The Heat were looking to get back on track after a disappointing loss in Utah during the weekend. Starting out down 12-0 to the Phoenix Suns was not in plan, but that's the hole the Heat had to dig themselves out of, and they did.
The Heat trailed by 3 going into the fourth quarter, and then they took control of the game, with deep shots from Cole, Chalmers, Allen and LeBron James - Miami outscored Phoenix by 9 and won the game 103-97. The Heat had seven different players connect from three-point land and they also had five more rebounds than the Suns.
LeBron James scored 37 points on 12-22 shooting, including 9 rebounds and 5 steals. Chris Bosh helped out with 21 points and 8 rebounds including a late clutch three on a bullet pass from James. Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole both scored in double figures with 13 and 10 respectively. Toney Douglas started in place of Dwyane Wade who was out due to a sever migraine. Douglas played 15 minutes and had 5 points on 2-9 shooting - but what was helpful was his defense.
In fact, the entire defensive approach was impressive from the Heat. The Suns are a high scoring team and are fifth in the NBA in scoring, yet the Heat held them to 97 and it was mostly due to containing Goran Dragic. Dragic had been on a tear as of late, playing All-Star worthy basketball, but the Heat pressured him from the beginnning with Douglas and later with Cole, and although he had 15 points and 9 assists, he wasn't as effective as the Suns would have liked to see.
Who were effective for Phoenix: Gerald Green and Channing Frye. Green had 26 points on 5-8 shooting from three. He held Phoenix in the game at a point where LeBron and company were trying to put them away. The Suns were most effective when they were attacking the Heat quickly. But Miami was locked in after the 12-0 start and weren't going to let this one slip through.
"This response started yesterday at practice. The approach yesterday and today was very focused and businesslike" said Spoelstra after the game. "We have to continue the business trip, we have 24 hours left and our guys are looking forward to it." The Heat will play the remaining two games on their trip following the All-Star break.
The Heat really closed out this game defensively. LeBron got back to back steals late in the fourth to help seal the deal. Without Dragic being free, the Suns were forced into a different offense than they wanted. Credit to the approach from Spoelstra for the game plan because it was successful.
Spoelstra did go deeper in his bench in this game than he has. Obviously by playing seldom used Toney Douglas in place of Wade, but Rashard Lewis also got 11 minutes, and he hasn't seen much time lately. "We played a lot of new lineups tonight but that's what it's about on the road. You just have to find a way" said Spoelstra. It was still no Michael Beasley, despite the "homecoming" and no Greg Oden. But, the Heat do play in Oakland against the Warriors the very next evening, where fresh legs will be welcome.
It was a good rebound game for the Heat who can't afford to fall further behind in the standings. They do play the Warriors at 10:30 EST on Wednesday.
LeBron had a few highlights in the game, most notably the one below, in which he responded after the game with a smile, "I'm an in-game dunker."