough because his partner in crime, Dwyane Wade, played like a MVP in this one. Wade finished with 32 points, 10 assists and 7 rebounds. He was on his game from the beginning, scoring the team's first two baskets. Wade got to the rim and continually set up his teammates. His jumper was flowing and he looks healthier than ever.
In all reality, the HEAT had to win this game. They have two more games against sub .500 teams with Orlando and Philadelphia up next at home before a big rematch with the Pacers on Sunday in Miami.
The HEAT looked very impressive tonight and improved to 44-14.